At the final SPJ business meeting this week, the Resolutions Committee will present at least two issues to spark debate among delegates.
Sonny Albarado, chairman of the SPJ resolutions committee, said the committee has spent the last few weeks creating resolutions, ensuring they’re in the correct format and deciding if the issues are important enough to bring before the delegates.
The first resolution addresses the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the press.
“Basically, the resolution calls on other public officials and members of congress to remind the administration the importance of the freedom of the press,” Albarado said.
The second is a resolution about public information officers, also known as mediated access, an issue SPJ has worked on for a number of years, Albarado said. The SPJ website even includes multiple reports about PIOs.
“Years ago, it was a whole lot easier for a reporter to go and talk to the person who’s actually in charge of a particular issue in local government,” he said. “Now you cannot do that. You’ve got to go through the public information officer, and often you cannot even talk to that person. The information is just relayed to you from the public information officer.”
Albarado added that POIs lead to incomplete reporting or even hazardous situations.
“The [resolution] we’re going to present to delegates on Saturday asks reporters to make an even stronger effort to oppose having to only deal with public information officers,” he said.
The committee is asking journalists to tell their bosses, paper publishers, broadcast station owners, readers and listeners when they encounter a situation where the only source is a PIO.
“Tell them why it’s not a good idea that the only way you can get information, and therefore the only way the public can get information, is to get an official version of things from the public information officer,” Albarado said. “It’s a chilling effect on the freedom of speech.”
The business meeting is 2:30 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Platinum 9 Ballroom.