On the heels of a busy 2013-14 led by SPJ President Dave Cuillier, I am honored and eager to serve SPJ during the next year, continuing his good work and embarking on new projects and initiatives to better serve journalists. While journalists continue to face daunting challenges, including fighting for press freedom, facing arrest and even death in extreme cases, there is much SPJ can do to support journalists and our industry.
Let’s face it: The moment news gatherers take on a story that turns on racial justice, most of them contend with a severe lack of trust. Americans are only half convinced that the news media are ever worth their confidence, according to survey data.
The future of SPJ, journalism and even democracy rest squarely on two people’s shoulders: Joe and Chris. That’s a huge burden, I know, and it might seem a little melodramatic, but it’s true. I’m talking about two people who really keep our organization moving: SPJ Executive Director Joe Skeel and Sigma Delta Chi Foundation Director Chris Vachon.
“Good enough” isn’t good enough if you are a data journalist. Even “accurate” isn’t good enough. When you’re working with data, it’s important to run it through a bias filter at every stage. That’s what three highly regarded investigative journalists insisted as we prepared for a panel on the ethics of working with data at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in June.
In December 2012, a young man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 26 people, 20 of them children. We later learned that he’d killed his mother before going to the school. His many issues relating to social isolation came out in the following months, including the fact that he had Asperger’s syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorder.
Now, more than ever, every journalist should have a “Plan B.” Journalism is not dead or dying, and there are amazing opportunities out there; but clearly the industry is a little more fluid today than it used to be. It’s crucial to develop a network to spring to a new opportunity if the need comes up.
Being a gadget freak isn’t a requirement for being a journalist, but these days it helps to have some familiarity with the plethora of new stuff constantly being pushed into the consumer pipeline. While journalists learn to embrace new tech as part of their jobs, news audiences have also benefitted from the march of progress.
The time is right for us to take a hard look at who we want to be and adapt to the changing journalism environment. We’ve done it before, which is why we remain the largest journalism organization in the United States.
One day over 10 years ago, Jeneé Osterheldt received a phone call from her professional mentor, Reginald Stuart. He was attending a journalism conference just two hours away from her in California, where she was completing an internship he had helped her acquire.
Red state, blue state. White, black. Old, young. Citizen, immigrant. Journalists and their audiences seem to live in a world of opposites, with not much information in between. Observing the dichotomies that dominated coverage of the government shutdown, the Affordable Care Act, immigration and countless other topics, I’m reminded of a classic essay by developmental biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling.
These are exciting times for journalism, and a bit unnerving. But journalism is NOT dead or dying; it’s evolving. Journalism matters. I’m glad SPJ can play a role, and during this next year I will need your help. During my speech at EIJ13 in Anaheim, Calif.,
Brace yourself. Reports on women and people of color in the news tend to depress. But the latest compilation of data may coax you into a tiny bit of a smile. Investigative reporting, that high-status bastion of male dominance in the news business, is opening up, according to data in the Women’s Media Center’s The Status of Women in the Media 2013 report.
What’s the foundation of great reporting? Sure, smart questions and careful listening. But underpinning all but the rare, confrontational interview is one key ingredient: trust. That’s one reason journalists gravitate toward familiar faces. We develop our reliable, go-to sources and on a breaking story, quickly identify who is likely to be responsive and credible in the crowd.
I’ve heard it for years from mid-career journalists, though not so much from the j-school students I work with today: “How am I supposed to keep up with all this new stuff?” That was when now-commonplace concepts such as blogging, social media and SEO were bewilderingly new to the established news media.
It has been happening a lot lately: Native Americans misrepresented in the media, often with animal images. Whether it is Michelle Williams’ Another Magazine photo shoot where she is dressed as a Native American in a wolf-like costume or a former Minnesota TV news director posting on Facebook an “Indian and other animals” are on his front lawn, once again Native Americans are being described in media as anything but human.
The Supreme Court hearing cases this year on same-sex marriage have thrust gay rights issues to the forefront again. One dominant voice continues to reflect the perspective of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in news: the white male. “Mainstream (media) organizations will go to the one or two white organizations they know about,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, a statewide gay rights organization based in Atlanta.
February is African-American History Month (also called Black History Month) and is designated to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans, people of African descent who were born in the United States. But the increase of African immigrants is also notable and is changing the definition of who is an African-American.
Years ago, when I was a radio reporter in Fort Worth, Texas, I was invited to cover a Las Posadas event at a local Catholic church. It was a wonderful experience and a great way to share a slice of Latino culture with my listeners.
I’ve learned through the years that thoroughbreds for the most part run to form. If you study a horse’s past performances in the horse gambler’s bible, the Daily Racing Form, odds are the horse will produce similar results. But horse players often face the dreaded maiden race — an affair for non-winners in which starters have a minimal number of starts or none at all.
NOTE: As Quill went to press, and this column came out, the Hartford Courant announced it was dropping Google Translate and developed its own in-house, staffed Spanish-language site. Read more here. Over the summer, the Hartford Courant began offering news in Spanish to its readers.
Jeremy Steele isn’t a reporter. He’s not an editor or a producer, and he hasn’t worked at a news outlet since 2009. But he has always been tangled up in journalism, even after spending three years in public relations. In July, Steele started work as the executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association.
We who teach college-level journalism have observed for years that women dominate our classrooms. In fact, an annual survey shows that two-thirds of students in journalism programs are women, a number that has held steady since the 1980s. The latest statistics from the American Society of News Editors show approximately the reverse: Women remain 37 percent of newsroom employees.
On August 22, 2011, former University of Idaho psychology professor Ernesto Bustamante shot and killed his former student and lover Katy Benoit at her rental house. After the shooting, Bustamante sequestered himself in a hotel room, a move that led to a stand-off with Moscow, Idaho, police and, ultimately, Bustamante’s suicide.
A journalist friend who also is commissioner in a fantasy baseball league to which I belong recently sent an email to all the team owners who also are journalists. Does playing in a league that features modest fees and prize money constitute a form of sports betting?
More than four decades into a journalism career that has spanned both U.S. coasts, Jim Asendio isn’t going to the newsroom on a daily basis for the first time in a long time. But it’s not because he’s retired – though he did leave his last job over a conscious choice of his own.
The headline read “ESPN Fires Employee for Jeremy Lin Racist Headline.” Today, that former ESPN editor, Anthony Federico, is learning a hard lesson for writing a racially offensive headline “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets.”
My son Ray is a transgender person. As a journalist and mother, I’ve realized that many media outlets don’t know how to cover this community. Sometimes reporters are afraid to ask questions or don’t even bother to get to know the transgender community that exists in their city.
The unsung heroes of our Society are the volunteers who log countless hours working on various national committees. As your new president, I’ve been blessed to inherit a very strong set of committees. I’ve added people and created some new ad-hoc committees, but for the most part, a fair number of folks agreed to continue on this year.
Cross earns Wells Memorial Key Al Cross was the 2011 recipient of the Wells Memorial Key, presented the final night of the Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans. The Wells Key is the highest honor bestowed on a member for service to the Society.
Each week thousands of people visit the SPJ website, and many of them navigate to the ethics page to read our Code of Ethics. In fact, aside from the homepage, the ethics page has the single largest population of unique visitors in the last year, nearly 35,000.
Change can be a good thing. SPJ delegates proved it at the convention in New Orleans when they passed a resolution recommending that journalists stop using the phrase “illegal alien.” The “I-word” controversy gained wide national scrutiny in late 2010 and early 2011 after a Quill column by Leo Laurence caught the attention of Bill O’Reilly.
One of the privileges of serving as SPJ’s Diversity Committee chairman came earlier this year in a big UPS box. It was full of DVDs, newspaper clippings and CDs with news stories that explore and expose issues of importance to immigrant or ethnic communities living in the U.S.