Submit chapter news items, member announcements and ideas for member profiles to editor Scott Leadingham at
Ole Miss honors the past
More than 250 people celebrated the University of Mississippi being named an SPJ Historic Site in Journalism on April 14. Former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather and investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell were speakers at the event. Students, faculty, staff and community members crowded into the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics auditorium to commemorate the university’s rich history of journalism and to remember the 1962 death of French journalist Paul Guihard, the only known reporter killed while covering protests during the civil rights era. Guihard was shot and killed on the campus during the integration riots that surrounded James Meredith’s enrollment.
SPJ celebrates Pulitzer Prize-winning members
SPJ members Sheri Fink and Mark Fiore are the proud recipients of 2010 Pulitzer Prizes. Fink was awarded a Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting. Her story for ProPublica, in collaboration with The New York Times Magazine, chronicles the dire choices doctors made for their dying patients who were left stranded by the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. Fiore, self-syndicated, was awarded a Pulitzer for Editorial Cartooning. His animated cartoons appeared on SFGate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle website. The Pulitzer judges were impressed with his “biting wit, extensive research and ability to distill complex issues (that) set a high standard for an emerging form of commentary.” Read more about Fink, Fiore and all the 2010 Pulitzer winners at pulitzer.org.
Winners of SPJ’s Sigma Delta Chi Awards will be profiled in the July/August issue. See the SDX Awards winners announcement at tinyurl.com/2009SDXAwards.
Three high school students win scholarships
More than 600 high school students submitted essays that answered, “Why are free and independent news media important?” All of the essays were entered into the 2010 High School Essay Contest, where they were judged first locally and then nationally. Three winners rose to the top: First place, and a $1,000 scholarship, was awarded to Erin McDonough of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va. Shaj Mathew of Huntingtown High School in Huntingtown, Md., won second place and a $500 scholarship. Xiaonan “April” Hu of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., won third place and a $300 scholarship.
SDX Foundation board member leads commencement
Irwin Gratz, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board secretary and longtime SPJ member, was the commencement speaker at the University of Maine at Augusta on May 8. Gratz has been an anchor of Maine Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” since 1992 and was the 2004-05 national SPJ president. Gratz said he was honored and humbled by the chance to speak.
Play is the thing for one member
The president of the SPJ Indiana Pro chapter, Amy Wimmer Schwarb (pictured), has been very busy. Not only does she volunteer to lead the chapter, but she has been working as the executive editor of Indianapolis Monthly by day and as a playwright by night. Wimmer Schwarb’s play is, appropriately, about the newspaper industry. “Dash Thirty Dash” ran May 7 to 9 at the IndyFringe Theater in Indianapolis. Local Indiana journalists Dennis Ryerson, Indianapolis Star editor; David Zivan, Indianapolis Monthly editor; and John Ketzenberger starred in cameo roles. Her ultimate goal is to stage the play in cities around the country that have lost a newspaper. For more information, e-mail her at
Cuillier takes FOI on the road
With the help of his Chevy Impala, FOI Committee Chairman Dave Cuillier has been taking his one-man freedom of information show on the road. The Access Across America Tour began in Tucson, Ariz., on April 27 and will end there June 10. Cuillier’s goal is to bring his FOI training sessions to as many journalists as possible. Sponsored by SPJ through a grant by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation and the National Freedom of Information Coalition, Cuillier is spreading training in acquiring public records. He will visit SPJ chapters, newsrooms and open government coalitions. You can learn more and see the nearest tour stop to you at spj.org/aaa.asp. If you missed the program, read his blog highlighting his time on the road at blogs.spjnetwork.org/aaa.
Focus on diversity honored
The Association for Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication will honor SPJ member Bob Ruggles for his outstanding individual accomplishment and leadership in diversity efforts within the journalism and mass communication discipline. Ruggles will be awarded the Barrow Award for Achievement in Diversity Research and Education at the 2010 AEJMC Conference Aug. 4 to 7 in Denver. Ruggles led the creation of the journalism program at Florida A&M University, and his efforts earned the program national accreditation in 1982, making Florida A&M the first historically black university to receive ACEJMC accreditation. Ruggles was the founding dean of the university’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication and is currently professor emeritus. He has been an SPJ member since 1959.