New report: Will SPJ remain relevant in the digital age?

Here’s the press release on the Digital Media Committee’s latest publication — it’s a report on how SPJ can stay relevant in the digital era. We encourage you to check it out!

‘Will SPJ remain relevant in the digital age?’

Media experts offer recommendations for SPJ to bridge divide between old and new media

Oct. 25, 2010

Full Strategic Report:

America’s oldest and largest journalism organization must reimagine its offerings to stay relevant in the digital age. The Society of Professional Journalists should become the journalism industry’s premier source of information on the latest technology, newsgathering approaches and business models. And SPJ should unite new media start-ups in a national network to foster communication and innovation.

Those are the top two of 10 recommendations in the SPJ’s Digital Media Committee’s new strategic report, “Will SPJ Remain Relevant in the Digital Age?” The independent committee, appointed by SPJ’s president, interviewed more than a dozen media experts to advise the 101-year-old, 8,200-member Society on how to stand out among more than 90 national journalism organizations.

The report’s interview subjects include: media analyst Ken Doctor; Joshua Benton, Nieman Journalism Lab; Josh Breitbart, New America Foundation; author Clay Shirky; Pulitzer Prize winners Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, Philadelphia Daily News; former Seattle Times executive editor Mike Fancher; digital media pioneer Howard Owens, Washington Post National Innovations Editor Mark Luckie; Jay Rosen, New York University; Tom Rosenstiel, Pew Research Center; media analyst Alan Mutter; Rick Edmonds, Poynter Institute; and Mark Briggs, author of “Journalism2.0.”

“The Society of Professional Journalists needs to raise its profile on digital media issues,” said Daniel Axelrod, the SPJ DMC’s 2009-10 vice-chairman and the report’s lead author. “SPJ can better journalism and serve its members by publicizing what works in the digital age, creating a network for new media journalists and advocating for an open Internet.”

In the new report, the SPJ DMC recommends that the Society:

1. Bridge the divide between new and old media by aggregating and spotlighting high-quality journalism and facilitating communication among online start-ups and legacy media.

2. Create a vibrant network for new media start-ups to share ideas online and in person.

3. Become an advocate for expanding access to the Internet, news and information.

4. Teach reporters to use powerful emerging technologies.

5. Educate members and citizens in the basics of information-gathering and storytelling.

6. Engage the public in a dialogue about the purpose, value and standards of journalism.

7. Train new media start-ups in entrepreneurial journalism.

8. Teach journalists and their managers the theories behind new media technologies.

9. Ensure SPJ staff and leaders are hyper-literate in digital journalism trends and theories.

10. Poll members to learn and address journalists’ needs, and track the industry’s direction.

Besides the SPJ DMC’s work advising the Society, the committee published a two-part “Digital Media Handbook” filled with training tips on new media. Part I of the handbook is available at and users can access Part II at:

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