Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Paul Fletcher, SPJ’s national president, gave a workshop at the VPA/SPJ Regional 2 Conference about how to apply sound ethical principles to journalistic decision-making.


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We’re excited to announce the full line up of panels and workshops for the Virginia Press Association/Society of Professional Journalists Conference April 8-9 in Short Pump, Va.

The following programming is included with the purchase of a ticket through SPJ. You can purchase tickets here.

Friday Activities

2-4:30 p.m. Job/Internship Fair featuring representatives from The Daily Press, Richmond Magazine, Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot
Clips and resume critique

7-11 p.m. Screening of “Spotlight”

Saturday Panels

Keynote Speaker: (during the SPJ luncheon) T. Rees Shapiro, Reporter, The Washington Post (during the luncheon, the Mark of Excellence Awards will be presented)

Our Right to Know: The Future of Open Access

This roundtable discussion will explore the ongoing legal battle to open up circuit court case databases to the public, the ongoing proposals to revise the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, and how the General Assembly came down on FOIA/access issues in the 2016 session.
Moderator: Marisa Porto, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Daily Press Media Group, VPA President
Panelists: Dave Ress, Reporter, Daily Press; Megan Rhyne, Executive Director, Virginia Coalition for Open Government; Ginger Stanley, Executive Director, Virginia Press Association

Case Study in Tragedy: WDBJ

Hear from those affected by the August 2015 shooting of two WDBJ7 journalists and their interviewee as they discuss the practical and ethical conversations media organizations need to take when covering a tragedy in their newsroom.
Moderator: Nicole Livas, Veteran Broadcaster
Panelists: Kelly Zuber, News Director, WDBJ7, Roanoke; Ryan Parkhurst, Assistant Professor of Journalism, James Madison University; Brad Jenkins, General Manager, The Breeze

So You Want to be An International Reporter: Hear From Those Who Have Done It and How You Can Do the Same
Learn what it takes to become a foreign correspondent from journalists who have headed overseas bureaus and covered wars, disasters and other news all over the world. Renew your passport, start taking Rosetta Stone lessons and come to this session for a primer on going global.
Session leaders: David Lynch, Correspondent, Washington bureau of the Federal Times; Suzanne McBride, Interim Chair, Communication and the Media Innovation, Columbia College Chicago; Paul Wiseman, International Economics Writer, The Associated Press

Using Unmanned Aerial Systems for Newsgathering
Discussion about the future of unmanned aerial systems and their applications in news gathering. Learn about current and proposed regulations and what they mean for the future of aerial photography.
Moderator: Evan Jones, The Southside Messenger
Panelists: Charles Tobin, Partner, Holland & Knight; Daryl Watkins, Founder, Creative Dog Media; Gary Gillam, Career Videographer and Producer; Jeff South, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Robertson School of Media and Culture, VCU

The State of the Mid-Atlantic News Media and the Climate of Today’s News Outlets
Newsrooms have undergone multiple changes over the past year – from how we deliver news, to the audiences we target, to how we report. Our speakers will discuss the status of their newsrooms, how they’ve managed the changes and what they see for the future of news.
Session leaders: Steve Gunn, Editor, The Virginian-Pilot; Paige Mudd, Editor, The Richmond Times-Dispatch


Sharpen Your Social Media Skills: How to Use It to Expand Your Reach and Attract More Readers
These days your social media presence is just as important as your stories. Hear from pros who will tell you about today’s social media landscape and how to best navigate it for the highest impact.
Session Leaders: Bob Bennett, Senior Producer, WAVY-TV/WVBT-TV Norfolk; Alix Bryan, Interactive Producer, WTVR-TV CBS6 Richmond; Bryan Devasher, Breaking News Reporter, Richmond Times-Dispatch

New Products and Existing Products: “Steal Our Ideas”
How are news organizations in Virginia adjusting to find new sources of revenue and audience? We invite you to bring your ideas and to hear about the success the Richmond Times-Dispatch had with expanding its Discover Richmond magazine franchise.
Session Leaders: Paige Mudd, Editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Lewis Brissman, Editor, Discover Richmond

Stop Errors in Their Tracks: Copy Editing for Everyone
With fewer copy editors at local newspapers, reporters have to be their own copy editors. Panelists will offer tips about how to write cleaner copy, making reporters and their publications look smarter. Learn basic copy editing tips that will take you far no matter what kind of stories you write.
Session Leaders: Karen Denny, Director, Annapolis Bureau, Maryland Capital News Service; Suzanne Wardle, Copy Editor & Books Editor, The Roanoke-Times

Ethics Advice: How to Act When You Find Yourself in Questionable Situations
Ethical thinking is like a muscle. Use it often to keep it strong. Explore and talk through sticky situations with an expert.
Session Leader: Paul Fletcher, Publisher, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and SPJ National President



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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.

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Does the SPJ Ethics Code need a revision?

The SPJ Ethics Committee is asking that question and seeking input from members.

In the latest Quill (July/August 2013), Kevin Smith, SPJ past president and Ethics Committee chair, notes that it’s been 17 years since the last revision of the Code.

The question that no one in SPJ can dodge, he says, is “whether the Code has worn-out verbiage and might need an editing facelift to address current times.”

The Ethics Committee wants to hear what you think – whether everything is fine, whether a little tweaking is needed, whether a full overhaul is needed.

Read the Code. It’s available on the SPJ website.

Then offer your thoughts on a special feedback portal set up by the committee.

And if you’re attending the Excellence in Journalism confab in California this weekend, come to a special Town Hall meeting in which Smith and the committee will hear input on the Code. It’s on Sunday afternoon from 2:30 to 3:30.

The committee will be working on the Code in the coming year with an eye to bring any changes before SPJ at EIJ14 in Nashville, Tenn., next September.

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By Kristine Hadeed

Broadcast Journalism Senior, Virginia Commonwealth University

April 14, 2012

Brian Eckert, Region 2 director of the Society of Professional Journalists, estimated it was the first visit of its kind in over 30 years.

National SPJ president John Ensslin made an appearance as guest speaker at Saturday’s Virginia Pro Chapter meeting, held on the University of Richmond’s campus.

Before Saturday night, Eckert says the last president to visit the Virginia Pro Chapter was Alf Goodykoontz, a former executive editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, who headed SPJ’s national organization from 1977-1978.

Ensslin made the trip to Virginia from his home in New Jersey at the invitation of chapter president Paul Fletcher. The national president’s talk focused on ethics, but also touched on ideas to expand SPJ’s membership internationally.

Ensslin commented on the influence SPJ’s Code of Ethics has on practices of journalism in the United States. “It is not law;” he said, “and it has much more power as a result.”  

The system of peer-enforced accountability that SPJ’s ethics code promotes is one that Ensslin said he would like to see more journalists adopt “beyond the borders of this country.”

“We are an organization that values diversity, and I would like to see us grow in that direction,” he said.

However, he also noted concerns about advocating SPJ’s ethical doctrines in countries that do not enjoy as extensive rights to freedom of speech as those offered in the U.S.

“Part of SPJ’s code says that journalists should act independently, but not all journalists have that independence,” Ensslin said, citing Iran as an example of a country where one must carry a license in order to practice journalism. He welcomed thoughts and opinions on that topic as he and other members of SPJ’s national board develop plans to expand the organization’s membership, both domestically and abroad.

Following Ensslin’s talk, Virginia Pro Chapter members watched a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” The film follows journalists working at the iconic paper’s Media Desk and sheds light on how new technologies have affected practices and perceptions of  one of journalism’s oldest and most influential institutions.

Ensslin said the opening scene of “Page One,” which shows the closing of the Rocky Mountain newspaper, hits close to home for him.

“That was my newspaper, and my editor up on the screen,” he said. “I remember that day; it stabs me right here every time I see it.”  Ensslin is currently a reporter covering local government for The Record, a newspaper in  Bergen, N.J.

For young journalists looking to become viable in an evolving media landscape, Ensslin advised that the training, professional support and camaraderie gained by joining SPJ’s network gives students and professionals alike an advantage in their careers.

“When a newspaper editor gets an application from someone who’s joined SPJ […], that signals that this is a person who’s serious about journalism,” said Ensslin. “If you’re not going to invest in yourself, who will?”

[Photo by Pat Kane][p>

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Come share lunch with fellow journalists, served with a helping of journalistic ethics!

The Virginia Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will celebrate Ethics Week (April 24-30) with a brown-bag talk by Kevin Smith, the national past president of SPJ and a journalism professor at James Madison University.

Kevin will discuss the SPJ Code of Ethics, last revised in 1996, and whether it’s time for an update. Technology has brought new ways to gather, present and report news and information, so maybe the ethics code needs to address that. He’d like to hear your thoughts.

Date and Time: Wednesday, April 27, at 12 noon
Place: Richmond Times-Dispatch, downtown Richmond
What to Bring: Your lunch. Drinks will be provided.

Seating is limited to 30 people, so click here to register for this free event today.

Parking is available in the Richmond Times-Dispatch parking deck. Please arrive early and let the parking deck official know that you are attending an SPJ function. There is also metered parking and limited hourly parking on the streets surrounding The Times-Dispatch.

See you there!

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