$11,125 Doled out for Ethics Week Programs

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STAFF REPORT

Each year, SPJ's Ethics Committee awards grants to student and professional chapters to be used for programming during the annual Ethics in Journalism Week, scheduled for April 21-27. This year, grants totaling $11,125 were given to chapters hosting programs that further drive the SPJ Code of Ethics' principle of acting independently. Funding was graciously donated by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

Listed below are some great programming ideas from the receiving chapters. Use these ideas for chapter programs of your own.

Region 1: Ithaca College SPJ

Program name: "Closing the Gates"

Description: The term "Act Independently" means different things to different journalists. In the case of independent mobile journalists, it means an isolated existence, free of the constraints of corporate media. Ithaca College's program, "Closing the Gates," will take a unique look at "Act Independently" by holding a forum to discuss the lack of gate-keeping practices at TV, print and Internet media outlets. Participants will discuss the ethical implications of one person controlling a majority of content that finds its way to the consumer of news. Journalists from WashingtonPost.com, News 10 Syracuse and the Ithaca Journal will participate in a panel.

Region 2: Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter

Program name: "The Ethics of Slogging" Description: Increasingly, journalists are being asked to contribute to some kind of blog for their news operations. In some cases, they write about issues completely unrelated to the people and topics they cover. But many write specifically about the topics and people they cover every day; in some cases, they take on the role of advocate and critic. To many, that poses an ethical dilemma.

Taking it one step further, suppose a reporter has a page on a social networking site like MySpace.com where they reveal their personal political and social views or post pictures that may or may not be germane to their job. How appropriate is that, especially if they reveal info that could leave their "independence" open to question. The chapter will team up with the National Press Club for the panel discussion.

Region 3: University of South Carolina SPJ

Program name: "Act Independently"

Description: The program will offer journalism students an experience that would be different from the monthly members' meetings, which are generally panel discussions. For each day of Ethics in Journalism Week, the campus chapter will post ethical scenarios around the Journalism School and ask students to weigh-in.

The scenarios will explore various dimensions of journalistic independence (accepting freebies, cutting deals with sources, letting sources preview stories, etc). Participants will be guided to a designated Web site where they can post their reactions and responses to the problem of the day.

Region 4: Indiana University of Pennsylvania SPJ

Program name: "News Media In Indiana, Pa.: Of Whom, By Whom, For Whom?"

Description: The program will be a journalism symposium at which local news-media representatives will join a panel to address the title question, discuss issues related to it and answer questions from a moderator and from students and citizens from the campus and surrounding community. The chapter's objectives are to illuminate the work of professional journalists in the community, to shed light on the pressures they face on the job and to invite citizen appreciation for and constructive criticism of their performance.

Region 4: Central Ohio Pro

Program name: "Gray Matter: Working in a Freebie Culture"

Description: We live in a freebie culture, from free doughnuts to game tickets. Are all gifts to be refused? Is there a gray area? The Central Ohio Pro "Act Independently" Ethics Program will give analysis of real-life examples; provide ethical insight from journalists and public relations professionals; and encourage group discussion with the panel. …