EIJ18: Holy Walter Cronkite, we won!

Greetings from Excellence in Journalism in Baltimore, and did you hear that we won??

Specifically, St. Louis Pro received the Circle of Excellence Award as the best chapter in the nation for campus relations among small chapters. We are very small, comparatively speaking; we have little cash flow because we don’t run a contest (yet) and our membership has dropped sharply in the last 5-10 years because of the large numbers of people laid off or leaving the profession.

So I had no idea we were in the running for an award. At the end of the opening business meeting, they were reading off the chapter awards and I was tweeting some business and suddenly heard “St. Louis Pro.” I actually missed which award we got at first! (I swear, I usually multi-task just fine…)

I have no doubt that our Student Journalist Boot Camp and First Amendment Free* Food Festival are the factors that caught the board’s eye. And that means much of the credit goes to my terrific vice president and partner in crime, Tammy Merrett. Tammy and I have Butch-and-Sundanced our way through many projects together over the years, and I can’t imagine how we’d have gotten through our programming for the last few years without her. Brava, Tammy!

And thank you to all the wonderful volunteers, especially our Boot Camp speakers, and my other terrific board members who have supported us in our efforts: Kae Petrin, Neil Ralston, David Nicklaus and Gary Meyer.

It has not been an easy time in our profession, and no less trying for St. Louis Pro. We’ve lost chapter members, board members and friends.

But as I’ve told several other leaders in our confabs here at EIJ, we are limited not by our imaginations, but only by our volunteers. The more volunteers we have, the more we can do. It’s only been a day, but I already have such a plethora of ideas and potential new partners to bring back with me to St. Louis.

So if you’ve been wondering if the time is right to join SPJ, let me assure you that now is the time! Help us create more exciting opportunities, training, fellowship, networking, and FUN for our fellow journalists and ourselves in our lovely city. We’d love to welcome you in!

It’s a major award.

In other news:

• I am live-tweeting from the various panels I attend at @edonaldmedia, and trying to cross-post SPJ business to @stlspj. Please feel free to go check out my Twitter feed if you’re interested in more detail. Today’s panels (for me) included a very useful training session on sourcing and preventing fake news, finance and business practices for freelancers, midterm election previews and a round of visits with the many exhibitors here. I have enough material ranging from the Bureau of Economic Statistics to the Census Bureau to… well. Let’s just say that my suitcase may push the weight limit. I’m happy to share these resources with any of you when I get back!

• I’ve received questions from time to time on direct messages or texts. Please, keep them coming! I am here to represent you, and you get to come with me in virtual space. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to gain from my attendance here, please let me know. (Except those nifty McClatchy notebooks. I think those are all gone.)

• By now you should have received your SPJ ballot. It is very important that you remember to vote before Saturday morning. The candidates for national office gave their speeches this afternoon, and those were livestreamed online and can be found at spj.org. You can also go to SPJ Election Central and read all about their experience, SPJ involvement, plans for their office and more. We have several contested races, including the race for Region 7 director, so PLEASE VOTE.

• Speaking of voting… as has happened before, some of you may have gotten inaccurate ballots. If you are a member of St. Louis Pro but live/work in Illinois, you may have accidentally gotten a Region 5 ballot. If so, DO NOT use it. I spoke with our national leaders about this today and they promised to send a corrected ballot, so if you received two ballots, be sure to use the Region 7 one. If you only received Region 5, or you are very confused by this weird problem, please email me right away at elizabethdonald@aol.com and I will get national to fix it in time for you to vote.

Tomorrow starts at OMG-thirty, so thanks for sticking with me!

— Elizabeth Donald, chapter president

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EIJ18: Greetings from Baltimore!

I am proud to represent St. Louis Pro members at this year’s Excellence in Journalism in Baltimore, and am looking forward to Day Two! (Technically yesterday was Day One with a number of extra-fee workshops, but since I just arrived yesterday afternoon, Thursday is my first day at the conference.)

I’ll be live-tweeting the journalism side of my trip at @edonaldmedia and will try to cross-post about SPJ business at @stlspj, so if you do Twitter, you can follow along there. I’ll also be posting once a day here!

If you are a current paid member of SPJ, YOU have the right to vote! Paid professional members vote directly on SPJ officers (though resolutions are still voted by delegates on the floor – that’s me). We have a number of contested elections this year, and even if you’re not present at EIJ, you still get a say in who runs the organization and what they do with your dues money.

Go to SPJ Election Central to find out more about who is running, including the two candidates up for Region 7 director. Our current director, Kari Williams, is stepping down after a great run, and all of you will help choose her successor.

You will receive your ballot information in your SPJ-registered email. PLEASE look for it! Voting will start today and run into Saturday, so keep an eye out for it. If you have not received it by tomorrow (Friday), please email me at elizabethdonald@aol.com and I will get the membership coordinator on the task right away.

Note to the Illinois members: residents of the metro-east (myself included) are considered part of St. Louis Pro because it makes no sense to lump us into Chicago. However, that means we are therefore grandfathered into Region 7, which includes Missouri, rather than Region 5, which includes Illinois. The ballots do NOT always get the message. If you receive a Region 5 ballot, please contact me right away and I will get the staff to send you the appropriate ballot.

PLEASE VOTE. Turnout is always low, and I know it’s not as fascinating as the midterms (nobody’s sick of those commercials yet, are they?). But SPJ has a number of challenges and important projects, and since you’re helping to pay for them, you should get a say in how they are managed.

I do not have the resolutions yet, so I don’t know what issues might come up. This afternoon is the first SPJ business meeting, at which time I hope to have more to share with you. If you have strong feelings about any of the issues that will be discussed, I hope you will share them with me, so that I can properly represent you to our national organization.

Thank you all for your continued support of St. Louis Pro and SPJ. It’s an honor to serve you here at EIJ18.

Elizabeth Donald, chapter president

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Register now for Student Boot Camp!

Come learn from the pros! St. Louis SPJ is proud to host its annual Student Boot Camp, a day of workshop sessions with working journalists teaching the real work they do every day.

Learn about investigative reporting, research, photojournalism, freelancing, social media and copy editing, and so much more, all of it in a behind-the-scenes perspective. Then participate in a mock press conference with a real police officer, and write a story about the “incident” to compete for Amazon.com gift cards! (Much thanks to Chief Jay Keeven of the Edwardsville, Ill. Police Department for arranging this for us each year.)

Speakers include: Carl GreenSt. Louis Labor-TribuneBeth Hundsdorfer, RFK award-winning investigative journalist; freelancers Lynn Venhaus, Elizabeth Donald and Robert LowesCatherine Klene of Sauce MagazineDerik Holtmann and Teri Maddox of the Belleville News-Democrat and more!

Best of all, it’s FREE. There is a $10 deposit per person, which will be refunded upon arrival by request (or may be donated to the chapter scholarship fund if you wish). Breakfast and lunch are provided.

The program takes place Saturday, Sept. 15 in Dunham Hall of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, co-hosted by the SIUE Mass Communications Department and the Alestle. Thanks to all our partners for helping to make this happen!

Watch our Facebook page and website for further updates; space is limited, so be sure to register early! Registration is at EventBrite here; register first, then pay deposit here.

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Coming up: Audio training for experienced journalists – FREE!

A great announcement from our friends at St. Louis Public Radio offers a terrific opportunity for experienced journalists to expand and hone their skills. From Holly Edgell at SLPR:

As part of the grant that is funding the Sharing America public radio collaborative, St. Louis Public Radio is offering free audio training to mid to late-career journalists who are interested in broadening their skill set.

Our reasons are partially selfish: Public radio is growing. That’s a big deal. And, as we grow, we want our newsrooms to reflect both the country’s diversity and the communities we cover and call home. Developing a pool of potential job candidates is key. To do anything less would be to fail our public service mission.

So, here are the basics:

·         9 am to 5 pm on Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1, 2018

·         Free, but if folks are coming from out of town they’ll need to cover their own transportation and lodging

·         Breakfast and lunch provided on both days

·         Space is limited so there will be an application period, from early September through Oct. 15

·         Sessions will take place at St. Louis Public Radio

·         Equipment will be provided for the duration of the training

Day 1: 

•        The philosophies and best practices of storytelling with sound and public radio journalism;

•        How radio journalism differs from print, television and digital-first platforms;

•        The challenges and joys of radio

Day 2:

•        Studio and field equipment and recording techniques;

•        Writing for radio;

•        Editing software and sound-mixing techniques

Applications will open near the end of August, so stay tuned here and on our Facebook page!

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