News

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 →

Cindy Simoneau to be inducted into the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame

Cindy Simoneau

Cindy Simoneau

Cindy Simoneau, chair of the Journalism Department at Southern Connecticut State University, and associate professor of journalism, will be inducted into the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame May 21, 2015 at the Connecticut SPJ Excellence in Journalism dinner at Seasons at the Tradition in Wallingford.

Simoneau’s career has spanned more than 30 years in newspapers and journalism education. Her lasting impact to the Connecticut journalism industry is measured in her work as a reporter, editor, teacher and mentor.

Simoneau started her career in Connecticut journalism in 1980, working as a town news reporter for the Newtown Bee. She moved to the Connecticut Post as a reporter then bureau chief in 1982. Simoneau founded the Post’s WomanWise section in 1991 and was named the assistant managing editor for the newspaper in 1997.

In 1991, Simoneau began work as an adjunct professor. She taught at Quinnipiac University, Fairfield University and Southern Connecticut State University – often all three in the same semester. In 2007, she was hired full-time as a professor in the journalism department at Southern Connecticut State University.

Simoneau founded and has served as adviser for CTTeens, a program for high school student journalists at the Connecticut Post, which is now in its 16th year and continuing throughSouthern Connecticut State University. Many of the program’s graduates have gone on to careers in journalism, business communication, publishing and teaching.

Simoneau’s reach into the Connecticut journalism industry also includes more than three decades of service to the Connecticut SPJ chapter and Board of Directors, where she has served three terms as president, more than a decade as the board’s treasurer and on various committees including nominations, finance, bylaws, scholarship and contest.

Simoneau is currently chairing the SPJ Region 1 Conference Committee, which is planning a Connecticut journalism conference for 2016. She is a four-time winner of the CTSPJ President’s Award, and has won several awards for her reporting and editing.

The Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists created the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame to honor journalists who have made a significant and enduring contribution to journalism in the state. The entire Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame may be viewed here.

 

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.

Society of Professional Journalists Opposes Prior Restraint Ruling in Connecticut

The Connecticut Pro Chapter and Region 1 of the Society of Professional Journalists are greatly disappointed with and concerned by Judge Stephen Frazzini’s Nov. 24 order barring the Connecticut Law Tribune from publishing a story about a child custody case. The ruling should be overturned.

State law has sought to protect the privacy of children involved in custody disputes, but it also specifies that the First Amendment and the public’s right to know take precedent. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected prior restraint, ruling it constitutional only in matters that pose an extreme threat to public safety and national security.

Paul Singley, CTSPJ President

Rebecca Baker, Region 1 Director

 

SPJ names Newport a National Historic Site in Journalism

From an SPJ press release:

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has named Washington Square in Newport, R.I., a National Historic Site in Journalism.

Since 1942, the Society has honored the people and places that have played important roles in the history of journalism through the Historic Sites program. Some honorees include: The Associated Press offices in Washington and New York City; Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper published in the United States; and, most recently, the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.

Janine Weisman, editor of the Newport Mercury, nominated the historical section of Newport, which housed the town’s only printing press during the Revolutionary War. When the British arrived in 1776, they seized the printing press in order to print official military documents and a newspaper for British soldiers. Its owner Solomon Southwick had allegedly tried to bury it, but couldn’t hide it before it was discovered by troops.

READ MORE by clicking here.

The dedication ceremony will be held Thursday, June 19, at 11 a.m. at the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames St., Newport, RI

Storytelling with data: Boston University workshop

Boston University is hosting Storytelling with Data, a summertime workshop designed for anyone interested in using data to tell more powerful stories.

Pricing is as follows:

  • $950 for Session I (July 7-11, days)
  • $750 for Session II (July 14-18, nights)
  • $450 for two-day pass
  • $250 for one-day pass
  • $425 for students for full session
  • $125 for students for 1-day pass

Seats for these sessions are limited, so reserve your space early.

Click here to find out more about the workshop, its speakers, the schedule and to register.

CTSPJ seeks contest clerk

Connecticut SPJ is looking for a clerk to handle administrative tasks for its annual journalism contest. Applicant should have the following skills/attributes:

  • experience in Microsoft Excel
  • experience using mail merges for e-mails and creating Word documents
  • excellent editing skills, attention to detail in spelling, grammar and consistency
  • ability to meet deadlines, while working varying hours
  • availability to work from home from December through May, a total of 50 to 100 hours, with strict deadlines along the way.
  • excellent time management skills

Please send resume, noting experience and education, to Jodie Mozdzer Gil at  jmozdzer@ctspj.org by June 20. Please also note any media affiliations, past and present, in Connecticut.

Job starts in December 2014, and runs through May 2015, with option for renewal the following year.

 

DeCesare and Smith to receive Helen M. Loy Award

The Connecticut pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will honor Don DeCesare and James H. Smith with the Helen M. Loy Freedom of Information award at the CTSPJ annual awards dinner May 22.

DeCesare and Smith, as members of the Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know, each fought for more access to crime scene photos after the legislature passed a law exempting the records from public release.

DeCesare and Smith disagreed about the best strategy to try to change the law, which was passed — behind closed doors — in response to the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Yet both men spent dozens of hours of their personal time working to change the law to allow the public to again have access to crime scene photos. For that tireless effort, CTSPJ thanks DeCesare and Smith.

About Don DeCesare
DeCesare is past chairman of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association. DeCesare has worked for more than 40 years in broadcasting, including many years at CBS Broadcasting in New York City where he went from editing radio broadcasts to overseeing television news coverage. He is now president and general manager of WLIS-AM, Old Saybrook and WMRD-AM Middletown.

DeCesare was a founding member and past board member and treasurer of CT-N, as well as a member of the Media Center Advisory Board for Middlesex Community College.

About James H. Smith
Smith, a retired journalist of 42 years, is president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. Smith has served as president of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors, and is a member of the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.

He led the Connecticut Post, The Day of New London, The News-Times of Danbury, the Record-Journal of Meriden and the New Britain Herald to their first New England Newspaper of the Year awards.

Smith won the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for a selection of his columns on the First Amendment. He is the four-time winner of the First Amendment Award from CTSPJ.

About the Helen M. Loy Freedom of Information Award
The Connecticut pro chapter of SPJ honors people who work to advance open government in Connecticut.

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.

Upon her passing, CTSPJ named its annual Freedom of Information award in her honor.

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.

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