A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

SPJ Report: Chapter News

By Quill

Guy Baehr receives final 2005 president’s award

Immediate Past President Irwin Gratz tended to one final bit of presidential business at the Region 1 Conference in Newark, New Jersey in March. There, Gratz formally presented the last of his “President’s Awards” to Guy Baehr, the Society’s Honors and Awards Chairman.

Baehr was unable to attend the Presidential Installation Banquet in Las Vegas, where he would have heard Gratz praise him as someone who “has worked long and hard for this Society. He’s done much of that work in a position that doesn’t get much attention, but is vital both to our mission as promoters of quality journalism and to our financial health. He has brought considerable intellect to the task; I only half-jokingly say he’s written some of the best memos I’ve seen in my seven years on the national board.”

Through his service, Baehr has helped to formulate SPJ awards’ “accuracy requirement,” that requires entrants to send any written challenges to an entry’s credibility, helped create the “New America Award,” to recognize collaborations between ethnic and mainstream media, has pushed for greater recognition of the winners of our SDX awards and has advised the board for years on award categories and entry fees. He continues to serve as Honors and Awards Chairman under President David Carlson.

UW-Madison program addresses blogging

UW-Madison journalism students presented “Connect or Compete: How do bloggers fit with traditional media,” a panel discussion about blogging and the ethics of blogging on April 27.

Ethical issues related to blogging, such as anonymous bloggers, reporters who blog and blogging legislation, were discussed and questions from the audience were taken.

Panelists included Wispolitics’ Jeff Mayers, WORT’s Nathan Moore, UW-Madison Law School associate professor David Schwartz and Channel 3 reporter Colin Benedict. Dietram Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Journalism School served as the moderator.

Chapter calls upon high court to address ruling

The Connecticut Pro SPJ Chapter has asked that a Supreme Court decision involving judicial records be rescinded and reheard.

The court ruled 4-3 that certain judicial branch records are not subject to the state’s open-records laws.

The chapter also called for the passing of a bill that would require disclosure of all court docket information past, present and future and provide complete public access to all judicial proceedings, including trials and pretrial conferences and conventions of judges and meetings of the Superior Court’s rules committee.

Chapter hosts forum to address immigration

The Northwest Arkansas Pro chapter hosted a panel discussion April 19 about immigration issues at the Pontiac Coffee House in Springdale. Panelists included Alejandro Aviles, Angela Schneurle and Mariana Collins-Romero.

Schneurle, the special assistant for Hispanic affairs for U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., has spent the past three years working with Hispanic immigrants to make their voices better heard through peaceful demonstrations.

On March 31, more than 1,000 Fort Smith residents marched to show their opposition to the proposed federal legislation. More than a half-million demonstrators crowded downtown Los Angeles on March 25. As many as 300,000 marched in Chicago on March 10.

Southwest Missouri Pro hosts media ethics event

“You Be the Editor” was hosted by the Southwest Missouri Pro chapter on April 27 at the Springfield-Greene County Library. The program coincided with Ethics in Journalism Week, which was hosted nationally, April 24-28.

Current and retired journalists submitted anonymous hypothetical ethical dilemmas that were used during breakout sessions and overall discussions.

Schwitzer, Foundation launch health Web site

SPJ member Gary Schwitzer of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, in collaboration with the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, launched HealthNewsReview.org on April 17.

The Web site is the first U.S. online service expressly designed for journalists and consumers who want reliable, unbiased analysis and evaluation of healthcare news articles that make claims about treatments and procedures. By reviewing health news stories in the mainstream news media, the goal of the Web site is to improve health journalism, which in turn will produce higher-quality health news and information disseminated to consumers.

To be eligible for review, an article must be relevant to the management and prevention of disease and must make claims about treatments, procedures or tests. Analyzed by a staff of more than 20 highly qualified professionals with expertise in journalism, medicine, public health and health services research, each article is scored on a “star” system, with zero being the lowest score and five the highest. News stories are culled from the top 50 circulation newspapers, major broadcast media, weekly news magazines, and wire services.

The site uses various criteria to rate stories, including:

• The novelty and availability of the idea.

• The existence of alternative options.

• Costs of treatment or procedure.

• Sources of information in developing story.

• Quantification of harms and benefits of treatment or procedure.

• Quality of the evidence that the treatment or procedure is effective.

Press Club, Buckeye Pro chapter honors scholars

Six Ohio college students were selected for scholarships honoring Akron Beacon Journal editor and Knight Ridder Newspapers founder John S. Knight and public relations professional Ludel Sauvageot.

Stephanie Park, Tara Pringle, Beth Rankin and Meranda Watling, all of Kent State University, and Michael Rasor of the University of Akron received $3,000 toward their journalism studies.

Jennifer Farquhar of Kent State, the Sauvageot scholar, also received a $3,000 award.

The scholarships are awarded by the Akron Press Club and the Buckeye Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in memory of Knight and Sauvageot.

The scholars were recognized at a luncheon April 28 at the Martin University Center at the University of Akron.

East Tennessee Chapter hosts town hall meeting

The East Tennessee Pro chapter hosted a town hall meeting April 19 at the East Tennessee History Center to discuss coverage of the May 2 primary election that had certain officeholders’ terms limited, although their names were on the May 2 primary ballot. An unprecedented number of candidates waged write-in campaigns.

Panelists included Robin Wilhoit, WBIR; Gene Patterson, WATE; Hallerin Hilton Hill, WNOX-FM; Hubert Smith and Lloyd Daugherty, WKVL radio; and political columnist Georgiana Vines. The panel was moderated by Dean Rice, a government relations specialist who is a lecturer in communications at the University of Tennessee.

Cincinnati hosts ‘Are We Telling the Truth?’

Residents of Cincinnati were invited to Hebrew Union College on April 24 to ask local journalists questions about news coverage.

The program, titled “Are We Telling the Truth?”, featured WLWT reporter Courtis Fuller, WVXU News Director Maryanne Zeleznik, Cincinnati Enquirer Assistant Managing Editor/ Online News Editor Chris Graves and Ben Kaufman, a journalism professor and a former Enquirer reporter.

Oklahoma Pro Members host fundraiser

Members of the Oklahoma Pro chapter of SPJ are selling T-shirts to raise money for SPJ’s shield law lobbying effort. The chapter donated $500 to the shield law lobbying fund and is selling the shirts to make its money back. Those who attended the Region 8 Conference April 28-29 in Oklahoma City bought about two dozen of the shirts, which have the chapter’s logo on the front and say “Freedom of the Press Means Freedom for All” on the back. The shirts cost $15 and are available in sizes ranging from S to XXXL. For more information visit the chapter’s Web site at http://www.oklahomaspj.org.

Detroit Pro SPJ chapter, WAND ridicule Senator

For a good cause, the Detroit Pro SPJ chapter, along with the Michigan chapter of Women’s Action for New Directions, threw a charity roast to mock U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. on May 7. Levin, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has rallied for openness and accountability in government.

The event’s master of ceremonies was Devin Scillian, news anchor at WDIV-TV in Detroit.

Kansas Pro chapter presents “Viva Park City”

Comedy and tragedy came together as the SPJ Kansas Pro chapter performed skits on everything from the arrest of a BTK suspect to the controversy over a “community tree” last Christmas.

The annual gridiron show was organized by the Kansas Pro SPJ chapter to raise scholarship money for aspiring journalists. This year, more than $10,000 was collected.

Directed by Kathy Page-Hauptman of Stage One and choreographed by Stan Rogers of Friends University, the show featured many onstage favorites, including SPJ members Ted Woodward and Bonnie Bing, who portrayed The Fairytale Princess.

Group hosts open records forum

Public access to government records and meetings were two topics discussed by journalists, government officials and others April 18 during an “open government” forum at The News Tribune.

The program was presented by the Washington Coalition for Open Government in cooperation with The News Tribune and the Western Washington Pro Chapter of SPJ.

Speakers included News Tribune investigative reporter Sean Robinson, state auditor Brian Sonntag, media attorney Michele Earl-Hubbard, Greg Overstreet of the state attorney general’s office and state Rep. Toby Nixon.

Is your chapter putting on a cool program? Do you have a great awards program going? Share your successes with SPJ Report so other members can benefit from your experience. Send your story to Beth King at bking@spj.org or call her at (317) 927-8000, ext. 211.