SPJ in the COVID-19 Age

SPJ remains in COVID-19 mode, along with the rest of the world.

But even in lockdown, with staff and board members mostly working from home, we’re focused on serving members:

  • We’ve hosted two online discussions with the next one tomorrow. If your schedule allows, please join SPJ Executive Director John Shertzer and IRE Executive Director Doug Haddix, with a panel of four health reporting pros, at 2 p.m. ET for “Fact-Checking Coronavirus Stories.”
  • We launched the Collegiate Coronavirus Coverage contest, attracting nearly 500 entries from about 160 news organizations in our first two weeks. If you’re a student or work with students covering the story, we’d love to have your entries. It’s free with a weekly 11:59 p.m. Friday deadline.
  • We’ve released results of seven of our regions’ Mark of Excellence competitions. With 11 of our 12 regional conferences canceled, we are missing in-person celebrations of our students – but are happy to share news of their MOE wins with the world.
  • We’re accepting nominations for most of our big national member awards (among others) through this coming Monday.
  • We’re continuing to feed the special COVID-19 front page on spj.org – with dozens of helpful resources. Of note: a full, frequently updated calendar of online seminars related to virus coverage; our  “Journalist’s Toolbox” page with dozens of resources to enrich your reporting; and a jobs page if you are on the hunt for a new position.
  • We’re staying on top of dramatic and disheartening changes in the industry – mostly via our Twitter feed and the weekly SPJ Leads newsletter – as news orgs close or cut jobs from coast to coast. This Poynter Institute update is crushing to read, but important to know.
  • We’re tracking conversations about what might be ahead for journalism – with renewed interest in the possibility of government funding.
  • Soon, we’ll join other pro-press groups and launch an initiative for members to help members who are finding themselves under- or unemployed because of the pandemic.

At present, your boards (SPJ and its foundation) are prepping for their April 18 online meetings. Both will be livestreamed with a link coming soon on our board meetings page. The foundation board will meet 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, with the SPJ board following, 3-6 p.m. We’ll get out the agendas, with supporting documentation, next week at this time. The SPJ meeting will include time for public comment and questions.

Among our topics: good news on SPJ’s database needs; less good news on the financial  front as we continue to grapple with a deficit position in our operating budget.

The boards will also talk about two of our largest annual priorities – the awards dinner for our annual Sigma Delta Chi competition in June, and the annual Excellence in Journalism conference, set for Sept. 10-12. Both are still on the calendar. But as with everything in this COVID-19 climate, it’s hard to predict the near-term future.

We’ll let you know, of course, if those plans change.

Wishing you and yours good health and fortune in these most unsettling of times.


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