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Start an SPJ Chapter
Start an SPJ Campus Chapter

Jump to:
Getting started
What’s next
Once you’re official
Satellite chapters
Active chapter expectations

Getting started

The following are minimum requirements for starting a campus SPJ chapter:


A campus chapter may be established at any two-year or four-year college or university that offers:

– At least one course in journalism, or
– At least one student media outlet providing news to the campus community.


Three dues-paid members to comprise an executive board: (1) president, (2) vice president/secretary, and (3) treasurer.

– These board members MUST be dues-paid members of SPJ national.
– If the chapter wishes to add additional students to meet university requirements for attaining campusrecognition status, it may do so. But, the 3-member executive board shall be the minimum requirement from SPJ.


One faculty or otherwise-campus-affiliated adviser who is confirmed to:

– Be an active dues-paid member of SPJ national, and
– Teach, work or volunteer (currently or previously) in the field of journalism.


Chapter bylaws must be written by members and adopted by member vote. (You can use this template to help you craft your chapter's bylaws.)


Notification via email to SPJ Manager of Membership and Chapters (here) and to the regional coordinator in your area. The email shall include:

– Evidence of meeting the campus requirement — Description of the college/university and (a) catalog description of the journalism course(s) offered or (b) description of the student media outlet(s) providing news to the campus community.

– Names, email addresses, and SPJ membership numbers of executive board members.

– Name, email address, and SPJ membership number of faculty adviser, plus evidence of teaching or working in the field of journalism.

– Statement of adoption of bylaws and copy of the bylaws.

What’s next

Once the national headquarters has received the above information, you will be notified whether your group meets the requirements for a chapter of the Society. If you do, the national headquarters will supply you with the items to help you organize your chapter, including a chapter leader handbook, membership applications, and suggested program and fundraising ideas.

Read the chapter leader handbook thoroughly. It provides guidance on how to conduct elections, promote the chapter and set up programs and projects.

Share the handbook with your chapter officers and directors. Always keep a copy handy, keep your handbook up-to-date by filing inserts or changes distributed by the national office.

Activities of a Provisional Chapter

After you have submitted materials to the national headquarters office, you may function much like a recognized chapter of the Society, although your charter will not be official until approved by the board of directors. You may hold meetings, elect officers, conduct service projects, and fight Freedom of Information battles in the Society’s name.

Once you’re official

Charters to campus chapters will be granted by majority vote of the national board of directors.

Your first need will be to schedule and arrange for an installation ceremony at which your charter will be presented. This ceremony can consist of an initiation, dinner or program, presentation of a charter certificate and installation of officers and members.

A campus chapter will be granted authority by the national board of directors to initiate candidates for membership providing the chapter meets all the requirements of the bylaws of the Society, and other specific requirements established by the board. Installation guidelines will be provided by the national office following approval of the charter petition.

Your regional director can help you coordinate your charter installation ceremony.

Satellite chapters

If you opt to organize a satellite chapter instead of seeking your own formally chartered campus chapter, you must still supply the national office with certain information and meet some basic requirements. You may want to consider a satellite chapter for several reasons:

— You might not be able to find enough members to support a full chapter and believe you will need considerable support to keep the chapter going.
— For whatever reason, you do not believe your group can meet all the minimum requirements of active chapters, but can meet most.

If you wish to be recognized as a satellite, you must contact a nearby “parent” chapter and ask if it would be interested in sponsoring your group.

After you have located a sponsoring professional or campus chapter nearby, you must notify the national office in writing of your intention to begin a satellite chapter by providing:

— A petition asking to be recognized as a formal satellite of an existing professional or campus chapter
— A copy of your written agreement with the existing chapter
— Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all chapter officers
— A copy of your chapter’s bylaws
— A written plan for development of your chapter
— A letter from your regional director acknowledging and endorsing your efforts.
— Names, qualifications, and professional memberships of faculty members who have indicated a willingness to serve as your chapter’s adviser. Your adviser must be a member in good standing of the Society.
— A description of the colleges and universities involved and a statement as to the curriculum offered at each school which meets the requirements outlined above.
— A description of the petitioning group, identifying the petitioning students by major subject, class rank (year), and journalistic experience.
— A description of journalistic endeavors and activities at each school, such as a campus newspaper or broadcast outlet.

When the above information is received, the national office will provide you with additional information to assist you in developing the program in your area.

Satellite chapters must file annual reports as required of active chapters and must show efforts to meet most minimum requirements of active chapters.

Satellite chapters will be approved only in affiliation with active chapters in good standing with the Society.

Active chapter expectations

In addition to the provisions of Article 5 of the Society’s bylaws, which establish standards for professional and campus chapters, all chapters must also meet the following criteria in order to be considered chapters in good standing under the bylaws:

At a minimum, professional and campus chapters must:
— File an annual report, including a review of chapter finances, by the annual deadline.
— Conduct at least three programs in the year covered by the annual report that further the Society’s mission — including freedom of information, ethics, diversity, professional development and locally important issues.
— Programs must involve a number of chapter members and engage the broader journalism community in the chapter’s geographic territory. A board meeting does not qualify as one of the three programs.
— Send representatives to the regional conference or the national convention. A chapter must seek a waiver from the regional director if it cannot send a representative to either the regional conference or the national convention.

A chapter will be considered not in good standing and subject to sanctions by the Board of Directors if it fails to file an annual report, conduct a minimum of three programs in a reporting year or obtain a waiver if it cannot send a representative to either the regional conference or the national convention.

Chapters are strongly encouraged to exceed these criteria in order to qualify for annual awards that recognize outstanding chapter performance as well as engage the journalism community.


The annual report is the primary evidence of chapter activity or inactivity and is required by the Society’s bylaws.

Regional directors shall, within 30 days of the deadline for filing annual reports, evaluate all chapters in their respective regions based on the criteria outlined above and determine whether they are in good standing or not in good standing.

In addition, the president of the Society may appoint at least two chapter evaluators to review the professional chapter reports and the regional directors’ evaluations of those reports to further verify the standing of individual chapters and to determine which chapters should be considered for awards for outstanding performance.

The vice president of campus chapter affairs will review campus chapter reports and the regional directors’ evaluations of those reports to further verify the standing of individual chapters and to determine which chapters should receive awards for outstanding performance.

In the event that national chapter evaluators disagree with the regional director’s determination of whether a chapter is in good standing, the staff membership director, in consultation with the executive director, shall make a final determination of a chapter’s status.

Chapters may submit additional evidence of their activities no later than 30 days after the deadline for submission of the annual report.

Chapters also may appeal a determination of not in good standing no later than 15 business days before the date of the annual convention. In the event of an appeal, the Society’s president will appoint an independent arbiter to review all of the relevant information. The arbiter’s decision will be final.

Restoring Chapters to Good Standing

Chapters determined to be not in good standing shall receive the following attention, in accord with Article Five, Sections 13 and 14 of the Society’s bylaws.

Step One: Assistance
Once a chapter is determined to be not in good standing, it has until the deadline for submitting its next annual report to regain its good standing. During that year, the chapter shall receive advice and counsel from the regional director and the chapter doctor, in consultation with headquarters staff, with the goal of bringing the chapter into compliance with the good-standing criteria.

Step Two: Probation
If after a year, a chapter receiving assistance again fails to achieve good-standing status, staff will forward the matter to the Board of Directors. The board shall decide at its annual convention meeting whether to extend the Step One Assistance by one year or to place the chapter on probation.

A chapter on probation will continue to receive help from the regional director and the chapter doctor, in consultation with headquarters staff, to try to return to good standing. But the chapter president and the chapter’s regional director shall receive written notice of the chapter’s probationary status.

Probation can last no more than one calendar year. If a chapter fails to regain good-standing status at the end of that year, it will be declared inactive.

Step Three: Inactive/Revocation
If a chapter fails to return to good-standing status after passage of a third annual report deadline, headquarters staff shall forward the matter to the Board of Directors at its annual convention meeting.

The board may choose one of these options:
— Declare the chapter inactive for another year and require the chapter to forfeit any local dues collected by the national organization on the chapter’s behalf to the national Society. Should the chapter return to active status within another year, the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee can decide to return those dues to the chapter.
— Revoke the chapter’s charter, thereby ending its existence and the terms of its officers. Members in good standing with the Society shall have the option of affiliating with an active chapter and paying local dues to that chapter.

At any time after the revocation, members in the geographic area of the former chapter may apply to form a new chapter under Article Five, Sections 1 through 4 of the Society’s bylaws.

Failure to file annual report
Notwithstanding any of the above, a chapter that fails to file an annual report for three consecutive years may be declared inactive by the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee.

The board or the committee may further decide to revoke said chapter’s charter.

Contact membership if you have questions or need more information.

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