Congratulations to Dori Zinn, January Member of the Month

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn, President of the Florida Pro Chapter of SPJ

Congratulations to Dori Zinn of the Florida state professional chapter, who is SPJ’s Member of the Month for January!

Dori has been a member of SPJ as long as she has been on the SPJ Florida Pro board, almost seven years. In that time, she has served as her chapter’s Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Programming, Executive Vice President, and currently serves as President. SPJ Florida has won Chapter of the Year awards twice since Dori joined the board.

Dori is the Associate Editor for Bundoo, where new parents can connect with doctors and experts. Targeting parents of 0-4 year-olds, everything is written or reviewed by pediatricians, OB/GYNs, and childcare experts.

Dori also started her own company last year, Blossomers Media, a web development and content creation company. Along with her full-time job at Bundoo, Dori freelances for publications like South Florida Gay News and MoneyTalksNews.com.

Dori loves reading, writing, and helping young journalists with programs like the First Amendment Free Food Festival, Will Write for Food, and speaking at high school and college journalism conferences around the country.

Dori Zinn

Zinn

Dori graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors of Arts in multimedia journalism. She lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband. If she isn’t hiding behind a book, she’s stressing about her fantasy football team, napping with her dog or live-tweeting a Miami Heat basketball game. If it’s winter, she’ll be at the beach.

Dori was nominated by SPJ Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky. He notes she flew to Austin to moderate a panel on journalism and mass killings, which was recorded and reported by the chapter at a national college media convention. It hosted speakers from No Notoriety, a movement covered by CNN and other major outlets, but not as in depth as this.

She has also supported the SDX-funded Zombie Stories and following up on SPJ National’s request to support high school journalism.

Do you know an outstanding SPJ volunteer? Nominate that person for Volunteer of the Month by contacting Susan Stevens, Membership Committee member, at Susanstevens@aol.com. Please tell us briefly why you are nominating the person and why

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Congratulations to Taylor Mirfendereski, SPJ’s member of the month

Taylor Mirfendereski

Taylor Mirfendereski

Taylor Mirfendereski, who first became familiar to many of us when she ran for the SPJ board as a campus representative several years ago, is SPJ’s Member of the Month for December. Congratulations, Taylor!

Taylor is the co-chair of the SPJ Digital community and a digital reporter at WCPO, the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio.

She is passionate about multimedia storytelling, digital journalism and longform reporting. She’s one of 10 reporters working exclusively for WCPO Insider, the country’s first subscription service for a television website. In 2014, she embedded with U.S. military troops in Afghanistan to produce Mission Critical, a 13-minute video documentary that covers the local impact of America’s longest war.

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KaLeigh Underwood of EKU is SPJ’s Member of Month

KaLeigh Underwood

KaLeigh Underwood

Just as the SPJ Quill magazine ran a cover story on how to cover fracking, SPJ’s Member of the Month for November, KaLeigh Underwood, organized a day-long conference to explore in depth how to report on the natural gas wells. Congratulations KaLeigh!

KaLeigh, a senior at Eastern Kentucky University, lined up experts on fracking as well as journalists already covering the issue to provide information, contacts, and tips for reporting on the emerging issue. The conference was Nov. 6 at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.

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Congratulations to Faith Sidlow, October Volunteer of the Month

Faith Sidlow

Faith Sidlow

Many people work hard behind the scenes at Excellence in Journalism, SPJ’s national conference. One of those who put work ahead of fun this year is Faith Sidlow, who did her utmost to inform conference-goers about everything that was happening. For this reason, Faith is SPJ’s Volunteer of Month for October.

Faith, an assistant professor of broadcast journalism at California State University, Fresno, was co-adviser for the EIJ News. Her partner-advisor, Victor Hernandez, director of media innovation at Banjo, received our accolade last year. Their volunteer student journalists filed 53 stories and attracted 1,721 unique visitors to the EIJ News Site during this year’s conference.

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Congratulations to Sonny Albarado, SPJ Volunteer of the Month!

Sonny Albarado

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR. – Sonny Albarado

SPJ presidents seldom ride off into the sunset after their terms end. Let’s tip our (cowboy) hats to all of them. One of our former presidents is Sonny Albarado, who preceded Dave Cuillier as president. We will use Sonny as an example. This might be most fitting as the annual Excellence in Journalism Conference is just about to start.

Membership Committee Chairperson Robyn Davis Sekula notes Sonny now takes charge of our elections and all of the resolutions voted on by the delegates, a tireless job that’s largely unrecognized. He works a lot behind the scenes and is very responsive. Current President Dana Neuts probably will continue working tirelessly at similar things once Paul Fletcher succeeds her at the EIJ Conference this month. So this report on Member of the Month is a salute to many people!

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Congratulations to Bob Roberts, SPJ volunteer of the month

Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts

A long-loyal SPJ member who has worked behind the scenes for journalism and journalists as well as in front of a mic is SPJ’s Volunteer of the Month for August. Congratulations to Bob Roberts who for 22 years has run the huge JobFile which has hundreds of listings in numerous states and can be found at www.headlineclub.org.

Bob is a reporter for WBBM Newsradio in Chicago. Raised in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, he knew he wanted to be a reporter in the first grade, when he did a report (without being assigned) for class on the tragic Our Lady of the Angels school fire which killed 92 children and three nuns in Chicago in 1958.

Bob obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from Indiana University/Bloomington in 1974, and broke in professionally as a reporter and assistant editor at the City News Bureau of Chicago.  At 25, he was news director of WMET/Chicago and at 26 moved to NBC-owned WMAQ Radio.  At 31 he moved to New York, where he worked for four years as a news and sports reporter/anchor for 1010 WINS, returned to WMAQ in 1988 and moved to WBBM in 2000.  In addition to his work at WBBM, he edits the weekly jobs bulletin JobFile and is an associate editor of the quarterly rail enthusiast magazine First & Fastest.

Bob joined SPJ in 1972, is a Headline Club member, was a Deadline Club member for many years, is active in FOIA causes, served on the Headline Club board for 11 years and was its president 1996-97. He is married to teacher Jackie Bresse-Rodenkirk.

Do you know an outstanding SPJ volunteer? Nominate that person for Volunteer of the Month by contacting Susan Stevens, Membership Committee member, at Susanstevens@aol.com. Please tell us briefly why you are nominating the person and why your nominee is worthy of recognition. Nominations are due the 5th of each month and announced by the 15th.

 

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Congratulations to Andrew Seaman, SPJ Volunteer of the Month

Andrew Seaman

Andrew Seaman

Congratulations to SPJ Member of the Month Andrew Seaman, who is chairman of SPJ’s Ethics Committee.
Andrew is a medical journalist with Thomson Reuters in New York City, where he reports medical and health news from around the world.
Before moving to the company’s headquarters, Andrew worked in the Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on the Affordable Care Act and the White House. His work has appeared in – among other places – USA TODAY, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Andrew currently serves as the chair of the Ethics Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. Previously, he served as chair of the Awards and Honors Committee, and as a member of the Generation-J Committee.

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Congratulations to SPJ Member of the Month, Robbie Ward

Robbie Ward

Robbie Ward

Congratulations to SPJ Member of the Month, Robbie Ward, who was an organizer of the SPJ Google Hangout World Press Freedom event. He blogged at SPJ’s FOIA FYI blog during Sunshine Week. He also participated in SPJ’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute.

A staff writer for the Upstate Business Journal in Greenville, S.C., Ward looks for stories that make a difference. Based on his reporting, the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division forced a Mississippi rural water association to compensate workers for time worked but not paid. Ward’s reporting resulted in the Mississippi Ethics Commission defining text messages of public officials as public records and convinced one local government to approve policies to archive and maintain public officials’ email and text messages.

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Ideas for diversity programs for your chapter

Many of us who are leading chapters want to have programs that bring different types of people to the events and give everyone who is working in journalism the same tools to succeed. Journalism is better, healthier and more reflective of the communities we serve if our newsrooms are diverse. 

My own chapter, Louisville (Kentucky) Pro, has made an effort to diversify those leading discussion and participating in our events. I truly believe that is more important than diversifying membership, and that if you do the first one right, anyway, the second one will follow.

I’ve been watching and learning from other chapters, too, and I was particularly intrigued by the Florida Pro Chapter‘s annual Diversity Mixer. I asked Jason Parsley, Immediate Past President of the Chapter and the coordinator of the event, to tell me how it came about. He explained the mixers this way:

Jason Parsley at the Diversity Mixer

Jason Parsley at the Diversity Mixer

SPJ Florida held its first diversity mixer in 2012. It was the first event our chapter had planned that centered around diversity.

It was a huge success and very easy to put together. In order to make this event a success we reached out to journalism groups such as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association, and National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. The most difficult part was coordinating a date with our partners.
We held the first mixer at a local restaurant and the second one at a local wine and cheese bar with the second one building upon the success of the first.
Outside of conventions both of these mixers were our most attended events of the year.
The mixers gave us an opportunity to connect and partner with other journalism organizations. Building those relationships with a simple mixer led us to partner with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on a regional convention, and add a Spanish language division to our awards contest. We also partnered with NAHJ on our awards ceremony last year and this year we plan on hosting a second joint convention together.

After talking more with Michael Koretzky, Region 3 Director, he notes that this kind of mixer works in South Florida because this is an area where the diversity journalism organizations have chapters and are active and engage. In other communities, this would be more difficult to do. I have to agree with him on that. Also, inviting people to come to a diversity mixer might not be a good first step for a chapter that hasn’t had much of a track record in diversity.

So tell us: how has your chapter diversified your leadership, your events, your chapter membership? We love to hear your ideas. We have more and will share those ideas here as we get details.

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SPJ May Volunteer of the Month: Carlos Restrepo

Carlos Restrepo

Carlos Restrepo

SPJ’s Volunteer of the Month for May is Carlos Restrepo, a freelance journalist and full-time communications specialist based in St. Louis, Mo.

He volunteers as organizer of the Society of Professional Journalists International Community and is vice-president of the St. Louis Pro Chapter of SPJ. A native of Medellin, Colombia, Restrepo has a bachelor’s degree in Global Journalism from Webster University.

Although Restrepo currently works in the non-profit communications field, he says his heart and soul yearn for journalists and the difficult job they do every day. Growing up in a war-torn country, Restrepo admires and respects the efforts of the many journalists who were threatened, repressed and murdered for speaking out against violence and corruption. His desire is to make even a small difference in the lives of journalists through his service at both the local and national level of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Carlos is modest. In his words: “I would like to pass on and dedicate this recognition to all of the SPJ members who have contributed to the SPJ International Community and the SPJ St. Louis Pro Chapter. I am nothing but a middle man and my colleagues, who are in the field day in and day out, deserve even more to be recognize for their commitment, hard work and passion to the beautiful and important profession of journalism.”

Carlos was nominated by SPJ President Dana Neuts. Here is what Dana says:

I’d like to nominate Carlos Restrepo of the St. Louis chapter for volunteer of the month. Last year Carlos came to me with an idea to revive the International Committee in Community format. He agreed to head the community and he has single-handedly created a vibrant, multi-faceted, talented community. Carlos went the extra mile in working with community members to define a vision and action plan for the community, and he continues to be active, writing blog posts, gathering information to help me make communications-related decisions, participating in community discussions, etc. Carlos is proactive and has a great attitude. He continues to go above and beyond the call of duty, despite his local chapter responsibilities, which continue to grow. Long-time SPJ members Dan Kubiske and Robert Buckman, who remember when the International Committee was very active, are grateful for its resurrection, and it is all because of Carlos.

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