September 12th, 2012
Membership drive Q&A: Is Brian Smith living the journalism dream?
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 Brian Smith, Des Moines
Is Brian living the 21st Century journalism dream? He’s Assistant Digital Editor for Social Media at the The Des Moines Register. Fresh out of Iowa State University, he has a very cool job at a pivotal political moment for the country. Brian was a leader of the Iowa State Leo Mores Chapter of SPJ and rose through the ranks of the award-winning Iowa State Daily.
Edgell You work for a major daily in a swing election state. What are some of the challenges and exciting elements you are coming across as a journalist?
Smith There is definitely a lot of excitement in Iowa right now. Paul Ryan’s first solo visit was at the soapbox The Des Moines Register sponsors at the Iowa State Fair. President Barack Obama was in the state on the same day as part of a three day bus tour. Some days its a struggle to find the time to experiment and try new ideas. Luckily, our editor is really passionate about digital and makes it a priority.
Edgell When did you join SPJ and why?
Smith I joined SPJ my sophomore year in college. I was taking an intermediate reporting class and the professor was the adviser for the SPJ chapter at Iowa State. He encouraged me to join and I’ve been a member ever since.
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?
Smith I stayed in SPJ during college because of the great opportunities our chapter provided. Now that I’m out of school, I’m keeping my membership because of the regional conferences and online resources from SPJ. I met some great people during regional conferences and had a great time organizing last year’s at Iowa State.
Edgell Have you ever tried to recruit someone to join SPJ? How’d it go? What’s your pitch (whether you’ve actually tried to reel someone in or not)?
Smith I served as an officer in Iowa State’s SPJ chapter for two years. Part of our recruiting plan was to go to introductory classes and talk about SPJ. I usually emphasized the opportunity to network with fellow students who shared a passion for journalism. Our officers were often high level editors in student media organizations and the first to land jobs after school. Getting to know these people was always a big benefit for underclassmen.
Edgell Fill in the blank. Life without my SPJ membership would be _____________.
Smith ….less informed.
More about the SPJ Membership Drive: Toolkit and Calendar included!