SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Auction raises estimated $18,000

By Billy O'Keefe

ANA BRETON / The Working Press
In a spontaneous act, auctioneer Jim Bohannon sold his tie for $25 during the auction Thursday evening. It may have been because Item 123, “Dinner with Jim Bohannon” came in several thousand dollars short to the amount paid for an item sold minutes before: four VIP tickets to The Daily Show.
Terry Harper, SPJ’s executive director, bought the tickets for $5,000.
Ruth Ann Harneseig had the top bid in the silent auction with $2,500 for the “Nixon resigns package,” which featured various newspaper accounts of his resignation following the Watergate scandal.
“I think it’s very nice, even though I should have brought a worse tie,” Bohannon said. “I would have been happy pulling a Tom Jones and bidding for room keys and underwear.”
The auction, which took place in The National Music Center was hosted by Bohannon and Bob Shieffer, a well-known journalist and anchor of CBS News.
The money from both auctions will go toward the SPJ Legal Defense Fund, which provides grants to journalists working to defend the First Amendment. Last year, more than $18,000 was used to free reporters from jail and help college newspapers fight censorship, said Dave Aeikens, legal defense chairman.
A total for Thursday night’s auction was estimated at $18,000. Last year’s Legal Defense Fund auction raised more than $6,000.
Georgiana Vines, lecturer at the University of Tennessee bid $1,000 for an opportunity to have lunch with journalist Helen Thomas.
“I have admired her for years,” Vines said. “I have met her at other functions, and I know how much she supports SPJ, so I wanted to support her by bidding for lunch.”
Patrons on Thursday night did not see a fight between SPJ members Betsy Ashton and Steve Geiman, who caused a scene at last year’s auction. Geiman was present, but Ashton was unable to attend Thursday’s event.




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