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A letter from SPJ President Dave Aeikens about the Harper Memorial Fund Auction


This letter was sent to chapter leaders on behalf of SPJ President Dave Aeikens:

Dear chapter leaders,

We want to bring your attention to a change that will make a difference.

This year, we will be using the auction that has annually raised money for the Legal Defense Fund to raise money for the Terry Harper Memorial Fund.

The executive committee made this decision June 27 after a recommendation from the staff. Here’s why: the LDF already has $130,000 in it and we have not spent more than a few thousand dollars each year. So it is in good shape.

At the same time, we have an exciting opportunity to jumpstart another fund that will honor someone who led SPJ so ably and that will greatly benefit SPJ members. We also have a creative way to bring attention and potentially more money to the LDF during the convention that we will explain later in this letter.

SPJ leadership is fully committed to the LDF. Four of the executive committee members serve on the six-member voting committee. The board is looking at how it can improve the LDF and attract even more requests.

It should be clear that we contacted all donors to the auction and asked if they would want to have their items used for the Harper Memorial instead. All but two said they would be happy to help the cause. Those two received their items back.

A committee has been working with Lee Ann Harper, Terry’s wife, to create a lasting tribute. A decision has not been made but two ideas are being considered. The first would be an SDX award for investigative reporting in new media. A second would provide grants for members to attend SPJ professional development programs. The board will be asked to approve the plan Aug. 27, and if the board approves, it would be announced at the reception that night.

We are working on a terrific and exciting new way to raise money and draw attention to LDF at the convention. The Jailed For Journalism event is similar to a jail and bail that has the potential to raise more money and provide more attention to LDF than the traditional auction because it will run all weekend and might attract news coverage. LDF Chairwoman Julie Kay supports this effort and is working with those who are planning it. We urge your chapter to volunteer to work the booth or take part by being jailed or paying to have someone jailed as well as take part in the auction.


Dave Aeikens, President; Kevin Smith, President-Elect; Hagit Limor Secretary-Treasurer; Neil Ralston, Vice President Campus Chapter Affairs; Clint Brewer, Immediate Past President; Darcie Lunsford, Region 3 Director; Bill McCloskey, At-large Director; Julie Kay, Legal Defense Fund Chairwoman.

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