Excellence in Journalism finalist list now available

The 2016 Excellence in Journalism Contest received more than 700 entries this year.

You can view a PDF of the finalists list here.

The winners of the contest will be announced during the annual Excellence in Journalism awards dinner on Thursday, May 25 at Grassy Hill Country Club.

You can purchase tickets for the dinner by clicking here, or by visiting our Dinner Page.



SPJ showcases drones and new photo tech

Vern Williams drone demonstration

Vern Williams, assistant professor of Journalism at Southern Connecticut State University, prepares to fly his DJI Mavic Pro drone at Southern Wednesday, April 19, as Richie Rathsack, digital content editor for the Record-Journal in Meriden, looks on. | Jodie Mozdzer Gil photo

Drones are getting smaller, and the cameras more powerful — and journalists continue to explore ways that can translate to better news coverage.

Read more →

Donate to the Bob Eddy Scholarship during the Great Give

The Bob Eddy Scholarship program helps Connecticut students who want to become journalists pay for college.

Each year the committee awards about $6,000 to students from Connecticut, or studying in Connecticut.

The fund is administered through the Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. To donate during The Great Give, click here.

Recap: Making CONNections journalism conference

The Making CONNections regional journalism conference was held at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven on April 8 and 9.

See some of the highlights from the panels in the Storify below.

Testimony Sought for FOI BILLS

Connecticut SPJ’s Board of Directors strongly urges journalists and news outlets to submit testimony during public hearings this week on a number of proposed bills that affect public access to information.

The Government Administration and Elections Committee’s March 7 public hearing includes legislation that, as written, would greatly expand when a public board or agency could call an executive session (HB 5501). The proposal would allow public officials to close off meetings from the public for any consultation with an attorney of the public agency concerning legal matters. This is a tremendous expansion beyond what is currently allowed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

A second piece of legislation (HB 5512) would allow municipalities to charge additional fees whenever someone files a FOI request for commercial purposes. The bill expressly states that journalists are exempt from the legislation, although it doesn’t define what constitutes a news outlet. Additional, this bill goes against the FOI Act, which does not grant a public agency to consider the intent of a requester, and this proposal would thus go against the spirit of the FOI Act. The bill also appears to give tremendous flexibility to how much a town can charge, making it potentially cost prohibitive for a requester whose intentions are deemed to be for commercial purposes. Lastly, this bill sets a dangerous precedent in chipping away at the public’s ability to easily access information.

GAE will also hear comments on a proposal requiring the preservation of and improving access to some historical records of value (HB 5499). The bill would improve access to some government records of value, including medical records. This would allow for a better examination on the way certain health ailments or conditions were treated in the past, as well as how the medical history of historically significant people may have affected their actions.

The committee’s hearing begins at 1 p.m., or written testimony can be sent to

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee will hear testimony during its March 8 public hearing on a bill that would moderately expand the amount of information that the University of Connecticut Foundation is required to make publicly available (SB 333). It would allow the foundation, though, to otherwise maintain its statutory exemption from the FOI Act.

Testimony can be sent to

Workshop Recap: My First J-Job

On Nov. 19, about 25 early career and student journalists gathered at the former Middletown Press headquarters for CTSPJ’s “My First J-Job” panel.
Panelists were: Mike Fallon, public relations professional at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce; Marcus Harun, TV and web news producer at Fox 61; Juliemar Ortiz, town reporter at the New Haven Register; and Kristin Stoller, town reporter at the Hartford Courant.
The discussion, moderated by CTSPJ board member Jordan Otero, covered topics including the job search, adjusting to life after college graduation and the everyday triumphs and challenges that come with being an early career journalist.
The event was streamed live on Periscope and the group headed to First and Last Tavern for informal networking afterward.

CTSPJ Seeks New Board Members

CTSPJ is looking for members or journalists willing to help work for the betterment of the Connecticut journalism community by joining its Board of Directors.

Nominations are now being accepted for one-year positions as president, vice president, vice president/communications, treasurer, secretary or as a member of the board.

The CTSPJ board works to helps support journalists each year through professional development events and the annual Excellence in Journalism Contest. The board also supports student journalists by awarding thousands of dollars worth of scholarships each year. CTSPJ supports journalistic causes, such as CCFOI and CFOG, as well as the national SPJ Legal Defense Fund. Board members get involved in one or more areas of interest.

All candidates must be paid nation as local and local members of SPJ.

If interested contact Cindy Simoneau, Nominations Chair,  at

Panel recap: Reporting on Islam


Imam Refai Arafin, left, makes a point during the panel discussion at Central Connecticut State University, while Andrew Ragali, center and M. Saud Anwar, right, listen | Paul Singley photo.

Words matter.

When the news media uses the word “terrorist” to identify the Muslim man in the Foot Hood attacks, but not the man involved in the Charleston church shooting, it adds to a growing negative sentiment toward Muslims, said M. Saud Anwar, former mayor and current council member in South Windsor.

Anwar was one of three panelists who spoke during a CTSPJ and CCSU SPJ panel discussion on Islam and Muslims in the news. Anwar was joined by Refai Arefin, Imam of the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, and Andrew Ragali, a reporter with the Meriden Record Journal who handled much of the paper’s coverage of the November mosque shooting. The event was held Wednesday, Feb. 24 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

“The words and descriptions are clearly different, even in similar incidents,” Anwar said, referring to an academic paper his son wrote that compared Washington Post media coverage of the two shootings.

A national conversation on Muslims in America has been ongoing, as many connect ISIS with the religion, which is practiced by about 3.3 million people in America, according to a 2105 Pew Research study. Fears increased in December, when a married couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, and the shooters were identified as Muslims who supported ISIS. Shortly after, presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

While the news media plays a role, Arefin said it’s “dangerous to talk about journalists as a monolith,” just as it’s not fair to paint all Muslims based on the actions of a few. That said, he sees some news media feeding into the fears of the public.

“The problem is the very nature of the news cycle today, in which the most extreme voices are amplified,” Arefin said.

Arefin said a selection bias leads to journalists covering mainly negative incidents with Muslims.

Ragali noted the pressures of daily news reporting and the shrinking staffs in newsrooms as part of the issue.

“We have to churn out a certain amount of stories every day. We have certain beats, so we cover city hall, education. So sometimes you’re stuck in that beat, and you can’t think broadly on certain things,” Ragali said. “So things like this, just talking, I’m getting story ideas right now.”

The video of the discussion will be posted in this space soon.


CTSPJ Contest Revision Proposal

Connecticut SPJ has been talking and thinking a lot about our contest. And we’ve decided it’s time for an update.

So we present to you our plans to move forward for the 2015 Excellence in Journalism Contest, which will open for entries in late December 2015, and close for entries some time in February 2016.

We invite your feedback at this critical stage in the redesign. Please send any comments, questions or suggestions to Contest Chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil at by Aug. 15.

Read more →

Land in Orlando Grant Available for CTSPJ Members

The Connecticut pro chapter of SPJ wants to send you to Orlando to attend the national SPJ Excellence in Journalism convention this September.

The board is offering up to $1,300 in a professional development grant to pay your way to the SPJ convention as a way to thank you for being a member of CTSPJ.

We value professional development, but know funding your own trip to the convention can be difficult. So let us pay your way.

To apply, send a two-to-three paragraph description of why you want to attend the national SPJ convention in Orlando to CTSPJ Past President Cindy Simoneau at Please use the e-mail subject CTSPJ LandInOrlando.

Simoneau will prepare a blind review for the current board to read and vote on.

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday July 24 to be considered by the board.

Winners will be notified before the Aug. 4 early bird registration deadline.


The details:

  • All applications must be current CTSPJ members in good standing. New members who join before the deadline are eligible for the grant. To join SPJ, click here to visit the national SPJ website. New CTSPJ members don’t pay local dues their first year. All other CTSPJ members must pay the $10 local dues in addition to the national dues.
  • The CTSPJ board will reimburse your conference travel expenses up to $1,300. You’ll need to save receipts for your travel, hotel, and registration, and get them to the board treasurer in order to get the grant reimbursement.
  • If you sign up as a new member, please save a copy of your confirmation to show proof of membership.
  • All applications will be reviewed by the CTSPJ board without knowledge of your name or publication. They will be handled through non-voting Past President Cindy Simoneau.
  • The person selected will be expected to attend two sessions during the conference with the board delegates, held on Saturday and Sunday.
  • The national convention runs from Sept. 18-20. For more information, go to the convention website.
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