Category Archives: SPJ Board

Why our chapter board is disappointed in SPJ today — and what we’re doing about it

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the July/August issue of Quill magazine, the Society of Professional Journalists’ magazine, is a soliloquy that reduces women to their backsides.

This weekend, New Mexico journalist and SPJ member Marie C. Baca rightly pointed out that the image of a woman’s posterior used to illustrate this month’s “Training Day” feature about journalism training was a poor choice. As Baca put it in a letter to SPJ’s board: “We don’t get to see this woman’s face, she is simply an object, and the focal point of the cover photo is her butt.”

SPJ’s official response, in part (you can read it all here) was that the photo showed a woman in typical workout wear, and that “we are sorry some readers find it offensive.”

The non-apology “We’re sorry if you were offended” apology is neither helpful nor authentic, and in SPJ’s case, it’s damaging to our efforts to be an open and welcoming place for all journalists.

If you’re asking why we’re devoting this space to a stock image on an association magazine cover, here’s why: The message it sends matters.

Women and men enter journalism in equal numbers, but do not remain in the field or advance to management equally.

The lack of diversity in journalism has been cited as one of the major threats our profession is facing.

Baca’s letter makes us think of a young woman journalist who might see  image and have concerns but not be sure if she would be heard. Later, she may be a little less likely to stick her neck out and ask for a raise, as Baca noted,  or advocate for a tough assignment.

And if journalism is covering itself this way, how are we covering our communities? We must do better than this.

Our profession and SPJ must consider the impact of the images and words we use in coverage. Heck, the responsibility to do that is enshrined in our ethics code: “Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.”

It’s an editor’s job to consider whether people who are different from her would see bias in the words and images she’s chosen – and then consult people who are different from her, to see if she’s right.

The SPJ Rio Grande board shares Baca’s concerns about the image and about SPJ’s unwillingness to admit that it made a poor choice.

The cover of the current issue of Quill magazine.

We’re committed to being an open and welcoming place for all journalists, and to holding our own organization accountable when we see it fall short, as we’ve done here, by writing these words and sending them to SPJ’s board president.

Join The SPJ-Rio Grande Board

Journalism is a competitive field. But sometimes journalists have to come together for the bigger fight to preserve the First Amendment, and keep our work meaningful and relevant.

Our chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists connects the region’s journalists, works for access to records and government officials, creates forums for debate and conversation, and provides professional development opportunities.

We need your perspective, expertise and energy. Take a turn on the board and help us ask the right questions. Our chapter covers all of New Mexico and the El Paso region of West Texas, so we welcome candidates from anywhere in that area.

Here’s what it takes:

If you’re not already a member, join the national Society of Professional Journalists. It costs $75 a year, and you can pay monthly. (Our local Rio Grande chapter charges $0 on top of that.)

Declare your candidacy by emailing our chapter’s secretary Andrew Oxford: andrewoxford [at] gmail [dot] com. Include a one-paragraph bio, and a photo (for our website if you’re elected). Deadline: Friday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m.

There are 11 board slots. We meet every other month, and it is possible to attend meetings by phone.

The election will be held Dec. 10 through Dec. 17, 2016.

It’s Election Time – For SPJ Rio Grande

If you’re already sick of politics, may we tempt with you an election that does not include any televised debates or even money and will wrap up in less than two months?

It’s time to elect officers and board members for the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande Chapter.

Your board is tasked with improving the state of journalism in New Mexico; working cooperatively with other directors on fundraising, membership and programming; and bringing innovative ideas and energy related to training, transparency and other issues critical to our state’s journalists.

If that sounds like the job for you or someone you know, please consider submitting a nomination. The board has four officers and seven at large board members. Each serves a one-year term starting Jan. 1. Officers are limited to three consecutive one-year terms.

Nominations will be accepted via e-mail from now until Nov. 30.

To declare your candidacy, send a short bio and a photo to the chapter’s current secretary, Andrew Oxford, at andrewoxford (at) gmail.com. Please specify if you are running as a director or officer.

We’ll post the slate of candidates at NMSPJ.org Dec. 3.

Voting will be open Dec. 4-11.

You will receive more details about how to vote a couple weeks before the election.

To qualify as a candidate, you must be a current member of SPJ and reside in New Mexico or the El Paso region.

Everyone has busy schedules, but becoming involved in the chapter is a great way to invest in your career, improve the state of journalism in the state, stay engaged in the local journalism community, and network with colleagues.  

Here are the open 2014 positions:

President: Organizes and presides at meetings of the chapter membership and board of directors. Appoints committee chairs and committee members. Assists committee members with planning and communication. Serves as the official spokesperson for chapter.

Vice President for Communications: This Vice-President is the officer in charge of chapter communications. Communicates with members, publicizes job openings and events via email newsletter, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. May appoint members to assist with the internal communications work and website maintenance.

Vice President for Development: This Vice-President is in charge of membership development may appoint other members to assist with contacts of prospective members and membership campaigns.

Note: Either Vice-President may preside at chapter board meetings or membership meetings in place of the President when the President cannot attend or temporarily relinquishes the chair.

Secretary: Writes and maintains official minutes of all regular and special call board meetings. Handles correspondence as directed by the president. Notifies national office annually of names of new officers and date that they will take office.

Treasurer: Collects dues, Pays bills.  Prepares budgets. Maintains financial records of the chapter including an annual financial statement of income and expenses. Files any financial reports required. Submits books to chapter’s Audit Committee for annual audit.

Board members at large (6 spots)