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Home > About SPJ > Committees

Committees

The work of SPJ is largely done at the national committee level. No matter what your passion — freedom of information, diversity, ethics, freelance, international journalism, First Amendment rights, journalism education — SPJ has an outlet for your talents, passion and energy. Click on the committee name to learn more about its work or to contact the chair to find out how you get can get involved.


Awards & Honors

This committee oversees most of the Society's awards, which are dedicated to recognizing outstanding achievement in journalism. Any changes in guidelines, judging criteria, categories or eligibility are reviewed by this committee.

Related content | Awards Committee Roster

Awards & Honors Committee Chair

Andrew Seaman
Bio (click to expand) Andrew is a medical journalist for Reuters Health in New York. Before coming to Reuters Health, he was a Kaiser Media Fellow at Reuters’s Washington, D.C. bureau, where he covered the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2011, Andrew graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied investigative journalism as a Stabile Fellow and was named “Student of the Year.” Andrew also graduated with his B.A. from Wilkes University in 2011.

He’s won numerous awards throughout his short career, including being named a 2010 Tom Bigler Scholar for ethical standards in journalism, the 2009 Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award, the 2009 and the Arthur H. Barlow National Student Journalist of the Year Award.


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Bylaws

This committee strives to ensure the Society conducts its business and operations according to the Society's bylaws. SPJ's bylaws aim to unite members and promote good fellowship among them.

SPJ Bylaws | Bylaws Committee Roster

Bylaws Committee Chair

Robert Becker
3315 Morrison St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20015
(202) 364-8013
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Robert Becker has served on the Bylaws Committee since 2001 and has been the D.C.Pro Chapter's FOI chair since about 1992. Additionally, Becker serves as the D.C. Sunshine Chair, and the Mid-Atlantic Region member of the National FOI Committee. In this position, he provides advice and information on access to journalists and others in the D.C. metropolitan area. Most recently, Becker has been working with the Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Press Association to draft a new open meetings law for D.C. He’s worked with National (SPJ) to oppose a bill that would have exempted Virginia legislative committees from the state open meetings law, and he worked with the D.C. City Council Judiciary Committee on amendments to the D.C. open records law and the D.C. open meetings law. Becker has assisted students at a Montgomery County high school who, as part of their course work, aired controversial programs on the school board's cable channel. Recently, he actively opposed proposed restrictions on public access to federal court case files over the Internet. Working with the National FOI Chairman, Becker developed a program to train journalists, news managers and media outlet owners on the importance of defending public access to government information. He regularly addresses groups of foreign journalists and government officials visiting the United States on access to government information and has done training projects in Ethiopia, Morrocco, Argentina and Urugua on issues related to press freedom.


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Diversity

On both chapter and national levels, SPJ provides an open forum for the discussion of diversity issues in journalism. This committee's purpose is to promote a broader voice in newsrooms across the country and expand the depth and quality of news reports through better sourcing. Its ongoing project is the compilation of experts — primarily women, gays and lesbians, people of color and people with disabilities — through the Society's Diversity Source Book. The Society's relevance to its member is based on inclusiveness.

Diversity Home Page | Diversity Committee Roster

Diversity Committee Chair

Sandra Gonzalez
Reporter
KSNV-TV
E-mail



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Ethics

This committee's purpose is to encourage the use of the Society's Code of Ethics, which promotes the highest professional standards for journalists of all disciplines. Public concerns are often answered by this committee. It also acts as a spotter for reporting trends in the nation, accumulating case studies of jobs well done under trying circumstances.

Ethics Home Page | Ethics Committee Roster

Ethics Committee chair

Kevin Z. Smith
Deputy Director
Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) Kevin Z. Smith has been a member of the SPJ ethics committee for 20 years. He is a contributing author to two of SPJ's Doing Ethics in Journalism case study books. He is the co-author of SPJ's 1993 Ethics Manual, a guide for developing better ethical discussions and practices in newsrooms. He served as chairman of the ethics committee from 1995-97 when the Code was revised by the committee. He is serving his fifth year as committee chairman. He is a former president of SPJ (09-10) and a former member of the national and executive boards (06-11). He has been a member of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation since 2007. He has been a regular speaker, panelist and lecturer on journalism ethics and delivered talks around the United States and abroad since 1990.

Smith currently serves as a journalism lecturer at the University of Dayton (Ohio). He worked in community newspapers in West Virginia for 15 years before becoming a college professor. He has taught at West Virginia University, Miami Univeristy (Ohio), Fairmont State University (W.Va.) and James Madison University (Va.). In 2009 he was named a Distinguished Mountaineer by the governor of West Virginia, the highest honor bestow upon a citizen of the state. The award came largely from his work with SPJ and journalism ethics.


Fred Brown, vice chair
2862 S. Oakland Ct.
Aurora, Colo., 80014
303/829-4647
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Fred Brown is a former national president of SPJ (1997-98) and is very active on its ethics committee. He writes a column on ethics for Quill magazine and served on the committee that wrote the Society’s 1996 code of ethics.

Brown officially retired from The Denver Post in early 2002, but continues to write a Sunday editorial page column for the newspaper. He also does analysis for Denver’s NBC television station, teaches communication ethics at the University of Denver, and is a principal in Hartman & Brown, LLP, a media training and consulting firm. He has won several awards for writing and community service, including a Sigma Delta Chi Award for editorial writing in 1988. He is an Honor Alumnus of Colorado State University, a member of the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame, and serves on the boards of directors of Colorado Public Radio, the Colorado Freedom of Information Council and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.



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Freedom of Information Committee

This committee is the watchdog of press freedoms across the nation. It relies upon a network of volunteers in each state organized under Project Sunshine. These SPJ members are on the front lines for assaults to the First Amendment and when lawmakers attempt to restrict the public's access to documents and the government's business. The committee often is called upon to intervene in instances where the media is restricted.

FOI Home Page | FOI Committee Roster

Freedom of Information Committee Chair

Linda Petersen
Managing Editor
The Valley Journals
801-254-5974 X 17
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Linda Petersen is the managing editor of The Valley Journals, a group of 15 free, total market coverage, monthly community papers in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah.

She is president of the Utah Foundation for Open Government, a citizen coalition that works to educate and advocate for open government.

A past president of the Utah Headliners pro chapter, she is currently the chapter’s FOI officer and treasurer.

For her open government advocacy, she has received the Utah Press Association John E. Jones Award, the Utah Headliners Clifford P. Cheney Service to Journalism Award and the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Chapter Member Award.


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Freelance

The Freelance Committee's purpose is to promote, assist, and build a communication network for freelance reporters, writers, editors, copy editors, photographers, designers and all additional contract journalists. This committee's goal is to bring heightened awareness to freelance journalism. It acts a bridge to connect freelance journalists with editors. This committee is an advocate for freelance journalism. It also provides a professional and social outlet for freelance journalists. This committee encourages reasonable work-pay ratios, respect, and education for the growing number of freelance journalists.

Freelance Home Page | Freelance Committee Roster

Freelance Community Chair

Michael Fitzgerald
E-mail
Twitter
Freelance Directory Profile
Bio (click to expand) Michael Fitzgerald has freelanced for nearly 10 years, writing for publications and Web sites including the Boston Globe Magazine, BNet, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc., the New York Times and Yahoo! His most recent awards were 2nd place finishes in the American Society of Journalists and Authors’ 2009 Outstanding Article awards in the Business and Technology and Trade categories. His Web site is www.mffitzgerald.com

Anna Pratt, vice chair
E-mail
Twitter
Freelance Directory Profile



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Generation J

Generation J focuses on helping early-stage pros sharpen their skills and bone up on the importance of journalism advocacy.

Generation J Committee Roster

Generation J Committee chair

Claudia Amezcua
@ClaudiaAmezcua_
Bio (click to expand) picture Claudia Amezcua is freelance multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles, Ca.

Her clients include CNN, KFON-TV, and InlandEmpire.com. Previously, she served as anchor/reporter for 90.1 KSAK where she won numerous awards in entertainment reporting and best use of sound. Additionally, Claudia dabbles in sports blogging from a women's perspective via her blog A Chicks Guide 2 Sports. She is also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Follow her on Twitter (@ClaudiaAmezcua_) or read more about her life at claudiaamezcua.com.


Victoria Reitano, vice chair
@giornalista515
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Victoria Reitano is a Digital Producer with The Meredith Vieira Show, launching in September. She also serves as the Co-Chair for The Society of Professional Journalist's Generation J committee. In the past, she served as a Digital Producer with "bethenny" and "LIVE with Kelly and Michael." She also served as a Local Editor for Patch.com and her work has been published in USAToday, The Staten Island Advance and ThisOldHouse.com. She loves dogs, SoulCycle, Yoga and New York City. You can connect with her on Twitter, @giornalista515.


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International Journalism

The International Journalism Committee works to improve and protect international journalism and encourage the free practice of journalism in all countries.

International Journalism Home Page | IJC Roster

International Journalism Committee Chair

Ricardo Sandoval
Assistant City Editor
Sacramento Bee
Bio (click to expand) picture Ricardo Sandoval is Assistant City Editor at the Sacramento Bee newspaper. He supervises the paper’s environment, science and regional development teams of reporters. Before joining The Bee, Sandoval was a foreign correspondent, based in Mexico City, for the Dallas Morning News and Knight Ridder Newspapers. Sandoval was born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, California. He graduated with a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in Northern California. His career has spanned three decades and has included award-winning coverage of California agriculture, immigration, the savings and loan scandal and the deregulation of public utility companies. His list of awards includes the Overseas Press Club, the InterAmerican Press Club, the Gerald Loeb prize for business journalism and two honors from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Sandoval co-authored — with his wife, journalist Susan Ferriss — the biography “The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement” published in 1997 by Harcourt.

Ronnie Lovler, vice chair
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Ronnie Lovler is associate director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University. She is also senior writer for the nonprofit Newsdesk.org, and its public-interest news service, “News You Might Have Missed”. In addition to serving as international committee chair, Ronnie is a member of the executive board of the northern California chapter of SPJ. Ronnie taught journalism at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida before moving to San Francisco.

Ronnie’s journalism career spans several decades. She served as bureau chief and correspondent for CNN in Latin America for almost 10 years. During her time at CNN, she reported from every country in Latin America. She also worked for CBS News, The Weather Channel and The Associated Press, as well as The San Juan Star in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was part of a team of observers headed by President Jimmy Carter monitoring electoral processes in Nicaragua (2001) and Venezuela (2004). During the 2005 U.S. hurricane season, Ms. Lovler worked with the American Red Cross as a volunteer crisis communicator and public information officer. She received her undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and her graduate degree in communications at the University of Florida.




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Journalism Education

This committee's purpose is to promote excellence in education programs and practical research. It acts as a clearinghouse for the Society's academic members and students. It also works with annual convention planners on mentor programs both at the college and high school level.

Tools for Students | Tools for Educators | J-Ed Committee Roster

Journalism Education Committee Chair

Becky Tallent, Ed.D.
Associate Professor
School of Journalism and Mass Media
University of Idaho
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Rebecca J. “Becky” Tallent is an award-winning journalist and public relations specialist with more than 12 years experience as an energy/environmental and financial journalist plus an additional 16 years experience as a public relations specialist and five years as an educator. She is currently an associate professor of journalism and mass media at the University of Idaho.

Becky’s experience as a reporter and editor inside Oklahoma was with the Daily Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, Oklahoma Business News Co. (where she was reporter and editor of the Oklahoma Energy/Environment Report) and as editor of the Oklahoma Banker. She has also covered energy and environmental issues for McGraw-Hills News, Inc. of New York (Platt’s Oilgram News, Engineering Week and Green Markets); Reuter’s U.S. Financial, Inc. based in New York; and the Washington, D.C.-based Oil Daily.

As a public relations specialist, Becky has represented the University Hospitals, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and Epworth Villa (a not-for profit retirement community). From 2002-2006, she was a public relations specialist with Evergreen Productions, Inc. of Oklahoma City where she represented the City of Lawton (OK), Tidal School Vineyards and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Her expertise in public relations is writing/publications, working with the news media and crisis communications.

Before Idaho, Becky taught journalism at Bishop McGuinness High School, Southwestern College, the University of Phoenix, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

Some of Becky’s most recent awards include: 2003 Faculty Member of the Year, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; first place, 2001, American Marketer’s Association, Oklahoma City Chapter, Marketing Campaign for Epworth Villa; second place, 2001, Society of Professional Journalists, Oklahoma Chapter, not-for-profit publications (Epworth Villa); first place, 2000, Society of Professional Journalists, not-for-profit publications (The Oklahoma Banker); and the 1999 Award of Merit from the Oklahoma Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators for the Oklahoma Banker.

Becky has been a member of SPJ since 1972 when she joined the University of Central Oklahoma student chapter. She joined the Oklahoma Professional Chapter in 1977 and became a member of the Snake River Chapter in 2006. She has served on numerous local and national committees for SPJ. Becky’s dedication to the Society lies in her belief that service in SPJ is a way to contribute something back to the profession.

Becky earned both her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (1975) and her Master of Education in Journalism (1977) from the University of Central Oklahoma. She earned her Doctorate of Education in Classroom Teaching/Mass Communications from Oklahoma State University in 1995.


June Nicholson, vice chair
Director of Graduate Studies
School of Mass Communications
Virginia Commonwealth University
901 W. Main Street
Room 1108 Temple Building
Richmond, VA 23284-2034
(804) 827-0251 (office)
Fax: (804) 828-9175
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture June O. Nicholson, an associate professor in the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., has chaired national SPJ’s Journalism Education Committee since 2000. She has been a member of several other national SPJ committees over the past two decades. She is co-developer of the SPJ newsroom training module on covering diverse communities. Nicholson also is a former president of the Virginia professional chapter of SPJ.

At VCU, Nicholson teaches government, enterprise and project reporting and coverage of specialized beats such as science, health, education, urban affairs and the environment. She also teaches a course on International Media Coverage: The Middle East. Before joining the VCU faculty, she was a reporter and editor for some 15 years in North Carolina and Virginia. She is a former acting director, associate director and assistant director of the VCU School of Mass Communications. Nicholson holds a master’s degree in public affairs journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I am a member of SPJ because I believe the organization plays a vital role in protecting the First Amendment, free speech and freedom of information in this country.”




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Membership

This committee follows membership trends in the Society and recommends membership recruitment drives to the national board and executive director. It is called upon to review chapter requirements, dues, organizational structure and other quality-of-life issues affecting the membership.

Why Join? | Member Resources | Membership Committee Roster

Membership Committee Chair

Robyn Davis Sekula
502-608-6125
Email
@itsRobynwithay

Bio (click to expand)
Robyn Davis Sekula is President of the Louisville Pro Chapter of SPJ. She is a Twitter addict, iPhone-a-holic, writer, speaker and social media consultant. She has spoken frequently at regional SPJ conferences and in 2012 at the national Excellence in Journalism Conference. She spent most of her pre-freelance career as a newspaper reporter, working as a crime and courts reporter in North Carolina, a business editor in Missouri and as a reporter at Business First in Louisville, Ky. She primarily consults with organizations and business in public relations, communications plans and social media strategy. You can find her web site at robyndavissekula.com, follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook, add her on Instagram, and, of course, add her on Yo (user name itsRobynwithay).


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Resolutions

The Resolutions Committee meets annually at the Society's National Convention. The group is charged with presenting timely issues for debate before the Society's voting delegates. Its members serve to keep order at business meetings of the Society and to facilitate thoughtful debate. Drafts of resolutions can be submitted by any member of the Society either prior to, or during, convention.

Committee Roster

Resolutions Committee Chair

Gordon "Mac" McKerral
Western Kentucky University
140 Bright St. Apt. C
Bowling Green, KY 42104
Work: (270) 745-5882
E-mail
Bio (click to expand) picture Gordon “Mac” McKerral is an associate professor and the news-editorial sequence coordinator in the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University.

He served as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists September 2003 to September 2004. In October 2005, he received the SPJ’s highest award, The Wells Key, for longtime contributions to journalism and SPJ’s mission. He received a national First Amendment Award from SPJ for his work with the Campus Courts Task Force, which focused on gaining public access to campus crime records and campus judiciary records related to hearings on crimes.

McKerral has spent more than 25 years as a journalist and journalism educator. He has been a reporter and editor at newspapers in Illinois, Indiana, Florida and New York and Indiana.


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