Mark your calendar: annual forum is Sun., Nov. 16

Tis the season for our big annual forum. This year’s event, which is free, will be held from 1:30-4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 16 at the Montclair Public Library. The topic is “How The Public Got That Story: Why some stories stick and some don’t.” In the course of the afternoon, you’ll get a chance to meet many of the reporters who broke “Bridgegate,’’ hear what happens when you defy a subpoena, get the scoop on the new NJTV, and discover what your teacher got wrong about New Jersey in the Civil War. The panel discussion will be followed by a coffee hour from 4-5 p.m.  For more info on speakers and panelists, click here; to RSVP click here. For directions, click here.




click here. To RSVP, click here.

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Free events on open records and sports reporting

The Rutgers University SPJ chapter will be holding two events this month. Both are free and open to the public.

  • Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lecture from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16 with Walter Leurs, an attorney who specializes in OPRA cases and is president of the NJ Foundation for Open Government (NJ FOG) and John Paff, a citizen activist who is treasurer of NJ FOG. The event will be held in the School of Communication & Information Faculty Lounge (room 323), 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick.
  • A sports journalism panel from 8-9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28 with Chris Pollone (former sports anchor, reporter and producer; WVTM, Alabama’s Channel 13 News; NBC News; and SPJ member); Kevin Howell (New York Daily News Assistant Sports Editor; and member of the National Association of Black Journalists);  Meghan Montemurro (The News Journal sports reporter, Philadelphia Phillies beat writer; and member of the Association for Women in Sports Media) and Tyler Barto (The Trentonian sports reporter, Rutgers University football beat writer; and Rutgers University alum). This event will also be held in the School of Communication & Information Faculty Lounge.


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Oct. 20: Irish journalist Ed Moloney to speak in Jersey City



The NJ chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Guarini Center Center for Government and Leadership are proud to present a talk by Irish journalist and author Ed Moloney on Monday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City.

Moloney’s talk, “The Troubles in Northern Ireland as news and history” will take place in the Duncan Family Sky Room, on the 6th floor of the Mac Mahon Student Center. The presentation will focus on Moloney’s experiences covering the decades-long civil war in Northern Ireland and the controversy over the Boston College oral history project on the conflict.

Moloney is the former director of the Boston College oral history project; however he cut ties with the college in 2011, when the U.S. Justice Department, at the behest of British authorities, subpoenaed interviews from the archives.

The interviews were gathered between 2001 and 2006, when Moloney and another researcher spoke with 46 former members of the Irish Republican Army and the Loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force as part of an effort to create a definitive history of the Troubles. In exchange for their memories, the researchers promised their subjects confidentiality until their deaths.

The 2011 subpoena set off a legal fight that ended with a U.S. court ruling last year that required the college to turn over sections of 11 interviews to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

That information, in turn, lead to the arrest Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for questioning earlier this year for the 1972 killing of Jean McConville, who was allegedly executed by the IRA as an informant. Adams was released without any charges.

This past May, Boston College returned material from the archives to interviewees who requested them.The college maintained it could not return the interviews until the litigation was over. Moloney, however, believes the college sold out the project because it did not do enough to live up to its contractual obligations to the interviewees, who had been promised confidentiality.

Moloney was honored in 1999 as Irish Journalist of the Year. He is the author of Paisley: From Demagogue to Democrat?, A Secret History of the IRA and Voices from the Grave, based on interviews with two contributors to the Boston College archive.

A television documentary with the same title was broadcast in Ireland in 2010 and received the best TV documentary award at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2011.

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NJ open records warrior John Paff now a Hall of Famer

SooJohn Paffner or later, open records junkies in the Garden State will stumble on the name John Paff, the man dubbed “New Jersey’s busiest open government activist” by NJ Spotlight.

Now Paff is about to get some national recognition as this year’s inductee into the State Open Government Hall of Fame, a prestigious award that recognizes one person from across all 50 states whose service, accomplishments and contributions have had a significant impact at the state and local level.

Paff, chair of the state’s Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project and the treasurer of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government,  makes as many as 700 requests for public documents a year in his quest to find out how well government officials in New Jersey are adhering to open public records laws. He then writes about his findings on his blog, NJ Open Government Notes.

In a news release, Sarah Nordgren, director of Content Development for the Associated Press and one of the judges who reviewed the nominees, said Paff stood out because he is “tireless not only in his support of open government, but also in imparting the deep knowledge he has to others, so that they, too, can work to ensure transparency.”

The Hall of Fame is a joint venture of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Freedom of Information Coalition. The induction ceremony will take place on Oct. 24 at the 2014 NFOIC Freedom of Information Summit  in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Congrats, John. It is a well-earned honor.



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Fall training roundup: election prep, a November forum & more

Are you ready for fall? We thought we’d kick start your brain with a roundup of the many learning opportunities that NJ SPJ and our friends around the state have in store for you in the coming months. As more things come up, we’ll post them here.


The NJ News Commons is organizing a free workshop on repurposing old content on Thursday, Sept. 18 from 1-3 p.m. People can participate in-person and online. For more information on the “Archives: Re-Using Past Content for Fun and Profit” workshop,  go here.

The Citizens Campaign is taking applications on a rolling basis for 20 slots in its free, City Storytellers Boot Camp to be held Saturday, Oct. 25 through Sunday, Oct. 26 in Asbury Park. The final deadline is 12 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 21.

Participants will be required to make a one-year commitment to report on stories about their communities and the citizen leaders who are getting results. They will also be part of a network of journalists — both citizens and professionals — who will meet in person on a quarterly basis and collaborate together online. Bonus: Free one-year membership to SPJ. For more info, click here.


The NJ News Commons is hosting a free all-day training on Wednesday, Oct. 8 that will be focused on smart reporting ahead of the midterm elections. The event is free and runs from 9:30 am to 3:30 p.m.

For the first part of the day, representatives from the American Press Institute will show you how to fact-check politicians’ claims (and catch them in any untruths). After lunch, the Sunlight Foundation will talk about its project to follow the dark money being used to fund TV political ads — particularly in South Jersey. The full write-up, including the link to registration, is here.

The News Commons is also hosting a Google for Media Workshop on Friday, Oct. 24 where Google will be showing off its various tools for reporters. The event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., is free. To register, click here.


Save the weekend!  Our big annual forum will be on Saturday, Nov. 15 or Sunday, Nov. 16.

We’re still working out the details, but we already have some top speakers.  The topic this year is “How The Public Got That Story,” examining why some narratives seem impervious to facts…and others change every day. Over one hundred people came to last year’s event, which once again will be at the Montclair Public Library. Confirmed speakers:  John Reitmeyer, one of the original “Bridgegate” reporters, who covered the unfolding story for The Record; Jennifer Borg, VP and general counsel of the North Jersey Media Group (publisher of The Record) and a tireless defender of state open records laws; Jana Winter, the Fox News reporter who, after refusing to disclose confidential sources, finally won her “press shield” case, in the ongoing story of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooter.  …

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