Posts Tagged ‘rob mclean’


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!

Passing the baton in Region 7

Passing the batonTwo years.

That’s the time it takes to obtain a community college education. It’s also the average lifespan of an iPad, the honeymoon period in a new marriage, the unofficial season length for a U.S. presidential campaign, and the sum of one term for an SPJ regional directorship.

Of course, options exist to extend the calendar on any of these things, though the rationale for that extension differs greatly from person to person.

Which is why on Saturday, my term as Region 7 director came to a quiet, satisfying conclusion during EIJ14 in Nashville, and I handed the baton to Rob McLean, Omaha-based digital managing editor for Hearst Television.

Rob’s recent work with the Society underscores his qualifications. He has been at the forefront to re-establish the Society of Professional Journalists in Nebraska, both at the professional and student levels. A few weeks ago, he started moonlighting as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Before landing in the Cornhusker State, Rob was a reporter for Patch.com in suburban St. Louis and was an active member of the SPJ professional chapter there.

Rob is a good man with drive, determination, and a devotion to SPJ that few can match. The region is in good hands, no doubt.

So let me use the remaining space in my final Region 7 post to thank all the great journalism professionals and students in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri who assisted me, informed me, and enlightened me the past 24 months. Your contributions helped make SPJ stronger, wiser, and better positioned to effectively confront the challenges that journalists and educators strive to turn into opportunities.

For the next year at least, I will continue to work with my home chapter, St. Louis Pro, as well as help launch a new national community, SPJ Digital, which debuted last month, and broaden my continued engagement with SPJ’s Freelance Community. And Rob and I will be working together to plan the Region 7 Spring Conference in Omaha in March.

In the meantime, Rob has my full support and confidence as Region 7 director. I hope he has yours, too.

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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