A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Foundation funds new year of educational programs

By Quill

The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board voted to award $264,550 in new grants during its spring meeting in May. Combined with previously committed grants of $23,000, the Foundation will award at least $287,500 in 2007.

The Foundation supports the educational and charitable activities of the Society of Professional Journalists and serves the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing journalism careers. Its programming priorities include professional training for journalists; fostering diversity in newsrooms and in coverage; promoting integrity and responsible reporting; advancing a free press as the foundation of the nation’s democracy; and inspiring future generations of journalists.

The 2007 grants awarded this spring include:

Ethnic & Community Media Training: $17,550. A new program this year, SPJ will create training programs related to open meetings and public records laws for ethnic media outlets. Today, ethnic media reaches 51 million people in the United States, or 1 in 6 residents. This program will provide tools and resources to journalists working for ethnic media outlets.

Citizen Journalism Academy: $23,200. SPJ will introduce the tenets of responsible news gathering and distribution to citizens practicing journalism through blogging, Web administration and production and through interaction with sites maintained by mainstream news organizations.

2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference: $48,150. SPJ will be returning to Washington D.C. for the first time since 1996, and the conference program holds many programming gems, including a behind the scenes examination of the Supreme Court; instructions on working with and benefiting from citizen journalists; effective, new research tools; planning your organization’s campaign coverage; localizing national issues; and other hot topics such as campaign finance, religion and policy.

Diversity Outreach Project: $14,430. The SPJ Diversity Leadership Grants will help build the contacts, networks and awareness necessary to enable more journalists of color to participate in SPJ and enjoy its professional development resources. Six fellows participate in the organization’s annual conference, gain SPJ mentors, and take on leadership responsibilities in the organization.

SPJ Spring Conferences: $6,000. Spring Conferences bring training to the backyards of journalists around the country, with 12 events taking place each year.

National Freedom of Information Coalition: $7,500. The Foundation continues its support of the NFOIC National Conference.

American Journalist Surveys: $10,000. These studies examine the characteristics, working conditions, attitudes and values of journalists. Survey developers hope to answer questions about how digital technologies are reshaping journalists’ work; effects of the merging of online and print staffs; the extent that Web ventures such as blogs create ethical or workplace concerns for journalists; and changes in job satisfaction among journalists.

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists: $10,000. The Ethics AdviceLine is a free service that provides guidance on ethics to professional journalists.

First Amendment Free Food Festival: $2,000. Get a free lunch by signing away your First Amendment rights. That’s the approach journalists in South Florida are taking to introduce college students to the value of the First Amendment by showing them what life might be like if the rights granted by the First Amendment didn’t exist.

SPJ Training Programs: $75,000. Funds will allow SPJ to continue to reach journalists through Narrative Writing Workshops, Training on the Go newsroom programs, and other professional development offerings.

Mark of Excellence Awards: $13,000. SPJ’s student awards program continues to grow in popularity with more than 3,300 entries. By recognizing student achievement, SPJ honors and highlights the outstanding work taking place on college campuses and inspires collegiate journalists to reach ever-higher standards of excellence in reporting.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: $15,000. The RCFP will conduct a national study of the status of state open meetings and open records laws in the post 9/11 world.

Ethics in Journalism Week: $22,720. Since 2003, SPJ has taken one week each spring to intensely focus the eyes of journalists and citizens on the principles of responsible reporting. Journalists are responsible every day for holding their work to the highest standards, and during this annual celebration of journalism, SPJ aims to communicate why those standards are essential to journalists, citizens, communities and the democracy in which the country operates and exists.

The Foundation’s work is supported by charitable contributions from individuals and organizations. For more information about contributing to the work of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, write to sdx@spj.org.