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Executive Director Update - February 2015

Here at MDDC, we are coordinating contests and awards and getting ready for our signature events, all with the backdrop of legislative seasons. 

We received about the same number of Editorial contest entries as last year and have sent most entries out for judging by the Texas Press Association.  Two signature awards:  the James S. Keat FOI Award and the new Rookie of the Year contest are being judged by  panels made up from MDDC members and affiliates.  The FOI award, which was won last year by The Daily Times, will be judged by Frank Quine,  Tom Marquardt and Jack Murphy.  The Rookie of the Year award will be judged by Tom Linthicum, John League and Lucy Dalglish.  We look forward to releasing the names of Editorial contest winners with next month’s newsletter.  I hope you will join me in celebrating the wonderful journalism of our region at the Editorial Awards Program Friday, May 1 from 11:30 – 1:30 at the BWI Westin.  Tickets will go on sale in March.

We had an overwhelming response to our Michael S. Powell High School Journalist of the Year program, with 23 students submitting applications.  Angie Price, of the Bay Times, will chair the panel of judges.  She is joined by Dan Divilio (Kent County News), Steve Gunn (Annapolis Capital), Vanessa Junkin (The Daily Times) and Brian Karem (The Sentinel Newspapers).  We will recognize the winner at the Editorial Awards Program May 1.

In Maryland, MDDC members are focused on PIA reform, which puts it high on our list of legislative priorities.  MDDC supports the omnibus reform bill (SB695/HB755) which will provide more oversight of PIA enforcement, standardize fees and close some exemption loopholes.  Read more about our efforts in this area, including coverage of this issue by member publications (and others).  PIA reform is not the only bill we are focusing on in the state.  Public notice issues have also been at the forefront and in concert with the Government Affairs Committee, we have been active and vocal.  The state is seeking to move the Abandoned Property insert from newspaper publications to a state-run website.  Additionally, there is a bill that makes newspaper advertising optional for self-storage unit auctions.  We are also supporting additional protections for journalists, so that they may not be compelled to reveal sources in other states.

We’ve also made changes to our weekly Friday Planner, providing a Featured Job of the Week and highlighting an Affiliate member.  I’ve also added the upcoming legislative hearings that MDDC will be testifying at (usually with an MDDC member).  Please note our next two professional development events:  one is a panel discussion on Social Media Reporting Tools, held in conjunction with SPJ March 4th, and the other is a webinar about Copyright and Fair Use in the Newsroom on March 12.  I hope you will join us!

As always, I look forward to hearing from members about ways we can improve our benefits and services – don’t be shy about how we can help you.  Please feel free to reach out to me by phone at 443-768-3281 or email.

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