Posts Tagged ‘katie knapp schubert’


Two fledgling chapters take first steps forward

As fall descends on Region 7, interest in SPJ continues to rise, and two prospective chapters are rising as well to meet that interest.

The society finally is gaining traction again in the Cornhusker State, a place where it once was prominent, as the fledgling Omaha-Lincoln chapter reintroduced the society by hosting last month in Omaha a get-to-know-you happy hour for media types, resplendent with swag bags and complementary chili con queso.

Nebraska does not have either a pro or student chapter, and is the only state in the region without them.

Though attendance at the event was modest, co-organizer Rob McLean said “it was a good beginning step to restart the chapter. People are interested, they see we’re here, and that’s the first step.”

“There’s professional interest” in SPJ “in Omaha, and we’ve got students from (the University of) Nebraska who are working with us, too,” Rob said.

To keep it going, Rob, of Hearst Television, and Katie Knapp Schubert, of Omaha Public Radio, are hosting an “election prep” study session at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at NuVibe Juice and Java in Lincoln. Besides refreshments, SPJ will provide election “cheat sheets” with contact information for candidates, as well as other election information and resources.

(Editor’s note: I campaigned for region director in part on the promise to bring SPJ back to Nebraska, and Rob is a former member of the award-winning St. Louis Pro chapter.)

Meanwhile, another fledgling chapter debuts next week at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., with its first function: an Ethics Hold ‘em card tournament, led off by a presentation on professional ethics by Rob Schneider, a Truman State alumnus and presentation director for the Dallas Morning News.

The card tournament features poker matches with cards incorporating ethical ideas and situations, and pits students against each other on their knowledge and understanding of both. Ashley Jost, who’s organizing the tournament and leading the drive for a new chapter, says local businesses are donating prizes to the event.

The tournament goes from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in the Barnett Hall Atrium. Anyone interested in playing a hand or two for a very good cause can contact Ashley for more details.

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New director takes over in the Heartland

There’s a new face in this space.

It belongs to me, David Sheets, the new director of Region 7 and immediate past-president of the St. Louis Pro chapter.

If the face itself doesn’t turn up here regularly, at least words will over the next two years of my term, because there’s a lot going on in the Heartland region of SPJ that deserves notice. In just the past few months, Region 7 hosted an excellent convention at Iowa State in Ames, St. Louis Pro won top honors in the small-chapter category, yours truly received the Howard S. Dubin award for service to SPJ, and the seeds of a new chapter have begun taking root in the Omaha-Lincoln area of Nebraska — a state that, as of now, has no SPJ chapter of any kind.

That last item is particularly heartening for the Heartland; it demonstrates that the energy and wisdom of SPJ still motivate the region’s journalists and give the society new hope for expansion at a time when costs and constriction make quality journalism increasingly difficult to pursue. Leaders Rob McLean, of Hearst Television, and Katie Knapp Schubert, of Omaha Public Radio, are working hard to put the Cornhusker State back on our map, and hope to have their chapter formally on SPJ’s books by January.

I urge every established and aspiring journalist in Region 7 to reach out to Rob and Katie and lend a hand with the heavy lifting. Nebraska has too great a journalism tradition to not have SPJ there fighting for it.

And I urge everyone to help bolster our efforts across the region by signing up now and getting familiar with video chat — whether it’s through Google Hangout, Skype, GoToMeeting, or a host of others — the tool I consider essential for closing the wide distances between chapters. Region 7’s sprawling size no doubt has created difficulty  for SPJ members to interact, but with practice and application of video chat I hope to minimize that sprawl by encouraging regular virtual meetings between members.

In the coming months, I’ll lay out plans for those virtual meetings and ask many of you to take part, as well as implore for patience. Surely, there will be bugs and glitches at the beginning. Over time though, those should diminish, and the distances between each of us should shrink as well.

I’ll also announce details regarding the next regional convention in spring, tentatively scheduled for St. Louis and, in a unique twist, held in partnership with Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky).

In the meantime, I ask Region 7 members to please convey their thanks to outgoing director Kelsey Volkmann for her two years of extraordinary service; to follow Region 7’s Facebook page for regular planning updates; to follow the region’s new Twitter feed, @SPJRegion7, for up-to-the-minute information on regional events and interaction; and to put Region 7’s new email, SPJRegion7@mail.com, in your address book.

A journalist’s work never ends, and neither will our efforts in Region 7 to spread SPJ’s message and bring its members closer together.

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