For Immediate Release
Christine DiGangi, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000 ext. 205, email@example.com
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Society of Professional Journalists installed Sonny Albarado, projects editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, as its 96th president Saturday, Sept. 22. Albarado accepted office at the President’s Installation Banquet at the Excellence in Journalism 2012 conference, co-hosted with the Radio Television Digital News Association.
"As someone who is closer to the end of his journalism career, I envy today's journalists," Albarado said. "Being a journalist is still one of the best jobs on the planet."
Albarado said that today's journalists inspire him because he said they see it as their mission to inform and serve the public.
Albarado’s journalism career began in 1970 as a reporter for his college newspaper and has worked in newspapers for most of his 42 years as a journalist. In 1979, Albarado joined SPJ with the goal of starting a chapter for the rural area he covered surrounding Baton Rouge, La. The city had an active press club, of which he became president in 1988. He moved to Memphis, Tenn., joined SPJ’s Mid-South Pro chapter, and became chapter president 1992.
When delegates chose Clint Brewer as president-elect at the 2006 SPJ convention, Albarado took his place as Region 12 director.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I said yes,” Albarado said. Six years later, he displays a great passion for the industry that has evolved and transformed during his career.
“This is one of the most exciting and important periods in journalism history and SPJ,” he said. “Yes, the journalist’s tools and jobs have changed, but the journalist’s role has not changed.”
For his one-year term, Albarado named two priorities: to have the Society better reflect today’s journalism profession and to more aggressively protect the free flow of information.
In the convention’s closing business session Saturday afternoon, President-Elect Dave Cuillier called for the establishment of a legal offense fund to proactively defend press freedoms, as opposed to supporting journalists through the Legal Defense Fund when they encounter problems. Albarado expressed strong support for that idea at his installation.
“The arrests of journalists doing their jobs, especially photojournalists, has to stop,” Albarado said. The audience punctuated his remark with applause, giving their new president a standing ovation moments later when he concluded his speech.
“SPJ needs to be highly visible in the fight against his encroaching darkness,” he said. “It is an invigorating and wonderful time to be a professional journalist.”
Complete coverage of the 2012 Excellence in Journalism conference is available from The Working Press and RTDNA.
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 on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.