By Holly Edgell | September 13th, 2012
The 2012 Society of Professional Journalists Membership Drive runs Sept. 4 to Oct. 4. Just Tweet it! Please share your membership story on Twitter this month. The hashtag is #joinspj. I recommend adding #journalism as well.
You may know Sarah Bauer from her voice: She’s the host of the monthly program “Your SPJ Memberbership” on BlogTalkRadio. She is Program Director at Minnesota Newspaper Association and also serves as co-chair of the SPJ Membership Committee.
As an active member of the Minnesota SPJ chapter, Sarah knows a thing or two about keeping chapters alive, kicking and relevant. She served as president of the chapter from 2010-11 and held other board positions before that. I asked her to share her “sales pitch” to journalists who have decided to leave the Society.
Guest Post by Sarah Bauer
I’ve talked to hundreds of SPJ members over the course of my work with the membership committee. We always try to reach out to former SPJ members and see why they left, and what it would take to bring them back to SPJ. A common response over the past few years has been, “I’m out of work,” or “I’m no longer working in journalism.” And, for those members, there isn’t much that I – or anyone– could say to bring them back. But, members do come back.
Here are a few things that often convince people to become a member of SPJ – again!
Whether you work in a newsroom, or freelance from your home office, SPJ provides an instant network of colleagues. When you connect with a local chapter, you’ll have regular opportunities to meet and greet journalists in your area. Some of my best friends are journalists (no surprise, I guess), but they are all people I met through SPJ. I go to them for advice, I go to them for hot media gossip. I go to them when I need help. I go to them when I need to disconnect from work.
2. Opportunities for Training.
SPJ provides countless opportunities for professional improvement. From in-person gatherings at the local level, to SPJ’s eCampus online, webinars hosted by national, and resources like the Journalist’s Toolbox. In short, there are weekly, if not daily opportunities for training. Let’s not forget the national convention! Members get nearly a 50% discount to attend, and get two FULL days of top-notch sessions and hands-on instruction with nationally renowned speakers.
At the local and national level, SPJ provides opportunities for journalists to be recognized for their good work. Did you help bring down a corrupt politician with your sweeps piece? Did you write a six-part series helping regular citizens understand the intricacies of the city budget? Did you look into your city’s public worker pension plan and expose wrong-doing or waste? In Minnesota we have the Page One Awards. At the national level, the Sigma Delta Chi Awards are doled out annually. Enter your best work in SPJ’s awards programs: members get exclusive entry fee discounts and access to awards programs.
4. Doing good.
SPJ is out in the real world, lobbying for a federal shield law. Paying legal bills for arrested journalists. Providing legal support for journalists. The staff and volunteers from all over the country work hard to make sure that journalists know how to submit FOIA requests (and work to make sure FOI laws stay on the books), they make sure public meetings stay open to the public, they train journalists to be better watchdogs. SPJ defends the First Amendment, and works daily to strengthen the Fourth Estate. If that doesn’t make you feel good about being an SPJ member, I don’t know what will.
More about the SPJ Membership Drive: Toolkit and Calendar included!