Archive for the ‘News’ Category

While judge protects journalists in Portland, court ruling in Seattle endangers reporters

UPDATE: Within hours of the issuance of the temporary restraining order in Portland, federal agents shot Oregon Public Broadcasting journalist Rebecca Ellis with tear-gas projectiles. She was not injured, but it it appears to be a flagrant violation of the order.

Journalists won some and lost some in the past week in the Pacific Northwest.

The good news was that a federal judge temporarily barred federal agents from using force or threats against journalists covering the demonstrations in downtown Portland.

But that legal victory was tempered by a King County Superior Court judge’s ruling that the Seattle Times and other news outlets had to turn over unpublished photos and videos of a violent May 30 protest, despite a strong shield law in Washington state.

Both cities have seen protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. There has been violence with the protests, and President Donald Trump sent federal agents to protect federal property in the city.

But there are reports that the agents, who do not wear agency patches on their camouflage uniforms and body armor, have gone outside the boundaries of the federal courthouse and other federal buildings, grabbing people off the street and bundling them into unmarked vehicles.

During the protests, these agents have also fired “impact munitions” — so-called less-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and wooden dowels — at journalists and legal observers during the protests.

Attorney Matthew Borden, representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said the assaults on journalists were not accidents, but the “acts of intimidation by a tyrant, and they have no place in the city of Portland.”

We’ve already seen this happen in other cities, where police target journalists who are observing the protests and police actions, some of which border on violent themselves.

In a 22-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon issued a temporary order barring the federal agents from willfully targeting, threatening or intimidating journalists who were covering the protests, as well as legal observers.

Simon rejected the U.S. Justice Department’s arguments that it was too hard for the officers to tell the difference between journalists and violent protesters, as well as the assertion that journalists did not have a right to access above the public to the closed-off areas.

“When wrongdoing is underway, officials have great incentive to blindfold the eyes of the Fourth Estate. The free press is the guardian of the public interest, and the judiciary is the guardian of the press,” Simon wrote.

Unfortunately, farther up Interstate 5, King County Superior Court Judge Nelson Lee believes journalists should be the Seattle Police Department’s eyes rather than those of the public.

Lee upheld a subpoena ordering the Seattle Times, KIRO 7, KING 5, KOMO 4 and KCPQ 13 to turn over all unpublished photos and unaired video and outtakes from coverage of a May 30 demonstration downtown.

Police say they are seeking the video and photos to identify who stole firearms from SPD vehicles that were set afire during the demonstration.

Lee claimed that the police had met the burden of overcoming the state’s shield law by demonstrating that the information was “highly material and relevant” and that all other reasonable means were exhausted.

First, let me say that stolen weapons are a serious matter. But it’s also no excuse to force journalists to surrender information that is protected by the state’s shield law.

It is highly unlikely that police have exhausted all reasonable efforts to get the information from other sources. For example, there are social media posts, surveillance camera footage from nearby businesses and homes and plain old shoe-leather detective work. Police could also offer a reward for information that will loosen someone’s lips enough to finger the suspects.

Forcing journalists to turn over footage, photos and other information gathered in the process of reporting undermines journalistic independence and puts journalists in danger.

A shield law recognizes the Fourth Estate’s role as an independent observer capable of bearing record to government’s actions and informing the public of what they do. In order to do that, journalists need protection from turning over their work materials, unpublished information or names of confidential sources to government.

It’s akin to the privilege we grant clergy, doctors and lawyers not to disclose things they were told by those they work with. While it may frustrate police and prosecutors, those privileges ensure that society works and justice is served.

The same goes for journalists. Allowing us to protect information ensures that we can do our jobs of holding the powerful accountable and helping those who are wronged.

If this subpoena is allowed to stand, it will make journalists’ jobs much harder — and dangerous.

There are already reports of protesters attacking photojournalists  because they don’t want their pictures taken. If journalists are forced to give information to the police, we will be seen as merely informants for the government and targeted even more for violence.

To follow that path to its conclusion, it would mean journalists would likely not want to cover a demonstration for fear of violence, and thus deprive both sides of an independent observer who can stand as a witness for what happened on both sides.

Unless police Chief Carmen Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan exercise some common sense and withdraw the subpoena, we have to hope that an appeals court judge has more courage than Judge Lee.

Trump’s praise for Congressman who bodyslammed journalist tone-deaf, appalling

President Donald Trump’s anti-press harangues have always been disturbing, especially after the shooting at the Capitol-Gazette in Annapolis, Md.
But last week, his comments truly went beyond the pale, especially in light of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul earlier this month.
At a campaign rally in Billings, Mont. Thursday, Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte for body-slamming Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian in 2017, as he was running for Congress.
Gianforte attacked Jacobs, enraged over what he thought was “biased” coverage. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, performed 40 hours of community service, went through 20 hours of anger management counseling and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Trump’s praise for Gianforte comes as his administration drags its feet in responding to the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who wrote critically of the government in Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate to fill out paperwork for his upcoming wedding, and has not been seen since. Reports from the Turkish government — which has its own issues with press freedom — said the journalist was tortured, killed and dismembered by an assassination team. The Saudi government only recently acknowledged Khashoggi’s death, claiming he got into a brawl with the 15 men.
The Trump administration is not applying skepticism to such an implausible story. Combined with his recent comments about Gianforte, it shows a disdain for journalists, particularly those who speak truth to power.
Instead of standing up for basic human rights and the rights of a free press, qualities that once made America great in the eyes of the world, Trump appears to be giving a pass to those who use extreme means to silence critics.
I join with SPJ National President J. Alex Tarquinio in calling for Kashoggi’s killers to be brought to justice, with the United States using all of its influence to call for an independent investigation into Khashoggi’s death.
And I also think it is time that Trump stop the anti-press rhetoric, and apologize for his remarks. After all, Gianforte apologized for his attack.

Excellence in Journalism Recap

Greetings Region 10!

The annual Excellence in Journalism conference wrapped up in Anaheim on September 9. Region 10 had a handful of journalists from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in attendance for the four-day conference. SPJ was joined by RTDNA (Radio Television Digital News Association), NAHJ (National Association of Hispanic Journalists), and NAJA (Native American Journalists Association). Headquarters reports that there were more than 1,800 people in attendance.

Two well-known journalists were honored at EIJ—RTDNA celebrated Lester Holt’s remarkable career with the Paul White Award. Holt had planned to accept the award in person, but duty called and he spoke to attendees from Florida, where he was covering Hurricane Irma. In addition, RTDNA presented the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award to CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, who gave an inspired acceptance speech defending journalism. In addition to the honors, EIJ put on dozens of excellent talks, programs, demonstrations, committee meetings, and more, plus two fascinating Super Sessions (21st-Century Reality: Covering Immigrant and Refugee Communities is for Every Journalist and Work in Progress: Pressing the President).

One of the bigger happenings at EIJ was the vote to restructure SPJ’s national board. By fall of 2019, SPJ’s national board will shrink from 23 members to nine. The streamlined board will consist of three officers, four at-large directors and two appointed directors. Read more about the the restructure process and a transition timeline found here. What does that mean for your regional director? Nothing at the moment. Once this regional director term is complete in 2019, the position becomes a “regional coordinator.” There will still be a regional coordinator caucus, and RCs will have a pipeline to the board to discuss local chapter issues. But the change should allow RCs more time to focus on their student and pro chapters.

Take a look at the nine resolutions passed by the society’s delegates at EIJ here.

Interested in attending a future EIJ conference? Start planning now—they are scheduled through 2020.

September 27–29, 2018: Baltimore, MD (Hilton Baltimore)
September 5–7, 2019: San Antonio, TX (Grand Hyatt)
September 10–12, 2020: Washington, DC (Washington Hilton)

I personally would love to see this conference come to the Northwest. Any ideas on how we can make that happen? I’ll be lobbying the search committee at HQ.

SPJ Pres. Sonny Albarado: Shame & the Shield Law

In recent weeks, Shield Law legislation has been revived and SPJ is ready to take a stand to protect reporters and the public. Here’s an update from SPJ President Sonny Albarado to tell us what that means and how we can all help.

You can find additional resources here.


2012 SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism Contest Calls For Entries

HELENA, Mont., January 7, 2013 – Today Region 10 of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) announced its call for entries for the 2012 SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest. The contest honors exceptional journalism published or produced in 2012 in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Montana in all forms of media (print, online, radio, and TV). Both SPJ and non-SPJ members are invited to participate in the contest.

The SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest is officially accepting entries today through 4:59 pm (PST) on Fri., Feb. 15, 2013. SPJ Regional Director Ian Marquand, a freelance journalist in Helena, Mont., highlights several changes to this year’s contest:

– In Alternative Weeklies, the Criticism category was renamed Critiques and Reviews.
– In the Non-Daily Newspaper category, Portrait Photography was added.
– In Magazines, News Photography was eliminated.
– In the Online category, descriptions were added for clarification. In addition, Best Site, Commentary was eliminated.
– In Radio and Television, the General Excellence category was eliminated.
– In Television, for the purpose of clarification, Spot News Reporting is now Live Breaking News Coverage and Photojournalism is now Video Photography.

In the 2011 contest, approximately 2,000 entries in 200 categories were received from around the region. A similar number is anticipated this year. In late February, entries will be submitted to out-of-state journalists for judging, due back at the end of March. Winners’ notifications will be made in mid to late April.

The Western Washington Pro and Southwestern Washington/Oregon Pro SPJ chapters will present awards to those in their respective chapters at awards banquets in Seattle and Portland on Sat., May 18. The remaining awards will be announced online that evening and presented by their respective chapter leaders.

For more information about the contest or to begin submitting entries through Omni Solutions, please visit the contest entry portal at

For questions, please contact contest administrator Ruth Pettis at or 206-781-8097, or SPJ Secretary/Treasurer Dana Neuts at or 360-920-1737, or regional director Ian Marquand at or 406-529-6494.


Let’s welcome Ian Marquand!

After serving as regional director for three years, and as a chapter leader in the W. Washington Pro chapter since 2006, I stepped down from my role as RD last month to accept the position of national SPJ Secretary/Treasurer. I resigned mid-term and recommended Montana Pro Chapter President Ian Marquand to the national board to take my place. He was voted into that role unanimously on Sept. 23, 2012 and will serve Region X as RD until the August 2013 convention in Anaheim. At that time, Ian can run for re-election if he chooses.

I’ve enjoyed working closely with the chapters in our region and learning from each of you. It is hard to “leave” my RD role because I’ve loved it so much, but it is time for me to let someone else serve you and to see how else I can contribute to SPJ. Ian, who has held virtually every role in SPJ but serving on the national board, stands eager and ready to support you in whatever way possible including managing the 2012 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest, honoring work produced or published in 2012.

If you haven’t met Ian already, you’ll find him to be a great resource and very personable and easy to work with. While he has a full-time gig outside the industry now, he remains a part-time freelance journalist, stays in touch with journalists throughout the region, and is a long-time supporter and member of SPJ’s FOI committee. His most recent SPJ role was assisting with the Access Across America training series held this summer across the nation. He is also a winner of the Wells Key, the society’s highest honor.

Please join me in welcoming Ian to his new role as RD. We will do a face-to-face intro video chat in the near future.

As for me, well, I’ll still be here. My role has changed, but I haven’t. I am always here to help.

Thanks for all you do!

Dana Neuts
SPJ Secretary/Treasurer


Congratulations to our 2011 SPJ Contest Winners!

Congratulations to all of the winners in our 2011 SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism Contest! We had more than 2,100 entries this year in 184 categories. Trophies were awarded to 1st place winners and certificates were awarded to 2nd and 3rd place winners at awards ceremonies tonight in Portland, Ore. and Seattle, Wash. Other chapters will host their own events, or will provide awards to the winners on an individual basis.

–> Click here to download the complete list of winners <–

Need to order a corrected trophy or certificate, or order a duplicate? Download the order form here and submit it to regional director Dana Neuts by July 15.

We’d like to thank our out-of-state judges for helping us choose this year’s winners. We couldn’t have done it without you! A special thanks to these chapters and their teams of judges who helped:

– Paul Fletcher, Pat Kane and Virginia Pro SPJ

– Jack Zibluk

– Stirling Morita and Hawaii SPJ

– Nic Garcia, Colorado SPJ

– Jodie Mozdzer, Connecticut SPJ

– Kelly Kissel, Sonny  Albarado & Michael Koretzy, Green Eye Shades

– Bob Lipper, Long Island SPJ

– Sarah Bauer, Minnesota SPJ

– Scott Thiesen, Minnesota SPJ

– Jenn Rowell, Washington D.C. SPJ

– Ginny Frizzi, Pennsylvania SPJ

– Kevin Smith, SPJ past-president and Ethics Chair

– Carol Cole-Frowe, Oklahoma SPJ & freelance committee member


2012 SPJ Region 10 Spring Conference

Did you attend the 2012 SPJ Region 10 Spring Conference at PLU in Tacoma last weekend? If so, tell us what you thought.

Take Survey Now


2013 Region 10 SPJ Spring Conference

Yes, you read that correctly! We are already planning next year’s spring conference. The 2013 conference will be held in early to mid April in Spokane. Have ideas for programs? Venue or sponsor suggestions? Other recommendations? Contact Pia Hallenberg, The Spokesman Review, of the Inland Northwest Chapter or Dana Neuts, regional director.



SPJ Spring Conference: Lost & Found

The staff at PLU reports a few items were found over the weekend. They may belong to participants in last weekend’s SPJ Spring Conference. Lost items:

  • Cell phone (black Samsung)
  • Rain Jacket (light green, Pac Tech, Ladies Medium)
  • Sun filter for a camera

PLU will hang onto the items until Fri., April 13, 2012. Contact Kelley Kohlwes at PLU to claim your items.



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