East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists

February 2008

February 2008

Hard to believe the middle of February is almost here. Twelfth Night is a distant memory, the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras have rolled out of town and the National Day of Chocolate Consumption (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day) is almost here.Another big occasion is just over the horizon — and, no, I’m not talking about Easter. What’s coming is the annual regional Spring Conference. This year, Region 12 and Region 8 have combined forces to host a joint conference in New Orleans. Loyola University’s SPJ campus chapter and the university’s Department of Mass Communication are our site hosts. [snip agenda of conference-ja]From the University of Mississippi
Michele Bright
Ole Miss SPJ chapter reporter
The University of Mississippi’s SPJ chapter hosted a roundtable discussion Jan. 29 titled “Minimizing Harm, Issues of Diversity” after a controversy erupted between student media and the public following the publication of a cartoon in the Daily Mississippian, the campus newspaper, that featured a teddy bear named after the Islamic prophet, Mohammed.The image, considered offensive to the Islamic faith, started a discussion about what level of self-censorship should journalists practice in order to minimize harm.

The same week, the editor of Golfweek magazine was fired after printing a noose on the cover of the magazine after a reporter made an off-handed about lynching Tiger Woods. Other publications reported on the story, but Golfweek has been criticized for sensationalizing the comment to inflame the public.

My congratulations also to the East Tennessee Pro Chapter in Knoxville, which won a $500 grant from SPJ to help fund the chapter’s planned FOI month program in March 2008. Sonny Albarado

NEWS FROM EAST TENNESSEE PRO CHAPTER The Region 12 pro chapter of the year for 2006 continues to stage some strong programming. On Nov. 29, it sponsored a workshop on shooting video for the Web. Chapter president John Huotari reports that about 40 people attended: “Most were print journalists, but we also had television and radio reporters, University of Tennessee students and faculty members, public relations professionals and a blogger. “Among other things, the three panelists at the workshop gave tips on lighting, editing, framing shots and using a microphone. And they said it can be relatively easy and inexpensive to add videos to a Web site using software and Web sites like Microsoft Movie Maker and YouTube. “Former national SPJ president Georgiana Vines, one of our board members, said it was one of the best programs the chapter has ever put on. And one panelist, online editor Jigsha Desai of the Knoxville News Sentinel, enjoyed the workshop so much that she signed up for SPJ. “At the workshop, Desai said reporters at her paper use video cameras that sell for as little as $150.” The other panelists were Bob Legg, who teaches broadcast production at UT, and Brittany Bailey, a backpack journalist at WBIR-TV in Knoxville. For its October meeting, the East Tennessee chapter focused on ethics and the relationship between journalists and public relations professionals. The meeting was co-hosted by the Knoxville PRSA chapter. Finally, Huotari did his part to support openness in government when he used his November column in the chapter newsletter “Spot News” to encourage members to attend hearings of the Tennessee legislature’s Open Government Committee, which is considering changes to the state’s 1970s-era Sunshine Laws. Huotari also spoke before the Knoxville City Council on Nov. 6, urging the council to oppose a proposal that would change the portion of the Open Meetings Act that requires public meetings whenever two or more members of a local governing body get together to deliberate public business. A state panel recommended in October changing the “two or more” standard to a quorum standard. The panel later dropped that proposal in favor of on that would require a meeting to be open when lesser of more than four members of a public body or a majority were present. Huotari also opposed this recommendation and urged his members to do the same. Way to go, John!

NEWS FROM MID-SOUTH PRO CHAPTER Lindsay Jones, chapter vice president, reports that she, secretary-treasurer Rosalind Guy and board member David Arant, a University of Memphis j-prof, met in early November to discuss ways to keep the chapter active in the wake of the departures of president Erin Hornsby and treasurer Sonny Albarado. Hornsby moved to Nashville and Albarado to Little Rock. I’ll be offering assistance to the chapter to maintain its active status.

NEWS FROM MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY Kent Flanagan, veteran AP-Tennessee chief and current distinguished journalist in residence at MTSU, has accepted the opportunity to rebuild that school’s student chapter. Kent, a member of the Middle Tennessee Pro Chapter in Nashville, is also Mark of Excellence Awards coordinator for Region 12. Thanks, Kent!

FINAL NOTES I was happy in October to meet representatives from the recently revived Louisiana State University campus chapter – Amy Brittain, Garesia Randle and adviser Tad Odell – at the national SPJ conference in Washington. And Region 12 was well-represented, with folks from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette; University of Mississippi, Mid-South Pro, University of Memphis, East Tennessee Pro, Northwest Arkansas, University of Arkansas, Loyola University-New Orleans and Lipscomb University in attendance. Thanks to all of you for your support in my re-election bid and my deep appreciation for your continued support of SPJ in word and deed. My main final note concerns chapter activity, or the lack thereof. ETSPJ and the Ole Miss student chapter are the region’s strongest. Middle Tennessee Pro, Arkansas-Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas also have been fairly active, though I haven’t gotten any news from them in a while. But we still lack viable pro chapters in Mississippi and Louisiana. I hope to change that in the coming year. Meanwhile, if you know of any pro members in those states who might be up to the challenge of reviving or creating new chapters, please forward this newsletter to them or forward their contact info to me. And now for the corrections department: My September newsletter gave an incorrect affiliation for Adina Chumley, an ex officio member of the ETSPJ board. She owns her own PR company, Chumley Communications. Also, I left off a member of the chapter’s board – Christine Jessel. That’s all the news for now. Apologies to anyone I’ve overlooked. Send me your news and I’ll include you in the next newsletter. Finally, I hope your holiday season is joyful and your new year bright!

Sonny Albarado, Region 12 Director, Society of Professional Journalists

[See earlier reports from Sonny at http://spj.org/rreport12.asp]

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