10 SPJ recommendations, plus 10 more

Earlier this month, I posted an item looking back at 10 ideas SPJ President John Ensslin proposed when he was running for secretary-treasurer three years ago. I asked Ensslin if he could report on which ideas succeeded.

A few days later, he obliged. It turned out, though, that Ensslin came up with 20 SPJ ideas as part of his campaign that year. (The campaign flier I had saved listed 10.)

Here is Ensslin’s blog post recalling his “20 Ideas in 20 Days.”

By his count, the scorecard at this point is:

  • 8 ideas that worked, in full or part.
  • 8 ideas that failed or proved impractical.
  • 4 ideas that are still a work in progress.

It’s good for voters at any level to look back at what their elected leaders pledge. I applaud Ensslin for his willingness to do so.

Although I try to follow SPJ issues, several items on Ensslin’s list were new to me.

Here are a few examples of what he wanted SPJ to do, with his recap of what happened:

11.  Line up a journalism-themed movie premiere as SDX or LDF fundraiser. Over the last few years, there have been several popular feature films about journalists: George Clooney’s Murrow-biopic “Good Night and Good Luck” or Angelina Jolie’s “A Mighty Heart” about Daniel and Marianne Pearl. The next time such a movie comes down the pike, let’s approach the film makers about staging a benefit premiere in a city of their choice.

  • This idea failed, but not for lack of trying. I tried to convince the makers of “The Bang Bang Club,” a film on photojournalists covering the fall of apartheid in South Africa. But we couldn’t reach an agreement. I haven’t given up on this idea either and will keep an eye out for any new journalism movies.”

14. Explore finding a service that would enable all regions and local chapters to convert their journalism contests to an online entry system. Currently, regions and chapters are being approached individually by such vendors. By aggregating our buying power, we could get a much more advantageous deal.

  • This idea morphed into marketing SPJ’s own awards platform, which we were able to sell to a few chapters and journalism organizations. This is still a work in progress.

18.  Survey new members on what led them to join. In recent years, we’ve done some careful research on why people drop out of SPJ and who they are. But we’ve not devoted as much attention to where our new members are coming from. What specific things convinced them to join. The more we know about this the better we’ll get at recruitment.

  • This idea worked. I did my own email survey of new members who joined SPJ this spring. The results made it clear that we enjoyed a spike of new members who joined to get the member rate in our Mark of Excellence journalism contest.
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