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Dana Neuts
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Bio (click to expand) picture After a career in financial services, Dana (Blozis) Neuts began freelancing in 2003. Based in Kent, Washington, Dana is a freelance writer and editor as well as the owner and publisher of iLoveKent.net and iLoveCovington.com, hyperlocal blogs. Her work has appeared in many Seattle-area publications as well as national publications including GSN: Government Security News, HS Today and American Profile. She is past-president of the award-winning Western Washington Pro Chapter of SPJ, serves as the Region 10 Director of SPJ, is a member of the membership committee, and chairman of the freelance committee. She previously served on the SDX foundation board and has been a facilitator for Scripps. For more information, please visit VirtuallyYourz.com. Specialties: Business Writing and Editing, Features, Humor, Small Business, Nonprofits, Finance, Insurance, Travel, and Marketing Consulting and Implementation including Social Media.

Home > Become an SPJ Member > Why Join SPJ? > Why I’m a Member > 2009 Ted Scripps Leadership Institute Participants

Why I’m a Member
2009 Ted Scripps Leadership Institute Participants

“ I joined SPJ to be surrounded by a group of people who were just as passionate about journalism as I am. I also joined as a way to use my profession to make a difference.”

— MaryJane Slaby, Indiana University at Bloomington


“SPJ is a networking family that enables and empowers journalists to enable and empower the world.

To connect-That is the purpose of journalism in the community, and on a microcosmic level, SPJ in the journalist's community. Like any society, it maintenances its members, providing inspiration and motivation so that they might tirelessly pursue excellence. SPJ informs its members of opportunities to improve through promotion of camps, internships and jobs.

The desire to report is one that stems from an innate curiosity. To channel that curiosity through news and features writing is a craft that must be learned. To write fairly and wholly is a value that must be enforced. SPJ provides the tools to journalists so that they can reach their full potential.

I believe in knowledge. That is why I am a member.”

— Colleen Stewart, Western Kentucky University


“ I’m in SPJ because it’s a great way to build connections between the collegiate and professional world. During internships at different television stations, I’ve met a number of talented professionals who are still involved with SPJ. Some of these professionals share their techniques and strategies at the SPJ national convention. The convention is a fun trip to take with classmates and is a great opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business.”

— John Higgins, Lipscomb University


“During the summer of 2008, I asked my internship supervisor why he was a member of SPJ. His answer was short and to the point, “It is the right thing to do.” Many doors have opened for me since joining, and it makes me feel good to know that I am part of an organization fighting for the fundamental element to democracy — a free press.

I can’t understand why any journalist wouldn’t be a member of SPJ — it is like the spine of the industry. SPJ gives legitimacy and tangibility to our field in such an uncertain time.”

— Andrew Michael Seaman, Wilkes University


“I joined Eastern's SPJ chapter last semester because I'd heard about the fantastic opportunities it offers young journalists. As someone new to the journalism field, SPJ has played an important role in educating me about ethics, my First Amendment rights and how to protect those of my readers.”

— Laura Butler, Eastern Kentucky University


“SPJ stands for many things — journalists’ rights, ethics, training and networking opportunities — and I am a member for all of these reasons. I am proud to say I help contribute to the nation’s largest journalism organization. I’m proud to say I live by the SPJ Code of Ethics, which holds all of us to the highest standards as we work.

But even more than the advocacy and support that comes from the national organization, SPJ is about journalists connecting with other journalists to learn from one another, share personal experiences and support one another in tough times and good times.”

— Brian Martin, Wyoming Pro Chapter President


“During this time of uncertainty, as journalists face cutbacks in newsroom staff and resources, participation in the Society of Professional Journalists offers a united front. Members of SPJ prove there is strength in numbers as we work to promote open government. SPJ encourages professional development through training programs where new skills and ideas are shared. From conferences to happy hour events, my membership in SPJ has given me opportunities to network, learn leadership skills and pass those skills on to others through mentoring programs.”

— Tamara Kent, President Oregon/Southwest Washington Professional Chapter


“Being in SPJ allows me to network with others who want to learn about our profession as much as possible. Being a young college student, networking is key and helps to promote a healthy relationship in our profession. Members seem to have more confidence in the field, can sometimes obtain work faster and are more relied on because of SPJ’s mission. It also teaches us to be ethical so that we may deliver our best to those who matter the most — our community. Our communities’ support is what keeps us going, and it’s our job to serve them well.”

— Chartis Ivy, University of Ala. (Tuscaloosa)


“SPJ’s valued commitment to excellent journalism and professional development opportunities offered first proved reason enough to join my collegiate chapter and have since kept me an engaged member. And during these past two years, my witnessing of and contribution to the Society’s tireless, uncompromising fight for journalists’ rights and its dedicated protection of 1st Amendment guarantees have kept me fired up for all things journalistic and democratic.

Every task tackled by an SPJ member—from the implementation of chapter programming events or advocacy initiatives to steps taken in instituting a federal Shield Law or preserving open records—is an invaluable move forward in the field. More diverse and far-reaching than any other journalistic organization, SPJ provides services and resources indispensable to the industry as it safeguards all we as journalists hold dear.”

— Kelsey Mirando, University of Missouri Chapter


“I've been a broadcast journalist for more than thirty years. But like a lot of journalists, I've never been a "joiner." A few years ago I contacted a journalism professor at Indiana University Southeast when I was looking for journalism students to help with our election night tabulation. Later, that same professor asked if my TV station would host a group of high school "Junior Journalists" to allow them to shadow our news operation for a day. It reminded me of what it was like starting my adventure in journalism. I now serve on our local SPJ board. I believe strongly in the First Amendment. SPJ keeps protecting the right of a free press while the rest of us go about our jobs.”

— Stephen York, Louisville Pro Chapter


“I am a member of SPJ because I feel that I have a journalistic responsibility to tell people’s stories and inform the public. I am a photographer and anthropology major, and through my work I enjoy documenting cultural values, emotions, and actions. SPJ has provided me with opportunities to help me hone my journalistic skills so that I can better serve my community.”

— Ted Charles, Pacific Lutheran University


“I joined SPJ as a college freshman because I wanted to be involved in journalism at California University of Pennsylvania. This organization, however, expands far beyond just being a student club. SPJ reflects the kind of values that I believe in, such as freedom of information and supporting the First Amendment. From SPJ, I have benefited in many ways, from gaining valuable opportunities to networking to learning the ethics involved in professional journalism. Being a member of SPJ has helped me better myself as a writer and will be an important tool for my future as a professional journalist.”

— Alyssa Kruse, California University of Pennsylvania


“A newspaper newsroom was a living, breathing machine. In no way can it ever be replicated. And as the walls crumble around us and the foundation gives out, we can only hope to get out alive. We, as journalists, are now refuges and revolutionaries. We will survive. But not on our own. We need each other. SPJ began as Sigma Delta Chi in 1909. Today, we must remember those days of the brother- and sisterhood for support and encouragement.”

— Nic Garcia, Metropolitan State College of Denver


“I just wasn’t going to take no for an answer. It’s a theme that has ebbed and flowed through every aspect of my life, and being an officer for Colorado State University’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter was no different. “Kelley, you are too young. You’re nineteen, only a college freshman! You are taking on too much,” I was urged not to join by advisers, after firmly planting myself in the daily newspaper, daily news broadcast and seasonal magazine. An SPJ officer was too far of a reach, I was told. But when something stands out to me, when I can tell something is really important, I run with it. SPJ’s legacy is one of fortification and fostering. Being a part of a society bigger than my campus and myself is important, and while others adamantly maintained I should keep my mind on campus affairs, I’ve never given up wanting to step outside my collegiate bubble and look toward our professional realm where the true battles supporting First Amendment rights are waged.”

— Kelley Bruce Robinson, Colorado State University


“There are a great variety of journalism associations and groups that offer their members the benefits of support and resources. I proudly chose to become an active member of SPJ because I believe it best represents and upholds the pillars of what journalism was, continues to be and the potential our industry has for another radical transformation. I believe in the work SPJ does and have gained invaluable experience through the work of my school chapter. ”

— Lilianna Oustinovskaya, California State University Northridge


“I care deeply about the quality of journalism in my city. I care about the livelihood of the journalists who are the voice for the voiceless in our great city. Being an active SPJ member for me is about being committed to the cause of journalism writ large. It’s also a means through which I can get connected and stay connected with other unique individuals who are equally passionate about the field of journalism.”

— Hilary Sizemore, Chicago Headline Club


“I became a member of SPJ because I wanted to be more than a passive journalist. I wanted to step out of the realm of status quo to go above and beyond in my college career, as well as my future professional career.

I wanted to learn how to take the journalism skills I have acquired at Marshall University and think critically in order to use them in the world of professional journalism.

SPJ has not only given me several opportunities to meet with others with similar goals and ambitions, but also the tools and advice I need to become a better student, leader and journalist.”

— Stephanie Bartram, Marshall University


“I’m a member of SPJ because I believe in the core journalistic principles that SPJ stands behind. As journalists, it is our job to inform the public. However, while informing the public, it is also crucial to remain ethical. SPJ does an excellent job of informing its members of how to react in different situations. Also, with the current state of journalism in the United States, it’s important that every journalist expose himself or herself to every resource available. SPJ offers a wide variety of resources to journalists.”

— Steve Orbanek, Duquesne University Chapter


“My educational background isn’t in journalism and I work for a small publication, so having an organization like SPJ has been extremely helpful in connecting me to resources that have improved my reporting skills and made me more knowledgeable about issues that affect our profession. I became involved with my local chapter when it formed last year, because I wanted to help build something that would support our industry and to meet people who deal with similar day-to-day issues. Through this experience, I have gained a greater understanding of the value of our work and the need to work together to protect and strengthen our ability to do our jobs, as well as become close to many talented writers. ”

— Sarah Bzdega-Welch, Iowa Pro Chapter


“I'm a member of SPJ because I believe in its mission to protect and maintain journalism's validity in society and perpetuate ethical standards within the industry. To me, SPJ is the only national organization that is really fighting for a shield law to protect journalists and their sources. I truly believe that journalism is an extremely important part of a working democracy, and that it's our jobs as reporters to hold those in power accountable for their actions.

On the local level, I joined SPJ to connect with like-minded classmates and industry professionals. In our chapter, we're all in it for the same thing: to pursue a journalism career. With all the uncertainty right now about the industry, we're able to have a place where we all belong and a group of people with whom we can talk.

Since becoming a member of SPJ, I've grown as a journalist, gained more insight regarding the industry and met some of my best friends.”

— Christine Makar, University of South Florida


“I am a member of the Society of Professional Journalists because being involved in promoting excellence in journalism should be on every journalist’s priority list. The environment of our chapter is welcoming and always open to new ideas. Getting together with other journalists and talking about different issues we have to deal with and how we should go about those issues encourages all of us to set high standards in how we participate in the field of journalism. Being a member pushes me to be the best journalist I can be.”

— Vanessa Tait, UW-Eau Claire


“While exploring the field of journalism and investigating which university would be best to continue my education, I stumbled upon a situation at West Virginia University.

Toni Locy, a professor at the school, was being pressured by the government to give up the name of the source. She refused and ended up in jail. The university’s chapter, along with the national chapter of Society of Professional Journalists supported her the entire way through the process. That is what first caught my eye about journalism — the camaraderie.

I joined SPJ for many reasons, but two main things caught my eye. The first was its endless fight for a federal shield law. The second was because of the encouragement for the use of ethics. These are two things that I believe should be important to every journalist, regardless of the type or background.”

— Melanie Hoffman, West Virginia University


“ I am an SPJ member because I believe strongly that a functioning and free society must have a free press to keep it informed. I believe SPJ is the nation’s leading journalism advocate. I choose to be a Central Ohio Professional Chapter board member because, in this time of shrinking newsrooms, local journalists need more training and support than ever, and our chapter does its best to offer that support.”

— Kevin Kemper, Central Ohio Pro Chapter


“I'm a member of SPJ because I do believe in the First Amendment, and I also believe in the power of the press. I am using the resources that are available to chapters and members and hope to learn more about SPJ since I'm a newbie but an excited newbie.”

— Cindie Yanow, Southeast Missouri State University


“It's been so long since I joined that I don't remember what I thought at the time. But, when I became active again nearly three years ago, it was because it was an opportunity to serve my profession and, most important, to work toward the preservation and the furtherance of the people's right to know and freedom of the press. These are principles I grew up with in a newspaper family and which I believe to be central to democracy. In addition, I have found it challenging and satisfying working and playing with intelligent people of various ages and from various news media.”

— Elenora E. Edwards, East Tennessee Chapter


“Credo: I believe that reliable journalism matters.

That is the reason I am still a member of SPJ, still a reporter and still a journalist, in spite of the meager job boards, the questions about our relevance, and the layoffs. I refuse to give up the profession. I don’t have a very high-faulting sense of journalism. I just think it’s important for the public to have the facts delivered with fairness and accuracy.

SPJers educate and improve themselves as journalists and they stick up for press access. This is the group I want to be part of.”

— Rachel Nielsen, New York Deadline Club


“Three years ago I moved to the United States from Ottawa, Canada, where I had a long career in journalism, followed by seven years teaching at Carleton University’s School of Journalism. I want to teach in the United States and am just completing my PhD. But I had a lot to learn about how journalism is practiced in the U.S. and what things are different from Canada. This is essential to my teaching, and it is SPJ that has helped me in this area. I am very grateful for the professional training, relationships and support I have received. ”

— Carrie Buchanan, Cleveland Pro Chapter


“I joined SPJ for multiple reasons. First of all, for professional development. SPJ keeps me on the cutting edge of new innovations in our industry while at the same time furthering my education on the backbones of journalism. Second of all, SPJ allows me to interact with my colleagues, not just in my field, but across the media spectrum.”

— Matt Stanley, Alabama Pro Chapter


“SPJ gives me the chance to learn everything I need to know that I don't learn in class. While in class I learn reporting skills; SPJ teaches me how to launch my career in journalism. In SPJ, I make lifelong friends, who will be valuable contacts throughout my careers. I am mentored by the best in the business and I have the chance to share my own experience. In SPJ, we all have the same objective- to be the best journalists we can be. ”

— Robyn Sidersky, University of Central Florida SPJ President


“As so many newspapers struggle to survive and I read nearly every day about the closures, layoffs and pay cuts, I want to learn new skills and maintain my passion for journalism — and SPJ helps me to do both.”

— Kelsey Volkmann, President, St. Louis Pro Chapter


To read more about the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, follow this link.

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Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
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317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

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