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SPJ ’10? There’s an app for that

By Billy O'Keefe

By Chelsea Brasted
New to the Society of Professional Journalists’ national convention is a smart phone application, specifically designed for Blackberry and iPhone platforms.
According to SPJ Executive Director Joe Skeel, the app has several features that convention-goers may find helpful, including maps of the hotel and convention area, a personalized scheduler and a tab for maintaining contact information.
“One of the things I really liked about [the app] is it comes with a built in Twitter feed … it’s tracking SPJ’s regular Twitter feed, SPJ_tweet,” Skeel said. “You can see it on the bottom of the screen and it will continue to update as you get your signal.”
Staying current in the digital age was an important reason for creating the app, according to Skeel.
“We consider ourselves a guiding light for journalists. We felt it was one small way to push SPJ out in the digital world, and tell our members we’re out there with you, and we like to be early adopters,” said Skeel.
Skeel said the SPJ board recognized that many convention-goers won’t have a smart phone, and therefore won’t have access to the app.
To counter the problem, Crowd Compass, the company contracted to create the app, also designed a website with many of the same features, he said.
“The website doesn’t have quite the functionality as the [app],” Skeel said. “The big thing is the Twitter feed doesn’t automatically come through.”
SPJ has paid for wireless Internet throughout the conference area, enabling laptop users to access the app’s accompanying website.
SPJ officials intend to use this year’s convention as a test for future convention apps.
“We’re going to send out a survey after the convention to see how many people downloaded it, if people used it and that will determine if we use it again,” Skeel said.
SPJ President Kevin Smith would like to see a better use of technology in other realms of SPJ as well.
“While we’re getting innovative, I’d like to see us explore a more contemporary way to vote at business sessions,” Smith wrote in an email. “I think using electronic voting devices needs to come into play.”
The app and website can be accessed at spj2010.crowdcompass.com.