The Society of Professional Journalists hosted its opening business meeting, featuring statements from outgoing president Matthew Hall, nominations and executive director reports, and awards for excellence.
Starting with the roles of the Convention Governance in SPJ, Hall reviewed voting procedures by chapter and regional delegates, noting that questions on delegate information can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patti Gallagher Newberry, nominations chair, said voting took place online for candidates who posted videos answering questions in advance of the Sept. 2 meeting.
Newberry reminded the group to vote, saying president-elect nominees are Claire Regan and Andrew Seaman. Ivette Davila-Richards, Jonathan Make, and Danielle McLean are running for secretary-treasurer, with seven people running for director at large. There are also eight nominations for different regional coordinators.
Executive director John Schertzer thanked the group for joining and participating in the SPJ 2021 conference. This year, Schertzer decided to reiterate the state of SPJ and how the organization is progressing at its current stage.
“I’m calling it the State of the Society,” he said. “One of the greatest accomplishments of this past year, really the last 16 months or more, has been the development of what is our strategic direction.”
SPJ came up with four identifying pillars or values, including being champions of journalism, fighters for the first amendment, stewards of ethical journalism, and producers of journalism’s future, Schertzer listed.
“This is what I get out of bed every day wanting to do and hoping that you as well as really committed members of SPJ get excited about,” he said. “That if we can accomplish these four things, what a difference we could make for this great profession.”
SPJ’s annual goals are built around these four values, according to Schertzer, with attempts to move forward and continue the momentum built over the past year.
“We have grown student membership by 20%,” he said. “SPJ is the healthiest financially it has been in a long time. A lot of the challenges they faced were able to be managed effectively.”
Schertzer outlined the major accomplished goals over the past year, including a new student trustee council, SPJ online store, member database, and leadership training. With new elections policies and campus chapter requirements, the executive director looks forward to the achievements that will set up the upcoming year.
“That’s just 11 or so months of things that we achieved in the midst of dealing with so many other things that the world threw at us,” he said. “It was a very successful year for SPJ.”
Despite the accomplishments, Schertzer revealed that SPJ has declined by a quarter in memberships, though remaining hopeful to stabilize memberships.
Student memberships have declined by 54%, but the executive director stressed board efforts to further engage with and grow campus chapters. These campus chapters have an average of six members, with 126 of these chapters accounting for 697 members.
“Now, 43% of members are not affiliated with a chapter,” Schertzer said. “This is something we need to study. And it could be that our growing chapters and membership is spread all over.”
The executive director said overall SPJ should continue to be disciplined and to look back on this past year as one that set the organization up to face future challenges more effectively.
Outgoing president Hall announced the Chicago Headline Club and SPJ Georgia as recipients of the Professional Development and Education award. SPJ Georgia won another award, for First Amendment and Freedom of Information Activity, alongside New Jersey Pro Chapter.
The award for diversity efforts went to the New England Pro Chapter and Oklahoma Pro, with the campus relations award going to SPJ Florida and Cincinnati Pro.
“Amazing work and I wish we were all in person to celebrate together,” Hall said. “But don’t let that take away from all the accomplishments you have.”
Hall ended the meeting by announcing SPJ Florida and Cincinnati Pro as Chapters of the Year, saying the chapters did not let COVID-19 get in the way of their journalistic success and developed innovative practices to further their hard work.
Tagged under: Andrew Seaman, Claire Regan, Danielle McLean, Ivette Davila-Richards, John Schertzer, Jonathan Make, Patti Gallagher Newberry, SPJ, SPJ business meeting, society of professional journalists