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 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.

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

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 to request free tickets.

Boston Globe announces 2014 internship program deadline

The Boston Globe runs one of the top internship programs in the nation, giving 10 interns the opportunity to work as reporters, as well as photographer, designer or copy editor.

The 12-week paid internship places reporter-interns in our Metro, Business, Living/Arts, and Sports departments; the photo intern shoots stills and video for all sections, the design intern creates sections fronts and information graphics for print and online, and the copy editing intern works on local, national, foreign and business copy. We provide guidance and direction, as well as a writing coach dedicated to the interns. Globe interns produce every day and finely polish their journalism skills over the summer.

The application deadline is Nov. 1. More information on the program and an application can be accessed from our

CTSPJ appoints four journalists to legislature’s task force

June 18, 2013 — The Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists voted to appoint four journalists to the Connecticut task force on public information and privacy, created by the state legislature as part of the Newtown public records legislation this month.

The four CTSPJ appointees are:

  • Don DeCesare, President and General Manager of WLIS-AM in Old Saybrook and WMRD-AM in Middletown. DeCesare is past chairman of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association. DeCesare is a 40-year broadcast veteran, and spent several years at CBS in New York City, where he went from editing radio broadcasts to overseeing television news coverage. He is a past treasurer for CT-N, and is a member of the Media Center Advisory Board at Middlesex Community College. DeCesare helped push for a Connecticut Shield Law.
  • Klarn DePalma , Vice President and General Manager for WFSB-TV 3 Hartford and WSHM-TV 3 Springfield. DePlama has spent the last 20 years at WFSB, starting as an entry-level account executive in 1993. He was named Vice President and General Manager in 2005. DePalma is the chair of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut Science Center and Channel 3 Kids’ Camp.
  • Brian Koonz, Metro Editor for the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, a Hearst Connecticut newspaper. Koonz has spent the last 26 years in daily journalism in Connecticut. In addition to his role at the Connecticut Post, he has also worked as a sports reporter and columnist at The News-Times in Danbury, and has reported for the Register Citizen in Torrington, The Day of New London, The New Britain Herald and the Republican-American in Waterbury. Koonz, a Newtown resident, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for his coverage of the Newtown school shooting.
  • Jodie Mozdzer Gil, president of the Connecticut SPJ board and assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. Mozdzer Gil is also a freelance reporter for her former employer, the Valley Independent Sentinel, as well as other online news sites, including the Connecticut Health Investigative Team. Mozdzer Gil is a member of the national SPJ Digital Media Committee. Prior to her time writing for the Valley Independent Sentinel, she previously reported for the Hartford Courant and the Republican-American of Waterbury.

The appointees represent print, radio, television and online media.

“Our board is pleased to find four journalists who are enthusiastic to serve on this committee and who represent CTSPJ’s views — that transparency and public access to records is paramount in a free and open society,” said Cindy Simoneau, immediate past president for CTSPJ.

The task force includes 13 other members, including a representative from the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information and the executive director for the FOI Commission.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Brendan Sharkey, and president pro tempore of the Senate, Donald Williams, will select two chairpersons for the committee.

The task force is asked to meet between July 1, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014, at which point a report with recommendations will be sent to the Connecticut General Assembly.

Sherman London receives Helen M. Loy Award

LondonThe Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists gave its FOI award to Sherman D. London at the annual Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner May 23, 2013.

Sherman D. London, a past CTSPJ president and member of the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame, has been a member of the Freedom of Information Commission since 1996, having been appointed by Gov. John Rowland.

The award, named after the late Helen M. Loy, honors a person who has fought for freedom of information in Connecticut.

A graduate of Rider College in New Jersey, London came to the commission after a distinguished journalism career, during which he reported on local politics and the Connecticut General Assembly. During the last 20 years of his journalism career, London was the editor of both the Republican and the American newspapers in Waterbury.

Since his appointment, London has become known as a “work horse.” Not only does he rarely miss a commission meeting, but he also presides as hearing officer over contested cases on a weekly basis. He has quickly mastered the law and the procedures under which the commission operates, and is studious in preparation. Even simple typographical errors rarely get by him.

At 17 years, London is the commission’s longest serving member. His last term on the commission ends this year.
London’s two careers, first as a reporter and editor and then as a public servant, together demonstrate a decades-long commitment to the values of open government so important to SPJ.

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.

According to former FOI Executive Director Mitchell Pearlman, “It was said of Helen Loy that she never saw a public record that she thought ought to be kept secret, and, to a large extent, this was true. She believed passionately that democracy requires the greatest amount of public disclosure possible.”

Upon her passing, the Connecticut Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists named its annual Freedom of Information award in her honor. The award honors any member of the public or officials who use the state’s Freedom of Information laws to advance open government.

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