Posts by Connecticut SPJ

How your Connecticut delegates voted at the national convention

One of the big discussions at the national SPJ conference in Anaheim last week was whether to approve proposed bylaw changes to the national board.

The changes, which eventually passed 86-14 among the delegates, will bring the size of the governing body down to nine members from the current 23. It also removes regional directors from the national board.

Mike Savino, president of the Connecticut Pro Chapter of the SPJ, proposed an amendment bringing the board down to 11 members instead of 9, but the amendment failed. 

The Press Club of Long Island proposed an amendment requiring the board to fill one of the available appointed positions with a sitting regional coordinator (the new name for regional directors). That amendment also failed. 

The two delegates from the Connecticut Pro Chapter voted against the bylaw change due to concerns it would limit the amount of local voices that will be heard on the national level and potentially limit diversity on the board. 

The transition to the new board structure will take place over two years. 

You can read more about the bylaw changes here

Convention delegates also approved several resolutions, which your CT delegates voted in favor of:

  • TRUMP & THE PRESS: The Society of Professional Journalists condemns in the harshest possible terms the corrosive actions and words of the Trump administration toward the news media and journalists; asks members of Congress and other public officials to remind the administration of the vital role the First Amendment and the press play in our system of government; encourages journalists not to rise to the social media bait distributed by President Trump and others who choose to mislead the public about the news media and to refrain from responding in kind
  • MANDATED CLEARANCE: The Society of Professional Journalists calls on journalists to put the public’s need to know above the professional desire not to anger official sources and resist official efforts to make reporters nothing more than stenographers and openly oppose restrictions on access to information; calls on all journalists, journalism groups, publishers, editors, journalism schools and freedom of information groups to start and continue discussions on eliminating these restrictions and to explain to the public the hazards to society posed by these restrictions. 
  • PRAISING NEW VOICES: The SPJ commends the work of the Student Press Law Center, its former executive director and new executive director for their fight for student free expression in all 50 states
  • STORM COVERAGE: The SPJ commends the extraordinary journalists covering the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma for their fortitude, integrity and bravery 
  • PUBLIC BROADCASTING: The SPJ recognizes the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act; recognizes the dedication of all those who work in public media; and believes federal funding is necessary to the enhancement of the democratic and cultural well-being of the country
  • THANK YOUS: The delegates thank Associate Executive Director Chris Vachon for her 14 years of dedicated service to the SPJ; thank Executive Director Joe Skeel for his 8 years of dedicated service to the SPJ; thank the SPJ staff for all its work to put together the convention; thank outgoing President Lynn Walsh for her service.

SPJ grant winners share experience of attending national conference

“What a wonderful experience it was to attend the Excellence in Journalism Conference in Anaheim, California.

I feel very fortunate having been chosen as a recipient of the CTSPJ Professional Travel Grant in September of 2017.

I return to Connecticut exhausted, but in a good way! With a bucket full of potential story ideas to do back here in the Nutmeg state.

It was an honor to learn from some of the best and brightest journalists from across Connecticut and the country.

Having 72-hours of intense informational packed sessions that helped reignite the fire in my belly and remind me why I love being a reporter, take the job seriously and know how important our industry is now more than ever.

Whether it was a three-hour intensive Google News Lab workshop to the “Art of Access” with Dr. Dave Cuillier from the University of Arizona, offering tips and tricks on how to better wrangle records from government agencies, I learned a whole new set of skills to add to my reporter tool box and share with my colleagues.

The relationships I made with journalists near and far will last a lifetime and I would highly recommend applying for the travel grant. Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity.”

– Jill Konopka, Reporter, NBC Connecticut

“EIJ 17 was everything I could have hoped for and more. I highly recommend attending this convention, especially for student members of SPJ. You are surrounded with the best of the best from all around the country.

The seminars bring so much diversity in reporting styles and experiences, you find yourself hanging onto every word, trying to soak in as much knowledge as you possibly can. You also get to bond with other journalist in a more relaxed environment outside of the newsroom.

Whether its grabbing a slice of pizza or putting on bowling shoes, EIJ gives you to opportunity to connect with each other on a one-on-one basis. I am so grateful for the opportunity and look forward to attending it again next year.” 

– Analisa Novak, student, CCSU

CT SPJ alumna Rebecca Baker installed as national SPJ president

Rebecca Baker, who got her journalism start in Connecticut and is a former board member of the SPJ Connecticut Pro Chapter, became the 101st president of the national Society of Professional Journalists during the President’s Installation Banquet at the 2017 Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, California, this week.

A former New Haven Register reporter, Baker now works as deputy head of news at the New York Daily News. Before that, she worked as editor-in-chief of the New York Law Journal.

Baker is the first SPJ national president from New York City in 35 years, according to the SPJ.

At the installation banquet, she spoke about the many ways the SPJ has helped her in advancing her career and how the organization helps members and non-members alike in furthering the mission of good journalism. 

One of Baker’s goals is to get SPJ members into classrooms over the next year to speak to students about the importance of journalism. 

“If we can reach kids, we can reach the future consumers of our news,” said Baker, speaking of the program dubbed Press for Education.


Click here to read more.

Your local delegates will vote on proposed bylaw changes

In just a few days, your local SPJ delegates from CT will be going to Anaheim for a national conference. As part of the conference, delegates will vote on proposed bylaw changes.

One of the biggest proposed changes this year will be bringing the national SPJ board down in size from 23 to 9 members. Regional directors will no longer be board members if this change passes.

Please let us know what you think of these proposed changes so we can cast our votes to benefit you – our members. You can email our president, Mike Savino, or leave a comment below.

Read more about the proposed bylaw changes here.

Jill Konopka, Analisa Novak awarded SPJ travel grants

Analisa Novak

Jill Konopka

One professional journalist and one student journalist from Connecticut have been awarded travel grants from the Connecticut SPJ to attend the Excellence in Journalism 2017 conference in Anaheim, Calif., in September. 

Jill Konopka, a member of NBC WVIT-30’s Troubleshooters team, is the recipient of the $1,100 professional travel grant awarded to one CT SPJ member.

In her application for the grant, Konopka said she would like to learn new ideas, tips, tricks, and topics to continue exploring investigative journalism.

“Now more than ever, I feel very strongly about my role as a reporter,” Konopka said. “In talking with residents of our state, they are most concerned about wasted tax payer dollars and pocket book issues.  I want to hold the powerful accountable and expand my reporting skill set.  I believe I could learn a lot at this conference.”

Konopka has been with NBC Connecticut since December 2015

Analisa Novak, a Central Connecticut State University with an already impressive resume, was awarded $600 to attend the conference.

“The reason why I would like to attend is to gain more knowledge of how our campus organization can be more active and promote the ethics and principles that SPJ stands for,” Novak said in her application. “We are fairly new on campus and we have been trying to be as active as possible. From the very first day that I transferred into CCSU two years ago, I instantly felt a connection with the organization. ”

Novak is a senior at CCSI and is the current president of the CCSU SPJ chapter and a veteran of the U.S. Army.


First Amendment Institute Applications Now Available

Applications are now available for fellowships to the 2017 New England First Amendment Institute. This seventh annual institute will be held from Oct. 29-31 at Northeastern University in Boston. 

Application materials can be obtained here.

The New England First Amendment Coalition provides the three-day investigative journalism workshop each year to 25 journalists working within the region. The institute is provided to these journalism fellows at no cost and features many of the country’s elite investigative reporters, editors and media attorneys.

“We have trained more than 150 New England journalists since the institute was founded seven years ago,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of NEFAC. “We’re excited to select another class of fellows to learn from some of the best reporters, editors and attorneys in the country.”

Speakers and faculty for this year’s institute will be announced later this summer. Previous speakers include The Marshall Project’s Bill Keller, formerly of The New York Times; Pulitzer Prize winners Carol Leonnig of The Washington Post and David Barstow of The New York Times; ESPN’s Don Van Natta, Jr.; the 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning Spotlight Team from The Boston Globe; as well as Anna Schecter, a Peabody Award winning producer for NBC; Cindy Galli of ABC News; and Bill Buzenberg, former executive director of the Center for Public Integrity.

NEFAI fellows will learn the latest investigative and database reporting techniques, state-specific public records and open meeting laws, and how to best obtain documents through the federal Freedom of Information Act, among many other skills.

This year’s institute is made possible by the generosity of the Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, the program’s primary supporter; as well as Northeastern University and the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

A Message from the CT SPJ President: July 2017

This is the July 2017 newsletter send out to CT SPJ members.

What’s new?

Greetings to all members of the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, and thanks for your continued support. I thought the start of a new year of business would be the great to start one of our new initiatives: A monthly memo keeping you up-to-date about all the board’s activities. We have plenty of great things happening this year, including an influx of new talent to complement the hard-working members already on the board, the announcement of some great legislation to help you in your work, and, of course, we are once again offering a grant to help one member travel to the national SPJ conference. Please click here to learn more about EIJ 2017.

Travel grant available, apply today 

One lucky member will win a grant toward a trip to Anaheim! 

We are pleased to announce that we are once again offering a grant to one member for expenses to attend the Excellence In Journalism Conference, which will be in Anaheim from Sept. 7-9. The grant will cover up to $1,100 for registration, airfare, and lodging for the duration of the conference. Applicants should indicate what they hope to gain from the conference, why they would be a worthy recipient, and how they intend to partner with CT SPJ and give back to Connecticut journalism.

Enter for your chance at a free trip to the EIJ 2017

New Year, new board

Fresh faces join your hard working board

Those who attended May’s annual dinner helped elected the board for the current year. Mike Savino, of the Record-Journal, returns as president, and Jordan Otero Sisson, of the Hartford Courant, was elected to serve a second year as vice president. Other officers positions changed hands as we continue to transition for the future. Additionally, the board welcomed Darren Sweeney, of both WVIT-TV 30 and Central Connecticut State University, and Pete Paguaga, of the Record-Journal.

See who else is serving

New legislation

Two laws will help protect the First Amendment in CT!

Soon, two laws will help protect journalists and others from lawsuits that serve as nothing more than retaliation against those who exercise their First Amendment rights. One law will make it easier to dismiss strategic lawsuits aimed at public participation, or SLAPP, by allowing defendants to argue the complaint is merely aimed at deterring the exercise of First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech, press, or to assemble. The other law will forbid the judgements in Connecticut of foreign libel claims unless the ruling occurred in a country with defamation of character standards similar to those in the U.S. Both laws will take effect Oct. 1.

See the anti SLAPP law

Learn about foreign libel protections

We’re here for you

Let us help you serve Connecticut residents

I’d like to conclude this first president’s message by offering our support to all Connecticut journalists, however you may need it. If you have a program idea or a skill you’d like to learn, please reach out to us and we’d be happy to put a program together. Questions about ethics, Freedom of Information, or other work-related issues? We have the resources to guide you to the right answers. We’re even here for you if you face the kind of harassment or threats that journalists are sadly facing on an increasing basis. We recently came to the aid of a member of the Capitol press corps after an elected official threw a toy at her over frustration with a picture she took. As president, I talked with leaders within the House of Representatives about how this is unacceptable, and similarly let the public know through a statement. Please let us know if you experience similar problems in the course of your work informing the public.

Thanks for your continued support.

Your president,

Mike Savino

CT SPJ annual dinner photo gallery

Maureen Croteau

University of Connecticut’s Journalism Department Chairwoman Maureen Croteau is the first woman to lead an academic department in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and is its longest-serving department head. Last year, the department celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and Croteau has been its leader for the past 34 years.

Croteau arrived in Storrs after more than a decade working as a newspaper reporter and editor in Hartford and Providence. When she accepted the position in 1983, the department had three faculty members and a roomful of manual Underwood typewriters on old oaken desks. In 1985, she set up the department’s first computer lab, one of the first on campus. The department now has eight full-time faculty members, including two Pulitzer Prize winners, serving more than 200 undergraduate majors and pre-majors. Under her direction, the department has become the only nationally accredited journalism program in New England.

Since 1991, Croteau has been a director at The Day, where Publisher Gary Ferrugia calls her, “the conscience of the company in all matters regarding journalism.”

She is a UConn alumna and a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is co-author of two books, and was the 2014 New England Journalism Educator of the Year, chosen by the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

CTSPJ Board of Directors 2017-2018

2017-2018 Officers:

Michael Savino

Jordan Otero
Vice President for Programming

Viktoria Sundqvist
Vice President for Communications

Bruno Matarazzo Jr.

Cara Rosner

Paul Singley
Immediate Past President

2016-17 Board of Directors:

Copyright 2010-2017. Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, P.O. Box 5071, Woodbridge CT 06525