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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Society of Professional Journalists offers Arab Journalists booth at convention to convey concerns over media bias

Society of Professional Journalists grant Arab Journalists status at Chicago National Convention August 24 - 27

The Society of Professional Journalists has granted a booth to members of the National Arab American Journalists Association to allow them to distribute information and materials addressing the issue of bias in the mainstream American news media.

NAAJA, which was founded in 1999, has several independent chapters around the country and works closely with the Asian American Journalists Association to address diversity and bias issues. NAAJA also adopted the SPJ Code of Ethics as the basis for their own membership.

The Chicago Chapter is headed by Future News Newspaper Publisher & Editor Mansour Tadros who will manage the booth with NAAJA co-founder Ray Hanania. The booth will feature information addressing bias in the media, the imbalance of views on Middle East issues on the Op-Ed pages of the majority of the mation's 4,500-plus newspapers, and will provide resumes and information on Arab Americans who are professional journalists or who are at an entry level seeking full-time work.

"We intend to make our voices heard when the editors and reporters and publishers come to Chicago from newspapers around the country," Tadros said.

"It is important that as Americans we participate fully in all of the important professional associations reflecting the diverse careers of our Arab community. Journalists play a very important part and Arab American journalists must find a positive way to encourage change and improvement in the way the American media covers all issues including the Middle East."

SPJ also announced that SPJ and the Chicago Headline Club (The Chicago Chapter of the SPJ) will extend to Chicago-area members of the National Arab American Journalists Association a discount on SPJ's annual dues. NAAJA members (new members only) will be able to sign up for only $60 (that's $50 for national dues, and $10 for Headline Club dues). Normally, the total rate is $92 ($72 for national dues and $20 for local dues), SPJ officials said.

This offer is good up to an during the SPJ national conference in Chicago, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel on Aug. 24-27 (Thursday through Sunday). If other members of the NAJA attend the conference who do not live in the Chicago area, SPJ officials said they will consult with the local chapter nearest them to determine a discount local dues rate.

"The purpose of our efforts was to present to the nations media our concerns that the Arab American voices of professional journalists are not reflected in the media coverage of the Middle East conflict, and the related issues of the War on Terrorism, the conflict in Iraq and other Middle East regional issues," Hanania said.

"We are not against the SPJ but believe that the convention offered us an opportunity to take our message of concern directly to attendees. The SPJ has once again demonstrated their professionalism by inviting us to participate. We have based our own organization efforts on the trailblazing standards set by SPJ and many of our NAAJA members are SPJ members also. We also work very closely with the Asian American Journalists Association and believe membership in these professional journalism groups serves to strengthen all of our commitments to objective and professional journalism and the important issue of diversity."

Hanania is also a member of the Media Watch Committee of the AAJA and is the co-host with award winning journalist Ali Alarabi of the Internet TV and Cable TV program CounterPoint."


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