Miss the SPJ convention? Here’s a recap.

I met so many of you SPJ Region 5 members that I can barely remember my own name. But I’ll remember your faces, at least, when we meet again! Thank you for entrusting your region to me for the next two years. As I said in our meeting, I limped toward election in hopes someone else would run. Please give serious consideration to moving up the SPJ “ladder” two years from now, and succeeding me as regional director! It looks like it will be an interesting job. Past-RD Liz Hansen did great – and has prepared me as best she can. I need a deputy – would anyone like to volunteer right now? Liz mentioned some people who might do it, but how about the rest of you? Biggest jobs: the Mark of Excellence college journalism competition and the spring regional conference.

Please share this with colleagues who could not attend EIJ12 – also known as the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual convention. Seriously. Forward this. And forward anything else you get from me to anyone who might be interested. One of my primary goals will be to build membership in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. I depend on you for recruiting new members and retaining old ones. Check www.spj.org for a lot of information including handouts from some of the dozens of professional development sessions. Some information may be a duplicate of what you read in the Chicago Headline Club’s letters, but not all!

Northwestern’s Medill Project Innocence won the national Sunshine Award. Eastern Kentucky University won the best student chapter award. Its 10 members gave SPJ regional convention money they raised to tornado-destroyed Licking Valley Courier. Jaimee Haddad and Penny Yi Wang, students from the Medill branch in Qatar traveled the furthest.

Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at Columbia University, gave us at least 100 tips on social media. But he emphasized caution: anything you share in the way of opinions can be used against you. And, he noted, the rules of journalism have not changed. For a digital ton more, see facebook.com/sreetips

A special edition of the Kalb Report was videotaped: “Why Murrow Matters.” Marvin Kalb, Bob Edwards, Dean Baquet, Erin Moriarty and Casey Murrow believe Edward R. Murrow’s principles still stand: inform the electorate.

The first online election drew an 11 percent turnout, 830 votes cast. A couple of chapters (not here) had voting parties/happy hours. In case you missed it, SPJ’s new president is Sonny Albarado. And me as Region 5 director.

I missed a lot of good stuff at the convention because I had nine meetings to attend. (Yes, I love being a leader.) You’ll be hearing a lot more from me about our region during the next two years. For now, I’m asking chapters what I can do to help them. Later, I’ll probably ask you for help. In Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, we have four pro chapters and 13 student chapters.

In the spring, our regional conference probably will be somewhere in or around St. Louis. Our region will partner with Region 7 for a super-regional. Date: a weekend in April. It’s likely most of the programming will be on Saturday, so you all who work or study Monday-Friday can get to the best events. Next year’s national convention, again held jointly with the Radio Television Digital News directors, will be in Anaheim, Calif., Disneyland, Aug. 25-27, 2014. Opryland in Nashville in 2015. That spring, the regional conference will be in Chicago at DePaul University.

Another biggie: the Scripps Leadership Training during a June weekend. In the past, it has always been in Indianapolis. In the future, it will be rotated around the country. Our region will host the training in 2013. Chapter leaders should start thinking about who you want to send. With the change, each chapter will be able to send four or five people instead of one.

Membership numbers nationally held about steady during the past year. However, each and every one of you is encouraged to be a salesperson for SPJ. Persuade as many colleagues as possible to join – and to stay members. You know the benefits! If you don’t, contact me and I’ll share a list. SPJ decided to revive the institutional membership. You’ll be hearing more about that soon. Also in the works: monthly dues payments by credit or debit cards. Also, SPJ plans soon to offer better insurance.

There’s money available to you. SPJ each month for 10 months will award one chapter grant for programming. If you don’t get it one month, you may reapply. However, your chapter is limited to one grant a year. Also, for student chapters, we have money you can request for programs. In the past, gra\ts have been $100 per program. I’ll look into whether we can afford more.

And, a resolution re-honoring Elijah Lovejoy, the nation’s first martyr to freedom of the press, passed at the convention. Alton residents plan to mark the 175th anniversary in November. Anyone want to go to a dinner Nov. 2 or a play Nov. 6? Contact me.

Susan S. Stevens
SPJ Region 5 director
Chicago Headline Club secretary

Defending the First Amendment and promoting open government are more crucial now than ever. Join SPJ's fight for the public’s right to know — either as an SPJ Supporter or a professional, student or retired journalist.


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