DEADLINE EXTENDED: Arkansas SPJ seeks candidates for 2019-2020 Board of Directors

Looking for leaders.indd

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host 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 by Friday, May 17 (extended deadline).

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 annual meeting (location and date/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: programs, marketing, scholarships, contests, and FOIA/New Voices.

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:

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.

Board members must actively participate in at least one of the following chapter committees: programs, marketing, scholarships, contests, FOIA/New Voices 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.

Arkansas SPJ to host Sunshine Week events


Your Right to Know


10 a.m. Tuesday, March 12
CALS Cox “Bookstore” Building 3rd floor
120 River Market Ave., Little Rock

Join Arkansas SPJ and the state attorney general’s office for a Freedom of Information Act training, followed by a Q&A session with local journalists. Learn how to use FOIA to access public records and how reporters use the law every day. 

6 p.m. Thursday, March 14
Vino’s Brewpub
923 W. 7th St., Little Rock

Grab a brew and a slice while we test your knowledge of the state’s FOIA history and regulations with a fun twist, of course.

Police, Press and the Public
2 p.m. Saturday, March 16
CALS Main Library – Darragh Center
100 S. Rock St, Little Rock

This panel will feature members of local police departments and professional journalists on public information, transparency, crime, community policing 
and how media and police work with each other.
Officer Tommy Norman
Officer Norman works for the North Little Rock Police Department.
He promotes community policing through his Mission Give Foundation 
and far-reaching social media presence.

Lt. Michael Ford
Lt. Ford runs the Public Affairs Section of the Little Rock Police Department.
He is responsible for releasing police information and responding to FOIA requests.

Mitchell McCoy
McCoy has been a general assignment reporter at KARK.
He routinely covers crime in Little Rock.

Clara Turnage
Turnage is the crime reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
She often works with the paper’s breaking news team and interacts with police.


Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

These events are brought to you by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. @ArkansasSPJ
$5 donation is suggested at each event to assist with printing costs of the 19th Edition of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook (set to be revised October 2019). A joint effort by the Arkansas Press Association, the Governor of Arkansas, the Attorney General of Arkansas, the Arkansas Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and other organizations, the Handbook is the state’s definitive and most up-to-date resource on the FOIA.

Celebrate #TinkerTurns50 with Arkansas SPJ


The Arkansas Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists invites you to join us in a region-wide celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District decision.

On Feb. 24, 1969, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that Mary Beth Tinker,
her brother John, and others had the right to wear black arm bands imprinted with peace signs to school in protest of the Vietnam war. The court’s decision, which said, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” solidified student expression rights that we still hold dear today.

Through a generous grant, Arkansas SPJ will provide scholastic and collegiate journalists, media advisers and educators, and SPJ members with Tinker armbands to be worn on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 in honor of the Tinker decision.

To join in the expression, email Arkansas SPJ President Jennifer Ellis at or board member Steve Listopad at with the following:

• Your group or organization’s name
• The quantity of armbands your group would like
• Contact information, including a mailing address where the armbands can be sent

Here is what you can do this week to fully engage in the celebration:

1. Learn more about the Tinker decision, later court cases such as Hazelwood that limited the rights of student journalists, and legislative campaigns to cure Hazelwood here:
2. Follow Tinker, Hazelwood and New Voices activities on social media nationally and in your state.
a. On Facebook and Twitter, search for New Voices USA, New Voices of (your state) and the Student Press Law Center.
b. Search for and use hashtags for #NewVoicesUSA, #CureHazelwood and #TinkerTour.
3. Follow the Tinker Tour and “Tinker Turns 50” activities of Mary Beth and John Tinker this week as they tour their old stomping grounds in Iowa and speak to students at the very schools that banned their expression over 50 years ago:
4. On Friday, Feb. 22, wear your enclosed armband to school or work. Take selfies and group photos and share them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #TinkerTurns50.
5. Also on Friday, Iowa Public Television will live-stream a presentation and Q&A with Mary Beth and John Tinker as they reflect on the case and its impact. Presented live from the State Historical Museum of Iowa, the program will begin at 12:30 p.m. Central Time on Friday, Feb. 22. Follow this link to participate:
6. On Sunday, Feb. 24, from 8–9 a.m. CST, watch the C-SPAN Live Interview and viewer call-in with Mary Beth and John. The broadcast will be on C-SPAN and simulcast on C-SPAN3.

We are so grateful to John and Mary Beth Tinker, and their late friend Christopher Eckhardt for standing up to their school district by standing in front of the Supreme Court and setting the standard for student expression across the country. Thank you for joining us in this wonderful celebration of our First Freedoms and those who fight to preserve them.


New Voices legislation passes Arkansas House Education Committee

Steve Listopad at House Education Committee

Arkansas SPJ board member Steve Listopad, a journalism professor at Henderson State University and FOIA Coalition member, testified today before the House Education Committee in support of New Voices legislation, HB1231 sponsored by State Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, of District 39, which will add protections for college journalists and advisers while freeing institutions of higher education from liability. The committee voted unanimously to pass the bill.


Arkansas Pro Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists

Dear Rep. Lowery,

With the goal of promoting free and ethical journalism at all levels, the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists supports HB1231 to ensure freedom of expression for student journalists at public institutions of higher education.

Student media tracks the pulse of a college or university, by exploring institutional issues and breaking important stories that might otherwise be overlooked. Student media disseminates valuable information to the campus community and holds those in power accountable for their actions. When the rights of student journalists are compromised, student media declines and the campus suffers.

In addition, understanding the rights and responsibilities of journalists is a critical component of journalism education. Student journalists gain invaluable experience navigating these principles by participating in student media. Protecting freedom of expression on campus is essential to preparing these students for careers in the field.

Regardless of their stage of development, all journalists are guaranteed the right to free expression under the First Amendment. By outlining the rights of student journalists at public institutions of higher education, HB1231 protects those rights and provides recourse for those who feel their rights have been violated. Therefore, this bill is a prudent and essential addition to press law in Arkansas.


Arkansas Pro Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists

Jennifer Ellis, president

Sarah DeClerk, vice president

Arkansas SPJ to host free Facebook Training for Journalists

Facebook Training.indd

connect with audiences • find content • build communities

Facebook and SPJ are committed to creating opportunities for journalists everywhere to learn about the ways Facebook tools can help create and share incredible works of journalism, as well as engage the public in the stories about their communities.

Arkansas SPJ is hosting a FREE training at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan 25 at the Darragh Center, 100 S. Rock St.

• How Journalists Can Best Utilize Facebook and Instagram
• Connect With Your Audience Using Facebook Live
• Immersive Storytelling With 360 Video and Photos
• Facebook Safety for Journalists
• Get Started with CrowdTangle
• Content Discovery and Social Monitoring with CrowdTangle
• Use Facebook Groups to Engage Your Audience

To register for this free training email or text (501) 533-0565

Our trainer is Lynn Walsh, an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. Based in San Diego, she is a past national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Project Manager at the Trusting News project, where she’s helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public.
GET SOCIAL find her on the following
Facebook @LynnWalshJournalist
Twitter @lwalsh
Instagram @lynnkwalsh

Have ice cream, will travel

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In an effort to extend its reach, Arkansas SPJ traveled more than 750 miles in the span of just over a month to bring Get the Scoop … and Check the Facts, a traveling ice cream social, to about 110 student journalists and professionals outside the Little Rock metropolitan area.

Speakers shared stories about how they got big scoops, ideas about how to cultivate sources on a beat and the importance of checking the facts. The tour included visits at the following:

• Henderson University in Arkadelphia at noon Oct. 30 at The Oracle newsroom with speaker Ginny Monk, projects reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Arkadelphia had recently lost its local newspaper. Fortunately, a new paper has emerged. There were about 30 people in attendance.
• University of Central Arkansas in Conway at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at The Echo newsroom with speaker Debra Hale-Shelton, a reporter in the ADG’s Conway bureau. She has since joined SPJ. There were about 25 people in attendance.
• Arkansas State University in Jonesboro at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26 in The Herald newsroom with George Jared, an author and investigative journalist who has written two true-crime books about stories he covered as a reporter at the Jonesboro Sun, and Sarah Campbell-Miller of Arkansas Business. There were about 12 student journalists in attendance.
• Harding University in Searcy at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 in the TV studio with speaker Tracy Whitaker of the Searcy Daily Citizen. There were about 20 in attendance.
• Arkansas Tech University in Russellville at 1 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Doc Bryan Student Services Center with speakers Tammy Keith of the ADG and Drew Brent of The Russellville Courier. There were about 22 in attendance.
The chapter didn’t make it to Lyon College in Batesville as it had planned, but has hopes to try to get there next semester as well as present the ice cream social in Little Rock, its regular stomping grounds. There are still plenty of scoops.

For photos and marketing materials of the events, visit Arkansas SPJ on Facebook.

Arkansas SPJ offers two $1,000 scholarships for 2019-20 — Application deadline is March 29

Arkansas SPJ offers two $1,000 scholarships for 2019-20  — Application deadline is March 29

Society of Professional Journalists — Arkansas Pro Chapter
Instructions for scholarship application
Application Deadline is March 29, 2019

Applications will be reviewed after all the necessary documents have been received. Only those applications and supporting materials emailed or postmarked by the March 29, 2019, deadline will be considered.

Besides the application, you must submit:

1. An essay about your career aspirations and any personal information deemed relevant
(500-word maximum) to demonstrate your writing ability.

2. Two letters of reference, one from a person familiar with your abilities.

3. A transcript of college grades through the Fall 2018 semester.

4. Three examples of your work and any other relevant information.

Please note: All application information will be held in strict confidence. Applications are destroyed after a decision is reached and announced.

Scholarships will be given only to a sophomore, junior, or senior attending
an Arkansas college or university during the 2019-20 school year. An applicant must be
majoring or minoring in a journalism, public relations, or an associated communications emphasis. Each scholarship will be awarded to a full-time student on the basis of need,
academic achievement, and distinguished ability in media-related fields.

Scholarship application