Posts Tagged ‘Lauren Whan’

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.

Drake University SPJ chapter set for another successful year

Drake University (via Picture Des Moines/Flickr)

Drake University (via Picture Des Moines/Flickr)


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.

Tours, resume critiques and discussions are all in store for Society of Professional Journalists members at Drake University this year.

“It’s been the best recruitment that I’ve been a part of since becoming president,” said chapter president Stephanie Kocer.

The Drake University SPJ chapter has nearly 30 members recently inducted 20 new members.

Drake SPJ goes on tours, brings in speakers to its meetings and hold professional development sessions, such as resume workshops and activity fairs.

The chapter said Des Moines, Iowa, is a hub for media businesses and it has been fortunate to be able to tour a lot of news corporations.

“We’ve been to The Des Moines Register, Meredith Corporation and Iowa Public Radio just to name a few,” Kocer said. “Our members are always excited about the tours. We are also very lucky to have professionals from the Des Moines community come into our meetings to talk with us.”

Chapter members have had everyone from newspaper reporters to PR professionals come and talk with their members.

Kocer said the SPJ members benefit from the networking they do with the journalism community in Des Moines.

“Our chapter is always striving to give members opportunities and I think we succeed really well at it,” Kocer said. “For the last two or three years we have been awarded with a best chapter award.”

Drake SPJ said it hopes to start setting up tours for the rest of the semester and figure out who they might want to talk to in the community. One of its goals for this semester is to put together a resume workshop. Drake’s journalism school usually hosts Journalism Days, which is a week-long event. 

“I’m also hoping to get some new T-shirts ordered this semester, because who doesn’t love that?” Kocer said.

Kocer has been president for one year. She said she joined SPJ as a freshman because she wanted to get more involved with the J-school.

“I joined the executive board my sophomore year as a recruitment chair and really fell in love with how much people enjoy SPJ and how much networking and professionalism we get to practice,” Kocer said. “Being president of SPJ is one of my proudest accomplishments. Not just because it goes on my resume, but more importantly because I’ve been able to help fellow members connect with their community and become better journalists.”

As a senior, Kocer said she hopes to enjoy her last year at Drake to the fullest and continue to connect and form SPJ friendships.

To keep up with what’s happening at Drake University, follow Stephanie Kocer on Twitter at @StephKocer and Drake SPJ at @DrakeSPJ.

Following in the footsteps of giants

After I tweeted my thanks to Region 7 SPJ members for electing me to serve as director, former SPJ Region 7 Director Holly Edgell — who was my boss a few years ago — tweeted in response…

The tweet reminded me that I’m filling some big shoes. The amazing journalists who have previously served as SPJ Region 7 Director contributed a lot to SPJ and to the journalism industry. David Sheets, my immediate predecessor, worked tirelessly on issues facing freelance journalists. He encouraged students and professionals across the region to join SPJ and to think critically about the journalism they produce.

David has been an amazing leader for the region. I will do my best to follow his efforts to serve journalists in our slice of the map.

In the coming weeks, I will announce details for the 2015 Spring Conference, to be held in Omaha, Neb.

Additionally, I’m beginning the legwork to connect journalists with employers within the region and freelancers with editors. More on that soon.

Finally, per the SPJ bylaws, I have appointed Lauren Whan regional assistant for campus affairs.

According to the SPJ bylaws, “each regional director shall appoint a student member as his regional assistant for campus affairs. The latter shall advise the regional director on campus problems and activities, shall act in a liaison capacity with campus chapters in developing programs, and shall assist the regional director in any other ways desired or requested.”

I met Lauren at the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in Kansas City earlier this year and have been impressed with her dedication to journalism and leadership skills. She’s going to help me work with campus chapters across the region to bolster their chapters and encourage students to pursue their journalism aspirations.

Here’s a little bit about Lauren:

“Lauren Whan is a junior at Lindenwood University where she is majoring in journalism, with a minor in mass communications. She is a founder of the Lindenwood SPJ student chapter and is involved with the university’s student newspaper, television station and online news publications.

“Lauren is also Lindenwood’s student public relations officer for the Lindenwood Student Government Association. She is an animal lover, a racing fan and an avid traveler. She looks forward to serving the students within Region 7 and helping Rob McLean plan the regional conference in Nebraska.”

Stay tuned to the blog for regular updates on Region 7 news, events and opportunities!


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