Great Time to Join SPJ

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), in conjunction with the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), will be jointly hosting the Excellence in Journalism 2012 conference later this month in Fort Lauderdale.

I’m planning to be there for the first time in several years, and I am really looking forward to spending a few days focusing on journalism’s current issues, exchanging ideas with other professionals and educators, and planning SPJ’s continued growth and success.

I believe SPJ’s influence and guidance are needed more than ever during this particularly volatile time in American journalism.

My professional colleagues who are working at newspapers are suffering through a nasty period. Newspapers are slashing staff and, in some cases, eliminating printed issues. SPJ doesn’t just offer its members a sympathetic ear; the organization has been proactive in providing training to journalists who may find themselves needing to go in a different professional direction. Members can also tap into the vast amounts of “human knowledge” SPJ offers simply by accessing the organization’s member database.

SPJ has crafted a Code of Ethics for journalists that is respected worldwide. As we read news reports of yet more plagiarism and poor ethical decisions made by some prominent names in American journalism, SPJ’s code stands out as necessary reading — or rereading — for students and professionals alike.

The tools and platforms that journalists use change with every technological advance. My first professional cassette recorder, which was top of the line in its day, is now a useless relic. SPJ is a vanguard in training for and using new media. For example, the link in the previous sentence will take you to several training videos, the first set focusing on “Smartphone Journalism.”

SPJ also is working hard to recruit new members (see Twitter’s #joinspj hash tag). The vitality of any organization is measured in part by its ability to attract people who have new skills, new ways of thinking, and different experiences. I’m really excited about what’s happening here in the Texas Panhandle. SPJ has approved our application to charter a new chapter here, the Texas Panhandle Professional Chapter. Professional communicators and educators from across the Panhandle, and from all platforms — print, digital, television and radio — are invited to join. College and high school journalists may join, as well.

Our chapter is so new that we don’t even have a web presence yet. Our first meeting will be later this month in Amarillo. All Texas Panhandle journalists, professional or student, who are interested in learning more about our first meeting, or who would like more information about joining SPJ, can respond to this post or send me a tweet at @ButlerCain. I’ll be glad to get in touch with details.

Come see what SPJ is about. I’m convinced you’ll determine that it’s an organization worthy of your membership.

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