In review: how others campaigned

Yesterday, I posted a list of 10 ideas John Ensslin proposed for SPJ while he was running for national secretary-treasurer three years ago.

Ensslin, whose term as president will end during this year’s national convention, told me he soon will post an update on this blog, explaining whether those ideas succeeded, failed or somewhere in between.

I was not trying to single out Ensslin, who I think did well to present a clear, straightforward platform of specific ideas.

Earlier today, I found some other candidate campaign material from recent years. Consider this a random sample.

Ron Sylvester, candidate for … his palm card doesn’t say, but I recall that he ran for president-elect. His palm card has slogans referring to history (noting that his father was a proud SPJ member) and the future (such as covering a murder trial live on Twitter – Sylvester became well known for his tweeting in courtrooms).

Dave Aeikens, candidate for secretary-treasurer: He had a glossy, professional-looking campaign card with slogans on the front (“I Like Aeik” and “Experienced Leadership, Proven Results”)  and detailed résumés of his SPJ and work experience on the back.

Clint Brewer, candidate for president-elect: His campaign card was smaller than Aeikens’, but used similar phrases (“Proven Leadership,” “Proven Experience”). Along with a brief bio, Brewer offered five ideas for SPJ’s future:

          1. “a strong effective internal communications program” for chapters and SPJ’s headquarters

          2. “SPJ 50,” an effort to start professional SPJ chapters in the 13 states that had none

          3. “a new Marketing and Branding Campaign,” with help from “a nationally recognized marketing firm”

          4. “a Chapter Service Center in the national headquarters” to help local chapters in various ways

          5. “a Common Sense Approach to Regions,” with funding for the regional director system

Joe Wessels, candidate for secretary-treasurer: In the form of a “coupon good for SPJ change,” he pledged to:

1. Increase membership through “relationships and outreach with journalists not currently a part of SPJ”

2. Keep SPJ members “informed about their society through e-mail, Web site announcements and good, old-fashioned face-to-face check-ins”

3. Make SPJ “a more front-loaded organization” and proactive through “creative partnerships, a community re-branding effort and focusing on what is possible for an alternate SPJ future the members want.”

Holly Edgell, candidate for campus adviser at large: Her campaign card listed a brief bio and a quote: “It is important to expose students to the wealth of resources SPJ has to offer, from FOI to the First Amendment issues that uniquely affect college journalists. SPJ’s campus chapters form a vital component of the organization. Student members bring enthusiasm, talent, and fresh thinking to SPJ and allow the organization to remain vibrant and relevant.”

Holly Edgell, now a candidate for Region 7 Director: Her bio is slightly larger this time. She also presented seven goals for the region:

1. “Encourage more broadcasters and new media professionals to join SPJ”

2. “Work on bringing more diversity to SPJ membership”

3. “Lay groundwork for a pro-chapter in Omaha”

4. “Have a stellar regional conference”

5. “Organize an awesome Mark of Excellence competition”

6. “Start an e-newsletter to connect members”

7. “Foster greater cooperation among campus and pro chapters”

Bruce Cadwallader, candidate for president-elect: His campaign flyer is a seven-item platform (actually, with more than seven specific ideas):

1. Introduce a cash-incentive program for current members to recruit new members. Promote One Member, One Vote for the election of national officers

2. Set dues at $40 for new members for three years. New members will be assigned to the closest chapter and pay $10 in dues, then may change to another chapter once at no cost

3. Make Quill a digital publication. Hire an advertising/communications employee at SPJ’s headquarters.

4. “Make our lawyers in Washington more accountable and urge credible journalists to participate with Capitol Hill testimony to pass a federal shield law.”

5. Finalize and promote plans for SPJ’s centennial celebration in 2009.

6. Meet with an engineer and raise money to install a handicapped-accessible lift at SPJ’s headquarters, so the building can be used for training and activities.

7. “Insist that future conventions are not always in ‘destination cities’ that are too expensive for the average member.”

Hagit Limor, candidate for secretary-treasurer: Her campaign flyer is a bio listing her work, education, honors, awards and activities, with a statement of why she is running: “Our profession faces a seismic shift. Every week we’re hearing about major job cuts at newspapers and broadcast properties. At the same time, more jobs are being created on the web.

“I represent someone with experience in all the media above. I believe the future growth of our organization lies in recruiting journalists migrating to new forms of media and re-training all of us so we can remain relevant in this brave, new world. But as we do so, it is incumbent that we ensure through our organization that we help all who call themselves journalists live up to our honorable code of ethics.

“In the past year, I’ve doubled the membership of our local chapter and reinvigorated it. I believe I can bring that energy along with new ideas to the national level. As a former print reporter, I feel the pain of my friends in these challenging times. As a broadcaster, I represent a viewpoint currently missing on our national board. And as a web producer, I believe I can add to the direction our current leadership has defined as our future.

“I would appreciate your support and welcome all ideas to”


A postscript: Cadwallader, with the most detailed campaign platform of this random bunch, lost to Brewer in the 2006 election for president-elect, which is usually an uncontested race.


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