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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.
MakingCONNectionsFEATURE

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.

Rates

$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.

 

CT SPJ urges journalists in state to review, speak out on several bills

 Connecticut SPJ’s Board of Directors strongly urges journalists and news outlets to submit testimony during public hearings this week on a number of proposed bills that affect public access to information.

The Government Administration and Elections Committee’s March 7 public hearing includes legislation that, as written, would greatly expand when a public board or agency could call an executive session (HB 5501).  The proposal would allow public officials to close off meetings from the public for any consultation with an attorney of the public agency concerning legal matters. This is a tremendous expansion beyond what is currently allowed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

A second piece of legislation (HB 5512) would allow municipalities to charge additional fees whenever someone files a FOI request for commercial purposes. The bill expressly states that journalists are exempt from the legislation, although it doesn’t define what constitutes a news outlet. Additional, this bill goes against the FOI Act, which does not grant a public agency to consider the intent of a requester, and this proposal would thus go against the spirit of the FOI Act. The bill also appears to give tremendous flexibility to how much a town can charge, making it potentially cost prohibitive for a requester whose intentions are deemed to be for commercial purposes. Lastly, this bill sets a dangerous precedent in chipping away at the public’s ability to easily access information.

GAE will also hear comments on a proposal requiring the preservation of and improving access to some historical records of value (HB 5499). The bill would improve access to some government records of value, including medical records. This would allow for a better examination on the way certain health ailments or conditions were treated in the past, as well as how the medical history of historically significant people may have affected their actions.

The committee’s hearing begins at 1 p.m., or written testimony can be sent to   gaetestimony@cga.ct.gov

Testimony Sought for FOI BILLS

Connecticut SPJ’s Board of Directors strongly urges journalists and news outlets to submit testimony during public hearings this week on a number of proposed bills that affect public access to information.

The Government Administration and Elections Committee’s March 7 public hearing includes legislation that, as written, would greatly expand when a public board or agency could call an executive session (HB 5501). The proposal would allow public officials to close off meetings from the public for any consultation with an attorney of the public agency concerning legal matters. This is a tremendous expansion beyond what is currently allowed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

A second piece of legislation (HB 5512) would allow municipalities to charge additional fees whenever someone files a FOI request for commercial purposes. The bill expressly states that journalists are exempt from the legislation, although it doesn’t define what constitutes a news outlet. Additional, this bill goes against the FOI Act, which does not grant a public agency to consider the intent of a requester, and this proposal would thus go against the spirit of the FOI Act. The bill also appears to give tremendous flexibility to how much a town can charge, making it potentially cost prohibitive for a requester whose intentions are deemed to be for commercial purposes. Lastly, this bill sets a dangerous precedent in chipping away at the public’s ability to easily access information.

GAE will also hear comments on a proposal requiring the preservation of and improving access to some historical records of value (HB 5499). The bill would improve access to some government records of value, including medical records. This would allow for a better examination on the way certain health ailments or conditions were treated in the past, as well as how the medical history of historically significant people may have affected their actions.

The committee’s hearing begins at 1 p.m., or written testimony can be sent to gaetestimony@cga.ct.gov

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee will hear testimony during its March 8 public hearing on a bill that would moderately expand the amount of information that the University of Connecticut Foundation is required to make publicly available (SB 333). It would allow the foundation, though, to otherwise maintain its statutory exemption from the FOI Act.

Testimony can be sent to HEDtestimony@cga.ct.gov

New Britain Herald and Bristol Press publisher apologizes

New Britain Herald and Bristol Press publisher and editor Michael Schroeder published a note to his readers on Jan. 5.

The note apologizes for the Dec. 2 story about “Nevada-style business court system.” Schroeder had been involved in the purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal until the previous day when he was removed by GateHouse Media, which still manages the paper.

 

 

Connecticut SPJ email issue

E-mails for Connecticut SPJ board members and executive offers are down while we switch providers.
To contact CTSPJ, email Jodie Mozdzer Gil at jmozdzer@gmail.com and your email will be forwarded to the proper individual.
We’re sorry for any inconvenience.
— SPJ board members

Free screening Nov. 11 of “Spotlight” movie in West Hartford

TrendCT and Central Connecticut State University are inviting local journalists and data enthusiasts for a screening of “Spotlight” at Criterion Cinemas at Blue Back Square, West Hartford.
The screening is at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 11.
The film is slated for limited release on Nov. 6 but won’t be in theaters in Connecticut until much later. 
After the movie, there will be a post-film discussion and question-and-answer session with former Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll, who is portrayed in the film by Brian D’Arcy James.
Seating is limited. Reserve your seat by clicking here.SpotlightTIFF2015

Nov. 11 free screening of “Spotlight”

spotlight-one-sheetspotlight-one-sheetspotlight-one-sheetSpotlightTIFF2015TrendCT and Central Connecticut State University are inviting local journalists and data enthusiasts for a screening of “Spotlight” at Criterion Cinemas at Blue Back Square, West Hartford.
The screening is at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 11.
The film is slated for limited release on Nov. 6 but won’t be in theaters in Connecticut until much later. 
After the movie, there will be a post-film discussion and question-and-answer session with former Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll, who is portrayed in the film by Brian D’Arcy James.
Seating is limited. Reserve your seat by clicking here.

Congratulations to Connecticut journalists named NEFAC fellows

The New England First Amendment Coalition announced its newest class of fellows for the New England First Amendment Institute this month.

nefacbanner1Five of the 25 fellows this year are from Connecticut. They are Lindsay Boyle from The Day in New London, Suzanne Carlson from the Hartford Courant, Susan Haigh from the Associated Press, Esteban Hernandez from the New Haven Register and Patrick Skahill from WNPR.

“This free institute is open each year to 25 New England journalists and provides the support and training necessary to become accomplished investigative reporters, well-versed in the freedom of information laws that govern today’s difficult reporting landscape,” the coalition news release stated.

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