A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Chapter and SPJ News

By Quill

Chapter speaks out on commission meeting arrests

After two news bloggers and photographers were arrested at a Washington, D.C. Taxi Cab Commission meeting June 22, the local chapter sent a letter of protest to Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

Pete Tucker and Jim Epstein were attempting to record audio and take photographs during the meeting. They were arrested by U.S. Park Police and charged with disorderly conduct, though the charges were later dropped. In the letter to Gray, chapter freedom of information chairman Robert Becker argued that the Commission’s requirement that reporters have permission to record meetings violates the D.C. open meetings statute.

Part of the chapter’s letter read: “ … although the statute does not specifically permit journalists to record and photograph meetings, it acknowledges that an audio or video record of the proceedings is the best means of providing D.C. residents access to government boards and commissions. A rule requiring a journalist to obtain Commission permission to record or photograph meetings would violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the statute.”

Early Career journalists attend Foundation-funded training

Journalists in the first three years of their careers attended one of two SPJ Reporters Institute sessions in June and July. The program, held since 2007, is funded by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation and led by SPJ trainers and staff. Though held at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., it is an SPJ training program.

The 56 participants applied for a competitive spot and received lodging, some transportation and meals from the SDX Foundation grant. The three-day program included sessions on public records access, ethics, multimedia training, work critiques and professional goal setting.

Kathryn Lynch-Morin of The Saginaw (Mich.) News attended the July 10-13 program and wrote that the program “reminded me why I got into journalism in the first place.” She continued: “I’m going back to work with a re-lit spark and a lot more confidence, and I’m also going back with a lot more tools I know will give my stories an added depth.”

A recap of each program, including names of all participants and speakers, is here.

Western Washington teams with ONA for meetups

Seattle-area journalists have more opportunities for networking, collaboration and learning with a continuing series of meetups between the Western Washington SPJ chapter and Online News Association.

In 2011, the two groups have hosted four events, most recently a July 26 program on digital and social media strategies of the Washington State Department of Transportation. Jeremy Bertrand, WSDOT’s web manager and media strategist, spoke about developing the agency’s interactive and social media practices and policies.

The program is part of the joint group’s “News Next” series on innovation and creativity in news, particularly in the digital space. Past sessions have included talks on entrepreneurial journalism, a Q&A with Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh, and training of search engine optimization and its use in news.

Upcoming programs will be advertised at the meetup site and tweeted about under the #newsnext hashtag.