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



The Buzz: jail, jokes, jobs

By Billy O'Keefe

Doing Time
A surge in journalistic “crimes” — failure to yield to an oncoming editor, dangling participles in public, improperly inverting a pyramid — pumped money into the Legal Defense Fund.
The fund helps journalists who need legal assistance and pays for Freedom of Information initiatives in court. It collected about $4,300 over three days. LDF usually raises $4,000 to $5,000 at an auction, which this year was dedicated to the Harper Memorial Fund instead.
Journalists paid $5 to have others arrested for the Jail-N-Bail event. Inmates had to stay behind bars for one hour or until they raised $100 to be released.
Frank Gibson, former SPJ president, was jailed under several charges including:
• Impersonating a University of Tennessee student
• Four counts of being a thorn in the side of politicians
• Having shingles and being a health risk
• Reckless consumption of caffeine and nicotine
“These are getting personal,” he said.
Holly Fisher, LDF committee vice chair, said the purpose of the mock jail, set up for the first time this year, was not only to raise money but also to raise awareness about the legal woes some journalists face for doing their jobs.
“It’s just a fun way to create some buzz about the LDF,” Fisher said.
The largest chapter contribution came from the Press Club of Long Island in New York, which donated $500. The inmate with the most bail was former SPJ President Dave Carlson. He raised $250.
— Julieta Chiquillo and Amanda Dolasinski


Seriously Joking
Part of SPJ’s closing business session Saturday turned into a roast of 2008-09 President David Aeikens.
Several delegates proposed amendments to the resolution thanking the president for his work. The changes not only corrected grammatical errors in the resolution, written and edited by professional journalists, but they added some flavor to Aeikens’’ legacy.
Former SPJ President Dave Carlson proposed that “accomplished” be removed from “Whereas, Aeikens — an accomplished golfer.”
Noelle Leavitt, Colorado Pro chapter president, suggested that “avid cranberry-and-soda drinker” be added.
Both revoked those amendments as jokes. But 2009-10 SPJ President Kevin Smith requested the addition of “Whereas, Aeikens is the only recent leader to emerge from Minnesota who is not a comedian or a wrestler.” The amendment was typed in.
“Sometimes, people pay a lot of money to go to roasts, but this one was free,” Aeikens said.
Also, the official status of the new board of directors is questionable, Aeikens said. The members stumbled through the recitation of the swearing-in statement.
— Meagan Racey


Covering Bases
SPJ might consider paying more attention to high school journalism, said Reginald Ragland, Washington, D.C. director of the Journalism Education Association, an organization of high school journalism advisers.
“They don’t have to necessarily go there,’’ Ragland said about making high school j-education a higher priority. “But they have to know there’s a need for a presence there.’’
— Eunice Trotter


Recruitment Tools
Hot giveaway items inside the expo were the “writer” and “editor” T-shirts from Demand Studios, one of the SPJ exhibitors. There were only 25 editor shirts, but 600 writer shirts went nearly as fast. Demand Studios Senior Vice President Jeremy Reed said the company was in Indianapolis recruiting freelancers and intends to recruit next year in Las Vegas.
“We were in the right place,” Reed said. Since the company’s founding three years ago in Santa Monica, Calif., it has paid about $16 million to freelancers. The company sells content to publications.
— Eunice Trotter


Self Sufficient
University of Connecticut broadcast professor Steven Kalb told The Working Press staffers he used to brew his own liquor when he was in college — sometimes as much as 120 proof.
— Amanda Dolasinksi




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