It’s a great time to be in SPJ

One of the nicest byproducts of being the SPJ president is getting a chance to meet up with all the regional directors, student representatives, campus advisers at-large and at-large members over a board table three times a year to conduct Society business.

I really enjoy meeting everyone, and having stolen moments here and there to talk about what’s happening at the chapter and regional levels of SPJ. I learn a great deal and I’m pleased to say that a great deal is going on to improve SPJ that has nothing to do with me. And, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Last week at our annual spring board meeting in Indianapolis, the national board dealt with the following:

  • We welcomed new student chapters at Kennesaw State University, Texas A&M, DePaul and Central Connecticut State.
  • We also granted initial approval of what is expected to be our first official international chapter in Qatar. Northwestern University’s Medill School is proposing a student chapter that could balloon to 80 members. Obviously, we are excited about the prospects of new members, new chapter and dipping our organizational toe in the international arena.
  • Conversely, we agreed to hold off on revoking charters of some professional and student chapters that have been inactive for a few years. The reason is we want the regional directors to work with the Membership Committee to see if we can inject some needed infusion into them before they leave the rolls. It’s much harder to start one from scratch than to regain members.
  • The Membership Committee will begin calling new and renewed members each week. A group of executive officers, Regional Directors and former presidents will make calls on behalf of SPJ, thanking the members for renewing or starting a membership with our organization.
  • Additionally, the Membership Committee will be working with staff in the coming weeks to produce a variety of fliers, posters and brochure covers that are universally applicable to SPJ chapter events. The idea is that this will allow chapters to go to the website, download pdfs of a poster or flier and add their local information and print them off for upcoming events.
  • The board learned of the varied relationships SPJ has established with RTDNA, CPJ, IFJ and others for the betterment of journalism. As many of you know, SPJ will be partnering with the Radio Television Digital News Association for our 2011 convention in New Orleans. Our relationships with The Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists are in the early stages, but allow SPJ to have a growing presence in the international journalism frontier. SPJ also partners with the Online News Association, the American Society of News Editors and other groups as part of its convention programming and exhibitions.
  • The latest ethics book is slated to be distributed in early October, hopefully in time for the convention in Las Vegas. The book is the three-year project of the ethics committee.
  • A generous donation of $65,000 from the estate of Utah’s Alexander S. Bodi to the SDX Foundation. The money was then appropriated to the Terry Harper Memorial Fund. Terry and the donor became friends in their last years and we think this is a perfect use of the money. This will allow SPJ to offer about $5,000 a year in scholarships each year for journalists wanting to attend the national convention.
  •  The board agreed to extend the six-month hardship/transitional dues waiver for journalists who have lost their jobs.

All in all, this was a great meeting and a number of exciting initiatives and projects are being accomplished. I’m happy to say that SPJ is weathering the industry turmoil well and in the coming months we think we will: See membership numbers start ticking upward; Produce a healthy and exciting response to an FCC call for comment on the future of journalism; And we will finish the last of our spring conferences next week and likely surpass the 1,400 mark of journalists in attendance nationwide at our 12 spring conference.

It’s a great time to be in SPJ. Just thought you should know.

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