NEW ORLEANS —The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce John Ensslin as its 2011-12 president. Ensslin will serve the largest and most broad-based journalism association for a one-year term.
Immediate Past President Hagit Limor gave Ensslin the oath of office at the President’s Installation Banquet Tuesday night, Sept. 27, at the Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans . He was elected Sunday, Sept. 25, at an SPJ business session at the conference.
Ensslin accepted his new role by first thanking those who have been close to him during his career, including Limor.
“Watching Hagit handle the issues that arose this year was like having my own graduate course on SPJ leadership,” he said.
Ensslin’s presidency will focus on two major issues: membership and chapter health. In his speech he called attention to SPJ’s slight decline in membership in recent years, attributing this trend to the slow economic recovery, although he said confidently: “My hope is that this will be a year that we take SPJ membership to a whole new level.”
To achieve this goal, Ensslin will encourage every chapter to do a membership drive in the month of March. He will ask each chapter – professional and student, large and small – to hold at least one event aimed at retaining current members or recruiting new members. He recognizes that membership is just one of many areas of SPJ’s work that are important to support, but as he explained, many of those activities are already spearheaded by talented, productive committees.
He believes in the importance of SPJ, asserting in his installation speech: “In hard times, you learn who your true friends are, and you learn about your core values. And one thing these last few years have taught me is the true value of our Society of Professional Journalists.”
Ensslin was a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News for 27 years before moving to the Colorado Springs Gazette in 2009 to be the paper’s legal affairs reporter. He recently moved to Bergen County , N.J. , to cover local government for The Record.
Just as important as Ensslin’s professional experience is his experienced leadership in SPJ. He has served as membership chairman for the Colorado Pro chapter, Region 6 Director — including receiving the honor of Regional Director of the Year in 2010 — and 2010-11 national secretary-treasurer. He said he began thinking of running for president in 2004 when a colleague sitting by him at that year’s President’s Installation Banquet said, “You know, I can see you up there.”
Since then, Ensslin brainstormed all that he would aim to accomplish for the Society. Eventually he realized he had skills that could truly make a difference.
Ensslin ended his acceptance speech by calling everyone to service, saying: “I’m very grateful and honored to have the opportunity to lead. But I’m also mindful that this is not my year; it’s our year. It’s our year to push back against those who would stand in the way of promoting diverse and ethical journalism. It’s our year to push back against those who would curtail the public’s right to know. It’s our year to advocate on behalf of journalists who are facing tough times. … And it’s our year to push back against the prevailing winds and make SPJ stronger and better in the year ahead.”
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, visit www.spj.org.