New director takes over in the Heartland
There’s a new face in this space.
It belongs to me, David Sheets, the new director of Region 7 and immediate past-president of the St. Louis Pro chapter.
If the face itself doesn’t turn up here regularly, at least words will over the next two years of my term, because there’s a lot going on in the Heartland region of SPJ that deserves notice. In just the past few months, Region 7 hosted an excellent convention at Iowa State in Ames, St. Louis Pro won top honors in the small-chapter category, yours truly received the Howard S. Dubin award for service to SPJ, and the seeds of a new chapter have begun taking root in the Omaha-Lincoln area of Nebraska — a state that, as of now, has no SPJ chapter of any kind.
That last item is particularly heartening for the Heartland; it demonstrates that the energy and wisdom of SPJ still motivate the region’s journalists and give the society new hope for expansion at a time when costs and constriction make quality journalism increasingly difficult to pursue. Leaders Rob McLean, of Hearst Television, and Katie Knapp Schubert, of Omaha Public Radio, are working hard to put the Cornhusker State back on our map, and hope to have their chapter formally on SPJ’s books by January.
I urge every established and aspiring journalist in Region 7 to reach out to Rob and Katie and lend a hand with the heavy lifting. Nebraska has too great a journalism tradition to not have SPJ there fighting for it.
And I urge everyone to help bolster our efforts across the region by signing up now and getting familiar with video chat — whether it’s through Google Hangout, Skype, GoToMeeting, or a host of others — the tool I consider essential for closing the wide distances between chapters. Region 7’s sprawling size no doubt has created difficulty for SPJ members to interact, but with practice and application of video chat I hope to minimize that sprawl by encouraging regular virtual meetings between members.
In the coming months, I’ll lay out plans for those virtual meetings and ask many of you to take part, as well as implore for patience. Surely, there will be bugs and glitches at the beginning. Over time though, those should diminish, and the distances between each of us should shrink as well.
I’ll also announce details regarding the next regional convention in spring, tentatively scheduled for St. Louis and, in a unique twist, held in partnership with Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky).
In the meantime, I ask Region 7 members to please convey their thanks to outgoing director Kelsey Volkmann for her two years of extraordinary service; to follow Region 7’s Facebook page for regular planning updates; to follow the region’s new Twitter feed, @SPJRegion7, for up-to-the-minute information on regional events and interaction; and to put Region 7’s new email, SPJRegion7@mail.com, in your address book.
A journalist’s work never ends, and neither will our efforts in Region 7 to spread SPJ’s message and bring its members closer together.
Unfettered access to those in power, a push for government transparency and a vigorous defense of the First Amendment are perhaps more important now than ever before. Join us as we fight for the public’s right to know as an SPJ Supporter. Or, if you’re a journalist, we welcome you to stand with us as a Professional, Student or Retired Member.