The Society of Professional Journalists presented the Utah Headliners chapter with a pair of awards during the SPJ National Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia Sept. 4-7.
Chapter president Allison Barlow-Hess received the awards on behalf of the chapter for “First Amendment and Freedom of Information” education, and for “Chapter Communications.” There were only six National Circle of Excellence awards given at the convention for SPJ chapters around the country.
SPJ president Clint Brewer praised the Utah Headliners for working with the League of Women Voters and the Utah Foundation for Open Government during Sunshine Week, which celebrates open government and public access to records and information. Utah Headliners sponsored a forum at the Salt Lake City Public Library where local officials who have championed the cause for accessibility to government records were honored.
“Utah has led the cause in defending the public’s right under the First Amendment,” Brewer said.
“We’ve worked really hard to raise awareness and help out not only journalists, but all citizens who are seeking information about the government,” Hess said. “We’ve worked with government leaders to help them understand that the documents they hold are a public trust, and belong to the people they serve.”
The chapter was also honored for its communications efforts via its online blog spot (www.utahspj.blogspot.com), monthly board meetings, as a host of SPJ regional conferences and chapter activities.
“We feel honored to be recognized nationally as one of the most proactive chapters in SPJ,” Hess said. “We believe our efforts as journalists and communicators are in the best interest of the public.”
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. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 10,000 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.