Using FOIA requests in your reporting
The Society of Professional Journalists D.C. Pro Chapter is again collaborating with MuckRock to present a program on using Freedom of Information Act requests. The registration is full, but if you didn’t register and wish to attend, we’ll have a waiting list in case of cancellations. The event is 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1. We’re set for a talk given by FOIA expert and MuckRock founder Michael Morisy, followed by a few rounds of “FOIA Karaoke.”
Morisy will discuss FOIA tactics and research tools — including some that have never been shared publicly — that can help you learn about the Trump administration or other topics you’re interested in. The talk will be helpful for both beginners and experienced FOIA requesters.
The event is hosted by the MEDILL News Service bureau of Northwestern University at 1325 G St NW #730, Washington, DC 20005 (very close by Metro Center).
Light refreshments will be provided. The talk will start promptly at 6:30 p.m.
Non-members: $5; SPJ-DC Pro members and students: no charge
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about the waiting list. We apologize in advance if your request to attend cannot be accommodated. The event is sold out!
C’mon, get happy!
Want to kick back a little after work and mingle with some fellow journalists and aspiring journalists?
On Nov. 14 SPJ-DC Pro is hosting a get-together for the chapter and students participating in Georgetown University’s Master’s in Journalism program, starting at 6 p.m. We will gather in the McClendon Room at the National Press Club.
SPJ-DC is taking care of providing the event space and the camaraderie, and you’ll pick up the tab (cash bar) for whatever you decide to eat or drink during the evening.
An entry code will be needed to access the Press Club, so we’ll send a reminder for you to RSVP. We’ll then send the code right before that evening.
‘Save the date’ – June 12, 2018 – Dateline Awards and Hall of Fame dinner
It’s official: SPJ-DC Pro will reprise its traditional format for the Dateline Awards and Hall of Fame dinner in 2018, back at the National Press Club ballroom and on the second Tuesday of June.
Mark June 12 on your 2018 calendar and plan to be there to be part of the festivities.
If you have an interest in any of the planning, or committing to help with specific tasks between now and then or on the night of the dinner, listed are some people you can contact:
Dinner co-chairs Kathleen Burns and Julie Asher: email@example.com and JAsher@catholicnews.com
Hall of Fame/Distinguished Service Award Committee chair Steve Taylor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Plan to enter the Dateline Awards contest in 2018
The Dateline Awards honor the best of local journalism through the annual contest sponsored by SPJ-DC Pro. Contest entries will be work done in 2017, and submissions will begin online in January 2018. We’ll have more information on that coming soon!
Look over your work so far this year, and keep in mind you have November and December to wrap up and publish any award-worthy projects you have in the pipeline. It’s not too early to be thinking about which stories, tapes and online work you’ll want to submit.
Finalists will be notified in time to make plans to attend the annual Dateline Awards dinner in June 2018, where they will learn the results of the judging in an audience of their peers.
SDX Foundation of Washington accepting donations
The SDX Foundation of Washington is the SPJ-DC Pro education arm, which provides scholarships for promising undergraduate students at D.C. area colleges and universities who intend to enter the journalism profession after graduation.
As most journalists know, many veterans in the profession have taken buyouts or been laid off over the last decade, and technology has changed the media landscape immensely. With the First Amendment also being assaulted in especially visible ways under the current administration in Washington, it is as important as ever to encourage the next generation of reporters and editors.
If you are interested in making a donation to an educational 501(c)3 organization this year, consider making one to SDX-DC. All of the funds raised by the foundation are used for scholarships. The board is all-volunteer and SPJ-DC Pro covers the administrative expenses.
In addition, one-third of each SPJ-DC member’s annual dues is dedicated to the SDX Foundation’s scholarship fund.
Contact SDX Foundation President Reginald Stuart at 301-879-0085 or email@example.com about making a contribution.
Working with Whistleblowers
SPJ-DC Pro, in partnership with the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and Georgetown University’s Master’s in Journalism program, on Oct. 2 hosted a fantastic, sold-out workshop to instruct journalists on how to safely and ethically work with government and corporate whistleblowers. Two experts from GAP – an attorney who has worked with hundreds of whistleblowers and a former investigative reporter – spent several hours giving SPJ members, other local journalists and journalism students practical advice on how to get and use information whistleblowers want to provide to report on serious violations of public trust while ensuring the source is not put at risk of retaliation.
This year, some of the biggest and most important stories broken in Washington have come from a government whistleblower sharing information with a journalist. Whistleblowers and journalists are essential partners, but those relationships are more at risk than ever, attendees were told.
GAP’s website is a good resource for journalists on this topic.
October’s workshop was just one of many events SPJ-DC Pro has organized to give our members and the wider journalism community the concrete tools they need to do their jobs effectively. If you have suggestions for future programs you’d like the chapter to host, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Alice Ollstein
Can’t get the information you want?
The national office of the Society of Professional Journalists launched a section on its website focused on the issue of local, state and national government agencies preventing critical information from being shared with journalists and the public.
It might not help you with an immediate access problem, but it offers in one place compelling information explaining the importance of journalists having access to public officials and experts. You’ll be happy to know there are journalists working to turn the situation around – and you might be motivated to get involved yourself after studying the section’s content.
“For years, SPJ has led this fight against people in power forcing reporters to notify the authorities – often public information officers – before doing the most basic newsgathering. Now, SPJ presents a rich collection of background and history on these mandated clearance restrictions, one of the most important free speech issues of our time,” said Kathryn Foxhall, a local journalist who is an at-large director on the board of SPJ-DC Pro and a member of national SPJ’s Freedom of Information Committee.