A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Celebrating 100 years of SPJ

By Quill

Seldom do we get a chance to celebrate history.

The next calendar year promises to be a special one for SPJ. It is the 100th anniversary.

We will take the opportunity in 2009 to honor the past while stepping forward to prepare for the next 100 years.

It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead this great organization during this historic time. I am looking forward to working with those who are planning events that will recognize those first 100 years and the milestones and people that have made SPJ the leading journalism organization in the country.

We plan to kick off our big year Jan. 9 in Milwaukee, where we will have a reception at the historic Press Club. There, we will recollect the city’s great history with SPJ. Milwaukee

was one of the first five chapters, starting in 1921. It is home to at least two former national presidents, and the Press Club is one of SPJ’s Historic Sites in Journalism. Milwaukee

is the perfect place to launch our centennial celebration.

On April 17, I hope all of you will plan to be in Greencastle, Ind. DePauw University is the birthplace of SPJ, where in 1909 10 college students started a journalism fraternity. We will celebrate SPJ’s creation with our Centennial Celebration and Journalism Symposium. We will recognize our past by looking back at the first 100 years, including a roll call of past presidents. We will also move ahead with a symposium that explores what might lie ahead for a profession that has great honor and plays a vital role in democracy.

In June, we will present a pioneering Minneapolis

TV station with a Historic Site in Journalism Award and combine that with a reception honoring

the station and SPJ’s first 100 years.

The 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism

Conference in Indianapolis will also be a special

event. In addition to dozens of top-notch professional development programs, we will continue the celebration of our first 100 years.

We are planning two historical reminders of our great history and the importance of journalism. Charles Fair is researching a book on SPJ’s first 100 years. In addition, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is compiling a book of essays to honor the critical role of journalism and the First Amendment and SPJ’s 100 years. It will be two tangible reminders of that great history.

The celebrations will go beyond what I have detailed. You will probably see signs of centennial celebration at some of your local chapter programs and at the spring conferences.

Look for “save the date” cards in the mail, and check Quill and SPJ.org for schedules.

We will give proper recognition to our past next year. But we will also make sure we are doing

what we need to do to prepare for the next 100 years. Despite the gloom that surrounds some in the industry with layoffs and budget reductions, I know there will be another 100 years.

Journalists play a vital role in democracy as the link between the government and the citizens. We must continue to take that role seriously even as financial pressures make that more difficult.

SPJ will continue to be a leading provider of affordable, practical professional development that is on the cutting edge.

SPJ will be on the forefront as the business continues to move more and more to the digital world. I have created a digital media committee that will advise the SPJ board and staff on how SPJ can lead the way in a rapidly evolving business.

SPJ will continue to protect and fight to preserve

press freedoms set forth in the Constitution. We will continue our aggressive effort to protect journalists from being forced to reveal their anonymous sources and unpublished and unaired materials.

The shield bill is our No. 1 legislative priority.

We will work to make it the shield law.

We will also continue to stand tall for high standards in journalism. Our Code of Ethics sets us apart and provides a guiding light for journalists as they do their work. We will continue to trumpet its roll in responsible journalism.

It promises to be a terrific year for SPJ. I look forward to seeing you.