Archive for August, 2019

SPJ informal group to meet during EIJ19; local chapters may sign letter to board

The following is from Jonathan Make of the DC Pro Chapter, who has spearheaded the formation and development of an informal group of SPJ local chapters and regional leadership. The group has been acting on behalf of members who are concerned about board transparency, processes and other issues.

An informal group of local chapters will meet in person for the first time at the Excellence in Journalism national convention in San Antonio. The group will gather between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday September 5.

All SPJ members and particularly local chapter leaders are invited to meet members of this informal group that has pressed the national board on transparency and process issues. The meeting will be held in Lone Star A room, on the 2nd floor of the Grand Hyatt. See more information at

For the first half of this gathering, we will briefly introduce ourselves and have an opportunity to discuss ongoing issues such as the board elections and the national strategic plan. For the second half, beginning at 7:30 p.m., we are inviting members of the national board and of headquarters staff to discuss any issues they would like to present to us.

Our group of local chapter leaders, a regional leader, and other active SPJ members has asked the national board to issue announcements during business hours and to make sure that all members are invited well beforehand to board meetings, among other issues. You can read more about this here and here.

The group also is interested in possibly asking the national board and SPJ headquarters to make some changes to how people sign up for SPJ. Longtime tech issues and lack of database interoperability and/or other problems have often made confusing the process for people to find/join their local chapter when they are starting or renewing a membership.

The good news is that staff and the board are aware of this. And they may fix all of it it and may have fixed some of it.

The group has drafted a letter to the national board. If local chapters are interested in this issue and would like to sign on, please contact Make at or Region 8 Coordinator Kathryn Jones at

Here’s the language for the proposed letter:

Dear national SPJ board,

Our informal group of local chapter leaders and others request that the national organization fix as soon as possible and in a complete manner the database problems that make it more challenging for local chapters to attract and retain members. As we are all well aware, chapters rely upon annual dues to fund the programming, advocacy, education and other efforts that they conduct throughout the year.

However, for the last several years, it has not always been clear on the SPJ website which chapter one should join and how to do so at the time of paying national dues. Given that the SPJ web portal is the primary way that the 6000 members of the organization can join their local chapter, it is crucial that this be fixed.

We ask that when someone joins SPJ or renews their membership, the default be that they also join the local chapter in the area of their residence as reflected in their mailing address ZIP Code. By this being the default, we believe that this will make it more likely that national members will also be members of their local chapters. It would still be optional whether someone needs to join, but it would be set to default to join. We also ask that this apply to multi-year memberships.

We greatly appreciate that headquarters staff as well as some members of the national board may also support what we seek. And we likewise appreciate that efforts have been undertaken towards the goals that we share regarding this issue. We understand that when the national organization moves to a new database/CRM/CMS, it is possible that these goals will be able to be achieved.

We ask that any database or other product or service that the organization moves to be guaranteed to provide this functionality. This will help ensure the continued health of local chapters, participation in them, and ultimately, local member voting on local board elections.



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