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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