Courts, cops and meetings! Oh my!

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DSC03066Note: This is one of several blog posts written by Shorthorn staffers about the conferences or training they received. Today’s blog post written by reporter Sorayah Zahir about what she learned during a recent Society of Professional Journalists workshop. 

An issue that has come to light in the media recently is reporter’s rights, especially in the ongoing Ferguson issues. The right to gather news is something that not only journalists have, but also the public as instituted by the First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech, according to attorney Paul Watler. Anyone, including journalists, have the right to record news in public areas, such as a police officer conducting his work on a sidewalk or what have you. Reporters in Ferguson are having to fight for this right as law enforcement sets barriers to hinder their work. An important thing for journalist’s to know is we have rights and even if the law doesn’t recognize that, we should stand up for ourselves, to a point, and claim our right to gather news.

Journalists have many rights, including the right to withhold unpublished materials from law enforcement; while we are student journalists and don’t deal with major roadblocks from law enforcement, it is valuable to know when we are out and about on campus, we can stop and gather news wherever because this is public property. The police can not, for the most part, regulate our content. But of course, when dealing with authority, use common sense. We’re journalists, we don’t want to end up in jail.

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Another important aspect of the workshop was covering public meetings. The key here is public. A journalist has every right to sit in at any sort of board, council, etc. meeting according to the Texas Open Meetings Act. This act outlines what an open meeting is a gathering of all members of the executive board that is conducted in public that must post an agenda with all items that will be discussed before. This is important for us to know because student journalists cover meetings from Student Council to Arlington city council meetings and they can not be told to leave. You also have the right to tape or photo meeting, fyi. If you have any more questions about open meetings, you can refer to the Texas Open Meetings Handbook on the Texas Attorney General’s website. Teicher said it is very user friendly and will cover any questions you may have.

The lawyers also discussed courtroom proceedings but, while it was interesting, it’s not something we particularly have to deal with.

After the talk, some Shorthorn staffers asked about getting sources on campus to talk to us. The most important thing Watler said is that we gain the trust of a source so that they will consent to an interview and be more comfortable speaking to The Shorthorn.

Over all, I found the workshop to be very valuable as a journalist.


INTERNSHIP: Cover the EIJ convention


This is a really neat internship opportunity made available through the Society of Professional Journalists. The deadline is March 19. That’s tomorrow. The group is looking for 12 interns from across the country to cover the annual Excellence In Journalism convention, to be held in Anaheim, Calif., in August. Here’s more, from the site.

The Excellence in Journalism Conference is seeking 12 interns for the EIJ News. Interns will cover the EIJ13 conference in a variety of ways (video, audio, photos, written stories) that will be displayed online. Collegiate multimedia journalists are invited to apply for these select positions. Here’s the website for more detail on requirements. If you don’t have a summer internship lined up, this is a quick but intense journalism experience that puts you face to face with professional journalists. I encourage you to apply.

On a personal note: I was an SPJ intern covering the organization’s conventions for two years as a student, and we’ve had several Shorthorn alumni participate in the last several years. I still take advantage of the networking opportunities it created, and the rush of covering journalism issues for journalists is pretty cool. Regardless of your position in the newsroom, I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity.

Resume workshop today

The student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is holding a speed dating-style resume critique from noon to 12:50 p.m. today. During the event, held in Room 327 of the Fine Arts Building, communication professors and staff versed in broadcast, print, web, PR and advertising will be available to quickly assess and provide tips for your resume. Why does this matter now? Internship season is quickly approaching. We’ll have a few sessions on landing an internship at The Shorthorn, but this session could be a good kickstart. Bring three copies of your resume and an open mind.

Post-graduate internship with SPJ

From the Society of Professional Journalists’ website:

The Society of Professional Journalists, the largest and most broad-based membership association for journalists in the nation, is seeking a candidate to fill its yearlong Communications Post-Graduate Internship for media, writing, marketing and public relations efforts. The ideal candidate should be a recent college graduate (bachelor’s or master’s) with prior internship or student media experience in communications and/or journalism. We’re looking for someone to help put SPJ in the media spotlight and assist in growing the organization and serving Society members.

Visit the website for the job description, and note the April 2 deadline and education requirements. I hope all graduates will apply.


Careers in Mass Media workshop

Whether you’re planning to graduate in May, December, or in 2013 and beyond, it’s never too early to start thinking about your CAREER in addition to your CLASSES. You’re at The Shorthorn, which is a great way to get started. Here’s another.

The Society of Professional Journalists Fort Worth Chapter will hold its Careers in Mass Media conference on Feb. 18, a Saturday, at TCU in Fort Worth. It’s a good lineup of 24 professionals in the field. Each will discuss different paths you can take to employ your communication/journalism skills. Whether you are sure of your career choice or want to explore what the possibilities are, this is a good program.

Oh, and it’s FREE. 🙂

Here are details. Be sure to register. If you plan to go, do let me know. I’m sure we can arrange a carpool to help with transportation issues.


Internship: The Working Press

Folks, here is information on a wonderful internship through the Society of Professional Journalists. The organization’s national convention draws thousands of journalists, and SPJ selects 12 students from schools across the country to produce a newspaper covering the convention. It’s fast-paced, a wonderful place to show off your work to people in the field, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Information on how to apply is below, but be sure to talk to Bryan Bastible. He interned as a copy editor for The Working Press this fall during the New Orleans convention.

SPJ is seeking 12 interns for The Working Press, a daily tabloid newspaper and online news site, that will cover the Excellence in Journalism 2012 conference. Collegiate student reporters, editors, photographers and designers are invited to apply for these select positions. This year’s conference is set for September 20-22 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. For more information, click here.


From the SPJ national convention…

Hey Shorthorn staff:

I’m psyched to be back in the newsroom after an exhilarating few days of walking and talking journalism with the pros during the Society of Professional Journalists national convention. Over the next week, I’ll post notes from about 14 sessions to this blog. Be sure to share anything you really like.

I brought back copies of The Working Press, the daily newspaper covering the convention. Our own Bryan Bastible is one of 12 students from across the nation working to produce the newspaper each of three days. I have days one and two posted on the bulletin board as you walk into the newsroom. check out the students’ work. PS: This is an incredible opportunity for students – the application process for next year will start in the next month or so. Be sure to pay attention for updates on the deadline. Among the things Bryan has to brag about when he gets back: Rich Holden, executive director of the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund internship program, was his adviser and critiqued his resume. Talk about an opportunity!

I also brought back Monday’s edition of The Times-Picayune, the incredible daily newspaper in New Orleans. It’s posted on the wall by my office. This is a wonderful news organization … and one that has internships available. Be sure to check it out and apply during internship season.

More to come!