Posts Tagged ‘dana neuts’

Some forthcoming changes to SPJ Digital

spjdigitalSPJ Digital has been making significant progress since the new officer terms began on Feb. 1. We have made more resources available and expanded work on our current resources, as well as grown in members. But while we celebrate our achievements, we also look ahead, especially towards the Excellence in Journalism conference in Orlando in September.

On March 9, I notified SPJ President Dana Neuts, as well as my colleagues on the executive, of my intentions to resign as chairman of SPJ Digital. With my resignation, I introduced a resolution that would change how the role of the Chair worked, creating two Co-Chair positions, one overseeing overall programming and strategy, the other overseeing our social media efforts and interactive elements of events and programming.

I recommended Taylor Mirferendeski, Head of Programming, and Brandi Broxson, our Google+ and LinkedIn Coordinator, to take these positions upon approval. This was done to ensure there would be a smooth transition, and the major work of SPJ Digital would in no way be disrupted. That resolution was approved by the executive on March 13, and since that time the new executive has been preparing to complete the transition.

The new executive, composed of Mirferendeski, Broxson, Facebook Coordinator Michelle Sandlin, Twitter Coordinator Beth O’Malley and Google+ and LinkedIn coordinator Bethany Bella, began work this week. Soon, Brandi and Taylor will be utilizing this and other platforms to outline what they have in store for SPJ Digital from now through EIJ.

I thank President Neuts, her colleagues on the SPJ Board, as well as SPJ staff at the Indianapolis headquarters for their support during my time as chair. I also thank the executive who takes over. I believe they are some of the best and brightest members of the SPJ, and I know SPJ Digital is in good hands. I also want to thank the members of SPJ Digital, as well as you, the Net Worked reader, for supporting SPJ Digital during my time as chairman.

I may be resigning as Chair, but I am not completely exiting the SPJ. I am to remain Community Coordinator, assisting President Neuts in overseeing SPJ Digital and our network of communities. I will also continue to blog on the pages of Net Worked, focusing particularly on social media’s role in journalism.

With these roles, I hope to continue SPJ Digital’s mission of education, as well as help the SPJ preserve and protect journalism for this generation and the next. I believe that education can help build a better journalism community, and I am excited at the ability to continue to do so, to help digital journalism thrive, and to make journalism better for all.

I am excited at what is to come, and I know the future looks bright for SPJ Digital, and indeed SPJ as a whole. I hope you will join me as we continue our crucial mission.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

What do communities say about SPJ’s future?

In this Net Worked guest post, SPJ national president Dana Neuts looks at the role of the communities, including SPJ Digital, the community where this blog operates, and what these communities mean for the future of SPJ.

It’s an exciting time to be an SPJ member!

What started out as a borrowed idea several years ago has turned into an exciting reason to be an SPJ member – SPJ communities. This new community structure has created opportunities for more people to be involved in areas of mutual interest and to have a say in SPJ’s future. The concept began with the formation of the SPJ Freelance Community in the summer of 2013.

A year and a half later, we have five communities: Freelance, Digital, International, Generation J and Students.

Here’s how it works. Each community is self-governing, choosing its own mission, goals, tools and leaders. This differs dramatically from the committee structure where some of these communities originated. Committees and committee chairs are selected by the SPJ president who also provides direction as to what he or she wishes the committee to accomplish for the year.

The committees by their very nature are restricted in size with an average of half a dozen to a dozen members. The communities, on the other hand, are unlimited in size and are in control of their own future with support and guidance from the president, the community coordinator (volunteer Alex Veeneman), and SPJ staff (primarily Tara Puckey and Billy O’Keefe).

For some groups, the committee structure works well and remains in place (e.g., FOI, Ethics, Journalism Education Committees), but some members are better served by the community structure. So far, the communities have been a success generating interest among members and nonmembers, providing additional leadership opportunities, as well as opportunities for community members to learn from each other, share ideas and resources, and network with each other.

This fundamental shift also helps SPJ adapt to our rapidly changing industry, react more quickly to relevant news, and provide resources and input on areas of interest. For example, following the Charlie Hebdo attack, International Community Chair Carlos Restrepo wrote a blog post about press freedom, including quotes from a community member based in France. While I made a statement on behalf of the organization, Restrepo was able to provide a different perspective, complementing my statement.

SPJ’s new communities allow us to expand our reach beyond our members and to become more diverse in terms of age, race, culture, background, discipline, etc. The more voices we have, the better we can collectively fulfill SPJ’s mission which ultimately benefits us all. It is encouraging to see the enthusiasm of our community members, and I am eager to see our communities grow.

Want to learn more? Contact me at or community coordinator Alex Veeneman at We’d love to tell you how the communities can help you!

Based in Seattle, Dana Neuts is a full-time freelance writer, editor and marketing pro. She is also the publisher of, a hyperlocal blog focused on community news and events in Kent, Washington. She is currently serving as the national president of SPJ. You can learn more about Neuts at or follow her on Twitter at or

Digital Journalism takes a big step forward

SPJ DigitalFrom typewriters to Twitter, technology has shaped and reshaped journalism. Only now, the technology is coming faster than we can master it.

In the span of a lifetime, hot type gave way to cold type, which in turn sank beneath a wave of websites and blogs and social media apps. Today, we have come to think that two-year-old tech is obsolete, and that new news can become old news before readers reach the last sentence.

Moreover, we’ve entered an age when, thanks to rapidly evolving technology, the practice of journalism is no longer restricted to journalists.

All of this is why the Society of Professional Journalists has tried to evolve as well — it’s casting a wider net for freelance news gatherers and non-affiliated journalists, and revising its Code of Ethics to meet the needs of the new age.

And it’s expanding the Digital Journalism committee into a digital journalism community.

The new community, SPJ Digital, began unofficially last week but already has a Twitter account (@SPJDigital) and a presence on Google+. It debuts officially in September at EIJ in Nashville under the shrewd guidance of student journalist and editor Alex Veeneman.

Incoming SPJ president Dana Neuts says SPJ Digital’s mission is to “examine and raise awareness of current trends in social media, as well as digital innovations and the digital culture and their affect on the culture, craft and practice of journalism.”

In committee form, Digital Journalism has been chiefly a conduit for information on digital culture. Members met at SPJ’s annual convocation to discuss potential topics for Net Worked, as well as the Digital Media Toolbox and occasional features in Quill, and report on hot tech and trends worthy of special consideration by SPJ leadership.

As a community, SPJ Digital will keep the discussion going year round, encourage input and participation from digitally savvy citizens both inside and outside journalism, and help everyone see the blur of onrushing technology a little more clearly.

The mission is to “serve all members interested in the digital future of the industry as well as the profession,” Neuts said.

A new landing site for SPJ Digital on is in the works. Neuts and Veeneman invite those who are interested in joining the community to stay tuned for updates and registration information at @SPJDigital, Google+, and right here at Net Worked.


David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.





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