!xl version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8">SPJ Hawaii: December 2022 Newsletter
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National SPJ Convention: Split over proposal to eliminate delegate representation
2022 SPJ NATIONAL CONENTION IN WASHINGTON, D.C.:
By Chad BlairMediaFest22, held in Washington, D.C., Oct. 27-30, was a terrrific experience. The website below will give you panel and presenter details, but I will talk about a few takeaways.
Hawaii SPJ delegate
The first is that it was a real delight to hear from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in person for one of the keynotes. While I had seen and heard from them both over the years on TV, radio and print, to see them together in the flesh was exciting. Of course, 2022 is the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.
I would not say I learned too much that was new, but the comments from both - especially Woodward, who had just released his audio recordings with Donald Trump, really underscored what they believe to be the unique and continuing threat of the former president to the nation and to democracy.
A second takeaway was how young many of the attendees were, and more female than males and other genders. There seemed to be a concerted effort on the part of organizers to attract college students and people just entering the profession, as some of the panels were about basics like putting together a résumé and how to conduct interviews. I found this refreshing and encouraging, given the general gloomy outlook for the industry.
A final takeway was a panel titled "The Art of Obituary Writing." I love reading obituaries, and have written a few locally myself. The panel brought in writers and editors from the AP, the NYTs and the WaPo, and they were wonderful. For example, they talked about how they handled the death that very week of Jerry Lee Lewis and the sensitive matter of how to address his controversial past - like marrying his underage cousin, for example.
They also mentioned the death of James McCord, the former CIA operator who was convicted as one of the Watergate burglars. That amazing thing is, his death was not reported widely when he died in 2017. The news only came out in a book a year later and was not reported nationally until 2019. How remarkable that the death of such a figure could be unreported, which led to a discussion of the NYT's "Overlooked" series on other deaths of remarkable people that went unreported, including - amazingly - Sylvia Plath.
SPJ BUSINESS MEETING
As we all know, our chapter voted against the change in the delegate system. I won't go in to too much detail, but I can share that the several hours during which delegates met and talked was rather intense - so much so that we had to continue past the allotted 2.5 hours and move out of the Independence Ballroom to a side meeting room. In fact, the SPJ President's Awards Banquet in the ballroom was delayed until SPJ finished its business. (I did not attend the banquet.)
Bottom line, the arguments boiled down to complaints that the current delegate system does not reflect the diversity of SPJ - a view shared by many younger, non-white delegates - versus the view that the delegate system can be revamped … but not at this particular meeting. The former group argued that the current system does not work and disenfranchises members - it should be one member, one vote, they argued - while the latter group argued that a democratic process must be followed and that a lot of work went into the currrent system, however flawed it may seem to some.
The discussion was passionate, though no one fully lost their temper. Some complained about the costs to attend the conference, and there were concerns that certain regions currently dominate SPJ - or that certain regions would instead dominate if the delegate system was changed.
There was a lot of discussion about how Roberts' Rules of Order apply, too. Looking at my notes - albeit, now over one month old - I recall a 48-47 vote, and then a revote that resulted in a 48-48 tie. Ultimately, the amendment at hand was tabled, effectively leaving the current system in place.
One final note: the fall season was truly something to behold. Next year's conference is in Las Vegas. Ugh.