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 nabj.org.

  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 justins@aaja.org.
  3. In the Footsteps of Gordon Parks events at Walker Art Center: Friday, August 7, 3 p.m.post-screening 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!

Candidate Statements for the MNSPJ 2015-16 Board of Directors

The following statements are from Minnesota SPJ members running for the 2014-15 Board of Directors. Electronic ballots will be mailed to all MNSPJ members currently in good standing with both the national organization and local chapter.

Didn’t receive a ballot in your email but think you should have? Contact minnesota.spj@gmail.com

Ballots must be submitted no later than noon on Wednesday, June 24. Results of the election will be announced at the Minnesota SPJ Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall Lanes (5019 S. 34th Ave., Minneapolis). All MNSPJ members and local journalists are welcome to attend.

Please email minnesota.spj@gmail.com with questions or concerns.


Statements from MNSPJ Board Candidates


Ben Garvin, KARE 11

Ben Garvin is an Emmy Award-winning multimedia photojournalist for KARE 11 News. He was named Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2011 and photographer of the year by the Minnesota News Photographers Association in 2007. His work on assignment for the New York Times was included in the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story on food poisoning in 2010. Previously Garvin worked for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, the Christian Science Monitor in Boston and the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. Garvin grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he studied creative writing at the University of Arkansas and he went on to earn a BFA in Visual Journalism at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife Jessica, his two boys, Arthur and Lewis, and his twin girls, Netta and Bailey.


Jenna Ross, Star Tribune

Bio: Jenna Ross writes about the five-state region for the Star Tribune, a beat that brings her to Main Streets across Minnesota. Before joining the regional team, Ross covered colleges and universities — including campus life, academics and administration. During those four years, she chronicled the rising cost of higher education and earned a few first-place SPJ Page One awards. Ross graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota, where she worked at the Minnesota Daily and was president of the SPJ student chapter.

Candidate statement: I discovered the Society of Professional Journalists at the University of Minnesota and immediately found the chapter’s focus on ethics and training to be a perfect complement to what I was learning in class. I believe in the organization’s work nationally and want to strengthen its activities in Minnesota. As secretary, I hope to help the chapter continue to improve the connections between professional members and their college counterparts and offer more training and social events.


Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune

Bio: Chris has covered health care stories at four different daily newspapers since 1994. His work at the Star Tribune focuses on health insurers, hospitals and the state’s MNsure health insurance exchange. Previously, he worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va., and the Indianapolis News.

Candidate statement: If elected, I hope to follow the example of previous treasurers in responsibly managing the chapter’s finances. It’s an important role in which I promise to work hard, and act with integrity.

Board Members (7 candidates for 6 seats… Top 4 receive 2-year terms, next two receive 1-year terms)

Gregg Aamot, Normandale Community College

I would like to put my broad experience in both journalism and education to good work on the SPJ board and hope you will give me that opportunity.

More than 20 years ago, I got my start in journalism at a daily paper in rural Minnesota. Since then, I have worked as the editor-in-chief of The Minnesota Daily, as a newsman for The AP in Minneapolis (for 10 years) and, most recently, as a regular contributor for MinnPost.

Since 2008, meanwhile, I have been teaching college journalism and English courses, an experience that has given me the chance to work with young people and observe how they interact with the mass media.

This background would make me an excellent fit for the board. Sincere thanks for your consideration.

Adrienne Broaddus, KARE 11

Call letters that spell real words are meant for Adrienne Broaddus. She joined KARE 11 in 2014 from WISH-TV, the former CBS affiliate in Indianapolis, IN. As an undergraduate student at Michigan State University, she reported at the Meridian Township Government Television station, HOM-TV.

You can blame her dad for her career in journalism.
Pops, as Adrienne affectionately calls her dad, made her write. She wrote about capturing tadpoles from a creek near her grandmother’s house. She wrote about dementia stealing her grandmother’s memory. And she wrote letters demanding an extended curfew.

And now, she writes stories benefitting Minnesotans with clarity and conviction. This year, Adrienne was honored with an Eric Sevareid award from the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association for featuring reporting. She was also recognized by Life Source for her commitment to organ donation.

While working in Indianapolis, her work as a reporter won an Indiana AP Broadcasters Association award for Best Feature story. That same year, the same story was nominated for an Emmy. In 2013, her work was honored by The Indiana Broadcasters’ Association for best General News Story.

Adrienne believes strong investigative reporting provides a great service to the community.

She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Jay Furst, Rochester Post Bulletin

Jay Furst, managing editor of the Post-Bulletin in Rochester, has been a reporter and editor for 35 years. He worked for his hometown daily newspaper in Wahpeton, N.D., during high school, drawing daily political cartoons for his last two years of high school and working as a reporter/photographer during summers. He graduated from Princeton University with an English lit degree in 1979 and his first reporting job after college was for the Jamestown, N.D., Sun. He was a reporter in Duluth and managing editor in Aberdeen, S.D., and in 1994 became city editor at the Post-Bulletin. Jay moved up to m.e. in 2000.

In addition to leading a newsroom of 30 journalists, he writes extensively, from project-length reports to daily and weekly columns. He’s a past president of the Minnesota Associated Press Association and has been involved in Minnesota journalism organizations for most of his career. He’s looking forward to getting more involved with SPJ’s important work.

Burl Gilyard, Twin Cities Business

Burl Gilyard has more than 20 years of professional experience as a journalist in the Twin Cities. He is currently senior writer at Twin Cities Business magazine. Previously, he was a staff writer at the Twin Cities Reader, Corporate Report magazine, City Pages and Finance & Commerce. During a stint as a freelance writer, he was active in the local chapter of the National Writers Union and served as co-chair of the Journalism Division. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he worked at the Minnesota Daily, thereby ruining his chances to ever hold a “normal job.”

Nathan Hansen, La Crosse Tribune Education Reporter

I am the education reporter for the La Crosse Tribune, a small metro newspaper in Western Wisconsin along the Mississippi River. Our newspaper is part of the River Valley Newspaper group, with papers and coverage in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

I have covered education issues throughout my four years as a professional reporter, with a focus on enterprise coverage and watchdog work.

If elected, this would be my second year on the board and I would like to continue working on open government events and issues as well as represent rural and Greater Minnesota voices.

Nick Halter, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Nick Halter is a reporter with seven years experience covering government, politics and business. He writes about retail and sports for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, a job he’s had since August 2013. Prior to working for the Business Journal, he wrote about Minneapolis City Hall for the Southwest Journal and Downtown Journal, two bi-weekly newspapers. Halter also covered city hall for the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin and interned at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His reporting has won awards from the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists, Minnesota Newspaper Association and Wisconsin Newspaper Association. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alum is also a part-time riverboat captain, piloting boats out of Harriet Island in St. Paul.

Anna Pratt, Freelancer

As both a staff reporter and a freelancer, my byline has appeared in The Line, the Star Tribune, the Southwest Journal, the Minnesota Independent and several suburban and community papers, web publications and broadcast media in the Twin Cities. I’ve also written for national media outlets, while the many beats I’ve covered include development, education, neighborhood news, arts, government and business.

I’ve served as a director and officer, including president, for the Minnesota Pro Chapter of SPJ for a number of years. Currently, I’m also the chair of national SPJ’s Freelance Community, a pilot project last year. As such, I have a good handle on the hard work and high journalistic standards it takes to participate and lead the organization. I hope to oversee the continuation of our state chapter’s nationally-recognized educational and outreach efforts and make sure we take a strong stand on the ethical, legal and professional issues important to journalists. I would appreciate your vote of confidence.






2015 Page One Award Winners Announced

Gretchen Morgenson Page One Minnesota
“If you want to gain respect inside the journalistic community and even from those you cover, that’s far easier to do by being a tough but fair reporter than it is by being a stenographer to CEOs,” The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson said during Minnesota SPJ’s 2015 Page One Awards Banquet.

By Christopher Snowbeck

For a second consecutive year, Minnesota Public Radio’s ongoing investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis – “Betrayed by Silence” – was named Story of the Year at the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists’ Page One Awards.

Reporters from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and MinnPost earned special recognition, as well, during an awards banquet that drew more than 100 journalists to The Commons Hotel in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening.

The annual Page One Awards recognize the best in Minnesota journalism. Awards were given in more than 60 categories for newspaper reporting, online news, photography, television, radio, multimedia and several other categories.

Entries for the 2015 Page One Awards were judged by journalists from the New Jersey chapter of SPJ.

Chris Serres of the Star Tribune took home honors as Journalist of the Year for his coverage of the health care industry.

Star Tribune reporters Jeffrey Meitrodt and Mike Hughlett were recognized with the Best Use of Public Records award, for their “Risky Riding” series on safety issues for ATV riders.

MinnPost reporter Briana Bierschbach was named Young Journalist of the Year.

James Shiffer 2015 Page One Banquet

James Shiffer

James Eli Shiffer of the Star Tribune received the 2014 Peter S. Popovich Award, which recognizes people or an organization that exemplifies the fight for First Amendment rights. Shiffer’s column Full Disclosure focuses on open government and the public’s right to know, putting a spotlight on government secrecy and threats to freedom of information.

In her keynote address, Pulitzer Prize winner Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times decried a war against transparency being practiced by the federal government.

Morgenson is an assistant business and financial editor, and columnist, who’s chronicled Wall Street during the age of Enron, the bursting of the housing bubble and what she described as “the near-death experience of our nation’s banking system in 2008.”

The government’s secretive ways have been on display recently, Morgenson said, in a lawsuit involving mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She also spoke of the need for newsrooms to practice journalism that holds powerful people responsible for their actions, without regard for the sort of access that can come with fawning coverage.

“If you want to gain respect inside the journalistic community and even from those you cover, that’s far easier to do by being a tough but fair reporter than it is by being a stenographer to CEOs,” Morgenson said.

For a second consecutive year, Tom Weber of Minnesota Public Radio provided wit and wisdom as host of the awards ceremony.

During the event, MN SPJ announced scholarship awards two journalism students – Elizabeth Anderson of the University of Minnesota, and Clara Hatcher of Marquette University. Each received a $2,500 scholarship.

MN SPJ awards student scholarships each year, funded partly by generous donations from an annual silent auction that’s held during the Page One Awards banquet.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is the oldest, largest and broadest-based organization of journalists in the U.S. and was founded as Sigma Delta Chi in 1909. The MN SPJ chapter was founded in 1956.

If you would like to order duplicate awards, or have any awards-related questions, please contact MN SPJ at minnesota.spj@gmail.com

Here is the full PDF of the awards program:

2015 Minnesota SPJ Page One Program

Minnesota Should Keep Birth Records Public: Here’s Why

The Minnesota Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) oppose a provision of the Senate HHS Omnibus bill relating to the classification of birth record data. In particular, we oppose language (found in lines 203.20-203.21 and 234.13-234.18) that would deprive the public of access to long-standing public information regarding birth records. For decades, such information has been useful to a wide range of Minnesotans for historical research, genealogy, and other lawful purposes.

By authorizing the release of birth record data only to limited sub-sets of individuals, such as “persons performing medical research,” these provisions of the omnibus bill advance the notion that data should be selectively released to the public based on the type of individual who requests it. This is at odds with the history of the Minnesota Data Practices Act, which does not discriminate between data requesters once government data has been classified as “public.” Such limitations could set a negative precedent for the subsequent classification of a wide variety of data in Minnesota. We urge the committee to reject proposed changes that would constrain public access to long-standing public information.

Chris Newmarker (President, Minnesota SPJ, cnewmarker@gmail.com
Gary Hill (Chair, MNCOGI), ghillgary@gmail.com

Minnesota SPJ Outraged Over Banning of Cameras From Prisons

The Minnesota Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is outraged over the Minnesota Department of Corrections policy to ban on-camera interviews and still photography from consenting inmates. As the old saying goes, “Seeing is believing.” And that is especially true when it comes to life behind bars for the nearly 10,000 human beings incarcerated in Minnesota.

Read James Eli Shiffer’s description of the policy in the Star Tribune.

The Minnesota DOC is now equating both still and video news cameras with contraband items such as pornography and lighters, which is patently absurd. Other DOC concerns could be dealt with through policies other than a full ban on cameras. We urge the Minnesota DOC to immediately reverse its camera ban.

For more information about the Minnesota Pro chapter’s stance, contact board member Ben Garvin at 612-910-1499, or  bgarvin@kare11.com

UPDATE: On Tuesday, MNSPJ noted that Gov. Mark Dayton called on the DOC to explain its position, but moved to support their decision. We are concerned that Gov. Dayton would support a policy that treats news cameras like contraband and urge all government leaders to reverse this policy.