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Kevin Smith installed as SPJ President


For Immediate Release:

Karen Grabowski, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215, kgrabowski@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists announces the installation of its new president, Kevin Z. Smith, an assistant professor of journalism at Fairmont State University.

SPJ continued its 100-year celebration on Saturday, Aug. 29, the final night of the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference, when Smith became president of the most broad-based journalism organization in the country. Smith was president-elect during the past year and will serve as president for one year. He replaces Dave Aeikens of the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota.

“We are at the cusp of the next century of this organization,” Smith said. “I have tremendous feelings, and very excited feelings to see young faces in the crowd – they are the leadership for the next years and the next decades.”

One of Smith’s goals for the year is to make SPJ a leader in discussing the future of the profession. He believes SPJ should drive and be at the center of conversations about new business models, transitioning into other mediums and, most importantly, how to help journalists grow in and keep their careers. But it is not just shop talk. Smith encourages all members to take an active role in the mission. For example, while still serving as president-elect, he instituted a task force that will look into combining resources to assist displaced journalists.

“I know the importance of this office to you and to the thousands of members who are not here tonight, and also to the journalists who know our place in the arena of journalism and of our democracy,” Smith said.

Smith is a career journalist with over 20 years of experience working in newsrooms as a reporter, photographer and editor. He worked at various daily papers in West Virginia, including publications in Fairmont, where he was managing editor; in Morgantown, where he was a city editor; in Parkersburg, where he was a business writer; and in Graton, where he was a sports editor. He also had a stint in Washington, D.C. where he worked as a reporter for Bloomberg Financial News.

He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in mass communications from Miami University in Ohio. Returning to higher education, Smith served as an adjunct instructor at both Fairmont State and West Virginia University and as a visiting instructor of journalism at Miami University. In addition to currently teaching at FSU, Smith is the director of student publications.

Smith’s dedication to SPJ began in his college years. Inducted into the Society as a West Virginia University student in 1978, he continued to volunteer his time to the organization as he developed his journalism career. In 1988, he joined the organization’s ethics committee and served as chairman from 1994 to 1996, during which time SPJ updated its ethics code to the current version. Click here to read the SPJ code of ethics.

Smith contributed to two editions of the SPJ ethics book, “Doing Ethics in Journalism,” and also served as the Society’s Sunshine Chair for five years. Additionally, he served on the national board in 1997 as a campus adviser at-large. His term as president will last through the 2010 convention, Oct. 3-6 in Las Vegas.

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 about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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