As we embark on another year of service to the journalism community, I am honored to address you as the President of the Society of Professional Journalists. The SPJ board is already hard at work focusing on improving our fiscal health, strengthening our advocacy for journalism’s vital principles and ensuring SPJ remains relevant and inclusive.
We’re listening to our members, engaging with non-traditional journalists and expanding our reach to support early career journalists. Additionally, we are striving to provide necessary resources and mentorship for those who may be experiencing career transitions.
I think it’s important that, as SPJ members, you get to know the board members leading the charge and what their priorities are for the upcoming year. Here’s a quick intro to our team.
Vice President Emily Bloch, a reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer, is focused on making SPJ more inclusive and relevant, emphasizing the need to engage with non-traditional journalists and provide representation for marginalized members. Emily’s experience writing for LGBTQ+ alt-weeklies and running engagement content strategies will be instrumental in achieving these goals.
The focus this year for board member (and former SPJ President) Kevin Smith is simple: “No. 1 has to be SPJ’s fiscal solvency.” Yes, we have inherited financial challenges, but with the SPJ Foundation’s generous agreement to support us in the works, we are committed to being good stewards of our finances.
Daniela Ibarra, SPJ secretary/treasurer and reporter at KSAT in San Antonio, has been on the SPJ national board for the last two years. This, along with her experience serving on the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, makes her well-suited to tackle the financial challenges our organization faces.
With his diverse background in commercial TV news and public radio, Reginald Hardwick, director of news and public affairs for Illinois Public Media, brings to SPJ more than 20 years of invaluable journalism experience. He’s uniquely positioned to guide us in a changing media landscape and advocate for younger and more diverse newsrooms.
A professor and director at Hofstra University, Chris Vaccaro understands the importance of communication and collaboration. His leadership at every level of SPJ, coupled with experience in media companies and non-profit boards, positions him as a reliable bridge between the national organization and local chapters. He will serve as the national board liaison to the regional coordinators.
Adam Sennott, a reporter for the Boston Globe, brings a versatile and adaptable approach to our challenges, recognizing that the unexpected can happen in the fast-paced world of journalism. He’s ready for anything.
Carolyn Burt, audience engagement producer with the Southern California News Group, is passionate about supporting early career journalists and providing resources to help them navigate their careers. Her expertise in audience engagement and her commitment to member satisfaction are assets to our organization.
Wesley Wright, assistant director of student media at Florida Atlantic University, has ambitious goals for SPJ, such as finding new revenue streams and championing freedom of speech for college media sports journalists who are also college athletes. His background as a reporter and editor, and his close interaction with students across the country, make him acutely aware of the industry’s evolving dynamics.
With these dedicated board members by my side, I am confident that we can emerge stronger than ever. Our commitment to journalism, free press, ethics and diversity remains unwavering. Thank you for your continued support of the Society of Professional Journalists. We are excited about the year ahead and look forward to working together to address our challenges and seize our opportunities.
If you want to become more involved in SPJ or have questions, concerns or ideas that can help SPJ, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Ashanti.Blaize@gmail.com.
Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, 2023-24 national SPJ president, is a journalism professor at Santa Monica College in California.