Ethics of crime reporting: Free Press – Fair Trial

Mark your calendars. April 29. Free Press-Fair Trial. MNSPJ partnering with the University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Murphy Hall on the U campus. Implications for journalism of court restrictions of the Noor trial and other pressing issues.

MNSPJ opposes Hennepin County court’s severe restrictions on Noor shooting trial coverage

March, 29, 2019

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists vehemently opposes the severe restrictions to media and public access imposed by Hennepin County District Court Judge Kathryn L. Quaintance in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor, who has been charged with murder.

While Judge Quaintance has the authority to manage the courtroom, the actions in this case to severely limit the media and the public is overreach and an unnecessary infringement of First Amendment rights to access a public proceeding.

Several news organizations have been excluded from attending the trial in person and public seating has been limited to just 11 seats.

While the court accommodated the media’s petition to provide an overflow room with video and audio, the access to full in person coverage of a trial remains unduly limited in one of the biggest murder trials in Minnesota history. The media also will be blocked from seeing body camera footage.

We call on the chief judge of Hennepin County court along with Minnesota Supreme Court administration to change the courtroom in this case to allow for the largest possible space and fully open access to this important trial.

These kind of restrictions are unprecedented in the history of Minnesota jurisprudence. We consider these restrictions serious breaches of the public trust.

Joe Spear,
President, MNSPJ

MNSPJ calls for elected officials to remove social media blocks on public, journalists

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists calls on elected officials who block the public and journalists from their social media accounts to immediately cease and desist this affront to the public’s right to know.

Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano has blocked access to her Twitter account to journalists who have reported critically on her public record. MNSPJ calls on Cano and others to immediately allow full access to their social media accounts as required by the Minnesota Open Meeting Law.

Continued blocking by Cano after an initial incident last year led MNSPJ to petition the Minnesota Data Practices Office for a ruling on Cano’s Twitter blocking that we believe falls short of legal requirements of section 13D.065 of the Open Meeting Law.

While MNSPJ is disappointed the Data Practices Office did not rule in what appears to be a clear-cut violation of the law, the office followed its new strategy of mediation and spoke to Cano’s representative relaying MNSPJ’s concerns.

Cano has now described her Twitter account as a “personal account,” while the city of Minneapolis apparently is devising a policy on the issue. A number of journalists remain blocked.

Numerous federal courts have struck down the practice of elected officials blocking access to their social media accounts.

In January 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that a county official who blocked a critic from her Facebook Page violated the First Amendment. 

In May 2018, a federal judge also ruled President Donald Trump blocking Twitter users from his account was unconstitutional.

Given the abundance of evidence that blocking the public from social media accounts operated by public officials is unconstitutional, we call on Council Member Cano and others to allow the public unfettered access to their social media accounts where they discuss the public’s business.

Contact: Joe Spear, MNSPJ president


Cell: 507-317-8073

Challenges of Journalism in the Post-Truth Era — Event this Thursday!

The University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Minnesota Journalism Center and MNSPJ invite you to a special event

Register at this link

Submit Applications for MNSPJ Journalism Scholarship!

Attention college journalists: The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) is now accepting applications for its 2019 student scholarship. This year, MNSPJ will award one $2,500 scholarship to a student pursuing a career in broadcast, print, online or visual journalism. A second winner will receive $1,000.

Applicants must either be enrolled in a post-secondary institution in Minnesota or have graduated from a high school in Minnesota and be enrolled in college elsewhere. Preference will be given to Society of Professional Journalists members.

Click here to submit an application form –- the first step. Email the additional application materials to Here’s what’s required:

Application form, which can be found here 
College transcript (unofficial transcript is fine)
Letter of recommendation
Essay (limited to 500 words): Why have you chosen journalism as a career?
Up to six samples of work via a link to your portfolio, a PDF of clips or story URLs

Applications must be received by April 3, 2019. No late submissions will be accepted. The scholarship winners will be announced prior to MNSPJ’s annual Page One Awards banquet, where recipients will receive their awards.

Questions? Email

Final Deadline Today — Page One Award Entries Due Feb. 18

Today is the day!  It’s the last chance to enter MNSPJ’s Page One Awards to celebrate great journalism from 2018.

The price of a contest entry is holding steady this year at $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 2018 calendar year is eligible.

More Information at these links:

Please contact MNSPJ with any