Indianapolis Star reporters, Ball State student win top contest honors

Three reporters from The Indianapolis Star and a Ball State University student are the top winners in the chapter’s 2017 Best in Indiana contest, while students from Indiana University and Ball State received the chapter’s college scholarships.

Indianapolis Star reporter Mark Alesia was selected as the Indiana Journalist of the Year for work including investigations into how USA Gymnastics responded to reports of sexual abuse by coaches and doctors and the state’s financial troubles surrounding the Interstate 69 extension project between Bloomington and Martinsville.

Tim Evans and Ryan Martin of The Indianapolis Star won the Story of the Year award for their series of stories investigating how an Indianapolis drug gang was able to intimidate witnesses and how little the city spent on protecting witnesses.

Casey Smith of Ball State University was named Student Journalist of the Year in recognition of her work at The Ball State Daily News, National Geographic and USA Today.

Other top winners include Malcolm Abrams of Bloom Magazine receiving the Slaymaker Service to Journalism Award and Tony Cook of The Indianapolis Star receiving the First Amendment Award.

Congratulations to all the winners from across the state for their outstanding broadcast, print and online journalism. You can download the entire winner's list here and share it.

Proceeds from the Best in Indiana contest help fund the chapter’s college scholarship program. The two winners of $2,500 scholarships for the 2018-19 school year are Emily Abshire of Indiana University and Esther Bower of Ball State University.

The awards were presented April 27 during the chapter’s annual awards banquet.

Make reservations for Best in Indiana Journalism banquet

We've received results from the judges and tickets are now on sale for the chapter's annual Best in Indiana Journalism banquet. Join us Friday, April 27, as we honor the winners during the banquet at the Indianapolis Marriott North.

Winner notifications will be going out this week by email, but all journalists are welcome to attend as we recognize top broadcast, print and online work by professionals and students across the state.

We're again holding ticket prices the same -- $50 for professionals and $45 for students. Sponsor tables of 10 are also available for $500. The cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

Reserve your spot online by April 23 at http://spjcontest.com/

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest and will attend the banquet. Proceeds from the contest and banquet fund the chapter's college scholarship program -- and we'll be honoring those winners at the banquet as well.

 

SPJ Regional Conference April 6-7 in Chicago

Veteran journalist and association leader Alison Bethel McKenzie moves into the Society of Professional Journalists' executive director role this month with a mission to fight for press freedom and to elevate SPJ's work.

Jonathan Eig took on a legend when he set out to write an autobiography of "The Greatest" man in sports, Muhammad Ali. Through more than 500 interviews, Eig developed a best-selling portrait of a complicated sports figure who changed our culture.

These two prominent journalists will headline the Society of Professional Journalists Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky) conference April 6-7 in Chicago -- and you're invited.

The conference, open to journalists, students and supporters of a free press, will feature more than 15 sessions led by more than 30 journalism professionals and educators on the most important topics in journalism.

Go to https://www.spj5conference.com/ for all the conference and registration details. Discounted early bird registration continues until March 22.

•        Hear the story behind WBEZ's multimedia investigation into gun violence in Chicago, learn the do's and don'ts of podcasting and how to find truth in science.

•        Discover strategies for listening to your community, explore new approaches for building trust and experiment with apps for scraping data.

•        Join in discussions on the way newsrooms should address the Me Too movement, build trust with diverse communities and prepare for the impact of Alexa and other smart speakers.

•        Educators, let's talk about what J-schools should be teaching.

•        Professionals, check out SPJ's new Facebook training program.

•        Students, share your resume with hiring managers and enjoy well-deserved recognition at the Mark of Excellence Awards ceremony.

Plus much more! This is the conference you don't want to miss.

2018 Indiana SPJ College Scholarship Applications are available

We’re excited again this year to award up to $5,000 in scholarships for Indiana collegiate journalism students.

If you know a top Indiana college journalism student, encourage them to apply for one of the chapter’s two $2,500 scholarships that we’ll be announcing at our annual awards banquet on Friday, April 27.

The application deadline is April 6. For full details: http://www.indyprospj.org/scholarships/

"Letting the Sunshine IN" workshop on March 17

Journalists and members of the public are invited to a free daylong Freedom of Information workshop in Indianapolis on March 17.

 “Letting the Sunshine IN: An Open Data and Open Government Workshop,” is open to anyone interested in open government and open data, including journalists, civic activists and neighborhood association members. The Indiana Pro Chapter is co-sponsoring the event along with The Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies at Indiana University and the Indiana Coalition for Open Government.

The workshop will be held during Sunshine Week, an annual national observance that highlights the importance of open government. Sessions will be in the ballroom of University Tower, 911 W. North St., on the IUPUI campus.

Confirmed speakers at the conference include state, regional and national journalists and open government advocates, who will participate in informational sessions about state and national access laws.

The workshop will close with a hands-on session on how to request data and metadata from public agencies. Experts will guide attendees in submitting actual requests to state agencies for information about their data sets.

Workshop co-organizer Gerry Lanosga, an assistant professor at IU’s Media School and a longtime SPJ chapter member, said a workshop goal is to launch an open online catalog of state data sets.

“We know that one of the key barriers to opening public data is lack of knowledge about the range of data that state agencies maintain,” he said. “This effort will go a long way to eliminating the unknowns about state data sets and make it easier for journalists and others in the public to request them.”

The workshop is made possible by a gift from IU journalism alumna Barbara Restle. Although there is no charge to attend the workshop, attendance is limited and advance registration is required. To pre-register, go to http://mediaschool.indiana.edu/letting-the-sunshine-in-registration-form/

The registration deadline is 5 p.m. EDT March 12.

For a full schedule of planned sessions and other details: http://mediaschool.indiana.edu/news/iu-spj-icog-offer-free-daylong-workshop-on-open-data-government/

Best of Indiana entry deadline extended to Feb. 7

We're extending the deadline for entries to the Best of Indiana journalism contest until Wednesday, Feb. 7.

The chapter's contest is open to all professional and students journalists for Indiana work during 2017 in all formats – print, broadcast and online.

We have dozens of categories in reporting, visuals, design, multimedia and books. We’ve streamlined some of the categories and circulation divisions in order to equalize the competition for top awards. We’ve kept the entry fees the same for all categories ($20 for professionals and $15 for students for most entries).

Your contest entries help make the chapter’s college scholarship possible. We awarded $2,500 scholarships last spring to two top Indiana collegiate journalists. We look forward to doing the same during the April 27 awards banquet at the Indianapolis Marriott North. Mark your calendars to celebrate the Best of Indiana!

For all the rules and category descriptions: http://spjcontest.com/pdfs/CallForEntries-SPJ-Indy-Best_of_Indiana_Journalism-2017.pdf

To submit entries by the Feb. 7 deadline: https://awards.indyprospj.org/

Best of Indiana contest open for entries

The Best of Indiana journalism contest is back for a new year. The Indiana Pro Chapter is ready to recognize the state’s top professional and student journalism for 2017 in all formats – print, broadcast and online.

We have dozens of categories in reporting, visuals, design, multimedia and books. We’ve streamlined some of the categories and circulation divisions in order to equalize the competition for top awards. The entry deadline is Feb. 4 – and we’ve kept the entry fees the same for all categories ($20 for professionals and $15 for students for most entries).

Your contest entries help make the chapter’s college scholarship possible. We awarded $2,500 scholarships last spring to two top Indiana collegiate journalists. We look forward to doing the same during the April 27 awards banquet at the Indianapolis Marriott North. Mark your calendars to celebrate the Best of Indiana!

For all the rules and category descriptions: http://spjcontest.com/pdfs/CallForEntries-SPJ-Indy-Best_of_Indiana_Journalism-2017.pdf

To submit entries by the Feb. 4 deadline: https://awards.indyprospj.org/

Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoes House Bill 1523

Today Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed House Bill 1523, which would have let state and local government agencies charge up to $20 per hour to fulfill requests for public records that take more than two hours to find.

The Indiana Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists had opposed the bill.

Read Holcomb's veto letter here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3677103-Veto-Letter-1523.html.

Best in Indiana Contest Winners

An Associated Press reporter, an Indianapolis Star team and a Purdue University student are the top winners in the chapter’s 2016 Best in Indiana contest.

Associated Press Statehouse reporter Brian Slodysko was selected as the Indiana Journalist of the Year for work including investigations into state payments to one of then-Gov. Mike Pence’s top aides during the presidential campaign and the misuse of campaign money by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marlin Stutzman.

Mark Alesia, Tim Evans and Marisa Kwiatkowski of The Indianapolis Star won the Story of the Year award for their investigation into failures by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics over many years to alert law enforcement about alleged sexual abuse by coaches.

Charlotte Tuggle from Purdue University was named Student Journalist of the Year in recognition of her work at public radio station WBAA.

Congratulations to all the winners from across the state for their outstanding broadcast, print and online journalism. You can download the complete list of winners here and share it.

Proceeds from the Best in Indiana contest help fund the chapter’s college scholarship program. The two winners of $2,500 scholarships for the 2017-18 school year are Kaitlyn Kendall from the University of Indianapolis and Sarah Bahr of IUPUI.

The awards were presented April 21 during the chapter’s annual awards banquet.

Statement on House Bill 1523

The Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists calls upon state lawmakers to reject House Bill 1523, a bill that would let state and local government agencies charge up to $20 per hour to fulfill requests for public records that take more than two hours to find.
 
This legislation goes against the idea that government is supposed to serve the people, would undermine government transparency and could easily be abused to hide public records from the public view. 
 
It is not hard to imagine local governments exploiting such a law to make it cost-prohibitive for journalists and concerned citizens to find out what their elected representatives are doing, and how their tax dollars are being put to use. Some citizens may not be able to afford such search fees and could be denied access to government records that are supposed to be available to all.
 
Government employees could deliberately drag their feet on such requests, racking up exorbitant charges to produce records the taxpaying public already paid for in the first place, either to shut down requests or deter them in the future.
 
If anything, the state legislature should be working to make public records more accessible, and available to anyone online. Local officials should not be given the tool of search fees to hide documents that belong to the public and should be open to the scrutiny of all taxpayers and voters.
 
The bill defeats the entire purpose of Indiana’s public access laws, and should be defeated. It has the potential to be an obstacle to the reporting of a free press and an impediment to finding out the truth that could shroud government doings in secrecy. This legislation is simply not in keeping with the values of Hoosiers or an open, democratic society. 
 
If government agencies are actually struggling with the burden of providing the public with public records, it should be addressed in another way — perhaps by automatically publishing everything on the government agency’s website so journalists and citizens can execute such searches themselves, freeing up government workers for whatever other tasks.