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.

Read more →

Freelance Journalism Guide Available For Download

The national SPJ Freelance Committee has published a 77-page digital guide to help freelancers on topics from bookkeeping to branding.

The guide is free to download for all SPJ members. Click here to download the guide, called “On Your Own: A Guide to Freelance Journalism.”

It will also be sold as an e-book for a nominal fee, with the proceeds going toward committee programming.

SPJ’s Freelance Committee plans to update the guide on a regular basis and include more personal experiences from freelancers to reflect changes and trends in the marketplace.

SPJ also encourages freelance writers and editors not yet affiliated with the society to join and add their input to the guide.

Comments, suggestions and criticisms are welcome and should be made to David Sheets, the guide’s editor, by email at, or through Twitter at @DKSheets or LinkedIn.

Connecticut SPJ presents: Weather reporting 101

By Lila Carney
Connecticut SPJ board member 

Weather is the most watched part of a TV newscast. It’s why people turn on their televisions at 4 a.m. It effects everyone.

I still remember last October’s snowstorm that trapped me in rainy Orlando with 12 college students, and left a good part of the Northeast without power for days.

How could we have planned better as reporters? How can we more effectively partner with our meteorologists? And most importantly, what will we be in for this winter — and fall?

The Connecticut Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wants to help you be prepared to report on that next storm.

NBC Connecticut meteorologist Darren Sweeney will discuss how to better implement weather forecasts into your reporting.

Saturday, Oct. 27
10:15 a.m.
NBC Connecticut
1422 New Britain Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06110

Free for members, non-members and students

Freelancers wanted:

The Associated Press is seeking reliable people to call in presidential election results Nov. 6 in Ansonia, Bethel, Columbia, Naugatuck, Southbury and possibly other Connecticut towns.

For more information, contact Stringer Coordinator Kate Farrish at

Larry Cohen, longtime journalist and former Connecticut SPJ president, dies at 64

Larry Cohen, a longtime journalist and former Connecticut SPJ president died suddenly on Aug. 27. He was 64.

Please share your memories about Larry in the comments section below.

Republican-American Receives National Sunshine Award

Society of Professional Journalists press release

The Waterbury Republican-American has received the Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. The SPJ board of directors and Freedom of Information Committee honor people or organizations each year for their notable contributions to open government.

Read more →

Connecticut journalist dies in house fire

Connecticut journalist Joel P. Kleinman died in a house fire in Meriden on Aug. 18. He was 64.

Kleinman was the managing editor of QST, the monthly magazine of the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio in the United States. The organization is headquartered in Newington, Conn.

Click here to read more about Kleinman’s work at QST in a press release on the ARRL website.

More details about the fire can be found at the Hartford Courant and the Meriden Record Journal websites as well.

FOI panel seeks to appeal limit on arrest information

The following article originally appeared in the Journal Inquirer. 

By Alex Wood
Journal Inquirer
Saturday-Sunday, August 11, 12, 2012

The state Freedom of Information Commission voted this week to ask the state Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a recent Appellate Court decision that would sharply reduce the amount of information about criminal arrests that can be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Colleen M. Murphy, the FOI Commission’s executive director and general counsel, said the commission voted 7-0 to ask the Supreme Court for certification to appeal the decision. The state’s top court isn’t required to allow the appeal.

The Appellate Court decision arose from a request by a New Haven Register reporter for a state police report on a serious assault that occurred in a vehicle on Route 8 in Derby in March 2008. After the defendant pleaded guilty in March 2010, the state police gave the Register the documents at issue.

But the two sides and the Superior Court judge who originally heard the appeal, Henry S. Cohn, agreed that the case, although moot, could be decided because a similar issue might arise in the future.

The FOI Act contains detailed provisions as to which records police are, and are not, required to release in response to requests from members of the public or the press.

In 1983, in response to concerns by the media that some police departments were restricting release of traditional police “blotter” information, the legislature adopted an additional provision requiring release of that information. The provision required release of the name and address of the person arrested; the date, time, and place of the arrest; and the charge.

In a 1993 case, in which the Journal Inquirer had sought a Windsor Locks arrest report, the state Supreme Court interpreted the 1983 amendment as limiting the information that had to be disclosed about an arrest. It held that the 1983 amendment overrode more general provisions of the law calling for disclosure of additional information.

The next year, the legislature changed the arrest-information provision to require that, in addition to the basic “blotter” information, police departments must disclose a report or news release on each arrest. The 1994 amendment also specified that any information beyond the basic “blotter” information was to be governed by the list of exemptions from disclosure that had always been part of the law.

The Freedom of Information Commission and some judges have interpreted the 1994 amendment as essentially overruling the Supreme Court’s 1993 decision in the Windsor Locks case.

But the recent Appellate Court decision held that the 1993 decision is still a binding legal precedent — and that the provision on disclosure of arrest information still limits what has to be released.

The wording in that provision referring to the general list of exemptions merely allows certain information to be removed from the report or news release that now has to be released along with the blotter information, the court ruled.


Click here for the article online.



CTSPJ Concludes Independent Review

Dear Connecticut SPJ members,

On June 29, we informed you the Connecticut SPJ board had launched an independent investigation into two entries in the 2011 Connecticut SPJ Excellence in Journalism Awards contest, after it came to light the entrant, Paresh Jha, had fabricated sources in 25 articles for the New Canaan News.

Jha won a third place award for feature writing and a first place award for in-depth reporting.

Our independent review, conducted by media lawyer and Syracuse professor Roy Gutterman, confirmed what Hearst officials originally told us about the entries: Sources in the in-depth reporting entry had been fabricated. And, all sources included in the feature writing entry were legitimate.

Those confirmations came through Gutterman’s review of all sources, as well as an interview with Paresh Jha, himself, about the entries.

Click here to download a PDF version of the final report.

After careful deliberation and additional questions to Gutterman about his review, the CTSPJ Board of Directors on July 29 voted to revoke Jha’s first place award for the in-depth reporting entry.

The third-place award for the feature writing entry will stand, as our investigation found no evidence of deception.

Connecticut SPJ is dedicated to preserving the integrity of our long-time contest, and to ensuring the continued confidence of journalists in our future contests.

We condemn all unethical practices and continue to applaud all media organizations for their swift action on ridding the industry of any violators.


Jodie Mozdzer, CTSPJ President

Cindy Simoneau, CTSPJ Immediate Past President

Update on independent review into Paresh Jha’s contest entries

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

To the CT SPJ Members:

As planned in our previous action, the current and former CTSPJ presidents today consulted with Roy Gutterman, who has been hired by the Board of Directors to conduct an independent investigation of two award-winning contest entries by Paresh Jha.

Gutterman said he has directly contacted and interviewed most of the sources in both entries. He is continuing to reach out to other named sources in the packages, and to Jha himself.

He has also had multiple conversations with Hearst Connecticut Newpaper editors. They are cooperating with the investigation.

We anticipate his review and recommendations will be completed on time by July 31.

We will update you further after that report is issued, and any actions are taken on the entries by the current Board of Directors.

To continue to offer feedback on this, or other contest matters, email us at:

Jodie Mozdzer
CTSPJ President

Cindy Simoneau
Immediate Past President

Copyright 2010-2017. Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, P.O. Box 5071, Woodbridge CT 06525