Shrinking the Board is put on hold

The welcome mat remains in place for Iowa and Nebraska to join Region Six. A vote by the full board to shrink the board and reassign Regional Directors failed. Instead President Paul Fletcher created a Task Force to develop a plan. The main concern was travel for chapters to attend Regional Conferences, student and professional awards moving to another Region as well as a general feeling that shrinking the board may be unnessecary.
Thanks to all of you who provided feedback that was invaluable in guiding this process on a national level. I was one of three yes votes. For one, I believe that Nebraska and Iowa make sense for Region Six. Both states send journalists to the Spring conference and are instrumental in the planning of our Bloomington gathering. I also support the initiatives of incoming SPJ President Lynn Walsh, the restructuring plan is supported by Ms. Walsh.
Let’s go to NOLA. Early bird registration is open for Excellence in Journalism 2016.
Here’s the link:
You’ll read that sessions are set, including an incredible super session with Marty Baron, former Boston Globe editor, his guidance through the investigation that became the Oscar winning movie, “Spotlight”. I’m sure you’ll also find at least a dozen break out sessions that will help you grow as a journalist.
As always I’d love to hear what you’re thinking and doing in your chapters. Let’s talk.
Take care-
Joe Radske
Region 6 Director
(Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota)
Cell: 262-366-1259
Twitter: @jradske
Region 6 Twitter: @spjregion6
Region 6 Facebook:

Welcome Iowa & Nebraska?

Hi Region 6 SPJ members. We’re on the verge of getting bigger.The SPJ board will vote in a few weeks to add Iowa and Nebraska to our region. The proposal is under discussion and I’d love to hear from you. Here is a great explanation of what we’re working on from President Paul Fletcher.

President’s Blog:

SPJ considers reduction in size of board

Send me your thoughts to
In fact, if you have any questions you can always give me a shout.
Hopefully I’ll see you at EIJ16 in New Orleans. We’ll be gathering in NOLA September 18-20, 2016

Take care-
Joe Radske
Region 6 Director
(Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota)
Cell: 262-366-1259
Twitter: @jradske
Region 6 Twitter: @spjregion6
Region 6 Facebook:

Region 6 are you Ready??

Welcome from Madison, WI. I know you haven’t heard much from me in 2014. In fact, you likely haven’t heard from me since you voted (and honored) me with the Region 6 Director position.

No excuses. I’m here and ready to make a difference. First on my agenda is to see all of you at the Midwest Journalism Conference. Make plans to join us on March 28-29 in Bloomington, MN.

Here’s the link:

Some of the highlights will be a discussion on updating the SPJ Code of Ethics. I’m not saying they will be changed, we want to know from all of you if you think they should be updated.
If I don’t catch up with you in Minnesota, please take a moment and let us know what you’re thinking.
You can contact me at:

I hope you’re all well. I’ll be back sooner than later to discuss the issues important to all of us in Region 6.

You can always find me at:
or give me a call at:

Make SPJ History This Week and VOTE!

Whether you’re an SPJ newcomer or veteran, you all have an important duty to fulfill as members this coming week. For the first time, all SPJ members will get the chance to vote for national board officers. In the next day or so, you will receive an email ballot with the candidates running for SPJ’s board. You may have seen messages from the various candidates, read about the candidates in Quill Magazine, or visited to learn about their positions on various issues. This is all part of the process to inform you about who is running for positions on SPJ’s national board.

When you see that ballot pop into your inbox this week, please take a few moments and fill it out. Voting will open Thursday afternoon when SPJ delegates convene in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for the Excellence in Journalism convention. At that time, candidates will give their final speeches to members. Voting closes Saturday afternoon around 3 p.m. and the vote totals will be totaled shortly afterwards.

If you have any questions regarding the SPJ voting process, please visit the SPJ Election Center:

September is also SPJ’s National Membership month. One of our big goals is to get each SPJ member to reach out to at least one journalist currently not involved in the organization and encourage them to join. So take a moment to invite a co-worker to an upcoming SPJ event in your region, encourage a fellow student to join the campus chapter, or find out how to get a chapter started or revived in your region. Whatever you can do to spread the mission and purpose of SPJ will only make our organization stronger in the long run.

If you have any questions regarding SPJ or your local chapter, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to working with your chapter this year and making your experience in SPJ great!

Support for Milwaukee photojournalist Clinton Fillinger

When I found out last month that Clinton Fillinger, a photojournalist at the WITI-TV, the FOX affiliate in Milwaukee, was arrested while filming the scene of a fire, I was outraged.  That outrage grew as I watched the video he shot of the confrontation between him and two Milwaukee police sergeants.   It clearly showed the two sergeants violating Mr. Fillinger’s rights as a journalist to film a scene from a public street.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the video or the coverage of Fillinger’s arrest, click here on the WITI Fox6Now website.

I knew SPJ had to stand up for Mr. Fillinger’s free press rights.  I consulted with our president, Hagit Limor (now immediate past-president) and Region 12 Director Sonny Alborado (now president-elect) about sending a letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, expressing SPJ’s concern and dissatisfaction with the treatment the two sergeants lauded upon Mr. Fillinger.  I also spoke with FOX6 news director Jim Lemon and told him he could count on SPJ’s support as the station fought for the citation to be dropped.

You can read the letter I wrote, on behalf of SPJ, by clicking here.

FOX6 Management, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Radio Television Digital News Association also sent letters to Chief Flynn, asking for the citation to be dropped and an investigation to be opened into the matter.

I’ll keep you posted on any new developments in the case.  I see this as a united stand against unjust treatment of a veteran photojournalist.  Hopefully, it will be enough for Milwaukee’s police chief to realize the actions of his sergeants violated Mr. Fillinger’s free press and First Amendment rights.  I also applaud Clint for standing up for his rights, even though he got arrested in the process.

A Whirlwind of Activity at EIJ11 in New Orleans!

National conventions are one of my favorite parts about being an SPJ board member and Region 6 director.  I recently returned from the first Excellence in Journalism convention in New Orleans, the first joint convention with SPJ and RTDNA.  It was a smashing success with more than 1,300 journalists from across the country gathering for three days of professional development sessions, workshops, panels, and guest speakers.

We also held our fall SPJ board and business meetings at the EIJ convention.  We installed several new officers, including John Ensslin, who will serve as SPJ president in 2011-2012.  He is an excellent guy and I trust he will lead SPJ to the best of his ability.

Several big developments came out of the SPJ board and business meetings.  Here are some of the big ones:

These first two changes are directed towards all members of SPJ:

1. The SPJ board approved a nominal membership dues increase, effective January 1, 2012.

Here are the new prices:

-Pro Members: $75/year ($3 increase)
-Retired: $37.50/year ($1.50 increase)
-Household: $37.50/year ($1.50 increase)
-Post-Graduate: $37.50/year ($1.50 increase)
-Student: $37.50/year ($1.50 increase)
-Associate: $94/year ($4 increase)

This is the first time SPJ has increased dues in nearly a decade.  SPJ board members felt it was necessary to maintain the overall financial health of the organization and so it can continue to provide the programs and services you come to expect as an SPJ member.  Membership dues are the only stable source of income for SPJ and this modest increase will help prevent a more drastic increase in the future.

Read more about the dues increase on the SPJ website.

2. Every member of SPJ will now be able to vote for national board officers.

At the convention, the SPJ delegates approved a “one member, one vote” system to elect national board officers.  In the past, officers were elected by the delegates, which are sent to the convention by chapters in good standing with SPJ.  Chapters are awarded delegates based on the number of members they have.  Typically, the number of delegates that attended the convention and voted for officers was a very small percentage of the overall SPJ membership.  Supporters of the “one member, one vote” change say the new system will enfranchise members who normally wouldn’t have a say in voting for officers, such as members who don’t belong to a chapter or members whose chapter can’t afford to send delegates to the convention.

So how will the new system work?  That is still being worked on, but it looks like it will be an online voting system that will be open during the national convention.  There will also likely be changes to when candidates must file to run and how those candidates will get their message across to SPJ members.  Watch for more details over the course of the year.

The next change affects leaders of SPJ chapters, both professional and student:

3. Chapters will no longer be evaluated on a star-ranking system.

For the past several years, SPJ used a star-ranking system to evaluate which chapters were doing well, which chapters needed help, and which ones should be eliminated.  The stars went from one star (weakest chapters) to four stars (strongest chapters) and were based on criteria such as number of programs held, attendance at regional and national conventions, efforts to increase membership and communicate effectively with chapter members, and filing the annual report on time.  Chapters that were in good standing were awarded with delegates, discounts on national convention registration, and the chance to apply for awards and grants from SPJ.  Those ranking were handed out as directors at-large evaluated chapter reports, done in spring.

This past year exposed several weaknesses with the system.  Several chapters that were small in membership but still did several programs throughout the year were punished with a lower star ranking.  In some instances, chapters that re-started after the national SPJ board meetings in fall 2010 were awarded fewer stars because they didn’t attend that national convention.  And it didn’t help that computer glitches caused some chapter reports to arrive incomplete to headquarters.  In the past year, several regional directors and chapter leaders expressed frustration with the system, saying it did more to punish chapters than help and/or reward them.

So the national board voted in New Orleans to get rid of the star system and replace with a simplified pass/fail system.  The new system will work as follows, for both professional and student chapters:

-Chapters must file an annual report and complete a review of the chapter’s finances by the deadline (60 days out from the start of the SPJ national convention).

-Chapters must complete at least three programs that support the mission of SPJ (diversity, FOI, ethics, professional development) in the reporting year.  The programs must involve a number of chapter members and engage the broader journalism community in the chapter’s geographic territory.  A board meeting does not qualify as one of the three programs.

-Chapters must send representatives to the regional conference or the national convention.  A chapter must seek a waiver from the regional director if it cannot send a representative to either the regional conference or the national convention.

A chapter will be considered in good standing if it meets and/or exceeds these requirements.  The board encourages chapters to go above and beyond the minimum requirements in order to keep its members engaged in SPJ.

If a chapter does not file an annual report for three consecutive years, the board may decide to revoke the chapter’s charter and declare it inactive.

Hopefully, this will simplify the requirements for chapters to be in good standing with the national organization.  As we go throughout the year, please let me know if you have any questions about the new evaluation system.

The final change affects the process of creating a new chapter:

4. The “provisional status” period for starting a new professional or campus chapter has been eliminated.

In the past, chapters that were just starting out were granted “provisional” status for one year.  They operated like active chapters but were not granted a charter for one year in order for them to prove they could meet the requirements necessary to be a chapter.  Some felt like this acted as “red tape” on the way to becoming an active chapter.

Now, if there is interest in starting a student, professional, or satellite chapter, the board can approve them for “active” status right away.  The board will still review new chapter requests at the spring and fall board meetings.  But the goal is to make this whole process of starting a chapter easier.

There’s a lot to digest here, so if you have any questions about the decision of the SPJ board or delegates, feel free to email me at, send me a Tweet (@spjregion6), or post on the SPJ Region 6 Facebook page.



Notes from SPJ Spring Board Meeting

The SPJ Board of Directors met this past weekend for its annual spring board meeting in Indianapolis.  We had a great, spirited discussion on several key topics.

One of the big issues we tackled was whether to send the “one person, one vote” proposal back to the delegates to vote on at the National SPJ Convention this fall in New Orleans.  This is not a new issue; it was voted down by SPJ delegates in 2004 and 2006.  Here’s some of the background:

SPJ has always had a delegate system of voting for officers, bylaws changes, and other business items.  This voting has always taken place at the national convention.  Some feel the system works well, but others feels it disenfranchises SPJ members who may not have a chapter in their area and/or who are unable to attend the national convention.

This particular proposal would give “one person, one vote” power to SPJ members for officer elections, not bylaws or other society business.

Right now, chapters have to “earn” their right to vote by filing their annual report, proving they’re in good standing with SPJ.  A chapter gets one delegate vote for every 50 members it has: for example, chapters with 1-50 members gets one vote, 51-100 members get two, etc.

Another argument in favor of the proposal is that if more SPJ members have a say in who represents them in the society, they will become more involved in the organization, as a whole.  In addition, supporters argued there is better technology available today that would make it easier for all members to vote and for headquarters to implement and tally up votes.

We had a spirited debate about whether SPJ members really want this power, if its fair to members who’ve put in a lot of time and effort into SPJ versus members who are not active at all, and whether it would discourage members from attending the national convention.

Ultimately, the board voted 15-8 to not send the proposal to the delegates.  Many of us weren’t convinced that a majority of members really want this ability to vote on their own, rather than let their chapter delegates make those decisions.

However, in our discussion, we discovered several problems that need to be addressed, such as ways to make sure more chapters are getting to the convention in order to vote and make their voices heard.  One idea was to open up an absentee-voting system for chapter delegates unable to attend the convention.  These are some ideas we asked the bylaws committee to play around with and come up with ideas that could change our voting structure and make it more accessible to chapters who aren’t always able to attend the convention.

One note: although the board voted to not send “one person, one vote” to the delegates, it could still be brought up at the national convention business meeting if at least 10 chapters agree to support and make a motion on it.

What do you think? Should SPJ change its voting system to “one person, one vote” or keep it how it is now? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at

The board also approved sending a bylaws change to the delegates that would allow student members to join professional chapters, as long as a student chapter is not already established at that school.

We also had a lengthy discussion about the SPJ membership database.  Some of us RDs found chapter rosters that contained dead members, that pro members were still on student chapter rosters years after graduating, or pro members were listed on multiple chapter rosters as a result of moving from state to state.  I will be serving on a task force looking for ways to clean up the member database and establishing guidelines as to what rosters an SPJ member should be listed on.

The board also got updates on what should be an exciting national convention in New Orleans this fall.  I hope you will all start saving now and get ready to attend the Excellence in Journalism Convention, September 25-27. This is first time SPJ will host a joint convention with RTDNA.  We’re all looking forward to it!

If you have any other questions about this weekend’s spring board meeting, please contact me at

Until next time,




Three Region 6 Schools Celebrating the First Amendment

The First Amendment will be getting a lot of attention on three campuses in Region 6 in the next few weeks. I’d like to share details of those events with you here. If you’re near these areas, stop by and check them out!

St. Cloud State University SPJ Student Chapter: First Amendment Forum

SCSU has been hosting this annual forum for nearly 40 years.  This year’s event is entitled “Have the Watchdogs Lost Their Bark?” It focuses on the past, present, and future of investigative reporting.

The forum takes place Friday, April 15th at the Atwood Little Theatre on the SCSU campus.

The event begins at 9 a.m. with a welcome, followed by the panel discussion “The Way We Were”. An expert panel will look back at the history of investigative/watchdog journalism. Panelists include:

-Joe Rigert, former IRE president & retired Star Tribune reporter/author

-Maura Lerner, Star Tribune reporter

-Bob Cowan, WCCO-TV photojournalist

-Lee Rood, Des Moines Register project team leader

At 11:15 a.m., the Defense of the First Amendment Award will be presented to John Bodette, executive editor of the St. Cloud Times

At 1:30 p.m., the second panel of the program focuses on the future of investigative/watchdog journalism. Bodette will moderate with panelists:

-Devlyn Brooks, Forum Communications columnist

-Dave Unze, St. Cloud Times Reporter

-Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV reporter

-Lee Rood, Des Moines Register project team leader

First Amendment Free Food Festival at University of Minnesota and UW-Eau Claire

Two Region 6 SPJ chapters will host First Amendment Free Food Festivals this year.  The FAFFF is a program that has been put on by more than a dozen SPJ student chapters around the country.

The premise is simple: are you willing to give up your first amendment rights in exchange for a free lunch? If you say “yes”, you have to sign away your rights to freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition.

The University of Minnesota Student Chapter will hold its first-ever FAFFF on Tuesday, April 19th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Coffman Plaza, outside Coffman Union. They’ll have food from Qdoba, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Raising Canes.

The UW-Eau Claire Student Chapter will hold its second-annual FAFF on Wednesday, April 20th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the campus mall.  Last year’s event even got national attention on Fox & Friends.

Check out the YouTube video of the Fox interview with two UWEC SPJ members.

So, are you willing to trade your first amendment rights to fill your belly?

Another Successful Midwest Journalism Conference in the Books!

It’s Monday and I’m still buzzing with excitement over the success of our Midwest Journalism Conference! If you were able to attend, I hope you had a great time and learned a lot! If you went and are an SPJ member, I hope you will use the MJC as an example of how our organization helps your fellow colleagues and/or classmates expand and improve their skills in this ever-changing industry.

Here are some of my personal highlights from the conference:

-Welcoming SPJ executive director Joe Skeel to the great state of Minnesota and to our fabulous conference. Throughout the conference, Joe kept telling me he was very impressed with all aspects of it, from the turnout to the panels to the people who organized it.

-Filling in for social media journalist Jeff Cutler at the last minute to do two Friday morning presentations on “Social Media and News” and “60 Websites in 60 Minutes”. Cutler was unable to come at the last minute due to a death in his family. But with thanks to JJ Murray and Derrick Hinds, we were able to fill Jeff’s enormous shoes on short notice.

(By the way, if you missed any of the sites in the 60 Websites presentation, you’ll find them at

-Giving out awards to some of the best student journalists in the region at the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards luncheon. Laurie Hertzel, books editor at the Star Tribune, also had some inspiring advice for our audience, of which many are young journalists. Click here to view the complete list of Region 6 winners on the SPJ website.

-Meeting RTDNA chairman-elect Kevin Benz and seeing his presentation on “New Media in the Newsroom”. As you know, RTDNA and SPJ are partnering to bring you the “Excellence in Journalism” convention in New Orleans this September. It was great to meet Benz and see how much energy he has!

-Meeting energetic student and professional leaders from the different Region 6 chapters in SPJ. We had a great turnout at our annual regional meeting Saturday. Chapters from Madison Pro, Minnesota Pro, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Eau Claire, St. Cloud State, and University of Minnesota were represented. I also had great conversations with people who may be interested in starting chapters in Duluth, North Dakota, at South Dakota State University, Winona State University, Minot State University, and Loras College (which is technically in Region 7).

-And last but not least, catching up with old friends and meeting new friends in this crazy business we call journalism!

If you weren’t able to attend the conference, you can log onto Twitter, follow @mwjournconf and check out tweets from the conference! Look for the hashtag #mwjournconf.

If you have suggestions for next year’s conference, such a program idea or a speaker you’d like to see, please send it to We’d love your input!

Midwest Journalism Conference is Almost Here!

Can you believe the Midwest Journalism Conference is just a few days away? Our organizers have been working incredibly hard to bring you two days of informative and enlightening sessions to improve your journalism skills and bring SPJ members from around the region together!

Dates: Friday, April 8th and Saturday, April 9th
Place: Crowne Plaza & Suites at Minneapolis Int’l Airport (3 Appletree Square, Bloomington, MN – off I-494 and 34th Ave.)

Here are some of the highlights:

-Jeff Cutler, a social media journalist based in Boston, will lead two great sessions on social media; one looks at how journalists have used social media to take their careers to the next level, while the other shows you new website and online tools to enhance your story gathering and online product.
-Laurie Hertzel, books editor at the Star Tribune, is the keynote speaker at the SPJ Mark of Excellence Award Luncheon Friday afternoon
-Two sessions for journalists interested in sports reporting
-get your work critiqued in front of an audience and a panel of seasoned veterans in the “Shark Tank”
-how the concept of dynamic publishing will impact the online journalism field
-how to get news managers/directors’ attention if you’re applying for an internship or a first job
-improving your interviewing techniques
-and much, much more!

You will also have the chance to meet Joe Skeel, executive director of SPJ, and Kevin Benz, chairman-elect of RTDNA.  We are honored to have both heads of these organization at this conference!

A note for chapter leaders and advisers: in order to remain in good standing with SPJ, at least one of your members is required to attend the conference. This includes the SPJ morning board meeting on Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

Click here to download a conference registration form and schedule:

You can also follow the conference on Facebook and on Twitter (@mwjournconf). Look for the hashtag #mwjournconf to follow the conference action.

Please email me at if you have any questions.  I hope to see you Friday and Saturday!


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