SPJ committees wrap up productive year

One of the true strengths of SPJ – something that sets us apart from other media organizations – is the depth and talent of our volunteer support.

This year, like many others, that talent has moved the Society forward on a number of fronts that are key to our core missions of ethics, diversity, freedom of information and training.

For proof, you need not look any further than our website, where the work of these volunteers is now on display or soon will be. Let’s start with our latest innovation.

Recently, I asked the folks who will be chairing our committees next year to become Tumblrs for SPJ.

No this isn’t a carnival act, but rather a tool that will help keep our members current with the latest news of what’s happening within our profession.

The SPJ Tumblr is a news aggregation platform that will serve as a virtual reading room for stories that both relevant and timely. I urge you to check it out, bookmark the site and stop back frequently for the latest news.

Another innovation this year comes courtesy of our Freedom of Information Committee.

With help from webmaster Billy O’Keefe, they have assembled a great set of resources for any one dealing with FOI access issues. One is geared to student journalists, and the other to professionals.

Both sites provide a wealth of information ranging from how to write an FOI letter to how to deal with a denial and where to find local Sunshine advocates in your area.

Another new Web feature this year is a series of white papers drafted by members of our ethics committee. You can find them here.

This was a great effort at elaborating on some of the topics that are contained within our Code of Ethics. There are position papers on hot topics such as plagiarism and political involvement. Watch for more in the weeks ahead.

Our Communications Committee helped assemble a site that I believe will help raise SPJ’s profile when controversies on ethics, diversity or records access erupt.

Our experts page is a way to enable journalists who are covering stories involving such controversies to find someone within SPJ who can be tapped for a comment. I’ve already fielded some requests from reporters as a result of this page.

Here are two coming attractions to watch for in the weeks ahead:

Jennifer Peebles has crafted a very engaging interactive timeline that will allow people to immerse themselves in SPJ’s rich history. We are putting the finishing touches on this program, but watch for it soon on the SPJ history page located here.

Also watch for the SPJ Freelancing Guide, which our Freelance Committee has been working on for almost a year. The guide will available as an e-book.

So do you see what I mean about volunteers being the core strength of SPJ? What other journalism organization can claim to have covered this much ground and generated so much useful information in such a short time?

Happy reading.

Defending the First Amendment and promoting open government are more crucial now than ever. Join SPJ's fight for the public’s right to know — either as an SPJ Supporter or a professional, student or retired journalist.

  • Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your website
    by chance, and I am stunned why this accident did not came about in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  • rg

    How exactly? Why has there been no investigation into how the Twin Towers and building seven fell at freefall speed – or even fell at all? (the only skyscraper fires to ever result in collapse) Why have we not heard a cry of foul over all the information Snowden uncovered? Fourth Amendment? Why has there been no uproar over the ‘ethics’ of the collapse of Wall Street? Why has there been no cry of foul over all the Iraqi citizens who died as a result of a misguided ‘surge’? Why has there been no outrage over the Bush administrations mendacious selling of ‘wmd’? Where has the good ethics professor been through all this? Where has the media been? Business as usual. An actor is usurping journalist territory and the pack begins to howl. General McChrystal is laughing at the ghost of Michael Hastings, having a good hee-haw over Rolling Stone’s struggles while the good journalists swill Pappy Van Winkle and dream of bigger houses, fast cars, faster women and fat paychecks…exactly.

  • alinla55

    What you fail to understand (and certainly do not address) is that journalists are under no obligation to even acknowledge the existence of the U.S. Constitution.

    But cheer-up your outrage, as ridiculous and irrational as it is, is a manifestation of freedom.

  • rg

    Freedom? Basically, we’re free to not break any laws. Public demonstrations are shut down as soon as they appear. Are you free to be a communist? Are you free to smoke marijuana? Many years ago people were burned alive for disagreeing with church doctrine. Things are better now, burning at the stake has taken a backseat to mass incarceration. We are free to be jailed for non-violent drug use. Free to eat ourselves into disease overburdening the medical system. Free to surf all the porn on the internet but imprisoned if we look behind the NSA curtains. Free to watch all the sports we can stay awake for but don’t ask where all the money went for the military or the war. Free to go bankrupt for getting sick and going to the hospital. Free to have your job replaced by a robot or someone living in such squalor a dollar a day is like winning the lottery. Free to trust corrupt politicians and shiny, primping pundits. American exceptionalism right? Greatest country in the world…that ain’t saying much.

  • The Truth Hurts

    With the daily ethics violations committed by people who were actually trained to be journalists, it does seem strange that all of a sudden members of the media want to hash out what’s acceptable in reporting the news or conducting interviews.

  • AndrewMSeaman

    Hi Tom! Like I said on Twitter, allowing sources to review quotes or parts of a story is different than allowing the source to decide whether those quotes or the whole story will be printed.

    For example, a journalist who writes about health or science may want to bounce wording or a paraphrased description off a source for accuracy. Or, a journalist may say at the end of a conversation that he/she wants to confirm a few quotes. In both cases, the journalist retains editorial control, but is also doing his/her job to make sure in the information is accurate.

    Writing a story that will then be handed to the source to decide whether it will ultimately be printed is a different matter.

    While I’m not a fan of the Washington Post’s practice, I think it’s unfair to say its equivalent to Rolling Stone’s handling of the Guzman profile.

    Also, SPJ actively works on the implementation of a federal shield law, which could be used to protect Penn and Rolling Stone. However, I have not heard of any legal movement to question Penn or Rolling Stone.

  • Jeff Bowles

    Really, what I’m doing is reacting to the poo-bah from the Committee who is shaming Rolling Stone/Penn for not being ethical enough. I think they’re being foolish — that disclosure is enough for me to say that they’re overreacting.

  • rg

    Your jibes of “ridiculous and irrational” are typical of the whorish media, the insider pov, those infected with ambition who would sell themselves to anyone who promised more, better, bigger, stronger. You’re a climber rationalizing, justifying every step you take regardless of who or what you’re treading on, ignoring the costs of all your ambition, your desire. You don’t care about the innocent Iraqi’s maimed and killed…for what? You point to only a few thousand US soldiers killed during the Iraqi ‘war’ while ignoring the tens of thousands of soldiers suffering disabling trauma returning home broken to a country who care about little more than what sports game is on the telly. Isn’t it every persons natural inclination to be ambitious? Sure. Until we accrue a kind of human experience that values something more than consumerism. So you climb. At what cost? Hubris? Your levity, your wit, your vacuous lack of worldly experience only adds to the imbecilic direction our country is leading the world. We have been taught to believe that technology as a tool will improve humanity at large. So far, only the nth percent is reaping the benefits. The workingman is getting ass-fucked. Oh yeah, you should know that puns are the lowest form of humor.

  • rg

    Cheer up? Why don’t we just emblazon the headline “Might Is Right” across the front pages of all the papers in this country? Of the world? Shock and awe the world into submission and create a massive filter to scan the world for dissent? That would be untoward. Let’s just take the world as the world and go along to get along. The alternative is marginalization, being called ridiculous and irrational. This country was founded on slavery and genocide. Why should anyone expect a more rational approach.

  • Michael Moore

    ANYONE else would’ve done the exact same thing to get an exclusive from El Chapo. Anyone who says otherwise is a fucking liar. And considering all the off the record, side deals, efforts to control that are already considered acceptable practice in press today, there is literally NO ONE who can cast stones at Rolling Stone on this story. Much like how Milli Vanilli only got the main furor from a hypocritical music business (well into lip-syncing, double tracking, replacing vocals and so on) who protested too much, when the general public couldn’t care less who actually sang the damn songs.
    Also, the Washington Post and many various other media outlets regularly did deals like RS did with Jackie in the UVA case. Obviously, they didn’t make the jump to blind faith that RS, Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Will Dana did and let the subject completely control everything, but they made similar deals to not give full names and only give the allegd victim’s side of the story in the very first article, which would be the lead-in to follow up stories later, with more interviews down the pike. Sadly, RS didn’t plan like that, which was a huge mistake, and was indeed a massive failure in journalism. But it’s not just RS that needs to change. The Washington Post needs to change. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, FOX “News”, MSNBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and all of them need to change. And they can’t attack Rolling Stone for the very same sins they themselves commit.
    (P.S. I’m NOT the director)


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