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The Reporter

January 2000
Volume 4, Issue 4

Make Your SCJ Resolutions for 2000 

In the September Reporter, I indicated that I do my New Year's Resolutions at the beginning of the academic year. Not everyone else does, so I have a few suggestions for those of you who have NOT made your NYR's yet. 

First, keep the Annual SCJ Contest in mind all thru the year. Incredibly, a new staff took over our newspaper in December and threw out all the old issues. We had to scrounge to clip and mount our SCJ Contest entries. Archives are scrounging now, too. 

Second, think about the McDonald Award for best Chapter, the Ingelhart Award for a First Amendment champ, the Barker Award for an incredibly outstanding chapter adviser, and the SCJ Journalist of the Year Award. As Ed McMahon is saying, you can't win unless you enter. 

Third, make plans NOW to come to the SCJ Convention in New York City in conjunction with CMA/CSPA. Our SCJ Vice Presidents are Co-Chairs of our Silver Biennial Convention, and they are working quietly behind the scenes to make this the most memorable convention ever. 

Fourth, revitalize your SCJ Chapter with new leadership. If the old leaders are losing interest, call for new elections and get some fresh blood in there. As our Past President never tires of saying, you can make your SCJ Chapter as great and as fun as you want to make it. 

Finally, love one another. It's easy to criticize and hold grudges. Forget the past, get over it, think of ways to make your SCJ Chapter more delightful and enriching, and pitch in to help get things done, like an end-of-the-year awards banquet, J-Day, and SCJ Regional off-year conference or judging a local high school's contest for a local paper. Community Service is not a bad idea either if you want to pull people together and so some good at the same time. 

Dr. William Lawbaugh is the President of SCJ.

SCJ Executive Director  Dr. Arthur Barlow Visits Cuba 

The tug-of-war over six-year-old Elian Gonzalez, the subject of a custody battle between the United States and Cuba, is more than just a headline for Dr. Arthur Barlow, associate professor of communication at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. 

Barlow spent Jan. 10-16 in Cuba as part of the National Newspaper Association (NNA) Cuban Study Mission. Thirty-seven U.S. newspaper editors and publishers and other journalistic representatives were part of the delegation. Barlow, also the Executive Director of the Society for Collegiate Journalists, represented the organization. 

"This was a historically significant time to be visiting Cuba," says Barlow. "It was was also a dream visit for me: I wanted to see the Bay of Pigs." 

Barlow's interests in Cuba stretch over several decades and include his University of Florida master's thesis, "Press Self Censorship and the Bay of Pigs Invasion."  In the thesis, Barlow wrote that many news organizations, especially the Miami Herald, knew about the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in advance. For a variety of reasons, including national security, the story was suppressed. Barlow continues to believe that the Miami Herald, the primary source for news about Cuba, is not providing complete information to the American public. 

The recent focus on Elian Gonzalez emphasized this for Barlow during his visit. "Elian dominated the trip," he says. "We saw the first protest concerning Elian within an hour of arriving in Cuba, and they were continuing when we left. However, we did not encounter any anti-Americanism during our entire visit. The people of Cuba want to be heard and seen as they seek the return of a son." 

The NNA study mission's visit became more significant to the participants when they learned another news delegation wishing to visit Cuba was denied visas. The inclusion of a reporter from the Miami Herald, which the Cuban government considers "biased," was cited as the reason for the denial. 

During their visit, the NNA group visited health care facilities; the University of Havana for a meeting with journalism students; Granma, the official communist newspaper of Cuba; the Jose Marti Press Institute, Cuba's national press club; the Bay of Pigs; the Cuban General Assembly; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Santa Clara, where revolutionary leader Che Guevara is interred, and Veradero, a Cancun-style tourist site along the Caribbean. "The visit made us question our stereotypes of Cuba," says Barlow. 

Chip Beck, senior analyst with APB and organizer of the NNA study mission to Cuba, in an article following the visit wrote, "During a week of travel and discussions with a cross section of Cuban citizens, it is clear that the 'Cuban reality' as they call it, is far different from the 'Miami fantasy' -- a distorted image and biased process through which news and views about Cuba is often filtered before it reaches most American readers and politicians." 

Beck, also a retired Navy commander and combat veteran who battled Cuban soldiers in Angola, added, "As the case of Elian Gonzalez approaches the end of its second month as a cause of celebration in Cuba, details are still murky about what launched the boy on his fateful journey. Talking to Cubans who know the boy and his family provided significant insights largely absent from U.S. counts." 

Barlow echoed these sentiments after the visit to Varadero brought the NNA group through Cardenas, Elian's hometown. "Like many Cuban towns, it shows the wear and tear of year of the United States imposed embargo," he evaluated. "But, there are many other places on earth where it is harder to live." 

Barlow has talked to people who had personal contact with Elian and his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. "We were shown the park where Elian played. His father was his primary care giver, having custody five days a week. He has been called unfit, but people I met told me he worked hard, was  well respected, and raised his son as best he could. I consider Elian to have been kidnapped by his mother. In a joint custody situation in the U.S., such an action would be kidnapping. I question why there was a delay in returning Elian following the ruling by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. All signs point toward the efforts of the Cuban exile community's political power." 

During their visit to the Cuban General Assembly, the NNA group met with Ricardo Alarcon, President of the General Assembly. He is Cuban's second leading official behind Fidel Castro. Alacron is well known throughout the world, thanks to his recent appearances on CNN to talk about Elian's situation, and his tenure as Cuba's foreign minister. "He was well spoken and thoughtful," said Barlow. "He made an honest effort to give us the best possible answers to our questions. I thought it was a candid and fruitful dialogue." 

The visit left Barlow questioning why the United States fears Cuba so much." Members of the communication field reflect and mold public opinion," he says. "As long as travel restrictions against Cuba continue it prevents our nation from seeing the Cuban country properly. Most of the information comes through Miami and the Cuban community there. 

"I would like to see a dialogue opened outside of the frame of reference in which it is now conducted. There are economic opportunities in Cuba. They would like to trade for U.S. wheat, rice, and farm equipment. There are also opportunities for developing resort facilities that are being taken advantage of by other nations." 

Barlow also finds his thesis in demand. Since returning he has received several requests for copies of his work and is considering studying the subject again. "I see many initiatives to follow as I revisit the topic," he says. 

But, Barlow's major initiative is maintaining contact with the communication students at Havana University. "Like students around the world, they are eager, intelligent, and excited about their life," he says. "I would love to facilitate an exchange." 

Story courtesy of Clarion University Relations,


Happy New Year! We're past Y2K terrors - now that the century is complete, let's step forward to engage in new goals: for example, the SCJ Biennial NATIONAL CONVENTION. 

This year we will meet at CMA/CSPA's New York Convention held March 15-18. This is a first for SCJ. Traditionally we have been hosted by a campus of one of our active chapters. Despite our efforts, our numbers and convention participants have remained small, basically 100 participants. Those who have attended have had an enriched experience, and the chapter delegates worked very hard to provide SCJ with direction for the next two years. National Council reluctantly decided on a "big city hotel convention" for convenience and practicality. We will assess the outcome at our Autumn National Council meeting. If regionalization works we will have the best of both worlds: a streamlined working convention with chapter delegates leading our organization and several regional conventions each year serving SCJ zones. The key to regionalization is accessibility - the host school will be day trip accessible to all participants, and SCJ can retain its distinctive character of camaraderie as the host college shares its campus facilities and community with SCJ attendees. 

But... in the meantime let's do business.; 

#1  Each active chapter is invited to send two official delegates to the National Convention - you may have as may chapter members in attendance as you want. 

#2  The official delegates will be posted to SCJ National Committees and given a charge. Committees will have a National Council member as an adviser. 

#3  The SCJ National Committees will meet during the scheduled convention. The Initial SCJ Meeting, Business Meetings, and the final session are in the CMA/CSPA program - check it frequently. 

#4  At the final Business session policy will be made. Committees will report to the chamber of delegates, there will be floor debates and opportunity for new motions from the body, action will be taken on committee recommendations. This is the work which charges the SCJ National Council during the two year hiatus between National Conventions. SCJ is a democracy, and we need chapter leadership. 

#5  Because of the importance of the work to National Council, each chapter delegate, after fulfilling the responsibilities, will be paid a stipend per the following schedule. 

Miles Traveled       Amount in $ Per Active Chapter Sending Delegates
0-499                                                        25 
500-749                                                    50 
750-999                                                    75 
1,000+                                                     100 

#6   This is SCJ's function within the context of CMA/CSPA's convention. Register with them as you normally would as attendees. And delegates, take advantage of the traditional convention opportunities of academic sessions. Keynote address and Midtown Manhattan - see you soon, plan now. 

Dr. Arthur Barlow is SCJ's National Executive Director.

Chapter Notes 

Northeastern State University, OK - 5 new members 
Muskingum College, OH - 1 new member 
Hastings College, NE - 1 new member 
Western Maryland College, MD - 3 new members 
Kingsborough Community College, NY- 11 new members 
Ocean City Community College, NJ - 7 new members 
Ocean County College, NJ - 1 new member 
Southeastern Louisiana, LA - 1 new member
Lock Haven University, PA - 1 new member 

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