News

CTSPJ officers and board members elected for 2013-14

The following slate of officers and board of directors for the Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was approved by the chapter membership for approval at the annual meeting on Thursday, May 23 at Fantasia, North Haven.

CTSPJ Officers — 2013-14
(All are one-year terms, expiring June 30, 2014)
 
President — Jodie Mozdzer Gil, SCSU
Vice President — Jamie DeLoma, Quinnipiac University
Vice President/Communications — Liz Glagowski, 1to1 Media
Treasurer, Cara Rosner, United Way, New Haven
Secretary — Ricky Campbell, CT House Republicans
 
Immediate Past President– Cindy Simoneau, SCSU/Hearst CT Newspapers (serves until president transitions out of office)
 
Board of Directors
(Terms are staggered for one and two years)
 
Lila Carney, QU — two-year term, expires 2015
Daniela Forte, Access Intelligence — one year remaining on two-year term, expires 2014
Don Stacom, Hartford Courant — two-year term, expires 2015
Zach Janowski, Yankee Institute — one year remaining on two-year term, expires 2014
NEW board members:
Paul Singley, PATCH — one-year term, expires 2014
Jesse Buchanan, Record-Journal, Meriden — two-year term, expires 2015

2012 Excellence in Journalism contest winners

THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF WINNERS IN THE 2012 EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM CONTEST OF THE CONNECTICUT CHAPTER OF THE SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS

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2012-13 College Journalism Contest winners

WINNERS 2012-2013 COLLEGE JOURNALISM CONTEST OF THE CONNECTICUT PROFESSIONAL CHAPTER OF THE SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS

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CCFOI asks legislature to tread carefully before limiting public access to Newtown documents

The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, the advocate for transparent government in Connecticut, is asking the legislature to tread carefully before limiting public access to documents related to the tragedy in Newtown last year.

Read their letter to learn more about their concerns:
The Honorable Governor Dannel P. Malloy
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Building
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Governor Malloy,

The undersigned here believe the tragedy that befell Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 is one of the saddest days in this nation’s rich history.  The senseless murder of 27 innocent people, 20 of whom were children, is an unspeakable act of horror that will forever scar the hearts of our state and our nation.

In the wake of this tragedy, we are all seeking information that will help us understand how and why it occurred, so that we can take steps to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again.  We understand the process of gathering information may have the unfortunate and unintended effect of reminding families and friends of the Sandy Hook victims of their terrible loss.  All agree that every reasonable step should be taken to minimize such painful reminders, while not depriving our local, state and federal governments – and the people in general – of information needed to assess the tragedy and develop appropriate legislative responses.

It’s with this in mind that we, the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association (CDNA), the Connecticut Broadcasters Association (CBA), and the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information (CCFOI) caution the Administration and the Legislature on a response that would restrict public access to information about what happened at Sandy Hook, or other crimes, regardless of scope, moving forward.

While many tragic events have made us question whether the disclosure of information is always in the best interest of a society, history has demonstrated repeatedly that governments must favor disclosure.  Only an informed society can make informed judgments on issues of great moment.

We believe, as the American Society of Newspaper Editors Ethics Code states, “…that journalists should respect the rights of people involved in the news, observe the common standards of decency and stand accountable to the public for the fairness and accuracy of news reports…the primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time.”

Knowing this, we for the benefit of open government and a free press, caution the government of the Great State of Connecticut as it deliberates changes to the Freedom of Information Act in response to the tragedy of Newtown.   We maintain that public access to investigative reports, 9-1-1 Emergency Call transcripts and recordings, death certificates, and the like, serve the public’s best interest by permitting the public to monitor the performance of its government. It was in this spirit that the First Amendment itself was adopted.

We look forward to discussing this issue with you as the Session comes to a close, and wish you the best in your delineation’s on these very important matters.

Sincerely,

Michael Schroeder
President
Connecticut Daily Newspaper’s Association

Michael Ryan
President
Connecticut Broadcasters Association

Jim Smith
President
Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information

SPJ condemns secret legislation

The Society of Professional Journalists and the Connecticut Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sent the following statement to Gov. Dannel Malloy Thursday, in response to a May 22 Hartford Courant article about behind-the-scenes legislation planned to limit the public’s access to public information.

Dear Governor Malloy,

The Society of Professional Journalists is alarmed by reports that Connecticut’s top elected officials have developed in secret a plan to withhold public information connected to the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The Society condemns the creation of this legislation outside the normal, transparent process of public hearings and debate. And we deplore the attempt to use the tragic events of Dec. 14 as an excuse to close off access to records that are otherwise available to the public.

The Hartford Courant reported May 22 that the governor’s office has been working secretly with legislative leaders and the state’s top prosecutor to deny access to documents related to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six women died.

According to the Courant, state lawmakers could vote on this legislation as early as this week. We urge them to delay such a vote until members of the public can air their views during a public hearing, as is typically done during the legislative process

We also urge legislators to defeat any bill that would close off documents – such as death certificates, emergency 911 recordings and other records connected to crimes – that have been routinely provided to the public under existing law.

It is our understanding that this legislation would bar all government agencies from releasing photographs, videotapes and digital recordings as well as audio recordings that depict the physical condition of any victim without the victim’s consent or the consent of a family member. It would also allow public agencies to remove from public records the names of witnesses younger than 18 and ban the release of the audio recordings or transmissions of any 911 or emergency assistance calls.

Under the legislation, municipal officials could withhold death certificates of anyone who died at the school, unless the request is made by a member of the victim’s spouse, adult child, parent, adult sibling or legal guardian.

We have seen similar efforts in other states to close access to routinely available information about crime and victims of crime in the misplaced belief that secrecy protects victims and witnesses.

This legislation does not honor the victims of the Newtown shooting, and the tragedy should not be used as an excuse to close access to public documents, the release of which does not change the circumstances surrounding the Newtown massacre. In fact, their release could debunk conspiracy theories and provide lessons worth learning.

Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane has said he wants some of the proposed limitations on the release of records to apply to general police investigations and not just the Newtown case. We do not believe such a broad exemption to Connecticut’s public records law would benefit the public, law enforcement or the state.

A coalition of news and freedom-of-information organizations wrote a letter to the governor on Wednesday, raising concern about shutting out the public. We raise those same concerns and ask the Connecticut Legislature to delay action and ultimately defeat this bill in the interest of protecting open government and the public’s right to be informed about its public servants.

Respectfully submitted,

Sonny Albarado
President, Society of Professional Journalists

Jodie Mozdzer Gil
President, Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Connecticut news organizations honored with prestigious Sigma Delta Chi awards

Three Connecticut news organizations were honored with prestigious 2012 Sigma Delta Chi awards.

Judges chose the winners from more than 1,700 entries in categories covering print, radio, television and online. The awards recognize outstanding work published or broadcast in 2012.

The winners will be honored at an awards banquet on June 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Area winners included:

Please click here to read the complete list.

Journalism high school seeks Principal

The Hartford Public Schools is seeking a collaborative, dynamic, motivated, and inclusive school leader as Principal of the Journalism and Media Academy Magnet School (JMA). JMA is a program designed for those with an interest in the fields of journalism and media.  Its goal is to prepare media-literate, college-ready students who can access, analyze, evaluate, and produce both print and electronic media. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society and provides students with the essential skills of inquiry and self-expression. All courses focus on critical reading and the development of high-level writing skills—exposing students to various formats of reading and writing while teaching them to understand the language, power, and business of the media world.

Moving to a new state of the art facility in 2013, JMA aims to provide its students with learning environments designed specifically to meet the needs of students learning about the media field—complete with working TV and radio studios, as well as technology and software used in the industry. Moreover, the school has a unique connection with Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN), which will soon be offering students intensive and rewarding internships for the duration of their senior year.

The successful applicant selected for this position will be a champion of JMA’s theme.  The candidate will exhibit the ability to support current media integration practices, as well as identify new practices that lead to improved student engagement and achievement.  The candidate will have a strong Grades 9—12 background and a firm understanding of the range of academic, social, and emotional needs of students within these grades. Of utmost importance is a commitment to urban education in order to close the achievement gap and ready students for success in rigorous post-secondary education settings.

To apply to Job Id 1662, please visit: http://www.applitrack.com/hartford/onlineapp/ or www.hartfordschools.org and follow the appropriate link.  Additional inquiries may be directed to Nancy Shannahan Williams, Senior Talent Recruiter, at nwilliams@hartfordschools.org.

Two Proposals Threaten Transparency in Connecticut

By Jodie Mozdzer Gil, CTSPJ President 

The state legislature is reviewing two bills that limit the public’s ability to get public information.

Both proposals prohibit journalists from fully doing their jobs and prevent the public from remaining fully informed on issues of public concern.

The first is the proposal to redefine meetings under the FOI Act (Bill No. 1148). This proposal would allow “members of different political parties” to hold closed-door discussions about proposed legislation or action of their public agency.

That’s a concerning change to the current law, which allows closed-door meetings (executive sessions) in only specific scenarios, with a statement of what topic will be discussed.

So if this bill is approved, what could be discussed behind closed doors?  What discussions of public concern will be shielded from review? The consequences are frightening.

The Connecticut SPJ Board is drafting a statement opposing the proposal. Click here to get more information on the bill, including testimony from a public hearing held March 25. Click here for an overview on the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog.

The second concerning proposal is the effort to limit public access to death certificates, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings on Dec. 14 (Bill No. 5733).

In testimony before the Joint Committee on Public Health, opponents of the bill outlined the limited information already included in death certificates, and argued that there are legitimate reasons why open death certificates are useful to the public. For example, if a child dies while at a child-care center or in state custody, it is important to understand better what happened.

The Hartford Courant and the New London Day had editorials this week opposing the bill.

“Emotions should not drive public policy,” The Day’s editorial says.

Click here for an article on the proposal from the Hartford Courant.

 

Nominations Committee seeks chapter officers, board of directors

The Nominations Committee of the Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is seeking members interested in serving as a chapter officer or on the board of directors.

Nominations are sought for one-year terms as president, vice president, vice president/communications, treasurer, secretary. Positions for terms on the board of directors are also open.

To apply send your resume and a note on office or position you are seeking and why you wish to run for office. All nominees must be paid members of both national SPJ and CTSPJ.

Send nomination materials to: Cindy Simoneau, immediate past president and chair of Nominations Committee at: csimoneau@ctspj.org or clsimoneau@aol.com. Cell: 203-400-0454

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.

2012 Contest Open For Entries

Over the last several days, Connecticut journalists have worked harder than ever to keep the state — and the nation — informed of the latest details regarding the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown.

It’s just one example of the difficult and important job Connecticut reporters undertake every day.

It can sometimes be a thankless job – one filled with new demands, pressures and criticisms.

That’s why the Connecticut Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosts the annual Excellence in Journalism Contest.

We want to recognize the quality work being done at Connecticut news outlets – and honor the best of the best.

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