Eagle staff attends conference

Posted Thursday, October 9, 2003 - 12:00am

College of Eastern Utah's Eagle staff joined over 300 college and professional journalists at The Free Lunch Utah News Seminar hosted by Brigham Young University Sept. 26.

Keynote speakers for the day-long event included Salt Lake Tribune publisher William D. Singleton and The Deseret Morning News publisher Jim M. Wall. Both discussed their newspaper's merits, the competition between the two morning papers, their audience and the future of the printed version versus the web version of newspapers. Wall discussed the five R's of the newspaper business. He felt newspapers are geared to their readers plus should be relevant, reliable, reachable and readable.

Twenty-one workshops were offered in almost all aspects of the newspaper field by working professionals including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former editor of the Christian Science Monitor, John Hughes.

One of the workshops included a panel of journalists from the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah State University and The Deseret Morning News discussing ethics. "Ethics is a 24-7 job. One must notice and listen always," admitted Connie Coyne, reader advocate and NIE director of the SL Tribune. "Law and ethics are different."

Hughes used the famous quote of William Jefferson Clinton when he said, "I feel your pain," when discussing ethics. "Always be accurate, fair and perceptive. Use integrity and skepticism when the need for ethical treatment is apparent. Always have a quest for the truth and avoid conflicts of interest in writing a story, especially in the use of sources. Remember that the newspaper is a snapshot of history."

Dr. Michael S. Sweeney, associate professor of print journalism at USU and noted author, talked about scattering gold coins in writing feature stories. "Always write the most interesting aspects in the lead to get people to read your stories. Then scatter pertinent facts throughout the story to keep your readers interested. This is called scattering gold coins."

To become a better feature writer, read powerful writing. Quoting from "Dr. Aristotle's" standing on the shoulders of giants from the book "The Name of the Rose," ... we will now deal with comedy ... to see how, in inspiring the pleasure of the ridiculous, it arrives at the purification of that passion ... We will show how ridiculous of actions is born from the likening of the best to the worst and vice versa, from arousing surprise through deceit ... from the irrelevant and the inconsequent ... from the degassing of the characters and from the choice of the least worthy things.

"We will show how the ridiculous of speech is born from the misunderstanding of similar words for understanding things and different words for similar things. Always, when writing to go from hook to the themematic thread of the story. One should never tease without some reward," he said.

Jeffrey Hunt, attorney for Parr, Waddoups, Brown, Gee & Loveless, discussed "Covering Campus Crime: The True Test." A former student journalist, Hunt explained the laws applicable to student journalists when working with their administrations. "If you can cover this beat, you can cover anything."

He said, according to a Student Law Center Survey, surveys were returned from campus editors of 1,498 public and 231 private four-year colleges that said 89 percent of campus newspapers publish information on campus crime.

Often times, student journalists are not given access to documents because of the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). Hunt explained that all government records are presumed public; their classifications are considered public, private, protected and controlled. By law, colleges have five days to release information to journalists. Hunt told the session "any report is public." Administrators must provide the date, time, location and nature of the complaint, incident or offence; names of victim(s); description of agency's response to incident; general nature of any injuries or estimate of damages sustained in the incident; names, address, identifying information about anyone arrested or charged; identity of public safety per

Hunt discussed the Campus Security Act that requires colleges receiving federal aid and which have a police force to maintain a daily log that records all crimes and incidents reported to police; open to inspection within two business days.

When discussing FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), he said the campus police reports are not covered and disclosure of final results of disciplinary proceedings limited to name of perpetrator, violation, and punishment; does not include identities of victims or witnesses except with written consent. FERPA exemptions do not create a right of access; they simply remove the information for the protection of FERPA.

The Society of Professional Journalists, Utah Press Association and BYU's Newsnet sponsored the workshop.

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