Two fledgling chapters take first steps forward

As fall descends on Region 7, interest in SPJ continues to rise, and two prospective chapters are rising as well to meet that interest.

The society finally is gaining traction again in the Cornhusker State, a place where it once was prominent, as the fledgling Omaha-Lincoln chapter reintroduced the society by hosting last month in Omaha a get-to-know-you happy hour for media types, resplendent with swag bags and complementary chili con queso.

Nebraska does not have either a pro or student chapter, and is the only state in the region without them.

Though attendance at the event was modest, co-organizer Rob McLean said “it was a good beginning step to restart the chapter. People are interested, they see we’re here, and that’s the first step.”

“There’s professional interest” in SPJ “in Omaha, and we’ve got students from (the University of) Nebraska who are working with us, too,” Rob said.

To keep it going, Rob, of Hearst Television, and Katie Knapp Schubert, of Omaha Public Radio, are hosting an “election prep” study session at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at NuVibe Juice and Java in Lincoln. Besides refreshments, SPJ will provide election “cheat sheets” with contact information for candidates, as well as other election information and resources.

(Editor’s note: I campaigned for region director in part on the promise to bring SPJ back to Nebraska, and Rob is a former member of the award-winning St. Louis Pro chapter.)

Meanwhile, another fledgling chapter debuts next week at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., with its first function: an Ethics Hold ‘em card tournament, led off by a presentation on professional ethics by Rob Schneider, a Truman State alumnus and presentation director for the Dallas Morning News.

The card tournament features poker matches with cards incorporating ethical ideas and situations, and pits students against each other on their knowledge and understanding of both. Ashley Jost, who’s organizing the tournament and leading the drive for a new chapter, says local businesses are donating prizes to the event.

The tournament goes from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in the Barnett Hall Atrium. Anyone interested in playing a hand or two for a very good cause can contact Ashley for more details.

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