Saturday, September 24, 2016

Region 4 meeting highlights at the National SPJ convention

Reporting by Tom McKee, President
Representatives of the SPJ professional and student chapters of Region 4 gathered for a one-hour update during Excellence In Journalism Conference in New Orleans.

Here are the highlights.
  1. The 2017 Spring Regional Conference will be hosted by the Detroit professional chapter on March 17-18.  Program ideas are welcome. The contact is treasurer Mike Ramsey. The event will likely be in partnership with Wayne State University.
  1. Cleveland will host the Ohio SPJ Awards Luncheon in 2017.  The location has not been determined. The 2016 luncheon in Columbus drew nearly 100 people, reflecting a contest that has grown in the number of entries.  The Columbus folks say that’s due to new categories being provided — especially in the freelance areas.  
  2. The national office is evaluating costs associated with on-line platforms for regional contests. All chapters need to do is indicate their willingness to participate in the study of using one of three possible platforms.  There is no obligation.  This is just a review of costs.
  3. Two chapters in Florida and one in Washington have had their charters revoked and the balance of their $25,000 in finances has been turned over to national. Works are underway to develop a system on how to apply for grants from this sum.
  4. An exploratory study is underway on possibly reducing the size of the 23-member national board and change the focus of its operations to strategic from day-to-day operations.  
  5. CINCINNATI PRO CHAPTER. Names Small Chapter of the Year for the second time in three years. Partnered with Cincinnati Police on two forums to explain new public records requests forms and introduce a new Open Data Portal system to more easily obtain records. Future plans include panel discussion on officer-involved shooting videos from police and a tribute to long-tim SPJ member and Cincinnati Pro Chapter founder Emil Danker.
  6. COLUMBUS PRO CHAPTER. Hosted the Ohio SPJ awards in August, which drew 96 people to The Boat House restaurant. The number of entries for the contest was up because of the addition of freelance categories.  A movie night featuring “Spotlight” was a success and a similar program featuring “Snowden” is in the works. Future plans include a possible forum on police and media coverage following the shooting of a teenager by a Columbus officer. The annual Law & Media Conference will again be in partnership with the Ohio State Bar Association.
  7. CLEVELAND PRO CHAPTER. The focus for the coming year is increasing membership and reaching out to freelancers. A scholarship contest for high school students is in the works.  An international film festival is scheduled for March and the Ohio SPJ Awards luncheon will be held at a site to be determined. 
  1.  PITTSBURGH PRO CHAPTER. Program plans include an October 1st forum on the changing face of newsrooms, an ethics program and one featuring local broadcast legends.
  2. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY - KIPLINGER PROGRAM. The news train with AP managing editors is planned for four sites around the country and a Journ Camp is set for Columbus in June.
  3. OHIO UNIVERSITY STUDENT CHAPTER. Named Student Chapter of the Year.  Marty Baron of “Spotlight” notoriety spoke on campus.  The chapter is hosting “Freedom Sings” in the Baker Center Theater on September 29th at 7:00 p.m.  The show traces the path of freedom in the U.S. by focusing on the music pertinent to historic moments.  A partnership is in the works with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to develop a curriculum on how to report on suicide.  The 90-minute program will be presented from mid-February to late March at Ohio State, Ohio University and possibly the University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Kent State University, John Carroll University and Bowling Green State University.  Backup sites may be the University of Toledo, Wright State University, Youngstown State University, Cleveland State University and the University of Akron.  The chapter is also looking to partner with pro chapters on future events.
  4. MIAMI UNIVERSITY STUDENT CHAPTER. This is a reboot year with new officers and members. Program plans include a forum with the writer of “Concussion” and Joe Stephens from the Washington Post.