The U.S.-based Society of Professional Journalists voted against changing its name to the Society for Professional Journalism during the 2013 Excellence in Journalism Conference in late August, Jim Romenesko reported.
According to an email from SPJ’s president David Cuillier to Romenesko, “SPJ delegates considered a resolution” to change the name, but decided against it.
The resolution, proposed by Michael Koretzky, Region 3 Director, is published on the Excellence in Journalism website, argued that “SPJ’s name doesn’t accurately reflect its current membership because many members and even many SPJ board members are not professional journalists.”
Further, Koretzky’s resolution suggested that “a name that invites membership by a larger community of supporters would give SPJ more lobbying power with lawmakers not currently predisposed to a free press.” Koretzky told iMediaEthics by email that “there were three” incidents that prompted his resolution including issues related to shield law protection.
“SPJ has been fighting for a shield law for years now, but it keeps getting hung up because Congressional leaders, led by [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein, want to define what a journalist is. SPJ has publicly disagreed, essentially saying a journalist is someone who commits an act of journalism. So why are we a society that defines a journalist?
“SPJ’s current board of directors is led by a college professor (an awesome one) and has six other profs, two students, and a retired PR guy. The last board had a full-fledged media relations dude serving on its executive committee.
“I wouldn’t trade those awesome folks for anyone – well, honestly, a few I would – because they’re seriously committed to good journalism. I don’t care what it says under their names on their LinkedIn profile.
“So if it works for our board, why can’t it work for our society?
“I’m greedy: SPJ’s membership numbers are slowly ebbing in an era when journalism jobs are quickly disappearing – along with our lobbying influence. We should allow anyone who supports our cause, from the Code of Ethics to freedom of the press, to be a voting member.”
Even though the name change wasn’t OKed, Cuillier said in his email to Romenesko that he is “creating a task force to look into it further and provide recommendations.” Issues include “the costs to the national organization and local chapters in changing their banners/letterhead, etc” and the “compelling philosophical issues” involved like “how do you define ‘professional journalist’? How do you define journalism, or ‘professional’ journalism?”
Cuillier told iMediaEthics by email that he’ll set up the task force “in the next few weeks, as well as the specific tasks” but that it “is likely to be a long-term process.”
“I think it’s a great time to open this up to discussion because there are so many facets given the change in the media landscape,” Cuillier wrote, adding that “it’s really not about the name, per se, as it is the philosophies behind it.”
Koretzky said that he will “reserve judgment on the president’s task force till I see who he puts on it.”
“Because if it doesn’t include me, the guy who submitted the resolution, I’ll be pissed,” Koretzky wrote.
What do you think? Should the SPJ change its name, or stick with Society of Professional Journalists?
Hat Tip: The Daily Caller