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.

Call for Candidates: Arkansas SPJ Seeks Members for 2018-2019 Board of Directors

Call for Candidates: Arkansas SPJ Seeks Members for 2018-2019 Board of Directors

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will hold its annual board election at its June membership mixer. Want to get involved? Consider running for a seat!

The Arkansas SPJ Board of Directors has 11 seats that are up for election each year, including executive officers: president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.

Check out the following duties and responsibilities of board members and consider running for the board or an officer position. Send a photo and a brief bio that tells why you want to serve as an SPJ leader, your history with SPJ and what you will bring to the group, including any ideas you have for the coming year, to Arkansas SPJ President Jennifer Ellis at jellis@arkansasonline.com by Friday, May 11.

A list of candidates and their bios will be posted 30 days prior to the election and emailed to our membership. Voting will take place at the June 27 annual meeting (location and time to be decided) and via email for those who can’t attend.

Don’t want to be a board member? Get involved in one of our committees!

ARKANSAS PRO CHAPTER BOARD
Duties and Responsibilities
To ensure the health of the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter, the members of the Board of Directors must be current on national dues and be accountable for the following duties and responsibilities:

Attendance
The Board of Directors meets monthly, and sometimes calls special meetings via phone or email. Board members must attend a minimum of nine monthly meetings during their July-to-June term of office, but strive to make it to all meetings or phone in. Absence from three consecutive meetings, or four or more monthly meetings during their term, will result in the appointment of a new director to the position.

Participation
Board members must actively participate in at least one of the following chapter committees: Freedom of Information Act, Programing, Contests, Membership and Marketing, or other special committee designated by the president. Active participation may include planning at least one event in a year, advancement of the FOIA through lobbying, contributions to the chapter’s website, newsletter or social media campaigns, or other efforts determined by the board.

UPDATE: Diamond Journalism Awards, Nov. 14, LR’s Flying Saucer

Judges have chosen the finalists in the 2017 Diamond Journalism Awards, a regional competition sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The awards recognize outstanding journalism by professionals and students from Arkansas and bordering media markets in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

UPDATE: Awards will be presented at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Flying Saucer in Little Rock. Tickets are $10 per person, including heavy hors d’oeuvres and libations. Purchase in advance at arkansasspj.org or at the door. Guest speaker to be announced.

Here is a list of finalists by category:

ONLINE

VIDEO

Kirstin Pieri May, Arkansas State University; Stephen Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Public Radio; Jillian Kremer, Arkansas Online; Brandon Riddle, Arkansas Online.

MULTIMEDIA PROJECT

Jackson Carter, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Emma Pettit, Arkansas Online.

BLOGS

Syd Hayman, Only in Arkansas.

PRINT

EDITORIALS (All print)

Rick Kron, Jonathan Feldman, Garrick Feldman, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.; Jonathan Feldman, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.; David Barham, Paul Greenberg, Walter Hussman Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

COMMENTARY (Daily newspapers)

Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

COMMENTARY (Non-daily newspapers)

Rick Kron, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.; Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Garrick Feldman, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.

HARD NEWS (Daily newspapers)

Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Noel Oman, Chris Bahn, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Andrew DeMillo, Kelly P. Kissel, Sean Murphy, Jill Bleed, Tafi Mukunyadzi, The Associated Press; Thomas Gounley, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader.

 HARD NEWS (Non-daily newspapers)

Tammy Keith, Three Rivers Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

HARD NEWS (Magazines)

Wyndham Wyeth, Arkansas Life; Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life.

FEATURE (Daily newspapers)

Hunter Field, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Ellis Widner, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

FEATURE (Non-daily newspapers)

Tammy Keith, Three Rivers Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Sarah DeClerk, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Sarah DeClerk, Health Beat/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

FEATURE (Magazines)

Mariam Makatsaria, Arkansas Life; Sarah DeClerk, Health Beat/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (All print)

Kara Harnett, Stone Selso, Olivia Moyers, Katelyn Mary Skaggs, Breanne Bleichroth, The Southeast Arrow; Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Lisa Hammersly, Brian Fanney, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

SPORTS (All print)

Jeremy Muck, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Johnny Carrol Sain, Arkansas Life; Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

POLITICS (All print)

Michael Wickline, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; John Moritz, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press.

PHOTOGRAPHY (Daily newspapers)

Mitchell Pe Masulin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Jill Bleed, The Associated Press.

PHOTOGRAPHY (Non-daily newspapers)

David Scolli, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.

PHOTOGRAPHY (Magazines)

Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life Magazine.

PHOTO PACKAGE/SPREAD (All media)

Mitchell Pe Masulin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life.

PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO (All media)

Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life; Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Mitchell Pe Masulin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

LEISURE INTERESTS (Magazines)

Bonnie Bauman, Arkansas Life; Morgan Acuff, Little Rock Family; Wyndham Wyeth, Arkansas Life.

 TELEVISION

HARD NEWS

Jose Gómez, Rolando Ochoa, Univision Arkansas; Andrea Guzmán, Univision Arkansas; Mariana Rivero, Univision Arkansas.

FEATURE REPORTING

Rodolfo Portillo, Univision Arkansas; Karen Pérez, Univision Arkansas; Univision Arkansas.

SPORTS REPORTING

Aaron Nolan, KARK-TV.

RADIO/PODCASTS

HARD NEWS

Ann Kenda, Johnathan Reaves, Arkansas Public Media; Bobby Ampezzan, Arkansas Public Media; Jacqueline Froelich, Arkansas Public Media.

FEATURE REPORTING

Jacqueline Froelich, Arkansas Public Media; Chris Hickey, KUAR Public Radio.

DOCUMENTARY/INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Public Radio; Karen Steward, KUAR Public Radio; Sarah Whites-Koditscheck, Arkansas Public Media.

SPORTS REPORTING

Jacob Kauffman, Chris Hickey, KUAR Public Radio.

SPECIAL AWARDS

ROBERT S. MCCORD FOI AWARD

Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press; Hunter Field, Amanda Claire Curcio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Lisa Hammersly, Brian Fanney, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

 OUTSTANDING NEW JOURNALIST

Emma Pettit, Arkansas Online; Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Public Radio; Brandon Riddle, Arkansas Online.

DIAMOND JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press; Eric Besson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Lisa Hammersly, Brian Fanney, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Staff, KUAR Public Radio and Arkansas Public Media; Frank Fellone, Lisa Hammersly, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

STUDENT JOURNALISM

NEWS

Emma Williams, The Herald, Arkansas State University; Kimberely Blackburn, Caitlin Jancyz, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University.

Kimberely Blackburn, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University.

FEATURE

Marie Mitchell, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University; Darcy Hagood, KUAR Public Radio, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Jiayue Liao, Deltat Digital News Service, Arkansas State University.

The Central High Crisis and the Press — A media critique 60 years on

 

Join the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter for The Central High Crisis and the Press — A media critique 60 years on at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13 at the Darragh Center Auditorium in the CALS Main Library, 100 S. Rock St. in downtown Little Rock.

A panel including, Ernie Dumas, Phyllis Brandon, Roy Reed, John Kirk and Tafi Mukunyadzi will discuss the 1957 press coverage of the Central High School Crisis.

Are you interested in getting more involved?

Looking for leaders.indd

The Arkansas Pro Chapter is looking to fill two vacancies on the Board of Directors. Check out the following duties and responsibilities of board members and consider applying. Applications are due by midnight Wednesday, Nov. 2. Two people will be selected at our monthly board meeting Nov. 9 to complete the current term, which runs through June.

ARKANSAS PRO CHAPTER BOARD
Duties and Responsibilities
To ensure the health of the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter, the members of the Board of Directors must be current on national dues and local chapter dues, if applicable, and be accountable for the following duties and responsibilities:

Attendance
The Board of Directors meets monthly, and sometimes calls special meetings via phone or email. Board members must attend a minimum of nine monthly meetings during their July-to-June term of office, but strive to make it to all meetings or phone in. Absence from three consecutive meetings, or four or more monthly meetings during their term, will result in the appointment of a new director to the position.

Participation
Board members must actively participate in at least one of the following chapter committees: Freedom of Information Act, Programing, Contests, Membership and Marketing, or any other special committee designated by the president. Active participation may include planning at least one event in a year, advancement of the FOIA through lobbying, contributions to the chapter’s website, newsletter or social media campaigns, or other efforts determined by the board.

 

SPJ Arkansas Pro Chapter Board Member Application

Name:

Email:

Phone Number:

  1. Are you an SPJ member? If so, how long have you been a member?
  1. Do you have any past experience in SPJ at the student or professional level?
  1. List any boards, committees or organizations you serve in.
  1. Which SPJ committee(s) are you most interested in serving on?

    Programming, Marketing/Membership, FOIA, Contest, 2018 Regional Conference committee

  1. List a brief work history and any journalism/leadership awards you have received.
  1. Why do you want to serve on the SPJ board?
  1. What is one thing you would like to accomplish as a board member?

Submit completed application to Chelsea Boozer, SPJ Arkansas Pro president, at cboozer@arkansasonline.com by midnight Wednesday, Nov. 2.