Name-change update: Process ongoing

In Anaheim last fall, the SPJ delegates instructed the board to discuss the ramifications of changing our name to the Society for Professional Journalism. Here is an update of where we’ve been and where we are going:

  • Last fall I appointed a 10-member task force, led by former SPJ President John Ensslin, to gather member feedback and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. They conducted surveys and focus groups, and solicited email comments.
  • John provided the task force report on Jan. 7 and the Executive Committee looked at it on Jan. 18. You can read the report, which starts on page 18. Basically, the task force didn’t find strong support for a name change, particularly among long-time members (see Romenesko, too). The Executive Committee forwarded the report to the full board. In the meantime this year, the task force will be looking at ways of how SPJ can better serve under-30 members and provide specific suggestions this summer.
  • Members can continue to talk about the issue. As more information/arguments circulate then the discussion will likely evolve. For example, following my November/December Quill column on the subject I had some members let me know that they initially opposed the idea but now think it’s worth talking about. Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky, who proposed the resolution in Anaheim, continues to blog about the topic.
  • The SPJ Board will discuss the issue at its meeting April 26. The board can choose to make a recommendation to the delegates, or do nothing. I imagine there will be some healthy debate, including talk about the future of SPJ and what we can do to strengthen the organization and journalism.
  • More discussion will likely ensue, and it is possible someone will bring it up at the national convention in September in Nashville. I have no idea what the delegates will do, if anything. It’s their call. Maybe they will vote on a resolution. Regardless, the talk could continue for years.
  • In the meantime, we will continue to work on what we need to do: get communities going to increase member networking capabilities, fight for a federal shield law and on behalf of journalists, increase training opportunities, improve SPJ’s communications, update the code of ethics, foster collaborations with other journalism organizations, and continue doing great work in diversity, FOI, ethics and other core issues. That’s what we do!


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