For Immediate Release:
Lauren Rochester, SPJ Awards Coordinator, 317-927-8000 ext. 210,
Christine DiGangi, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000 ext. 205,
INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists will honor the Northern California and St. Louis Pro chapters as Chapters of the Year at Excellence in Journalism 2012 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Society annually honors two chapters, a large chapter of 75 or more members and a small chapter of fewer than 75 members, for their commitment to SPJ’s mission and exceptional chapter programming.
Large chapter: SPJ NorCal
In the last year, the chapter tried a new platform for engaging members and promoting events. Meetup, a network of local groups, has allowed NorCal to organize events at least once a month, and former chapter president Liz Enochs says the Meetup group has gained more than 100 members since it started.
NorCal organized or participated in more than a dozen events in the last year, and the chapter also received recognition for its communication efforts and diversity programming.
A highlight from the annual report was the description of an ethics program. The chapter co-sponsored a panel with SF Bay Area Journalists — a non-profit group of journalists in the area — on the hunger strike in California prisons called “New Media and California’s Prison Hunger Strike.”
“The event, which explored questions of journalism, ethics, and the law in relation to the prisons, came as state officials were threatening sanctions against thousands of prisoners who had gone without food for days to protest overcrowding so severe courts were ordering the release of as many as a fourth of the state’s prisoners to relieve the pressure,” Enochs wrote in the report.
Small chapter: St. Louis Pro
The St. Louis Pro chapter held 14 events in the last year, touching on core SPJ priorities like freedom of information, ethics and professional development, in addition to service projects and events encompassing history and education in the area.
The chapter also received a Circle of Excellence award, acknowledging its strong communication strategies.
A notable highlight of the chapter’s programming is “The Year in Review Through Political Cartoons.” As the chapter’s immediate past president, David Sheets, wrote in the annual report, “Left-leaning cartoonist R.J. Matson of the Post-Dispatch and right-leaning cartoonist Glenn McCoy of the News Democrat performed a ‘dueling political cartoon display’ in which they presented their work side by side on the various news events of 2011. The cartoonists have agreed to make it an annual event.”
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, please visit www.spj.org.