Archive for August, 2019

You’re reading this because you’re mad

3 things you can do – and 1 you shouldn’t

You hate SPJ’s decision to keep Fox News as a sponsor of the Excellence in Journalism convention next month in San Antonio. You want to do something about it. Here are your options…

1. Vote the bums out

SPJ’s board of directors decided to keep Fox News, but you don’t need to keep them. SPJ elections are Sept 5-7. Since fewer than 1,000 SPJers fill out their electronic ballots, your vote really does count.

Here’s a list of this year’s candidates, which includes their contact information. Ask if the candidates agree with your position on, well, anything. (On the issue of convention sponsorship, some SPJers are also mad that Sinclair and the Koch Foundation have been sponsors.)

Tell the candidates your vote depends on their answers. Mobilize other SPJers to support the candidates you like. Wield democracy.

2. Make a run for it

If this (or any) issue bugs the hell out of you, stop complaining and start campaigning. You can declare your candidacy for the SPJ board up until the morning of Aug. 31. Here’s how.

If you click the list of candidates I mentioned earlier, you’ll see unopposed races for president-elect and secretary-treasurer. So just by declaring for either of those offices, you can create debate.

3. Delegate the issue

If the board of directors are SPJ’s executive branch, the delegates are SPJ’s legislative branch. In fact, SPJ’s bylaws call the delegates “the supreme legislative body of the organization.”

That means the board must do what the delegates decide. Here are the resolutions from last year’s EIJ, so you can see how they’re written. (Think back to your high school Student Council, and you’ll have some idea.)

If you’re a chapter or regional delegate, you’ll can speak at the convention and urge your fellow delegates to vote for a particular resolution. Better still, you don’t need to be a delegate – or even attend EIJ – to submit a resolution.

If you want to know more, read I’m a Delegate at SPJ. Now What?! – it’s the best explanation of an admittedly arcane system.

Want to submit a resolution? Email Resolutions Committee chair Michael Savino at

What NOT to do

Over the weekend, the dedicated and hardworking chair of SPJ’s Membership Committee led an email discussion on this very topic. I’m a member of that committee, so Colin DeVries asked me…

You, as a board member, don’t seem to be taking a position aligned with the majority of the people I’ve spoke with so far.

…and he’s right.

SPJ has nearly 6,000 members. I’ve chatted with maybe 60 about this particular issue. (That’s 1 percent, for you hardcore journalists out there.) About a quarter of those staunchly side with DeVries. A quarter don’t. Another quarter are waiting to hear more. And the final quarter don’t care.

Not what I’d call consensus.

SPJ leaders will heed the majority’s will. But if that majority doesn’t use the tactics I’ve cited, we’ll never jell. While you have every right to…

  • take to social media and skewer SPJ
  • write angry group emails to the board and each other
  • announce you won’t renew your membership

…none of that will compel the change you seek. SPJ’s rules are built for dissenters to win – if you put in just a little work.

Full disclosure

As SPJ’s senior board member, I support keeping Fox News as a sponsor. Here are my reasons. But I could easily be persuaded to ban all sponsorships – if all SPJers are aware of the consequences.

Banning sponsorships means a much smaller convention in much smaller cities. Think of sponsorships like newspaper ads – those ads pay for the paper, not the subscription fees. Likewise, registration fees don’t come close to covering the cost of a convention.

What I can’t support: Trying to parse which sponsors are palatable from year to year. That way madness lies. Someone will always hate something, and we’ll burn many calories and kilobytes trying to appease everyone.

That said, a majority of SPJers can overrule me. Will they? We’ll find out in a few days.


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