What is Charlotte SPJ’s purpose?
Charlotte SPJ mirrors the national organization in its mission: SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Like the national organization, Charlotte SPJ also works to encourage diversity and to foster excellence in journalism. (return to top)
How much are membership dues?
What do I get for joining?
- Online job bank, open only to members.
- Freelancer listing, for members.
- Quill magazine.
- SPJ Leads, a weekly online newsletter.
- Discounts on car rentals, car insurance and medical insurance.
- Training at seminars and available any time as online videos, on topics such as overcoming denials in public-records requests, social media, dealing with data and the business of freelancing.
- Advocacy, nationally and locally, for open records and freedom of information.
- Legal Defense Fund, which collects and distributes contributions for aiding journalists in defending the freedom of speech and press.
Locally, benefits come from joining a strong network of journalists in multiple outlets, with a wide variety of skills and contacts. The sharing of information, knowledge and support at local meetings enables journalists to grow in their craft.(return to top)
What do you do locally?
We hold question-and-answer sessions with important local journalists at each of our gatherings on the first Thursday of the month; recent sessions have featured documentary filmmaker Eric Davis and Charlotte Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson. We also stage more formal monthly programs, on such topics as whether journalists should work for free to gain experience and exposure and how journalists are applying professional ethics to social media. In November 2011, the local chapter published a letter urging restraint and caution from government and police officials when several journalists were arrested covering Occupy events, including two in Chapel Hill. We plan to continue strong advocacy for journalists locally. (return to top)
Is Charlotte SPJ a nonprofit organization?
Yes, the organization is a 501(c)6 organization under the umbrella of the national Society of Professional Journalists. A 501(c)6 is similar to the more-familiar 501(c)3 charitable organization, except that its primary purpose is to promote a line of trade or business. Member fees are tax-deductible if they qualify as an ordinary and necessary business expense. (return to top)
I joined SPJ elsewhere. How can I join the local group?
The local chapter has no local dues on top of national dues. Any professional journalist who belongs to the national group can automatically become a member of the local group. (return to top)
I belong to another journalism organization.
Why should I join SPJ?
The Charlotte SPJ chapter includes journalists and journalism supporters working on multiple platforms in companies large and small in the Charlotte area. Because of the national organization’s long history, the local chapter can tap into a network of experts with many years of experience. The national organization has focused on freedom of information, First Amendment issues and ethics ever since its inception in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi. Fostering diversity is a primary goal. On the local level, the organization is open to partnering with other journalism and communications organizations to further mutual goals. (return to top)
What does “professional” mean?
Professional membership means you spend more than half of your time working as a journalist or journalism educator. Dues are $72 for one year. If you’re within three years of graduating from college, you still get the student rate, which is $36. (return to top)
What if I’m a freelancer?
As long as more than half of your time is spent working or looking for work in journalism, you qualify. Many of the training resources and local, regional and national networking opportunities offer tangible benefits to freelancers. Dues are the same as professionals working for journalism organizations: $72 for one year. (return to top)
What if I’m a student?
At least one college in the Charlotte area, Winthrop University, has a student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Students from any college in the Charlotte area are welcome at the Charlotte chapter’s meetings and can become official members at a reduced rate ($36). That rate continues after graduation for three years. (return to top)
What if I do PR or just want to support the SPJ mission?
You can join as an associate, for $90 for one year. Several of our strongest supporters of the local chapter are associate members. (return to top)
What if I expect my job to change or I go back to school?
Join with the rate that fits you best now; we can adjust later. If you’re in transition, now’s a great time to get involved, for support, training and networking. (return to top)
What if I’m retired?
If you’re retired and 62 or older, dues are $36 a year. (return to top)
When do you meet?
We have Saturday brunch business meetings every other month, informal question-and-answer sessions with significant local journalists on the first Thursday evening of the month, and Tuesday lunch meetings every other month close to uptown. The variety is intended to accommodate journalists with odd and varying schedules. We’re testing out Meetup as a tool to keep people informed of the meetings, and you can also check our Facebook and Twitter accounts. (return to top)
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What events are coming up?
Who are the people involved?
The local organization has four officers: president Frank Barrows, former managing editor of the Charlotte Observer; vice president Susan Stabley, who writes for the Charlotte Business Journal; Rhi Fionn, an independent journalist in Charlotte who writes for Creative Loafing and other publications and Andria Krewson, a copy editor and designer in the McClatchy production hub at The Charlotte Observer. Other members include local television and radio reporters, public-relations professionals, college professors and reporters at The Charlotte Observer, The Mecklenburg Times and other Charlotte area news organizations. Journalists in upstate South Carolina are welcome as are N.C. journalists who wish to travel to Charlotte for meetings. (return to top)
Tell me about the history of the local group. How long has it been around?
The Charlotte SPJ chapter was officially reborn the summer of 2011 after about 20 years of inactivity. A group of Charlotte area journalists formed a steering committee to re-launch the chapter because of a desire to increase training opportunities, support open records and freedom of information and help journalists at a time of great change in the industry and in the societal climate affecting freedom of information. Steering committee members were Susan Stabley, Rhi Fionn, Andria Krewson, Chris Miller, Patricia Guilfoyle and Brad Broders. The first meeting of the steering committee was at the venerable Open Kitchen on Morehead Street in Charlotte in 2010. (return to top)
How do I sign up again?
Visit the national SPJ site. And then take the next step: Come to a meeting or contact our membership chairman, Brad Broders. Even if you haven’t joined, visitors are always welcome at our meetings and gatherings. (return to top)
From SPJ: What did we forget to answer?
Did we forget any questions you might have? What else should be answered here? Let us know by leaving a note in the comments. (return to top)
(Updated November 2011.)