A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

SPJ Report

By Quill

[b]Cincinnati hosts two programs

The Greater Cincinnati chapter held a panel discussion at Northern Kentucky University in late January that focused on shifting job responsibilities due to the surge in Web content.

Topics included what online readers expect from news sources; shifting investigative news online; and how print media must adapt to new technology. David Umhoefer of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Brad King of Northern Kentucky University’s media informatics program led the discussion.

On Feb. 18, the chapter will host Law and Media Day at the Cincinnati Bar Association, when journalists and lawyers will review the inner workings of the local court system. The program grew out of last year’s successful event, which yielded a roundtable discussion among attorneys, judges, reporters and editors, and resulted in a call for an annual opportunity to share complaints and solutions.

[b]Fall reflections from Louisville

For the Louisville Pro Chapter, fall was a season for scrutinizing problems and possibilities of local news media. In early November, two months after The Courier-Journal fired its veteran radio-TV critic, a panel convened to discuss “Where Have Louisville’s Media Critics Gone?” Two weeks later, as he was preparing to cut 69 more positions from the newspaper, Courier-Journal Publisher Arnold Garson appeared at an SPJ forum to answer questions about the future of the newspaper.

The season ended with a panel discussion in December on high school journalism 20 years after the Supreme Court’s Hazelwood decision. The discussion included an update by Western Kentucky University sophomore Josh Moore on the bill he and State Rep. Brent Yonts drafted to guarantee freedom of the press for public-school-sponsored publications.

[b]North Central Florida Chapter ponders future and plays poker

In September, the North Central Florida Chapter hosted a roundtable discussion about the future of the journalism industry. Dave Carlson and Mike Foley, both professors at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, led the discussion. Carlson is a past national president of SPJ, and Foley is the former executive editor of the St. Petersburg Times.

The chapter shifted to teachable entertainment in December when it hosted a Texas Ethics Hold’em Poker tournament, where members bet and bluffed their way to prizes while learning the SPJ Code of Ethics with each hand. Ethics Hold’em was made possible by the efforts of the South Florida Pro Chapter.

[b]Washington chapter sponsors successful training series

During the fall, the Western Washington Pro Chapter held its Continuing Education Series, focused on providing journalists with the tools they need to succeed in a changing media industry. Held each Monday evening from Oct. 20 to Nov. 17, participants attended workshops on taking digital photos for the Web; business reporting and speaking the language of the executives; shooting and editing video for the Web; using social media as reporting tools; and the basics of blogging.

Nearly 100 journalists attended the classes, with many participants taking more than one class. The most popular sessions were the video and social media classes. Although the classes were free to members, nonmembers were able to attend for a small fee. The chapter registered seven new members over the course of the series.

[b]L.A. chapter hosts discussion on style and covering race

About 80 people crowded Eso Won Books in south Los Angeles in November to listen to an informal discussion on how news media can better cover race while reporting on crime and violence.

The event, organized by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter, was moderated by author/filmmaker M.K. Asante Jr. The panelists were author Ishmael Reed, Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks; UCLA professor Otto Santa Ana, and Celeste Fremon of Witness LA.

The two-hour talk included ways in which reporters can better approach breaking crime stories, a discussion of news organizations’ style guides and use of traditional labels such as “illegal” immigrant, as opposed to “undocumented” or “unauthorized.”