A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


Author Archives: Zoë Berg


September 26th, 2023
2023 Fellow Feature: Lesley Visser “I was always the youngest and the first,” Lesley Visser says, summing up, in one short sentence, her pioneering career in sports media.  Visser’s list of history-making moments is longer than a Tom Brady touchdown pass. She was the first woman to cover an NFL team as a beat writer (she reported on the New England Patriots for The Boston Globe beginning in the 1970s) … the first woman to broadcast the NBA Finals, Final Four and World Series … the first woman assigned to “Monday Night Football” … the first woman to handle a Super Bowl trophy presentation … the first woman to be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame … the first woman to win the Sports Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmys.


September 25th, 2023
2023 Fellow Feature: Dana Priest Two Pulitzer Prizes — for reporting on the CIA’s secret prisons, and conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center — are just the tip of the journalistic iceberg for Dana Priest. A career reporter (primarily at The Washington Post) and bestselling author, she is the recipient of: the David Nyhan Prize for Political Journalism awarded by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University; the Gerald R.


September 22nd, 2023
2023 Fellow Feature: Marvin Kalb Personally recruited to CBS News by Edward R. Murrow, Marvin Kalb abandoned his Ph.D. work in Russian history at Harvard University to plunge into a journalism career that spanned decades, including five and a half years living in the U.S.S.R. Today, at age 93, he resides in Washington, D.C.,


September 18th, 2023
2023 Fellow Feature: Soledad O’Brien During a commencement address at Spelman College, Soledad O’Brien relayed a story about people in Maryland spitting on her parents in 1958 because they disapproved of the marriage between her mother, a Black Cuban, and father, a white Australian of Irish and Scottish heritage.


September 8th, 2023
From the President: A tough call Family members streamed into the newsroom clutching pictures of their loved ones, hopeful they were either alive under the rubble of the World Trade Center or injured and dazed in a Manhattan emergency room.  On Sept. 11, 2001, I was design editor at the Staten Island Advance, a daily newspaper in New York City’s smallest borough, just eight miles from ground zero.


September 5th, 2023
2023 Fellow Feature: Richard Drew Even if you don’t know Richard Drew’s name, you’ve no doubt seen his work. As an Associated Press photographer for 53 years, his lens has caught everything from foreign wars, international Olympics Games, U.S. political races and European royalty, to natural disasters, neighborhood fires, police chases and small-town heroes. 


July 24th, 2023
Making use of open source Many major news stories begin their journey to public consciousness via social media. Witness the cellphone video shot by a bystander showing the killing of George Floyd and the videos of the Capitol insurgency of Jan. 6, 2021. With its vast and growing palette of digital tools, such open source intelligence has become a forensic art, applying to both journalism and criminal investigations. 


July 17th, 2023
Covering suicide responsibly For more than a quarter of a century, suicide prevention experts have advised journalists against providing too many details about specific suicide methods, or presenting stories about suicide in a prominent way, due to the risk of copycat deaths. So a New York Times front page headline left me shocked: “Where the Despairing Learn Ways to Die.”


July 11th, 2023
Refreshing the pool Like many journalists, Corey Walker didn’t major in journalism; he focused on history and economics while attending the University of Michigan. He loved to write, though, and took one journalism class and penned a few stories for the Michigan Review, a conservative alternative campus publication.


July 6th, 2023
10 With Lauren Williams In 2020, many heavy issues and events were directly affecting African Americans, and not in a good way. Police or police wannabes killed unarmed Black citizens while a deadly contagion was spreading, disproportionally afflicting Black people. Nonetheless, hundreds of marches against police brutality and nervousness about a consequential presidential election drew scores of people outside, further putting Black Americans, in particular, at risk.


July 3rd, 2023
Exit the arts critics? Jay Handelman, arts editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, sometimes feels like one of the last survivors of a critically endangered species. And he’s not wrong. Over the last couple of decades, the number of full-time, health-insurance-enrolled, 401(k)-contributing newspaper arts critics has declined more precipitously than the Siberian tiger population.


June 27th, 2023
From the President: Saluting SPJ’s pioneering women Helen Thomas quieted the crowd and began her keynote address with a candid but rhetorical question.  “Where are all the women?” The legendary White House correspondent was dwarfed at the dais by two tiers of a mostly male board of directors in a ballroom filled with mostly male journalists at the SPJ annual convention in Atlanta 37 years ago. 


May 22nd, 2023
Empathetic interviewing Kerry Sheridan was less than a month into the master’s journalism program at Columbia University when terrorists’ planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. She was new to New York, new to the practice of advanced journalism — and she was suddenly on the front lines of a catastrophic national event whose impact would reverberate for decades to come.


May 15th, 2023
Finding the fee in freelance In most circles, it’s considered unsophisticated, uncouth and uncultured — and all of the other shameful “un” words — to talk about the money you make and the way you make it.  I don’t care. Let’s talk about it. As a freelancer, the matter of money involves a labyrinth of considerations, factors and variables, for which there is no universal solution that works for every writer or for every situation.


May 9th, 2023
Raising representation in student newsrooms After a summer of nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd and outrage over the shooting death of a young Black man by a white bar owner in Omaha, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln student newspaper decided to make the value of Black lives the focus of its 2020 fall special edition.


April 28th, 2023
From Nixon to Trump with Woodward and Bernstein Fifty years ago this May, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities — aka the Senate Watergate Committee — began its televised hearings into the break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters.  The must-see-TV broadcasts turned the likes of E.


April 21st, 2023
10 with Taylor Lorenz Taylor Lorenz’s road to becoming a technology reporter featured many twists and turns. She started out by blogging on Tumblr and rose to internet stardom, soon realizing she could turn her passion into a reporting gig — but editors didn’t agree.


April 14th, 2023
From the President: Linking generations of journalists John C. Long and Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez have never met. But they are linked to the same Kentucky newsroom and, like all SPJ members, are driven by a passion for the profession.  Their paths to membership couldn’t be more diverse. 


March 18th, 2023
Officials in California destroyed public records. Now the spotlight is on them. During Sunshine Week four years ago, I had the opportunity to thank California state Sen. Nancy Skinner for her work at an SPJ Northern California Pro Chapter awards ceremony.  Skinner had just authored California’s most consequential government transparency law in generations, Senate Bill 1421, which made police records relating to shootings and other serious incidents public.


March 10th, 2023
NY court agrees: You have the right to see police disciplinary records Scrutiny of police activity has been a hot-button issue in recent years, and days, both nationally and locally. It goes without saying that law enforcement officials have an almost impossible job. With mass shootings an almost weekly occurrence and the unpredictability of violent crime, those who protect us face unimaginable obstacles.


February 16th, 2023
Women at war and the lessons learned Among the first female war correspondents was Martha Gellhorn, who wrote for Collier’s magazine. Gellhorn faced challenges when covering World War II, including from her husband, Ernest Hemingway, whose telegram to her shortly after their marriage made clear the sexism she endured.


February 10th, 2023
10 with Greg Agvent When it comes to using drones for newsgathering, Greg Agvent is the closest thing the industry has to a wisdom-filled graybeard. That’s because the concept of gathering pictures and video with small, remotely controlled aerial vehicles only caught on during the last decade.


February 3rd, 2023
Wrestling with trust vs. attention when breaking news In June 2022, new CNN CEO Chris Licht issued a memo to staffers to reduce the network’s usage of the “breaking news” graphic on air.   “Something I have heard from both people inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner,” Licht wrote in a copy of the memo obtained by Variety.


January 19th, 2023
Focusing on photography ethics Just a few weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, photojournalist Lynsey Addario captured a photo of a civilian casualty that spoke to the atrocity of the war. While located at an evacuation route in Irpin, she witnessed the death of a family killed by a mortar.


January 19th, 2023
From the President: Reuniting SPJ If there’s a line from a song that sums up MediaFest22, it’s got to be this one from the 1979 hit by R&B duo Peaches & Herb: Reunited and it feels so good … After two virtual conferences, more than 700 SPJ members gathered in the nation’s capital for three days of camaraderie, connections and collaboration.


January 6th, 2023
Conduits of misinformation After interviewing U.S. Sen. Rick Scott about the challenges of rebuilding areas of Florida decimated by deadly Hurricane Ian, Margaret Brennan, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” attempted to wrap up with an unrelated question about recent “disturbing rhetoric” from former President Donald Trump and U.S.


December 7th, 2022
2022 Journalist’s Gift Guide In addition to the important news itself, a good Sunday paper is a combination of the smart, the useful and the fun. We employed that same trio as our mantra in seeking out items for this year’s holiday gift guide for journalists.


December 5th, 2022
2022 Fellows Feature: Bill Whitaker A staple in broadcast media, Emmy-winning journalist Bill Whitaker has graced American televisions since 1979. Stints in San Francisco, Charlotte and Atlanta led to CBS News, where he served as correspondent in Tokyo and, later, Los Angeles, where he was frequently seen reporting for “CBS Evening News.”


November 30th, 2022
2022 Fellows Feature: Clarissa Ward CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward often cites her “peripatetic upbringing” as the spark for her wanderlust. Born in London, the only child of an American mother and British father, she moved to Manhattan, then back again to London, with a rotating cast of nannies (11 by the time she was 8) along the way.


November 18th, 2022
2022 Fellow Feature: John Quiñones For over five decades, ABC news veteran John Quiñones has shared stories of those who have experienced abuse, injustice or hardship at the hands of the powerful people or institutions whose actions disproportionately impact the lives of others. As a reporter for “World News Tonight” and “20/20,” anchor on “Primetime” and host of the wildly popular “What Would You Do?”


October 14th, 2022
2022 Fellow Feature: Roland Martin SPJ launched the Fellows of the Society program in 1948 and has named three or more Fellows every year since. Roland Martin is among the 2022 recipients of this, the organization’s highest honor. When Roland Martin decided at age 14 that he would establish a career in journalism, he also decided he wouldn’t limit himself to just one medium.


October 10th, 2022
2022 Fellow Feature: Jerry Green SPJ launched the Fellows of the Society program in 1948 and has named three or more Fellows every year since. Jerry Green is among the 2022 recipients of this, the organization’s highest honor.   When he began his newspaper career, he wrote his stories on a heavy old portable typewriter, but these days he’s as apt to use his iPhone as anything else.