A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Chapter News – Sept/Oct

By Quill

Students produce homeless newspaper paper in volunteer program

Over Labor Day weekend, 20 college journalists from nine states gathered at a South Florida homeless shelter, where they took over the shelter’s newspaper that is sold on the streets of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. In 36 hours the students wrote, shot and designed the October issue of Homeless Voice. The third annual Will Write for Food program was funded by grants from the SPJ South Florida Pro chapter, SPJ Region 3 Director Bill Oates and the Florida College Press Association. Details are here. Students or college media professionals who want to participate next year can email director Michael Koretzky at michael@koretzky.com.

Florida students put out paper without computers

Students journalists at Florida Atlantic University got a dose of “the good old days” in July while trying to put out an issue of their newspaper using no computers. The program, called All on Paper, was made possible in part by a chapter grant from national SPJ to the South Florida Pro chapter. University Press staff and adviser Michael Koretzky, who is the South Florida chapter president, used the money to acquire manual typewriters, dark room equipment, proportion wheels and pica poles through Craigslist.

Koretzky, reflecting on the experience on his blog, quoted newspaper editor in chief Gideon Grudo as saying:

“Retyping a draft for the third time because you can’t get past the first sentence without screwing it up is annoying. And today one of the ribbons on a typewriter stopped working. But no one has left or gotten antsy. We’re all working together. If this momentum continues, imagine what we can accomplish when our iMacs, HD cameras, and Google are given back to us. I think this project has single-handedly exposed us to the power of what we’ve had all along – and what we’ve completely taken for granted.”

More about the program, and lessons learned, is here.

Chapters, national speak out against University of Kentucky action

Professional and student chapters of SPJ, along with the national organization, spoke out in August against a University of Kentucky athletics department action disciplining a student journalist and the school’s student media outlet.

Aaron Smith, managing editor and basketball writer for The Kentucky Kernel, had access to a media availability event revoked after following up on a tip that two students were walk on members of the UK men’s basketball team. Athletics officials said his action contacting the athletes violated a policy requiring the press go through the department’s media relations office.

At the time, however, the athletics department had not announced the students as members of the basketball team.

The Bluegrass Pro chapter issued a statement following the action, which gained regional and national media attention. The statement read in part:

“Punishing a journalist for doing his or her job is unacceptable. The Kentucky Kernel sports reporter was carrying out one of the most basic and important duties a journalist is charged with – trying to separate fact from fiction. UK can’t stop a reporter from asking a question and shouldn’t cast down an excessive punishment for doing so. It’s an abuse of power and a shameful blow to the First Amendment.”

National SPJ President Hagit Limor sent a letter to university president Eli Capilouto and athletics director Mitch Barnhart August 31.

“The onerous response of media relations officials to a reporter doing his job – to report news of interest to the university community – is a poor reflection of how the athletics department, and ultimately the university, views an independent and free press,” wrote Limor. “We hope this incident is taken seriously and used as a teachable moment. It is convenient, therefore, that you are at a university that prides itself on teaching and education. Let that lesson be: When you restrict access to information and punish those who seek it, nobody wins.”