Former CBS Corredspondent Ben Silver Dies at 85

Former CBS news correspondent and Arizona State University journalism professor Ben Silver has died. He was 85.

The university says he died Wednesday from complications of Parkinson’s disease at his home in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Silver was a CBS national correspondent in the 1960s and covered race riots, school integration and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s accident at Chappaquiddick.

Silver worked at WCKT-TV in Miami from 1957 to 1966, reporting from the Soviet Union and Latin America. He won a Peabody Award in 1960 for his coverage of Latin America.

He began teaching at ASU in 1972 and continued to file CBS reports for several years. He retired in 1990.

He is survived by his wife, six children and 11 grandchildren. Services will be held Sunday in Minneapolis.

Freedom of Information Awards Winners Announced

The Valley of the Sun Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) pays tribute to working journalists and others at its annual Arizona Freedom of Information Awards Reception, 12:00 p.m. Saturday, April 21 in the Monte Vista Room of the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave., in Phoenix. The keynote speaker will be Valley TV and radio icon, Pat McMahon.

Those being honored include:

  • First Amendment Award — Elvina Nawagun-Clemente, Cronkite News Service; Staff, The Arizona Republic; Matthew Casey, The Tombstone Epitaph; Hillary Davis, Arizona Daily Sun; Lauren Gambino, Tia Casañeda and Heather Billings, Cronkite News Service; Joe Ferguson, Arizona Daily Sun; Cyndy Cole, Arizona Daily Sun
  • Sunshine Award — Todd Feltus & Greg Collins, Kercsmar & Feltus PLLC, on behalf of Judicial Watch; Teri Hayt, Arizona Daily Star
  • The Phil Alvidrez Award for Excellence in Journalism — Tom Arviso Jr., Navajo Times
  • The Order of the Silver Key Society — Al Macias, KJZZ; Ken Western, The Arizona Republic; and Bill Heywood (posthumous).

Tickets are $45 for SPJ members, $50 for non-members, and $40 for students. Tickets can be purchased online via Paypal. Otherwise, mail checks to the P.O. Box address listed below by no later than Monday, April 16. Checks or cash will be accepted at the door, but RSVPs are required via e-mail by April 16. Tickets include the reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres, iced tea, coffee and dessert, and a memorable time honoring outstanding examples of the use of the First Amendment in shining a light on important public issues.

KJZZ’s O’Dowd to speak at Phoenix College on Nov. 1

KJZZ News Director and Reporter Peter O’Dowd will speak at Phoenix College Nov. 1 about his news organization’s major project to cover the U.S.-Mexico border and provide its audience with a deeper understanding of the region’s nuanced history and present-day issues.

The lecture is part of the PC Liberal Arts Department’s Fall 2011 Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.

KJZZ is the Valley’s local public radio station and National Public Radio member located at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe. Reporters at the station’s Changing America desk have spent the last year examining the people, history and current circumstances found in the borderlands. KJZZ reporters, including O’Dowd, have traveled into the interior of Mexico as well as Guatemala as part of their coverage.

O’Dowd has chronicled these trips and will share why they matter in a discussion titled, “Links to Home: Reporting On the Southwestern US, Mexico and Central America and Why We Should Care.”

As news director, O’Dowd leads a staff of reporters in seven bureaus across the southwestern United States. An accomplished journalist, his work has aired on The BBC, NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, and American Public Media’s Marketplace. He has covered technology, the housing bubble and the constant debate over immigration policy that keeps Arizona in the national spotlight.

O’Dowd has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and a bachelor’s from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his journalism career, he taught English to schoolchildren in Tokyo, Japan.



When: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
noon-1 p.m. AND 7-8 p.m.

Where: Phoenix College Osborn site, Willo Room, 3310 N. 10th Ave. (NE corner of 11th Avenue and Flower)

Admission: Free and open to the public

For more information, call 602-285-7651.

Cronkite School receives $150,000 grant

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation (EEJF) has awarded $150,000 to Arizona State University for News21, providing fellowships for advanced journalism students at the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and ASU’s Cronkite School.

“At EEJF, our mission is to invest in the future of journalism by supporting organizations around the nation who produce principled, probing news and information,” said Bob Ross, president and CEO of Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. “We strive to partner with organizations that are entrepreneurial in spirit, and we are proud to partner with all of our current grant recipients, each displaying this type of innovation.”

News21 is a collaborative newsroom experience under the guidance of top journalism professionals. The program is based in Tempe, Ariz.

Blumberg joins KJZZ with ‘open mic’ policy

The Valley’s public radio station, KJZZ 91.5, is giving listeners an opportunity to drive the editorial content of the news they hear by sharing stories and sources with Public Insight Journalist Nick Blumberg, the newest addition to KJZZ’s Fronteras: Changing America Desk.

Blumberg’s primary responsibility is to collect tips, resources, expert analysis and personal stories, and share them with KJZZ news teams and American Public Media’s Public Insight Network. American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio created the Public Insight Network to provide a comprehensive database exchange where public radio reporters, producers and editors across the country can find and share resources.
The network already has 100,000 sources: people who are having a significant impact on the editorial content of national shows like Marketplace, American RadioWorks and now KJZZ’s Fronteras: Changing America Desk. Visit for more information.

Gannett Layoffs Include 30 to 40 Employees at The Arizona Republic

Gannett gave pink slips to approximately 700 employees yesterday, including an approximately 30-40 employees in its Phoenix newsrooms. In a confidential memo to Gannett’s US Community Publishing employees, President Bob Dickey cited lackluster ad sales as a reason for the layoffs.

According to the Phoenix New Times, Gannett plans to shut its Phoenix Offset plant in Chandler and shutter “Yes” Magazine.

Bulletin: Gannett announces 700 newspaper layoffs [Gannett Blog]
AZ Republic Lays off 30 to 40 [Phoenix New Times]

ABC15 Names Anita Helt Vice President and GM

Anita Helt, an accomplished television executive and community leader, has been
named vice president and general manager of KNXV, the Scripps-owned ABC
affiliate in Phoenix.

“Anita Helt is a long-time champion of the institutions of Phoenix, where she
spent 15 years working in local television and forging strong relationships
communitywide through her involvement in civic and professional organizations,”
said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of the Scripps television division.
“With her keen market insights and industry leadership, Anita will develop local
news and programming that will continue to engage a growing numbers of viewers
and advertisers alike.”

Helt, 49, begins her new assignment on June 20. She replaces Janice Todd, who
retired earlier this year after leading the station since 2005.

Most recently, Helt, served as president and general manager of KXTV-TV, the ABC
station in Sacramento.

From 1995 to 2010, Helt worked for KPNX-TV, Phoenix’s NBC affiliate. She started
at the station as special projects manager, ultimately becoming vice president
of marketing and programming. In that capacity, she also led strategic planning,
community relations and digital efforts.

During Helt’s prior tenure in Phoenix, she served as president and as a board
member of the Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism. Helt also
served on the board of the Phoenix Susan G. Komen for the Cure; on the advisory
boards of Helping Hands for Single Moms and YWCA; and as president of a Phoenix
area chapter of National Charity League.

Helt’s early career highlights include serving as an anchor and reporter in
Kansas and Washington. Her work earned multiple reporting awards.  She earned a
bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Washington.

She and her husband, Kip, reside in Phoenix. The couple has a daughter, Lauren,
who attends Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass

AZ Press Club Seeks Entries For Journalism Contest

There may be fewer newspapers in Arizona, but the competition among journalists remains keen, and journalists are working harder than ever. Showcase your best work by entering the Arizona Press Club’s 2010 Best Journalism in Arizona contest.

The Arizona Press Club has dropped the fees this year, and everyone gets one free entry with their paid membership fee — $10 for Non-Metro and Spanish-language publications and $20 for Metro publications. (Note: Free entry does not apply to any of the Big Four categories: Community Journalist of the Year, Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, Designer of the Year or Photojournalist of the Year.)

Entries must be postmarked by Jan. 21, 2011, unless special arrangements are made with Arizona Press Club contest chair Monica Alonzo at or 623-262-2459 or photo contest chair Rob Schumacher at

Visit for detailed contest rules and entry forms.

Phoenix SPJ Seeks Board Members

A message from Phoenix SPJ Immediate Past President Mark Scarp:

In the 17 years I have served on the Valley of the Sun SPJ chapter board, I’ve seen many changes in both our national Society and our local chapter. Locally one of the biggest changes is the changing composition of our chapter board. People naturally come and go for a variety of reasons after their board service has ended. But as American journalism in the past two years has suffered greatly–and virtually none among us has been spared some form of suffering–so has the need to be there for the future of our profession. Journalism needs SPJ’s guiding principles and the eager hands and minds of its members more than ever.

Continue reading

Another court victory for metadata

A case before the Washington (state) Supreme Court cited — and agreed with — the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision in Lake v. City of Phoenix. The First Amendment Coalition of Arizona (of which our chapter is a member) voted last year to spend more than $8,000 for Dan Barr and his staff’s cost to prepare the appellate argument before our state’s highest court.

Last week (Oct. 7) in O’Neill v. City of Shoreline, the Washington Supreme Court agreed with Arizona’s that metadata is an inextricable part of a public record and must be disclosed if it exists.

For anyone with legal inclinations, the decision is available at

(Info courtesy of Mark Scarp)