Mizzou SPJ hopes to connect students with employers at November event

Photo courtesy of Christina Turner

Photo courtesy of Christina Turner

By Lauren Whan

Each month, Lauren Whan, Region 7 assistant for campus affairs, will take a look at a university chapter from across the region.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — One of the largest journalism schools in the Midwest is the University of Missouri, otherwise known as “Mizzou.” With many successful journalists graduating from the university, it has become a popular place for aspiring reporters.

Mizzou started a Society of Professional Journalists chapter in 2000, and has slowly but surely built a large membership.

Chapter President Christina Turner said the Mizzou chapter has 24 official undergraduate members, 10 of whom are new to the organization. She said the chapter also has several graduate students attend meetings and support events. The chapter also has about two-dozen undergrad students who are not official card-carrying members of the national organization, Turner said.

Turner said she is hopeful they will recruit more members throughout the semester.

During the fall semester, the chapter held two get-to-know-you SPJ events.

  • A free speech event, where people could write whatever they wanted on a big poster board around campus to celebrate First Amendment rights
  • A profit-share event with a Yogoluv establishment downtown.

The Mizzou chapter now plans to hold an event in November where journalism employers can tell students what they’re looking for in future interns or new hires after graduation. This event will include a speed-dating component, where students can spend five minutes with each person from each organization discussing their specific interests.

Turner said she is also working on getting the event catered by a restaurant.

For the spring, the chapter is working on bringing in guest speakers from out-of-town to discuss emerging issues within the journalism school, documentary journalism and multimedia journalism.

“More and more, every emphasis area within the journalism school is multimedia, so we want to bring in professionals who use all these different platforms and skills to show that it is necessary to get a job in journalism these days.” Turner said.

Turner said Mizzou is launching a documentary journalism emphasis area in 2015, and the SPJ chapter is working on bringing in documentary filmmakers to discuss how documentary film and journalism intersect.

Christina Turner

Photo courtesy of Christina Turner

Turner said she has been president of the Mizzou chapter since January 2014 and will transition out of presidency in January 2015. Her future career plans are to work in television news after she graduates in May 2015.

“At this point, there are opportunities both behind and in front of the camera throughout the country and in Europe, so the specifics of what I will do and where I’ll end up are wide-open,” Turner said.

Turner joined SPJ because it seemed like a good way to meet journalism professionals and learn what the media business was really like. Her favorite moments of being a member of SPJ have been the Excellence in Journalism conferences in Anaheim and Nashville, as well as the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.

As for advice on how to improve student interest, Turner believes the regional conferences haven’t been as well-advertised to student chapters in the past.

“Making sure every student chapter is aware of the conference would help. On our chapter end, we’ll be working on getting as much of that funded by the university as possible,” Turner said.

The sponsorship would help get more SPJ members interested and able to attend the conference.

To keep up with what’s happening at the University of Missouri, follow Christina on Twitter at @CSTurner1 and visit Mizzou SPJ’s website.

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