Only response to free-speech bullies: some muscle

In the cold, clear light of a second-day story, the words are still chilling:

“Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!”

As most journalists in America now know, the woman who made that statement was Melissa Click, a communications professor at the University of Missouri, caught on a video that went viral.

The video, photographed by student Mark Shierbecker, documented, among other things, efforts by student photojournalist Tim Tai to cover student protesters at Mizzou; the video was shot after news that university system president Tim Wolfe had resigned. The journalists presumably were seeking comment and reaction to the resignation.

But come back to Click. She sought to shut down the student press in a way that was threatening. Some muscle? Really? Should Shierbecker have feared for his personal safety?

To their great credit, Shierbecker and Tai showed respect, resolution, calmness, professionalism and yes, courage, considering they were faced with an unhappy crowd chanting, “Hey hey ho ho, reporters have got to go!”

Click since has issued an apology for her actions, which Shierbecker said in a tweet that he did not accept. No doubt she is hoping that everyone, including the school she works for, will move on.

But should the rest of us let Click off easy? I don’t think so. There is a word for someone who treated the journalists the way she did: Bully.

She bullied Shierbecker, and the call for help to remove him forcibly is inexcusable and indefensible.

Since she was trying to shut down press coverage, call her a free speech bully, attempting to squelch a reporter.

Here is another reason not to let her off the hook: She’s not alone in higher education.

Within the past year, SPJ has tracked no fewer than six examples of journalism advisers at colleges across America who have run afoul of their schools’ leaders for (gasp!) encouraging student journalists to do their jobs and cover the school.

In each case, the administration would prefer that the student press run happy news, or perhaps recipes, instead of stories seeking to hold (often) public employees accountable.

In one of the adviser altercations, the school paper’s editor-in-chief provided his notes of his run-in with a high-level administrator. “Free speech bully” again would be the operative phrase. The encounter was intimidating and oppressive: the administrator was unhappy the paper had run articles about mold in university buildings.

Frank LoMonte runs the Student Press Law Center, and his job is to watch all this and to offer help and, if necessary, legal support.

In a Facebook post last weekend, LoMonte noted he had just returned from a visit to a public university where the student reporters are required to submit their interview questions for the university president in writing to a media-relations functionary.

This minion rewrites any questions that are unacceptably “negative” and sends back a script, to which the journalists are told to adhere under threat of unspecified reprisal, he said.

I asked him: At what university did this occur?

LoMonte demurred, citing the need to minimize harm (See SPJ Code of Ethics, section II). The students were so frightened that he would need to get their OK to out the school. I am not a fan of citing incidents without names, but I trust the source here.

It’s important to note that the people involved here are college kids, between ages 18 and 21. No doubt the students LoMonte dealt with are frightened.

All these incidents, showing a careless disregard for free speech and the free press, sound like something out of a tinpot dictatorship or some leftover totalitarian regime. Tendering questions for sanitation by a minion sounds like great job training for a position at George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth after graduation.

But these stories are happening at colleges in this country, one with a history and laws that protect free speech and a free press. These schools, if they bother to teach the Constitution, must be saying that it has only nine amendments…that first one got deleted somewhere along the way.

No student should face intimidation, threats of personal violence or reprisal – simply for doing his or her job as a journalist.

The only response, I think, to free speech bullies is some muscle.

Not sending goons out to do physical harm to anyone, but push-back. Exposure. Forceful calling out. Telling the tales. Litigation when needed. Financial support for those lawsuits. And a clear message that that is what they can expect.

Because when confronted, bullies fold and run.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Jane Primerano elected RD for Region 1

The SPJ Board of Directors held a virtual meeting on Oct, 27 with three items of business.

REGION 1 RD ELECTION. Jane Primerano was elected Regional Director for Region 1; this position became open following the election of Rebecca Baker as Secretary-Treasurer. Jane is a freelance writer based in Hope, New Jersey. She is the past president of the NJ Pro chapter of SPJ and of NJ Press Women. Congratulation, Jane – we look forward to working with you on the board.

ACEJMC PROCEDURES. The board adopted a procedure for selecting and approving SPJ’s representative to the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Sonny Albarado was ratified as the successor to Steve Geimann,who held the post for 19 years.

GAMING JOURNALISM AWARDS TRIAL PROGRAM. On a one-year experimental basis, the board approved creation of an awards program for excellence in gaming journalism. More details on the program will be coming.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

SPJ Board to hold virtual meeting

The SPJ Board of Directors will meet virtually next Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 1 p.m. EST.

The board will discuss three items:

Appointment of a Region 1 Director. With the election of Rebecca Baker as secretary-treasurer, the director’s position is open. There are six candidates the board will consider: Jody Biehl, Richard Branciforte, Karen Feld, Elizabeth Johnson, Erin Mansfield and Jane Primerano.

ACEJMC rep procedures. SPJ has a representative on the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. I appointed Sonny Albarado to succeed Steve Geimann as our rep, a post Steve held for 19 years. But the procedures for selecting a ACEJMC rep need clarification; a proposal to do just that is before the board. See Board memo – ACEJMC. 

Gaming journalism awards. Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky has proposed establishing, on a one-year trial basis, five awards for gaming journalism. Here is the text of his proposal: SPJKUNKELAWARDS

Look for an update in this space following the Tuesday meeting.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

The final word from EIJ15

SPJ’s long weekend in tropical Orlando – EIJ15 – came to a close on Sept. 21 with the meeting of the new officers and board of directors.

Here are some of the highlights and action items from that meeting:

Committee Chairs. In keeping with the tradition started by Dana Neuts in 2014, I voluntarily submitted my slate of committee chairs for board approval and they were accepted unanimously:

Awards & Honors Committee

Chair: Andy Schotz

By-Laws Committee

Chair: Bob Becker

Diversity Committee

Chair: April Bethea

Ethics Committee

Chair: Andrew Seaman

Freedom of Information

Chair: Jonathan Anderson

Journalism Education

Chair: Butler Cain

Legal Defense Fund

Chair: Hagit Limor

Membership Committee

Chair: Robyn Sekula


Chair: Dana Neuts


Chair: Sonny Albarado

Executive Committee. Bill McCloskey and Joe Radske were the directors elected to the executive committee.

SDX Board. Seven people were appointed and ratified as SPJ’s reps to the Sigma Delta Chi foundation board of directors: Paul Fletcher, Lynn Walsh, Rebecca Baker, Dana Neuts, Sue Kopen-Katcef, Bill McCloskey and Patti Newberry.

SDX Officers. The board ratified the election of new SDX foundation board officers to one-year terms: Irwin Gratz, vice president; Hagit Limor, secretary; and Howard Dubin, treasurer. SDX board president Robert Leger is in the middle of a two-year term.

Finance Committee. Bill McCloskey and Eddye Gallagher will continue to serve on the SPJ Finance Committee.

A New Community. The Community Journalists Community was approved and becomes SPJ’s sixth community. Al Cross will lead the new group.

Gaming Awards Proposal. Michael Koretzky proposed that SPJ provide, on a one-year, experimental basis, a series of gaming journalism awards. Michael will work with and through the Awards committee, chaired by Andy Schotz, in developing his proposal.

Wells Key Selection. The officers voluntarily adopted the Wells Key selection process that was to begin in 2016, with the full Executive Committee making the pick instead of only the officers. Sue Porter was this year’s honoree.

Convention Improvements. In a post mortem of EIJ15 and looking ahead to EIJ16 in New Orleans, the board touched on the following topics:

  • Governance meetings. A motion to provide notice of governance meetings, such as board meetings, both in print and convention signage passed unanimously.
  • A request to put resolutions likely to spark discussion and debate will be heard first next year, ahead of congratulatory resolutions and others likely to pass in a block.
  • President-elect Lynn Walsh will serve as SPJ’s point person in development of EIJ16 programming and will coordinate with Scott Leadingham and the team deciding programs for next year.

ACEJMC. Steve Geimann served for many years as SPJ’s rep on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The 2015 convention passed a resolution directing the board to continue to support an SPJ rep on ACEJMC by paying his/her dues and expenses to attend two meetings. Sonny Albarado has agreed to serve as our rep.

Director Elections. With Rebecca Baker’s election to Secretary-Treasurer, the Region 1 director seat is now open. SPJ HQ will begin publicizing the opening and solicit candidates; we will hold a board call in October to name an RD for that region. We will be following the same procedure for Region 7 after the turn of the year; Rob McLean has moved to New York and will serve until February.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Memorial Funds for WDBJ’s Alison Parker and Adam Ward

As we work through the tragedy that faced Alison Parker and Adam Ward earlier this week, many have asked about making donations in their honor. Here is a list of some funds that have been set up. Though SPJ is not directly these involved with these, we want to share the information. If you have questions, please go directly to the fund organizers. They’ll be able to assist you.

Thank you,

Dana Neuts
SPJ President

RTDNA, NAB and NATAS — Alison and Adam Memorial Fund

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has joined forces with two partner broadcast organizations to launch a memorial fund to support the families of the victims in Wednesday’s shooting of a Virginia news crew. RTDNA, along with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) will contribute to and accept donations from broadcasters for the fund on behalf of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Donations will be accepted through Nov. 1, and $40,000 has already been pledged.

Parker and Ward were shot to death by a former co-worker Wednesday morning while they were doing a live remote broadcast on WDBJ-TV, Roanoke, a CBS affiliate owned by Schurz Communications. Contributions will be distributed to family members of Parker and Ward. An additional contribution will go to Vicki Gardner, Executive Director, Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, who was being interviewed during the shooting. Gardner suffered gunshot wounds and is currently hospitalized.

Any remaining funds will be directed to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based organization dedicated to press freedom and protecting the rights of reporters to work without fear of reprisal.

Donations may be sent to:

NAB Alison and Adam Memorial Fund
1771 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

NAB is also developing an easy online method of contributing to the fund. It will be available on NAB’s website in the very near future.

Patrick Henry Community College and the PHCC Foundation — Alison Bailey Parker Memorial Scholarship

Patrick Henry Community College and the PHCC Foundation have established a scholarship in memory of PHCC alumna and 2015 Distinguished Alumni award winner Alison Bailey Parker. She was a 2009 graduate of PHCC with an associate of arts and sciences degree through the Piedmont Governor’s School for Math, Science and Technology.

The Alison Bailey Parker Memorial Scholarship will be awarded on an annual basis to a PHCC student who enters the Media Design and Production program.

Donations for the Alison Bailey Parker Memorial Scholarship can be made online or by cash or check to:

Patrick Henry Community College Foundation
645 Patriot Ave.
Martinsville, VA 24112

For additional information, call (276) 656-0250.

James Madison University – Alison B. Parker Memorial Fund

James Madison University, where Parker graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in media arts and design, has also set up a fund in her name.

The university established the Alison B. Parker Memorial Fund in the School of Media Arts & Design in her honor.

Salem Educational Foundation and Alumni Association Adam Ward Memorial Scholarship

The Salem Educational Foundation and Alumni Association announced that a scholarship has been established in memory of Adam Ward, a 2007 graduate of Salem High School who was loved and treasured by the Salem community, his peers at WDBJ, his family and friends.

This endowment, which was established at the request of Adam’s family, will honor his memory by benefiting a graduate of Salem High School, who is headed to Virginia Tech to pursue a career in journalism or photojournalism.

Adam began as a sports department intern at WDBJ and later served as a reporter, videographer and production assistant. Adam is the youngest child of Mary and Buddy Ward. His recently retired father was a lifelong educator at Glenvar and Salem where he served as a coach, teacher and guidance counselor for thousands of students.

The Salem Educational Foundation and Alumni Association was founded in 1983 by the late Dr. Richard Fisher. It has an endowment of $3.2 million and this June handed out 98 scholarships to Salem High School graduates valued at $132,000.

Virginia Tech – Adam Ward memorial contributions

Those who wish to make memorial contributions to Virginia Tech in Adam Ward’s memory may make checks out to the Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc., and be sure to write “In memory of Adam Ward” in the memo section. Checks should be mailed to:

Office of Gift Accounting (0336)
University Gateway Center
Virgina Tech
902 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Those who wish to give online should be sure to use the “enter your own” designation option to write “In memory of Adam Ward.”


*Image from WDBJ

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Executive Committee Meeting Highlights

This week SPJ’s Executive Committee met in Washington, D.C. for its semiannual meeting on Sat., June 27. Here are highlights:

  • The Executive Committee approved minutes from its January 31 meeting in Orlando.
  • I gave updates to the president’s report. Board member Mike Reilley has agreed to lead a group of volunteers to provide staff with guidance for delegate training materials. I am working with the International Community to help with the leadership transition. Also, I met with Sonya Ross of the Associated Press on Friday. We discussed a number of possible partnerships on additional diversity initiatives.
  • SDX President Robert Leger provided us with an update on foundation business.
  • The Executive Committee approved the investment policy for the advocacy fund.
  • President-elect Paul Fletcher gave an update on the non-affiliated member representation task force. The group has had several calls. The next step is to send a survey to SPJ members who are not affiliated with a chapter.
  • Secretary-treasurer Lynn Walsh gave an update on a supporting membership program which would give non-members an opportunity to support SPJ’s mission. She has created a work group who has met by phone once already. She asked us to submit questions on what we’d want to know about such a program if we decide to create this support tier.
  • The Executive Committee approved a policy regarding the hiring and firing of the executive director. The policy will help protect SDX’s interests because the executive director will oversee more of the SDX operations with the shift in education and programming responsibilities from SPJ to SDX.
  • Membership strategist Tara Puckey provided a technology update. She and Billy O’Keefe went to Chicago last week for training. The behind-the-scenes work is still taking place, so changes won’t be outwardly noticeable for a while.
  • Executive Director Joe Skeel gave us an update on strategic partnership updates and how these partnerships impact staff. He gets regular inquiries and requests for proposals on SPJ’s administrative and “back office” support services. Joe also provided us with an update on EIJ18 and possible conference sites. One possible site in Baltimore is already booked for the time period we are considering, but it has offered us a proposal for EIJ19.
  • The Executive Committee entered executive session to select this year’s award winners in the following categories: D. L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser, Distinguished Teaching, Ethics, Historic Site, Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Members, Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate, Regional Director of the Year, Sunshine Awards, and the Wells Memorial Key.

If you have any questions about the meeting, please let me know. For copies of reports, meeting materials and a replay of the meeting’s live stream, click here.


Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

June Board Call: Reg. 3 Conf. Sessions Discussed

Last Friday members of the SPJ board met via Skype to discuss sessions at the Region 3 SPJ conference scheduled for August in Orlando. Earlier in the week, Region 3 director and national SPJ board member Michael Koretzky asked the board to reconsider SPJ’s previous position on use of the national SPJ logo to promote AirPlay, a session at the conference dedicated to addressing concerns of ethics in gaming journalism. Previously, Koretzky had been asked to remove the national logo from the AirPlay site by SPJ’s executive director because this was not an event the national organization was endorsing.

The issue first came about in April during Ethics Week when we learned that a group of gamers, known as GamerGate, began using the #SPJEthicsWeek hashtag. SPJ leadership, including members of the Ethics Committee, and staff agreed to drop the hashtag and proceed with the week’s events. The week continued without incident, but we agreed to not further engage the gaming community and focus on other priorities instead.

Though national SPJ opted not to get involved, Koretzky felt it was important to address concerns of the gaming community by hosting a session called AirPlay at the summer conference where journalism ethics specifically related to gaming journalism could be addressed. As independent entities, SPJ chapters and regions operate autonomously from the national organization, and are free to put on their own events and programming. While SPJ did not want its national logo used in conjunction with the AirPlay session, it allowed the use of the national logo on the Region 3 conference site.

The purpose of last Friday’s call was to vote on use of the national logo on the AirPlay website. Following an overview of previous events, Koretzky explained his position and members of the board asked questions and held a discussion. At the beginning of the call, we had a quorum – enough board members to vote on the issue. However, during the call, a board member dropped off, leaving us without a quorum so we were only able to take an informal call. During the poll, only one board member endorsed use of the national logo on the AirPlay website. All others, including Koretzky, voted against it. Despite the poll results, the board commended Koretzky for taking a risk and being willing to address a potentially controversial issue.

In addition to discussing the AirPlay session, we discussed a drone journalism session also to be held during the summer conference. The program will mirror similar programs held by other chapters and regions.

After a 50-minute call, the SPJ board adjourned.


Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Interim RD12 selected, Gen J approved as a community

On Monday, the SPJ Board conducted a Skype conference call meeting to appoint a Region 12 director to serve in the interim until national elections in September. The current director Tony Hernandez left Region 12 in December of last year to take a position in Region 10. Per the SPJ bylaws, he could remain RD for up to six months following his move. Replacements are made via a board vote.

Amanda Womac

Amanda Womac

The position will be filled by Amanda Womac, who is a member of the East Tennessee Professional Chapter and most recently served as the Region 12 treasurer. Four people showed interest in the position, which goes to show we have amazing people in SPJ willing and capable of taking leadership roles. We are excited at all of the candidates’ interest in serving SPJ, and are eager to have them get more involved!

The position will be filled permanently through the online election process during EIJ15. Any member of SPJ who is located in Region 12 can still run for the position. If interested, please contact staff member Tara Puckey via email for more details.

In the spirit of transparency, we would normally post roll call votes in the minutes, but we have been asked to share that information now. Here are the votes from Monday’s Skype meeting regarding the Region 12 position:

Roll call vote for Amanda Womac (13 yes, 1 no, 2 abstain):

Dana Neuts: Abstain

Fletcher: Yes

David Cuillier: Yes

Lynn Walsh: Yes

Bill McCloskey: Yes

Alex Tarquinio: Yes

Jordan Gass-Pooré: Yes

Andy Schotz: No

Michael Koretzky: Yes

Joe Radske: Yes

Rob McLean: Yes

Eddye Gallagher: Yes

Tom Johnson: Yes

Pia Hallenberg: Yes

Matt Hall: Yes

Tony Hernandez: Abstain

Board members not listed above were not available to participate in the call.

Also during the meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve the Generation J Community, which is transitioning from a committee to a community structure. Although it may seem like semantics, the differences between a community and committee are vast.

A committee is a small group of people that serves at the pleasure of the president. A committee manages projects and may provide resources for others. By its nature, a committee is usually made up of about 10-15 people, and it focuses on work at the president’s direction.

A community, on the other hand, is a large group of people interested in a particular topic. They are self-governing and the community grows organically based on the needs and desires of its members. If you have an interest in issues facing young journalists or journalists in career transition, consider joining the Generation J Community. SPJ also has communities for members interested in freelance, international, digital and student journalism.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

Thank you,

Dana E. Neuts
SPJ President


Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

NLGJA: Reporting on Transgender Issues

Tomorrow night ABC’s Diane Sawyer will interview Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner. Many media outlets are speculating that Jenner will discuss being transgender. To help the media understand how to fairly and accurately report on transgender issues, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) has issued a statement including guidelines and a link to their style guide and resources. I am sharing that information below, but before I do, I want to share my own thoughts on the subject.

An estimated 2 to 5 percent of Americans are transgender. I think it is because of this small number that so few people understand what it means to be transgender or what issues they face including discrimination, ridicule and bullying. In TV and movies, transgender men and women are often unfairly portrayed, drawing undue attention to their differences rather than treating them like human beings. Fortunately, these attitudes are starting to change, but not quickly enough.

I don’t know what news Jenner will share tomorrow evening, nor do I feel it is any of my business, but it is news and millions of Americans will be talking about it. I encourage everyone – especially those who report the story – to be compassionate and to remember that Jenner is a human being with feelings and a family. Jenner is dealing with something most of us can’t begin to imagine.

Thank you,

Dana Neuts
SPJ President





From the NLGJA:

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is made up of working journalists and media professionals. We are not an advocacy group. Our mission is to ensure fair and accurate coverage of issues that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.

This week, ABC News will air an interview With Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star Bruce Jenner. It is widely believed that Jenner will talk about being transgender. For many transgender people this will be a historic moment. Many newsrooms have questions about how to cover people who are or may be transgender. NLGJA is here to help you ensure your coverage is not only fair, but accurate.

Here are a few tips, as well as some information from our stylebook on how to handle things such as pronouns and terminology. There’s even more on our website,

  1. Since Jenner has not publicly announced a gender identity, the best practice is to refer to Bruce Jenner by name rather than using pronouns.
    Example: “Olympic Champion Bruce Jenner is set to sit down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer amid reports that Jenner is transgender.”
  2. Transgender people should be referred to by the name and gender with which they identify. Some transgender people choose to take hormones or have medical procedures, but that’s not what determines the right name and pronoun to use. It is stating one’s gender identity that is what should guide word use. If and when Jenner expresses a different gender pronoun or name, that’s the one to use.
  3. One of the things that makes this story unique is the amount of attention and speculation prior to Jenner speaking publicly about gender. While it may be impossible to write about Jenner without addressing the current rumors, in general best practice is to allow individuals to address their gender or sexuality when they are ready.

Many news organizations are covering this story well. We’ve included an example of fair and accurate coverage below.

Words matter when telling a story. Research has shown that LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of all suicide attempts. Depression and drug use among LGBT people have both been shown to increase significantly after new laws that discriminate are passed. Bullying of LGBT youth has been shown to be a contributing factor in many suicides, even if not all of the attacks have been specifically aimed at someone based on sexual orientation or gender bias. Transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed — and four times as likely if they’re a trans woman of color. Lesbians and gays outnumber trans people six to one, yet transgender people are 50 percent more likely to be murdered.

NLGJA is happy to be a professional resource for you. We offer a stylebook on common word choice and tipsheets on issues that affect our communities. You can find both at NLGJA also has professional development available through our Newsroom Outreach Program. The project was designed to help newsrooms better understand the complexities of covering our diverse communities, while remaining unbiased. Please feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance. We have members in local, national and international newsrooms who are experienced covering these types of issues.

Thank you for your time and attention.


The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association


Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

SPJ Board Meeting Recap

The SPJ spring board meeting was this past Sat., April 18 in Indianapolis. Each meeting is streamed live, but in case you missed it or don’t want to sit through the 6+ hour recording, here are the highlights:

  • The board approved the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. To executive director Joe Skeel’s credit, SPJ has a sizable surplus. We are operating in the black and expect to continue to do so with sufficient reserves set aside for a rainy day and to spend on worthy projects.
  • The slate of candidates for the next SPJ board cycle was announced. New candidates have until about a week before EIJ15 to announce their candidacy. So far, there are only two contested elections (secretary-treasurer and at-large director). Interested candidates should contact Sonny Albarado, past president of SPJ and this year’s nominations chair, or click here for more info.
  • We are seeking nominations to replace regional director Tony Hernandez (Region 12). He moved out of the region, and we are looking for a replacement, effective June 1. We also thanked Tony for his service to SPJ.
  • SDX President Robert Leger gave an update on the SDX Foundation, including the transition of moving programming responsibilities and funding from SPJ back to SDX.
  • The Ethics Committee, led by Andrew Seaman, is beginning the posting of additional materials to supplement the revised SPJ Code of Ethics that was approved by the delegates at EIJ14. In addition, the Code has been translated into five languages (French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Arabic). Those versions are being proofread and, once approved, they’ll be posted to
  • The board discussed how to handle the proposed Marriage & Conscience Act now in committee in Louisiana. The board will send a letter to the Louisiana legislature citing its concern about the bill which addresses religious and moral beliefs, unlike other religious freedom legislation being considered in other states. Our hope is that the bill will be defeated. If not, SPJ will have to reconsider hosting its 2016 spring board meeting, and SPJ and its partner RTDNA will have to discuss the implications for EIJ16, both scheduled for New Orleans next year. President-elect Paul Fletcher and secretary-treasurer Lynn Walsh will work on the letter to the legislature and share it with the board for input by the end of this month. We will also share it with RTDNA, and they will vote on whether or not they wish to sign the letter as well.
  • The SPJ board gave staff the go-ahead to expand its criteria for the selection of convention cities.
  • I announced two new diversity initiatives: (1) Adding members of other journalism organizations (e.g., AAJA, NAJA, NLGJA, NABJ, NAHJ, etc.) to the Diversity Committee, led by April Bethea, as a pilot project. If this is successful, we hope to expand this to include members of these organizations on other committees to help expand the diversity within our organization. (2) Creating a partnership between the Diversity Committee and Membership Committee to develop diversity-related resources for our members. We’ll first create a list of programming ideas, gathering successful program information from SPJ chapters and regions. We’ll expand to include other resources such as how to identify local chapters of other organizations that we could partner with, and link to other diversity-related resources, such as the NLGJA style guide and the diversity style guide project that is supported by the SDX Foundation.
  • I announced the Membership Committee’s upcoming promotion, #spj4all, a one-day campaign to reiterate our organization’s acceptance of journalists from all backgrounds. The committee, led by Robyn Sekula, will share details soon.
  • Four new chapters were added to SPJ ranks.
  • Secretary-treasurer Lynn Walsh announced SPJ’s new career center, a dramatically improved version of our job bank which includes links to additional resources.
  • At the request of FOI chair and immediate past president Dave Cuillier, the SPJ board approved a $30,000 transfer from our fiscal year end reserves to the Advocacy Fund. The board discussed how money would be spent and what the approval process might be.
  • Regional director Tom Johnson received the board’s endorsement of his “It’s the People’s Data” project.
  • At-large director Bill McCloskey presented a new SPJ Convention Voting Transparency Policy, developed by the By-laws Committee. The policy was approved.
  • Jennifer Royer, communications strategist, and I discussed the proposed guidelines for handling the deaths of prominent journalists and international matters. Each will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and will rely on good judgment.
  • In Becky Tallent’s absence, an update about the release of the Journalism Education Committee’s new book, “Still Captive? History, Law and the Teaching of High School Journalism,” was shared in the board packet and via email.
  • President-elect Paul Fletcher informed the board that 41% of our membership is not affiliated with a chapter, meaning they are not represented by delegates at convention. At my request, Paul has formed a task force to explore the ramifications of this problem and to make recommendations for correcting it.
  • The SPJ board accepted the Executive Committee’s recommendations for 9 of the 10 overall SPJ awards, as outlined in the board packet. Changes will be effective in 2016.
  • The SPJ board discussed the selection of future Wells Key winners. The Executive Committee recommended that the selection group be expanded from the SPJ officers to the full Executive Committee. This recommendation was approved with two amendments – providing the full board with a list of nominees for the current year and the previous nine years (info. to be kept confidential and not shared outside the board), and after the Wells Key is awarded, the Executive Committee will explain to the board why that candidate was selected. These changes will also be effective 2016.
  • We took a photo of the full board for historical purposes and to kick off the #spj4all campaign. #spjlove

The board meeting was packed full of agenda items, and we had good, thoughtful, respectful discussion and debate about these topics and others. In addition, I thanked the board, volunteers and staff for their hard work and continued commitment to SPJ. We’ve accomplished a lot in the seven months I’ve been president, but there is much more to do.

If you have any questions about the meeting, or you’d like to volunteer, I welcome your comments and ideas. You can reach me via email at

Thank you,

Dana Neuts
SPJ President


Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Newest Posts

Protected: A timely mistake November 24, 2015, 2:08 am
Introducing/remembering Austin Kiplinger November 23, 2015, 12:32 am
Get the Story Even in ‘Media Free’ Zones November 20, 2015, 2:03 am
KaLeigh Underwood of EKU is SPJ’s Member of Month November 19, 2015, 3:46 pm
Membership planning proposal approved (I voted no) November 19, 2015, 2:29 pm
Journalism codes of ethics from around the world November 18, 2015, 2:43 am
Bad news November 16, 2015, 3:21 pm

Copyright © 2007-2015 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ