The Society of Professional Journalists Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter has sent the following letter to J. Alex Tarquinio, President of SPJ, and Patricia Gallagher Newberry, SPJ President-Elect and Chair of a newly-formed Sponsorship Task Force:
Dear Alex and Patti:
I am writing to you on behalf of SPJ/LA to express our chapter’s appreciation that a task force has been seated to develop recommendations and guidelines for future event sponsorships. It is our deepest hope that the task force will incorporate language of the resolution that was approved Sept. 29 by delegates at the Excellence in Journalism (EIJ) conference in Baltimore. In part, the resolution calls on SPJ to “consider rejecting dollars from entities whose actions are at odds with SPJ’s journalistic mission and using the SPJ Code of Ethics as a guide to vet donations.”
The issue that brought this to a boiling point was the EIJ ‘18 panel ostensibly assisting journalists in navigating the Freedom of Information Act, sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute. SPJ/LA believes the task force’s report must include a full account of how the Koch Institute panel sponsorship was handled — and to what extent Koch and other sponsors have controlled the content of conference programming.
We also believe that any new policies must cover not only sponsorship at annual conventions that are planned with other journalism organization, but all events and programs held under SPJ auspices and should cover chapter events as well.
SPJ should lead, not follow, in establishing and honoring “best practices” in journalism, not just in journalists’ professional conduct in the course of their jobs, but in our conduct as an organization dedicated to promoting professional journalism. We are looking forward to hearing the task force’s recommendations and seeing a report on the Koch Institute panel sponsorship.
President, Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter of SPJ