September 6th, 2012
The SPJ membership drive Q&A: 5 questions for St. Louis chapter president Tammy Merrett-Murry
By Holly Edgell
Note to readers: The 2012 Society of Professional Journalists Membership Drive runs Sept. 4 to Oct. 4. As membership chair, I’ve assigned myself the task of sharing the stories of members around the country through a series of Q&A posts. If you would like to share your thoughts via Q&A or in a guest post, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also interested in hearing from people wondering why they should join and former members who have constructive ideas about how SPJ can serve the profession. Please share these posts with non-members!
Q&A with Tammy Merrett-Murry, St. Louis SPJ
Merrett-Murry is an award-winning college media adviser and program director for The Alestle at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, across the border from St. Louis. She has 14 years of student newspaper advising experience and 23 years of experience working in the field as a professional journalist–both as a reporter and editor. Merrett-Murry is the president the St. Louis SPJ Chapter.
Edgell You’re in the academic world of journalism. What are some of the key things you try to impart to students about our profession these days?
Merrett-Murry Before becoming an educator, I worked for community newspapers for a decade. Comparing that experience with what media is today has shown me first-hand that the media environment is evolving faster than what students are learning in the classroom can often keep up with. Journalism students cannot sit back and only do what’s expected of them in classes. One of the main reasons I went into higher education is because of all the things I wish someone had told me before I became a journalist. They must take the initiative to learn as many skills as they can on their own to make themselves more versatile and marketable. Work for your campus newspaper, television station or radio station. Soak up as many skills as you can.
Edgell You’re St. Louis SPJ Chapter President. If you had one minute (or two) to talk to every journalist in your community about joining SPJ, what would your pitch be?
Merrett-Murry By joining SPJ, you are joining an esteemed group of professionals across the country who hold good journalism and what it takes to be good journalists in the highest regard. These are your people and they “get” what it takes, what the challenges are. They are advocates for their fellow journalists as well. But, besides camaraderie, you have monthly opportunities in the St. Louis Metro area to make connections and get further education in issues that are important in the media for that week or that day. We even offer training through some of our programs for professional and student journalists alike through such events as our recent FOIA event and our upcoming annual college journalism boot camp.
Edgell When did you join and SPJ and why?
Merrett-Murry I joined SPJ in 2008 as a way to get more familiar with the professional journalists on the Illinois side of the river. This was shortly after I took the position of Program Director for The Alestle, the award-winning student newspaper at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Edgell Perhaps equally important, why do you remain a member? For example, what are the elements, resources, or tools you find most relevant and useful?
Merrett-Murry I remain a member of SPJ because of my desire to help journalists in the area find a place where they can share their voice and not only have it heard by understood. Helping journalists connect with each other and to the issues of the day that shape our profession is important to me. I also work with a great group of board members who welcome and support me and the mission.
Edgell Fill in the blank: Life without my SPJ membership would be ___________.
Merrett-Murry …Not as well-developed professionally or as fulfilling personally as it is with my membership.
More about the SPJ Membership Drive: Toolkit and Calendar included!