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SPJ Donation

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 6 months ago

Board approves $30K grant

Society backs jailed photographer with largest amount ever


By Kristin Longley

Michigan State University


Continuing its tradition of support for First Amendment rights, SPJ

on Wednesday awarded a jailed independent journalist a $30,000 grant

— the largest ever given by SPJ.


"We have to make a stand someplace as the government attempts over

and over to change the role of journalists as independent observers

to arms of law enforcement," said SPJ President Dave Carlson,

sporting a "Free Josh" button. "If we allow this to happen the public

will be hurt, our democracy will be hurt because people will be less

inclined to cooperate with reporters.


"We will all end up less informed and less able to practice self-



SPJ's Legal Defense Fund, which gave Wolf $1,000 earlier this year,

is an account that can provide journalists with legal or direct



Wolf's grant is more than double the next highest amount given. In

2001, SPJ awarded a $12,500 grant to Vanessa Leggett, a freelance

author jailed for refusing to give her notes to a federal grand jury

investigating a murder.


"It's a great statement that we as journalists are not going to stand

for other journalists being jailed for doing their jobs," said Dave

Aeikens, SPJ's Legal Defense Fund chairman. "It sends a strong

message, and we want it to be heard loud and clear."


Aeikens said Wolf's situation brings to light a larger issue: the

need for a federal shield law. With other court cases involving

journalists that have the potential to end up like Wolf's, Aeikens

said a law that limits the circumstances in which journalists are

compelled to relinquish sources, unedited footage or notes is necessary.


"It's absolutely unacceptable for our government to imprison

journalists for information," Aeikens said. "That's not our role."


Wolf shot footage of a G8 protest in San Francisco last summer.

During the protest, a police car was vandalized and a police

officer's skull fractured.


The federal government has subpoenaed Wolf's footage, but he has

refused to turn it over. He was found in contempt of court Aug. 1 and

sent to a federal prison in Dublin, Calif., where he could remain

until July, when the grand jury term expires.


Wolf's mother, Elizabeth Wolf-Spada, said in an e-mail that she's

grateful for the grant.


"Now we can concentrate any other money on his expenses in jail,

rent, etc." she wrote, adding that any extra money could be donated

to other journalists' cases.


On Wolf's Web site, www.joshwolf.net, she thanks "all the generous

and concerned people" who have supported Wolf's cause.


"He is doing well and maintaining a positive spirit," she wrote

Tuesday. "He is becoming very concerned about the injustice he sees

in the justice system."

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