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SPJ recognizes San Diego and Georgia chapters with Chapter of the Year awards


Lou Harry, SPJ Manager of Publications and Awards, 317-920-4786, lharry@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

WASHINGTON – The Society of Professional Journalists is recognizing San Diego Pro Chapter and SPJ Georgia as the Pro Chapters of the Year. The chapters are being honored for their commitment to SPJ’s mission and the journalism profession.

The Large Chapter of the Year award is open to chapters with 75 or more members, and the Small Chapter of the Year award is open to chapters with fewer than 75 members.

The Large Chapter of the Year, San Diego Pro, performed exceptionally in the area of diversity, surveying newsrooms in the San Diego region to capture their demographic makeup — a challenging feat to accomplish because some newsrooms wanted to refrain from participating. The chapter published the survey results on its website and highlighted the importance of improving representation in the media.

The chapter also hosted a public-outreach panel titled “How the Media Covers Race.” The program explored how journalists report on racially charged topics such as police shootings of unarmed Black people, the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans and debates over U.S. border policy.

San Diego Pro’s continued advocacy for freedom of information and open government over the reporting period also won it the Circle of Excellence Award for First Amendment & FOI. Chapter board members met with staff from the San Diego mayor’s office to discuss revising the city’s email retention policy.

The award-winning chapter completed 13 programs/projects, including a media literacy series with a panel on watchdog journalism, a discussion on identifying and combating disinformation, and a seminar on covering health care. It also launched a mentorship program, and hosted its Wall, Window and Sunshine awards.

The Small Chapter of the Year, SPJ Georgia, made great strides in the areas of professional development and diversity.

The SPJ Georgia chapter hosted two events to educate people about the new Sources of Color platform, which helps journalists diversify their stories by providing a place to find people of color who are reputable industry experts.

The Sources of Color events and SPJ Georgia’s “MMJ Safety First” program contributed to the chapter also winning the Circle of Excellence Award for Professional Development. SPJ Georgia presented two sessions of this program aimed toward multimedia journalists, news directors, general managers and journalists from other parts of the industry. Almost 200 people from across the nation attended the first session. The panelists educated journalists on the legality and ethics of keeping them safe in the field. As a result of the sessions, the chapter has worked with SPJ national to create a task force so that SPJ can develop a Code of Safety that newsrooms can follow.

SPJ Georgia hosted three sessions on “Covering Extremism” focused on the ethics of reporting on domestic extremist groups. SPJ Georgia’s annual report said this topic might seem to take a political stance if not written correctly, but the ethics of covering these groups is ultimately clear. It is crucial to provide the community with knowledge of the groups no matter what side of the line they fall on.

The chapter also hosted 12 other programs including “Finding Your Niche and The Newsroom in the COVID Era,” an event that brought together local journalists and community organizers connected to the war in Ukraine and a partnership with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to develop an online training course for law enforcement officials on interacting with the news media during times of civil unrest.

The winning chapters were honored during the Opening Business Session at MediaFest22, SPJ’s annual convention. Read more about the selection process and past winners.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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