SPJ, COVID-19 & you

Dear SPJ Friends:

As COVID-19 has disrupted your work and personal lives, it’s interrupted SPJ’s world too.

The Seattle Times has been on top of COVID-19 news for weeks and weeks.

As you’ve learned from headquarters in recent days:

  • Eleven of our 12 regions have postponed or canceled spring conferences, with the final one scheduled for fall.
  • The SPJ board and the board of our foundation will conduct a virtual spring meeting, instead of its usual in-person meeting in Indianapolis.
  • Our staff members – like most of us — are now working remotely from home.
  • At this writing, we are hoping we can go forward with two of our signature events, both in Washington, D.C. — the awards dinner for our annual Sigma Delta Chi competition in June, and the annual Excellence in Journalism conference, set for Sept. 10-12. We’ll let you know ASAP should those plans change.

I write today to first offer my thanks.

As an SPJ lifer, I know how much time and effort it takes to produce big events. So I know how disappointing it is to cancel or delay them – and very much appreciate that you made those hard but appropriate decisions.

I’m writing today, too, in hopes that you’ll do what you can to stay engaged with SPJ.

Among the possibilities:

  • Check out spj.org’s “Journalist’s Toolbox” page, with lots of great resources for your coverage of coronavirus news. Thanks to fellow board member Mike Reilley for continuing to update the site with relevant links.
  • Take advantage of other spj.org resources, including
    • a special COVID-19 page, with more updates to come.
    • our FOIA page, with ways to keep fighting for access as you report during what is, after all, Sunshine Week!
    • our ethics page, for reminders about the ethical implications of your coverage and a link to our ethics hotline for real-time answers to your questions.
    • our Leak Seeker project, if you are working with nervous sources.
  • Stay on top of national coronavirus news from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Host an online meeting that features journalists in your community – and how they are covering this critical and fast-moving story while staying safe.
  • Stay abreast of – and share with me and SPJ HQ – any anti-press activity in your markets. Today, we issued a statement condemning China’s effort to oust The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. We also signed on to a letter urging governments to maintain transparency, even as many entities move their proceedings online. (Here’s hoping other agencies DON’T follow the lead of the FBI in limiting FOIA requests.)
  • Visit some of our peer organizations for online training and tips:
  • Finally, take advantage of a generous offer from Region 3 Coordinator Michael Koretzky to teach you how to meet via the Zoom video-conferencing platform. He’s offering free, one-on-one tutoring to the first 10 small and student chapter leaders who reach out. You can reach him at michael@koretzky.com.

I’m proud to stand with SPJ and its members at a time when so many of you are at the frontlines of bringing important, accurate COVID-19 updates to your communities.

I hope you’ll connect with each other – and with me, too, to let me know how SPJ can be of help.


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