The Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter, seeks nominations for its 53rd George Mason Award, to be presented in September 2016.
The annual award recognizes a person in Virginia has done something extraordinary for journalism and the public: reporting and writing that has righted a wrong, caused a sea change in attitudes, changed a law, started a watchdog group that exposed violation of the public trust, defended a reporter or news organization from unjust persecution, forced a reluctant government to make the people’s business public, mentored young reporters who went on to outstanding careers, or some other specific, noteworthy accomplishment.
Past winners have included reporters, columnists, editorial writers, publishers, broadcast station owners, attorneys, directors of public interest organizations and professional development associations, among others. They have worked for organizations large and small.
SPJ Virginia Pro named the award for Mason, Virginia’s “forgotten founding father,” because he risked lifelong friendships and personal fortune by insisting that the fledgling United States protect freedom of the press and the other civil liberties by enacting a Bill of Rights. He was born in Fairfax County in 1725, helped frame the Virginia Constitution and in 1776 wrote its Declaration of Rights, the first authoritative formulation of the doctrine of inalienable rights. Mason’s work influenced Thomas Jefferson in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
The chapter has presented the George Mason Award annually since 1964 to journalists and others who have supported freedom of the press and made significant contributions to Virginia journalism. It expresses the esteem of SPJ members, who are committed to ethics, freedom of information, education and legal defense of reporters in the practice of journalism. The award plaque carries Mason’s conviction regarding the role of the press: “Freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of Liberty and can never be restrained but by despotick governments.”
Nominations should be made in letter form, complete with reference to supporting information, to the chapter’s George Mason Committee chair, Robyn Sidersky and sent to email@example.com.
Deadline for nominations is June 30, 2016.
The Board of Directors of the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will meet via phone at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17.
The call-in number is 641-715-3580 and the access code is 583987.
Any member is welcome to call in and listen.
This post will be updated with the agenda.
Tentative Meeting agenda:
SPJVA May Board Meeting Agenda
- Call to order/roll call
- Financial Report from Rachel
- Old business: Wrap up of Richmond Conference
- Update from Paul Fletcher about National
- George Mason Banquet
- Update on Fellowships
- Annual report due May 30
- Start discussing nominations for board for 16-17 year
Join the Virginia Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for happy hour at Jessy’s Taco Bistro in Ghent (328 W. 20th St.) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.
By Matt Chaney
Rees Shapiro, the keynote speaker at the SPJ Region 2 Spring Conference, advised journalists to get out of the office, report from the ground and talk to people face to face.
Shapiro, an education reporter for The Washington Post, emphasized how getting out, going places and relating to people on a personal basis helped him cover important stories on college campuses across Virginia.
Without being there, he said, he could never have provided some of the first eyewitness accounts of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, gotten interviews with the family and close friends of murdered University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, or written the story that first cast doubt on the now-discredited Rolling Stone story about a supposed gang rape at U.Va.
By Alyssa Sims
“Don’t listen to what we have to say here and be afraid,” Kelly Zuber, news director of WDBJ in Roanoke, told a mix of veteran journalists and journalism students attending the VPA/SPJ joint conference on Saturday (April 9).
Zuber spoke at a panel about the impact that the shooting of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward had on the journalism community. Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were killed while doing a story last August by a disgruntled former station employee.
By Marhesha Maldonado
Unmanned aircraft systems, commonly called drones, could be very beneficial to journalists covering storm damage, traffic accidents, fires and other stories. But the technology also raises important legal, safety and ethical issues.
That was the gist of a panel discussion at the VPA/SPJ Region 2 Conference held Saturday (April 9) at Short Pump.
Charles Tobin, a former journalist and now a media lawyer in Washington, D.C., noted that it’s illegal for news organizations to operate drones unless they have permission, called a 333 exemption, from the Federal Aviation Administration.