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!

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

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 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.