SPJ Night at the Movies Feb. 6

Of course you’ve heard of The Post, the Oscar-nominated film about the Washington Post and New York Times during the Pentagon Papers controversy. As we have done before, SPJ will descend on a local theater to watch the film, and then retire to a nearby pub to discuss it.

Please join us at the 7:10 p.m. showing of The Post at Chase Park Plaza Theater on Tuesday, Feb. 6. The location of the post-film discussion has not been decided; please let us know if you have a preference! The Facebook event is here.

Want to know what else is going on in St. Louis journalism? Check out the SPJ newsletter! Awards, job listings, people on the move, upcoming events with SPJ and other St. Louis journalism organizations, and much, much more!

 

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Trivia Night this Saturday!

Reserve your table at the SPJ Trivia Night!

Test your skills against smart journalists at one of the area’s most fun trivia nights! Doors open at 6:30 and the competition starts at 7 p.m.

We award media-related merchandise prizes to the top three tables, and the fun includes a silent auction, a book sale, contests and more!

Tickets are $20 per person, or $160 for a table of eight, and include beer, wine and soda. This year we are hosted by the International Institute, 3401 Arsenal St, St. Louis. Access the International Institute’s gym from the parking lot off Louisiana Avenue.

Don’t have a team? Come anyway! We are happy to put together singles teams at the event. You don’t need to gather seven other brilliant minds to enjoy Trivia Night!

Proceeds support SPJ’s scholarship fund and programming, such as our seminars, the Student Boot Camp, First Amendment Free* Food Festival and more. Most of our programming is offered free of charge to all journalists and students, regardless of membership. The Trivia Night is our only major fundraiser throughout the year, and we rely on you to fund these programs! Please help support SPJ’s mission in St. Louis!

For reservations or more information email dnicklaus@post-dispatch.com or call 314-340-8213. Space is limited, so reserve now!

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St. Louis SPJ condemns arrest of journalist Mike Faulk

The St. Louis Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists condemns the arrest of reporter Mike Faulk by St. Louis police during the weekend’s protests and demonstrations.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that one of their own, reporter Mike Faulk, was caught in a controversial police tactic known as “kettling” on Sunday night. Faulk was on duty covering the protests and the ensuing police action when police apparently blocked all four sides of the intersection.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Faulk and many others were told “move back,” but literally had nowhere to go. Faulk’s own Twitter feed states that no one knew how they were to disperse. “We are closed in on all four sides now, I have no idea where people are supposed to go,” Faulk posted. “People moving toward bike cops, looks like best option.”

Then there was silence, for more than 13 hours.

Faulk reports he was knocked to the ground and pinned by a police officer, with a boot literally on his head. Pinned to the ground, motionless, he was then pepper-sprayed in the face. He was arrested, held overnight in jail, and has since been charged with “failure to disperse.”

The Post-Dispatch has a photograph of Faulk in the process of being arrested. His press credential is clearly visible. Police officers surround him, and yet he was not released. According to Faulk, he was kept in jail for six hours after his editor posted bail, enough time for his family to email Mayor Lyda Krewson calling for his release.

This is not the first time this problem has arisen in our community. In 2014, we saw multiple journalists threatened and illegally ordered to stop reporting and recording; journalists with firearms aimed at them while doing their jobs in approved areas. In the case of two journalists literally arrested while writing their stories in a McDonald’s, the embarrassment of the charges filed against them and eventually dismissed cast yet another shadow on the reputation of St. Louis. Another journalist arrested during Ferguson filed a civil rights suit with the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, and won a settlement in 2015.

The ACLU has also spoken up about the mass arrests and police tactics used in the Stockley protests, citing excessive force and unconstitutional arrests.

There can be no question that Mike Faulk was there in his capacity as a journalist. There can be no question that the police officers containing the situation knew that Faulk was a reporter and that he was no threat to them. He should have been safe by approaching police officers in his efforts to leave the scene as ordered. After all, they were there to protect him, were they not?

Journalism is the only profession protected by name in the Constitution. The First Amendment is not a whimsical academic concept to be dismissed when it becomes inconvenient – or embarrassing to the police. The chilling effect of assaulting, arresting, jailing and charging a journalist in the course of his duties cannot be overstated.

Journalists in high-incident situations are already placing themselves in harm’s way to perform the public service of informing the community. They are on the ground surrounded by some who may be hostile toward them, as we also have seen over the last few days. Since his release, Faulk reportedly has been harassed and threatened online.

Journalists already have much to fear in this brave new world. They should not have to fear the police as well.

The St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists calls for the immediate dismissal of charges against Mike Faulk, and for an investigation into the events of this weekend to determine whether officers violated the Constitutional rights of Faulk or any other citizens. Mayor Krewson has promised that any police misconduct would be investigated, and we hope she remains true to her word. A formal, transparent investigation will serve as a reminder to the officers on duty of their responsibilities to the Constitution of the United States as guardians of the public’s safety.

That means journalists, too.

 

Contact: Elizabeth Donald, president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

 

Note: This post has been edited for clarity. -ekd
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Coming this Saturday: SPJ Student Boot Camp!

Calling student journalists! Come learn from the pros at the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists’ Student Boot Camp! Sessions include investigative reporting, the skills you need to land a job, online journalism, making it as a freelancer, research and the art of interviewing, real-world journalism ethics… and even a mock press conference, where you’ll interview an actual spokesman, write a story and compete for prizes! The sessions are taught by actual working journalists with decades of experience doing the job you’re training for – come learn from them!

The all-day session will take place Saturday, Sept. 23 beginning at 8 a.m. at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, co-hosted by the SIUE Mass Communications department and The Alestle.

Who can attend the SPJ Boot Camp?
* High school students considering a career in journalism.
* College students studying journalism or mass media subjects.
* Newsroom interns.
* Recent graduates.

Realistic newsroom experience

Boot camp participants will get a real life flavor of the stresses and demands of a newsroom. They will attend a press briefing, and, under a tight deadline, research, write and submit a completed story.

Entries will be judged by a panel of professional journalists. Authors of the top three stories win an Amazon gift card.

How much does it cost?

The Boot Camp is FREE. However, there is a $10 pre-registration fee. Those who pre-register and attend the boot camp will have the option of having the $10 returned or donating it to the St. Louis SPJ Scholarship Fund. Running late? You can email your registration form to Tammy Merrett (see below) and pay your fee online here! (Yes, it can still be refunded to you.)

Included: a continental breakfast and pizza lunch! 

For more information, contact Tammy Merrett at tmerrettmurry@gmail.com or Elizabeth Donald at stlouisspj@gmail.com. Sign up now!

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