Posts Tagged ‘omaha public radio’

SPJ Region 7 launches 2016 SPJ fellowship for student/recently graduated SPJ members

For the past several months, a group of SPJ leaders has been working behind the scenes to develop an SPJ Region 7 fellowship exclusively for SPJ student members and members who have graduated recently.

That fellowship is becoming a reality thanks to a generous grant from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

I am thrilled to announce the SPJ Region 7 Fellowship will launch in summer 2016.

Fellowship recipients will help with the daily journalism tasks of two nonprofit news organizations (either the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, based at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, or Omaha Public Radio, based in Omaha, Nebraska). They will also work on larger capstone projects to be published at his/her host news organization’s discretion.

After the fellowship’s summer portion has ended, recipients will present sessions at the most convenient SPJ spring regional conference in 2017.

Thanks to a grant from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the fellowships will include a stipend of $1,333.33 per month and funds for recipients to use for travel to present SPJ Spring regional conference sessions.

Our selection committee, composed of SPJ professionals from across the country, will choose two fellows who live in Region 7 or are students at/recent graduates of a university within the region. We’ll place one fellow at each organization for three months — beginning in mid-May 2016.

Fellows will meet weekly to discuss their capstone progress. These meetings will also serve as a brown-bag discussion series with journalism professionals to discuss the state of media, answer questions about the news business and more.

The organizing committee established four criteria for eligibility…

  • Fellows must be enrolled in or have graduated from an accredited university within Region 7 (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas) or be resident of a state within the region studying or have graduated from an accredited university outside Region 7.
  • Students who have earned or are earning undergraduate degrees AND graduate degrees will be considered.
  • Fellows must be members of the Society of Professional Journalists and in good standing with the organization. Applicants’ SPJ membership numbers from the national office will be required on the application form.
  • Fellow applicants who have graduated from their institution will be considered up to 18 months after commencement.

Applications and additional details will become available in the fall. Look for more information soon! Until then, feel free to email me any questions you have about the fellowship.

This fellowship would not be possible without the support of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. Visit to learn more about how you can support the foundation.

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,, 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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