MNSPJ partners with The Uptake for Tuesday night’s Conflict-Sensitive Video Journalism fellowship

The Minnesota Pro Chapter has partnered with The UpTake Institute to explore the role of journalists in covering conflict the evening of Tuesday, September 29 and Thursday, October 22.

These symposiums are part of The UpTake Institute’s Conflict-Sensitive Video Journalism Fellowship, a new 12-week educational program dedicated to enhancing five journalism fellows’ ability to report on the political, social, economic, and cultural conflict that impacts the civic well being of their communities through the unique power of video journalism.

Conflict-sensitive journalism borrows from conflict resolution research and practice to help journalists understand the many types of conflict—political, social, economic, cultural, religious—that they cover on a daily basis. In doing so, journalists can then operate with greater sensitivity and understanding of the role they play as writers, photographers and video journalists reporting on issues where conflict is a central feature. The goal for journalists should be to “minimize harm.” To do so, they must first understand what journalism practices are harmful and exacerbate conflict.

The Sept. 29 and Oct. 22 symposiums will be live streamed at from 7 to 9 p.m.

Download our first guest speaker Ross Howard’s “Handbook for Conflict-Sensitive Journalism” and register for the Sept. 29 symposium and the Oct. 22 symposium.

This Open Access Decision Really Matters

The Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists applauds the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ recent decision to affirm the public’s right to access onboard Metro Transit bus video — in a case brought by local TV station KSTP. KSTP has been engaged in important work to preserve the public’s right to open data. We hope that the Metropolitan Council, which is in charge of Metro Transit, makes the decision to turn over the video KSTP has requested, rather than further appeal the case.

“Open access to records and other information is crucial to good government. We were disappointed when Metro Transit tried to hide this clearly public data and are pleased that the Minnesota courts agree,” said Jonathan Kealing, president of MNSPJ. “Bravo to KSTP for committing the resources to pursue this case until they get the information that the public so rightly deserves.”

The Met Council has argued that the requested video cannot be released because it wants to protect the privacy of its bus drivers, even though the video is from a public setting where passengers themselves can legally take their own video. KSTP says it wants the video to help answer questions about important news events that include a bus driver inexplicably driving off the road and another bus driver who reportedly left his bus and assaulted a bicyclist.

“Because the video recordings were maintained for a variety of purposes, and not solely because the bus drivers were government employees, they are public data,” Judge Margaret H. Chutich wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel that heard the case.

We couldn’t agree more.

Read the full decision here.

Here’s How You Can Make History in Minnesota Courts

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists and Minnesota Coalition on Government Information commend state Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Gildea and the Supreme Court Advisory Committee for allowing more camera access inside the state’s courtrooms. Now we need the help of journalists and activists across Minnesota to demonstrate to the courts that it is possible to respectfully record proceedings in a visual manner, and for the good of everyone.

How can you help? Make yourselves available in the state’s criminal courts–even under the present limited rules–and take video, shoot photos, and cover meaningful news.

Email and, and include the hashtag #SunshineMN in your tweet, to let us know about what you’ve produced from your court appearances. We’ll include links to your work on a soon-to-be-created webpage to highlight the work being done around the state.

It won’t be easy with all the limitations of the two-year pilot, but it promises to provide the public with a glimpse of court proceedings they rarely see in our state.

Here’s a summary of the new rules:

  • You still need to give the judge advance notice, and judges have a great deal of discretion over whether to grant permission.
  • You still cannot film anything going on when the jury is present. (Though, a sentencing hearing is a possibility.)
  • The good news now is that you at least don’t need permission of all the parties in the case–just the judge.
  • Victims cannot be filmed testifying without their permission. But that would usually happen in front of a jury anyway, and would be presently off limits.
  • Read the full court order here.

We have already had some success with cameras allowed during civil cases–the pilot pushed by journalists and legal advocates that preceded this one– which is now permanently adopted. Let’s make this ruling permanent, too, and achieve even more access.

We are on the cusp of a historic change in how court journalism is practiced in Minnesota. It’s up to us to now follow through and deliver on the promise. So let’s get to work!


Jonathan Kealing

President, MNSPJ


Gary Hill

Chair, MnCOGI


Chris Newmarker

President Emeritus, MNSPJ

MNSPJ Joins Motion Challenging Closed-Door Sex Offender Program Meeting

Minnesota SPJ has joined a host of other state news organizations–including the Star Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, KSTP-TV, WCCO-TV and many more–in a court motion seeking access to a meeting about Minnesota’s sex offender program that a federal judge has closed to the public.

Read more about the case here.

More than two dozen public officials, including numerous state legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton, are expected at the Aug. 10 hearing. The stakes are high in this case because it involves fixing systemic problems within Minnesota’s sex offender program. The hearing is likely to be anything but mundane.

The motion, prepared by lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels, drives home the point with a a quote from the late former Chief Justice Warren Burger: “People in an open society do not demand infallibility from their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they are prohibited from observing.”

The Society of Professional Journalists, Minnesota Pro chapter, and a host of other news organizations in the state urge U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank to reconsider his decision to close the Aug. 10 meeting.

Update: Minnesota SPJ is disappointed by U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank’s rejection of media organizations’ court motion. Reforming Minnesota’s sex offender program is such an important issue that we urge the judge to keep future hearings in the case open to the public. 

2015 NABJ Convention in Twin Cities

The Twin Cities chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists reminds all of us that the national NABJ conference is in our state Aug. 5-9. Registration is available for journalists who want to attend sessions, keynotes and the career fair. But, for those who can’t attend, a number of events are open to the general public. Here are a few highlights. For more details, check out the local website for Twin Cities Black Journalists or

  1. TCBJ presents Mint Condition fundraiser concert: First Avenue, Minneapolis,Thursday, August 6, 8 p.m., $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
  2. JCamp’s 15th Annual All-Star Reception: Rooftop of WCCO TV, Minneapolis, Friday, August 7, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Free, RSVP to Justin Seiter at
  3. In the Footsteps of Gordon Parks events at Walker Art Center: Friday, August 7, 3 of “Solomon Northup’s Odyssey,” Discussion with David Parks, Parks’ son, and Daniel Pierce Bergin, 7 p.m. Free.
  4. NABJ Sports Task Force Scholarship Jam: The Venue, Minneapolis, Friday, August 7, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., $30 for non-member.
  5. NABJ 5K Run/Walk: Lake Como, St. Paul,Saturday, August 8, 8 a.m. (registration 6:30 a.m.) $20 for non-members in advance, $25 on event day.
  6. TCBJ Community Service Project, Saturday, August 8, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Northside Child Development Center, Minneapolis.
  7. NABJ Town Hall on education disparities: Minneapolis Convention Center, Saturday, August 8, 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Meet the 2015-16 Minnesota SPJ Board

Results of our annual board election are in. Here are our new officers and elected/re-elected board members, effective July 1:


Jonathan Kealing

Director of Interactive Properties, Public Radio International



Ben Garvin

Multimedia Photojournalist, KARE 11




Jenna Ross

State News Reporter, Star Tribune




Christopher Snowbeck

Business Reporter, Star Tribune



Elected to 2-year board director terms

Nick Halter

Retail & Sports Reporter, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal


Anna Pratt

Freelance Journalist


Gregg Aamot

Instructor, Normandale Community College and Ridgewater College


Adrienne Broaddus

Reporter, KARE 11


Elected to 1-year board director terms

Nathan Hansen

Education Reporter, La Crosse Tribune


Jay Furst

Managing Editor, Rochester Post-Bulletin


Congrats to our new and returning officers and board members! We’re looking forward to a great 2015-16 for Minnesota SPJ!