CTSPJ celebrates 50 years



In 1966, 13 men — Bob Eddy, Herbert Brucker, William J. Clew, D. Barry Connelly, Dorman E. Cardell, Russell G. D’Oench, Norman Fenichel, Frank Hepler, Carl E. Lindstrom, Robert M. Lucas, Arland R. Meade, Laurence A. Silver and Sidney P. Steward — formed the Connecticut Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists – Sigma Delta Chi. National SPJ granted their charter on Feb. 3, 1966.

This year, CTSPJ celebrates 50 years of working toward improving and protecting journalism in the state.

Over the last 50 years, the Connecticut chapter of SPJ has hosted hundreds of professional development workshops to help journalists in the state network and further their careers. Through the Bob Eddy Scholarship Foundation, the board has distributed more than $140,000 in scholarships to Connecticut students since 1981.

Each year, the board hosts an Excellence in Journalism contest, which gets between 800 and 1,000 entries each year, in order to recognize the work of journalists across the state. The contest winners are honored at an awards banquet in May, the largest gathering of journalists in the state each year.

The contest raises money for the board operations, including thousands of dollars in donations given to journalism causes. For example, in 2016, the board donated $500 to help host the Connecticut FOI day, donated another $500 toward CCFOI and CFOG, supported the SPJ Legal Defense Fund and Region 1 Fund with $500 each, and helped Connecticut student chapters pay for programming and conference attendance. Additionally, the chapter donated $750 toward the Bob Eddy Scholarship Fund in 2016.

Over the last 50 years, CTSPJ has hosted and handful regional conferences, including one this past April at Southern Connecticut State University. This year’s conference attracted 200 journalists from across New England and the tri-state area.

Come celebrate the 50th anniversary at this year’s Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner on May 26 at Seasons at the Tradition in Wallingford.

Recap: Making CONNections journalism conference

The Making CONNections regional journalism conference was held at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven on April 8 and 9.

See some of the highlights from the panels in the Storify below.

CTSPJ Seeks New Board Members

CTSPJ is looking for members or journalists willing to help work for the betterment of the Connecticut journalism community by joining its Board of Directors.

Nominations are now being accepted for one-year positions as president, vice president, vice president/communications, treasurer, secretary or as a member of the board.

The CTSPJ board works to helps support journalists each year through professional development events and the annual Excellence in Journalism Contest. The board also supports student journalists by awarding thousands of dollars worth of scholarships each year. CTSPJ supports journalistic causes, such as CCFOI and CFOG, as well as the national SPJ Legal Defense Fund. Board members get involved in one or more areas of interest.

All candidates must be paid nation as local and local members of SPJ.

If interested contact Cindy Simoneau, Nominations Chair,  at

Panel recap: Reporting on Islam


Imam Refai Arafin, left, makes a point during the panel discussion at Central Connecticut State University, while Andrew Ragali, center and M. Saud Anwar, right, listen | Paul Singley photo.

Words matter.

When the news media uses the word “terrorist” to identify the Muslim man in the Foot Hood attacks, but not the man involved in the Charleston church shooting, it adds to a growing negative sentiment toward Muslims, said M. Saud Anwar, former mayor and current council member in South Windsor.

Anwar was one of three panelists who spoke during a CTSPJ and CCSU SPJ panel discussion on Islam and Muslims in the news. Anwar was joined by Refai Arefin, Imam of the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, and Andrew Ragali, a reporter with the Meriden Record Journal who handled much of the paper’s coverage of the November mosque shooting. The event was held Wednesday, Feb. 24 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

“The words and descriptions are clearly different, even in similar incidents,” Anwar said, referring to an academic paper his son wrote that compared Washington Post media coverage of the two shootings.

A national conversation on Muslims in America has been ongoing, as many connect ISIS with the religion, which is practiced by about 3.3 million people in America, according to a 2105 Pew Research study. Fears increased in December, when a married couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, and the shooters were identified as Muslims who supported ISIS. Shortly after, presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

While the news media plays a role, Arefin said it’s “dangerous to talk about journalists as a monolith,” just as it’s not fair to paint all Muslims based on the actions of a few. That said, he sees some news media feeding into the fears of the public.

“The problem is the very nature of the news cycle today, in which the most extreme voices are amplified,” Arefin said.

Arefin said a selection bias leads to journalists covering mainly negative incidents with Muslims.

Ragali noted the pressures of daily news reporting and the shrinking staffs in newsrooms as part of the issue.

“We have to churn out a certain amount of stories every day. We have certain beats, so we cover city hall, education. So sometimes you’re stuck in that beat, and you can’t think broadly on certain things,” Ragali said. “So things like this, just talking, I’m getting story ideas right now.”

The video of the discussion will be posted in this space soon.


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.

Land in Orlando Grant Available for CTSPJ Members

The Connecticut pro chapter of SPJ wants to send you to Orlando to attend the national SPJ Excellence in Journalism convention this September.

The board is offering up to $1,300 in a professional development grant to pay your way to the SPJ convention as a way to thank you for being a member of CTSPJ.

We value professional development, but know funding your own trip to the convention can be difficult. So let us pay your way.

To apply, send a two-to-three paragraph description of why you want to attend the national SPJ convention in Orlando to CTSPJ Past President Cindy Simoneau at Please use the e-mail subject CTSPJ LandInOrlando.

Simoneau will prepare a blind review for the current board to read and vote on.

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday July 24 to be considered by the board.

Winners will be notified before the Aug. 4 early bird registration deadline.


The details:

  • All applications must be current CTSPJ members in good standing. New members who join before the deadline are eligible for the grant. To join SPJ, click here to visit the national SPJ website. New CTSPJ members don’t pay local dues their first year. All other CTSPJ members must pay the $10 local dues in addition to the national dues.
  • The CTSPJ board will reimburse your conference travel expenses up to $1,300. You’ll need to save receipts for your travel, hotel, and registration, and get them to the board treasurer in order to get the grant reimbursement.
  • If you sign up as a new member, please save a copy of your confirmation to show proof of membership.
  • All applications will be reviewed by the CTSPJ board without knowledge of your name or publication. They will be handled through non-voting Past President Cindy Simoneau.
  • The person selected will be expected to attend two sessions during the conference with the board delegates, held on Saturday and Sunday.
  • The national convention runs from Sept. 18-20. For more information, go to the convention website.

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.

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