October 14, 2020
“We're the voice of students, so we have a responsibility to be the line of reporters who are doing the most dirty work on this. It would be throwing away what we are as a student newspaper if we didn't put in a lot of work on this both in the reporting and advocacy side.”
Eli Hoff, managing editor at The Maneater,
about collegiate journalists pandemic coverage
As a result of positive COVID-19 tests in the White House and President Donald Trump disregarding safety precautions for him and his staff, major news outlets are declining to assign their reporters to travel with the president. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are some of the outlets making this decision, saying they do not have assurance that basic precautions will be taken to protect reporters’ health. Buzzfeed News pulled a reporter from the White House press pool last week as well, citing COVID-19 risks. At least seven major outlets have declined one of the available press seats on Trump’s plane recently. “The White House Correspondents’ Association, which coordinates the so-called pool of reporters who travel with the president to chronicle his movements and utterances, is now scrambling to find journalists willing to staff the president’s events,” NYT Media Correspondent Michael Grynbaum said.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute launched an app, called JSafe, built to help female journalists fight against harassment, bullying and assault. The app aims to help journalists find the resources they need when in threatening situations. Users can document incidents by uploading the attacker’s email or social media handles, storing any photo or video evidence they might have and indicating the level of threat they are experiencing. Then they can request a follow up for resources from the Coalition For Women In Journalism, whether it’s to seek out a lawyer, therapist or other assistance.
Five suspended officials at the U.S. Agency for Global Media are suing the agency, its new CEO Michael Pack and several of his most senior aides, alleging they are breaking the law in pursuing a pro-Trump agenda for Voice of America. The suit alleges Pack is endangering the networks' ability to operate independently by withholding funds and denying the extension of specialized visas for non-Americans who work for the foreign-language services. The plaintiffs say Pack's restrictions have made it harder for the broadcasters to serve their audiences.
Join us Oct. 22 for #SPJTruth – a day of fighting disinformation, misinformation and claims of “fake news.” Journalism experts will share ways you can cover COVID-19 and the upcoming election by knowing how to navigate through the noise and report only the facts to your readers, viewers and listeners. Join SPJ Journalist on Call Rod Hicks and Research Director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Joan Donovan, as they discuss disinformation spreading across social media and the internet during the heated presidential campaign season. Joy Mayer and Lynn Walsh from the Trusting News project will discuss how you can respond to these claims and defend your journalism. There will also be a special screening of “Selling Lies,” an explosive new film by Academy Award-Nominated Director Leslie Iwerks, which unveils the truth behind “fake news” and how it influenced the 2016 presidential election. Organized by the SPJ Ethics Committee in lieu of Ethics Week this year, the day will be full of panels, interviews and other activities to help as you follow the first of the four tenets of the code: seek truth and report it. Watch next week’s Leads and SPJ social media for more details.

We are seeking your feedback for the future of the SPJ annual conference, most recently known as Excellence in Journalism. We need your help and ideas in considering what we do in 2022 and beyond. Please take five minutes to complete this survey. Deadline is Friday.

Free Speech Week is next week! SPJ is a partner for the yearly event, which raises public awareness of the importance of freedom of speech and of the press in our democracy, so watch our social media for things to share and ways to celebrate this freedom.
A volunteer is needed to fill the Region 7 Coordinator position. Anyone interested in being appointed to that role should contact SPJ National President Matthew T. Hall. Only SPJ members in Region 7 Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — are eligible to serve. This role has a one-year term that expires September 2021.
The Cincinnati Pro Chapter is hosting a virtual program at 7 p.m. EDT Thursday, 40 years after the 1980 hostage takeover of WCPO-TV by James Hoskins. Tom McKee, former WCPO-TV reporter and one of the nine hostages, will moderate the event "Journalists & Stress — Coping Mechanisms In Unusual Times."
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of SPJ Madison Pro Chapter Past President Breann Marie Schossow, who died Oct. 5 surrounded by her loved ones. Her dedication and contributions to SPJ are greatly appreciated. She will be dearly missed.
SPJ gives its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jim Dwyer, who died last week. Dwyer was a talented journalist who received the 2010 Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing from the SDX Foundation.
No, The Big Red Machine is not the name for Alexander Lukashenko's cabinet. But they both figure into this week's News Biz Quiz
The Long Beach Post in California has an immediate opening for a food and culture journalist to cover the complex, evolving food and culture scene in its city and the surrounding communities. Coverage areas include bars and breweries, dining and distilleries, cottage culinary businesses and the impact the pandemic has had on the overall industry.
ProPublica is seeking an accomplished investigative, deputy editor to help oversee its growing local journalism initiatives. This senior-level editor will be involved in hiring, training, story selection, editing, second-editing and supervising the application process for the Local Reporting Network. The outlet is willing to consider strong remote candidates. Deadline is Oct. 30.
The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina is looking for a visual journalist. This individual will be required to pitch, report and produce daily and long-term visual stories. Two years of daily newsroom experience and familiarity with digital single-lens reflex and professional video cameras, non-linear editing and video content management systems are preferred. A college degree is required.
Looking for journalism jobs and internships? Check out SPJ’s Career Center and resources from the Journalist’s Toolbox.
SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund Committee approved a grant request from The Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Sabalow that would be used to challenge the sealing of several search warrants. In late 2018, someone shot a GPS-collared wolf along a road in Modoc County, California. Sources later told the reporter around a dozen wardens with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife conducted a large raid on a local ranching family and interrogated a young man. More than a year later, the state has announced no arrests. The DFW has six warrants under seal in Modoc County Superior Court. This is a matter of significant public interest and concern in the communities the reporter covers. Under California law, search warrants are considered judicial records open to the public after they have been executed. Courts in California are routinely sealing search warrants and related documents indefinitely. They should be held accountable when they fail to follow the prescribed method for sealing documents. 

The case Blankenship v. Blakeman involves a pending defamation case about the availability of immediate appeal under Virginia’s anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation law. Don Blankenship sued a Fox News contributor after the latter described Blankenship as a “felon,” even though he had been convicted of a misdemeanor — not felony — conspiracy charge stemming from the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. The court denied Bradley Blakeman’s motion to dismiss, so he is attempting to appeal. The amicus brief argues, even though the Virginia statute does not expressly provide for an immediate appeal right, the denial of the motion to dismiss should be immediately appealable under the “collateral order doctrine.” It also highlights examples of powerful plaintiffs’ use of SLAPPs to chill speech protected under the First Amendment and argues the immediate appeal would help counter these SLAPPs.

View all of SPJ's most recent efforts to assist journalists and journalism in court and elsewhere on the LDF in Action page
Election SOS released a media playbook about how to cover electoral conflict. Investigative journalist Amanda Ripley and Carnegie fellow Rachel Kleinfeld put together the comprehensive guidebook ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Check out the guide, which includes everything from reaching out to crisis sources, to not repeating misinformation.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’ Election Legal Guide is now updated with information about accessing ballots and election records, the initial ballot count and recount process in some battleground states and more.
An armed, private security guard hired by KUSA-TV in Denver killed a demonstrator Saturday during dueling protests in the city’s downtown area. Photos from the shooting show the victim spraying a can of mace toward the guard, who has a drawn pistol in his hands. Until the shooting, the two rallies were mostly consisted of each group chanting and yelling at one another. The guard is now in jail and could face murder charges.

SPJ's Code of Ethics says ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public. Journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

KUSA, more commonly known as 9NEWS, has produced several stories about the shooting, clearly and publicly acknowledging its involvement around the incident. The station acted independently when it led its newscast Monday with a report on the shooting and explained how it was turning to journalists from other cities to independently investigate the story. By doing this, the outlet is following the SPJ Code of Ethics and abiding by the standards they would expect of others.
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