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Journalists Talk FOI Changes at CTSPJ Forum

The public has more clear access to certain police records with the passage of Public Act 15-164. FOI public information advocate Tom Hennick and former South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed talked with CTSPJ Vice President Michael Savino and a group of about 20 journalists on Jan. 14 about the changes.

The forum was hosted at the Hartford Courant.

The full discussion can be viewed on Periscope. Or see a summary of some points in the tweets posted below.

2015 Excellence in Journalism Contest Open For Entries

The CTSPJ 2015 Excellence in Journalism Contest is now open for entries.

You can enter the contest here.

CTSPJ has revised its contest to reflect changes in the industry. We hope the new circulation classes and categories give entrants a chance to compete against media outlets with similar resources and goals — and to do so in more specific categories than before. We welcome all feedback on the contest as we continue to refine it. Any feedback should be sent to Contest Chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil at jmozdzer@gmail.com.

If you do not see your media outlet on the list, please contact contest clerk Jessica Garin at Jessica.Garin.U.@gmail.com.

Categories

All media outlets compete against each other in the top three special awards categories. For the rest of the categories (below), media outlets will compete in one of five circulation classes. Download a PDF with the circulation classes and the categories here.

Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award
This is a special award open to all media for a story or stories having a significant impact in the public interest. Entries must include supporting documentation such as letters, editorials, evidence of a change in public policy, showing how the entry had an impact. Please include a cover letter with the entry.
Theodore Driscoll Award for Investigative Reporting
This is a special award open to all media for a single story or formal series containing information, obtained through reporter initiative not readily available to the news media or public.
First Amendment Award
This is a special award open to all media for a single story, column or series which increases public understanding of the role of the press in a free society.


Editorial Cartoon | A single cartoon online or in print
Single Editorial | Represents the opinion of the publication, station or news website as an organization
General Column | A single (other than sports or humorous) that expresses an opinion or point of view on an issues or event
Humorous Column | A single column on any topic with the purpose to entertain
In-Depth | A single story that helps audience understand situation beyond information provided in a normal news story
Investigative | A single story containing information obtained through reporter initiative that was not readily available to the news media or the public
Feature | Any story written for a reason other than timeliness. (Please note, this was omitted from an earlier list in error)
Religion | A story dealing with religious topics
Government | A story dealing with government topics
Courts/Crime | Any story dealing with issues of the criminal justice system, except for breaking news
Arts & Entertainment | A single story dealing with the arts
Business | A single story dealing with business
Leisure | A story dealing with travel, food, gardening, or other leisure topics
Continuing Coverage | No more than 10 articles that follow the same topic over time
Diversity Coverage | Single story on a diversity issue
Education | A single story on an education issue
Reporting Series | A formal series of no more than 10 articles, including investigative, in-depth or feature series
Local Reporting | A story that shines light on an issue important to a single town or region. This category is meant for those stories that fulfill the mission of community journalism.
Breaking News | A single story or package of stories and social media updates that involves coverage of a spot news event written under an immediate deadline.
Sports News | A single story on a sports news topic
Sports Feature | A single story on a sports topic, written for a factor other than timeliness
Sports Column | A single column on a sports topic
Sports Photo | A single sports photo
Feature Photo | A single feature photo
News Photo | A single news photo
Photo Essay | A collection of photos, either in print or online, that together tell one story.
Page 1 Layout | A category for the person who arranged the text and images, not for the writers or photographers of the materials on the page.
Non-Page 1 Layout | Any single page design that was not on page 1
Headline | A single entry is made up of three headlines, all the work on a single individual
Infographic Design | The design of a single static or interactive graphic
Infographic Reporting | The reporting of a single static or interactive graphic
Video Storytelling | Use of video to tell a story alone or bolster written reporting
Audio Storytelling | Use of audio to tell a story alone or bolster written reporting

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 jmozdzer@ctspj.org by Aug. 15.

Read more →

CTSPJ Awards $6,000 in Scholarships

The Connecticut pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awarded four college students a total of $6,000 in scholarships at its annual awards dinner May 21, 2015.

The Bob Eddy Scholarship program awards annual scholarships to promising students from Connecticut or studying at a Connecticut college. Students apply through a competitive process and are considered based on their demonstrated passion for the industry, grades, financial need and personal essay.

The following students received scholarships in 2015:

Gabriel Rosenberg (Bob Eddy Award — $2,500) is a junior at Wesleyan University, where he is editor-in-chief of The Wesleyan Argus, contributing editor of the campus blog Wesleying, project production assistant at Wesleyan’s Department of Communications. He will be interning this summer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reporting and writing for the Features desk, and is a recipient of the 2015 Lynch Family Endowed Internship Grant from Wesleyan University. Next year, he plans to complete a senior thesis in American Studies.

Isaac Stein (Bob Eddy Award – $1,500) is a junior at the University of Chicago, where he writes news for both the Chicago Maroon and the South Side Weekly. Last summer he worked to establish a student newspaper at a public high school in Bridgeport and aspires combine his career interests by becoming an education reporter. He cites Charlie LeDuff as one of his main inspirations.

Samantha Tomaszewski (Richard Peck Award – $1,000) is from Redding, Conn. and a sophomore at Lehigh University who is double-majoring in journalism and political science. She has served as a reporter and editor at Lehigh’s student newspaper, where she currently is associate news editor. She also is also a head resident assistant, a class officer, a tour guide and a sorority member. This summer she will be interning at The Hour in Norwalk.

Monique Atkinson (James Clark/Pat Child Award – $1,000) is from East Hartford and attends Boston University. There she has been a campus ambassador, a DJ Intern for the campus radio station, a member of the BU Society of Professional Journalists, and a member of the Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity. This spring she interned at the Dorchester Reporter. Her love of journalism began in high school when she was a student correspondent for her local newspaper.

CTSPJ Announces Winners of the 2014 Excellence in Journalism Contest

Stories about police departments failing FOI compliance checks, train derailments along the Metro North line and a charter school CEO with a shady past were among those that garnered top awards at the Connecticut SPJ awards dinner Thursday, May 21.

Read more →

CTSPJ Contest Survey

As we end the 2014 Excellence in Journalism contest year, the CTSPJ board is looking forward to next year already. With changes in media outlets and the industry, we are considering some changes to the way we handle circulation classes and categories.

We’d like your input.

Please take a moment to fill in the following survey.

Storify: Minimize Harm in the Digital Age — Ethics discussion on 4/29/15

CT Law Tribune staff to receive Helen M. Loy Award

CTSPJ will give its Helen M. Loy Award to a group involved with the Connecticut Law Tribune prior restraint fight this past year.

Writer Thomas Scheffey, editor Paul Sussman, publisher Jeff Forte, former writer Isaac Avilucea, and attorney Dan Klau, will be recognized for their battle in court, and active coverage of the attempt to censor their publication.

Avilucea, now at the Trentonian in New Jersey, was working on an article about unusual legal tactics being employed in a custody battle involving the Department of Children and Families when he found a document associated with the case online. The document was a habeas corpus petition filed by the divorcing father’s attorney, but the lawyer filed it improperly and the petition appeared on the Judicial Branch’s public website.

The petition also included the names of the children involved in the custody case, prompting New Britain Superior Court Judge Stephen Frazzini in late November to bar the Law Tribune from publishing the article. The Law Tribune, led by Sussman and Forte, hired Klau and challenged the ruling on the basis that it didn’t fit criteria for prior restraint as set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frazzini vacated his ban on the story in December, citing the widespread publication of the document as no longer requiring the prohibition, according to a CT Law Tribune story on the decision.

Scheffey followed the case from gavel to gavel for the Law Tribune.

The Helen M. Loy award honors those who advance open government through the use of Freedom of Information laws. The CT Law Tribune case extends beyond the right to access information to the right to publish without government interference. While the document in question is typically sealed by courts, the CT Law Tribune obtained it legally and under the First Amendment has the right to decide whether to publish it. Their fight was especially important in the current atmosphere where the right to access information in Connecticut is under attack.

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. Upon her passing, the Connecticut Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists named its annual Freedom of Information award in her honor.

CTSPJ 2015-2016 Board of Directors Nominations

The CTSPJ Nominations Committee submits the following slate for the Officers and Board of Directors for 2015-16. The membership will vote on the board at the annual dinner on Thursday, May 21.

PROPOSED 2015-2016 CTSPJ BOARD

OFFICERS

President — Paul Singley, Waterbury Republican-American — (1-year-term, expires June 30, 2016)

Vice President— Mike Savino, Manchester Journal-Inquirer — (1-year-term, expires June 30, 2016)
VP/Communications— Bruno Matarazzo Jr., Waterbury Republican-American (1-year-term, expires June 30, 2016)
Treasurer—  Jodie Mozdzer Gil, Southern CT State University — (1-year-term, expires June 30, 2016)

Secretary—  Zach Janowski, Yankee Institute — (1-year-term, expires June 30, 2016)

Past President — Jamie Deloma, Quinnipiac University — (remains in post until a new immediate past president transitions to position)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Shahid Abdul-Karim, New Haven Register — (1-year-term, expires June 30, 2016)

Liz Glagowski, Peppers & Rogers Group(2-year-term, expires June 30, 2017)
Jordan Otero, Hartford Courant — (2-year-term, expires June 30, 2017)

Cara Rosner, freelance reporter/editor– (1 year remaining on two-year term, expires June 30, 2016)

Kat Schassler, Middletown Press — (1-year-term, expires June 30, 2016)
Lynn Schnier, Hearst CT Newspapers — (2-year-term, expires June 30, 2017)

Letter to lawmakers regarding police records and FOI

The Connecticut chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has sent the following letter to the co-chairs of the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee. The committee is hearing a proposal to undo a Supreme Court ruling from July and make the FOI Commission’s 20-year standard on police records into law. The committee was scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday but instead held it to allow for a compromise.

Chairmen Rep. Jutila and Sen. Cassano,

The Connecticut chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists asks that you allow the Government Administration and Elections Committee to pass HB 6750 as originally proposed.

The bill, as proposed, still provides exemptions that address the concerns raised by Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane and law enforcement officials.

But it also provides the public access to the information that it needs to hold police departments accountable when there are allegations of excessive force or other wrong doing.

While all information becomes public when police close an investigation, that process can take years.

It can be very difficult for the public to hold officers accountable years after allegations of wrong doing, which is unacceptable given the fact that police departments are charged with protecting and serving that very public.

The original proposal puts into statute a standard that the Freedom of Information Commission had utilized successfully for 20 years. Efforts to scale back this standard will greatly harm the public’s ability to seek transparency. And with court rulings and public policy decisions, both in Connecticut and nationwide, that have limited the public’s access to information, it is important that the General Assembly say that transparency still matters.

Copyright 2010-15. Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists. P.O. Box 5071, Woodbridge CT 06525