By Susan Stevens
May 13, 2013
Regional Conference … More than 130 of you gathered in St. Louis for the annual spring regional meeting, a lot of learning and networking. Huge hopes everyone there got a lot to take home. And huge thanks to all who helped make the conference a success, including my regional director predecessor, Liz Hansen, and my associate regional director, Deborah Givens. Our region hosted with Region 7 this year, so the site was centrally located. I had the privilege of announcing 95 Mark of Excellence awards to students. Congratulations to all of you fine young journalists! Thanks, Deborah, for handling all of the reciprocal judging. Next year’s regional conference is probably going to be in Chicago in late March. If you have programming ideas, please share them with me.
Vets’ coverage … An outstanding program at the regional conference as a two-part presentation by the Poynter Institute on covering the veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of them have trouble finding jobs, recovering from health problems and other issues we need to understand. Former SPJ President Al Cross, a long-time politican reporter, offers his take in his blog: http://irjci.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-story-of-returning-veterans-is-big.html. See a small part of what you missed! And in Chicago, a discussion of mental health coverage brought out presidential adviser David Axelrod, syndicated columnist Clarence Page and others for a discussion moderated by columnist Laura Washington. Here is her report: http://www.suntimes.com/news/washington/20024479-452/jackson-jrs-ailment-is-real.html
Leadership Conference … About 20 of us gathered for the first Scripps Leadership Conference this year, in March in Indianapolis. If you missed it, you have a second chance in Memphis in July. See www.spj.org for deails. This is a great way to learn how to better serve an SPJ chapter, and become a better leader in general. The conferences are being organized geographically, and ours was for Region 5 – but people from several other states attended because they had time then. So, we can do the same. Memphis sounds like a good place to visit, too.
University of Indianapolis … Welcome to our region’s newest chapter! The SPJ board approved the Indy campus chapter this spring. Please let me – or someone else – know if we can provide help.
DePauw University … Could someone step forward to be the adviser to this chapter? It was the first-ever in SPJ (then known as Sigma Delta Chi) 100+ years ago. It reactivated last year, but needs help. Volunteers, please!
Indiana Pro … I can’t say enough good things about that chapter’s awards dinner in April. The Hoosier contest is statewide, and it gets about 600 entries. About 150 chapter members and guests were at the banquet in Indianapolis, including some from the northern part of the state who traveled almost 200 miles. The Friday night event was a $50 buffet, the best banquet meal I ever had! Thanks, Tom Davies and colleagues!
Chicago Headline Club … We get about the same number of entries for our Lisagor contest as Indiana does for its – about 600. Ours, however, is limited to the nine-county Chicago area. And the smaller territory makes it easier for entrants to get to the awards banquet. We had about 360 this year. Aimee DeBat, our executive director, loses a lot of sleep preparing for the banquet – from programs to RSVPs. She puts on a great show. It’s the cheapest awards banquet in the Chicago area: $80 for our members.
Your chapter? … A lot of you are doing lots of things. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll put you in the next eletter!
$$$$$$$$$ … The SPJ Legal Defense Fund is willing to provide grants of up to $5,000 for journalists in need. The SPJ board increased the maximum this spring. Also, keep in mind that SPJ once a month offers a $500 programming grant to one chapter somewhere in the nation. And your region offers $100 grants any time you need them for good programs. Email me with details, get my OK, save your receipts, and send them to me.
Recruit your colleagues … Would each of you make a point of recruiting at least one new member? And make sure you and your colleagues don’t let your memberships lapse. This is always an uphill battle because we are journalists – not salespeople. But you know ours is a worthy cause. I always cite Freedom of Information, ethics and professional development. There’s a lot more, of course. Take a look at www.spj.org on a regular basis.
Best wishes for good summers,
Susan S. Stevens
Region 5 director
Chicago Headline Club and CHC Foundation secretary