CTSPJ programming: Reporting On Elections

Connecticut SPJ held a panel, “Reporting On Elections,” on Friday, Sept. 9, at the Hartford Courant. The discussion covered what all reporters should know heading into the November state and presidential elections, including which disclosures are publicly available.
Hartford Courant Capitol Bureau Chief Christopher Keating moderated. Panelists included:
  • NBC Connecticut political reporter Max Reiss
  • CT News Junkie Editor Christine Stuart
  • Representatives from the Connecticut State Election Enforcement Commission and the Office of State Ethics
Thanks to the folks at CT-N for covering it live, and for providing it on-demand.
Watch the event below.

New England First Amendment Coalition seeking journalism fellows for October institute

nefacThe New England First Amendment Coalition is selecting 25 reporters, editors and news producers to attend its three-day investigative journalism institute in October.

Applications are due August 31.

The institute is free and is open to any journalist working in the region. The institute runs from Oct. 16 to 18 in Dedham, Mass.

Those chosen to attend the institute will learn from some of the country’s elite reporters, editors and media attorneys, according to the first amendment coalition in a news release. Speakers at the institute include investigative journalism journalists and freedom of information experts. Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times and current editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project, will be the keynote speaker.

The following confirmed speakers are:
Robert A. Bertsche | Prince Lobel Tye, LLP
Dieter Bradbury | Portland Press Herald
Peter Caruso | Caruso & Caruso, LLP
Michael Donoghue | Vermont Press Association
Vincent Duffy | Michigan Radio
Rick Gagliuso | Gagliuso and Gagliuso, PA
Matt Kauffman | Hartford Courant
Jenifer McKim | New England Center for Investigative Reporting
Colleen Murphy | Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission
Mike Rezendes | The Boston Globe
Jeremy Singer-Vine | BuzzFeed News
James Smith | Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Gregory V. Sullivan | Malloy & Sullivan
Don Van Natta | ESPN
Todd Wallack | The Boston Globe
Program topics include state public records and open meeting laws, effective sourcing, database analysis and how to respond to FOI request denials. Sessions include:
Tales from the Trenches | Panelists will share their practical experience in investigative work through painstaking interviewing and use of freedom of information laws to unearth corruption and bring truth to light.
Common Pitfalls | Panelists will discuss how to accessing documents through FOI requests and how to respond to denials.
Tips for Staying Out of Legal Trouble | A team of media attorneys will explain common issues of concern in defamation and privacy law.
State FOI Law | The specifics of each state’s public records and open meeting laws will be discussed and cases will be reviewed in break-out sessions with knowledgeable attorneys and journalists from each state.
The Confrontational Interview & Transition to Audio or Video | Veteran journalists will discuss how to prepare for difficult interviews and provide strategies on how to engage viewers and listeners.
Writing Workshop and Narrative Flow | Fellows will learn narrative writing techniques and how to improve their storytelling.
Hunch to Headline | Fellows will learn the steps necessary to follow up on a lead using publicly available databases and how to turn that information into a compelling story.
Effective Sourcing | Panelists will discuss how to best develop sources and relationships, and how to evaluate information.
Sponsors and supporters of this year’s institute include The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, the Robertson Foundation, The Boston Globe, the New England Newspaper & Press Association and the Academy of New England Journalists.


Meet Viktoria Sundqvist

Sundqvist Viktoria (Twitter) Viktoria Sundqvist is the breaking news editor for Digital First Media in Connecticut, overseeing and creating online content for the New Haven Register, The Register Citizen and The Middletown Press.

She was formerly the managing editor of central Connecticut with oversight of The Register Citizen and The Middletown Press newsrooms and prior to that worked as the investigations editor at The Middletown Press and The Register Citizen, publishing an in-depth series on Connecticut police departments’ compliance with Freedom of Information laws.

She is still guiding staff on in-depth and investigative projects.

Viktoria has a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University, where she also earned her undergraduate degree in communications and was the editor of the school’s weekly student-run newspaper, The Chronicle.

A native of Sweden, she came to the U.S. as an au pair in 1998, having already studied mass media in high school at a vocational technical-type program where she earned hands-on experience in writing newspaper articles, requesting public documents, producing talk-radio shows, film editing, photography and graphic design.

Several honored by FOI council

The following is a press release from the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information:

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HARTFORD – The state librarian, a college professor, an NPR editor, a reporter and a retired TV news executive were honored Wednesday for their tireless efforts to keep government records and proceedings open to the public.

The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information bestowed its Bice Clemow Award on State Librarian Kendall Wiggin, and the Stephen J. Collins Award on Meriden Record-Journal reporter Mike Savino. Champion of Open Government Awards were presented to CCSU history Professor Matt Warshauer, NPR New England Executive Editor John Dankosky, and former Channel 3 News Director Richard Ahles.

Wiggin and Warshauer were recognized for their efforts to make public historical medical records of civil war soldiers suffering from “soldiers heart,” today known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Both have been active in opening the records to the public ever since mental health advocates five years ago passed legislation closing access to those and other historical records. The measure was buried as the 37th section in a 90-section funding bill and passed unbeknownst to legislators voting on it in the last hours of the legislative session.

“The fight to open the records has gone on longer than the Civil War,” said Warshauer, who pledge to come back with a bill again next year. Wiggin stressed “the importance these records play in understanding our history.”

Savino’s award is for his coverage of open government issues while at the Journal Inquirer of Manchester. He has since moved to the Record-Journal, but wherever he plies his trade, it is with a free press “for the people,” he said.

Dankosky, recently promoted from WNPR to the New England-wide editorship, said he shares his award with colleagues Katie Talarski, Jeff Cohen, Colin McEnroe and David DesRoches at WNPR.

Ahles, vice president and former president of CCFOI was recognized for his long service to the group and his exemplary television journalism career. What is most important to him, said the Emmy-award winning journalist, is the friends he has made over the years at work and at the FOI council.

James H. Smith was presented an “Outstanding Service Award” for his five years as CCFOI president.

New officers were elected for the coming year. Dan Klau, an attorney with McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Hartford, was named president; Zach Janowski, director of external affairs at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy in Hartford, was named vice president. Jeffrey Daniels of Jeffrey Daniels Consulting of West Hartford and a former aide to Gov. Ella Grasso; and Michele Jacklin, a former Hartford Courant columnist, were named co-legislative chairs. Mary Connolly, retired editorial page editor of the News-Times in Danbury, and George Lombardi, general manager of WSHU radio in Fairfield, remained as secretary and treasurer respectively.

2015 CTSPJ Excellence in Journalism Winners Announced

The 2015 Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards were given out at the organization’s annual awards banquet on May 26. Download the spreadsheet below to view the winners.

Connecticut SPJ 2015Excellence In Journalism WinnersList

Proposed slate of CTSPJ officers and board members for 2016-2017

The following is the proposed slate for 2016-17. Members will vote on the roster at the annual meeting and awards ceremony on Thursday, May 26.

President: Michael Savino (one-year term expires June 30, 2017)
Vice President: Jordan Otero (one-year term expires June 30, 2017)
VP/ Communications: Bruno Matarazzo (one-year term expires June 30, 2017)
Secretary: Cara Rosner (one-year term expires June 30, 2017)
Treasurer: Jodie Mozdzer Gil (one-year term expires June 30, 2017)
Immediate Past President: Paul Singley (serves until another president transitions

Board of Directors:
Liz Glagowski (current term expires June 30, 2017)
Viktoria Sundqvist (two-year term ends June 30, 2018)
Andrew Ragali (two-year term ends June 30, 2018)
Leslie Hutchison (two-year term ends June 30, 2018)
Ajhani Ayres (one-year term expires June 30, 2017)
Lawrence Clark (one-year term expires June 30, 2017)

Tickets are now available for the dinner, to be held at Memories at the Tradition in Wallingford (same location as last year, just a new name).
In addition to electing new officers and board members at the dinner, the CTSPJ board will announce winners of the 2015 Excellence in Journalism Contest and award annual scholarships.
The list of finalists of the 2015 contest is now available on our website..
The board will also induct new members into the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame, and honor those who have fought for open government.
Click here to purchase tickets. The price for regular members is $32.50. Tables of 10 may also be purchased.
Please let us know if you have any questions.

Statement regarding state Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano’s decision to not give credentials to a Hearst reporter for Monday’s GOP caucus

Statement regarding state Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano’s decision to not give credentials to a Hearst reporter for Monday’s GOP caucus:

Paul Singley, president of Connecticut SPJ, welcomes participants to the Regional Journalism Conference at the Adanti Student Center Saturday.

Paul Singley, president of Connecticut SPJ

“As we have seen time and again in our nation’s history, the best way to battle speech that you don’t agree with is through more speech, not by trying to stifle the speech with which you don’t agree. There are numerous ways for Mr. Romano and the state Republican Party to state their disapproval of someone’s articles, such as through letters to the editor or by commenting on the numerous social media platforms available. But stopping a journalist from doing his job on behalf of thousands of readers borders on dictatorship and is clearly something that cannot be tolerated in a country that enjoys a free press. As some statewide leaders, including Republicans, have done already, we strongly encourage Mr. Romano to reconsider.”

– Paul Singley, president, CT Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Early bird registration ends Monday for SPJ Region 1 conference

The deadline for early bird registration rates for, “Making CONNections,” the SPJ Region 1 journalism conference, has been extended.

The conference, this upcoming Friday, April 8 and Saturday, April 9, will be at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. It is hosted by the Journalism Department at Southern Connecticut State University and the SCSU SPJ Chapter, with support from the Connecticut Pro Chapter of SPJ.

The keynote speaker at lunch on April 9 will be John Dahl, the VP of ESPN Films. A special pizza reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9.

Professional development panels will include sessions on regulations for drone journalism, Freedom of Information issues, ethics, covering college sports, writing about food and beer, book publishing, using Google Trends to improve stories, specialized reporting, entertainment writing and more.

See the program details here. Sessions begin at noon on Friday, April 8 and run until 5 p.m. The conference sessions on Saturday, April 9 begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until 6 p.m.

You can register for the conference here. Early bird registration rates are available until noon tomorrow, April 4. Rates will increase by $10 after this time.

For more information, contact conference chair Cindy Simoneau at simoneauc1@southernct.edu.


$40: students (members of SPJ. Member # required)
$45: students (non-SPJ members)
$65: professionals (members of SPJ. Member # required)
$70: professionals (non-SPJ members)

CTSPJ College Contest is now open for entries

Now is the time to be recognized by your peers and promote the journalism work you’ve done in the past year.
The Connecticut SPJ College Contest is open and student journalists working for campus media outlets (print, online, radio or broadcast) can submit their work from the 2015-16 academic year.
(Because of a technical glitch with the system, please type in 2015 for all 2016 entries. We’ll double check the date to make sure it was published within the current academic year.)
The deadline to apply is April 20 at 11:59 p.m.
SPJ members pay $5 per entry, while non-members and student media pay $10 per entry.
All student media outlets will compete against each other in the following categories:
  • General Reporting
  • Editorial/Op-Ed
  • General Column/Commentary
  • Page 1 Layout
  • Non-Page 1 Layout
  • News Photo
  • Feature Photo
  • Sports Photo
  • Sports Feature Story
  • Sports News Story
  • Spot News
  • Feature
  • Video Storytelling
  • Audio Storytelling
Any questions can be directed to Contest Chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil at jmozdzer@gmail.com or to contest clerk Jessica Garin at jessica.garin.u@gmail.com

2016 Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of transparency, open government and freedom of information.

This year, Sunshine Week is March 13 to 19. This is the 10th anniversary of Sunshine Week.

In Connecticut, the board of directors of the Connecticut Council on Freedoom of Information announced its first annual Secrecy in Government Award.

malloy_bio_picGovernor Dan Malloy’s heart may be in the right place, but his head isn’t. Proposing secret jurisprudence for 18-20 year olds is a bad idea. They can vote, they can go to war, they can get married and have children – but if they’re arrested and go to court no one can know about it? And once they are adjudicated secretly, then they can have their record erased as if it never happened. Too many in Connecticut government — like the Soviets who air brushed away photos of anyone they wanted forgotten — think you can erase history. You can’t. The U.S. and Connecticut constitutions guarantee a public trial. Democratic societies do not countenance secret arrests. The Connecticut General Assembly needs to quash this well-meaning but democratically unwise plan.

 UConn President Susan Herbst, Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence D. McHugh and UConn Foundation President and CEO Joshua R. Newton receive the Secrecy in Government award for their continuous march toward closing the door on the public when they decide how to spend the public’s money. Newton tells the legislature that the Foundation needs secrecy even as the other premiere public university foundations in New England are open and subject to their states’ FOI laws. Herbst and McHugh defended secret sessions on the $1.3 billion UConn budget knowing most of the money comes from the public. UConn has even threatened to go to court to try to obtain more secrecy. We suggest they don’t spend taxpayer money fighting in court to keep their financial deliberations away from the public.

 Paul Cianelli, president of the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association receives the award for his newspeak — “Make no mistake about it — this is a tax,” in opposing CT-N’s plan to move to a cable channel and expand from two cameras at the Capitol to the ability to cover nearly all legislative, judicial and executive branch hearings. It will open government processes for all to see. A C-SPAN for Connecticut for about 40 cents a month for cable subscribers. Tax indeed.

The Norwalk Board of Education receives the Secrecy in Government Award for its astonishing written policy that, it “does not exist between meetings.” This allows board members to do board business between meetings and claim their actions are not subject to FOI laws. We hope board chair Michael Lyons follows through with his plan to erase that bylaw.


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