By Michael Koretzky, SPJ Region 3 Director and SPJ national board member
I love SPJ.
I love it for an ugly reason: I crave money. And my cravings aren’t cheap.
Over the last dozen years, I’ve blown $70,000 of SPJ’s cash, much of it on weird journalism programs…
- I’ve won SPJ grants to teach ethics with poker, interviewing with zombies, deadlines with Scrabble, and the First Amendment with free food and fake violence.
- I’ve spent SPJ money in a mosque, a funeral home, a homeless shelter, and a beach motel.
- I’ve paid college journalists to violate SPJ’s Code of Ethics and publish a newspaper without computers.
These programs have one thing in common: None are lectures or panel discussions. You actually do something, instead of just listening to someone.
I’m feeling especially amorous right now. SPJ recently funded three new participatory programs, all from different parts of the same organization. Click the on the ugly logos’ captions below to learn more or sign up…
The bullet: A nationally renowned advertising expert will visit up to 10 struggling college newspapers. Apply now through June 25 for free hands-dirty instruction this fall.
The battle: Why would the nation’s largest journalism organization fund sales training? Because SPJ knows without paid ads, there’s no free press. This country already has enough news deserts. We don’t need them spreading to college campuses.
PRESS the Flesh
The bullet: This fall, SPJ past president (and current ethics chair) Lynn Walsh leads college journalists to Capitol Hill, where they’ll lobby Congress on free-press issues – with the help of a professional DC lobbying firm.
The battle: SPJ and other free-press advocates have had dismal luck lobbying lawmakers. (Federal shield law, anyone?) So we’ve hired grizzled lobbyists to train fresh-faced young people. Maybe our luck will change.
The bullet: Readers and sources take over a college newspaper, publishing their own special summer issue. They’ll become the editors – and the editors will become their reporters.
The battle: Media literacy is crucial but dull. What if we can teach about a free press by giving one away? If this debut works, we’ll spread the concept nationwide. (Last time that happened, it was called Muslimedia, and the SPJ Foundation paid us to host it in California, Illinois, Iowa, New York, and Oklahoma.)
Confucius didn’t really say this, but someone smart did…
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
That should be posted on the website of every journalism school and media organization, like the warning labels on opioid bottles: “May cause addiction.”
Done right, journalism should be habit-forming. Alas…
J-schools and groups like SPJ teach pithy reporting and riveting writing, because we know our readers and viewers are busy people – yet we do so through boring lectures and meandering panel discussions.
Journalists do shit for a living. Why must they listen to so much shit in school? What if journalism was taught like it’s made? What would that look like?
It might look like these programs I’ve just described. That’s why I love SPJ. It spends money so you can learn by getting off your ass, instead of sitting on it.
If you’re curious about any of these programs, want to help, or simply want to steal the idea(s) for yourself while getting free money, hit me up. – Michael Koretzky