Miss the convention?

Sept. 26, 2012

EIJ12 also known as the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual convention is over. But not forgotten. If you missed it, check www.spj.org for a lot of information including handouts from some of the dozens of professional development sessions. Teresa Smedding, Assistant Managing Editor/Content Systems for the Daily Herald and president of the American Copy Editors Society, presented two sessions: Integrating Your Newsroom and Web Teams, SEO for Journalists: How to Get Web Hits Without Sounding Like a Machine. 

Representing Chicago as delegates: CHC President Alden Loury and board members Howard Dubin, Beth Konrad and Susan Stevens. Other members there: Mike Reilly of DePaul, Paul Davis of Champaign, a past-president of SPJ and RTDNA, Cassidy Herrington, brand-new member, Sudip Bose who does medical reporting for CBS, and numerous DePaul and Loyola students. Jaimee Haddad and Penny Yi Wang, students from the Medill branch in Qatar traveled the furthest.

Northwestern’s Medill Project Innocence won the national Sunshine Award. Eastern Kentucky University won the best student chapter award. Its 10 members gave SPJ regional convention money they raised to tornado-destroyed Licking Valley Courier.

Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at Columbia University, gave us at least 100 tips on social media. But he emphasized caution: anything you share in the way of opinions can be used against you. And, he noted, the rules of journalism have not changed. For a digital ton more, see facebook.com/sreetips

A special edition of the Kalb Report was videotaped: “Why Murrow Matters.” Marvin Kalb, Bob Edwards, Dean Baquet, Erin Moriarty and Casey Murrow believe Edward R. Murrow’s principles still stand: inform the electorate.

The first online election drew an 11 percent turnout, 830 votes cast. A couple of chapters (not here) had voting parties/happy hours. In case you missed it, SPJ’s new president is Sonny Albarado. And me as Region 5 director.

I missed a lot of good stuff at the convention because I had nine meetings to attend. (Yes, I love being a leader.) You’ll be hearing a lot more from me about our region during the next two years. For now, I’m asking chapters what I can do to help them. Later, I’ll probably ask you for help. In Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, we have four pro chapters and 13 student chapters.

In the spring, our regional conference probably will be somewhere in or around St. Louis. Our region will partner with Region 7 for a super-regional. Date: a weekend in April. It’s likely most of the programming will be on Saturday, so you all who work or study Monday-Friday can get to the best events. Next year’s national convention, again held jointly with the Radio Television Digital News directors, will be in Anaheim, Calif., Disneyland, Aug. 25-27, 2014. Opryland in Nashville in 2015. That spring, the regional conference will be in Chicago at DePaul University.

Another biggie: the Scripps Leadership Training during a June weekend. In the past, it has always been in Indianapolis. In the future, it will be rotated around the country. Our region will host the training in 2013. Chapter leaders should start thinking about who you want to send. With the change, each chapter will be able to send four or five people instead of one.

Membership numbers nationally held about steady during the past year. However, each and every one of you is encouraged to be a salesperson for SPJ. Persuade as many colleagues as possible to join and to stay members. You know the benefits! If you don’t, contact me and I’ll share a list. SPJ decided to revive the institutional membership. You’ll be hearing more about that soon. Also in the works: monthly dues payments by credit or debit cards. Also, SPJ plans soon to offer better insurance.

There’s money available to you. SPJ each month for 10 months will award one chapter grant for programming. If you don’t get it one month, you may reapply. However, your chapter is limited to one grant a year. Also, for student chapters, we have money you can request for programs. In the past, grants have been $100 per program. I’ll look into whether we can afford more.

And, a resolution re-honoring Elijah Lovejoy, the nation’s first martyr to freedom of the press, passed at the convention. Alton residents plan to mark the 175th anniversary in November. Anyone want to go to a dinner Nov. 2 or a play Nov. 6? Contact me.

Susan S. Stevens

SPJ Region 5 director

Chicago Headline Club secretary