Photo by MIMMI MONTGOMERY
Assistant Features Editor
A new chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has been formed at LIU Post this semester. By joining, journalism majors and other interested students can grow valuable future contacts, attend career-inspiring events and possibly obtain scholarships.
“SPJ offers chances for students to have experiences that are hard to bring to the classroom,” said Sandra Mardenfeld, director of Post’s Journalism program.
The Society of Professional Journalists was founded as a non-profit organization in 1909 in Indiana. It was initiated as the fraternity Sigma Delta Chi. The aim was to promote and improve ethical journalism while protecting journalistic work according to first amendment rights regarding freedom of press and speech.
Today, being a member can be highly beneficial to anyone considering a career within print or online journalism, television or radio broadcasting or simply to anyone interested in a career that involves writing. At Post, you do not have to be a Media Arts student to join SPJ.
“Anyone from any major at the university can join our chapter,” said Lauren Thomas, a Broadcasting major and president of SPJ at Post. “Not all of our members are Journalism majors,” she added.
Sandra Mardenfeld, media arts professor and director of the Journalism program, was a member of her student chapter, and recognizes the many advantages it gave her. “Being president of my student chapter at Buffalo State when I was at undergraduate level, gave me the possibility of professional networking before I was a professional. It gave me a few job interviews,” she said. “SPJ also offers scholarships to members, along with an opportunity to compete in a nationally recognized journalism award program,” she continued.
Networking with professionals and finding inspiration for the field comes from attending the many events and conferences that SPJ organizes annually. “We are currently planning to attend SPJ’s regional conference, that takes place at Rutger’s University in New Jersey this year,” Thomas said. “There will be great future contacts attending the conference, who can help you later when looking for jobs after college.”
Post’s new chapter is also planning a few events of its own this semester. Kristiane Aateigen, an international Journalism student, is content to have joined SPJ. “In March, we have scheduled a trip to the New York Times building, and in April, some of us are going to the David Letterman show,” she said. “To get a tour at the Times and sit in the audience at a live taping of Letterman are amazing opportunities. Both the newspaper and the show are famous and well-recognized all over the world,” she added.
To become a member, one has to pay the initial membership charge of $37.50, and the chapter’s dues are $10 per semester. The dues are worth the price, since they help sponsor events such as school trips, other events and conferences. After entering the organization, members are expected to attend meetings held once a month to plan future events, discuss fundraising and outreach and more.
Apart from the officers, consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, there are several positions and tasks to handle within SPJ. “While some are responsible for fundraising, others are event-planners, and some are involved with PR. For example, the ones responsible for PR are currently working on setting up a Twitter account,” said Potoula Anagnostakos, a Journalism major and vice-president of SPJ. “There is something for everyone to do and it will also look good on your resume,” she added.
Members of SPJ at Post can continue their membership until graduation, but the journey does not have to end there. One can still stay a member after college and retain access to the website, which provides a list of events, scholarships and awards to apply for or attend. For prospective media art careers, joining SPJ will be an advantageous boost.
SPJ’s next meeting is February 28 at 12:30 p.m. in the Media Arts lab located in Humanities Hall.