Top 2018 journalism awards recognize WFYI Public Media, South Bend Tribune, and Indiana University

Reporters from the South Bend Tribune, WFYI Public Media and an Indiana University student took home top honors in the chapter’s 2018 Best in Indiana journalism contest, while students from Indiana University and Franklin College received the chapter’s college scholarships.

WFYI Public Media Side Effects teammates Lauren Bavis, Araceli Gomez-Aldana, Jake Harper and Emily Forman were selected as Indiana Journalists of the Year for healthcare and medical reporting that highlighted the human costs of Indiana’s opioid crisis as well as the danger women of color face giving birth.

Christian Sheckler, of the South Bend Tribune, and Ken Armstrong, of Propublica, won Story of the Year for their investigation into the Elkhart Police Department, which revealed disciplinary problems that led to the chief's resignation, charges against two officers and an independent investigation.

Laurel Demkovich, of Indiana University, was named Student Journalist of the Year in recognition of her work at The Indiana Daily Student. Judges said her work should be something all student journalists strive for.

Other top winners include Tom McClanahan of WTWO-TV receiving the Slaymaker Service to Journalism 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 2019-20 school year are Lydia Gerike of Indiana University and Emily Ketterer of Franklin College.

The awards were presented April 26 during the chapter’s annual awards banquet.

Three Indiana bills would restrict public's right to know

For Immediate Release

March 13, 2019

The Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists urges the Indiana General Assembly to stand on the side of government transparency in schools, children’s services and sheriff’s sales.

Three bills now before the Indiana General Assembly would curtail the public’s right to know on important issues being handled by their elected officials. We urge the legislature to reject these measures.

Secrecy in school communications

House Bill 1629 would deprive Hoosiers of access to information about how their children are being educated and their tax dollars are being spent. A provision in the bill would exempt emails between school staff members from basic access to public records. This would be a major step back. The public can currently request internal emails from schools under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. Journalists, concerned parents, and the general public would have a harder time learning about how the public institutions are really being run. The legislation flies in the face of the public’s right to know about important information under discussion by school officials. (HB 1629 passed the House on February 21 and is now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development.)

Secrecy in children’s services

Senate Bill 551 would prohibit the release of records held by the Indiana Department of Child Services if they relate to an ongoing police investigation or criminal prosecution. Such a prohibition would have a chilling effect on transparency. The current law — which requires the agency to release records relating to a child who died as a result of abuse or neglect — allows the public to hold DCS and other officials and agencies to account for failures in its mission to protect children. Shielding such records from disclosure does not serve the public interest. If a case stalls, the records could be kept in secret in perpetuity. (SB 551 passed the Senate on February 12 and is now under consideration by the House Courts and Criminal Courts Committee.

Secrecy in sheriff’s sales

House Bill 1212 would make it harder for the public to find information about sheriff’s sales, and by extension, what is happening in their own neighborhoods. The bill would eliminate a long-time requirement that sheriff's sale notices be posted in community newspapers, placing them instead on the websites of county governments or sheriff’s departments. Those websites have low page views as compared to trusted local newspapers that have a much wider audience and post content that is much more likely to turn up in a Google search. In addition, any possible cost savings by not paying for newspaper advertisements would be offset by the cost of county government employees compiling, posting, archiving and maintaining the sheriff’s sale notices. and would be completely wiped out by narrowing the pool of bidders to just a few seasoned house-flippers who would be actively monitoring little-visited county-run websites. Restricting such information to the few would harm the many and the very government agencies that are supposed to benefit. Whether with sports, arts, crime or general community coverage, newspapers serve a general interest readership beyond the small niche that would regularly check sheriff's sale postings online. (HB 1212 passed the House on January 29 and is now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Local Government. )

Overall, government transparency offers sunlight, and restrictions like those in these three bills would shroud routine, mundane government business with gratuitous darkness, leaving the public blind and groping around in the pitch black. We urge the Indiana General Assembly to reject these measures.

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation's most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.

CONTACT:

John Russell, president
Indianapolis Professional Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists
317-250-6261

Best of Indiana contest entry deadline extended to Feb. 11

The entry deadline for this year’s Best of Indiana journalism contest is being extended until Monday, Feb. 11.

The contest aims to recognize the state’s top professional and student journalism for 2018 in all formats – print, broadcast and online -- with dozens of categories in reporting, visuals, design, multimedia and books.

We’ve kept the entry fees the same for most categories ($20 for professionals and $15 for students) — but we have cut in half the fees to submit nominations for Journalist of the Year, Student Journalist of the Year and Story of the Year. Nominations for those awards can come from newsrooms, but any Indiana journalist can submit an entry for a colleague or themselves. Freelancers are welcome to enter any category — and anyone can submit their own entries for Indiana’s largest open journalism contest.

For all the rules and category descriptions: http://spjcontest.com/pdfs/CallForEntries-SPJ-Indy-Best_of_Indiana_Journalism-2018.pdf

To submit entries by the 11:59 p.m. Feb 11 deadline: https://awards.indyprospj.org/

Best of Indiana journalism contest open for new year; Entry deadline Feb. 8

The Best of Indiana journalism contest is accepting entries for another year. The Indiana Pro Chapter is ready to recognize the state’s top professional and student journalism for 2018 in all formats – print, broadcast and online.

We have dozens of categories in reporting, visuals, design, multimedia and books. The entry deadline is Feb. 8. We’ve kept the entry fees the same for most categories ($20 for professionals and $15 for students) — but we have cut in half the fees to submit nominations for Journalist of the Year, Student Journalist of the Year and Story of the Year. Nominations for those awards can come from newsrooms, but any Indiana journalist can submit an entry for a colleague or themselves. Freelancers are welcome to enter any category — and anyone can submit their own entries for Indiana’s largest open journalism contest.

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 26 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-2018.pdf

To submit entries by the Feb. 8 deadline: https://awards.indyprospj.org/

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/