Archive for June, 2019


SPJ Region 8 launches freelance network

Freelancers, unite.

Whether you freelance out of choice, to keep working after a layoff or to reinvent yourself, SPJ can help you get discovered by editors and connect with other freelancers. Just sign up for the new Region 8 Freelance Network.

Some years ago a group of independent journalists affiliated with the Association for Women Journalists created a freelance network in Dallas-Fort Worth that was quite successful. We met for lunch each month, discussed opportunities and challenges, shared industry news and enjoyed a sense of camaraderie.

We also referred assignments to each other. If an editor needed a specific person for an assignment and contacted a freelance journalist who wasn’t available or interested, that journalist could refer someone in the network for the job. Some people got magazine assignments that way; one person even got a book deal.

We’d like to reprise the network under the auspices of SPJ Region 8 and expand it all over Texas and Oklahoma. During the Region 8 conference in March, several people indicated interest in joining a network. As a member of SPJ, you can join for no additional cost, of course.

The network will evolve over time, but the first step will be to compile a list of freelance journalists (writers, graphic artists, videographers, photographers), their contact information, skills and kinds of assignments desired. We’ll create our own regional freelance directory and message list. The more people who sign up, the more we can help each other.

Members of the network also can share information about publications looking for freelancers, specific assignments up for grabs, tips and helpful articles. We’re up for suggestions about the best way to do that — perhaps a Slack group or a closed Facebook group.

Freelancers represent SPJ’s largest community, so resources already are available at the national level. Check out the SPJ website’s page “SPJ Freelance Community” at https://www.spj.org/freelance.asp, as well as the Freelance Community Facebook group. The blog “The Independent Journalist” also covers topics of interest to freelancers.

The SPJ Freelance Community’s guide to freelance writing is available online, as well as a calendar of events and on-demand sessions on freelancing and personal branding. You also can create an entry in the national SPJ Freelance Directory to connect with editors and network with other freelancers.

To join the SPJ Region 8 Freelancers Group, contact longtime freelancer and Region 8 Coordinator Kathryn Jones at kathrynjones1956@gmail.com. We welcome any suggestions as we get this network started.

More transparency demanded, leadership questioned after SPJ board conference call

A SPJ national board meeting on June 1 became contentious during a discussion about appointing a committee to conduct a search for a new national executive director. Afterward, board member Michael Koretzky called for the president’s impeachment on his blog.

The SPJ D.C. Pro Chapter led an ad hoc group to write a letter to the national board calling for transparency throughout the process of selecting an executive director, but not for impeachment of President J. Alex Tarquinio. The letter also expressed concern that the board meeting was not conducted in “a collegial, collaborative or open way.”

Here’s the link to the letter:

SPJ Local Leaders Tell National Board of Transparency, Leadership Concerns

Alison Bethel McKenzie resigned as SPJ executive director in late April. The SPJ website posted a brief, unattributed statement that did not explain the circumstances of her resignation. Tarquinio later posted about the resignation on her blog, but some chapters — including some in Region 8 — did not think SPJ members were told about the resignation with the transparency that is a key principle of SPJ”s own code of ethics.

Tarquinio yesterday posted on her blog about the board’s approval of an executive director transition plan: 

Meanwhile, the Columbia Journalism Review has posted an article about the controversy that includes a video clip from the board meeting:

https://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/spj-conference-call-impeachment.php.

The Red River Report will post more details as they become available.

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