The New Member Task Force of SPJ-NJ has been very busy this summer. We’ve had three events with very sizable turnouts, focusing on three goals:
- Making SPJ-NJ a more useful organization for mid-career journalists… people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
- Holding more activities in northern NJ.
- Establishing new student chapters.
Seventeen people attended the “new member” meeting we held in Montclair in June. That meeting created some exciting possibilities. There was general consensus that SPJ-NJ must revitalize its website.
To that end, I am pleased to announce the New Member Task Force has spun-off its first committee. Miriam Ascarelli, who attended the June meeting, has now been named the chairperson of the SPJ Website Committee. If you’d like more information, you can contact Miriam at mascarel@ADM.NJIT.EDU.
Now to the Montclair meeting… It can be summarized in two words: Excitement and frustration.
People are frustrated with recent trends in journalism but excited about the opportunity to do something about it. When presented with a wide range of possibilities of what SPJ can become in our state, the overwhelming consensus is that we should promote quality journalism.
At the Montclair meeting, several people offered concrete suggestions:
- There was general enthusiasm for the idea that SPJ should establish a speakers’ bureau, so that members can volunteer to go into schools in their community. To that end, I and other members will be going to Stony Brook to learn about their news literacy program. You can get general information at http://www.centerfornewsliteracy.org/
- There are some hyper-local and alternative news websites in NJ that are making money and paying their reporters. Some of the people who work at those sites were at the meeting. One site in particular is eager to share its business model with fellow journalists. SPJ wants to use its connectivity to make it a little easier to advance quality journalism in this manner.
- There were many suggestions regarding journalistic ethics, with specifics on how SPJ can help the public identify quality journalism.
- There were suggestions about increased activism. Representatives from the National Writers Union were present at the meeting, as well as several NJ-members, talking about the “Pay the Writer” campaign. SPJ is not a union, but we certainly support the idea that professional journalists should be properly paid for their work. SPJ is already active in supporting First Amendment concerns and government transparency. SPJ is considering doing more in the near future. If you care about a particular cause that you feel most professional journalists would support, please contact me. I will pass along your suggestions to the board.
There were suggestions in other areas that are worth noting:
- SPJ is a very large organization that is in a position to negotiate discounts for its members.