Keeping Guns in Plain Sight

A hue and cry to tighten up gun regulations followed the heart-rending school massacre in Newtown, Conn. In short order, New York State passed a bold new gun control law last week. Although the urge for a swift response was understandable in the wake of so many senseless deaths, hurried actions can lead to unforeseen consequences. In the emotionally charged atmosphere after the December shooting, legislators shoehorned language into the new law severely limiting public access to the state’s handgun permit records, notably, without allowing for a public comment period. At best, this was a wildly overreaching response to the publication of handgun ownership records by one suburban newspaper; at worst, it may represent a disturbing impulse to reign in public records in an age when it is remarkably easy for anyone with a computer or a smartphone to frame data online.

The Deadline Club, which is the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, supports open records. State legislators should not be in the business of closing off access to public records, especially not in a rushed manner without allowing for public comment.

Many journalists hold differing views on the editorial wisdom of publishing the names and addresses of handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties by The Journal News, the local daily newspaper owned by Gannett. Although The Journal News removed these names from its website on Friday, in a reaction to the new law, the publisher issued a full-throated defense of the decision to publish the names and addresses of private citizens in the first place. Although this information was in the public domain until last week, a provision in the new state law allows handgun permit holders to ask to keep their personal information private for a variety of reasons, some of which are arguably sensible, such as work in law enforcement. Their reasons may also include a vague wish to avoid “unwanted harassment,” which could make local officials the final arbiters of whether or not to make the information public.

In matters of such importance as the gun debate, the public needs more information, not less. Journalists should be able to search through public records to measure the impact of new gun laws; while citizens should be able to find out if their neighbors own guns. The Deadline Club wishes to join with other organizations that support open records in calling on the state to revisit this broad-reaching provision that would make thousands of previously public records private.

J. Alex Tarquinio
The Deadline Club,
The New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

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Top Political Journalists Discuss Election Coverage

The Deadline Club will assemble a group of senior political journalists to discuss the 2012 presidential election coverage. Hear what they have to say about what’s new and different in our changing media and political landscape. Panelists will include Richard Berke, the Assistant Managing Editor of The New York Times, who served as the paper’s National […]

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Tina Brown Attends 2011 Awards

Tina Brown, the editor of both Newsweek and The Daily Beast, was the guest speaker at The Deadline Club Annual Awards Dinner in 2011. She was the subject of a lively interview with Keith Kelly, the Media Ink columnist of The New York Post. This was the first year that the club hosted a Q&A with a newsmaker rather than holding a keynote speech, and the audience was enthusiastic about the new format.

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2012 Annual Awards Judges

Once again, the awards were judged at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in Times Square. The Deadline Club wishes to thank CUNY for the generous donation of its space, and the following journalism professionals who judged this year’s competition: John Affleck Matthieu Aikins Bob Anthony Michael Arena Irwin Arieff Betsy Ashton Rebecca Baker Rich […]

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Benefits of Membership

The Deadline Club, the New York City Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, offers events and programming throughout the year. Not yet a member? To join today, go to Once you complete your application for national membership in the Society of Professional Journalists, click “local chapter dues” and enter $30 for the New York Deadline Club. That’s right, your local dues are a mere $30! What are you waiting for? Join online today.

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Deadline Club Awards show archive

Steve Kroft of CBS’s “60 Minutes” is interviewed by Stephen Shepard of CUNY at the 2012 awards dinner. Tina Brown of The Daily Beast is interviewed by Keith Kelly of the New York Post at the 2011 awards dinner.

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Students, Slice and Dice Your Way to a Journalism Job (April 4)

Give that sharpened résumé a test drive at the Deadline Club’s spring career development workshop for students. This critiquing forum will feature professional New York City journalists who will “dice” up your résumé to give you tips on landing that newsroom job. Bring those burning questions you’re craving answers to before entering the working world; […]

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About the Deadline Club

The Deadline Club has been serving the cause of New York City journalism for 86 years. The Club sponsors one of the city’s most prestigious journalism awards programs; its coveted “Rubes,” distinctive statuettes designed by the late Rube Goldberg, are awarded at a dinner each spring. At that dinner, scholarships are awarded to some of the city’s most outstanding journalism students. The scholarships are funded through the Deadline Club Foundation. The Club also maintains the New York Journalism Hall of Fame and elects and inducts its members.

The Deadline Club in New York City is one of the largest chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Our members include professionals working in broadcast, print, online and journalism education.

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2011 Awards Dinner Reservations

After making your reservations, send an email to with the names of all of the members of your party. The Deadline Club does not mail dinner tickets. All of the people in your party will need to give their names at the registration desk on the night of the dinner, so it is imperative […]

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