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SPJ Pro Chapter of the Year honorees named


Tara Puckey, SPJ Membership Strategist, 317-920-4784, tpuckey@spj.org
Rachel Semple, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, rsemple@spj.org

NEW ORLEANS — The Society of Professional Journalists annually selects professional chapters to honor for their commitment to SPJ’s mission and the profession of journalism.

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

Large Chapter of the Year
The Press Club of Long Island and Florida Pro are both honored this year for their commitment to the mission of the Society.

The Press Club of Long Island was selected due to its outstanding commitment to student outreach and service to the community. Their Student Outreach Program helped build a school newspaper with local high school students and the chapter also trained hundreds of students at high schools and colleges in the area.

Their major FOIL audit provided information on county, town and village governments based on their compliance and transparency in response to FOIL requests. Two landmark signs were generated by the historic studies committee, commemorating the Town of Hempstead, home of Newsday’s first location and the Town of Huntington, the founding location of The Long-Islander, the oldest publication in Long Island.

Many of the chapter’s 27 events throughout the year focused on FOI, service to the community, ethics and diversity. Programs on the ethical implications of drones, media training with local police and presidential campaign coverage kept members current on breaking issues.

Annually the chapter also hosts a holiday party with a donation drive for Toys for Tots and the PCLI Media Awards Dinner, which includes the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The Florida Pro chapter was selected due to its dedication to membership and partnerships with other local organizations for programs on ethics, diversity, community service and awards.

Membership initiatives by the Florida Pro chapter have more than doubled their chapter membership through contacts with unaffiliated SPJ national members and potential or lapsed member communications. To increase transparency, the chapter has added five years of chapter reports to the website for members and non-members to access.

Of the 12 programs held throughout the year, many included partnerships with diverse local journalism organizations for social events, panels, a #BlackLivesMatter webinar and Forging the Future, a day-long conference.

The chapter also worked to improve its website’s jobs section and increase submissions to the annual Sunshine State Awards with buy-one-get-one free submissions, allowing a greater variety of journalists to apply.

The finalist for Large Chapter of the Year is Colorado Pro.

Small Chapter of the Year
Cincinnati Pro was named Small Chapter of the Year due to its dedication to encouraging collegiate involvement, awards programs and diversity events.

Multiple programs covered media coverage of race and community, including “Words and Images: A Media Debrief and Community Conversation” about the shooting of a black man by a white police officer during a traffic stop, and “Beyond Profiling: Race and Media Coverage” about media coverage of race and community relations.

Awards were given for excellent journalism at both the Ohio SPJ Awards Program and the chapter’s Excellence in Journalism Awards Banquet and Journalism Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, allowing members to network.

The “Looking Back, Moving Forward” Region 4 and Region 5 conference in Cincinnati was a large part of the Cincinnati Pro chapter’s event programming, with 11 programs coordinated specifically for the conference in addition to the 18 chapter programs throughout the year.

Cincinnati Pro also hosted a regular “Lunch with the Pros” series on topics of interest to journalism students at local universities.

The two finalists for Small Chapter of the Year were Louisville Pro and Utah Headliners.

Winners were honored today during the Opening Business Session at the Excellence in Journalism 2016 conference in New Orleans.

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 Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.


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