A new budget, new award categories, new chapters and a new campaign to restore public confidence in journalism highlighted actions taken by the Society’s board at its spring meeting in Cincinnati. The 23-person board met Saturday and approved a $1.6 million operating budget for fiscal 1998, which begins Aug. 1, 1997. The budget continues SPJ’s chapter grant program, the Ted Scripps Leadership Retreat and expands financial support for SPJ’s volunteer leaders. “These programs further demonstrate a commitment to build SPJ from within,” said SPJ President Steve Geimann. “Local and national volunteers are the heart of SPJ and supporting them as they carry out the work of the Society remains a top priority.”
SPJ’s board also added a Public Service in Online Journalism category to the Sigma Delta Chi Awards. The new category will be included in the 1997 awards, which will be judged and announced in the first quarter of 1998. “Online news is growing faster than anyone can measure. Next year, SPJ will honor exemplary work by reporters and editors who work only online,” Geimann said. The board discussed but didn’t act on creating several other online awards and may expand the category in future years. The SPJ board also added another internal award, finalizing plans for a Regional Director of the Year Award. Honoring one of SPJ’s 12 volunteer regional directors, the first award will be presented at this fall’s SPJ convention in Denver.
SPJ’s leaders laid the groundwork for a major media accountability effort, aimed at restoring public confidence in journalism. “All journalists should be concerned about the public’s confidence in our work,” Geimann said. “SPJ has been a leading force to encourage responsible, professional reporting through its Code of Ethics, its SDX Awards programs, chapter activities and other efforts.” SPJ hopes to work with other journalism associations to create an industry-wide effort, with discussion centering on a meeting of journalism leaders at SPJ’s annual meeting in Denver. “I look forward to meeting with my counterparts from other journalism organizations to address these key issues of trust, credibility and accountability,” Geimann said. “Inaction is not an option.”
In other business, SPJ’s board approved four new provisional campus chapters at Delaware State University, Franklin College, Ithaca College and Westfield State College. The board also named the Chicago Bee building a Historic Site in Journalism. The Bee played a significant role in Chicago journalism, as one of the first regular publications for African Americans.