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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.

SPJ Region 1 Director Volunteer Position Available

There’s a vacancy for the SPJ’s Region 1 director position following last month’s election of Rebebba Baker to the organization’s secretary/treasurer.

The region 1 position, which serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, central and eastern Pennslyvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, goes until Sept. 20, 2016.

Interested candidates must live in Region 1 territory and be a SPJ member and not a student nor associate member.

Interested candidates should fill out a form on SPJ’s website no later than Oct. 19.

 

Petition Demands Defunding of The Argus

Wesleyan University students senators want to defund the student newspaper, the Wesleyan Argus, after a column critiqued the Black Lives Matter movement. A meeting is scheduled for Sept. 27 to support the student senate’s petition.

Here’s what Connecticut SPJ president Paul Singley had to say in an Argus story:

 

Paul Singley

Paul Singley

Paul Singley, President of the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists, said he believes that student publications should make a concerted effort to represent the perspectives of all students, but its First Amendment rights should not be threatened by publishing unpopular views.

“That’s what a good newspaper does,” he said. “It shares ideas, it shares opinions.”

Read the full story here.

Meet Lynn Schnier

Lynn Schnier works for Hearst Newspapers.

Meet Shahid Abdul-Karim

Shahid Abdul-KarimShahid Abdul-Karim is an award-winning journalist and the community engagement editor for the New Haven Register and former managing editor for Muslim Journal.

His role as community engagement editor focuses on involving the community at every step of the process of local journalism; including outreach and partnerships with community organizations and readers. Among other responsibilities, Abdul-Karim has lead newsroom efforts of producing original content for all platforms relating to engagement, lead engagement efforts through liveblogs and live chats, and coached newsroom staff in the use of social media to improve journalism.

As managing editor, was directly responsible for the overall operations and news content of the weekly print publication.

His work as community engagement editor has given opportunity for the voice of the disenfranchised and less fortunate to be heard.

Through a series of stories about suffering and trauma many New Haven families endure, Abdul-Karim was able to draw the attention of the U.S. Congress to violence in New Haven and more specifically to the slayings of so many young people of color.

Further, it was the trust he developed in the scarred and grieving communities that led to the chance to tell these stories.

His stories and engagement have promoted change locally and nationally. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Sen Chris Murphy, both (D-Conn.) have addressed New Haven violence in speeches on the floor of the United States Senate. His work has also prompted Blumenthal and Murphy to hold community conversations on violence in New Haven, bringing national attention to the issue.

Abdul-Karim has been invited to the White House to cover President Barack Obama’s annual Iftar dinner celebrating the holy month of Ramadan.

He is a graduate of Springfield College (MA) with a bachelor’s of science degree in human services. From 1999 to 2008 he was a national correspondent for Muslim Journal. He is a native of Baton Rouge, La.

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