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SPJ selects 2002-2003 leaders


Robert Leger, SPJ President, 417/836-1113 or 417/425-9140 or

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Robert Leger, editorial page editor of the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, was installed as president of the Society of Professional Journalists Sept. 14 during the group’s annual convention.

Gordon “Mac” McKerral, editor of the Business Journal Serving Tampa Bay, was elected as president-elect. He will be installed as president at SPJ’s 2003 convention in Tampa Bay. Irwin Gratz, Morning Edition producer at Maine Public Broadcasting, was elected secretary-treasurer. All were sworn into office on Saturday.

Immediate past president Al Cross, political reporter and columnist for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal, remains a member of the SPJ national board and its executive committee.

Leger, in a speech that closed the convention, pledged to keep the Society at the forefront of the battle for freedom of information. He noted that attempts to hide government actions and documents from public view had increased since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

“The battle to keep government open and accountable will be a long one,” he said. “Those who would trade liberty for false promises of security won’t give up easily. They’ll be back with new arguments, new rationales for letting government operate in the dark.”

SPJ will continue to counter those arguments, Leger said, noting that most of these battles will be fought in the halls of government. “But to make it easier to win there, we need to make our case in the living rooms of America,” he said.

Leger urged SPJ members to write editorials, columns and news stories on the importance of freedom of information laws in keeping government accountable. And he proposed a public-service ad campaign utilizing print and broadcast to promote the importance to a free society of keeping public records freely available. Leger’s complete speech is available at

Also elected to SPJ’s board of directors were:
* At-large Director Christine Tatum, assistant editor/associate producer of Tribune Interactive.
* Campus Adviser At Large Mead Loop, SPJ chapter adviser at Ithaca College.
* Student representatives Autumn Sanders of Ohio University and Jeff Douglas of the University of Missouri.
* Region 1 Director Guy Baehr, assistant director at Rutgers University Journalism Resources Institute.
* Region 2 Director Jonathan Hunley, reporter and columnist at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va.
* Region 4 Director Bruce Cadwallader, staff reporter at the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio. This is his second term.
* Region 5 Director Vicky Katz Whitaker, a freelance writer from Springfield, Ill. This is her second term.
* Region 7 Director Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell, a freelance writer and stringer for the Kansas City Star and Kansas City Hispanic News.
* Region 8 Director Todd Gillman, national correspondent for the Dallas Morning News. This is his third term.
* Region 9 Director Paul Husselbee, assistant professor of communication for Southern Utah University.
* Region 12 Director Clint Brewer, publisher and editor of the Mt. Juliet (Tenn.) News.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, 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.


Julie Grimes, Deputy Director, Society of Professional Journalists
3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208-4045 * 317/927-8000 ext. 216,

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