Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter


July 14, 2014

Contact: Chapter VP Robyn Sidersky, 954-296-4407, or robyn.sidersky@gmail.com


Richmond Times-Dispatch photojournalist Bob Brown has been selected as recipient of the 2014 George Mason Award, given by the Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter.

The Mason award, established in 1964, is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to Virginia journalism. It is named for the principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the forerunner of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

Brown is known, among other things, as the dean of photographers covering the General Assembly, starting in 1970. He joined the Times-Dispatch in 1968, and except for a brief stint in Charlotte from 1979-80, has been at the newspaper ever since. He was named senior photographer in 1992.

He was voted Virginia Press Photographer of the Year three times, and he has won numerous national, regional and state first-place awards. In 2005, he was the first photojournalist inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.

Brown is the author of two books, “Capitol Comics, a Humorous Look at the Virginia Legislature” (1984), and “Back Roads: People, Places, and Pie from Around Virginia” (2014), which he coauthored with Times-Dispatch columnist Bill Lohmann.

SPJVA will present the Mason award to Brown at its 51st George Mason Banquet on Sept.16 at the Capital Ale House in Richmond. The chapter and its Virginia SPJ,SDX Educational Foundation will also present two scholarships to Virginia college journalists. Tickets are $50 a person, which includes two drink tickets. There will be a silent auction benefiting the scholarship foundation.

For reservations and information, contact Robyn Sidersky at 954-296-4407 or robyn.sidersky@gmail.com.


As SPJ undertakes the process of revising the Code of Ethics, events this week remind us of the code’s importance. As reported by Romenesko, a (student government-funded) student newspaper at the University of California Santa Barbara could have led coverage of the recent shooting spree, but instead the editors cited the code’s call to minimize harm for not providing any coverage! SPJ Secretary-Treasurer Paul Fletcher will lead a discussion at 6 p.m. Thursday (tomorrow) on this news, other threats to the code and an update on how you can get involved in the revision process. This free event will be held at the second floor conference room of 707 E. Main St.

The Herald-Progress has a touching tribute to late publisher, Joseph Malcolm “Jay” Pace III. Virginia Pro SPJ posthumously awarded Pace our highest honor, the George Mason Award, in 2004.



Despite opposition from journalism and open government groups, the Virginia State Board of Elections has pushed back the deadline for campaign finance reports to 11:59 p.m. The reports used to be due at 5 p.m. before complains from politicians.

“While the change makes it easier for those who file, it makes it more difficult for reporters who cover campaigns in a timely way,” Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association President Craig Carper told the board, as reported by The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The change came without public notice or comment before Gov. Terry McAuliffe asked the board to seek public input.  Politicians had complained about the deadline, which has led to fines for multiple campaigns.

SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter Board of Directors

Thursday, April 17

New business :
1) Approval of the minutes from Sept. 12, 2013
2) Treasurer’s report – Mary Ellin
3) Consider annual donation for Virginia SPJ, SDX Educational Foundation – Brian
4) Nominations open for George Mason Award – Paul
5) Planning committee for George Mason Banquet
6) Review committee for annual report (three non-board members) – Mary Ellin
7) Consider nominations to replace A.J. Lagoe – Pat
8) Upcoming events

The weather may have pushed us back, but we still plan to celebrate Sunshine Week!
In celebration of Sunshine Week 2014, SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter members and friends are invited to learn a new tool for uncovering government secrets on Thursday, April 10.
 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press recently launched iFOIA, a new FOIA letter generator and project management system for handling local, state and federal freedom of information requests. RCFP Freedom of Information Fellow Emily Grannis will make a presentation on taking advantage of this new system.

During the event, we would love to hear about a FOIA-driven project that helped you uncover something in your community. Equally, let’s share the struggles Virginia journalists are encountering with freedom of information requests.
Also, SPJ Secretary-Treasurer Paul Fletcher will offer a recap of action related to FOIA, public notice and other issues during the General Assembly session. For the past two sessions, Fletcher has monitored the legislature on behalf of our membership and citizens.

Our Sunshine Week event will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10 in the second-floor conference room at 707 E. Main St. in Richmond. We hope to see you there! Please RSVP with an e-mail to virginiaprospj@gmail.com so we have a head count for snacks.

Be sure to save money on tickets to this month’s Region 2 Spring Conference in Washington D.C. Early-bird tickets, with $10 off for professionals and students, are on sale through Friday.

The conference takes place Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29 at Georgetown University Downtown. Activities open with a screening of “A Fragile Trust,” a new documentary examining the Jayson Blair plagiarism and fabrication scandal and how it reverberated throughout journalism. For more details of the film see www.afragiletrust.com.

Saturday morning will feature a mix of workshops, panels and other activities. Winners of the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards will be honored during an included luncheon. More panels and workshops await in the afternoon, to be followed by a social Saturday night.



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