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.

Response To Las Cruces Sun News Layoffs

The Las Cruces Sun News laid off three journalists this week and the editor resigned. The EL Paso times also laid off four journalists. NMPolitics.net has details: Layoffs hit Las Cruces Sun-News again; top editor resigns

Here’s a statement from SPJ Rio Grande president Laura Paskus, on behalf of the board:

Already in New Mexico, we have too few reporters trying to cover too many issues. And many are doing that on a salary that’s not sustainable, and in a job that’s not guaranteed or secure. 

We’ve watched the disappearance of locally-owned newspapers. And we’ve watched corporations from out of state buy out newspapers and newsrooms. Neither of those have been good for the communities those papers serve.

Board President Shares Statement On HB10 In Legislative Committee Meeting

Rio Grande SPJ chapter president Laura Paskus delivered this statement today at a committee hearing for HB10. The board opposes this legislation because it believes the bill would decrease transparency in state government. The House, State Government, Indian and Veteran’s Affairs committee voted 6 to 3 to pass the bill out of committee. It now heads to House Judiciary Committee. 

The Rio Grande Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists always appreciates when legislators take an interest in issues related to transparency and public accountability. However, we do not support the current bill.