September 19th, 2012
SPJ membership drive Q&A: Virginia pro chapter prez values connections and training
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 Paul E. Fletcher, Virginia SPJ
Paul is publisher and editor-in-chief of Virginia Lawyers Weekly in Richmond and serves as president of the Virginia chapter of SPJ. Before joining the ranks of journalists, Paul was a lawyer. At a time when many journalists are looking for jobs, I thought it would be interesting to hear from Paul about working for a niche publication.
Edgell You work for a specialty (or trade) publication. To what degree would you recommend journalists consider job opportunities in this sector of our industry?
Fletcher I have been with Virginia Lawyers Weekly, a professional publication that serves the legal community in Virginia, for 24 years. At a professional or specialty publication, the most valuable and rewarding aspects of journalism – the chance to break news, to tell stories, to explore important issues and to get at the truth – are no different from work at a general circulation publication. You write for a particular, narrower segment of people with shared concerns. Working here is not unlike staying on one beat and digging deeper into that niche.
Edgell When did you join SPJ and why?
Fletcher I joined SPJ in 1992 because I saw the group was the largest and best national association for journalists.
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?
Fletcher I really enjoy the opportunity to connect with journalists of all stripes – general circulation, specialty pubs, broadcast, web, freelance. SPJ provides insight into the opportunities and challenges facing the profession. Quill magazine always has some interesting and provocative content, and I’ve found the training available on the SPJ website to be useful.
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)?
Fletcher All of the reporters in my shop are members of SPJ. My pitch focuses on the fact that SPJ provides a chance to network and a part of something bigger, the opportunity to connect with other people who face the same work issues, both positive and negative. The group provides professional support to people in a field subject to numerous pressures. The professional training opportunities alone make membership a bargain.
Edgell Fill in the blank. Life without my SPJ membership would be _____________.
Fletcher Less informed. My SPJ membership gives me perspective on what it means to be a working journalist, on how to do that job well and on how to serve my readers best.
More about the SPJ Membership Drive: Toolkit and Calendar included!