East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists

National SPJ

[updated 9/15/08]


2008 Atlanta logo

The Society of Professional Journalists holds an annual convention, and this year’s was in Atlanta, Georgia, from September 4-7, 2008. The East Tennessee Chapter is proud to have received a couple of honors.

Annually, SPJ recognizes chapters for outstanding work during the previous year in five key areas: First Amendment and Freedom of Information activity; campus relations and scholarship; activities promoting diversity among journalists; professional development and continuing-education programs; and chapter communications. Awards are given for each category to one large (75 or more members) and one small (fewer than 75 members) professional chapter.

The small chapter honoree for diversity is the East Tennessee Pro Chapter for its concerted effort to market the SPJ High School Essay Contest to schools with high percentages of minorities. The chapter targeted the minority populations by soliciting the help of non-journalists working in the area of diversity, one from Oak Ridge National Laboratories’ Office of Diversity, and the other a school outreach advisor for SECME, a nonprofit organization that helps minority educational efforts. The chapter also sponsored a workshop on newsroom leadership, which, among other skills, featured a section on generational diversity.

In addition, a chapter member receivedone of two Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Professional Member Awards.

In a news release, SPJ said that Jean Ash has been a member of the East Tennessee Pro chapter of the Society (ETSPJ) since the 1970s and has served in every elected position on the board there. For the past several years, Ash has been the chapter’s communications director, which “would cost us hundreds and hundreds of dollars if we were paying true professional dollars,” according to the chapter’s secretary Elenora Edwards in her recommendation letter.

In addition to this role, Ash serves as chairwoman of the chapter’s annual Front Page Follies fundraiser. This is a yearlong project that requires the chairperson select an honoree, write the script for a roast of local newsmakers, publicize the event, sell tickets, reserve a space to hold the event and many other things. This fundraiser is critical to the work of the ETSPJ because it provides funds for three scholarships to college journalism students and operating money for the chapter to send delegates to regional and national meetings.

Ash also led the efforts to establish the chapter’s Web site. She attended courses on HTML to equip herself to keep the page up-to-date and researched the best hosting sites for the chapter’s limited budget.

Because of her above-and-beyond commitment to the chapter, Ash’s fellow ETSPJ member Adina Chumley said Ash is most deserving of the Howard S. Dubin Award.

“Our programs are well-publicized and well-attended thanks to Jean,” Chumley wrote in her nomination letter. “She ensures our newsletters and postcard reminders are printed and delivered on time. Jean also attends ETSPJ programs to help with the all-important details from set up to wrap up. She exemplifies the high standards and fellowship of members such as Howard Dubin.”

“I’m delighted to hear of this wonderful honor, especially since I’ve known Howard for many years and know just how much he has contributed to SPJ,” Ash said after hearing she was one of this year’s outstanding professional members. “I am indebted to those in the East Tennessee Pro Chapter who nominated me since they too deserve great thanks for all they do.”

At www.spj.org you will find word about some tremendous programs that were conducted.

Future conventions will be:

2009 SPJ 100th Anniversary, Indianapolis, Aug. 27-29
2010 New York City
2011 San Francisco

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