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The Ins and Outs of FOIA with Dave Bahr

April 25, 2012

Hello SPJ-ers.  It’s been awhile since any of us have posted on this blog, so I figured it’s time to get it up and running again.  We have just had elections for our new executive committee for next year (Congratulations to our new president Ryan Stefan and Vice President Marissa Woltanski).  For now, I am filling a dual role of Advertising & Recruitment Chair and Secretary.  As part of UOSPJ’s new beginning I’ve decided to make a better habit of posting a summary and/or notes from chapter events we host here for the benefit of others who were unable to attend.  On Tuesday, April, 24th, we heard from attorney Dave Bahr about the intricacies of filing FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests.  Below are the notes I took during the event.

Here is a link to the .pdf file.

I’ve also included documentation, that I stumbled upon through the site, of the process of requesting Steve Jobs’ FBI file, here.  I found it interesting and helpful to see the full request process from start to finish.

Mr. Bahr also provided several informative handouts during the meeting.  They can be found at the links below.

Bahr’s Outline for his UOSPJ talk

FOIA request to IRS on behalf of the Sierra Club

A FOIA appeal on behalf of Steven Hawley for expedited processing of a request


Skype conference with award-winning journalist, Samantha Swindler

April 25, 2011

This Tuesday, April 26th, UOSPJ will be hosting a Skype conference with investigative journalist Samantha Swindler at 6pm in the Hall of Achievement.

Swindler is the former managing editor of the Times-Tribune in Corbin, Kentucky and is now a publisher of the Headlight-Herald in Tillamook, Oregon.  She won the 2010 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism after she exposed corruption within the Whitley County Police Department during her time at the Times-Tribune.  The award is given by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the University of Kentucky’s School of Journalism and Telecommunications.  Even though she and Adam Sulfridge, the reporter she worked with on the case, each felt their lives were in enough danger to warrant buying their own handguns, Swindler refused to be scared away from the story.  She continued to ask tough questions, demand public records, and follow leads until Sheriff Lawrence Hodge was ultimately arrested.

Before joining the staff of the Times-Tribune, Swindler was the managing editor of the Daily Progress in Jacksonville, Texas where she won a Freedom of Information Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association of Texas for her coverage of corruption within the Jacksonville Police Department.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ms. Swindler will talk about her experiences while working on the Whitley County Sheriff case, why she never would have been able to expose Sheriff Hodge if the case had taken place in Oregon, and will answer any questions you might have about her work as a professional journalist.

There is also currently an opening at the Headlight-Herald for a new reporter so, if you’re nice, you just might be able to get yourself an internship too.

All of us here at UOSPJ hope to see you there.

2010 SPJ National Conference

May 27, 2010

The national conference for the SPJ will be held this October in Las Vegas.  I’ve been to a couple of the smaller conferences and I found them to be a great source of professional development.  Here are the details from the SPJ National Office:

This year’s SPJ convention, taking place Oct. 3-5 in Las Vegas, promises to bring hands-on training to conference-goers. There will be 50+ workshops with many sessions focusing on the use of multimedia and social networking tools packed into two days. From the Las Vegas Sun, Rob Curley, well known for his work in managing multimedia in the newsroom, will be joining the conference as a keynote speaker. S PJ continues to put on a no-frills conference for journalists, educators and students that offers the perfect mix of professional development training and networking opportunities (and a lot of fun) – at an affordable price. SPJ’s national conference is one of the best buys out there when compared to other journalism conferences happening each year.
SPJ members, be sure to arrive by 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3, for the Opening Business Session, regional meetings, chapter leaders’ sessions and the Opening Night Reception.
Registration is now open and you can book your room at Planet Hollywood at an outstanding rate of $129/night! Please visit to view the schedule, room rates and registration fees.

Big Scoop From a Tiny Town!

May 10, 2010

Come hear the tricks of the trade.

The Society of Professional Journalists have put together a once in a lifetime conference!

Come listen to two investigative journalists speak about their experiences!
We will be skyping or teleconferencing with Lee Van der Voo and Nick Budnick on WEDNESDAY MAY 12 at 5:00PM in the HALL OF ACHIEVEMENT!

**Nick Budnick, the statehouse reporter for The Bulletin newspaper of Bend, has worked for a number of newspapers in California and Oregon, including Willamette Week and the Portland Tribune. He got his start in journalism as an intern for the Pulitzer-winning investigative columnist Jack Anderson.

**Lee Van der Voo is a reporter for the Portland Tribune and runs the SPJ Oregon website, along with SPJ’s public records blog for Oregon and Washington. She previously worked for weekly newspapers and the wire and got her start in journalism on the arts beat. Van der Voo has won several journalism awards, including a 2007 prize from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

We all would love to see you there!

6.5 hours in a van – you never know what you’ll learn.

April 19, 2010

-Aly Stanton

So unfortunately, I have forgotten to do my blogpost by the deadline, but I am finally getting around to doing it. I really enjoyed attending the SPJ Regional Conference. I fell like I gained a lot from all the speakers and the general networking between workshops. My favorite session I attended, was about Twitter. I am a big social media junkie, so hearing how I can become more immersed in twitter was interesting. After returning to Eugene, I was fortunate enough to educate our local SPJ Chapter on the importance of Twitter.

Also, throughout the conference, I was able to bond with all the people attending from the University of Oregon. From walking down the street late at night to late night hot tubing, our group was able to hit it off quite well. I can’t wait to share all that I learned with journalism students for years to come. This was a wonderful start to joining SPJ and I look forward to continuing my involvement.

Return from the Great Seattle Conference

April 12, 2010

In the aftermath of the Conference, and the pros and cons of spending additional time in close quarters with each other, we are tried, happy to be home and very educated! Although I am not able to speak for all of us I know that as a group we learned a lot and had a lot of fun and are, at least as of now, planning in continuing this next year. Of the multiple, very educational workshops I attended there were a few that stuck with me, for various reasons.

I attended first, the workshop with the longest title, “Mining gold from the Olympics, Leveraging scores of stories, Radio and TV exposure”. In short, this equated to “A professional speaking of his experiences”. I must admit that I attended the workshop with a slight agenda, because it mentioned the Olympics I was expecting him to address the protesters and how one could handle the faux pax of interviewing them. Frankly, I found during the entire workshop it was the giant elephant in the room that no one addressed. Looking at the workshop without an agenda, it was a nice overview of the experiences, and a general peek into the kinds of work one does. I felt that as i walked out I understood a bit more than I did walking in when it came to the general feel of being a freelance journalist and a bit of what was to be expected of me. The main thing that i feel makes it a success is that I left the room knowing that I wanted for sure to be a freelancer.

I learned about what accreditation is and that its a better idea to not have it as a freelancer. I also had my fears confirmed relating to the complete requirement of knowledge of new media for success, as the speaker relied on blogging equally as much as he did actual piece writing. Agian, simply because I am simply bitter, he completely side stepped the issue of the Olympic protesters. He did tease me however, when he began in on talking about politics coverage, but he went no deeper than discussing that a writer needs to discuss politics no deeper than their readers would require.

I feel, surprisingly, that although I was disappointed by the general specifics of the workshop, I did walk away feeling that I was generally educated. Overall I was very pleased with the conference and what I learned and cannot wait to share it and pit it to practice. I’m also already looking forward to next year suckas!

-Your New Bad Ass Treasurer

The Great Adventure

April 8, 2010

Hey everyone! I’m Mitch Earnshaw, and I’m the Professional Liaison-elect for the next year. This weekend, we’re heading up to the city of Seattle to attend the SPJ’s Regional Convention. While my passion is for sports journalism, I feel that it is very important to learn about all the different facets of journalism – something that I believe this conference will definitely help me with. The evolution of social media as a tool for journalism is in my own opinion one of the most crucial up-and-coming subjects within the industry.

I have to say, being surrounded by so many people who have made careers out of stuff I dream about is kind of awe-inspiring. Hopefully the trip will be a great experience for our executive committee, because I’m pretty sure that the excitement I’m feeling is definitely shared amongst my fellow members.

Also, it’s been a while since I’ve been to Seattle, so I’m definitely going to try having a little fun while we’re there. So here’s to a great trip this weekend, and if you’re interested in what’s happening at the convention you can check the UOSPJ’s Twitter feed and the blog for all of our latest updates from Seattle! PEACE.