Posts Tagged ‘Hagit Limor’


From EIJ — election results, SPJ/SDX board meetings, resolutions

The following are the results from this year’s SPJ national and regional elections. Results were announced at EIJ ’18 in Baltimore.

President-elect:

  • Patti Gallagher Newberry (unopposed): 791

Secretary-treasurer:

  • Matt Hall: 502
  • Nerissa Young: 347

At-large director (two years; two seats):

  • Mike Reilley: 456
  • Tess Fox: 441
  • Mercedes Vigón: 437
  • Robin Sherman: 180

At-large director (one year; two seats):

  • Yvette Walker: 728
  • Michael Savino: 645

Region 10 director:

  • Don Meyers (unopposed): 47

Region 1 coordinator:

  • Jane Primerano (unopposed): 148

Region 4 coordinator:

  • Paul Kostyu (unopposed): 58

Region 5 coordinator:

  • Amy Merrick (unopposed): 76

Region 7 coordinator:

  • Leah Wankum: 14
  • Katelyn Mary Skaggs: 8

Region 8 coordinator:

  • Kathryn Jones (unopposed): 64

Region 9 coordinator:

  • Ed Otte: 40
  • Rhett Wilkinson: 16

There were 888 votes out of a total of 6,200 possible voters, or 14.3 percent.

*****

Highlights of the SPJ national board meeting on Sept. 27:

  • Stephanie Bluestein, president of the Los Angeles Pro chapter, and Ben Meyerson, a member of the Chicago Headline Club board, expressed their objections to an EIJ sponsorship by the Charles Koch Institute.
  • The board went into executive session at 9:17 a.m. to discuss a personnel issue, potential litigation and a contract issue (EIJ sponsorship). The executive session ended at 11:02 a.m.
  • Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said Lynn Walsh, a former SPJ president, will become a consultant for SPJ in charge of Facebook training.
  • Director of Development Larry Messing said SPJ HQ has submitted a new proposal to the Scripps Howard Foundation for a new focus for the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute. For many years, it was a program to develop SPJ leaders. McKenzie said Scripps Howard “wanted a more dynamic focus.” The new focus will be leadership for college journalists.
  • The board approved new financial requirements for chapters. Region 8 Director Eddye Gallagher voted no. President Rebecca Baker abstained. The board unanimously approved an amendment that allows chapters to choose a method of transparency in their records.
  • President-elect J. Alex Tarquinio said a task force to examine SPJ’s sponsorship policy will start on Sept. 30 and will work on having recommendations by Dec. 1.

*****

Highlights of the SDX national board meeting on Sept. 28:

  • Journalist on Call Rod Hicks said he will work on a news literacy project, to train thousands of people, through SPJ chapters. He also said he is working on a long-term project to work with one community to measure its trust in news over time. He is interested in Casper, Wyoming, which is one of the five states with the lowest trust in media, according to a Gallup survey. He is looking for about 125 people who could attend a session every one or two months.
  • The SDX board also talked about the change in focus of the Scripps Leadership Institute. McKenzie said SPJ is looking at 15 schools, and various news platforms, for the new format.
  • The SDX board voted to change its name to the Socety of Professional Journalists Foundation Board. Jane Kirtley voted no. A big consideration was whether SPJ changes its name from Society of Professional Journalists to Society for Professional Journalism. Some said it was better to stick with “SPJ,” which will be correct either way.
  • Board member Fred Brown said he has finished updating the SPJ ethics book, including a new case study on an anonymous op/ed piece in The New York Times from a supposed White House insider. Board members discussed whether to keep the new version as digital or to have a printed book, too.
  • Board member Paul Fletcher will continue working on an SPJ history book.
  • Messing said there will be a new fundraising effort that allows people to send a text message and get a link on how to donate.
  • Board member Dave Carlson objected to donations from planned giving being added to the general fund, calling it “reprehensible.” The board discussed making a change that calls for money to be placed in a designated fund, instead.
  • Board Treasurer Howard Dubin said SPJ’s headquarters needs about $36,000 in repairs, including stairs and the roof. SPJ and SDX will share the costs. The board unanimously approved spending up to $18,000.
  • The board unanimously approved David Cuillier and Frank LoMonte as new members. Also, Todd Gillman, Irwin Gratz, Evelyn Hsu, Alex Jones, Bill Ketter, Hagit Limor, Robert Leger and Sonya Ross will serve new three-year terms. Lynn Walsh withdrew from serving on the board because she will be paid as a Facebook consultant and wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict. Al Leeds is leaving the board. The board also approved Gratz as president, Limor as vice president, Sonny Albarado as secretary and Dubin as treasurer.
  • The board went into executive session at 11:14 a.m. to discuss a legal matter and personnel. The executive session ended at 12:30 p.m. When it returned to open session, the board approved hiring a company called Labyrinth to help the SDX Foundation register as a charity in many states. The foundation recently realized it has been raising money in states despite not being registered to do so as a charity. Alex Tarquinio and Todd Gillman voted no. Dave Carlson abstained.

*****

Highlights of the SPJ national board meeting on Sept. 30:

  • The board unanimously ratified appointments to the SDX Foundation Board.
  • President J. Alex Tarquinio shared a meeting schedule for the year. Board meetings for the year will be held Dec. 1 (electronic), Feb. 2 (electronic), April 13, June 1 (electronic), Sept. 5. The Executive Committee will hold electronic meetings on Jan. 19 and June 15.
  • Tarquinio said the board will talk later about appointing two additional members, under a new structure approved last year. There will be nominations by early November.
  • Tarquinio said Eddye Gallagher will be the Nominations Committee chair for the coming year.
  • Tarquinio said she is creating three new task forces to look at a strategic plan, a sponsorship policy and a focus on partnerships.
  • The board discussed the details of what happened with the Charles Koch Institute sponsoring an FOI session at EIJ.
  • Bill McCloskey and Andy Schotz were appointed to the Finance Committee.
  • Lauren Bartlett and Michael Koretzky were appointed to the Executive Committee, along with the board’s officers.
  • The board voted to pick a regional director to fill the seat that Matt Hall vacated to become secretary-treasurer. Tarquinio abstained.
  • Alejandra Cancino, the president of the Chicago Headline Club, criticized SPJ leaders for not following SPJ’s sponsorship policy in allowing the Charles Koch Institute to plan its own sponsored session at EIJ.
  • The board went into executive session at 10:43 a.m. for an orientation session with the board’s attorneys and for a personnel discussion. The executive session ended a 12:10 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:11 p.m.

*****

At EIJ, delegates discussed the following resolutions:

  • A proposal to change SPJ’s name from Society of Professional Journalist to Society of Professional Journalism was rejected. I believe the vote was 60-19. Some who spoke against the proposal said it has been rejected multiple times before and would not accomplish anything. Former SPJ President Kevin Smith accused the sponsors of the reolution (Michael Koretzky and Mac McKerral in playing a “con game” by not acknowledging clear opposition in a past survey and from a task force. A few supporters said it reflects a change in SPJ’s culture and fits with the challenges we face.
  • A resolution to create a task force on SPJ’s sponsorship policy was approved by a voice vote. Cancino, who submitted the resolution, said she speaks for scores of SPJ members who opposed allowing the Charles Koch Institute sponsor a session this year at EIJ. The Resolutions Committee recommended rejecting the resolution since incoming SPJ President J. Alex Tarquinio already has announced that there would be a task force.
  • Delegates approved a resolution condemning the Oklahoma State University football coach for threatening to cut off access to student journalists who asked his team about the departure of one player. Someone in the public relations office then said there would be repercussions if students reported about the threat.
  • Delegates approved a resolution supporting student media, which faces hostility and/or cuts at many schools.
  • A resolution calling on TV stations to stop sending journalists out into dangerous storms and dramatizing or exaggerating actual conditions was overwhelmingly rejected by a voice vote. Some people said it was offensive to assume that dramatization occurs and added that journalists are kept safe when go out into storms.
  • A resolution was approved in support of Reality Winner, asking President Donald Trump to commute her sentence. Winner was sentenced to five years in prison for leaking a top-secret government report on Russian election hacking.
  • A resolution denouncing the imprisonment and calling for the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were convicted in Myanmar of violating an Official Secrets Act, even though they were performing normal duties related to their jobs.
  • A resolution calling for an SPJ contest solely for retired journalists was rejected.
  • A resolution was passed expressing support for Fred Rogers and Public Broadcasting.
  • A resolution was passed to honor the late Richard D. Hendrickson, who died at age 77 after a lengthy career in journalism and teaching.
  • Resolutions were approved thanking outgoing SPJ President Rebecca Baker for her service and the SPJ staff for its work on EIJ 18.

Learn about this year’s SPJ candidates: Election extravaganza

SPJ’s annual election is this month. Watch for an email ballot as Excellence in Journalism ’18 opens on Sept. 27.

SPJ members will choose a president-elect, a secretary-treasurer and four at-large directors (two for two-year terms, two for one-year terms).

Members in Region 10 will choose a regional director, who will serve one year on the national board.

Members in Regions 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 will choose regional coordinators.

Below are the candidates’ answers to a questionnaire I sent them.

For more information about candidates (bios, podcast interviews), go to the Election Central page.

*****

President-elect (choose one)

• Patti Gallagher Newberry

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Acknowledging that I am the ONLY candidate for president-elect, I will bring members more than 35 years of deep engagement in and dedication to SPJ; proven leadership skill; quick follow-through; passion; and vision. During my year as president-elect and, I hope, president after that, SPJ will remain one of my highest priorities and most significant time commitments.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

As the chair of the task force that proposed the smaller board, I strongly support the change. Key to making it work: 1) electing dedicated, visionary board leaders; 2) creating a structure and culture that facilitates responsive communication between the board and the many operating units within SPJ (headquarters, committees, communities, regions, chapters, individual members); and 3) creating a strategic plan to guide board efforts and the Society’s priorities.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Most recently, I led the initiative to reduce the size of the board. In the coming year, I will lead an effort to craft a strategic plan and to review EIJ sponsorship rules. Over the years, I have organized dozens and dozens of SPJ activities — from EIJ panels to regional conferences to efforts of my own chapter at Miami University.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

SPJ needs a strategic plan to guide its priorities. We need a thorough review of what we do, what we should do and what we should leave to other journalism advocacy groups. That review should be the starting point of crafting a clear, concise strategy to guide the way forward.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

Membership should certainly be one of the cornerstones of a strategic plan. The board should work closely with the existing Membership Committee on a plan of attack. Everything should be on the table in this effort: What are the barriers to membership? Are we charging the right price? Are we providing enough member service? Are we recruiting in the right ways?

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ has been a leading and significant voice on First Amendment issues, especially as Donald Trump and his administration have sought to vilify the press in the last two years. As part of that, SPJ has been out front on press literacy, as leaders at the national, regional and local levels have reached out to their communities to explain why a free press is critical. SPJ could, of course, do better in many areas. One would be lobbying. I would like to see SPJ more engaged in supporting pro-press legislation and fighting bad laws and bills at all levels of government.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

I joined SPJ in about 1980 as a college student to be in the company of other students turned on by journalism. Thirty-eight years later — after about 15 years as a journalist and now 22 years in journalism education — SPJ allows me to engage with and learn from people who do great journalism, celebrate great journalism, and work everyday to promote and protect good journalism.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

During my days in newsrooms, the best days were when I learned something important and was able to share that with readers. Getting on page one was pretty swell, too. During my years in the classroom, I succeed when my students succeed. Turning students on to the possibilities and power of journalism — whether teaching them how to find public documents or where to find scoops or how to get a reluctant administrator to talk — is an awesome task.

One of my prouder moments in recent years: When my son, Arthur, won the 2017 Cartoonist of the Year in the national SPJ Mark of Excellence competition. I consider myself most fortunate that two of my three (young adult) children attend Miami University, where I am area director of journalism, and both are involved in significant student media work.

*****

Secretary-treasurer (choose one)

• Matt Hall

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I live and breathe journalism. I’m a past president of the San Diego Pro SPJ chapter who has been elected to the national SPJ board three times to represent journalists in the West, and as a secretary-treasurer candidate, I am now fortunate to have endorsements from a diverse group of journalists from nearly every SPJ region. I’m a social media pioneer, I’m on Twitter all the time at @SDuncovered, and I manage a major newspaper opinion section at a time when speed and community building are a journalist’s stock-in-trade.

SPJ needs leaders who are not only plugged in but are able to do membership outreach and manage massive workloads; SPJ needs leaders who understand our divisive climate and can get the word out quickly on pressing matters. When two reporters were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, I was the first national board member to email the board to say we needed to issue a statement about that travesty. When five people were shot and killed at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, this year, I was the first board member to suggest we issue a statement of solidarity.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

This is a significant change. I support it, and I worked with other national board members to enable a smooth and smart transition. Reducing our board from 23 members to nine members over two years will help the organization move more quickly and strategically to guide an industry in flux while allowing us to represent, advocate for and celebrate members and all journalists. Mindful of the importance of robust regional communication, I also pushed hard to ensure regional coordinators would still get stipends to defray travel and other costs and have open lines of communication with the new smaller board. That connection is and will remain crucial to SPJ’s success, so I lobbied to make it stronger via formal reporting mechanisms.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Among many changes, I will list one at each level of SPJ leadership:

• One, I led an effort to build consensus around and adopt a spending policy, which the national board approved at EIJ17 in Anaheim last year on a 17-6 vote. I thought the policy — which requires prior approval to pay for any services costing $5,000 — was needed after a consulting contract was approved without the board’s knowledge. I think this shows in a concrete way that I would be both transparent and fiscally responsible as your secretary-treasurer.

• Two, I created the SPJ Region 11 social media accounts, which have become a model for other SPJ regions and have created some of the largest, most engaged communities in SPJ, especially @spjregion11 on Twitter.

• Three, I helped establish the Windows and Walls awards for the San Diego Pro SPJ chapter, which is now one of the chapter’s most successful programs, honoring and shaming the government agencies that are the best and worst at transparency each year.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I would post budgets and other documents in a fast, public way so members could readily know what the national board is discussing and doing. I would build better networks so chapters and unaffiliated members nationwide could communicate better with national leaders. I would revitalize our communities and committees and enable their leaders to brainstorm and have conversations outside their groups by connecting them via a new Slack channel or its equivalent, allowing committee and community chairs to share ideas across focus areas instead of just within them.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

I’d start by listening to members and offering more of what they want. In the past decade, SPJ’s membership and budget have fallen precipitously, mirroring broader newsroom trends. SPJ’s membership is now down to some 6,500 members from a peak of nearly 10,000, and its annual budget is about $1.2 million, down from $1.7 million. We need to stop that membership drop, and reverse it, and we will do that by being a better resource for them.

For months, as part of my secretary-treasurer campaign, I’ve been on a listening tour, talking to SPJ leaders nationwide, picking people’s brains, asking how we can be better, stronger, more diverse. Once we understand what our members want, we will be better equipped to provide it.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

Our greatest strength is that SPJ’s journalism advocacy is second to none. At the local, regional and national level, we fight for journalists every day, offering them everything from moral support to legal assistance. That must continue.

But we’re not doing a great job of explaining the benefits of a national membership to our members and potential members, especially students. We need to communicate better generally, and I think the smaller board and a separate team of regional coordinators will allow us to be smarter about our priorities and quicker about communication.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

It sounds like hyperbole, but it’s true: SPJ is the best organization I will ever join. It has helped me build lifelong friendships nationwide, fostered a sense of community in an industry plagued by cost-cutting and offered me a chance to give back to students and pros alike to ensure journalism remains in good hands for a long time to come. Journalism needs the help now more than ever, and I’d like to see our organization become more diverse, be even stronger at advocacy and better teach media literacy to students of all ages and the public at large. If the organization can accomplish those goals while defending journalists against false claims of fake news, it will thrive — and support not just journalists but democracy.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

It’s hard to pick one in a long career I’ve been lucky to have, but the San Diego Pro SPJ chapter winning national chapter of the year in 2015 in my first year as chapter president was an amazing honor. It was a testament to both my leadership and teamwork building. Likewise, when my seven-member team at the Union-Tribune won five first-place awards at the San Diego chapter’s awards banquet in July, I was proud that my team was so honored. That’s what journalism is about for me: Teamwork.

Personally, I’d say my proudest achievement was being chosen as the 2017 Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist at my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, and spending a week talking in classes and in public sessions about journalism. I often speak at San Diego-area colleges, but it was an honor to talk to future journalists where I first dreamed of being one and to inspire students with dreams of their own to join an industry that needs innovative, ethical members more than ever.

 

• Nerissa Young

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I think it’s for members to decide who the best candidate is for this position. However, I have been active in SPJ for nearly 30 years at local, regional and national levels. I was president of campus and pro chapters when they were named chapters of the year. I am adviser to the OU chapter, which has been chapter of the year for three of the past four years. I have helped write SPJ’s two most recent books, the ethics text and the state of high school journalism book. I have served on three national committees: Project Watchdog, Ethics and Journalism Education. I have been part of panels at numerous regional and national conventions.

I look forward to using my energy and experience in a new way to serve the society by working with the national board. I am running for office, not against anyone or anything SPJ is doing. I can work well with others and look forward to adding my voice to those of the talented and capable people already on the board and who will be elected at EIJ.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

While I favored a smaller board, I initially did not like the governance model proposed because I was concerned about a lack of student representation on the board. I had many spirited discussions with Patti Newberry and ultimately voted in support. Yes, this is a significant change but one that I hope will make the board more nimble and able to act faster. It’s difficult to convene two dozen people by phone or in person and have a quorum to conduct business. If a quorum isn’t available, no business can be conducted. That doesn’t serve the organization or its members. I look forward to having a role in shaping how the new governance model will be implemented.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I served on the national ethics committee when the code was updated in 1996. I also served on the governance change focus group.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Journalism as an industry needs to acknowledge its effect on journalists and the communities they serve with regard to trauma. The explicit details released about the suicide deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade this summer were horrific. No one is served by those graphic details, and research shows that suicide contagion is real and accounts for a small increase in suicides right after such reporting. It happened after Robin Williams’ death. One reason the public likes to hate journalists is they think we are unfeeling automatons out to get clicks.

Journalists are leaving the profession because they are not getting the support they need when they cover traumatic events. Media owners need to start respecting journalists who stand up to the “we’ve got it, we may as well use it” mentality, reducing the amount of gratuitous graphic content and providing support to journalists who are recovering from their own trauma. It needs to be a concerted effort to rebuild credibility. SPJ can provide a national platform from which to speak and opportunities to educate journalists about trauma through professional development.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

Jobs in traditional journalism are declining. Budgets continue to tighten, and there is little support from employers for dues and time to attend SPJ functions. As I told John Ensslin in the candidate podcast interview, that is the $64,000 question. I don’t have the magic bullet answer.

The initiatives for Next Gen-Journalism and freelancing are positive ways to reach those who are working in nontraditional media organizations via entrepreneurship and show we care about what they are doing and are here to support them. Membership is important, but serving well the members we have is important, too. We have to look at strategic partnerships with other like-minded organizations to reach strength in numbers that media owners and legislators will respect and listen to.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

One thing SPJ is doing well is reaching out to like-minded organizations and forming coalitions to present EIJ, which enriches the members of all participating organizations, and joining in the letter to the Obama administration asking for better cooperation with public information officers. It shows that SPJ is not the lone voice crying in the wilderness but representing concerns of a much larger constituency.

Overall, SPJ is doing most things well. We’ve seen nearly a complete staff turnover, and the new staff seems to be doing well. Quill is one of SPJ’s signature products, and it’s been a little lost the past few years in terms of content. We’ve had two editor changes in two years’ time. The executive board needs to determine what Quill’s role should be — a trade magazine, a journal or whatever — and work with the editor to be sure that role is executed well.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

I value my SPJ membership for two reasons: It links me to like-minded people who care about journalism and its role in democracy, and the professional development programs have always kept me ahead of the curve on what’s happening in the business. SPJ is like journalism church. I always leave regional and national conferences energized and optimistic about what we do and why we do it.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I knew a local school board was conducting the public’s business behind closed doors because members always gathered in the superintendent’s office behind a closed door before each meeting. I decided one Friday afternoon to speed dial each one and ask them about the content of those discussions before they had a chance to talk among themselves and come up with the same story. Every member admitted they were talking about business on the agenda. After the story ran, I was invited to gather with them to visit, and the superintendent’s office door stayed open.

*****

At-large director, two-year term (choose two)

• Tess Fox

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am the best candidate for this position because I am a young person with tangible experience working with and recruiting students, young millennials and recent graduates, and building a student chapter. If SPJ is going to be sustainable in the long term, we need to better communicate to students and recent graduates the importance of an SPJ membership. I am the best candidate for this position because I want to ensure SPJ has a robust future, especially during such a tumultuous time for journalism and the First Amendment.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

I support the smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors. A smaller board can reach a consensus faster, and fewer people attending bi-yearly meetings translates into savings for SPJ.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I helped keep the University of Idaho SPJ chapter active. At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the chapter was on its last leg. I led the rebuilding of the chapter as the president. I helped plan, organize and execute several events throughout the school year. We met all the requirements of a student chapter and were nominated for outstanding campus chapter and program of the year for Region 10.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I would use my experience, the experiences of my peers and the J-Ed committee to put together a master guide for starting and maintaining a student chapter. The logistics of a student chapter vary greatly from a professional chapter, and I think there is need for such a resource.

Since the candidate bios were released via email, I have already had members reach out, asking for advice to grow their chapter. I was lucky to have two excellent, knowledgeable advisers who knew how to run a chapter. That might not be the case for everyone, and especially during a time when SPJ’s membership is declining, we can’t afford to lose members because they need help and can’t find what they need.

This resource would also fit into my larger goal of recruiting more young people into SPJ.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

Create a plan to recruit more students and recent graduates.

I would address this by working with the Generation J and membership committees create a plan for encouraging young professionals to join SPJ. These committees know what has worked and what hasn’t. Through their experience and mine, we can formulate the best plan of action. There may also be value in talking to college students and recent graduates to find out what they need to be successful on their career path in journalism. This would give us an idea of how to market to recent graduates and find areas SPJ may be lacking.

In my experience, there are many journalists in college or graduates that just don’t know what SPJ is all about. Easing that knowledge gap closed could be helped by encouraging the creation of more student chapters. Student chapters are a great way to demonstrate SPJ’s value to the next generation of journalists.

There are entire states with no student chapters, even though there are university journalism programs, like my current state of Oregon. Hawaii, Montana, Alaska and Wyoming don’t have student chapters either. Some states only have one, despite having a number of student and recent graduates that could use guidance. Encouraging awareness through the creation of student chapters can help grow SPJ’s membership.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ has a strong social media presence. There are always interesting articles being tweeted from the account, things that sometimes don’t cross my Twitter feed. I love knowing that if I need to find some industry-related news or a recent think-piece about media, it was probably tweeted out by SPJ and I can find it easily.

SPJ is not reaching young people very well. When I was recruiting for the UI chapter, many students had no knowledge of SPJ. Once I explained all the benefits to them, they were on board. This goes back to the importance of exposing younger journalists to SPJ. If we can show up-and-coming journalists and communications professionals how SPJ can make their career and lives better, we can expand our membership.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

SPJ is important to me because it has given me a chance to be a leader in my field already. I’m only 22 and have gained so many valuable skills being involved in SPJ for a year. Being involved in SPJ means meeting people outside of my area, making valuable connections and earning valuable leadership and managerial experience before entering a management position at work.

There are plenty of good reasons to join, like discounts, networking and opportunities to hone your skills. The best reason to join though is to be part of something more than a job. SPJ’s protection of the First Amendment will affect generations to come, and being part of that is why I’m a member of SPJ, and why other journalists should be members too.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

During my last year of school, I worked on a story about a rental company in Moscow, Idaho, that disappeared and how the housing regulations in Idaho allow for this kind of thing to happen. I worked on the story for six months, conducted about 30 interviews and wrote over 2,000 words. I’m so proud of how this story turned out. Many students, a population already strapped for cash, lost hundreds of dollars when this company disappeared with everyone’s money. Writing about something that deeply affected people and being about to provide them answers to their questions was such a wonderful experience. I’m sad to have left Moscow because I could probably write 10 more stories on this subject.

You can read that story here: https://www.blotmagazine.com/2018/03/07/everyone-has-to-live-somewhere-the-sudden-closure-of-whitepine-property-management-highlights-larger-issues-for-ui-students/

• Mike Reilley

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Previous board experience, deep understanding of SPJ, held many SPJ positions in the past. Strong digital and teaching background, which the board needs. And I’m kinda funny.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

Yes, very much so. The board was too bloated when I served in 2014-15. Too many voices were being drowned out by a few. This board is more nimble and can get more done.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

JournalistsToolbox.org, training more than 4,000 journalists in the SPJ Google tools training program (effecting changes in newsrooms and giving SPJ a stronger digital presence). Founded a student chapter (SPJ/ONA DePaul) that ranged between 58 and 70 members a year.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Develop a strategic plant with President-Elect Patti Gallagher Newberry. Expand an investigative journalism fellowship I developed with Rob McLean for Region 7 during my time on the board previously. I would like to see this become a national program, where we offer six fellowships around the country, with a minimum of three going to minority journalists. Fellows are aligned with investigative teams on a project of their choosing, trained by me to use digital tools (scraping, spreadsheets, data viz tools) to develop the stories. We then have them present at a Regional conference or the national conference. How to fund it? I would seek outside partnerships/funding from a foundation other than SDX. We need more outreach/creativity in funding projects.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

  1. Research: Survey members who leave. Why? Specifically target the thousands of student members who no longer belong after they graduate. How do we retain them in their first five years on the job. Find out why, then address the issues based on the research and take action.
  2. More value-added membership offerings: More webinars, put JournalistsToolbox.org behind a membership paywall, etc.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

Not well: SPJ is losing money, membership and partnerships. Leadership must turn the tide.

Well: Code of ethics and support of the First Amendment. I’d argue that the SPJ Google training program is one of the best things SPJ has done in the past 10 years. The outreach, impact and results have been astounding.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

I tell them for the price of skipping Starbucks twice a month they can join a fantastic organization that supports the First Amendment. You’ll make lasting friendships and contacts. You’ll make a difference and maybe even have a little fun along the way.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

Moments — teaching digital journalism to students full-time for 16 years at Northwestern, Arizona State University, DePaul and University of Illinois-Chicago.

 

• Robin Sherman

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Best? I’d say I am a good candidate for a board at-large position for several reasons based on a broad background and having the primary traits necessary for a solid, working board member:

1) Journalism association experience: I would bring to the board ideas based on 20 years of experience working on policy and hands-on management of numerous responsibilities for a sister professional journalism association, the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the only journalism association devoted exclusively to the business-to-business (B2B) journalism market. The society is now managed by The Poynter Institute.

ASBPE has more than 1,000 members and numerous chapters. I have been its executive director; associate executive director; board member; chair of its ethics, research, and conference/program committees; writer, editor and designer of its member newsletter; and a member of its membership and other committees.

Bottom line: I have a good understanding of how journalism associations can operate and can bring that experience and perhaps new ideas from a related journalism society to SPJ.

2) Business-to-business and consumer journalism background:

As a former corporate editorial director/associate editorial director for a large B2B journalism publishing company for 11 years, I have a strong B2B journalism background. I helped 100 editors and artists working on 30+ publications improve their content and presentation using service/solutions journalism to meet our primary mission. I developed and managed a multi-million-dollar editorial budget. And, I’ve been an associate publisher, editor-in-chief, and designer of business magazines.

On the consumer side, I’ve worked on weeklies and dailies, e.g. The Atlanta Constitution, as a reporter, news editor, copy editor and layout editor.

Bottom line: I am a well-rounded journalist who knows content development, editing and presentation (design) as well as business and consumer journalism, especially service and solutions journalism. I am sensitive to both the business side of publishing and the journalism side, as well as the need for all stakeholders to work collaboratively and ethically.

3) I see the big picture and the importance of detail. My strongest interests are examples of this concept:

  1. promoting ethics and quality journalism and news literacy for the public
  2. directing original, useful journalism research
  3. developing useful, step-by-step, actionable content
  4. improving content presentation and design to make information accessible and understandable.

The original research I’ve conducted is one specific example. Research requires broad thinking in topic development (thesis) and detailed implementation.

I’ve researched markets to launch new publications by conducting competitive content analyses and readership studies (readership traits, needs, and desires; market structure; types of advertisers) and focus groups.

As chair of ASBPE’s research committee, we partnered with the Medill School of Journalism to study the lack of publisher leadership on journalism continuing training, especially digital skills.

I also led a study on the influences of advertisers on journalists and how to use editorial advisory boards to advantage (and later wrote a book chapter about this).

In college, I studied the professionalism of daily reporters in the state of Georgia.

Bottom line: I am a proponent of original research on issues that can make a difference for decision-makers, including board members. Show the data. Research is just one example of seeing a bigger picture and knowing the basic details for solid methodology.

4) I am a worker. A solid board of directors understands the larger perspective and sets policy, but its members must also be hands-on implementers, regardless of the number of paid employees.

I am a part-time freelancer editor and designer who by fortunate choice is winding down the amount of paid work to focus more time on volunteer work, such as the SPJ at-large board position, should I win the position.

My fervent wish is to give back to journalism what I’ve learned, defend and improve our profession, and help my colleagues do their work more effectively.

Bottom line: All this taken as a whole makes me a solid candidate who is willing to work hands-on and not be encumbered by time constraints that full-time journalist candidates are likely to have.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

In my long experience working with boards, I find small ones work better than large ones. Communication, decision-making and implementation is more efficient. A dozen or so is often a good number for board size, provided all members give of themselves more or less equally.

In an ideal world, all or most of the stakeholders would be represented. In the case of SPJ, a large organization with members working in a variety of news and journalism management roles across multiple platforms, the work of the board would be unwieldy if too large.

Structures can be in place to represent the needs of important niche groups within the organization. We know sometimes they are called committees, or communities, or chapters, or regions, or even special interest groups who can report to the board as part of the decision-making process.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I’ve only been a member for one year, and the work I do is with the Georgia chapter as a manager of its LinkedIn discussion group. I’ve not been in a direct position to help implement change, although I recognize the need for all chapters to grow and seek substantive member benefits that only chapters can provide or do more effectively than SPJ national.

Growing our LinkedIn discussion group was one thing I’ve tried to do, but it is difficult. One also needs a strong chapter membership campaign to coordinate with it. A discussion forum is one of the few useful tools a chapter has that national SPJ apparently doesn’t have. Some members might want a place to discuss issues amongst themselves, get quick advice, and network on a more local level.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Beyond an aggressive movement to get news organizations 1) to audit themselves for ethics and quality journalism and 2) to prepare presentations that journalists can use to speak to local civic organizations about trust-building/ethics, press freedom, and how and why journalism does what it does, I’d like 3) to help improve Quill magazine and 4) be a research committee person to examine journalism issues.

Re: Quill. I understand from recent SDX discussions some of what I say below may already be in place.

I have directed, developed or improved the content and design of more than 40 publications and have been a conference speaker and workshop leader on this topic. It starts with understanding the readers/members and providing information they can use.

But how?

If I started from scratch, here’s what I’d do:

1) The magazine needs an editorial advisory board whose function go beyond providing general editorial direction. [I understand there is a publication committee.] I have identified some 20 or so things a board can do. I did original research about how publications use such boards to advantage and published a chapter in a book entitled “Best Practices of the Business Press.” I’d love to serve on such a board.

2) Research.

  1. Conduct an in-depth focus group of readers (I’ve moderated a couple)
  2. Do a comprehensive quantitative readership study that asks the correct questions about members’/readers’ need and desires. [I believe some of this has been done recently.]

3) Attend a workshop geared to developing

  1. a clear mission
  2. an overall understandable (at a glance) content structure that reflects the mission
  3. content and presentation components that make the information useful and accessible.

In board meeting minutes, I’ve read a semblance of a  new editorial mission for Quill, but as a Member of SPJ and a reader, the mission of the publication and why and how it is useful to me is not readily apparent. Nor how its content fits holistically with content on other platforms.

This should be apparent to the reader almost immediately when looking at the cover and/or contents pages. It needs to help readers get to its substantive content quickly and quickly tell readers why the content is useful and how it can be used by the reader. It’s about the reader experience.

As a former publication/editorial consultant, I have conducted such workshops. If I were on the SPJ board, I’d lead the workshop for free, thus avoiding a conflict of interest.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

Here are possible ways:

1) The most critical need is to understand why people join SPJ now and why they would in the future. Here are some of the questions to have answers for:

  • What’s in it for the member?
  • How does SPJ help members become better journalists and even get promoted?
  • In what specific ways is SPJ useful to members? “If it is not useful, it is useless,” University of Missouri journalism professor emeritus Don Ranly used to say.
  • Can these actionable benefits to member be developed at a reasonable cost to the member?
  • What is the members’ return on investment?

The answers can come from research both quantitative and qualitative, e.g. properly conducted surveys and focus groups.

2) Association can choose from more than one revenue model. In the business-to-business world of journalism, the most prevalent model is still the free subscription, provided the reader works in the market that the publication is in. There is the paid-only subscriber model. And a combination of the two.

If membership is declining to significant levels, the free membership model might be economically feasible, if the association can find more advertisers/sponsors who want their message seen by the largest population of journalists possible. Food for thought.

3) Build the chapters in major cities or regions within a state. If all news is truly local, then logic might indicate that membership is local as well. But don’t expect members to drive 25 miles in rush hour to attend a monthly meeting. Perhaps substantive virtual meetings will make it easier for someone to take time away from work but spend less time and money traveling. Moreover, chapter benefits must be different from national benefits. And, they must be truly useful benefits.

4) Create a young leaders’ scholarship (say 29 years old or younger), give them one free 1-year membership to their local chapter (or even national) and free attendance at certain chapter meetings in return for, say, writing an article or two for the society or chapter or working on a local project. Young leaders would be nominated by their supervisors based on certain criteria. I’ve seen this concept bring in new members and leadership for ASBPE.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ’s work with ethics and the First Amendment is excellent. I say that because I have served as chair of the American Society of Business Publication Editors ethics committee, and I wrote the initial draft of its ethics guide for the which I felt was the strongest, most comprehensive code at the time. But the SPJ work is awesome. I associate SPJ’s ethics and First Amendment work with improving journalism quality.

The missing piece, to me, is an aggressive movement to get news organizations to do both internal (or perhaps via third-party, if nothing else works) audits of their own ethics and journalism quality. Then quickly improve their procedures and transparency.

Some good work on this has been done by at least three or four other journalism-related organizations. But I am not aware of news organizations taking the critical step to actually show they are improving. SPJ ought to work closely with these other organizations to develop better internal auditing tools and incentivize their use.

Only then can news organizations take the second step, which is to teach the public about what journalism is, how it does journalism, and why it does it the way it does it. It’s more difficult to sufficiently discuss news literacy with the public if one’s own house is not fully in order.

For example, how many news organizations publish their code of ethics on their website or even say they have adopted the SPJ code and provide a link to it? How many ask the public to hold them accountable? How many teach the public how to do a content analysis of their reporting and measure the quality of their journalism?

I would challenge SPJ to work harder with other journalism organizations to get new organizations to better police themselves and be transparent with the public about their ethical and reporting procedures. When I was a corporate editorial director, I created an internal journalism excellence program based on content analyses and service journalism. The Trust Project and The Trusting News Project can’t do it alone. To me, this is an urgent need.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

Journalism is in crisis because of the lack of public trust. I want to collaborate with SPJ colleagues to be part of the solution to help build trust and high-quality journalism and to teach news literacy to the public. Our Constitutional foundation is in danger otherwise. As an association with a high public profile, SPJ is the perfect place to help coordinate this effort.

I’d tell prospective members that SPJ is trying to do substantive work within the political and social environment today. Be involved. As a long-standing societal institution, the press needs your help. Plus, you will hone your skills via SPJ and become a better journalist and manager. You’ll have more personal fulfillment.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

Three quickly stand out.

1) Based on my reporting, the Georgia State Judicial Qualifications Commission essentially removed a sitting Superior Court judge because the judge asked the official court recorder to erase recordings of court proceedings/testimony.

2) Wrote the initial draft of the national ethics code and best practices for the American Society of Business Publication Editors.

3) In partnership with the Medill School of Journalism while I was research chair for ASBPE, I directed original research about the lack of digital journalism skills training by B2B publishers.

For more detail about my backgroundplease see my LinkedIn profile at: www.linkedin.com/in/robinshermaneditdesign

• Mercedes Vigón

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have hands on experience serving in several national and international boards of professional journalism associations, such as the International Press Institute, the Caribbean Media Institute, and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. And, since the 2000 convention, I have also worked with the NAHJ unofficially, first as a News Director, but mostly in a capacity of academic advisor. My mission has been reaching out to my former colleagues, specially in the Spanish-Language and Hispanic News Media, and working with them to strengthen professional practices.

Some accomplishment would be securing and managing grants proposals, such as one from the SSRC for “Covering the Islam,” and promoting alliances for promoting better climate change data, or for project oriented trainings  (mostly, in investigative journalism) in the Caribbean and Latin American.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

My experience with boards let me to conclude that inclusive smaller structures are more effective, as communication tend to be easier, and board members have more clarity in their mandates. Now, transparency and communication between the board members, and the rest of the association needs to be worked out very carefully. And this is quite complicate to implement. In other words, this structures only depend on trust to succeed.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I have not contributed directly to make any substantial change in the SPJ organization. I have collaborated with the SPJ student chapter, as academic adviser of the FIU student organization, NAHJ.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Now, why would I offer to serve?  I have always worked as a bridge of understanding… I have been a young journalist struggling to find a place, and mid-career professional trying to advance in the field. I have had the luxury of time to reflect about the times, and to develop new training guidelines. Finding the balance between technology and fact based journalism has always been a problem. But now, the political situation and the financial tensions, have given journalists an opportunity to recalibrate and re-emphasize the importance of our roles in society. And we cannot do this alone: one story at a time. We are perceived as a body; and sometimes we need to react as such

For me is important to serve, because this is what I do. I am not a full time journalist anymore. I prepare journalists and support them during their careers. If elected to the board. I will continue doing what I do: advocating, training, generating grant proposals. But with a more ambitious goal on mind.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

5, 6 & 7 — GLOBALIZATION … Reaching out requires winning the trust of  a more diverse sets of groups. I am comfortable in the NAHJ, everybody knows me, I feel at home… But it is only a small grain of sand in the big mountain. We need more alliances and collaborations. Every association should be working with each other, not competing. And this can be done, the times require that we figure out how to create an inclusive network… where everybody is invited, and journalists react as one when needed.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

In 2013, I  directed, produced and wrote with my students, “Islam in Buenaventura” — a documentary about an Afro-Colombian Muslim community in Buenaventura and Cali, Colombia. “Islam in Buenaventura” has been screened all over the U.S., and in three international film festivals: the Short film Festival “Somos Afro,” the Human Rights in Barcelona, and the third one in Indonesia, where it won the Award of Merit for International Short Film.

*****

At-large director, one-year term (choose two)

• Michael Savino

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

As immediate past president for Connecticut SPJ, I already have experience supporting my state’s journalists in a variety of ways. I have come to the defense of reporters when they need it — including multiple times approaching legislative leaders and their staffs when ranking members are harassing reporters. I have also led our efforts on advocating for FOI access and have organized several professional development panels, networking activities, and other events.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

I support a streamlined version that allows our organization to be more responsive. So, yes, that is significant. Last year, I proposed a motion that would have added two more seats to the board as a way to address concerns about diversity. The motion failed, but I think the new board can still be representative so long as the organization and its members remained committed to supporting a diverse group of leaders.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I have not yet had the opportunity to make any changes within SPJ, but I’m looking forward to the chance.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

If elected, I want to help SPJ take a lead in making journalism more responsive to the mental health needs of its employees. We should follow the model we have set with ethics, including creating a list of best practices. I don’t think we need a committee on this, but identifying best practices and establishing a partnership with an organization for a hotline could be major benefits for members.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

Obviously some of this is due to the reduction in working journalists, but SPJ can’t just sit by an accept that as an excuse. The SPJ Supporter program is a great way to get people from outside the industry to bolster our revenue, and we can do more to promote that.

We also need to continue to promote the benefits members can get, aside from knowing they support our mission. I feel I became a better leader because I attended a Scripps Leadership Institute, and I recommend it to everyone I can.

SPJ’s membership also brings discounts. Perhaps we can expand that. We can also look for more opportunities to offer sales on membership fees. That is one of the biggest obstacles I run into. But I’m confident that once we get people to sign up, we can show members the value.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ continues to take the lead in creating tools to help journalists do their jobs. The Whistleblower Project and partnership with Facebook and its training program are just two recent examples of our organization constantly looking for new professional development opportunities.

One concern I have with SPJ is its partnership with certain groups and people that actively try to undermine our work. This includes a sponsorship from the Charles Koch Institute, for example, despite his Koch Industries tactics against reporters who try to unveil some of his organization’s activities. Sinclair is also a sponsor of this year’s event, even though the television network directed its local anchors to read a script that pushes the “fake news” narrative that undermines our work. SPJ can and should continue to support the journalists who work for these organizations while avoiding such relationships with the larger organizations.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

First and foremost is the ways SPJ defends us. The national organization promotes legislation and creates partnerships that help journalists at all levels. It also has a legal defense fund to help journalists who run into First Amendment issues. In Connecticut, we also push for legislation and provide several programs. Those things require money. Beyond that, they also get access to plenty of benefits through the national organization, and discounts to CT events whenever we have to charge.

It also comes with access to Quill and other resources that include the latest industry trends and tips.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I have two. As a journalist. I am proud to be elected as president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, which happened in June. My colleagues on the board have long cheered my in my work for public disclosure (they also gave me their top award for journalists in 2016), and now want me to lead the charge in lobbying for changes.

As a member of CT SPJ, I’m most proud of the time I came to the aid of a reporter when a state lawmaker (in the majority caucus) threw a plush toy at her in the state House chamber. At the time, I also covered the capitol, and I immediately ran down to the House to address this. I talked with members of his staff to demand immediate action.

The next day, after an unrelated press conference, the House speaker himself pulled me and the reporter into his office to apologize and explain that the lawmaker would be disciplined. The lawmaker was stripped of his deputy speaker title. The reporter expressed gratification because she runs her own website and doesn’t have an organization to come to her aid.

 

• Yvette Walker

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am the best candidate for an at-large director because I know the news industry and have witnessed transformative times. I have worked with print, online and broadcast news in my career, and now work in educating the next generations of journalists. I have specialized in teaching news ethics and was the Ethics Chair at the University of Central Oklahoma. Now I am Dean of Students at Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma.

I understand the difficulty of reporting in small communities as well as large; I have covered crime and features; and I have managed daily news operations. I have covered media issues as editor of the Journal of the National Association of Black Journalists.  And as a black woman who has worked in white newsrooms, I understand why diversity is important. As Lanier Frush Holt wrote in Quill about stereotypical depictions, “… While there are more diverse faces in front of the camera, the people who ultimately decide what becomes news — directors and managing editors — largely remain male and white.” I agree. It is important to diversify upper management, as well as boards, in media.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

A smaller board is more efficient and can be more nimble than a large board. We work in a fast-paced environment and sometimes need to turn on a dime. However, it is a significant change, so let me speak to what I think I can bring  to this new board.

One of the biggest changes concerns geographic representation, and so, being centered in, and having lived in the Heartland of the country (10 years in Missouri and 12 years in Oklahoma), as well as living in Texas, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois during my career, I believe I can represent and understand the concerns of a large area of the country. Also, I can provide diversity in race and gender to the board, which was another major concern with the new, smaller structure. Finally, as a dean of students at the University of Oklahoma, I can help represent the student sector, which was another concern about the smaller structure.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

During my career in newsrooms across the country, I have been doing what SPJ advocates: ethically publishing important, diverse issues in my communities. I have encouraged young journalists to become members and get involved. I see the importance of SPJ, and I want to help others who have not joined to see its importance, too. When SPJ board members reached out to me about the next executive director, I was able to talk about the skill set needed and the importance of diversity. This is an opportunity to bring new ideas and new people to a new board.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I would work with the board to do the one thing that might be holding back potential members, both minority and non-minority and that is to tell SPJ’s story. What makes SPJ important and different than other media organizations? Between SPJ and all those organizations, there is a lot of noise out there. What is SPJ’s role to the average journalist? SPJ is historic, important and has inspired generations of journalists. But is it energizing and identifying with today’s journalist? I would like to help SPJ make that connection.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

I would represent declining membership by reaching out to people like me — those who love this industry, but perhaps have not been active — by convincing them their time is now to help be a part of the conversation. I would reach out to the large freelance writing community, many of whom are post-news career, but still very much engaged.

Also, we have to look beyond our borders and consider opening more international chapters. Global membership is a mostly untapped area with whom we can connect. Finally, our student chapters in many ways have some of our most passionate members. We need to raise them up to be future SPJ leaders.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

The focus on news ethics in practice and theory is what SPJ is known for and does particularly well. Adding media literacy and ethical messaging to this conversation would build on this important strength. Also, the Journalist On Call initiative will help fill the gaps between how media operate and what news consumers understand. As a former ombudsman at the Kansas City Star, I know the importance of speaking directly to our communities. The On Call program certainly can help build trust between communities and journalists.

However, SPJ is not great at telling people what SPJ is. Besides advocating ethics, is SPJ an advocacy organization? Is it a professional development organization? Is it akin to the Poynter Institute? Is it all of the above? I’m not sure SPJ is rising above the noise of other organizations. Do people understand the connection of SPJ to Quill magazine, which does report news, but also expresses advocacy ideas? SPJ must tell people what it is and why it is important.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

I tell journalists they should join because they need a solid foundation to help them make decisions and to fight against those who think we are the enemy. SPJ membership — along with friendship and collegial experiences — can provide that. SPJ has one of the oldest code of ethics in media and is a lighthouse to many (particularly young) journalists needing help making decisions in covering news. Providing this guidance is not the only reason SPJ is important, but it might be the one that has stuck with me the longest.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I’m not the one looking to stand in the spotlight. I’m a coach, a mentor, an editor. I find the most rewarding moments are when I help make stories sing, or help a reporter or student find their way through a complicated issue. As a young reporter, my best moments were connecting with sources, gaining their trust and getting the story for my readers.

*****

Region 10 director (choose one)

• Donald W. Meyers

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have previously served as a regional director, and I know the challenges that face a large, sparsely populated region. Since February, I have been working with national and the chapters in the region to address financial issues and improve transparency. I would like to be able to continue that effort, as well as reactivate some of the SPJ chapters that have gone dormant.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

The smaller structure allows the national board to be more nimble in its response to national matters, while allowing the regional directors/coordinators to concentrate on the issues going on at their level. My only concern would be ensuring that the coordinators be able to act as liaisons between the board and the chapters.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

There are two. First, I helped create SPJ’s national Black Hole Award. Working with then-FOI chair Dave Cuillier and President Hagit Limor, I wrote the rules that set the criteria for awarding the Black Hole, as well as outlining its purpose.

The other is getting the national board to give national committee chairs a comped registration for the national convention. These are men and women who do a lot of the heavy lifting for SPJ, and they do it without a stipend from national. I felt that a comped registration would be a way to show gratitude for their service and ease some of the burden they shoulder.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

If I am re-elected, I would continue the efforts to make the organization more transparent, particularly when it comes to finances. I would also work on maintaining chapter health and promoting our advocacy work.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

We need to remind people about what SPJ does for them. We need to be more in the forefront of free-press issues. We also need to show how SPJ is helping the journalist on the ground, particularly through the Legal Defense Fund.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

I think our advocacy for free press and open government are great. Nationally and through our chapters, we are among the strongest First Amendment advocates in the nation. I think we need to do a better job of getting that message out and showing journalists at smaller organizations that SPJ can help them as well. And to do that, we need to make sure our chapters are as strong as they can be.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

SPJ is a great source for professional development and advocacy for journalists. I have gotten far more out of SPJ than I have put in. I tell people about our Legal Defense Fund and our advocacy, and how SPJ has led the charge to improve our open records and meetings laws, as well as our commitment to ethical journalism.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

Winning an FOI court battle, with SPJ’s help, that not only got me the records I was seeking, but forced other organizations in the state of Utah to change their rules on releasing the names of finalists for administrative posts. I had one journalist, who learned about my role in that case, thank me for taking the stand (that some critics called a Pyrrhic victory because I got my records so far after the fact that they were more  historical) because she had other agencies quickly hand over similar documents because they didn’t want to go through what the city I sued with SPJ’s help went through.

I would also say that seeing the Utah State Legislature, under pressure from SPJ after receiving its national Black Hole award and the public anger directed at lawmakers because of that, reverse a law that gutted the state’s public records act. In addition to writing the guidelines for the Black Hole award, I also nominated the Utah Legislature for the award.

*****

Region 1 coordinator (choose one)

• Jane Primerano

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have served as RD since I was appointed interim when Rebecca Baker was elected secretary-treasurer in 2015. Since then, I have run three successful conferences and assisted my professional and student chapters with some excellent programs. I have a couple of goals still to achieve. We are closer to a revived Philadelphia chapter than we were, but I really want to remain as RD/RC until it is a reality.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

I support the new board structure. I was among the RDs who wanted reassurance we would continue to have our caucus (and a travel stipend to meet once a year in person) because each region functions better when we discuss the matters that concern all of us. I believe a streamlined board will function more efficiently. I hope the new structure brings in new ideas and accomplishments.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I helped insure the RDs/RCs would remain a voice within the organization. On the regional level, I worked with the Maine and New England chapters to change Maine’s status to satellite chapter and I supervised work on an Upstate New York professional event (the first in many years).

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I will continue to work to renew the Philadelphia chapter, either as a stand-alone or as a satellite to Keystone. Once that is accomplished, I will turn my attention to Upstate New York.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

I will continue to work on the addition of two new pro chapters in Region 1 and support my student chapters. I will also continue to address colleges to promote new college chapters and recruit members at the annual Center For Cooperative Media News Summit and other events throughout Region 1.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ is the go-to organization on all journalism ethics questions. We also do a great job of going into schools and addressing individuals and organizations about media literacy. We have not been spectacular on diversity matters, but, my theory is you can’t address every issue with equal strength simultaneously.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

SPJ is vital because of its work on ethics, FOI and media literacy. I tell people about those things and remind them of the importance of networking. Many of us have found mentors and jobs through SPJ and when we have reached maturity in our careers, cherish the ability to help younger members. In addition, SPJ chapters and national have assisted many journalists who run afoul of government agencies.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

It’s hard to choose one after decades in the business. Early in my career, I covered a battle between a farming community and a chemical plant that resulted in the closing of the plant. I am very proud of stories I’ve written — investigative pieces on Colony Collapse Disorder in the beekeeping community and water policy in New Jersey. I am also proud of my work with high school journalists through the Garden State Scholastic Press Association and its Fall Student Press Day.

*****

Region 4 coordinator (choose one)

• Paul Kostyu

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have had a long-time affiliation with SPJ in a variety of capacities. Even as an academic, I found more value in being a part of SPJ than with my fellow academics in AEJMC. That’s simply because SPJ is more in tune with the needs of the profession and thus I can better teach my students the skills they need to be successful. So I bring to this position extensive professional knowledge over 45 years as a working journalist, as a freelancer and as an academic.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

I do support the new smaller structure, because I think it will be more efficient. It will be less cumbersome in terms of arranging meetings of the board. However, I think it is critical that the smaller board keep open lines of communication with regional coordinators. I’ve always felt as a journalist that though we are in the communication business, we are pretty lousy at communicating with each other. I’d like to make sure as much information as possible reaches the most important constituents — our members.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

During my five years as a co-editor of the national convention’s newspaper, I challenged the then-SPJ policy of closing board meetings to the newspaper staff. As a result, board members saw the error of the policy, and irony and hypocrisy of SPJ closing meetings while challenging public bodies to open their meetings. I also fought for the independence of the student staff to be edited by SPJ representatives. While I have not been at a national convention for a few years, I hope independence and openness are a matter of routine.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Other than what I have mentioned in my other responses, I do not have anything specific change I would like to make. I will be better able to answer this question once I have been able to meet with board members, other regional coordinators and regular members. I’m not in favor of change just to have change. But I do want to make sure SPJ is running efficiently, effectively and within its budget.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

It’s critical that SPJ remain relevant to the profession. It has to be viewed as a valuable and necessary resource. We should try to keep the organization as cost-effective as possible. We need to do a better job of reaching out to college students to get them involved early, while recognizing that they often don’t have the money to spend on trips to conferences. Any time we can do workshops and seminar on campuses works to SPJ’s advantage. National should provide regional  coordinators travel budgets to help defer the costs of visits to college campuses and to chapter meetings in their regions.

We need to take advantage of the renewed interest in journalism programs that has been created by the Trump administration (much as we did during the aftermath of Watergate). We need to educate the public about news literacy. We need to be the organization that our fellow journalists call first for information or responses. We should teach our members the practical skills they need to succeed. This could be done in conjunction with IRE, SEJ and other specialty organizations.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

I think SPJ is on top of the challenges of the profession, especially during this very dangerous time to be a journalist in the U.S. So its responses to national, regional and local challenges are very important.

In the past year or so, I have twice written (actually emailed) to the president of SPJ (two different presidents) and both times got no response. None. Not a peep. That is not good communication with members. The president has to be accessible to members, not just board members and regional coordinators. We need to improve our communication with each other. By the way, one of those emails was about a factual error in the president’s column in Quill. So it never got corrected. That’s inexcusable for our organization.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

SPJ is important to me because it is the one organization that links journalists across specialties. I tell my students and others that it is a good way to learn more about the profession, techniques and story ideas. It’s an excellent way to network. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel because someone somewhere has done a story or investigation that perhaps can be done again at a different news outlet. SPJers are willing to help and mentor others.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I’ve had many good moments and achievements in journalism. I’ve been nominated for a Pulitzer and have received awards nationally and regionally for use of public records, investigations, feature writing, environmental reporting, etc. My work has changed laws and convicted folks.

But frankly, I am most proud of a series of stories I wrote about how newborns are tested for hearing loss in Ohio. Before my stories, newborns were tested by crunching a piece of paper next to their ears to see if they reacted. That process was not only ineffective, but led to higher health care costs for people later in life when they tried to get their hearing corrected.

My stories educated legislators about an electronic process done while a baby is sleeping. That testing leads to earlier recognition of hearing loss, making it easier and less expensive to correct. Ohio law changed because of those stories. I find satisfaction that in a small way I helped the voiceless — in this case, newborns — in Ohio.

*****

Region 5 coordinator (choose one)

• Amy Merrick

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have a breadth of journalism experience that reflects our membership. I was a reporter for 11 years at The Wall Street Journal, so I know what it’s like to work in a large newsroom. Now, I freelance for magazines, so I understand the opportunities and challenges that our freelance members contend with. As an adviser of a thriving student chapter, I’m in touch with what students need to learn new skills and launch their careers.

At DePaul, we co-hosted the Region 5 conference in April 2018, bringing in more than 100 attendees, panelists and workshop leaders. We fostered discussion about important issues facing journalists, including sexual harassment in the newsroom, and diversity, equity and representation in student media. In July, I attended the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in Indianapolis, which gave me a better appreciation for SPJ’s structure and goals.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

The specific number of SPJ board members is less important than the results they achieve. SPJ needs to continue developing robust recruitment, leadership development and nominations processes for potential board members. Moving toward a smaller board structure can increase flexibility and responsiveness, so long as there is a large candidate pool with many people expressing their ideas.

The risk in moving toward a competency-based board is gravitating toward members who are familiar, rather than cultivating a broader network of potential candidates. This year, there is only one recent graduate running for a board position, and no current students, who make up a large proportion of our membership. Outside of the board, most regional coordinator positions (including the one I am running for) are unopposed. The structures that will shape a responsive, creative, dynamic board have to be considered year-round, not just right before elections.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I launched and maintain Region 5’s Twitter account, better connecting our members and helping them take advantage of all of SPJ’s opportunities. I would like to expand our communications to a full website and email newsletter. There are great chapters in our region doing creative things, and it could be easier for all of us to share what we’re learning.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I would like to establish a formal, online-based coaching and mentorship program, pairing established journalists with younger members, those seeking a career transition, journalists interested in leadership development or anyone who could benefit from one-on-one guidance.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

The best way to determine why SPJ’s membership is declining is to ask a broad base of our members, as well as former members and journalists who are not part of SPJ. Many journalists create their own networks across social media, rather than joining formal organizations. We can do more to support, listen to and participate in those networks. SPJ has become more public in its support of First Amendment issues, which may help people understand the value of creating a community around shared values.

Our student membership is too expensive. Other organizations, such as Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Online News Association, charge students $25. Many students do not declare a journalism major until after their sophomore year, meaning they can’t take advantage of SPJ’s discounted four-year rate.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ’s advocacy for the First Amendment, for journalists whose reporting puts them in harm’s way, and for access to government records through FOIA gives the organization purpose and clarity. With the new Journalist on Call position, Rod Hicks has a chance to foster important conversations in communities that lack trust in the media.

If we agree on the fundamental values that SPJ supports, then we have to move ahead to create opportunity, to support each other and to report important stories. The pain of newsroom layoffs has been substantial, and I empathize with the concerns of reporters whose organizations have shaky finances, as well as the difficulties faced by freelancers and unemployed journalists. At the same time, SPJ’s messaging can be more encouraging, inclusive and forward-looking.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

SPJ’s Code of Ethics is an indispensable guide to journalists’ core values. By joining SPJ, journalists and supporters of the First Amendment strengthen a community committed to upholding those values. Journalists can share with each other how they reported specific stories. They can teach each other new skills. They can offer advice on resumes and advertise career opportunities. They can speak as a united voice for journalists whose reporting has put them in danger. They can work together for open access to government records. From the most formal conference to the most informal local meeting, they can gather to build collaboration and friendship, and to find ways to produce significant, ethical journalism.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

In 2016, I helped DePaul students launch an online multimedia magazine, 14 East. The magazine, which I advise, crosses cultures, life experiences and geographic boundaries. A story about working conditions for campus security guards incorporated interviews at universities throughout Chicago. Another piece used the words of prison inmates — handwritten by the inmates and carried out of the prison by visitors. The magazine hosted a workshop about reporting on sexual assault that was attended by students from other schools and by early-career Chicago reporters.

As a journalist, it has been my mission to explain systemic issues and to connect people with new perspectives. To help student reporters take up this challenge is my proudest accomplishment.

*****

Region 7 coordinator (choose one)

• Katelyn Mary Skaggs

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am about to graduate with my bachelor’s degree and I think I could best serve Region 7 by bringing student and professional journalists together. Professional journalists have so much to share and teach about journalism and telling compelling stories, while many student journalists have lots to share about growing technology and social media. I would love to see both groups come together and share ideas and wisdom. I would like to see Region 7 plan more education activities across the region with both groups. (I have always believed learning should never stop.)

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

I have heard about the new smaller structure. However, I wasn’t very familiar with the structure of SPJ before the change, so I personally have not seen a significant change.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

There is nothing specific that I have been able to change or help within SPJ, yet. I am hoping to get deeper involved in the organization and assist with any changes, which are in the best interest of SPJ.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

One thing I would like to see happen in SPJ is professional chapters work more with student chapters. Both groups have so much to learn from one another and it would be a great networking opportunity. I would love to help make this happen.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

I would address this by speaking with members and asking what they are not getting from their membership. Do they want more networking and educational activities or just social events? I think we need to speak with members who are thinking about leaving to better understand why they want to leave and hopefully find a solution for them to stay.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

One thing SPJ does extremely well is making helpful resources available, like the code of ethics, the freelance community and so much more. I personally have not experienced anything that SPJ is not doing a wonderful job at. However, I am aware of the decline in membership.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

I joined SPJ in 2015 and have loved every minute of being involved. My SPJ experience has been very educational and given me amazing opportunities to network. SPJ is also important to me because of its backing of the First Amendment, which is something that I am very passionate about. I always tell journalists about joining that they have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. I have yet to meet a member of SPJ that has not gained something from their membership.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

My best achievement in journalism so far is winning second place for the best special section from College Media Association in 2017. The special section win was for an investigation about Southeast Missouri State University’s reporting on sexual assaults and rapes on the campus. My role in the special section was retelling victim’s stories. My team’s reporting resulted in the university changing campus policies.

 

• Leah Wankum

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I excel in connecting journalists with the resources they need. SPJ has personally helped my career, as I’ve learned from others in the organization on how they’ve helped each other grow in the field.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

I would prefer not to answer this question, as I don’t have first-person experience with the restructuring and its effects. Happy to learn more and provide an opinion later, but I’m sure our leadership would only make this change for the benefit of the organization and its members.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I have not had the opportunity.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I would make sure SPJ continues its leadership role in the industry, as both a resource for journalists and non-journalists alike, not only to maintain the organization’s relevance in our society, but also to establish and foster standards for best practices in a fast-paced world.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

Again, we need to stay relevant to journalists, especially young journalists like me who have a more consumerist attitude toward membership. We need to consistently exemplify our value, not only because of our legacy as an institution, but also because no other organizations out there have the brand recognition to reach as many journalists as SPJ does.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ’s code of ethics is consistent and relevant. I know many journalists who turn to it for guidance. I’m not sure how SPJ is specifically NOT doing well, but declining membership speaks for itself. We need to get back in tune with membership, tap into their current needs and wishes and discover how to meet them.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

SPJ connects me to valuable resources, outstanding mentors and networking opportunities. Through SPJ and the KC Press Club, I have found camaraderie and friendship, something I think is especially important in this relatively isolating industry. I tell journalists about my own valuable experiences, because sometimes I think journalists (especially younger professionals) tend to isolate themselves as well, and tend to avoid relying on others for assistance.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

When SPJ recognized me as a national winner in breaking news in 2016, I was honored beyond words. It spurred me to action, when I was uncertain of my job prospects after completing my master’s degree. I am truly grateful for everything SPJ has done for me, and I’d love the opportunity to give back.

*****

Region 8 coordinator (choose one)

• Kathryn Jones

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I joined SPJ as an idealistic student in journalism school at Trinity University in San Antonio. I still have my original membership certificate, which I’ve kept with me on my many moves around Texas. It’s now framed and displayed in my office at Tarleton State University, where I’ve taught journalism for the past five years. Previously, I spent more than 30 years as a staff writer for The Dallas Morning News and Dallas Times Herald, a writer under contract and now a freelancer for The New York Times, and a writer-at-large and now contributing editor for Texas Monthly magazine. I also served as the editor of a community newspaper and I co-founded a news website.

I have a wealth and diversity of journalism experience that give me a broad perspective. In addition to my dedication to SPJ and mix of professional experience, I have the time, energy, self-motivation and industry contacts to be an effective coordinator.

Tarleton hosted the Region 8 conference in 2016, so I also have experience planning a major event. We put together panels on covering border issues, investigative journalism techniques, Google tools and data visualization, freelance writing, and ethical issues facing journalists. We also brought in Jackie Calmes, who’s covered the nation’s capital for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, as keynote speaker. The SPJ chapter also sponsors public panels throughout the annual Free Speech Week.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

Yes. Board members say it increases efficiency and communication. As long as it’s effective and representative, the size doesn’t matter as much to me.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As someone who made a living and career at freelancing for more than 20 years, I’ve made SPJ more aware of the needs of freelance writers. I’ve spoken at SPJ conferences about freelance writing and also was a founding member of a freelance writers’ network in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I would like to continue efforts to recruit freelancers to join SPJ since many journalists in the region have left news organizations, either through buyouts or layoffs, and are now freelancing or even founding their own news websites.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I’d like to start a Region 8 blog with news about activities in the region, tips from experienced journalists, profiles of members doing interesting things in their careers, thoughts about current events pertaining to journalism, and other items of interest. This site also could share news about jobs or freelance opportunities in Region 8, such as the Mid-Atlantic Muckraker (great name!) Region 2 blog does. The blog could build a stronger bridge between university and professional chapters and, I hope, become a resource that would encourage more people to join SPJ.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

In addition to using the blog described above as a recruiting tool, I would reach out to young journalists and journalists in nontraditional jobs. Journalism job descriptions are changing and many young journalists I know perceive SPJ as an organization for “older,” established writers and broadcasters. Certainly, many of us got involved in SPJ in university chapters and that’s a good way to grow membership, especially if the membership fee could be trimmed to $30 or even $25.

But I also want to encourage universities that don’t have an SPJ chapter to start one and reach out to interns and young journalists working full-time and part-time at a variety of journalism organizations, including nontraditional ones. Mentoring and networking could be a strong draw.

I suspect the drop in SPJ membership also has to do with the declining employment in traditional journalism outlets. One way to reach out to that base is to share job news, links to job banks, and include conference sessions on how to reinvent oneself after a career jolt. I also would reach out to bloggers, journalism website entrepreneurs, and others who have found new ways to continue their journalism careers.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ is the guiding light in journalism for ethics and First Amendment issues. I’d like to see Region 8 support other advocacy organizations, such as the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas that champions pro-journalism legislation and fights attempts to water down the Texas Public Information Act. The other thing SPJ does well is staging the national conference. The breakout sessions are informative and it’s exciting to meet and learn from other journalists across the nation. The conference really gets attendees inspired.

One thing SPJ is not doing well is reaching out to the many people in journalism who have been displaced because of layoffs, buyouts, or consolidation. Perhaps we could have a “hardship” status for people who would like to be involved but who are currently out of work and cannot pay the membership fee.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

Journalism is under attack as never before. Seeking truth and reporting it present new challenges, and one of those is public trust. Journalists’ ethics, accuracy and fairness are under intense scrutiny from those in power who want to undermine our credibility. SPJ’s Code of Ethics is more important than ever for journalists in this changing, volatile environment. So is speaking with a collective voice and explaining why journalism matters. SPJ is in the best position to do this.

I tell journalists they should join SPJ to learn about jobs and industry trends, hone their skills and learn new ones from peers who are trying different tools and techniques, feel a sense of camaraderie and pride in preserving democracy and defending the principles of free speech, and to meet and connect with other professionals across the nation.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I’m proudest of an award I won in 2011 for promoting open government — the Nancy Monson Award given by the Texas Press Association and Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. The award was for news stories and columns I wrote as a small-town newspaper editor about a mayor pro tem and her husband, a former police chief, who used their positions to procure a city job for her son/his stepson, even though he had a criminal record. He lied on his job application about his criminal past, which I uncovered by gumshoe reporting and tracking down public records in three counties.

When I ran the stories on the front page, the community blowback was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Readers canceled subscriptions; advertisers canceled ads. The owners of the newspaper were not happy, either. I received hate mail and never worked in my office without keeping the door locked. But I persevered because of the principles I learned from SPJ — to hold those in power accountable, to be accurate and fair, and to be courageous in reporting a story I knew was going to be unpopular.

 

• Bal Joshi

withdrew from race

*****

Region 9 coordinator (choose one)

• Ed Otte

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

With two years of experience as regional director, I’ve worked with the pro chapter boards in New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. And involvement with two recent regional conferences — 2018 and 2015 in Denver — as well as the Mark of Excellence contest will provide continuity.

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

The smaller board should provide for more efficiency, especially in relations with the executive director and the headquarters staff. It is a significant change and should demonstrate immediate benefits. A concern is that pro and college chapters will continue to have access to the new board members. That communication and response are vital for a smooth transition.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

While serving as president of the Colorado Pro chapter, we expanded our outreach to college journalism programs in the state and provided educational programs at the Denver Press Club. (The programs were taped and posted online.) While on the national board, I worked on the regional fund task force. The small group, led by Lauren Bartlett, established strong oversight rules for pro and college chapters.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Help implement the fund oversight rules — they’re needed to ensure transparency and chapter stability. Financial strength helps nurture chapter activity, outreach efforts and maintain SPJ’s visibility.

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

College students and campus chapters offer the most potential for membership growth. Regional coordinators should work with the chapter advisers to grow membership and then with pro chapters to attract working journalists.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ does two things very well — emphasize media ethics and work with other national organizations in protecting public access to government records and meetings. This occurs at the local and national levels. In this political climate, SPJ needs to react faster to defend the First Amendment and the work of journalists. Given the shrinking resources of nearly all journalism organizations and media outlets, partnerships with other organizations — again at the local and national levels — are vital.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

SPJ is a counterweight to the groups that claim fake news is the norm and that the press is the enemy of the people.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

Most satisfying achievement occurred while serving as executive director of the Colorado Press Association. Our member newspapers partnered twice with the Denver bureau of The Associated Press to conduct statewide surveys on access to public records. The results, a package of stories by newspaper reporters and AP staff, ran in dailies and weeklies. They raised awareness about abuses in local government, school districts and law enforcement. They also produced legislation that improved public access to the records.

 

• Rhett Wilkinson

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Having been a journalist in multiple states in Region 9, and four areas within one state, I know it rather well, understanding various cultures within the region. This enables me to be an excellent voice for the region and see that it needs more folks committed to journalism leading and working for its media outlets.

I have already volunteered for journalism. I co-founded a magazine in college and saw a billboard go up in town on the topic of an article I wrote just two weeks earlier. I have studied Federal Election Commission documentation and challenged the Secret Service, writing one or more stories for each action. All of that was for free.

I have demonstrated abilities in the craft, having worked for The Inquisitr, Vote Smart, Patch and Bleacher Report, with my work being seen in ESPN, Pew and USA Today.

I have ideas that are specific about inspiring the people who are most likely to get involved in journalism — getting field representatives onto campuses and offering free memberships to new college students, which is critical given the decline of the craft. I also understand modern tools journalism needs today. (For example, I know why Google+ is the most important sharing platform.)

2 – Do you support the new smaller structure of SPJ’s board of directors? Is this a significant change? What specifically do you like or not like?

I do, and I think it is. I like that it will be able to be more nimble. I know that is cliché, but I believe that entities lose effectiveness soon after reaching a certain size.

3 – What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I am still looking forward to that opportunity, having been a member for just five years.

4 – What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I would like for SPJ to visit campuses and inspire students to do journalism. The key is getting at the heart of the issue of journalism in decline. That is through influencing the hearts and minds of the people who are determining what to do with their lives.

Field representatives could do this work, or I would do it if there were not enough resources for that. (And even with field representatives, I would probably still do it.) My work schedule allows it since I can work — and take off time — whenever I want.

I also would want to be an ambassador of a program for free memberships for students entering college. (See below.)

5 – SPJ’s membership is declining. How would you address this?

I would allow free memberships for students entering college. These would last a year to two years, long enough for the students to make a decision on their major while also not binding SPJ to costs of doing that too long. This could also allow for SPJ to save money by doing this in lieu of scholarships.

The larger problem is that there are less people involved in journalism, so those people most likely to make a decision to do it need to be incentivized to pursue it.

6 – What is one thing SPJ is doing well? One thing SPJ is not doing well?

SPJ is doing great at reminding its members that they are doing critical work, through methods including, but not limited to, its awards and how it communicates in its emails. It needs to be more proactive as an advocate of journalism and its protections, though it is engaged in proactive action at that as we speak.

7 – Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?

The SPJ helps the public understand the importance of journalism and reminds its members of that, and does it in various ways — public communications and awards as just two examples. It provides notifications about open positions and has local chapters. It has provided mechanisms to advocate for journalism. I used a freedom-of-the-press graphic provided after Trump kept media from a press conference for my social media profiles. It provides opportunities to meet others and thus learn about their efforts to bring corruption to light and hold elected officials in check. And its trainings are excellent, since our work is too important to not be optimized.

I would tell journalists that it’s important to be part of the best advocacy organization in the nation for their craft.

8 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I studied Federal Election Commission documents to discover that Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) had used campaign funds for Disney World and that she had a missing report per her expenditure disclosures. I volunteered to do this.

Q&A with this year’s SPJ board candidates

SPJ’s national elections are coming up Sept. 7 to 9, in conjunction with our national convention in Anaheim. All SPJ members can vote for members of the national board. Watch your email in-box for an electronic ballot.

SPJ’s Election Central webpage lists who is running (Note: I am running uncontested for another term as Region 2 director), as well as a submitted bio of each.

I asked candidates in the four contested races (president-elect, vice president of campus chapter affairs, student representative and Region 10 director) to also answer a short questionnaire. Here are their replies, edited only to fix the occasional typo or style point.

 

PRESIDENT-ELECT

 

J. Alex Tarquinio

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

It boils down to leadership and tried and tested organizational skills. For example, before joining the national board, I led the New York Deadline Club through a period of change, as we digitized our awards contest; grew our annual scholarships from $3,000 to $10,000; revived the Hall of fame, celebrating exceptional journalists; and recruited diverse new board members from top-flight media outlets.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

Yes, absolutely. From the time when the notion of creating a smaller board first floated on national board emails, I’ve enthusiastically supported it. This has the power to transform the national governing body and to shift our focus to more long-term strategic initiatives. Although it is natural to analyze the details of such a complex proposal, and I hope the delegates will do so in Anaheim, I believe it to be a completely sound and extremely well thought out plan.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

I’d like to broaden the talent pool in our continued pursuit of excellence, and give more members a voice in how SPJ is governed. This trend is already well established with the creation of SPJ communities and One Member, One Vote, which enfranchised all SPJ members. I believe we can do more to seek the creative input of our membership and other key constituencies, to include professional groups like our #EIJ partners, prominent journalists and experts in related fields such as technology, media relations and academia.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I’ve made many contributions to SPJ policy changes at both the local and national levels. For example, I chaired the revision of our chapter bylaws and we posted them to our website for the first time. At the national level, at the request of then-President Paul Fletcher, I chaired the governance task force that crafted a plan to represent the 41% of unaffiliated members at national conventions.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

As a journalist, it has been rewarding to belong to an organization that aims to develop its members’ journalism skills, high ethical standards and personal networks. By cultivating these essential attributes, SPJ helps ensure a freer society through its members. For the last decade, I’ve been part of this process as an SPJ volunteer — at the chapter, national committee and national board levels.  Through this association SPJ has made me the better for it.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism? 

I had the good fortune to cover a story of historic dimensions: the 2000 presidential vote recount in Palm Beach. While in Florida to cover another story for Forbes, where I was a staff editor at the website, I scored one of the first interviews with a local election official the morning after the polls closed. The three local election officials struck me as ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, as I pointed out in the lede of my first piece that week. (https://www.forbes.com/2000/11/13/1113recount.html) I then joined the press pool observing the hand recount of the ballots with the notorious “hanging chads” and filed several more items to our site before the Supreme Court ended the recount.

 

Jason Parsley

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I want to help lead SPJ into the future with our new board structure (if the SPJ delegates approve it). Because I was on the task force, I do believe I am best person suited to oversee that transition.

I have led my chapter as president. I lead a newsroom. I belong to several national committees. I am confident that I can competently serve SPJ without having been on the national board before.

One of the duties of the president-elect is to serve as the SPJ liaison to next year’s EIJ planning committee. I have served on such a committee for another national journalism convention before, so I have experience in that area as well. As the liaison, I will be sure to reach out to our committees, especially diversity, ethics and FOI, so I can get their input on workshops and sessions. I want to be more inclusive.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

Since I was on the task force to overhaul the board, I am enthusiastically in support of it. There are many things to like about this proposal. One of my favorites is that it allows regional directors to focus on their regions and chapters again. Much of an RD’s job is focusing on their national board duties, but I know how much having an active regional director can really help a chapter. If this passes, my hope is RDs put a lot of efforts into assisting and growing SPJ’s chapters since they are often a direct link to our members.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

My local chapter is lucky to be flush with cash, so we’re able to provide support, training and programs to our local journalists. The reason we have so much money is because of our annual awards contest, of which I have been in charge of for several years. One of the biggest expenses, though, is the back-end system. I would push SPJ national to negotiate a national discounted rate with one of the main programs out there, especially in order to help SPJ chapters launch new contests. This would be a win-win for everyone.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As president of my local chapter, I launched my “no journalist left behind” initiative and expanded our borders to include the entire state of Florida. I wanted to have every SPJ member in the state covered by an active SPJ chapter. Since doing that, we’ve had board representation in other areas of the state.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ has been apart of my life for 10 years now. It helped me grow professionally and personally.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

When I was in college, I wrote an investigative story exposing the student body president embezzling money. He was forced to resign. It was that story that really drove home point that journalists can make change with their stories. I’ve kept that lesson close to my heart.

 

VICE PRESIDENT OF CAMPUS CHAPTER AFFAIRS

 

Sue Kopen Katcef

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I believe I have a greater depth and breadth of experience, along with an extensive record of service to SPJ and journalism at both the student/campus and professional level.

My involvement with SPJ began as a student and continued as an officer in two pro chapters. I served as president of the Maryland Pro chapter (which was named small chapter of the year during my presidency) and as corresponding secretary for the D.C. Pro chapter.

I have been the adviser to the University of Maryland student chapter for the past 18 years. In that time, our chapter has been named outstanding regional chapter several times. At the 2015 EIJ conference, the chapter was named SPJ’s National Campus Chapter of the Year. I have been honored to have been selected for SPJ’s Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award and the David Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser awards along the way.

Since 2002, seven of our University of Maryland SPJ chapter members have received SPJ’s Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism Award.

I have served on the national SPJ board as a campus adviser at-large and now as the vice president of campus chapter affairs since 2013.

I also served as the chair of SPJ’s Awards and Honors Committee.

I have chaired and/or coordinated at least a half dozen SPJ Region 2 spring conferences and was co-chair of SPJ’s national convention when it was in Baltimore in 1992. For several years, I helped with coordinating the Mark of Excellence Awards in Region 2.

In addition to my longtime membership in and service to SPJ, I have served on a number of other boards as well. They include the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

For additional info: https://merrill.umd.edu/about-merrill/staff-faculty/sue-kopen-katcef

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I wholeheartedly support the changes being proposed in the governance of SPJ. I think the restructuring is long overdue. My concern is ensuring that students, their faculty advisers and immediate post-grads would be guaranteed a voice at the top leadership table.

I raised my concerns at the last SPJ board meeting. This resulted in a modification in the proposal that now includes a provision that if a campus representative is not elected to the newly reconstituted board, then one of the appointed positions to the board would go to a campus rep.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

With a possible overhaul in SPJ’s governance on the table, we have to assess the impact of those changes first. If approved and the process does begin to overhaul SPJ’s operations, we can better assess what modifications and/or adjustments need to be made.

That said, I would like to see SPJ focus on ways to improve our numbers when it comes to retaining former student members beyond their post-grad years.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As a member of SPJ’s board I proposed — and the board approved — what is now our post-grad dues structure for the three years following graduation. That change allowed students following their graduation — who paid in full for two years of membership — to get a third post-grad year for free. For students struggling with low salaries and college debt, I believed then — and now — that SPJ needed to provide an incentive to keep them involved at least through the early years of their careers.

In addition, I suggested the creation of our Mark of Excellence “Best of Show” MOEy award, which is unique among student journalism contests in that entries across platforms are considered for the honor.

And, as another lasting contribution, a number of years ago I suggested finding time at our convention to give students a chance to meet, brainstorm and learn from each other about best practices for comes to campus chapters. That was expanded to include pro chapters, and is now a regular part of programming for SPJ at EIJ.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

I have been an SPJ member since my sophomore year of college. As a student, I discovered the benefits that SPJ provides in networking and providing a standard of professionalism with our Code of Ethics.

Both as a professional and college instructor, I often point to SPJ as a strong and important voice on behalf of the First Amendment and the public’s right to know.

I believe SPJ, with our Legal Defense Fund, provides a unique resource for journalists — college or pro — who need a place to turn to for assistance when their efforts to “get the story” turn into a legal challenge. It’s important to me to know that kind of support is available and not just to SPJ members — especially now, when journalism is under attack by the highest office in the country.

For those reasons — and many more — SPJ remains important to me.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

There have been many and they began back in junior high and high school when, as editor of my newspaper, I wrote editorials that eventually resulted in changes in policy that were implemented countywide. That helped with setting my course for the future.

As a professional, those moments came not necessarily with the big stories, but with the little stories, told about people or events that otherwise might not have had their story told.

These days, those moments come in the stories and successes of my students. In particular, I am especially proud of a multi-year effort to obtain from our university a decade worth of records involving students who had been disciplined because of violations of the academic Code of Conduct as a result of sexual assault related charges. We finally got those records and the Student Press Law Center told me at the time we were the first student-based organization to get that kind of information from a university.  It was a powerful message to the students at that time who had been repeatedly told that the provisions in FERPA prevented the release of that information. It was proof that perseverance can pay off. That was a tremendous moment and achievement.

 

Keem Muhammad

I tried to answer all your questions in a single response:

I spent the past year serving as campus representative to SPJ’s national Board of Directors, where I have helped revitalize the diversity fellowship, assisted in the selection of scholarship winners, established new relationships between SPJ and other associations supporting journalists and journalism, developed a new strategy for engaging membership with existing resources, brainstormed new ways to include student members in SPJ governance, and developing a new kind of student chapter in New York City.

When I started this position, I had many ideas I thought the Society should implement. However, I soon learned that I lacked a proper knowledge of SPJ’s governance structure and internal politics, amongst other things (like the correlation between the board’s size and ineffectiveness). It became clear very early on that if I wanted to help effect real, lasting change in SPJ, I would need much more time than a year-long term, especially considering the proposed decrease in student representation on the national level. SPJ has demonstrated an inability to meet and maintain engagement with broader emerging audiences. What’s more — our response to this inability is concerning.

Since then, I have committed a great deal of my time to understanding the challenges SPJ faces in a quickly evolving industry. I have been able to meaningfully contribute to the SPJ community at-large, while tweaking my original dreams for a 21st-century SPJ and what protecting and improving journalism means for the youngest of us, the future of news media.

The biggest opportunity SPJ faces is, in both the short and long term, in the future of Quill magazine. As the oldest and one of the largest journalism organizations of its kind, the less than stellar performance of SPJ’s official publication is also concerning. It is also energizing, as it presents a new chance for SPJ and SDX to reintroduce its journo-education efforts to members and the public at large.

I see the magazine as a vehicle through which other issues SPJ faces can be tamed (membership, diversity, engagement, sustainable revenue, etc.). In other words, Quill needs a major rebrand, and if the Society’s leadership gets it right, the fruits of that labor stretch far beyond quality content.

My​ ​desire​ ​to​ ​educate​ ​others​ ​in​ ​media​ ​literacy​ ​comes​ ​from​ ​my​ ​father’s​ ​passion​ ​for​ ​people to​ ​have​ ​access​ ​to​ ​information.​ ​I​ ​can​ ​remember​ ​selling​ ​newspapers​ ​on​ ​the​ ​weekends​ ​and summers​ ​in​ ​St.​ ​Louis​ ​with​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​and​ ​older​ ​brother.​ ​Even​ ​then,​ ​I​ ​understood​ ​the importance​ ​of​ ​the​ ​free​ ​flow​ ​of​ ​information,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​who​ ​has​ ​access​ ​is​ ​just​ ​as​ ​important as​ ​who​ ​disseminates​ ​it. This is why I believe the (unedited) commentary I shared last summer with NPR’s All Things Considered is perhaps my proudest experience in journalism to date, aside from being elected to my current SPJ office.

Active and unbiased inclusivity is an integral part of 21st-century journalism and I care about SPJ because it has the resources necessary for increasing media literacy at all levels of the multimedia community. In the coming months, I intend to help rebrand Quill, as well as grow SPJ’s student and institutional chapter ranks with bold and innovative ideas. As 2017-2019 vice president of campus chapter affairs, I will continue helping marginalized millennial voices find an intersectional platform in the Society of Professional Journalists.

 

DIRECTOR AT LARGE (one seat)

 

Melissa Allison

(response added Aug. 28)

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

To be completely honest, I’m probably not the best person for the position. What I am is someone who wants to give back to the community — to serve it.

I just graduated one year ago. In asking certain SPJ leaders where I should start to give back, director at-large was what was recommended.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I think change is always good.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

My platform isn’t motivated by what is wrong. My desire and contribution is to serve the community. Change is always inevitable in some form. But I don’t go into this with thoughts on what those would be.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Hello, I’m the new kid on the block.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

It’s important to me because it’s a guiding force that supports a community of people who make up the fifth estate. Whether reporting from the front lines about war-torn countries or from a small farm town, SPJ is a source on many different levels. It lends credibility and support to that same group of people who at times are under attack, going out on a limb, following a hunch and all are simply doing a job that benefits countless others.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

Aside from being named Utah State University’s first Media Scholar, joining the ranks of professionals that I respect.

 

Lauren Bartlett

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

My broad experience in SPJ, which includes campus chapter president, pro chapter president, national committee chair and national board member, uniquely qualifies me to help the Society achieve its goals. As someone with previous national board experience, I can also provide guidance and stability on the board as the society undergoes a transition of leadership at national headquarters when our executive director leaves at the beginning of December. (This seat currently is held by Bill McCloskey, who after serving the national board for 10 years, decided not to run for another term.)

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

Yes, I support the proposal for a smaller, more strategic board of directors. I agree with Joe Skeel’s assessment that if the Society wants to maximize its potential and remain relevant into the future, a radical change to its structure and culture is necessary. I support creating a three- to-five-year strategic plan to guide SPJ. I agree that board members crafting that plan would be a leaner group elected because of their ability to provide strategic thinking and guidance.

I also agree with the proposal to remove regional directors from the national board. But I have some concerns that with no board seat, the regional coordinators (what they would be called if the proposal passes) may not have the voice they need. One way to resolve this within the proposed structure is for one of the appointed seats to be given to a regional coordinator.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

I hope it would be the opportunity to help guide the Society through the transition to a smaller, more strategic board if the delegates approve the Government Task Force’s proposal.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I have served on the national Ethics Committee since 2010, and I’m extremely proud of the work we did in 2013-2014 that led to the adoption of the revised Code of Ethics.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ has been my passion since I was 18 and elected president of the UCLA chapter. Its mission is something I have embraced since my college days, and its focus on ethics, freedom of information and diversity I think are more important than ever to achieve the Society’s mission in today’s challenging times.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

As a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the largest daily legal affairs newspaper in the country, I reestablished the civil courts beat, which had been dormant for more than 10 years. With the nation’s largest civil courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, I regularly delivered important news to a professional community. Not only did I report on important cases heard in the 50+ courtrooms, but also covered the judiciary as a branch of government, coverage lacking in mainstream media in Los Angeles. When there was a shooting in one of the courtrooms, a news analysis I had written the previous year was something many other news outlets turned to for insight because it described the lack of security and other problems at the courthouse.

 

Randy Bateman

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

After having served on numerous educational, corporate, social and foundation boards, I can safely say that there is no one that is a “best” candidate for participation on a board of governors. Each member contributes based upon their own experiences and skills. It is the blending of those skills that make a governing board successful.

I went to high school with one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He set records in high school, college and into the pros that have yet to be broken. Unfortunately, he was always a phenom and for that reason, he was a “one-man” team and was seldom on a winning team! His name was Pete Maravich.

I went to college with another basketball phenom (David Thompson) whose skills were legendary. Fortunately, his coach built a TEAM around him that complimented his skills. That was the year that N.C. State vanquished Bill Walton and the mighty Bruins of UCLA. It was a lesson to me that has followed me throughout my career.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I have confidence that Joe and his team have analyzed the situation and have made a choice that they feel will make a difference to the organization. Nothing is carved in stone, so if the overhaul fails to achieve its goal, it can be changed.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

Communication from both inside the field of journalism and its outside perception is critical. We live in a time of media’s veracity being questioned. Certainly the opinions within the journalism community are critical, but so are the observations from outside the field that need to be considered.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

None

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

I was in Charleston, S.C., recently and noted a plaque on the wall of an old home. It was presented by Sigma Delta Chi in the early 1900’s. To have a society dedicated to a single profession for so long is something worth preserving. Journalism is under attack and, as has been written, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” A free press is a critical force for human freedom.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I wrote a piece on the economic implications of the robotic (4th industrial) revolution. It was picked up by the Chartered Financial Analyst Digest and carried as the cover story for their publication in Fall 2015. The acclaim of that article helped me to launch my weekly publication, The Bot Brief, that is dedicated to information about artificial intelligence, automation and robotics.

 

Mikal Belicove

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I can say without hesitation that I do NOT know that I am the best candidate for the position. And to my mind, those who indicate they are the best aren’t being fair to the process or to our stakeholders. That type of sentiment (“I am the best”) is only available to someone who has taken time to personally speak with each candidate and evaluate what they offer.

That said, I can share that my knowledge and understanding of board governance is high and that my prior board experience has prepared me well to serve on the SPJ board. I also have a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face — both as journalists and as a membership-based organization — and that I welcome the opportunity to participate in our short- and long-term planning.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

Yes, especially knowing that the board recently took a deep dive and thoroughly examined all of the options for optimizing its ability to operate as a governance board. In my experience, smaller boards are nimble and highly responsive to staff’s needs and recommendations, and if in touch with their stakeholders — which ours is — are wholly representative of member interests and needs.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

While our organization’s bylaws have been recommended for an overhaul, nothing has been done to address the underlying cause of board dysfunction at SPJ. Namely, that the board operates without the aid of a governance model.

For anyone unfamiliar with this, a governance model supports the predictable work of a board, further defines its role, and ensures it focuses on both its fiduciary AND planning-related responsibilities and opportunities. Unlike Roberts Rules of Order, which dictate how meetings are run, or bylaws, which indicate the rules of the organization, a governance model identifies the operational role of the board and how exactly it interacts with staff.

And while it’s true that some aspects of the organization’s bylaws speak to the operational role of board positions, the bylaws do not state what governance model guides us or how that decision is made in the first place. Without a governance model in place, the board is led in a different direction each and every time it seats a new term. Much like a parade whose route is chosen by its marshal, the route constantly changes, propelled by the whimsy of someone who knows nothing about parade route planning.

With a governance model in place, the board’s approach to its work is predictable and everlasting. The fact that our board operates without a governance model is very telling and should be addressed ASAP.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

N/A

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

As my professional membership association, SPJ provides me with insight and counsel on a variety of topics related to the work I do. From our Code of Ethics to the resources available to members through the website, SPJ membership enhances my thinking about my profession and my work itself.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I’ve had a number of memorable achievements, including co-authorship of several books, but I’d like to think my best moment is still to come. If elected by my peers to serve on the board of directors of the leading organization in our field, doubtless that will become my best moment and achievement in journalism.

 

Michele Boyet

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

A successful board needs a group of qualified people with an array of skills — and our board is lacking when it comes to digital media. You might say I’m no longer a traditional journalist, and that’s just fine. But the board needs someone with my skillset: a writer and communicator who deeply understands social media, branding, website UX and email marketing. We’re an organization who represents talented journalists who communicate all day, yet we can do so much more to communicate to our members and the public.

I’ve been a part of SPJ on the local level for the past eight years, proudly serving on the SPJ Florida board. We’ve won Chapter of the Year three times since 2010 and launched successful events that have been recreated around the country. I’ve volunteered on the Day of Giving, Resolutions and Communications committees, but I’m ready to formally take my experience to the national level.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

Absolutely. I support the Governance Task Force’s recommendation to assemble a smaller board that will be better suited to tackle issues quicker and take SPJ to the next level.

I strongly believe in the old “too many cooks in the kitchen” adage. Getting 23 people on the same page, or even on the same conference call, is tough and often unproductive. A board of nine will be able to meet more often, focus on more issues, be much more efficient and essentially just get more done. With less people to elect, we can also focus on quality over quantity, ensuring only the best serve on the board.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

Once elected, I plan to work diligently to enhance SPJ’s internal and external communication. Working with headquarters staff, I will help develop an overarching digital strategy for SPJ that will include specific strategies and processes for handling communication via the website, email and social media. This level of communication is integral to maintaining and growing membership, news literacy and informing the public about SPJ’s mission and actions.

This year, I was honored to serve on the Day of Giving committee and worked closely with headquarters staff on the full day-of communication plan — which included emails and multi-platform social media post throughout the day. The campaign was a huge success, raising more than $22K in 24 hours. If a strategy we developed for one day of communication was this successful, imagine the success ahead when we revamp SPJ’s overall digital strategy.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As co-chair of SPJ Communications Committee, I had the honor of joining the national board in San Diego last January. Together, we took a critical eye to the organization’s five-year plan and SPJ’s role in today’s climate. We redefined our goals, outlining next steps to continue the fight for press freedom, mobilize journalists to educate the public, ensure SPJ dedicates itself to the inclusion of all who practice and support ethical journalism, and lastly, to provide the support and services that make membership essential. This experience prompted me to run for the board. Your vote will help ensure we finish what we started.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you? 

The reasons I joined SPJ are the same today as they were back in college: to meet (and work with) like-minded professionals, do innovative programming and have the opportunity to impact the future of journalism.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

In 2007, I was the co-creator of a local college journalism event called the First Amendment Free Food Festival. The interactive event teaches students the importance of the First Amendment by experiencing a world without those freedoms.

Since then, the event has been recreated at more than 35 campuses across the country, several of which were later funded by SDX and SPJ national grants. Many SPJ college chapters, such as University of Florida, have made this an annual event held on Constitution Day.

 

Elle Toussi

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

There are so many amazing candidates this year. It is truly a blessing to be among them.

In order to gauge the best person for this position, I invite the voting members to assess what they want out of SPJ as a whole. If as a member, you are happy with how things are currently, then I am likely not your choice.

By nature, I am a problem solver and seek to improve and expand involvement in any organization I am involved with. That was why I decided to help take over the leadership for the International Community, because I knew it was important to have its presence and I was capable to grow it. It took a matter of time, patience, and listening to the members.

I am an advocate that you cannot have change if you continue to do the same actions. I do believe that some significant changes need to take place in the core of the organization in order to see it grow. This is quite possibly one of the most dynamic and exciting times to be a journalist and there is no reason why SPJ should not see that growth and comradery at this time.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I think that if the members of SPJ would like to see more being done within the organization, there needs to be a restructure. By taking on this change, we can see efficiency and streamlined decision-making in a timely manner. This rings true with any organization and it is simply a matter of making sure that SPJ as a whole can progress on the same level as other successful organizations.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

I am an advocate for communication. I would push forward a plan to get a clear line of communication created between the board, region leaders, communities and members.

In any line of communication, listening is always the most important. We cannot know the needs and wants of the members if we do not listen.

As I did with the International Community, I would like to assess the needs of the members and put into action any solutions that would help maintain and grow our overall membership. I would also like to assist in getting SPJ on the radar for the work it does on a global scale.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I am currently a chair for the International Community. I made a commitment this year to not only grow the community, but to actively listen and provide the resources they need to do the work they need to do safely. It took quite some time to find the right pieces of the puzzle, but I am excited that we went from 28 members in the community to now more than 200 members (internationally) and we continue to grow daily.

Also, I spent this year assessing the needs and requests of the members and am very proud to announce fantastic partnerships at EIJ that I know will help grow our community and give them the resources/tools to be the amazing journalists I see every day. For those interested in hearing about the collaborations, please do join the International Community for our session on Sept. 8. More details for the room will be available closer to the date.

On the same note, with the help of Lynn Walsh, the current president, I was able to push the need to include more international journalists to attend our EIJ conference. By providing them support and guidance, we have seen more than 75 international journalists reach out to show their interest and need to attend our conference. This is amazing!

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

I first began my involvement with SPJ with the International Community. From being a member to becoming a chair in the community years later, I’ve realized the importance of those that lead in organization. I made a commitment to myself to be involved and give back to the community as long as my expertise and skills can help it grow and serve the members.

SPJ is one of the longest established organizations for journalists and with that has a great deal of respect. As I travel to various locations abroad, journalists look to us in the U.S. and the SPJ for guidance and assistance. We as an organization are so much more than many realize.

The perspective I’ve come to realize this year comes with the requests received from journalists and other organizations to the International Community to collaborate and help with growing their skillsets as a journalist. Many countries still look to the U.S. for the standards of training and skills that are available for our colleagues. With that holds responsibility. We have a unique opportunity to provide that.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

This year, I began the women’s series for the SPJ International Community and it has grown into something that I am proud to be a part of and have started. I’ve had so many colleagues from all over the world share their stories, achievements and obstacles. They inspire me every week for letting the public see their vulnerability and honesty. It’s conversations like this that give me inspiration, by supporting others.

 

Alex Veeneman

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am the best possible candidate for this position because I believe in our members and our people. The work I have done on a national scale was done because the work that we do is rooted with our members. I want to ensure that our members are at their best, and have an SPJ that works for them — because when we are at our best, our audiences are, too.

Education is a valuable investment, and we have an obligation to be a partner in a journalist’s education — be it an early career journalist like myself or someone who has been in the industry for decades. I have been a champion for education and it will be reflected in my work should I be elected.

Our members are the future of this industry. I believe in them, and SPJ should, too.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

Yes, I am in favor of the change. I share the sentiments that you conveyed in this blog post from last month.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

We tend to think a lot about metrics. We have had a debate as of late as to the decline of membership, and there have been calls by a lot of people, whose intentions are good, for changes to this organization, notably through resolutions at EIJ. We can make calls to increase our membership, and make our manifestos about increasing our members — and while the intentions of those who decide to do so are good and valuable, it is not worth pursuing unless we take the time to engage members and give them something that is worth supporting.

That is why education is crucial and should be a fundamental part of SPJ’s work, which in turn, gives them a reason to renew their membership with us. This can also be said for EIJ, which was recently been the subject of criticism because of the selection of programming, especially within areas SPJ cares about, including ethics. I think the selection process for EIJ programming should be reformed — because there are areas that we need to have conversations about.

It is more than just about things you can take away for skills. It also involves things you can take away in the thought process in journalism. For when all is said and done, this isn’t about us. This is about our audiences. When we are at our best, and we have these conversations, our audiences can be, too.

We have two options: Change the structure and make it just about numbers, or take time to invest to ensure we can do the best possible work and do something that is meaningful. I know which one I’d choose.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I was proud to be at the helm of SPJ’s network of communities as its community coordinator for three years. Though the system is not perfect, it shares the need and the desire to educate and to ensure our members are at their best. This is YOUR SPJ and YOU should benefit from it! That is my philosophy and I will honor that if I am elected.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

Fred Rogers once said that life is for service. Journalism is a calling, and it is a necessity, especially in a time where the internet and social media are changing how we think about it, and the blunt, uneasy criticism from the Trump administration and others is challenging its role.

As life is for service, then journalism is one of the most important professions one can be in. We enter this profession not to achieve fame or fortune, but to inform, educate and engage — so the people we serve can be at their best. Journalism is at its best when we are at its best, irrespective of platform or beat, and SPJ’s dedication for and need to educate and engage is quintessential. If SPJ doesn’t do it, who will?

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I find it rewarding that the content I write is having an impact on people, whether they be in Ohio or Alabama, Minnesota, New York or California, whether it’s a blog post I write or a column they read in Quill. I want to ensure journalism is at its best so the world can be at its best. It is all I want to do, and any indication that I get, whether on Twitter or an email or otherwise, is extremely gratifying.

 

STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE (two seats)

 

Rahim Chagani

No response

 

Marivel Guzman

No response

 

Hayley Harding

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I’ve loved SPJ since the moment I joined my student chapter as a college freshman. SPJ has been some of the best moment of my college journalism career, and I’m excited to help create opportunities for others to have those same experiences. I’ve served as freshman liaison, as treasurer and as president of the Ohio University chapter, the current national Outstanding Campus Chapter of the Year.

I have the experience necessary to know what it takes to be a student member and a leader of a student chapter, as well as what it takes to support those roles. If we can get students to join SPJ, we will create lifelong members who love and want to support the organization. It’s important to connect with those members, and I know I have the experience necessary to make the national seem like less of a scary, overwhelming entity and more like the group of fantastic and supportive people it is.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I support the opportunity to make our board more effective, but I worry greatly about potentially removing student voice from the board. Students matter in SPJ — they make valuable contributions to journalism and further the mission of SPJ every single day, and it seems reckless to remove them from the board.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

I want to push for our energy to be more focused on digital innovations and what it truly means to be in a newsroom today. That takes the form of webinars, of meet-ups, of supporting student members in equal measure to professionals. We have to pave the way for both the future of journalism and for those who will come after us, and I think it would serve SPJ well to set the standard in focusing on digital innovation as it applies to newsrooms.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Some of my proudest SPJ achievements have come at the local level in my work with the Ohio University campus chapter of SPJ. We have some long-standing programs, such as our annual “Grammar Smackdown,” a universitywide grammar competition that we’ve inherited from past leadership.

Something I did during my time as an SPJ leader was innovate the programs so they were more user-friendly and allowed for more people to get involved. Sometimes that’s a simple as putting our email list registration online rather than having a physical sign-up form, but for Grammar Smackdown, that involved helping to find a more digital-solution to take our competition from a paper-and-pencil battle to one fought with cellphones and laptops. It helped us demonstrate a better understanding of who we work with each day and made it a better experience for everyone involved.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ has been part of my life for as long as I’ve identified as a true journalist, and in no small part, my SPJ membership is a major contribution to my identity as a journalist. The Society of Professional Journalists does fantastic work to promote freedom of press and freedom of information, values we especially need to cherish in the current age. SPJ is important to me because I know the organization fights for what is most important to me both as a journalist and as a citizen, and that’s not something you can get elsewhere.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

Far and away, I think my favorite moment as a journalist was getting email records from public officials that others told me were unobtainable. I hit every road block possible, but through persistence and a surprisingly deep understanding of state record laws, I got the records months after the original request was made.

Those records contributed greatly to a story I wrote that affected many people, one that helped better a problem within my community. SPJ was no small help in both the knowledge and confidence boost necessary to get those records, and I’m proud to be a member.

 

Kathy Rosenhammer

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Today, when many people of the older generation are going back to school or starting careers later in life, it is imperative they have representation on organizational boards that help them excel in their career goals. Many of those in a student representative position are considered of the stereotypical age. I am a mother of two, a grandmother of five, a career volunteer with years of advocacy work experience. Also, I am a double major college student living with disabilities. I believe there are many students in various situations who I can help.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I support the overhaul and welcome changes in the structure of the board of directors. Our world is dramatically changing especially in this year alone. I think it is inevitable and pertinent for any organization to evolve to keep up with the changes.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

I would like to see more emphasis put on the different forms of journalism, such as freelance. In the time I have spent with the SPJ Freelance Community and on their board, I often hear within the conversations how many of the traditional methods of journalism are forgotten about. I would also like to see more interacting platforms for seasoned journalists and newcomers to the industry.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I do not know of any specific examples of a change I have made or helped make within SPJ. I would like to think I have helped on some level within the SPJ Freelance Community developing new ways to communicate and engage with other freelancers.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ is important because without it, I would not have met so many wonderful mentors. The ability to interact with seasoned journalists and network with those having similar career goals is invaluable.

In my college classes, I have many students contacting me about SPJ because my introduction and bio are filled with SPJ benefits. I believe SPJ is a lifeline journalists can benefit from throughout their entire journalism career.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I know it may not sound like much my best moment or achievement in journalism so far are praises from my college instructors and building an SPJ identity at my school. I am just starting my journalism career. Any recognition or achievement is a learning tool, and I am cherishing everything about my journalism journey.

 

REGION 10 DIRECTOR

 

Ethan Chung

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am completing my first term as regional director for Region 10, but I’ve been helping out behind the scenes in an unofficial capacity since I joined the Western Washington Pro chapter board in 2012. My recent experience with contest and conference planning, contest organization, programming, institutional knowledge, SPJ board-level communications, passion, patience, and integrity are assets to the region.

I have been in talks with members from Montana to revive the pro chapter, and have been working with students at University of Washington Tacoma to start a new student chapter there.

I have an understanding of the demands of the position and am prepared to work harder than ever to make sure that journalists in Region 10 get the most out of SPJ.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors. I’d like to see a more nimble, flexible board. In its current state, the board seems a little too large to function in the most effective manner. I like that eliminating the regional directors from the board of directors would allow whoever is in the position to focus more on the region. I am eager to hear feedback from membership on this matter.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

I’ll answer this in a couple of ways. If the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors doesn’t pass, then this position will remain on the board. If I continue as Region 10 director, I’d would like to join the Diversity Committee. As a POC with unique experiences in journalism and life, I’d love to be part of a bigger discussion regarding SPJ’s work in diversity and inclusiveness.

If the plan succeeds to overhaul the board, I would still join the Diversity Committee, but my primary focus would be to improve the region.

I’d like to figure out some new ways to create programming for unaffiliated members. In an area as geographically diverse and large as Region 10, I feel like members who don’t live in metropolitan areas or cities with active chapters often struggle to find opportunities for community within SPJ.

I have several ideas to combat this, but one thought is to create a sort of “virtual chapter” within the region for unaffiliated members. We can use technology to create continuing education programming for these members, recruit speakers to give web talks, hold forums, and more.

I’d love to see more collaboration between student chapters as well, and aspects of this “virtual chapter” model could be of use to student chapter and advisers.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

There have been several, but my recent time on the Quill committee has been particularly interesting. With more than a dozen years in magazine journalism, I felt I had some thoughts to contribute how this publication will be produced and consumed by leaders and members. The committee debated and created recommendations for SPJ staff, and I am excited to see how they will be implemented.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

Journalism is my job and being a member and leader of SPJ makes me better at what I do. Continuing education, resources, programming, and access to incredibly smart people have made me a better journalist and a better person.

But in the greater scheme of things, I’d argue that SPJ has never been more important to every American citizen. A free press is essential to our democracy and there’s no better organization to stand with to vigilantly protect those ideals than SPJ.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

I’ve won several awards for headline writing, been a part of award-winning journalism teams, including one that earned a Sigma Delta Chi award for its coverage on family homelessness. I’ve written stories about brain cancer treatments, profiled startup businesses and celebrities, and delved into the fascinating lives of everyday people. I’m currently working on a wide-ranging feature about immigrant experiences.

I’ve had numerous highlights throughout my career, but I believe that the best moment is yet to come. That idea drives me to constant improvement.

 

Donald Meyers

1 – Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am an experienced SPJ leader, having served as a regional director in Region 9 for four years. I know what it takes to represent the interests of the entire region and having a regional conference that brings students and pros together. I also believe that an RD should be in regular contact with chapter leaders throughout the year and not just at regional conference or convention.

2 – Do you support the plan to overhaul SPJ’s board of directors? What specifically do you like and/or not like?

I support the change as it would allow directors to concentrate more on working with the chapters and members in their regions. However, I would continue to make sure the concerns of our region are heard at national.

3 – What is one specific change you would try to make to SPJ if elected to the board?

I would make SPJ even more of an advocate for journalists and free expression. I would push for SPJ to be even more on the forefront of First Amendment activities. I want people to think of us first, and not other organizations, when they look for someone who stands up for those rights. I would also expect RDs to be advocates on the regional level.

4 – What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I worked with David Cuillier and Hagit Limor to create the national Black Hole Award to recognize egregious violations of open government. I also nominated the Utah Legislature for gutting Utah’s public records law. That was a factor in getting that bad law repealed.

5 – Why is SPJ important to you?

For me, SPJ represents the best in journalism. Its ethics code is the industry standard and has been a great guide for me. SPJ has also helped me become a better journalist through its programs and the chance to rub shoulders with the best in the business.

6 – What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?

Fighting for access to finalists for Orem City Manager. With SPJ’s help, I was able to sue for the information, which led to other organizations releasing finalists’ names.

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