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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 April 25, 2014.

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 jmozdzer@ctspj.org.

 

Yale hosts FOIA Bootcamp 2014

The Information Society Project at Yale is hosting a FOIA Bootcamp on Feb. 24 beginning at 6 p.m. It will feature Karen Keiser, General Counsel of the Associated Press, and Lisa Siegal, Staff Attorney CT Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC).

This program, designed for students, teachers, journalists and interested members of the public, offers “practical strategies for requesting government records through Freedom of Information laws,” focusing on both state and federal FOI statutes.

The bootcamp will be at the Yale Law School, 127 Wall St., Room 120, New Haven, CT 06520.

For more information, click here.

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 jmozdzer@gmail.org.

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 jmozdzer@gmail.com to request free tickets.

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 jmozdzer@ctspj.org.

 

College journalists reporting in the Information Age

A free one-day conference on the ethics and responsibilities of reporting is open to all college students and instructors.

The conference, being held at Colby College on Oct. 27, is hosted by Goldfish Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, along with the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.

For more information and the brochure, please click here.

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.

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.

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

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