Reporting in the Midst of Tragedy

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After the shooting deaths of five staff members at the Capital Gazette just over a month ago, reporter Chase Cook said “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper.”
Join the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 for a panel discussion about covering the news during even the toughest of times with moderator Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press.

Panelists:
Christina Muñoz, former anchor for KATV Channel 7
CORRECTION: Christina had just had her first baby in 2008 when her colleagues had to go on air with the news that their friend/co-worker Anne Pressly was murdered.
George Jared, author and investigative journalist
George has written two true-crime books and more news stories about WM3 than any other journalist.
Cathy Frye, former award-winning journalist
In 2013, Cathy became the subject of the kind of tragic stories she was known for writing after she and her husband, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette photographer Rick McFarland, spent days lost in the Chihuahuan Desert.

*This event is free and open to the public

Arkansas SPJ will be selling T-shirts with proceeds to benefit the Capital Gazette Families Fund, which was set up by the newspaper’s owner to provide immediate relief and long-term recovery support to employees and their immediate family members affected by the tragedy.

Send questions and comments for discussion to @ArkansasSPJ #ReportingTragedy

https://www.facebook.com/events/1043326425833469

 

TOUR • TASTE • TOAST

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5 p.m.
Wednesday, July 25
Rock Town Distillery
1201 Main St. | Little Rock

For $20 join Arkansas SPJ on a private tour, which includes
a Solo-cup cocktail, the tasting of 10 items + 3 specialty items
(single barrel whiskeys, anniversary whiskeys and more).

Get there at 5 p.m. to get a drink before the tour and tasting begins at 5:15.
The tour and tasting takes about an hour.

Then we’ll meet in the bar for a mixer with Ashley Wimberley,
executive director of the Arkansas Press Association.

Deadline extended for entries in Diamond Journalism Awards

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2018 Diamond Journalism Awards

CALL FOR ENTRIES

Attention professional and student journalists within 250 miles of Little Rock, it’s time to enter the Diamond Journalism Awards!

Sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, the Diamond Journalism Awards recognize outstanding journalism by professionals and students from Arkansas and bordering media markets in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Eligible work must have been published or broadcast between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.

Entries can be submitted starting April 9, 2018 and has been extended until 11 p.m. CDT, JULY 16, 2018.

Enter online via the Better BNC Media Awards platform, https://betternewspapercontest.com/

NOTE: BetterBNC is optimized for the Google Chrome browser and Firefox for PC and MacIntosh/Apple. For the best contest experience, use a recent version.

All entrants should log in as “open call contestant.” A contest administrator will confirm your eligibility.

ENTRY RULES

  • All professional and student journalists, including freelancers, working within a 250-mile radius of Little Rock can submit entries or have entries submitted on their behalf by news organizations that published or broadcast their work.
  • You don’t have to be a member of the Society of Professional Journalists to enter.
  • Entries may be submitted in more than one category, but a separate entry fee is required for each category.
  • Any significant challenges or corrections to an entry must be provided with the entry. If not noted, an entry will be disqualified.
  • A cover letter is generally not required, but if included, should be no more than one page.
  • Comments and supportive material are required only in conjunction with nominations for the Robert McCord FOI Award, Community Service Award, Outstanding New Journalist Award and Diamond Journalist of the Year Award.

ENTRY FORMAT

  • Submit PDFs, JPGs or video/audio, or provide an active URL that contest administrators and judges can access to view your entries.
  • Please ensure URLs remain valid through September 15, 2018, to accommodate judging.

FEES

  • SPJ members: $10 per entry. To claim the member fee, you must supply your personal SPJ member number. A team entry may claim the fee if at least one team member is an SPJ member; that person’s name and SPJ member number must be listed.
  • To join SPJ, go to spj.org and fill out a membership form. Pro membership is $75 a year; student membership is $37.50. Monthly payment plan available.
  • Nonmembers: $20 per entry.
  • Student SPJ members: $5 per entry. Provide your member number.
  • Student nonmembers: $10 per entry.
  • No fees will be refunded.

JUDGING

  • Entries will be judged by professional journalists outside the contest
  • If judges determine no entry meets standards in a given category, no award will be given.
  • Categories in which there are fewer than three entries may be merged with a similar category for judging. For example, if there are only two entries in the Politics-Non-daily category, those entries will be judged with entries in the Politics-Daily category.

CATEGORIES

PAYMENT FOR ENTRIES

CONTACT

Arkansas SPJ urges Legislative Council to require high school journalism offering

To the members of the Arkansas Legislative Council,

 

As members of the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the United States’ oldest journalism organization, the Society of Professional Journalists (www.spj.org), we write to express our grave concern that the Arkansas Department of Education’s proposed revision of public school accrediting standards will reduce the value of an Arkansas high school diploma in competition with other states’ graduates.

 

Specifically, we are concerned that the minimum high school accrediting standards will no longer require such courses as journalism, physics or world history and that these would be replaced with more general topics such as English language arts, science and social studies. As you might surmise, the continued offering of journalism courses as an elective is of deepest concern to us.

 

We support the position of the Arkansas Press Association, which wrote to the ALC’s Rules and Regulations subcommittee “that if schools are not required to offer journalism classes as an elective, then many districts simply won’t, depriving high school students of the opportunity to learn objective thinking, community involvement, civic issues, fact-finding and news photography.”

 

The APA highlighted research that shows journalism students generally do better in school, in many ways, than nonjournalism students. The APA pointed to a study by Jack Dvorak and others in the 1990s, the findings of which are summarized at http://www.cisd.org/cms/lib6/TX01917765/Centricity/Domain/529/journalism-students-do-better-1.pdf.

 

Journalism coursework, as well as the extracurricular benefit of a high school newspaper or other outlet for journalistic work, is proven to help young minds develop the skills necessary to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving world – just as music courses help in developing mathematical skills. Student journalists practice crucial skills rooted in researching and fact-checking, along with practicing objectivity. In a time of “fake news” and increased skepticism toward the media due to concerns of bias, it is imperative that Arkansas schools train students to both sift through and verify information.

 

Student journalists also learn about emerging technologies, become better communicators through interviewing and storytelling, and strengthen their math and critical-thinking skills through working with data. By giving students the opportunity to put this knowledge to use, Arkansas high schools play a role in creating graduates who are well-rounded and possess the skills needed to thrive in higher education and the workforce.

 

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of SPJ appreciates that less specificity in required courses and more latitude and choice can benefit smaller, less financially secure school districts, but we worry that a lack of standardized and specific minimum statewide course requirements will tilt the educational playing field in favor of rich districts and further weaken poor districts.

 

In that vein, we also take issue with a statement made by a school counselor in the Education Department’s submitted record of public comments on the proposed accrediting standards. The counselor wrote in favor of removing drama and journalism from the required 38 credits, saying those courses attract very few students and take up space in the school’s master course schedule.

 

The counselor’s view seems short-sighted and prejudicial: Small numbers of students might sign up for physics or calculus or advanced math, but those courses are no less vital to some students’ intended careers or further education. Also, could it be that schools’ failure to promote certain courses ensures that few students will sign up for them?

 

In broad terms, we think the loosening of accrediting standards ultimately will hurt Arkansas students in the increasingly competitive world of information we all inhabit.
We urge you to send the revised standards back to the Education Department for further review, discussion and revision.

 

Sincerely,
Arkansas Pro Chapter,

Society of Professional Journalists

 

President Jennifer Ellis, jellis@arkansasonline.com
Vice President Chelsea Boozer, cboozer@arkansasonline.com
Treasurer Bobby Ampezzan, bobby@arkansaspublicmedia.org
Secretary Syd Hayman, sydhayman@gmail.com

Arkansas SPJ awards scholarships

The Arkansas Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has announced the recipients of two $1,000 scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year.

They are Nicholas Popowitch of North Little Rock and Kolton Rutherford of Maumelle.

Popowitch, a junior at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is a native of Patchogue, New York. He is executive editor of The Forum, the university’s student newspaper. He will receive the Dean Duncan Scholarship, named in honor of a late, longtime journalism educator at the University of Central Arkansas.

Rutherford is a sophomore at UA Little Rock and is The Forum’s sports editor. He will receive the Winthrop Rockefeller Freedom of Information Scholarship, named for the governor who signed the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act into law on Feb. 14, 1967.

Both students are majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism.

The recipients will be honored at the chapter’s annual awards dinner in the fall.

For further information, please contact Jennifer Ellis, chapter president, at jellis@arkansasonline.com or (501) 533-0565.