By Holly Edgell | September 4th, 2012
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 Susan Stabley, Greater Charlotte SPJ
Stabley is a reporter at the Charlotte Business Journal. She and fellow Greater Charlotte SPJ members are in the thick of Democratic National Convention happenings, and the chapter is making itself useful to journalists who are covering the convention.
Edgell You and your fellow journalists are going to be covering the heck out of the DNC this week. The Charlotte SPJ chapter held a seminar this summer to help reporters get ready. How did it go?
Stabley Turnout was fantastic. We sold out and had to turn people away. It was standing room only and attendees came from as far as New York. The response was a phenomenal validation of the chapters work, especially that of our program director Cheryl Spanhour and Frank Barrows, our president. Its one thing to think you have a great idea, a concept for a program. Our instincts told us there was a demand, a need for professional training. But you never really know until the program is out there.
Edgell Not everyone gets a national party convention in their backyard. Still, to what degree do you think timely tools and resources are draw for new members and a tangible value for current members?
Stabley Does the nth degree count as an answer? Newsrooms and broadcast stations can’t afford continuing education. The new hires these days are cheap labor, right out of school that can be exploited, and as a result, there’s a high burn out. Veterans are getting driven out, and media outlets then lose their institutional knowledge. The survivors are exhausted and dejected. Organizations like SPJ must provide support or our craft will be unable to fulfill its mission. Theres a reason why journalists became journalists, and its not the money. But we cant continue to do our jobs and keep the faith without reinforcement. And its just not happening in the workplace right now.
Edgell When did you join SPJ and why?
Stabley Before I worked at the Charlotte Business Journal, I worked at a sister paper, the South Florida Business Journal. My real estate editor was Darcie Lunsford, a longtime leader in SPJ locally and nationally. She was always promoting the organization. I called her up a couple years ago, frustrated with the lack of a journalism community in Charlotte and asked her what I needed to do to start a chapter. She gave me advice and the right contacts at SPJ National, and then I turned to other journalists that I respected in the city and, we made it happen.
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?
Stabley Journalism is the greatest job in the world and its also one of the most stressful. There are days that turn into total nightmares. Worse still, is the quality of journalism overall. There are outstanding reporters out there but there’s also a lot of crap. Our role is essential to a healthy democracy. Communities suffer when theres no watchdogs. Or worse, when people instead get garbage news that just makes them more ignorant and irrationally angry. SPJ on the chapter level allows journalists to reenergize each other and also mentor each other. On a national level, SPJ sets a bar, enforces ethics, celebrates excellence and guards our First Amendment rights. We need this, perhaps now more than ever.
Edgell Fill in the blank. Life without my SPJ membership would be _____________.
Stabley How about: Life with my SPJ membership is like sweet ice tea on a sunny, humid day. Refreshing. Just what I needed to beat the heat.
Follow @CharlotteSPJ on Twitter for details and information about the DNC
More about the SPJ Membership Drive: Toolkit and Calendar included!