FOI Commission Made The Right Decision on 911 Calls

The following is a statement from the Connecticut Pro Chapter of SPJ, regarding the FOI Commission decision on the Newtown 911 calls on Sept. 25. 

We’re pleased the FOI Commission upheld its hearing officer’s report demanding release of the 911 calls from Newtown. The decision was appropriate, and reflected the FOI Act requirements for public disclosure.

If the case is appealed, as expected, we urge the higher courts to come to the same conclusion: That 911 calls are important public records.

The 911 calls surrounding an incident allow the community and the press to assess official response, and to try to gain a better understanding about what happened.

The decision of whether material is appropriate for publication or broadcast should not be made by the government; it should remain with the journalists, guided by the various journalistic codes of ethics.

EIJ 2013 from CT SPJ

Three executive board members from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists are representing our chapter during this weekend’s Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, Calif. Immediate Past President Cindy Simoneau, President Jodie Mozdzer-Gil and Secretary Ricky Campbell are all in attendance and will serve as delegates during business meetings.

A few things you should know:

  • For regular updates on the conference, follow along on Twitter. Journalists throughout the country are using #EIJ13 to continue the conversation for the rest of the world to see.
  • The Region 1 convention will be held in Boston this year on April 25 and 26. For more information, visit
  • As a member of SPJ, you can vote in the national elections online. Visit this link to learn more about the candidates and to cast your vote.

We’ll keep you updated on the blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter. Stay tuned!

-Ricky Campbell, secretary CT SPJ

Patch Layoffs Hit Connecticut Editors

Some ofpatch-logo1 Connecticut’s 67 Patch hyper-local new sites will be affected by layoffs at the AOL company, the Hartford Courant reported Friday. The layoffs, which will occur through October, will include editors for Berlin, Ellington-Somers, Enfield, Montville, New London and Rocky Hill, according to the Courant.

Read more at the Hartford Courant.

Connecticut Post Staffer Receives SPJ Fellowship

From the Connecticut Post:

Hugh Bailey, assistant editorial page editor for the Connecticut Post, has been awarded the Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing.

The prestigious fellowship awards $75,000 each year to an outstanding editorial writer or columnist to help broaden his or her journalistic horizons and knowledge of the world. Bailey plans to learn how mid-size cities, both here and abroad, have converted and incorporated abandoned industrial sites from their past, both brownfields and old buildings, into contributing features of 21st century life.

Read more at the Connecticut Post

National SPJ Election Time

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 1.02.56 PMAll members of the Society of Professional Journalists can vote in the election for national candidates.

Voting will take place electronically during the Excellence in Journalism 2013 conference, Aug. 24-26. Additional instructions will arrive via email, so make sure that information is up to date!

The list of candidates can be viewed here.

The candidates will be available in person at the National Convention in California. If you can’t attend, you can also watch videos of their speeches online at the website.

CTSPJ appoints four journalists to legislature’s task force

June 18, 2013 — The Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists voted to appoint four journalists to the Connecticut task force on public information and privacy, created by the state legislature as part of the Newtown public records legislation this month.

The four CTSPJ appointees are:

  • Don DeCesare, President and General Manager of WLIS-AM in Old Saybrook and WMRD-AM in Middletown. DeCesare is past chairman of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association. DeCesare is a 40-year broadcast veteran, and spent several years at CBS in New York City, where he went from editing radio broadcasts to overseeing television news coverage. He is a past treasurer for CT-N, and is a member of the Media Center Advisory Board at Middlesex Community College. DeCesare helped push for a Connecticut Shield Law.
  • Klarn DePalma , Vice President and General Manager for WFSB-TV 3 Hartford and WSHM-TV 3 Springfield. DePlama has spent the last 20 years at WFSB, starting as an entry-level account executive in 1993. He was named Vice President and General Manager in 2005. DePalma is the chair of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut Science Center and Channel 3 Kids’ Camp.
  • Brian Koonz, Metro Editor for the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, a Hearst Connecticut newspaper. Koonz has spent the last 26 years in daily journalism in Connecticut. In addition to his role at the Connecticut Post, he has also worked as a sports reporter and columnist at The News-Times in Danbury, and has reported for the Register Citizen in Torrington, The Day of New London, The New Britain Herald and the Republican-American in Waterbury. Koonz, a Newtown resident, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for his coverage of the Newtown school shooting.
  • Jodie Mozdzer Gil, president of the Connecticut SPJ board and assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. Mozdzer Gil is also a freelance reporter for her former employer, the Valley Independent Sentinel, as well as other online news sites, including the Connecticut Health Investigative Team. Mozdzer Gil is a member of the national SPJ Digital Media Committee. Prior to her time writing for the Valley Independent Sentinel, she previously reported for the Hartford Courant and the Republican-American of Waterbury.

The appointees represent print, radio, television and online media.

“Our board is pleased to find four journalists who are enthusiastic to serve on this committee and who represent CTSPJ’s views — that transparency and public access to records is paramount in a free and open society,” said Cindy Simoneau, immediate past president for CTSPJ.

The task force includes 13 other members, including a representative from the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information and the executive director for the FOI Commission.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Brendan Sharkey, and president pro tempore of the Senate, Donald Williams, will select two chairpersons for the committee.

The task force is asked to meet between July 1, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014, at which point a report with recommendations will be sent to the Connecticut General Assembly.

Sherman London receives Helen M. Loy Award

LondonThe Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists gave its FOI award to Sherman D. London at the annual Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner May 23, 2013.

Sherman D. London, a past CTSPJ president and member of the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame, has been a member of the Freedom of Information Commission since 1996, having been appointed by Gov. John Rowland.

The award, named after the late Helen M. Loy, honors a person who has fought for freedom of information in Connecticut.

A graduate of Rider College in New Jersey, London came to the commission after a distinguished journalism career, during which he reported on local politics and the Connecticut General Assembly. During the last 20 years of his journalism career, London was the editor of both the Republican and the American newspapers in Waterbury.

Since his appointment, London has become known as a “work horse.” Not only does he rarely miss a commission meeting, but he also presides as hearing officer over contested cases on a weekly basis. He has quickly mastered the law and the procedures under which the commission operates, and is studious in preparation. Even simple typographical errors rarely get by him.

At 17 years, London is the commission’s longest serving member. His last term on the commission ends this year.
London’s two careers, first as a reporter and editor and then as a public servant, together demonstrate a decades-long commitment to the values of open government so important to SPJ.

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.

According to former FOI Executive Director Mitchell Pearlman, “It was said of Helen Loy that she never saw a public record that she thought ought to be kept secret, and, to a large extent, this was true. She believed passionately that democracy requires the greatest amount of public disclosure possible.”

Upon her passing, the Connecticut Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists named its annual Freedom of Information award in her honor. The award honors any member of the public or officials who use the state’s Freedom of Information laws to advance open government.

Retired Hartford Courant photographer to be inducted into Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame

JohnLongThe Connecticut chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will induct John Long into its Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame on May 23 at its annual dinner.

Long was a staff photographer for The Hartford Courant for 35-years.

He covered everything from political conventions, to golf tournaments (especially The Masters), to the plight of the homeless and all the local events that defined the Hartford area during the time. Every storm, every heat wave, every performance of the Hartford Ballet. He was on a first name basis with everyone from governors to the drug addict on Park Street.

Read more →

Need Freelance Advice?

Two upcoming events will offer Connecticut freelancers a chance to get advice and share ideas about the freelancing business.

The first, scheduled for May 23 in Westport, is hosted by the editorial freelancers association. Click here for more details.

The second event will be held on June 5 in West Hartford. Click here for more details.

Connecticut news organizations honored with prestigious Sigma Delta Chi awards

Three Connecticut news organizations were honored with prestigious 2012 Sigma Delta Chi awards.

Judges chose the winners from more than 1,700 entries in categories covering print, radio, television and online. The awards recognize outstanding work published or broadcast in 2012.

The winners will be honored at an awards banquet on June 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Area winners included:

Please click here to read the complete list.

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