San Diego SPJ Concerned by Panel Sponsorship at EIJ Conference

On Tuesday, the San Diego SPJ board shared its concerns about the national SPJ board’s decision to allow the Charles Koch Institute to sponsor a public records panel at this year’s Excellence in Journalism conference.

Here is the text of the letter the San Diego SPJ board sent to to SPJ’s executive director and board of directors:

Dear Ms. McKenzie and the SPJ Board of Directors,

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is concerned by the decision to allow the Charles Koch Institute to sponsor a FOIA panel at the 2018 Excellence in Journalism conference next week. We’re encouraged, however, by the decision to create a task force to review policies regarding future panel sponsorships.

SPJ members across the country didn’t learn about the sponsorship until a little more than a month before the conference. On Sept. 4, our board was briefed about it and learned that IRE board president Cheryl Thompson had chosen to withdraw as panel moderator.

At this late date, we understand why SPJ national has decided to move forward with the panel and the Koch sponsorship. We hope the task force will review the following points:

  • Rules surrounding sponsorships from organizations with clear political ties
  • How and when sponsorships should be disclosed to members

The San Diego SPJ board looks forward to helping guide our organization toward operating with greater transparency, especially regarding decisions that could raise questions about journalistic integrity and professional interests.

Sincerely,

San Diego SPJ Pro Chapter Board

 

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