May. 2, 2018  

SPJ Florida Leads Discussion on Abuse in the Newsroom

SPJ Florida brought together experts from across the country to participate in a webinar discussing how to end the abuse of power in the newsroom.

The panelists were Alison Bethel McKenzie, the executive director of SPJ, Ally Coll Steele, attorney and founder of the Purple Campaign, and Cary Hughes Weekes, the co-founder of Press Forward. The talk was moderated by attorney and TV host Suzette Speaks, the past president of the South Florida Black Journalists Association—SPJ Florida had previously done a webinar with the chapter on covering the Black Lives Matter movement.

During the webinar, the panelists discussed defining sexual harassment and assault, what to do if you or a colleague have been mistreated, how newsroom managers and leaders can handle claims brought to their attention, how we can change newsroom culture, and more. The talk ended with a question-and-answer session with guests.

“I applaud SPJ Florida for continuing this much needed conversation. I am confident that the information shared by our panelists, including preventive resources and guidelines for both managers and staff, will be of help to journalists everywhere,” Speaks said.

The roots of the newsroom abuse webinar began in November 2017, when SPJ President Rebecca Baker called on chapters to sponsor events tackling abuse in the newsroom. The chapter took the call seriously and began working with Press Forward, a group founded by women who were abused in their newsrooms who are working to change the newsroom culture as well as the press partner for TIME’S UP. Through conversations with Press Forward, the chapter was also introduced to the Purple Campaign. The Florida Pro chapter was also proud to welcome SPJ’s new executive director, Bethel McKenzie, to the organization by being a part of the panel.

“The chapter is so pleased with the webinar,” said Christiana Lilly, SPJ Florida chapter. “Our distinguished panelists were able to cover so much ground in a little over an hour. They were candid on every topic and provided priceless, tangible resources for our guests. We hope to continue working with all the organizations involved, as this conversation must continue.”

Check out SPJ Region 3’s write up on the webinar here.

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