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Connecticut SPJ makes donation in honor of slain Maryland journalists

The Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists today voted to make a $500 donation to the The Capital Gazette Families Fund to help support fellow journalists in Maryland after a targeted attack on their newsroom.

The fund, which is managed by through the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, was set up by tronc, parent company of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

The funds will go to the families, victims and survivors of last week’s shooting, which killed 5 staff members at the newspaper and injured two others.

A scholarship memorial fund has also been set up to honor the victims.  

The Michael and Jacky Ferro Family Foundation will match up to $1 million in donations made to the fund, according to the Baltimore Sun, also owned by tronc.

The same company, tronc, also owns the Hartford Courant in Connecticut.

A GoFundMe fundraiser to help the victims  and survivors set up by another journalist last week had raised $185,000 as of Sunday and the organizer said all the money raised will be given directly to the The Capital Gazette Families Fund.

Excellence in Journalism Winners Announced

Winners of the 2017 Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism Awards were announced May 24 during the organization’s annual meeting and awards dinner at Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange. 

The awards recognized outstanding reporting by news professionals throughout Connecticut. 

“It’s always good to recognize great work, but it’s even more important during a time when many public figures seek to discredit the journalists tasked with holding them accountable,” said Mike Savino, president of CTSPJ. “One way to combat all of the negativity toward and distrust of the news media is to highlight all of the ways the great work journalists continue to do. Thursday’s ceremony is just another example of how journalists at outlets throughout Connecticut, big or small, serve the communities around them.” 

Notable awards:

Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award
Hartford schools: More separate, still unequal 

Hartford Courant; Vanessa de la Torre, Matthew Kauffman, Kathleen Megan

Judges’ comments: This reporting incorporates a broad range of interviews and data to tell an important story about seemingly failed efforts to desegregate schools. The reporters employ graphics and multimedia to tell the story. This package emerged from a very tight and competitive field. This was an extremely deep category with a number of entries delving into a range of important public service stories. All the entrants should be proud of producing strong public service journalism.

Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award: 
Capital Prep lottery investigation
Hartford Courant; Vanessa de la Torre, Matthew Kauffman

Matthew Kauffman of the Hartford Courant accepting its awards.

Judges comments: The reporters went to extraordinary lengths to interview sources and gave the accused an opportunity to respond to their reporting, and did a great job explaining the issues to an outsider who may be unfamiliar with Connecticut schools and the role of sports in those schools and beyond. The reporting captured multiple perspectives on the controversy surrounding recruitment.

First Amendment Award:
Surveillance video, records offer new perspective on UConn student’s 2016 death
Hartford Courant; Vinny Vella, Matthew Kauffman

Judges comments: Now more than ever, enhancing the public view of the press is an act worth recognizing. The Courant piece demonstrates the power of the press to shed light in ways that citizens alone rarely can. For Jeffny Pally, for her family and friends, for the UConn community, and for the citizens of Hartford, the Courant used its power to hold public officials accountable for actions that might have otherwise, and easily, been under-examined. I can hardly put it better than John Ferraro did in his submission: “We had an obligation to provide the public with a full understanding of how our government employees conduct themselves.”

But this piece also shows the responsibility of the press, not just its power. The Courant had raw footage of a young woman’s death. It would have been easy to publish the video in its entirety and draw web traffic in droves to view something so grotesque. The Courant quite purposefully did not. They showed only the footage that was necessary for understanding.

Connecticut governor issues statement on Trump’s ‘fake news’ awards

HARTFORD – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday released the following statement regarding journalism in the United States in reaction to President Trump issuing “fake news” awards:

“The modern-day Republican party seems to have taken a page out of the 20th century fascist regime propaganda playbook. The primary purpose of today’s theater regarding ‘fake news’ awards is to bully and intimidate members of an independent press who seek to report the facts.

“Democracy does not exist without a free and independent press. When our nation’s founders drafted the United States Constitution, they intentionally and with unequivocal purpose had the foresight to include as its first amendment one of the preeminent attributes that make ours the greatest country in the world – freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It’s written clear as day and with good reason, largely because history has not been kind to nations that do not value the importance a free press in regards to upholding the true principles of democracy and the freedom of its people.

“At a time when the relevance of a free press is being challenged by some, I want to thank those who have dedicated their careers to the profession of journalism. Journalists, in large part, receive little recognition for the contributions they bring to our communities. But it is because of them that our democracy continues to thrive, and the voice of the people continues to be heard. The work of journalists is a public service that is fundamental to our free and democratic society.”

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.

VIEW VIDEO FROM THE EVENT

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

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