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 jellis@arkansasonline.com or board member Steve Listopad at listops@hsu.edu 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:
a. splc.org
b. newvoicesus.com
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: tinkertourusa.org/2019/01/11/tinker-turns-50/.
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: www.iptv.org/video/story/32660/50th-anniversary-tinker-v-des-moines-schools-decision.
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 jellis@arkansasonline.com 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

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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

Arkansas SPJ to host Ugly Sweater Mix and Mingle


Mix and mingle with fellow journalists at Arkansas SPJ’s Ugly Sweater Holiday Jingle at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 109 & Co. bar and lounge, 109 Main St. in downtown Little Rock. Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door for $15 and include hors d’oeuvres and libations. Prizes will be given for the best ugly holiday sweaters.

Buy tickets now

Arkansas SPJ stands in solidarity with student newspaper silenced by administration

Arkansas SPJ stands in solidarity with student newspaper silenced by administration

Arkansas Pro Chapter

Society of Professional Journalists


For immediate release:

On Oct. 30, The Herald of Har-Ber High School in Springdale published “Athlete transfers in question,” a painstaking investigation of football players’ transfers to a rival high school.

In response to the dedicated work of these student journalists, school officials demanded the story be removed from The Herald‘s website, suspended the paper’s publication and threatened to terminate adviser Karla Sprague. School principal Paul Griep had asked Sprague to provide him with a copy of the article prior to publication, and in keeping with journalistic practices, she refused.

We, the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, stand in solidarity with The Herald‘s students and adviser, who were exercising their First Amendment rights and journalistic responsibility to cover a topic of utmost importance to their school and district, and we condemn the censorship of the article.

The district has since allowed the article to be republished online following “continued consideration of the legal landscape,” according to a statement released by the district Dec. 4.

The Arkansas Student Publications Act provides guidelines for student publication policies; protects free expression of school-sponsored student publication; recognizes the journalistic values of truth, fairness, accuracy and responsibility; and provides exemptions in cases of obscenity, libel, invasion of privacy, and clear and present danger.

While Arkansas is fortunate to have the existing law, we believe this instance of censorship highlights the need for stronger protections for student journalists. We support the work of New Voices U.S.A. to fill in the gaps of the Arkansas Student Publications Act, including explicit protection for advisers who follow the law, protection for collegiate journalists, and explicit release of liability for schools that follow the law.

In addition, we appreciate the Student Press Law Center’s commitment to defending The Herald and other student publications.

As observed nearly 50 years ago in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” We proudly support student journalists across the state, and invite student papers to contact us if we can be of service.

In solidarity,

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Jennifer Ellis, president

jellis@arkansasonline.com, 501-533-0565

Sarah DeClerk, vice president

sdeclerk@arkansasonline.com, 501-378-3527