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Donate to the Bob Eddy Scholarship during the Great Give

The Bob Eddy Scholarship program helps Connecticut students who want to become journalists pay for college.

Each year the committee awards about $6,000 to students from Connecticut, or studying in Connecticut.

The fund is administered through the Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. To donate during The Great Give, click here.

Testimony Sought for FOI BILLS

Connecticut SPJ’s Board of Directors strongly urges journalists and news outlets to submit testimony during public hearings this week on a number of proposed bills that affect public access to information.

The Government Administration and Elections Committee’s March 7 public hearing includes legislation that, as written, would greatly expand when a public board or agency could call an executive session (HB 5501). The proposal would allow public officials to close off meetings from the public for any consultation with an attorney of the public agency concerning legal matters. This is a tremendous expansion beyond what is currently allowed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

A second piece of legislation (HB 5512) would allow municipalities to charge additional fees whenever someone files a FOI request for commercial purposes. The bill expressly states that journalists are exempt from the legislation, although it doesn’t define what constitutes a news outlet. Additional, this bill goes against the FOI Act, which does not grant a public agency to consider the intent of a requester, and this proposal would thus go against the spirit of the FOI Act. The bill also appears to give tremendous flexibility to how much a town can charge, making it potentially cost prohibitive for a requester whose intentions are deemed to be for commercial purposes. Lastly, this bill sets a dangerous precedent in chipping away at the public’s ability to easily access information.

GAE will also hear comments on a proposal requiring the preservation of and improving access to some historical records of value (HB 5499). The bill would improve access to some government records of value, including medical records. This would allow for a better examination on the way certain health ailments or conditions were treated in the past, as well as how the medical history of historically significant people may have affected their actions.

The committee’s hearing begins at 1 p.m., or written testimony can be sent to gaetestimony@cga.ct.gov

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee will hear testimony during its March 8 public hearing on a bill that would moderately expand the amount of information that the University of Connecticut Foundation is required to make publicly available (SB 333). It would allow the foundation, though, to otherwise maintain its statutory exemption from the FOI Act.

Testimony can be sent to HEDtestimony@cga.ct.gov

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.

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)
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