The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has broken a nearly half decade of inactivity by revamping the organization.
“I’m expecting this year SPJ will have a strong body behind it,” senior journalism and French major Alexandra Regida said, “because it’s going to have strong minds behind it.”
SPJ is a national organization dedicated to improving and protecting journalism. Part of that initiative includes encouraging student journalism efforts.
On campus and in the community, the Harding chapter seeks to promote quality journalism, familiarity with the First Amendment, and understanding of the value of journalism in society. This mission began in 2008, when Dr. Jim Miller, associate professor of communication, introduced the campus chapter. In 2014, Miller took over the time-consuming position of communication department chair, and the chapter lost momentum.
This year, Dr. Laurie Diles, associate professor of communication, has stepped in as department chair, and Miller is looking to revamp the chapter.
“We need to let people know why journalism is valuable and help people understand what good journalism looks like, because there’s a lot of bad journalism out there,” Miller said. “That’s why I believe the Society of Professional Journalists, as an organization and our campus chapter, is so valuable.”
SPJ offers students opportunities to attend national and regional conferences, where they can submit pieces to competitions and meet professionals in the field.
“[The campus chapter] is just one way that I’ve been able to connect a little better with other people who have a common interest with myself,” freshman multimedia journalism major Madison Meyer said. “That way I know later I’ll have those connections going into the workforce that may come in handy.”
Last year, the Harding SPJ chapter won numerous awards for individual reporting and was a Campus Program of the Year finalist for teaching the First Amendment to elementary school students.
“[With SPJ conferences and awards, people] are not just going to take us more seriously, but they’ll be more interested in the communication department,” Regida said. “Developing as many organizations and structures as possible will attract more students in the future, showing that journalism is a great major, and with communication you can actually do something in your life. Maybe SPJ can be the first step in that.”
The chapter is in the process of electing officers, and potential activities include more travel opportunities, working with high school newspaper programs, hosting journalism themed movie nights, and fundraising with food trucks outside the Reynolds.
“I think we can make a difference by telling things,” Regida said. “As journalists, or future journalists, we are the voice. We have the ability to convey something to serve it to people.”
Students from any major who are interested in joining SPJ can contact Miller for more information.