SPJ21 Journalism Conference: September 2-4, 2021

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Resolutions passed at SPJ21


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9/9/2021


CONTACT:
Rebecca Aguilar, SPJ National President, 317-361-4134, rebeccaaguilar50@gmail.com
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — Each year, Society of Professional Journalists delegates vote on resolutions submitted by members on topics of importance to the Society.

This year's resolutions were voted on by delegates during the Closing Business Meeting at the virtual SPJ21 Conference.

Here are the resolutions that were approved during SPJ21:

Resolution 1: A Resolution in Support of Journalists in Afghanistan
Submitted by: The International Community
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS in the past 20 years the people of Afghanistan have become used to free and independent media reporting on the issues affecting their country;

WHEREAS the various news organizations that were established in the country hired reporters, editors, photographers, camerapersons, interpreters and producers without concern about the gender of the journalists;

WHEREAS since the Taliban began their final push to overthrow the government, more than 90 media outlets were forced to close in areas under Taliban control;

WHEREAS even though the Taliban has repeatedly promised it would not interfere with the freedom of the press, Afghan reporters and editors have already reported on bands of Taliban forces demanding an end to coverage seen as hostile to the Taliban;

WHEREAS as Kabul fell into Taliban hands many journalists feared for their lives and have sought to escape;

WHEREAS the International Community of the Society of Professional Journalists, in cooperation with other global groups, worked tirelessly to help Afghan journalists escape;

WHEREAS the Biden Administration said Afghan journalists in fear of their lives would qualify to be included in the U.S.-sponsored airlift of Afghans;

WHEREAS female journalists may face particular abuse and persecution by the Taliban;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, calls on the Biden Administration to hold firm in its earlier statements and ensure the safe removal of Afghan journalists and their families;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society calls on the Taliban to honor its stated assurances that Afghan journalists, both men and women, will not be singled out for persecution, and to allow international news organizations to continue to report from Afghanistan without interference or harassment;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society encourages its chapters and members to seek out local refugee support organizations and provide what help they can;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED the Society extends its heartfelt thanks to Elle Toussi, co-chair of the International Community for her tireless efforts with international organizations in the height of the chaos in Kabul to get several female journalists out of Afghanistan.

Resolution 2: A Resolution in Support of Press Freedoms in Eastern Europe
Submitted by: The International Community
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS following the fall of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact the countries of Eastern Europe enjoyed a growth of democratic institutions and principles, including freedom of the press;

WHEREAS according to Reporters Without Borders, attacks against journalists in Eastern Europe rose in the past year;

WHEREAS according to Freedom House, in the past few years, democracy in Hungary and Poland has deteriorated faster than any other country in the area;

WHEREAS the ruling parties of these two countries have shown little regard for press freedom and independence;

WHEREAS the governments of Hungary and Poland seized on the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to control local media, including threatening journalists with prosecution on charges of disseminating “fake news” and “blocking the government’s anti-pandemic efforts”;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, expresses its dismay and disappointment that two once leading examples of democracy and press freedom in Europe are now falling into the darkness of a near-authoritarian state;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society extends its solidarity and support to the journalists of Hungary, Poland and the other European countries facing attacks from their governments;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that resolution be sent to the embassies of Hungary, Poland and the European Community.

Resolution 3: A Resolution in Support of a Free Press in Hong Kong
Submitted by: The International Community
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS in 1997 the government of the People’s Republic of China agreed to allow the citizens of Hong Kong to maintain the rights previously enjoyed under British rule, including freedom of the press, expression and assembly, for 50 years;

WHEREAS these protections were incorporated in other treaties and agreements between China and other countries, including the United States;

WHEREAS within the past year China imposed on Hong Kong a national security law that effectively outlaws critical coverage of the Hong Kong government and of Chinese policies;

WHEREAS the Hong Kong government, using the national security law, arrested democracy advocate and publisher Jimmy Lai;

WHEREAS the local government also froze the assets of Lai’s media organization and raided the offices of its flagship newspaper, Apple Daily;

WHEREAS Lai remains in jail with several Apple Daily editors, all of them denied bail, under the draconian security laws;

WHEREAS many foreign news organizations are considering withdrawing their staffs rather than face persecution under the national security laws;

WHEREAS the Hong Kong government has moved to remove the editorial independence of Radio-Television Hong Kong, a city-owned news outlet that has, until now, enjoyed freedom from government interference in the production of its news and information programs;

WHEREAS the newspaper Wen Wei Po, a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, recently called for the regulation of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), an independent union of Hong Kong journalists;

WHEREAS the HKJA appears to have invoked the ire of the Beijing and Hong Kong governments because of its vigorous defense of Hong Kong journalists against charges by these governments of promoting “fake news” and “collaborating with fake reporters” to incite the public against China;

WHEREAS the Society of Professional Journalists has long supported the principle of press freedom in Hong Kong and has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the journalists in Hong Kong;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, renews its support of and solidarity with the Hong Kong Journalists Association and all journalists in Hong Kong who continue to report the news from the territory without fear or favor;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society calls upon the Hong Kong government to release Jimmy Lai and other incarcerated journalists and to allow the Apple Daily and all other news organizations in Hong Kong to operate freely, without censorship or intimidation, in accordance with the 1997 agreement with the United Kingdom.

Resolution 4: A Resolution in Support of a Free Press in Myanmar
Submitted by: The International Journalism Community
Cosponsors: Louisiana Pro Chapter
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS Myanmar is a member of the United Nations; Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”;

WHEREAS the coup that took place in February of this year brought to an end the gradual growth of press independence and freedom of expression in Myanmar;

WHEREAS the military rulers of Myanmar used provisions of the national Telecommunications Act not only to prosecute journalists, but also to encourage private citizens to use the act to harass and weaken the fledgling independent news organizations in the country;

WHEREAS Daniel Fenster, a U.S. citizen who is managing editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar in Yangon, was arrested at the airport in Yangon on May 24 as he was about to fly home to visit his family;

WHEREAS the supposed charge against Mr. Fenster is a vague prohibition against “incitement” or “spreading fear” under Section 505(a) of the Myanmar Penal Code, although no such evidence was presented in support of this charge during the two brief court appearances Mr. Fenster has had during the three months he has been detained;

WHEREAS the Myanmar military government has denied Mr. Fenster access to U.S. consular officials, a violation of international law under the Vienna Convention;

WHEREAS the Myanmar military government even refused to allow the U.S. consulate to vaccinate Mr. Fenster against COVID-19 despite an outbreak of the disease in the prison where he is being held;

WHEREAS an estimated 75 of the 88 other journalists jailed since the Feb. 1 military coup remain incarcerated;

WHEREAS the incarceration of Mr. Fenster and other journalists by the Myanmar Government is counter to the free flow of information practiced by the democratic nations of the world and thus is a stain on the honor and reputation of the country of Myanmar;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, calls upon the Myanmar Government to release Mr. Fenster and other journalists from prison so they may continue to practice their profession in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Society praises the efforts of U.S. journalists who have worked to support their counterparts in Myanmar, including efforts to get journalists out of the country to safety. In particular, we send our congratulations and strongest statements of support to the efforts of the Society’s Rio Grande Chapter, which has led the way in our organization in support of free and independent journalists and journalism in Myanmar,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be sent to the Myanmar ambassador to the United States, to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to the U.S. ambassador to Myanmar and to Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

Resolution 5: A Resolution in Support of a Free Press in Nicaragua
Submitted by: The International Journalism Community
Co-signers: Louisiana Pro Chapter
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS Nicaragua is a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers";

WHEREAS Nicaragua is also a signatory to the 1994 Declaration of Chapultepec, which states in its preamble: "Wherever the media can function unhindered and determine their own direction and manner of serving the public there is a blossoming of the ability to seek information, to disseminate it without restraints, to question it without fear; to promote the free exchange of ideas and opinions. But wherever freedom of the press is curtailed, for whatever reasons, the other freedoms vanish";

WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec also states: “Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, pressure, intimidation, the unjust imprisonment of journalists, the destruction of facilities, violence of any kind and impunity for perpetrators";

WHEREAS in 2019 and 2020 the Nicaraguan government willfully prevented delivery of newsprint to the nation’s leading daily newspaper, La Prensa;

WHEREAS in June 2021, Carlos Chamorro, editor of the online news site Confidencial, was arrested and his newsroom raided, and he has been forced to flee to Costa Rica for his safety;

WHEREAS in June 2021, Carlos Chamorro’s sister and fellow journalist, Cristiana Chamorro, was arrested and remains in detention for the supposed crime of “treason,” apparently because she was regarded as a leading candidate in this November’s presidential election;

WHEREAS in June 2021, the well-known sportswriter Miguel Mendoza was arrested at his home on unspecified charges and remains in detention, apparently because he made comments critical of the government on his Twitter page;

WHEREAS at 4 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2021, Nicaraguan police raided the offices of La Prensa, arrested its publisher, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, at his home, and have forcibly prevented employees of La Prensa from publishing the newspaper, depriving them of their livelihood as well as depriving the La Prensa readers of information;

WHEREAS the current climate of intimidation directed against Nicaraguan journalists and their organizations has had a chilling effect on freedom of the press and the free flow of information in a democratic society, as set forth in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Chapultepec;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, condemns these violations of freedom of the press in Nicaragua and expresses its solidarity with its Nicaraguan colleagues as they seek to report the news factually despite a climate of hostility and intimidation;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society calls upon Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra to respect his government’s obligations under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Chapultepec by releasing any and all journalists being held for exercising their rights and duties as journalists; by allowing all those in exile to return to Nicaragua to practice their profession; and by desisting from further arrests of journalists, from police raids on media organizations and from engaging in acts of intimidation and repression against journalists and their organizations;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to the Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States, to the office of President Daniel Ortega Saavedra, to the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States and to Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

CONSIDERANDO que Nicaragua es signataria de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas que, en su Artículo 19 establece: “Todo individuo tiene derecho a la libertad de opinión y de expresión; este derecho incluye el de no ser molestado a causa de sus opiniones, el de investigar y recibir informaciones y opiniones, y el de difundirlas, sin limitación de fronteras, por cualquier medio de expresión";

CONSIDERANDO que Nicaragua también es signataria de la Declaración de Chapultepec de 1994 que, en su preámbulo asevera: “Allí donde los medios pueden surgir libremente, decidir su orientación y la manera de servir al público, allí también florecen las posibilidades de buscar información, de difundirla sin cortapisas, de cuestionarla sin temores y de promover el libre intercambio de ideas y opiniones. Pero, cuando con el pretexto de cualesquiera objetivos se cercena la libertad de prensa, desaparecen las demás libertades";

CONSIDERANDO que según el Cuarto Principio de la Declaración de Chapultepec: “El asesinato, el terrorismo, el secuestro, las presiones, la intimidación, la prisión injusta de los periodistas, la destrucción material de los medios de comunicación, la violencia de cualquier tipo y la impunidad de los agresores, coartan severamente la libertad de expresión y de prensa. Estos actos deben ser investigados con prontitud y sancionados con severidad";

CONSIDERANDO que en 2019 y 2020, el gobierno nicaragüense evitó por fuerza la entrega de papel destinado al diario principal, La Prensa;

CONSIDERANDO que en junio de 2021, Carlos Chamorro, director del sitio noticiero digital Confidencial, fue arrestado y su sala de prensa invadida por la policia, y Chamorro tuvo que fugarse hasta Costa Rica por su seguridad;

CONSIDERANDO que en junio de 2021, la hermana y colega periodista de Carlos Chamorro, Cristiana Chamorro, fue arrestada y se encuentra detenida por el supuesto crimen de “traición,” aparemente porque se postuló como candidata en la elección presidential en en noviembre;

CONSIDERANDO que en junio de 2021 el destacado periodista deportivo Miguel Mendoza fue arrestado en su casa por cargos no especificados y se encuentra detenido, aparentemente porque hizo comentarios críticos del gobierno en su página de Twitter;

CONSIDERANDO que a las cuatro de la madrugada el 13 de agosto de 2021, agentes de la policía nicaragüense allanaron las oficinas de La Prensa, arrestaron al redactor, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, y han impedido a los empleados de La Prensa publicar el diario, privando a los empleados su medio de vida y de información a los lectores de La Prensa;

CONSIDERANDO que el ambiente actual de intimidación dirigido contra periodistas nicaragüenses y sus organizaciones tiene el efecto de inhibir la libertad de prensa y el libre flujo de información en una sociedad democrática, como postulan la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos y la Declaración de Chapúltepec,

SE RESUELVE que la Sociedad de Periodistas Profesionales (SPJ), reunida en convención virtual el 4 de septiembre de 2021, condena estas violaciones de la libertad de la prensa en Nicaragua, y declara su solidaridad con sus colegas nicaragüenses mientran ellos luchan para divulgar las noticias en forma profesional a pesar de un clima de hostilidad e intimidación;

SE RESUELVE ADEMÁS que la Sociedad de Periodistas Profesionales llama al Presidente Daniel Ortega Saavedra a respetar las obligaciones de su gobierno según la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de la ONU y la Declaración de Chapúltepec, y lo llama a liberar a todos los periodistas encarcelados por ejercer sus derechos y deberes como periodistas; lo llama a permitir la vuelta a Nicaragua de los periodistas exiliados para que puedan reasumir sus deberes profesionales; lo llama a cesar las detenciones de periodistas o de allanar sus organizaciones, cesar actos de intimidación y represión contra periodistas o sus organizaciones;

RESUELVE AL FINAL, remitir copias de esta resolución: al embajador nicaragüense ante los EEUU en Washington, a la oficina del presidente Daniel Ortega Saavedra, al secretario-general de la Organizacíon de Estados Americanos, y a Michelle Bachelet, alta comisionada para derechos humanos de la ONU.

Resolution 6: A Resolution in Support of a Free Press in the Philippines
Submitted by: The International Community
Delegate Action: Approved


WHEREAS the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers";

WHEREAS Article III, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution of 1987 states, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances";

WHEREAS Article III, Section 7 of the Philippine Constitution states, “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law";

WHEREAS Article III, Section 18 (1) of the Philippine Constitution states, “No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations”;

WHEREAS the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has waged a ceaseless battle against journalist and publisher Maria Ressa and her online news service Rappler as well as all other news organizations that provide critical coverage of his government;

WHEREAS Ressa is currently appealing a verdict of cyber-libel from 2020;

WHEREAS other cases of libel filed by private citizens have been withdrawn by the filing individuals,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, calls on the Philippine Supreme Court to overturn the verdict of the lower courts against Ressa;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Society calls on the Duterte government to cease in its efforts to stifle Rappler and other independent news outlets;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Society expresses its solidarity with Ressa, with the journalists of Rappler and of other independent news organizations who are seeking to inform the Philippine public despite a climate of hostility, repression and intimidation;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED copies of this resolution should be sent to the Philippine ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and to Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

Resolution 7: A Resolution in Support of a Free Press in Turkey
Submitted by: The International Community
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has moved from promoting liberal reforms to exhibiting contempt for political rights and civil liberties, especially after he pushed through constitutional “reforms” that place almost unlimited powers in the office of the presidency;

WHEREAS since 2016 Erdogan has closed more than 100 newspapers, magazines, TV channels and radio stations and has arrested and imprisoned 378 journalists in the same period;

WHEREAS Erdogan also censors the Internet, especially reports about members of his government or private individuals close to the government;

WHEREAS many early supporters of Erdogan have told foreign reporters and filmmakers he no longer enjoys their support;

WHEREAS Turkey is a charter member of the United Nations and a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers";

WHEREAS Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule has been a key factor in the European Union’s reluctance to accept Turkey’s application for EU membership;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, calls on the Turkish government to reverse the current course that leads only to more censorship and less press freedom;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Society calls on the Erdogan government to release the many journalists being held for nothing more than “committing journalism";

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Society extends its support and solidarity to the dwindling number of free and independent journalists in Turkey who face the wrath of the Erdogan government because of their work;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to the Turkish ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., to the U.S. ambassador to Turkey and to Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

Resolution 8: A Resolution in Support of Press Freedoms Around the World
Submitted by: The International Community
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS freedom of the press is an issue that is increasingly one that links journalists in the United States with their colleagues around the world;

WHEREAS more than 880 journalists in the United States were arrested, physically attacked or otherwise harassed while doing their jobs, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker;

WHEREAS more than 2,000 journalists around the globe were killed or imprisoned in 2020 and so far in 2021, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, again, just for doing their jobs as journalists;

WHEREAS Reporters Without Borders noted with dismay how 37 heads of state have instituted policy to limit press freedom in their countries;

WHEREAS Freedom House noted a marked decline in support for press freedom in the United States forced them to lower its democracy rating for America for the first time;

WHEREAS the Society of Professional Journalists remains committed to offering support to journalists in the United States through its Legal Defense Fund;

WHEREAS in the past year the Society of Professional Journalists has spoken out in defense of journalists in Afghanistan, Belarus, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Mexico and Nicaragua;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, reaffirm its commitment to protecting freedom of the press in all countries;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED this convention urges local chapters to initiate programs that foster a greater understanding of these global and local threats by working with resources available in their areas and with the International Community of the Society.

Resolution 9: A Resolution in Support of Freelancers Being Able to Work as Independent Contractors.
Submitted by: the SPJ Freelance Community — Hilary Niles, chair; Stacie Overton-Johnson, vice-chair; Ginny McCabe, membership coordinator; Ruth Thaler-Carter, resources coordinator; Susan Valot, at-large member; and Hazel Becker, community member.
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS professional freelance journalists, many of whom have owned their businesses for years or decades and many of whom are women, people of color or living with disabilities, cherish their freedom, their ability to negotiate their own rates and their ability to operate as a business;

WHEREAS freelance journalists have no way to meet the A, B and C prongs of the “ABC Test” in current and pending legislation at both the state and federal level for classification as independent contractors, even if they are bona fide small businesses, and requiring all three prongs to be met is unduly restrictive;

WHEREAS an independent contractor must meet all three prongs: they must be free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service; they must provide a service outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and they must be customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business;

WHEREAS current legislation that includes the ABC Test would force freelancers who operate as independent contractors into W-2 jobs, thereby losing their freedom to choose their hours and assignments, and run their businesses;

WHEREAS the use of the restrictive ABC Test in current and pending legislation, including the federal Protect the Right to Organize Act, would be detrimental to freelance journalists, who are essentially small business owners;

WHEREAS current laws, including the established “IRS Test” for employment classification, can be enforced to ensure that workers such as “permalancers” are not misclassified;

WHEREAS the prospect of misclassifying all freelancers as W-2 workers to try to solve this problem, which current laws already address, threatens the careers and livelihoods of freelance journalists;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in convention virtually on Sept. 4, 2021, supports the removal of the ABC Test from the PRO Act and other current and pending legislation into which it has been introduced or will be introduced;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists supports using the existing IRS Test, which is more favorable to businesses in today’s modern economy, instead of the ABC Test.

Resolution 11: A Resolution to Study the Impacts of Certain Proposed Changes to the Society of Professional Journalists’s Bylaws.
Submitted by: Press Club of Long Island, Deadline Club President Colin DeVries, New Jersey Pro President Bob Schapiro, New England Pro President Adam Sennott, Connecticut SPJ President Viktoria Sundqvist, Region 1 Coordinator Chris Vaccaro
Delegate Action: approved


WHEREAS the Society of Professional Journalists members are in disagreement about procedures in the bylaws for apportioning delegates to the national convention;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in convention virtually Sept. 4, 2021, calls on the Society President and Board of Directors to appoint a joint task force of Chapter leaders, Community leaders and unaffiliated members to study the method by which the Society conducts business at its national convention, specifically the apportionment of delegates, and whether that method provides equitable representation to chapters, communities and members who are not affiliated with either.

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED recommendations will be considered by the board and shared with all Society members at least 120 days before the 2022 SPJ convention, with an opportunity for feedback and suggestions. A proposal will be brought before the delegates at the next Closing Business Meeting;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that this task force will consist of at least one current Society officer, who cannot be the chair, and all meetings will be open to Society members, with recordings of the meetings available on the Society’s website.

Resolution 12: A Resolution Thanking the 2020-2021 Board of Directors for the Society of Professional Journalists.
Submitted by: Matthew T. Hall, SPJ President
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS departing at-large members of the Society of Professional Journalists’ board, Lauren Bartlett and Yvette Walker, offered valuable insights, ideas and direction, as they have for years, on the national board and its committees, during their 2020-2021 terms;

WHEREAS one-year board appointees Bey-Ling Sha and Jerry McCormick brought long histories of leadership and public service to the board and outdid themselves, helping make SPJ a more welcoming place, to student members especially, during their 2020-21 terms;

WHEREAS President-elect Rebecca Aguilar, Secretary-Treasurer Ivette Davila-Richards and new at-large members Rafael Olmeda and Claire Regan helped move the board forward in significant ways as it embraced a new strategic plan during their 2020-21 terms;

WHEREAS SPJ’s nine-member board — with six journalists of color and six women — made history as the most diverse board in the annals of an organization founded in 1909 that largely consisted of white men for decades and didn’t admit women until 1969, for which President Matthew T. Hall publicly apologized to women and journalists of color in the first board meeting of his 2020-21 term;

WHEREAS all board members took seriously both their fiduciary duty and duty of care as members of the 2020-21 board of directors, and doubled SPJ’s reserves to a healthy $578,000 at a time of extremely difficult budgeting, and made SPJ an inclusive place for all — except for foes of journalism;

WHEREAS all board members also helped make this the most transparent and accessible board in recent SPJ history, if not its entire 112 years, by holding a record 12 public board meetings this year;

WHEREAS the board evaluated, over months and several meetings, the evolving science on public health, the shifting COVID-19 situation in New Orleans, the national vaccine rollout, the results of two membership surveys and the board's financial obligations and pivoted to an all-virtual conference at the right time to ensure the safety of its members and attendees and to avoid six-figure financial penalties for canceling hotel and other contracts;

WHEREAS the board had an exceptional year despite a pandemic that necessitated virtual meetings, and among its major accomplishments, worked with staff to set up a Race & Gender Hotline in partnership with the Trans Journalists Association, held #SPJTruth Day to combat disinformation, created a national Student Trustee Council, launched a Student Leadership Institute, made starting a student chapter much easier, invited many new student chapters and partnered with Associated Collegiate Press and the College Media Association for the SPJ22 convention, which is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C.;

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists meeting in convention virtually on Sept. 4, 2021, offers huge and heartfelt thanks to departing and continuing board members alike for their volunteer work on behalf of all 6,000 members;

LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society offers its best wishes and continued success to incoming President Rebecca Aguilar in the year ahead, and to all successful candidates for president-elect, secretary-treasurer and at-large board positions; and also offers its gratitude to all candidates, with the hope that each of them stays involved in SPJ in the year ahead;

FINALLY, LET IT BE RESOLVED that outgoing president Matthew T. Hall can’t thank enough the Society and its staff; its board members; its foundation board members; its committee chairs and members; its chapter and community leaders and members; its unaffiliated members; its regional coordinators; its Student Trustee Council members; its SPJ News mentors and participants; its Fellows and Diversity Fellows; its leaders and members across the United States and around the world; and, last but not least, his amazing and patient wife and daughters, for the privilege of being SPJ’s national president during a year that proved so challenging and so rewarding.

Resolution 13: A Resolution Thanking Society of Professional Journalists President Matthew T. Hall.
Submitted by: President-Elect Rebecca Aguilar and Board of Director members Ivette Davila-Richards, Claire Regan, Rafael Olmeda, Yvette Walker, Lauren Bartlett, Bey-Ling Sha and Jerry McCormick
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS Matthew T. Hall is completing his one-year term as the 104th president of the Society of Professional Journalists;

WHEREAS President Hall showed great leadership and strength as we dealt with the unpredictability of the pandemic and its effects on journalists and Society members;

WHEREAS he set his goal to bring diversity, inclusion and equity to our organization and kept his commitment by exploring all areas of the Society to make this a reality;

WHEREAS his vision of growth for the organization included starting chapters at schools that educate minority journalists helped grow our organization. He formed a task force of professionals, college students and educators to establish new chapters at universities across the country;

WHEREAS he led very successful Society campaigns to raise funds, including Day of Giving Back and Sigma Delta Chi Day;

WHEREAS President Hall is perhaps the first or last to preside over an entirely virtual year, from convention to convention, several meetings with the board and chapters and never missed a beat;

WHEREAS he was able to make the decision with the board of directors to pivot to an all virtual national conference for the safety of the members because New Orleans became a COVID-19 hotspot and was in the path of Hurricane Ida;

WHEREAS he implemented a new strategic plan for the Society and has set a positive momentum for decades of success for our organization and he leaves the organization in very healthy financial standing;

WHEREAS President Hall continued to defend journalists, fought for open government and managed the everyday demands of the Society while also committed to his job as the editorial and opinion director at The San Diego Union-Tribune, where he has worked since 2001.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting at a convention virtually on Sept. 4, 2021, from members across the country thank President Hall for his years of dedication, commitment and courage to lead the Society. He departs leaving a stronger and better organization.

Resolution 14: A Resolution Thanking the Staff of the Society of Professional Journalists
Submitted by: Matthew T. Hall, SPJ President
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS the headquarters staff of the Society of Professional Journalists is a small but mighty band of first-rate people who work hard every day to make journalism and journalists themselves stronger;

WHEREAS the Society headquarters staff has stayed connected and committed to the cause of journalism on behalf of the Society’s 6,000 members despite working mostly from home during a pandemic that made so many things so hard for so many people;

WHEREAS every staff member is responsible individually for the success of the Society and for SPJ21 in the past year, and all of them are the backbone of the Society every day of every year, with:
— Zoë Berg and Ashlynn Neumeyer working – so quickly and so well – with our talented Director of Communications and Marketing Jennifer Royer to get the message out that journalism and journalists matter;
— Controller Jake Koenig and Staff Accountant Nathan Rushton balancing the books while juggling the Society’s outside clients and other tasks;
— Director of Ethics and Diversity Rod Hicks and Journalism Ethics Assistant Samuel Robinson keeping the Society at the forefront of discussions involving ethics in journalism and belonging and inclusion in our industry;
— Quill Editor and the Society’s Manager of Publications and Awards Lou Harry producing some of the best content ever in our quarterly magazine and on its website and working toward the growth of our awards contests;
— Manager of Membership and Chapters Caroline Escobar being such a responsive and reliable liaison to Society members everywhere;
— Director of Education Karyn Nishimura Sneath working to ensure the Society’s programming is innovative and inspiring;
— Creative Director Tony Peterson designing so much so well;
— Innovation and Technology Manager Billy O’Keefe redesigning the website to make it more manageable and cooler-looking;
— Office Manager Linda Hall doing everything humanly possible to keep the team chugging along;
— Former Director of Development Larry Messing working to bring revenue in before moving over to Ball State University;

WHEREAS Executive Director John Shertzer, still relatively new to the role, having joined the Society in December 2019, managed this team to great heights, embracing a new strategic plan and making the Society a better place for all journalists, with innovations big and small to make members feel more connected to one another and to the industry, and feel like a part of something bigger than themselves;

WHEREAS John Shertzer, along with Education Director Karyn Nishimura Sneath and the entire staff of the Society of Professional Journalists and many devoted Society volunteers pivoted weeks before SPJ21 to a fully virtual conference and pulled off an empowering, enriching, engaging annual convention;

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in convention virtually on Sept. 4, 2021, offers deeply felt and greatly appreciated thanks to the Society staff for its commitment to excellence for the Society all year round, especially during yet another great convention.

Resolution 15: A Resolution on Including Journalists in the Summit for Democracy.
Submitted by: The International Community
Delegate action: Approved


WHEREAS the Biden Administration has called for a Summit for Democracy to be held December 9-10, 2021, with the stated aim to “bring together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action”;

WHEREAS the 2021 Summit is designed to address the following three themes: defending against authoritarianism; addressing and fighting corruption; and advancing respect for human rights;

WHEREAS the protection and support of free and independent news media is one of the surest ways to address all three points;

WHEREAS threats to the practice of free and independent news gathering and reporting are evident throughout the world;

WHEREAS the Summit will be held just a few days before December 15, the 230th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, which includes protection of press freedom under the First Amendment;

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Society of Professional Journalists, meeting in virtual convention on Sept. 4, 2021, call on the Biden Administration to ensure representation from a wide range of journalism organizations from around the world at the Democracy Summit;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Society, as the oldest and most inclusive journalism organization in the United States, makes it clear we stand ready to participate in the Summit in cooperation with other journalism organizations to vigorously promote the defense and promotion of free and independent journalism around the world;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED we encourage Society chapters to reach out to local refugee and immigrant organizations to conduct programs in December that draws attention to the threats to press freedom and how those threats impact the rights we enjoy under the U.S. Constitution especially the Bill of Rights,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED copies of this resolution be sent to the White House and the Office of Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State.

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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