Campus SPJ Chapter Named Best in Three-State Region

SPJ photo

When the Licking Valley Courier newspaper office in West Liberty was destroyed by a tornado in March, among those who came to the rescue was a group of young people preparing to enter the profession.

The Society of Professional Journalists chapter at Eastern Kentucky University ditched its original plan to raise funds to attend a regional conference, deciding instead to hold a fund-raising event to assist the Courier. Joining the Kentucky Journalism Foundation’s drive to help the newspaper, the EKU SPJ chapter sent $150 from a benefit event at CiCi’s Pizza.

That’s just one of the reasons the Eastern chapter was recently named Outstanding Campus of the Year for Region 5, which encompasses three states and such prestigious journalism schools as Northwestern and Indiana universities. It’s the second win in three years for EKU, which also took the title in 2010.

“I am especially proud of the members for raising money for the Licking Valley Courier,” said Dr. Deborah Givens, who advises the group along with Dr. Liz Hansen. “Money is tight for most students, and they gave up a fundraiser originally planned to pay their conference expenses in order to help a community newspaper rebuild.”

Also during the past year, the EKU SPJ chapter:

·         hosted an International Reporting Seminar with Arab media scholar Adel Iskander from American University and Laura Ungar, reporter with the Louisville Courier-Journal.

·         sponsored the fourth annual First Amendment Celebration, a week-long event with multiple speakers and a First Amendment Night at the Movies.

·         traveled to Northern Kentucky University to meet with students and faculty reactivating the NKU SPJ chapter.

·         hosted a panel of students discussing their internship experiences.

Kristie Hamon succeeded Stephan Hauser as president of the 14-member EKU chapter this year.

“It’s a great feeling to have our hard work pay off like this,” Hamon said. “SPJ is such a valuable way to promote and educate others about ethics and the First Amendment. Through our programming we are able to help members network and refine the skills they will need as professionals as well as help other professionals in need.

“It has already benefited me and other members professionally in applying for internships and scholarships,” she added. “Employers like to know that you are committed to being ethical.”

Hansen, who also serves as chair of EKU’s Department of Communication, is director of Region 5 and serves on the SPJ national board. She was not involved in the judging.

Published on September 14, 2012