When members of SPJ’s own Freedom of Information Committee have never heard of SPJ’s Project Sunshine or know who their state’s Sunshine Chair is, can we call the effort a failure? Or at least in serious need of an overhaul? The current FOI Committee, under Gideon Grudo’s guidance as chair, undertook an update of SPJ’s state-by-state FOI resource guide this spring.
Note: This is the final column by 2012-13 SPJ President Sonny Albarado, whose term ended in late August. The president’s column for 2013-14 President Dave Cuiller will begin with the September/October issue. I almost quit SPJ about 18 years ago. I had noticed with disappointment that few journalists in the Society were with big news organizations, had names recognizable from bylines in major newspapers or on network television, or were in higher management positions.
Other than approving Legal Defense Fund grants for three free-press freedom fighters, the most important thing the SPJ board did at its April 20 spring meeting was adopt a new Openness and Accountability Best Practices Guide. You’d be forgiven for wondering why the directors of a journalism organization found it necessary, even important, to craft a set of guidelines for itself and its local chapters.
On March 13, a member of Vice President Joe Biden’s press office staff demanded that a student journalist delete photos he had taken during a university-sponsored event featuring Biden. “It’s clear from the circumstance that the journalist did nothing wrong,” Philip Merrill College of Journalism Dean Lucy Dalglish is quoted in a Capital News Service story about the incident.
“Journalists and newsrooms should seek truth and report it.” That’s the first sentence from “Guidance for Journalists on Expressing Personal Opinions,” a set of recommendations for staff members at Digital First Media. A group of Digital First Media journalists has been working on guidelines for opinion journalism within the company, and this essay, posted in mid-December, is the second in a series of best-practices reports the committee has produced.
The end of a printed Newsweek does not herald the imminent end of print journalism. That seems obvious to me, but you’d never guess that from all the handwringing in mid-October when the magazine’s editor, Tina Brown, announced that Newsweek would cease publication at the end of 2012 and become digital-only as Newsweek Global.
Note: Sonny Albarado is the 2012-13 national SPJ president. He took office on Sept. 22 during the Excellence in Journalism conference. Looking on the past year as president-elect, I see two glasses — one half-empty, the other half-full. The half-empty glass shows that I failed to achieve some of the pledges I made to convention delegates when I sought their votes in New Orleans a year ago.