INPA Announces 2012 College Photographer of the Year

IU journalism senior Chet Strange was named 2012 College Photographer of the Year at the Indiana News Photographers Association’s annual photography contest Feb. 22-23 at Ernie Pyle Hall.

Strange took home the top prize in the categories for news and sports, nearly making a clean sweep of the competition in the event Friday afternoon. But it was his winning entry for the contest’s portfolio division that earned him the title of College Photographer of the Year.

“It’s a really cool feeling. There were a lot of really good portfolios,” Strange said after winning. “It feels really cool to be first in that group.”

His portfolio covered a wide array of shots, from vibrant images of 5K runners covered in colored dye at a “color party” in Indianapolis, to austere gray scale shots of women in group homes.

Sharing the canvas of his portfolio were a range of characters, such as IndyCar driver Scott Dixon during Carb Day last May, Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in September, IU basketball’s Cody Zeller during a pep rally in October, and even an Abraham Lincoln impersonator showing off photos of his grandchild on his smartphone at a Danville Civil War heritage festival last summer.

Winning the No. 1 spot in the photography contest’s features division was IU journalism junior Mark Felix, who impressed the judges with his photo depicting first grade students receiving etiquette training last May at the historic Thomas Duncan Community Hall in Lafayette.

And a number of other students rounded out the runners-up positions in the contest. Overall CPoY runner-up Darryl Smith earned second place in portfolios; Taylor Irby and Steph Langan were runners-up in features; Ryan Dorgan, BAJ’12, was runner up in news; and Clayton Moore was runner up in sports.

In total, 88 photos and eight portfolios were submitted for review in the contest, but the judges wasted no time in weeding out submissions that did not meet their standards.

“The best photos had both content and good design,” said Pam Spaulding, a retired (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal photographer who served as a judge for the competition. What she was looking for were photos that not only told a good story with their content, but also effectively communicated that story to the audience via their overall composition.

Russell Yip, photo editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and Sally Ryan, a freelance photographer in Chicago, were the other two professional standing on the judging panel. Each was allowed one vote per photo projected on tandem drop-down screens in the auditorium in Ernie Pyle Hall. Using hand-held remotes, they clicked “for” or “against” a photo, while Indiana News Photographers Association president Matt Detrich read aloud the cumulative score of their votes to the quiet audience.

“In,” he said for photos that made the cut moving on to another round of review.

“Out,” he said for those that didn’t.

Organized by Detrich and AJ Mast, contest chair for the event, the INPA’s College Photographer of the Year contest is an annual competition in which college and university students from across Indiana submit their best photos each year.

After the competition, judges and other professionals gave one-on-one reviews with students, discussing what they could have improved and giving other pointers.

But the weekend event was not just for college students. It also was a chance for the pros to show off their work. Friday night the judges took to the stage, presenting some of their work and discussing the stories they captured over the past year.

And Saturday, the INPA hosted a competition for its Photographer of the Year, a contest to determine the best photos and portfolios contributed by those within the association’s professional ranks.

Dave Weatherwax, chief photographer at The Herald, a small family-owned newspaper in Jasper, took home first place, earning the title of Photographer of the Year, for his all-black-and-white portfolio of residents of Jasper and the surrounding area. Matt Detrich, INPA president and photographer for the Indianapolis Star, was runner up.

The INPA weekend event has been annual tradition for nearly 40 years, and this was the third year for the IU School of Journalism to host the event. Associate professor Jim Kelly organizes the event at the school.

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National Weather Services Cuts Public Storm Training Classes

With the snowfall and chilly temperatures throughout much of central Indiana today, it may not seem like it, but spring is just around the corner. And with spring comes tornado season.

However, the Indianapolis office of the National Weather Service has had to cancel roughly a third of its 39 Skywarn storm spotters training courses offered to residents of central Indiana.

Budget constraints have forced the office to allocate only one regional training course per two or more counties, says Dave Tucek, morning coordination meteorologist with the service’s Indianapolis office.

“The changes have been made just because we have some limitations on our travel budget,” Tucek says. “And as a result of that, what we’ve decided to do to accomplish something along those lines is to combine several counties together into a single talk as opposed to making the trip to each and every county each and every year,” he says.

“It’s a way in which we can save a little bit of government dollars while still getting the training information out there,” Tucek adds.

The National Weather Service’s annual Skywarn storm spotters training program has for years been a valuable training and educational resource for Hoosiers. They attend the courses for preparedness training and education on how to differentiate tornadoes from other storm clouds that frequent Indiana skies during the spring and summer months.

Roger Axe, the director of emergency management in Greene County, says the courses not only help participants prepare for threatening storms, but they also keep them from confusing distinct and less threatening storm clouds like scud clouds with actual tornadoes and calling the authorities.

“One of the main things that the spotters courses have done is they have taught people what the difference is between what a tornado is and what it is not, so that they don’t have to fly off the handle and be scared that they can precisely identify what a tornado is or a funnel cloud,” he says.

Axe hosted the Skywarn course for residents at the county fairgrounds before it was cancelled. He says he understands budget cuts may be inescapable, but he says it is also going to come at a serious cost.

“The impact is very simple. Not everybody has the ability to travel to the regional spotters courses, and not everybody is going to be able to get the free education that the spotters courses have provided,” says Axe.

The cancellation of half of the Skywarn training programs comes at a time when interest in storm preparedness is especially high. It was only a year ago that Henryville and Marysville were devastated by tornadoes on a day in which at least 80 twisters swept across the United States from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite the cancellation of the course this year in Green County, Axe is hopeful that the National Weather Service’s budget is back on track next year.

“We just hope that things can work out that we can get the spotters courses back on a more local level, because it’s been beneficial for all of us,” Axe says. “I go every year, because I learn something new every year.”

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Tom Crean Reflects on Hoosiers’ Success and Challenges Ahead

The Indiana Hoosiers’ performance Sat. night was far from pretty. But the victory against the Iowa Hawkeyes earned IU at least a share of the 2013 Big Ten Championship, bringing the program one step closer to its first outright title victory since 1993.

IU Head Coach Tom Crean told reporters Monday morning that his team is excited yet reserved, acknowledging the challenges still ahead for the Hoosiers.

“They were excited, but within minutes they went right back to work inside of practice. And it’s kind of a microcosm of the way this whole year has gone,” Crean says. “They’ve really been locked into the moment, into what’s moment important, which is getting better. And like I said we’re excited to be where we’re at, but we know there’s a lot more things to accomplish,” he says.

Should IU prove victorious in this year’s Big Ten Tournament late this month, it will be the Hoosiers’ first title win in two decades. Crean says it’s taken the team a long time to get back to its current level of success. So, he says, the success should be enjoyed, but not be taken for granted.

“Because when you lose it, it’s so hard to get it back, and you’ve got to work that much harder to get it back,” he says. “And I think the same thing our fans need to really look at is that there’s a ton of excitement around it right now. Let’s remember where we were. Let’s not take any of it for granted. Let’s keep building on what’s been happening,” he says.

The Hoosiers are ranked number one in NCAA standings, and are currently 25-4 overall and 13-3 in Big Ten play. IU takes on Ohio State Tuesday at Assembly Hall and will finish up the regular season in Ann Arbor against Michigan on Sunday.

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White House Specifies Sequestration Cuts in Indiana

The impact of the impending series of automatic federal spending cuts, popularly known as the sequester, on Indiana became the focus of a White House report released over the weekend by the Obama administration. The report detailed the economic and social fallout the cuts will likely cause in Indiana when it goes into effect Friday.

Everything from Indiana’s military readiness, to education, health programs and social services will be impacted by the $85 billion cuts slated to occur over the course of the next seven months.

Indiana’s military sector is scheduled to receive the deepest cuts. Around 11,000 civilian Hoosier employees of the Defense Department may be furloughed, amounting to what the White House describes a drop in gross income of more than $64 million in total. $1.7 million in funding for Army base operations and $7 million for Air Force operations will also disappear.

Indiana would also lose $3.3 million in funding for the environment and the state would lose more than $800,000 in meal assistance for seniors among many other cuts.

The spending cutbacks will likely have repercussions on the state’s education system as well. The Obama administration says $13.8 million in financing for primary and secondary education is slated to be axed. This would mean a cut in funding for around 50 schools, putting the jobs of approximately 190 teachers at risk and impacting nearly 12,000 Hoosier students.

Paul Woodling, an economics teacher at Northwest High School in Indianapolis, says services designed to aid children with learning disabilities would likely feel the brunt of the spending cut impact at his school.

“I think we’ll see a lot of inclusion teachers leave or possibly be lost, especially the classified—not so much as the certified licensed teachers—but our lay helpers,” Woodling says. “We could lose some of those. We have too few of them right now. I only have one class that is covered. I have students in other classes who need services, but we don’t have enough people. So that could become even tighter with this cut.”

Funding for Indiana’s tax-supported health services may also fall victim to the impending cuts. Penny Caudill, the administrator of the Monroe County Health Department, says while the health department does receive most of its funding via local taxes and fees, a drop in federal money it collects through the state would damage some department programs enjoyed by some 2,000 clients in the area.

“We do receive federal money that passes through the Indiana State Department of Health, and those are the funds that would most directly affect us,” she says. “So that would be in the area of preparedness, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS, and also our Title 10 family planning funding.”

Another potential victim of the government sequester would be anti-violence programs such as the ones at Middle Way House in Bloomington.

Executive Director Toby Strout says federal funding cuts would mean she would have to shut day care, youth programs, and legal services.

“When you get right down to it, it could be that the only thing that remains is emergency shelter,” she says. “Now even that funding is threatened. So are there plans in place? Yes. But heaven help us if we have to put them in effect.”

A litany of other programs and services, such as Head Start programs, child care for low-income families, nutrition assistance for seniors and more, are projected to be impacted throughout the state if Congress does not act to forestall the indiscriminate budget cuts.

Amy Brundage, the Obama Administration’s deputy press secretary for the economy, emphasized in a press conference that the sequester is not only avoidable, but was part of a plan set previously by Congress to encourage bipartisan negotiations to balance the nation’s budget.

“It’s important to keep in mind that the sequester was never intended to be policy,” she says. “It was passed with Republican support in congress to ensure that there was a trigger mechanism, a forcing event that would compel Congress on both sides to work together to reduce the deficit in a balanced way.”

Back in Washington, however, bipartisan negotiations on carving out a new federal budget have stalled, and Democrats and Republicans blame each other for the impasse.

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Child Sex Trafficking Impacts Indiana

A United Nations report released last week by the organization’s Office on Drugs and Crime reveals that the grim underworld of sex trafficking has taken root across the planet. More worrying still is the increasing tendency for children to fall victim to sex traffickers.

Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, describes the problem as clandestine modern slavery.

“It absolutely is slavery, and we need to think about it in those terms to know how dire it is, to know how painful it is for the people who are involved,” he says. “And certainly we need find the bad guys and root them out and lock them up under the jail.”

Although it is difficult to determine the number of Indiana children who fall victim to sex trafficking, say Indiana Youth Institute staff, there were 58 investigations by Indiana authorities into the issue in the last four years.

Children fall victim to sexual extortion and trafficking in a number of ways, from being manipulated and blackmailed by predators online to being abducted from malls, parks and other public places.

More commonly children are coerced into prostitution by people they know and trust says Phil Shay, director of development for Abolition International, a nonprofit support organization supporting victims of child sex trafficking.

“If you were to look back into that person’s past to see how this has become part of their life,” he says, “most often it’s because as a young child, they were manipulated and coerced and convinced into a situation generally with a relationship by someone that they know or think they know via a family member of family friend.”

Stanczykiewicz says that the best measure Hoosiers can take to address the problem is to simply get involved in children’s lives. For those children that fall through the cracks, however, Shay’s Abolition International is there to provide relief and support for those that emerge as survivors.

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Senate Bill Targets Video Vigilantes

An amendment added to the bill in committee specifies the law only applies if the person taking the video or photos does so with intent to defame the proprietor.

The bill is aimed at protecting businesses from harmful allegations made by so-called “video vigilantes” who tour or get jobs at businesses to get behind-the-scenes access.

Indiana agricultural lobbying groups back the bill as a protection against activists they say infiltrate their operations. Indiana Manufacturers Association Vice President Ed Roberts says he believes the bill would clear up both misconceptions and wrongdoing.

“Oh there might be a cow that’s being fed less than I think they should be fed or in a way different than I think they should be fed,” Roberts says. “Accordingly, I get to trespass. I get to take pictures of things that I don’t have permission to take pictures of, and I get to use those pictures if possible to defame the person who owns the cow. All that’s wrong.” 

But opponents worry about violating free speech protections. Indiana University journalism professor Jim Kelly says the bill is not necessary, in part because trespassing laws are already in place.

“It seems to me that the current legislation is driven primarily by the discomfort that exposés have caused the livestock and food industries,” Kelly says. “There are already remedies in place for employees or visitors that violate the contract obligations that they enter into when they go onto private property.” 

Bill supporters say the bill strengthens protections offered by federal inspectors who are already tasked with monitoring what the “video vigilantes” would want to capture on film.

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The Columbus Police Department is Seeking Ways to Retain Personnel

The Columbus Police Department is hoping new pay incentives will keep its 78 officers from leaving the force in search of higher salaries and benefits at other agencies. Chief of Police Jason Maddix says officers who perform extra, specialized services, such as K-9 unit personnel or hostage negotiators, will now receive yearly stipends.

He says in the past a number of factors have made it easy for other agencies to lure away CPD officers.

“We’ve had several leave to other agencies, other municipal agencies, and we believe some of the issue is the pay,” he says. “Not just the starting pay, but also the pay that comes along with advancement in rank and advancement in specialization. We were lacking in some of those areas.”

Two of the officers that CPD lost in 2012, for example, joined the Fishers Police Department in Hamilton County. The Fishers police force attracts talent from across central Indiana—and even cities as far away as Los Angeles—because of financing and career advancement, says FPD Information Officer Tom Weger.

“We have a few things that some agencies just don’t have,” he says. “And one of those things is we have very good funding. And so it allows our officers to receive the highest amount of training and also receive the best equipment.”

But competition from federal agencies remains a problem. Both the Columbus and Fishers departments have lost officers to the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service within the past year.

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