March 25, 2020
During an era when journalists have been insulted and maligned, I’d like to say thank you to all hardworking reporters who are doing a great public service by keeping us all informed .”

Katie Couric , American television personality,
journalist and author
WHAT'S HAPPENING
Student journalists are rising to the challenge and covering the coronavirus pandemic even after campuses have shut down. Meetings are being conducted by webcam like in major news outlets. The State News at Michigan State University is following the lead of professional, local news outlets and announced it is temporarily suspending its “weekly physical print product distribution” but will continue to publish “a weekly print product that will be distributed online through social media.” To celebrate and honor these young journalists, SPJ and the Associated Collegiate Press are co-sponsoring a distinctive weekly awards program, College Coronavirus Coverage , for all college students covering COVID-19. Entering the contest is free, and a rotating slate of judges will choose winners and finalists by noon each Monday until the pandemic has passed.
 
Digital subscription rates are up for news outlets , and the coronavirus has been good for general online news traffic . However, local newspapers and alternative weeklies are suffering. Dozens of local newsrooms began laying people off this week , fearing the economic hit of the coronavirus could severely impact ad revenue. Alt-weeklies’ main sources of advertising and distribution have been eliminated as local events are canceled and local bars, restaurants and theaters close. These outlets have been forced to ask for donations, layoff staff, abandon their print issues or temporarily shut down.
 
President Donald Trump verbally attacked NBC reporter Peter Alexander during the coronavirus press conference Friday after he asked the president to give a message to Americans who are scared about COVID-19. President Trump told Alexander he was a “terrible reporter” and said he wasn’t reporting, he was “doing sensationalism.” Several reporters jumped to Alexander’s defense later in the briefing. “The media’s job is to present facts, not hope. It is to report what is really happening, not to paint over serious issues in order to make its audience feel better,” said Poynter’s Tom Jones .
 
A new project from Reporters Without Borders now uses Minecraft  to share articles from censored journalists . The project takes the form of a massive virtual library, called the Uncensored Library, made from more than 12.5 million of the Lego-like blocks that Minecraft players use to build virtual worlds. The library is intended to evoke and subvert the repression of governments that censor information. Content in the library cannot be changed, but players can add more to it.
SPJ QUICK FIX
Join SPJ members from across the country from 2-3 p.m. EDT Friday for the first SPJ Live with Executive Director John Shertzer . Hear the latest news from SPJ and check in on your peers and friends from throughout the organization. This is time set aside for SPJ members to come together, ask questions, share ideas, and discuss current events and happenings in journalism. And maybe we’ll have some fun too!  Please RSVP if you plan to join us.  Those who RSVP will receive information via email on how to join the meeting.

SPJ National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry will  moderate a panel about women in the media  10-11:30 a.m. EDT Friday on  Zoom meeting ID: 832 520 834 . The event had been scheduled for March 11 at the United Nations, but was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic. It is hosted by The International Association of Women in Radio and Television. The panel consists of women from the United States, Kenya and the U.N. who will address progress in media coverage of women and the media’s role 25 years after the  Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action . The discussion will be recorded for later viewing.

Journalist’s Toolbox has more than 100 resources on the coronavirus, including an interactive COVID-19 global map, lists of organizations and data sources, tip sheets, fact-checking resources and media/social media coverage about the virus. Links regarding SARS, flu and swine flu are also available. 

SPJ supports the Asian American Journalists Association in denouncing the escalating violence and rhetoric aimed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including journalists, amid the coronavirus outbreak. “…Harmful language persists, including repeated use of ‘China coronavirus’ or ‘Chinese coronavirus’ despite guidance by the World Health Organization discouraging the use of geographic locations when naming illnesses because it could stigmatize populations associated with those places,” the statement said.

View the lists of Mark of Excellence Awards regional winners  who have been announced so far. National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to all MOE winners!

SPJ members experiencing financial difficulties renewing their membership or who recently were laid off from full-time employment in the media industry can apply for a dues waiver that grants six additional months on their SPJ membership. To submit the waiver request, fill out this form .

Applications for the Dori Maynard Diversity Leadership Program are now being accepted. Selected Fellows get to see how SPJ works and what it has to offer. They also receive a free registration to the national conference in September.  Deadline is May 4.
 
New from Quill:  Journalist on Call  Rod Hicks  writes about the numerous challenges journalists are encountering as they try and accurately cover the coronavirus outbreak, including challenges when reporting on the words and actions of President Donald Trump.

Many of you have new co-workers these days – your pets! Help lift everyone’s spirits and show us you and your “assistant(s)” hard at work. Just email your pics with a caption to  communications@spj.org  or tag us @spj_tweets or @spj_pics and we’ll share a few photos a day on SPJ’s Twitter , Facebook , LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. Be sure to include #SPJPets on your posts.

To better assist those impacted by the coronavirus, GEICO is “ pausing cancellation of coverage due to non-payment and policy expiration, effectively immediately through April 30.” This is good news for SPJ members who enjoy this member benefit from SPJ and GEICO. Because you are an SPJ member , you could be eligible for this special membership discount on GEICO auto insurance. With the discount, you'll also receive 24-hour service online or by phone, as well as efficient and fair claim handling.

SPJ is continuing to monitor the spread of the coronavirus and how it could affect SPJ events and conferences.
  • All SPJ Regional Conferences scheduled for the spring have been canceled or postponed. Region 3's conference, scheduled for Oct. 24, remains on track.
  • The Excellence in Journalism conference, scheduled for Sept. 10-12 in Washington, D.C., is still on, however opening registration has been delayed with a date to be determined.
  • SPJ HQ is closed indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus. Staff is still accessible and working remotely.
Further updates, coronavirus information and resources are available on SPJ.org .

Annual Reports  for both professional and campus chapters are  due May 29 . This is for the time frame of  April 30, 2019 – May 1, 2020 . All reports are due no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT. There will be  no exceptions . If you have any questions, please email Manager of Membership and Chapters  Caroline Escobar .  
GET A GIG
KHQA-TV in Champaign, Illinois, is looking for a morning news anchor . The winning candidate will be someone who embraces social media and knows how to consistently engage with the audience. Applicants must have at least two years of on-air experience, live commercial experience and strong “in-the-field and live skills.”
 
Greene County Daily World in Linton, Indiana, is seeking a news reporter . The news outlet is hiring an individual who can use their story-telling techniques to report on feature stories, cover local meetings and relay important information from community meetings. InDesign/Photoshop experience is a plus.
 
iHeartMedia in San Francisco, California, is hiring a traffic reporter for a part-time, fill-in, on-air position. This position identifies, researches and creates copy regarding traffic, while finalizing content using digital audio editing software. Applicants should be proficient in Microsoft Office suite, social networking platforms and audio production software. The job requires four or more years of on-air radio experience and a four-year degree, preferably in broadcast journalism or communications.

Looking for more journalism jobs? Check out SPJ’s Career Center and resources from the Journalist’s Toolbox .
FIGHTING FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT
One way SPJ supports journalism is by initiating and joining amicus briefs to support First Amendment and open records cases through its   Legal Defense Fund . Here is one of the most recent cases SPJ has signed onto:
 
This case concerns whether the public has a First Amendment right of access to the wiretap applications, orders and other associated records filed with the court after a wiretap has been executed and an investigation closed. The appellant is a retired California Highway Patrol officer who was the target of a wiretap in Riverside County, which had three times as many wiretaps as courts in any other state or federal jurisdictions. Following the investigation, he sought access to the wiretap materials. The trial court denied his application, and he appealed.

 This amicus brief  supports the appellant’s argument that the public has a constitutional right of access to wiretap applications, supporting documentation (including affidavits) and orders sought under California's wiretap statute after the investigation is over. In addition, given the disproportionate volume of Riverside wiretaps, the brief also discusses the danger that government surveillance without public oversight poses to the reporter-source relationship. 
 
View all of SPJ's most recent efforts to assist journalists and journalism in court and elsewhere   on the LDF in Action page
LEARN SOME STUFF
As a journalist, you’re being required to do your job in a way you’ve likely never had to do it before: From working remotely from home, to conducting interviews virtually, to juggling homeschooling children or taking care of elderly parents while still putting out the news every day.

It’s stressful. It’s full of uncertainty. And SPJ joins together with journalism organizations everywhere to help you through this. Check our calendar of events – a centralized location for the latest journalism webinars and e-learning offerings from ALL our journalism friends and partners during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Visit this one-stop shop to sign up for webinars related to covering the coronavirus pandemic, how to effectively and efficiently work from home, how to conduct a Zoom meeting and most importantly, how to take care of your physical and mental health during this uncertain time — and much more.
Are you a member of another organization that is hosting a webinar you think would be of interest to journalists?  Submit the details here and we’ll help spread the word!  

Through these challenging times, SPJ will continue to provide Google Tools training sessions for journalists and students. While we hope to return to live sessions soon, our trainers are available now to provide remote, interactive workshops via video. Request a training . If you have questions, email Lou Harry.
ETHICS ESSENTIALS
There are a lot of opinions and misinformation when it comes to COVID-19 coverage. Some are calling for media to stop live-broadcasting White House press briefings about the coronavirus altogether because of inaccuracies and misinformation. Many major news networks took this advice Monday when they decided not to air the whole conference live.
 
SPJ’s Code of Ethics says, “ provide context . Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story” and “gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.”
 
Use caution when deciding COVID-19 coverage and be prepared to fact check. We want to give the public information it needs to make important decisions, but we also must be cautious about not providing full context, especially in situations where the public’s health and daily lives are at risk.
GIVE A LITTLE
To help journalists who have been laid off or lost work because of the coronavirus pandemic – or other reasons – SPJ Oregon began its “layoff fund” and SPJ Florida started a “hand up fund.” Each grant program offers journalists  in each area up to $100 for something they need.

Find out how to donate to the Florida and Oregon funds. If your chapter has a similar fund, or would like to start one, send us an email .
Connect with us!