DeCesare and Smith to receive Helen M. Loy Award

The Connecticut pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will honor Don DeCesare and James H. Smith with the Helen M. Loy Freedom of Information award at the CTSPJ annual awards dinner May 22.

DeCesare and Smith, as members of the Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know, each fought for more access to crime scene photos after the legislature passed a law exempting the records from public release.

DeCesare and Smith disagreed about the best strategy to try to change the law, which was passed — behind closed doors — in response to the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Yet both men spent dozens of hours of their personal time working to change the law to allow the public to again have access to crime scene photos. For that tireless effort, CTSPJ thanks DeCesare and Smith.

About Don DeCesare
DeCesare is past chairman of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association. DeCesare has worked for more than 40 years in broadcasting, including many years at CBS Broadcasting in New York City where he went from editing radio broadcasts to overseeing television news coverage. He is now president and general manager of WLIS-AM, Old Saybrook and WMRD-AM Middletown.

DeCesare was a founding member and past board member and treasurer of CT-N, as well as a member of the Media Center Advisory Board for Middlesex Community College.

About James H. Smith
Smith, a retired journalist of 42 years, is president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. Smith has served as president of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors, and is a member of the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.

He led the Connecticut Post, The Day of New London, The News-Times of Danbury, the Record-Journal of Meriden and the New Britain Herald to their first New England Newspaper of the Year awards.

Smith won the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for a selection of his columns on the First Amendment. He is the four-time winner of the First Amendment Award from CTSPJ.

About the Helen M. Loy Freedom of Information Award
The Connecticut pro chapter of SPJ honors people who work to advance open government in Connecticut.

The late Helen M. Loy was a former chairwoman of the Freedom of Information Commission, and one of the trio of original members appointed by then-Gov. Ella T. Grasso. Loy served as a commissioner from 1975-1985 when she died. She worked in various local and state government positions throughout her career.

Upon her passing, CTSPJ named its annual Freedom of Information award in her honor.

Lynne DeLucia named to Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame

Lynne DeLucia

Lynne DeLucia

Lynne DeLucia, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, will be inducted into the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame at the CTSPJ annual awards dinner on May 22, 2014.

Tenacity, curiosity and quality have been hallmarks of DeLucia’s more than 40 years in Connecticut journalism.

It started at age 16 in Hamden, covering an inchworm invasion and planning and zoning for the Hamden Chronicle. She moved full-time to the New Haven Register, where she was among a group of female journalists who sued for pay equality in the mid 1970s. The suit was eventually settled out of court, but the goal of equal pay was realized: The wages of women essentially doubled in the Register newsroom.

After becoming city editor of the Register in 1983, DeLucia moved to the Hartford Courant in 1993 to run the New Britain bureau. She became state editor in 1995 and led the Courant’s coverage of the 1998 shooting at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters. Those stories won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news.

She moved up to assistant managing editor, where she urged reporters to explore projects on gender, sex, domestic violence, the impact of the Iraq War on soldiers, and many other topics.

In 2009, DeLucia moved to the digital realm. She co-founded the Connecticut Health I-Team with Lisa Chedekel. The site provides health and safety reporting to 15 media partners in Connecticut. With DeLucia as editor, C-HIT has reached more than one million readers since 2010. Additionally, C-HIT hosts an annual high school journalism camp for students in Connecticut to refine their investigative journalism skills.

“Lynne’s dedication to the craft of journalism — and most importantly to the communities that her work has informed and improved — make her deeply deserving of admission to the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame,” said John Ferraro is his nomination letter for DeLucia.

The Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists created the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame to honor journalists who have made a significant and enduring contribution to journalism in the state. View a list of past inductees here.

CTSPJ 2013 Excellence in Journalism Contest Finalists

Below is the list of finalists for the 2013 contest. The winners will be announced at the CTSPJ annual dinner on May 22nd. This year we are moving locations to the Seasons at the Tradition in Wallingford. Good luck to all finalists, and see you at the dinner!


CTSPJ 2013 Awards Finalist List

CTSPJ College Contest Open For Entries

The Connecticut SPJ College Contest is open for entries.

Click here to visit the contest website.

All entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 28.

The entry fees are:

  • $5 for SPJ members (membership ID number required)
  • $10 for non-members and news organizations

The contest is open for items published or broadcast in the 2013-14 academic year. (Please note, you must use the year 2013 when entering, even for items published in 2014).

Students can enter any work that ran in a print or online newspaper, or that was broadcast or streamed by a radio or TV station during the 2013-14 academic year.

Entries are limited to three per person per category. Each story, editorial, photo, etc. is a separate entry.

Any contest questions may be directed to contest committee co-chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil at


CTSPJ Members: Get free tickets to see James Risen

Connecticut SPJ will send two chapter members to the New England First Amendment Center luncheon, where New York Times reporter James Risen will speak about his refusal to testify in the trial of a former CIA officer.

CTSPJ is giving away two $100 tickets to the luncheon, which will be held on Feb. 7 in Boston. Any current CTSPJ member is eligible for the tickets, which will be given to the first person or people to contact CTSPJ President Jodie Mozdzer Gil at

Membership status will be verified with national SPJ before the tickets are distributed. Chapter members are national SPJ members who have also paid the $10 annual chapter dues.

Risen, a Pulitzer Prizing winning journalist, will receive the 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition at the event. He will speak about his work writing about the CIA and domestic spying, and the legal fallout after he refused to testify and identify his source for the book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”

The New England First Amendment Center was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. Its members include lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians, academics and private citizens.

Event Details

Place:Boston Park Plaza Hotel

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Date: Friday, Feb. 7

CTSPJ members should e-mail Jodie Mozdzer Gil at to request free tickets.

SCSU looking for freelance writers

Southern Connecticut State University is seeking long-term freelance writers for the Office of Public Affairs. The articles will be used for various publications including, but not limited to, Southern Alumni Magazine, SouthernLife (the university’s monthly newspaper), press releases, the President’s Annual Report, and a variety of marketing materials.

Interested applicants must use the bid/Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Download the RFP with more information here:

CTSPJ President’s Statement on Task Force Recommendations

The Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know met for the last time Jan. 24 and approved its final report.

Click here to download a PDF version of the report.

The final recommendations from the task force represent a compromise regarding the different viewpoints from the 17 members. The compromise recommends the legislature allow for review — but not release — of certain criminal records, which are now entirely exempt from disclosure under Public Act 13-311.

My support of the compromise comes reluctantly, as I do not agree with its recommendations. However, I supported the compromise because I believed it was the lesser of two evils.

A revision to the state’s FOI act approved by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2013 added unnecessary restrictions to the release of public information regarding crimes. When asked to appoint four members to the task force, the Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (CTSPJ) did so with the hope of regaining all of the transparency that was lost.

My first choice would have been to repeal Public Act 13-311 and revert the FOI Act to its existence prior to June 2013. I supported a compromise because it allows review — albeit under burdensome circumstances — and provides a window into possible release.

The task force was stacked with members who indicated they wanted to see MORE restrictions on the release of public records. FOI and press advocates were in the minority. It became clear the best chance at getting movement away from a bad law would be to meet in the middle.

The Task Force held public hearings — an important step that was ignored during the crafting and approval of Public Act 13-311. After hearing broad and balanced testimony, the Task Force came to the consensus that the law needs to be changed.

Public Act 13-311 is not appropriate. It lacks the transparency required in our democracy. While not ideal, the compromise is a shift in the right direction — one supported by even those on the board who initially wanted more restrictions.

The following are my main concerns with the current recommendations:

  • The standard for release should be Perkins, not Favish. The burden should not be on the public to prove a record should be public, as the Favish standard requires. Both Public Act 13-311 as it exists, or the task force’s proposed use of the Favish standard bring Connecticut to the bottom half of the state FOI spectrum in regards to openness and transparency.
  • The addition of 911 calls to the Task Force recommendation is a bad idea. The legislature wisely left 911 calls out of the original act.

I hope this Task Force recommendation is a first step toward a widespread conversation about the need for open government and a move back to the respected FOI Act our state has long had.


CTSPJ Journalism Contest Open For Entries

The Connecticut SPJ Excellence in Journalism Contest is open for entries.

Click here to visit the contest website.

A full list of contest categories can be found here.

All entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Feb 17, 2014.
The entry fees are:

  • $10 for SPJ members (membership ID number required)
  • $25 for non-members and news organizations

The contest is open for items published or broadcast in 2013 year.

Entries are limited to three per person per category. Each story, editorial, photo, etc. is a separate entry.

Any contest questions may be directed to contest committee co-chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil at


Boston Globe announces 2014 internship program deadline

The Boston Globe runs one of the top internship programs in the nation, giving 10 interns the opportunity to work as reporters, as well as photographer, designer or copy editor.

The 12-week paid internship places reporter-interns in our Metro, Business, Living/Arts, and Sports departments; the photo intern shoots stills and video for all sections, the design intern creates sections fronts and information graphics for print and online, and the copy editing intern works on local, national, foreign and business copy. We provide guidance and direction, as well as a writing coach dedicated to the interns. Globe interns produce every day and finely polish their journalism skills over the summer.

The application deadline is Nov. 1. More information on the program and an application can be accessed from our

Ethics Code Revamp, Shield Law Goals for New SPJ National President

Incoming national SPJ President David Cuillier will lead an effort to update SPJ’s Code of Ethics and continue the push for a federal shield law.

Culilier,was was elected by SPJ members in August, outlined his goals in a recent blog post.

“We’ll have a lot of other work to do this year, including development of new resources to foster diversity in journalism, creating new practical training platforms online and in-person to help journalist improve their skills, continue discussion about whether to change the name to the “Society for Professional Journalism,” and help build scholastic journalism to nurture future journalists,” Cuillier wrote in the post. “I will blog about all of this more in the weeks and months to come.”

Click here to read more at his blog.

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