Archive for the ‘National Convention’ Category

SPJ prez convention wrap- up

In case you missed both the convention in Nashville and the wrap-up blog post by SPJ president Dana Neuts, see

-tom johnson

Is it time to change SPJ’s name?

One of the more interesting issues that came up at the SPJ National Convention in Anaheim was whether the Society of Professional Journalists should change its name.

Michael Koretzsky, Region 3 director, offered a resolution calling for SPJ to change its name to the Society for Professional Journalism. The delegates rejected the resolution, but directed the national board to take up the issue and come back with a recommendation the following year.

Koretzsky outlines his reasons here. In a nutshell, changing the name would allow people who are not journalists to join SPJ and give it additional clout. It also reflects the arguments we’re making for the shield law, that it is journalism that should be defined, and not journalists.

But there are also reasons to keep the current name. First, it’s expensive to change a name, especially when you have letterhead, banners and signs with the society’s name on it It may also confuse people as to what SPJ stands for.

I volunteered to serve on the task force that will look into the name issue, as I think it is a discussion worth happening. But I want to ask you what you think. Should SPJ change its name? You can either post below, or email me.

NAHJ to join SPJ, RTDNA at Excellence In Journalism ’13

For those who haven’t heard the news yet, The National Association of Hispanic Journalists will join SPJ and RTDNA for the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim next year. The boards of all three organizations have agreed to the plan in concept, and staff are working out the details.

In a nutshell, this is exciting development. Bringing together these journalism groups allows us to address common issues and expose our members to each other’s institutional cultures. It should also make for a more interesting conference as there will be a diversity of programs and ideas.

Convention odds and ends

It was great seeing so many people from Region 9 down in New Orleans. It was a rather informative conference, and our regional meeting was no exception. Here’s a recap of what we went over:

Star System: The national board of directors voted 12-8 to abolish the star ranking system for chapters. The regional directors, who make the initial recommendation on what a chapter should be ranked, found that the system had become too punitive. Right now, chapters will be deemed in good standing or not in good standing. The requirements for that are to have a minimum of three programs a year that involve the chapter membership and the journalism community, as well as reflect the society’s mission (FOI, ethics, diversity, etc.), and file an annual report on time. John Ensslin has also appointed two chapter doctors to work with struggling chapters, one of them being our own Deb Hurley.

Dues: I regret to report that the board voted to increase dues $3 a year for pros, and $1.50 for students, effective Jan. 1. The purpose of the dues increase is to raise money to further the society’s operations. Joe Skeel, the executive director, explained that membership dues are the only relatively reliable source of income the society has, and that there has not been a dues increase for 10 years. Joe also pointed out that other organizations, such as RTDNA, charge far more than our increased dues, so we are still a bargain.

So you know, I did argue for a dues decrease as a way of recognizing the struggles journalists are having in this economy, as well as possibly bringing in more revenue by making membership accessible to more people.

The delegates unsuccessfully attempted to reverse the increase on the convention floor.

Regional Conference: First, kudos to Utah Headliners for pulling off an excellent regional conference in Salt Lake City in April. At-large director Bill McCloskey, who represented the executive board at the conference, thought it was an informative program.

Now, for 2012.

The conference will be April 13-14 in Denver. So mark your calendar, and plan to have your income taxes filed before then.

This time, we’re doing something different in planning the programs. Instead of having one chapter do all the heavy lifting, we have a committee with people from each of the pro chapters that will meet and plan the conference and assist Colorado. The committee includes Cara Degette, Deputy Regional Director Holly Wolcott, Julie Ann Grimm, Tom Haraldsen, Sheryl Worsley and myself. If you have a suggestion on a program you’d like to see at regional let me know.

Volunteers: SPJ couldn’t function without volunteers. And, keeping with John’s tradition, I want to honor those folks who go above and beyond the call of duty. At New Orleans, I recognized David Brown for stepping in as an interim president in New Mexico, and Colorado Pro’s team that restarted the Auraria campus chapter. The winners receive a Sigma Delta Chi pin, from the days when SPJ was known by Greek letters.

If you know of anyone who deserves recognition, let me know.

Again, thank you for all you do, and let’s look forward to an even greater year.


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