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Nine SPJ chapters recognized for exceptional programming


For Immediate Release

Lauren Rochester, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 210, lrochester@spj.org
Christine DiGangi, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 205, cdigangi@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has distinguished nine of its professional chapters as the Circle of Excellence, a collection of awards that recognizes outstanding work in five areas: First Amendment/freedom of information, professional development, chapter communications, diversity and campus relations/scholarship.

Awards are given to two chapters in each category: one large chapter, of 75 or more members, and one small chapter, of fewer than 75 members. Here is a list of the honorees:

First Amendment/FOI
Large: The Washington, D.C. Pro chapter participated in three local FOI events, two of which involved collaboration with organizations like the National Press Club and the D.C. Open Government Coalition. The D.C. chapter organized the third event, bringing together media and legal experts to review journalists’ FOI rights and challenges journalists have faced when collecting information.
Small: The Utah Headliners highlighted in its annual report two FOI events from the last year: a session at the Utah Press Association’s annual convention and an initiative called the Utah Transparency Project. The chapter is among six organizations working to make the state’s local governments more transparent.

Professional development
Large: The Western Washington Pro chapter offered six professional-development events, many of which focused on digital newsgathering and distribution. The chapter partnered with the local Online News Association chapter to put on the series.
Small: Not only did the Greater Charlotte Pro chapter conduct a program to prepare journalists for covering the Democratic National Convention, the chapter put on a dozen other panels and question-and-answer sessions for journalists in the area.

Chapter communications
Large: The Northern California Pro members receive frequent messages from chapter leadership, including a twice-monthly email, in addition to consistent social media updates. The chapter has also started using a Meetup group of more than 100 members to connect professionals and promote events.
Small: For the St. Louis Pro chapter, effective communication means expanding digital platforms while maintaining phone lists for members who prefer communication beyond the Internet. The chapter also uses evites to organize and promote its events, a strategy which it has found to be very successful.

Both NorCal and St. Louis Pro were named Chapter of the Year for their respective large and small-chapter categories.

Large: Northern California Pro hosted a discussion with Thomas Peele, an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group, on his book “Killing the Messenger — A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist,” which describes the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey. A discussion with other members of the Chauncey Bailey Project followed Peele’s conversation, revealing the level of collaboration among journalists of varying backgrounds to distribute in-depth news to the public.
Small: No award given this year.

Campus relations/scholarship
Large: In a note on Colorado Pro’s annual report, Region 9 Director Donald W. Meyers noted the chapter’s dedication to students, as it increased its scholarship amounts this year, in addition to its strong relationships with campus chapters in the area.
Small: Between summer 2011 and spring 2011, the Hawaii Pro chapter sponsored 11 full-time internships and nine part-time internships, all of which were paid internships for students.

The chapters will be recognized at Excellence in Journalism 2012, an annual conference co-hosted by SPJ and the Radio Television Digital News Association. The conference takes place from Sept. 20 to 22 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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