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Final Contest Deadline Moved Back to Monday, Feb. 10

The Minnesota Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) is providing one more deadline extension for the annual Page One Awards.  We will now accept entries through midnight on Monday, Feb. 10.

The price of a contest entry is $22.

Journalists working for all print, broadcast and online news outlets in Minnesota (or news outlets in neighboring states that cover Minnesota) are eligible to enter. All work published or broadcast during the 2019 calendar year is eligible.

The date and location for the awards banquet will be announced later.

Important Links:

Please contact MNSPJ with any questionsminnesota.spj@gmail.com

Page One Contest Deadline Extended Until Feb. 7

The Minnesota Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) is extending the deadline for the annual Page One Awards.  We will now accept entries through Friday, Feb. 7.

The price of a contest entry is $22.

Journalists working for all print, broadcast and online news outlets in Minnesota (or news outlets in neighboring states that cover Minnesota) are eligible to enter. All work published or broadcast during the 2019 calendar year is eligible.

The date and location for the awards banquet will be announced later.

Important Links:

Please contact MNSPJ with any questionsminnesota.spj@gmail.com

MNSPJ objects to restrictions on access to public meeting in Minneapolis

On the evening of Jan. 22, local journalists were prevented from recording a public meeting of a committee advising the city of Minneapolis on the Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment. Members of the press were told they could not take photos or record video of the meeting, which violated the spirit of Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law and the committee’s own bylaws, which state that “meetings will be open to the public.”

Minneapolis officials told the Star Tribune Jan. 23 that they will reiterate the requirements of the Open Meeting Law for committee members. The board of the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists commends the city’s response, and stands with the journalists who attempted to cover this public meeting. At a time of increasing restrictions of public information and rising animosity toward members of the press, the board calls on community leaders and elected officials in Minneapolis to do the same.

Contact: Christopher Snowbeck, MNSPJ President, minnesota.spj@gmail.com

Journalism in MN: The Inside Scoop

How do journalists come up with stories?  What are the ethical norms that journalists follow?  What makes journalism different from propaganda, opinion and advertising — and what can readers and viewers do when they believe journalism has veered toward one of these other categories?

The Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) wants to explore these and other questions during a series of meetings called Journalism in MN: The Inside Scoop.

The idea is to dispatch journalists to classrooms, senior centers and other community gathering places across our state for candid conversations about how journalism works and how news organizations can best meet the needs of Minnesota.  We want these to be honest and constructive sessions that build relationships and understanding. And we’re looking for community partners who can help us get the ball rolling.

Would your group like to host an Inside Scoop session?  Send us an email at minnesota.spj@gmail.com with information about your community group and journalism topics of interest and we’ll make a plan. If you’re a journalist who’d like to volunteer, please fill out this form.

 

Save the Date! Annual “Off The Record” Holiday Party Set For Thursday, Dec. 5

Join MNSPJ, AAJA, and TCBJ for our annual “Off The Record” holiday party on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Enjoy free food, good beer and friendly conversation in the cozy event room at Pizza Luce in downtown Minneapolis. And considering bringing some toys, since the annual TCJB Toy Drive will be collecting donations at the party.

Swing by Pizza Luce at 119th N. 4th Street in downtown Minneapolis between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 5. Appetizers provided. Cash bar. Please RSVP here to let us know that you can make it!

MNSPJ seeks the return of emergency dispatches, radio traffic for journalists

The Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) is troubled by a recent decision to encrypt law enforcement emergency dispatches and other radio traffic by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and agencies that use the county’s service.
MNSPJ urges Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson to drop this new practice, or let journalists continue using this information, which helps news organizations inform readers and viewers about public safety incidents while ensuring accountability and transparency from the police and fire departments that respond.
For decades, journalists have used scanners to monitor radio transmissions from public safety agencies, and respond in real time to breaking news. These radio transmissions are typically a starting point for journalists, who go on to investigate and evaluate whether the incident rises to the level of general public interest.  Reporters know to contact the agencies for more information. They can get to the scene to talk with witnesses. The information helps journalists assess how quickly they must react and with what degree of resources.
All this improves the quality of reporting at the time of an incident, so community members can understand if there’s a broader threat.  Later, it helps ensure that final news reports provide detailed information on a timely basis about the substance of incident — whether it’s a crime, a fire or an accident — and the response by public safety agencies.  Particularly with incidents that involve a police response, this transparency helps hold authorities accountable if something should go wrong — an essential part of building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. It also can help readers and viewers better understand the actions of law enforcement.
In September, radio transmissions in the shooting death of Ronald Davis in St. Paul provided important context, as journalists listening to scanner traffic heard a police officer yell: “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!”  The detail helped readers and viewers understand the story, and also helped journalists evaluate accusations from activists that Davis had been shot down by police in the street in cold blood.
In September 2018, when a teen stole an SUV and raced down Cedar Ave. in Minneapolis at high speeds before crashing and killing three people, journalists listening to police radio could quickly address a key question via scanner traffic: “Our guys were not in pursuit; they were not in pursuit,” a member of the State Patrol said immediately after the incident. The accident came a few months after the State Patrol faced criticism for pursuing at high-speeds a vehicle that crashed into a playground and hit three children.
These are just two examples of why MNSPJ is asking Sheriff Hutchinson to consider alternatives. When a similar change was made in Lincoln, Neb., police decided to publish an unedited online feed that was delayed by 10 minutes. A spokesman for the sheriff has suggested that news organizations might be able to use devices to decode scanner traffic.  We’re encouraged by this, but hope the sheriff will simply revert to the old practice.
Public safety personnel already use alternate, confidential communication channels when needed for tactical reasons.  Other public safety agencies aren’t following Hennepin County’s lead. As a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department told a Star Tribune editorial writer: “We have no intention of going to encryption. … We haven’t seen the need.”