SPJ’s inside baseball: a hit!

Star ranking systems.

Annual report requirements.

Inactive chapters vs. deactivated chapters.

If you don’t know what any of this means, you haven’t served on SPJ’s national board of directors. I have – twice. And even with a year in between my terms, these same boring topics have been discussed to death both times.

SPJ is obsessed with its own inside baseball. I realize every organization – especially one as large and as old (and yes, as lovable) as SPJ – needs to handle its mundane logistics. But SPJ tends to debate this stuff without truly resolving it.

It’s no one’s fault, really. It just sorta happens with a 23-member board. But now I can proudly report: One officer is fixing one problem, and that might show SPJ how to hit others out of the park.


The pros and contests

If you’ve ever organized an SPJ chapter’s contest, you know the agony of buying the easiest/cheapest software and recruiting the fastest/bestest judges. But SPJ’s secretary-treasurer has devised a way to lessen the pain.

Dana Neuts personally interviewed executives at three companies that sell software for contests. She tried to negotiate package deals, which didn’t work this year but might next. (I don’t know Neuts very well, but she strikes me as stubborn in all the right ways.)

More importantly – and more successfully – she’s created a centralized, organized system for finding contest judges. The old way was for each chapter hosting a contest to beg other chapters to swap entries – because you certainly can’t judge your own stuff.

But that led to all kinds of disasters. I’m the past president of SPJ South Florida, and I remember a few years ago when some other chapters judged nothing we sent them. And they wouldn’t return our calls or emails, either. (No names, but you know who you are.)

If you’ve suffered through the same thing, join Neuts for a free webinar at noon EST on Thursday, Dec. 20. She’ll explain how the judging swap works, give you a plain-English rundown of the software that’s out there, and answer your contest-related questions.


Neuts is nuts

So why am I shilling for Neuts? Because I’m helping her any way I can and she wants. I like Neuts for two reasons…

First, she doesn’t just ponder problems, she attacks them.

Second, we got in a big fight a few months ago.

Neuts was upset about my coverage of this summer’s controversy at the University of Georgia student newspaper. She publicly accused me of insulting SPJ’s president. (Peruse the post under this one to see what I mean.)

So we talked, found common ground on some stuff, agreed to disagree on other stuff, and kept working on her contest plans.

(Even after the blog posts about him, that SPJ president showed up at an annual program I help organize called Will Write For Food – and he worked his ass off.)

To me, those are the ingredients SPJ should be cooking with – strong arguments, thick skins, and real work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s nothing more hypocritical than a thin-skinned journalist. So Neuts and the SPJ president she accused me of disrespecting are currently the two SPJ leaders I respect the most.

Whether that’s philosophically consistent or psychologically unhinged, I leave it for you to decide.


EmailTwitterGoogle+FacebooktumblrPinterestReddit
  • MeganEspinal

    “So why do the actual community newspapers not understand this? Probably
    because many of them let their readers dictate their every move.
    Newspapers should be leaders in their communities, not followers. If
    they build digitally, the readers will come.”

    For a ‘lowly communications coordinator,’ you’re already able to see one of the key reasons so many publications are struggling, something many with far more experience are still failing to grasp.

    And if I were you, I would own being a millennial. The stereotypes exist, yes, but we’re not all so similarly molded. You can’t change the perception if you aren’t willing to be an example of someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype. Just a tip from an early (1986) fellow millennial. :)


Newest Posts

Must read FOI stories – 7/18/14 July 18, 2014, 6:04 pm
Social Media’s Place in the Society’s Ethics Code July 16, 2014, 3:07 pm
SPJ in the news: White House letter reaches its destination and then some [updated 7/15] July 15, 2014, 6:00 pm
FOIA should be proactive, not reactive July 15, 2014, 4:14 pm
Third draft out on ethics code revision July 14, 2014, 7:32 pm
Unveiling a New Code July 14, 2014, 6:04 pm
Ethics Code Revision: Our Third Draft July 14, 2014, 2:47 pm

Copyright © 2007-2014 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