Open records debate leads to odd lawsuit

The somewhat odd lawsuit Western Kentucky University filed against its student newspaper challenges an attorney general’s ruling on an open records request.

The WKU lawsuit shows the length universities will go to keep things secret, especially when the things involve sexual misconduct.

Secrecy is nothing new at WKU. It just completed a hiring process for its new president, a process conducted entirely in secret.

So the lawsuit WKU filed against the Herald comes as no surprise.

Its oddity: WKU essentially sued itself.

The Herald is editorially independent, but WKU Student Publications which oversees the Herald and a yearbook-turned magazine, received $350,000 in WKU’s 2016-2017 fiscal budget. The suit also names Herald staffer Nicole Areas and the Kentucky Kernel student newspaper and its staffer Matthew Smith. The Kernel first requested the records from WKU. The Herald request followed.

The lawsuit states that the university has no complaint with the Herald, which sought records of university investigations into sexual misconduct under the federal Title IX statute. Its beef comes with the commonwealth’s attorney general who ruled WKU must give those records up, the lawsuit states.
WKU cannot sue the commonwealth’s Attorney General’s Office, so it must go after the Herald.

The university essentially cites two reasons it should not have to produce the records:

• Drafts: WKU argues that that since the university employees investigated for sexual misconduct violations either resigned or retired during the investigation, the information gathered in that investigation is in a “draft” stage. The Kentucky statute on open records exempts: “Preliminary drafts, notes, correspondence with private individuals, other than correspondence which is intended to give notice of final action of a public agency.”

• Privacy: The statute exempts “Public records containing information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
People a lot smarter than me can see the flaws in WKU’s position.

First, if the university acknowledges the investigations are no longer ongoing — for whatever reason — then that shows the information gathered from them is no longer draft but complete even if WKU took no action.
As to playing the privacy card, a handy trump card used more frequently by public entities, WKU is a “public” institution. And it should be noted that WKU has released personnel information about its employees, most notably a letter of termination for an employee which identified the employee and which contained negative and potentially harmful information about that employee.

The issue of victims and their privacy also arises.

The attorney general’s ruling allowed WKU to redact personally identifiable information from the records. WKU contends redactions will not ensure privacy.

I think is important to note, particularly for students —legalese aside — that sexual misconduct on college campuses is a serious issue.

The more the public knows about it, the better off we all will be. And the more the public understands the process used by universities when situations involving sexual misconduct occur, the better off we all will be. It is reckless to take a position that because the people investigated left WKU’s employment, the incidents essentially did not occur.

And I think it’s important to note that people understand the sensitivity and the concern that comes with victims. But the other side of that coin is that there are public safety issues in play here, so it’s important to know where and how these incidents occur to prevent others from becoming victims.

WKU states in the lawsuit that since 2013 it received 20 complaints alleging sexual misconduct under the federal Title IX statute. All were investigated and six were found to have caused violations of WKU policy.
That indicates a problem with sexual misconduct at WKU — a “public” problem.

Mac McKerral is a professor and Journalism Unit coordinator in the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University. He has been a member of the Society of Professional Journalists since 1989 and has served in numerous roles, including president of the national board. He currently is co-adviser to the WKU chapter of SPJ.


SPJ chapters tackle ‘fake news’ in ‘Challenges to Journalism’ series

The surge of fake news during the heated election season and the attacks from President Trump and his aides should spark re-dedication among journalists to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent.

The assertions of “alternative facts” have also triggered a wave of re-evaluating what truth and fairness in journalism should look like.

In a series titled “Challenges to Journalism,” the University of Kentucky’s School of Journalism and Media is exploring those issues weekly, with the help of the Bluegrass and UK Campus chapters of SPJ, and other units of the university’s College of Communication and Information.

After an initial discussion by campus chapter co-advisers Al Cross and Dr. Mike Farrell, moderated by professor Scoobie Ryan on Feb. 9, the school hosted a panel discussion titled “The Cure for Fake News Disease: Truth and Fairness (and Balance?), with two of Kentucky’s most accomplished political journalists; a university faculty member who has been a newspaper editor; and a conservative critic of Kentucky news outlets.

Cross, director of UK’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, moderated the panel and began by saying that “fake news disease” can be attributed to the dominance of social media, “which lack the verification of traditional media,” and the growth of partisan and ideological media that appeal to a reader’s ”desire for confirmation, more than information. . . . These factors in many cases mean that there is no longer a commonly agreed upon set of facts on which to make public debate and policy making. All of this raises serious questions about the role in which journalists, journalism students and journalism faculty should play.”

The panel started its discussion by watching Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s recent Facebook Live attack on The Courier-Journal of Louisville and longtime reporter Deborah Yetter.

C-J columnist and former political writer Joseph Gerth said the story was accurate, but media critic Richard Nelson of the Commonwealth Policy Center said Yetter’s statement that the state attorney general is “defending” a new anti-abortion law failed to note that Beshear had not defended the law against a motion for an injunction against it.
Journalism professor Kakie Urch argued that the only thing missing from the story was the law’s impact on readers, such as “a trans-vaginal ultrasound of every woman seeking an abortion,” with some exceptions. “Those are real impacts on real people.”

Cross countered, “You can also argue that including that in every story is being too tendentious, that you’re trying to make an argument for people who don’t like the bill.” He said those are the kinds of decisions that reporters and editors must make every day.

Cross asked, “If you had to define three essential standards or elements for journalism, what would they be?”
John Stamper, politics and government editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader, said that journalism first needs to be interesting. He added that it needs to be accurate, and as thorough as possible. But he acknowledged that staff shortages can present a problem: “There are lots of things going on that we just don’t cover because there’s nobody to cover it . . . stories that people may have found interesting.”

Gerth said honesty is an essential element to journalism: “Facts are facts and they aren’t going to change, but honesty is putting them in the proper perspective.” So is thoroughness, getting both sides of the story, he said, but “If one side is feeding you a bunch of crap, you have to call them out on it.”
Other panelists mentioned accuracy, in-depth reporting, and making sure that stories are important to the public. Cross said anonymous sources should be used only if a story is important enough and they are the only way to include essential information.

Have the concepts of fairness and balance changed in recent years, or do they need to change? “Yes” was Gerth’s immediate answer. “The standards of verification are a lot more strict than they are now than they were fifty, sixty, seventy years ago,” he said. “What we’re seeing now is a night-and-day difference.” He cited The Courier-Journal, where he has worked for 29 years, as an example.

Stamper said standards have not changed in his 15 years at the Herald-Leader, but what has changed the most is the style and presentation of stories, to drive readership: “Whether it’s in print or online, if you look at a newspaper from twenty years ago, it looks a lot different than it does right now.”

Nelson argued that the concepts of fairness and balance have changed because of how divided we are as a culture. “The disconnect is that when there are people in rural America that are pro-life or value religious freedom, and their thoughts may be different from somebody else’s in a city, when that’s not covered fairly, they’re feeling disenfranchised,” he said.

This has changed the standard of media outlets, he continued. “I think that’s dangerous for us as a people when you have such divided news sources,” that are not being objective and covering stories fairly, he said.

The rest of the series

The “Challenges to Journalism” series continues Thursday, Feb. 23, with a Bluegrass SPJ program for journalists and the general public, “Finding real facts in an alternative-fact world.”

A panel of local, regional and national professionals will examine the role of the news media and provide a better public understanding of how it works. The group also hopes to facilitate ongoing conversations about the importance of a free press in a democracy. The event will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Room A of the Central Library, 140 E. Main St., Lexington.

Panelists will include Ryan Craig, publisher of the weekly Todd County Standard and president of the Kentucky Press Association; Tom Eblen, columnist and former managing editor of the Herald-Leader; Campbell Robertson, a national correspondent for The New York Times; Kathy Stone, assistant news director at Lexington’s WLEX-18; and Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a free-market think tank, and frequent media critic.

Moderating will be Ginny Whitehouse, Ph.D., a journalism professor at Eastern Kentucky University specializing in media literacy, ethics and law.

UPCOMING EVENTS
In early March the Media Arts and Studies faculty of the School of Journalism and Media and UK librarians will discuss the technology of fake news and how to expose it.

On March 8, the journalism school will host Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute, co-author of The Elements of Journalism, for a lecture at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Margaret I. King Library in Central Campus.
In late March or early April, SPJ Ethics Committee Chair Andrew Seaman will visit.

In addition to the school and the SPJ chapters, the “Challenges to Journalism” series is co-sponsored by the school’s Scripps Howard First Amendment Center and Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, and by the Department of Communication in UK’s College of Communication and Information.

Al Cross, left, co-adviser for the University of Kentucky SPJ chapter, says the growth of social media and partisan media have contributed to fake news disease.


Traci M. Thomas works for the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the
University of Kentucky.


SPJ backs student newspaper’s plan to appeal open records decision

Journalists say a judge’s ruling supporting the University of Kentucky in a lawsuit against its independent student newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, raises concerns about transparency and open government.

Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark ruled Monday the university was not required to provide the Kernel with some documents in a sexual misconduct investigation of a professor who resigned before the university took action against him.

“We strongly support the Kernel news staff in fighting for access to documents that are newsworthy and that deserve to be released to the public,” said Lynn Walsh, national president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Clark ruled the documents were protected by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act and that it was not possible to protect the identity of the students who had filed the complaints by redacting their identities.

That reasoning brought a sharp rebuke from Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center.

“Court after court has said that employee personnel records are not FERPA education records, and this ruling represents a substantial deviation from that commonsense consensus that the appellate courts of Kentucky should readily overturn,” LoMonte said.

“The judge is clearly mistaken in making the all-or-nothing decision that every part of the documents is identifying, based on some fanciful theory that amateur sleuths will root around in university expense records to try to deduce victim identities.”

SPJ President Walsh also objected to the judge’s position that releasing the investigatory documents would lead to the identification of the victims, even if the names were redacted. She defended journalistic ethical practices that protect victims.

“Every day journalists tell stories responsibly and ethically protecting the names and identities of victims,” Walsh said. “For a court to allow documents related to a public employee accused of sexual assault to be withheld for privacy reasons is astonishing.”

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said the goal of the legal process is “preserving the right of a victim survivor to determine how, when, or even if to tell her story. “
In a statement emailed to the university, he wrote: “We stand with survivors and we believe strongly that federal and state laws protect their right to privacy. Without privacy, we know victim survivors will not come forward to report. That’s what was at stake in this case.”

Marjorie Kirk, a senior journalism major and editor-in-chief of The Kentucky Kernel, said the newspaper will appeal the decision and pursue other stories involving transparency of university disciplinary conduct against students and faculty.

“We will continue to report on a system that has enabled professors and others who are found responsible for sexual misconduct to move within academia unnoticed,” Kirk said in an email.

The Bluegrass Pro Chapter of SPJ, which represents the central Kentucky region containing the UK campus, has supported the Kernel since the university filed the lawsuit in August.

Chapter President Liz Hansen expressed concern about the implications this decision has for journalists seeking information from public universities under Kentucky open records and meeting laws.

“The Bluegrass chapter has supported the Kernel from the beginning,” Hansen said. “We committed $1,000 for legal fees and we’ll continue to support the student journalists as the Kernel appeals the decision. We think the decision is a bad one for open records in Kentucky.

“This decision also continues to cause concern about the lack of transparency at the University of Kentucky,” she said.

Walsh said the ruling could impact journalistic practices beyond the UK campus. “The ruling sets a dangerous precedent for what public universities can keep secret under privacy exemptions,” she said. “It also sends a chilling message to college news organizations.”

LoMonte also expressed concern the ruling will have wide implications:

“Unfortunately, this ruling is going to give cover to colleges everywhere to throw a secrecy blanket over employee misconduct,” he said. “It can’t possibly be that Congress wants these records to be withheld as ‘student education records,’ so if the courts are going to knuckle under to pressure from college lawyers, then Congress needs to step up and take the side of victimized students.

“It is stomach-turning to read President Capilouto celebrating what he claims to be a victory for victim privacy, when in fact the university has succeeded in making this campus and all campuses less safe from sexual predation.

“The public needs to understand that ‘victim privacy’ was a belated and cynical litigation strategy that the university adopted when all of its other concealment efforts failed, and that no part of this case has ever been motivated by concern for anything other than the university’s own image.

“The bottom line of this ruling is that colleges will be able to enter into secret pass-the-trash agreements that enable wrongdoing employees to move on to other campuses with clean records to prey on unsuspecting students. Making campuses havens for sexual predators will be Eli Capilouto’s defining legacy, and will stain the University of Kentucky’s reputation for many years to come.”


Election 2016: A look back, and forward

The Election of 2016 is over. President-Elect Trump is a reality – one that few in the media anticipated. It was also a monumental year in Kentucky, with Republicans claiming the state’s House of Representatives and Senate for the first time in more than a century.

What was the role of the national media in the election? Why did Kentucky’s legislature flip from Democrat to Republican? And what does the future hold for press rights and freedom of speech under President Trump?

The Society of Professional Journalists, Louisville Pro Chapter, will answer these questions and more in a panel discussion on the election on Monday, Nov. 21, at the Ekstrom Library’s Chao Auditorium at the University of Louisville beginning at 7 p.m. (DirectionsMap showing parking areas)

The panel will be moderated by Ralph Merkel, communication instructor and student media adviser, University of Louisville. Panelists will be:

The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by SPJ, Louisville Pro Chapter and the University of Louisville SPJ chapter, the University of Louisville School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication and The Louisville Cardinal, which is the student-run newspaper at the University of Louisville. For more information about the SPJ Louisville Pro chapter, visit our web site, www.spjlouisville.org.


How to navigate Ky. Open Records and Open Meetings Laws

Government activities should be open to the public. It’s a fundamental American right. But it isn’t always honored by public officials. You can fight for your right to information – and Society of Professional Journalists, Louisville Pro Chapter, is ready to show you how.

Learn more about open records and meetings at a free program presented by Society of Professional Journalists, Louisville Pro chapter, on Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. at Bon Air branch of Louisville Free Public Library, 2816 Del Rio Place, Louisville.

Amye Bensenhaver, recently retired from the Kentucky Attorney General’s office, will describe the mechanics of the law, the challenges requesters currently face in negotiating the law, and challenges on the horizon. Amye will review what types of records and meetings are open to the public, and the type of obstacles you might encounter in getting public information.

Amye will speak about problems members of the media may face, but also about how everyday public citizens can find and get information that they need to serve as watchdogs over government entities. She will take questions from the audience.

The event is free and open to the public. It sponsored by SPJ, Louisville Pro Chapter.

If you have questions about the event, e-mail Robyn Davis Sekula at robynds@live.com or call (502) 608-6125.


Kentucky forum on accountability journalism to be rescheduled

A forum on questions raised by The Kentucky Kernel’s reporting on the University of Kentucky’s handling of a sexual-assault case against a professor was canceled Thursday, Oct. 13 because of a scheduling conflict.

SPJ Bluegrass Professional Chapter President Liz Hansen says the event will be rescheduled. We’ll share an update when information becomes available.


Kentucky SPJ groups to hold forum on privacy, transparency and accountability journalism

The Kentucky Kernel’s reporting on the University of Kentucky’s handling of a sexual-assault case against a professor has raised important questions about privacy for victims, transparency of a public university, and the role of accountability journalism in a democratic society.

These issues will be explored in a public forum at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, in the auditorium of the W.T. Young Library at UK.

The panelists will be Kernel Editor Marjorie Kirk, a UK journalism student; Thomas Miller, the newspaper’s lawyer; Jay Blanton, chief spokesman for the university and a former Kernel editor; and Ashley Rouster, coordinator and survivor advocate from the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center at UK. The moderator will be John Nelson, retired executive editor of the former Danville-based Advocate Communications.

The program is sponsored by the UK Campus Chapter and the Bluegrass Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. It is free and open to the public, and a question-and-answer session will follow the panel discussion.

SPJ, founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, visit spj.org.


Bluegrass Pro SPJ issues statement on resignation of open government expert from AG office

Bluegrass (Kentucky) Professional Chapter SPJ issued a statement Tuesday in response to the resignation of Assistant Attorney General Amye Bensenhaver, the AG office’s lead attorney with 25 years of experience in Open Meetings and Open Records appeals. Bensenhaver resigned after being reprimanded for speaking with a reporter without permission.

See the full statement below and links to articles about the resignation including an editorial by Bluegrass Pro Vice President John A. Nelson.

Sept. 6, 2016

To whom it may concern:

Transparency is the lifeblood of a democracy. As our Code of Ethics declares, “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.”

That conviction prompts the SPJ Bluegrass Chapter to express deep concern over the resignation “under considerable duress” of Assistant Attorney General Amye Bensenhaver. How Attorney General Andy Beshear intends to replace her and allocate her workload is also a concern for proponents of transparency.

During her 25-year tenure, Bensenhaver has been recognized by open-government advocates as a leading authority on the state’s Open Records and Open Meetings Acts. She has used that expertise to train public officials and the legal community.

One premise for what she considered a severe reprimand from a Beshear-appointed supervisor was an interview with a retired editor for an article celebrating the 40th anniversary of the state’s sunshine laws. While it may be office policy to control journalists by funneling their questions through a spokesperson, this practice is a barrier to transparency and an offense to taxpayers.

Bensenhaver’s post-resignation comments raise concerns about the increasing political tenor of the Office of the Attorney General. She says the writing of open-government appeals will be supervised by a non-merit employee, whom the AG can fire without cause. Assigning non-merit employees to handle sensitive open-government opinions is an affront to the intent of these laws and to those who depend on the office as a fortress against officials who believe the public is not entitled to know what their government is doing. The opinions become precedents that governments at all levels must follow unless they are appealed to a circuit court and overturned.

While Kentucky’s sunshine laws are among the best in the country, they come with an inherent imbalance. Public officials can spend taxpayer dollars to defend their positions in court and hire high-priced attorneys, while residents who challenge government secrecy must use their own money or raise it. That imbalance increases the importance of the attorney general’s office, where denials for records can be appealed without an attorney. Well-written opinions by staff attorneys who are not political appointees have provided clear guidance and often resolved issues without being appealed.

We encourage Beshear to replace Bensenhaver with someone who will not be part of the political process, and to not politicize oversight of this important function. We also urge him to end the gag rule on his staff. It is a bizarre contradiction that the very people writing decisions about laws intended to make government transparent are gagged from explaining those decisions or providing insight into the way the laws have been used and how they have worked.

We also recommend the attorney general review the process for issuing these decisions. Bensenhaver was chastised for refusing to sign opinions she wrote that were amended by supervisors. We find it inconceivable that a 25-year expert on these laws – or any attorney, for that matter – would be expected to sign as her own a decision contrary to her interpretation.

Intimidating staff to accept the “approved interpretation” of politically appointed supervisors raises serious questions about whether this attorney general’s priority will be protection of government transparency or furtherance of his political agenda.

In short, Amye Bensenhaver’s resignation under duress is regrettable and a blow to the cause of open government in Kentucky. If Beshear intends to rebuild the public’s confidence in his office, he should insulate staff attorneys who write these opinions from political pressure.

As Louisville’s Louis Brandeis wrote in 1913 before his appointment to the Supreme Court, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” We believe Beshear and his political staff should endorse that maxim in principle and in practice.

The article referenced in reprimand reprimand:
Celebrating 40 years of the Kentucky Open Records Act

http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article84517672.html

Article reporting reprimand and retirement:
http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article99307132.html

Response editorial column by John Nelson:
Retirement leaves AG office less equipped to deal with open meetings, open records

http://www.kypressnewsservice.com/public/story1.php?id=1472994887

 

 


FOIAFest became bigger and even better this year!

About 150 people attended the fourth annual FOIAfest March 12 at Loyola University Chicago. Loyola, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Chicago Headline Club were the sponsors. Below is a smattering of comments provided by Chicago Headline Club member Susan Stevens from the dozen break-out sessions.

Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, gave the keynote address.

Among Shaw’s observations: FOIAs are not just for journalists but also for citizens who are keeping watch. Government is a service – not a business. The real problem with FOIA lawsuits is public officials fight us with our – taxpayer – own money. Biggest challenge to democracy is a disengaged citizenry.

Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, delivers FOIAFest keynote address.

Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, delivers FOIAFest keynote address.

Freelancer Brandon Smith: Government units should fund FOIA offices, hold them to the law. He won the release of the Lacquan MacDonald video that showed the teen shot 16 times while jogging AWAY from police. (He will speak April 2 at the Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 4/5 Spring Conference in Cincinnati.)

Invisible Institute’s Jamie Kalven: There’s a huge shadow population of people abused by police who don’t complain.

Matt Topic, Jamie Kalven, Brandon Smith and Mick Dumke discuss how independent journalists and attorneys uncovered alleged Chicago police misconduct through FOIA. 

Matt Topic, Jamie Kalven, Brandon Smith and Mick Dumke discuss how independent journalists and attorneys uncovered alleged Chicago police misconduct through FOIA.

Kalven: Just make this stuff public without FOIA requests.

Attorney Matt Topic: When do you decide to sue? When you know “diligently is a lie.” Governments don’t have a lot of incentive to obey FOIA. Go to the Illinois Attorney General immediately after a deadline is missed.

Sun Times’ Mick Dumke moderated that session.

Sun-Times’ Frank Main: When you ask cops for something you are really dealing with the city Law Department or the mayor’s office.

Tribune’s David Heinzmann: It’s easier to go to sources for documents rather than FOIAing. Find some way to meet cops in another environment, build friendships and therefore sources.

Heinzmann: You often get in response to a FOIA, “Your request was overly burdensome.” That’s the latest police response. “They don’t know their own laws.” Example: City says a maximum of 1,000 emails can be FOIAed; police say 500.

Chip Mitchell, David Heinzmann and Frank Main discuss using FOIA to hold police accountable. Alden Loury is the moderator.

Chip Mitchell, David Heinzmann and Frank Main discuss using FOIA to hold police accountable. Alden Loury is the moderator.

Main: Be very specific in requests, such as “police” and “shot” and “south side.”

Main: Public Access Counselor has made it easier. “We appeal almost everything now. I don’t think I’ve lost a case with them.”

Kalven: PAC staff is overburdened.

Heinzmann: Court records are not a FOIA issue. Those records are really critical in covering cops. Eg. Lawsuits: Attorneys might give you the depositions by pox officers.

Main: Chief judge’s office is immune from FOIA, but amenable to providing information.

WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell: The more you know and the more they know you know …

Main: City of Chicago data portal valuable.

Main: Dash cam and body cam videos are supposed to be handed over to the public.

Alden Loury of BGA moderator

Matt Topic and Bob Herguth talk about the nuts and bolts of crafting a public records request.

Matt Topic and Bob Herguth talk about the nuts and bolts of crafting a public records request.

John Chase, John O'Connor and Tim Novak tell how to get access to politicians' private emails.

John Chase, John O’Connor and Tim Novak tell how to get access to politicians’ private emails.


Further observations:

FOIA advice

You might get lucky. Keep your requests specific. Focus on an agency, not an individual employee. Tribune is trying to establish in court that the mayor’s office is an agency, said reporter John Yates. If you ask for too much, the agency may say it’s too burdensome to comply. If necessary, ask for info in bits and pieces over time. Tim Novak from the Sun-Times says he starts every investigation with a FOIA request. John O’Connor from the AP says some of his best scoops come from following up someone else’s story a year or two later,

If you have a good FOIA case, remember government body pays legal fees if they lose. Some attorneys will take case pro bono.

A sign that something needs to be investigated? If CPD dismisses as “gang related.” Think Hadiya Pendleton and Tyshawn Lee.


Early Bird deadline EXTENDED to MARCH 8 for Region 4/5 Conference

Region 4 5 Conference Logo

March 1 is the deadline to save money with an Early Bird registration for the Region 4/5 Spring Conference April 1 and 2 in Cincinnati has been EXTENDED to MARCH 8.

The conference opens at the Kingsgate Marriott and Convention Center with a reception Friday at 5 p.m. Then, professional and student journalists are invited to a full day of training sessions – including programs on using new tools such as virtual reality and drones to help further your reporting.

Kingsgate

With more than 12 breakout sessions, the conference focuses on four tracks:
• History in Journalism
• Tools & Techniques
• Diversity Matters
• Building on Basics

In addition to programming, the conference will feature the presentation of the prestigious Mark of Excellence Awards for both regions. Be there to help recognize the regions’ best college journalism.

To register, visit the Eventbrite site, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spj-region-4-5-conference-2016-tickets-20696826766.

Early-bird registration is $75 for SPJ members, $55 for student members, $130 for non-members, and $75 for student non-members. Register by March 1 to lock in these fantastic rates. Also, be sure to check out the conference website, http://spjspringforward2016.com, to stay up-to-date on programming and speakers.

Make your reservation at Kingsgate by calling 513-487-3800 and asking for Society of Professional Journalists conference rate – only $119+tax for a king or double.

For more details, contact Region 4 Director Patti Newberry at newberpg@miamioh.edu, Cincinnati SPJ Chapter President Tom McKee at tmckee@wcpo.com, or Region 5 Director Deborah Givens at deborah.givens@eku.edu.


Connect

Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn


© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ