: Robyn Sidersky
President, Virginia Pro Chapter SPJ
Phone: (954) 296-4407
Email: robyn.sidersky@gmail.com


Ress to Receive 2016 George Mason Award


RICHMOND, VA – (Oct 12, 2016) – Dave Ress, an investigative reporter with The Daily Press (Newport News), has been selected as recipient of the 2016 George Mason Award by the Virginia Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists.

The Mason award, established in 1964, is presented annually to an individual for outstanding contributions to Virginia journalism. It is named for the principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the forerunner of the Bill of Rights.

Ress will be honored during a luncheon Sunday, Oct. 30 at Riverwalk Restaurant, 323 Water St., Suite 1-A, Yorktown. Ticket information will be available soon at www.spjva.com.

Ress has spent more than two decades in Virginia newsrooms. His efforts to press lawmakers and public officials on public information, records and transparency issues is matched by his willingness to share what he has learned.

“His extensive knowledge of FOIA has been invaluable in his job for The Daily Press – but even more invaluable is David’s willingness to share this knowledge with reporters across the Commonwealth,” wrote Betsy Edwards in her nomination letter. “His commitment to open government will make a real difference in how the Freedom of Information Act in Virginia is applied in years to come.”

Past recipients of the award include journalists, educators, attorneys and others who have made lasting impacts in Virginia. Recent recipients and more information are available at https://spjva.com/2015/02/01/the-george-mason-award/.

The Virginia Pro Chapter of SPJ is launching a mentoring program for the fall. Our goal is to match journalism students with professionals throughout the state. Fostering the next generation of journalists is part of SPJ’s mission and we hope to support that through this program.

We ask students and professionals to fill out the applications below so that we can make the best matches. We ask that each pair check in at least once per month, and arrange at least one in-person or Skype meeting.

Students: apply here.

Professionals: apply here.

Have questions? Contact Bob Bennett, the mentoring program coordinator, at bobfox61@yahoo.com.

The SPJVA Board of Directors will meet via phone at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1.


  1. Scholarships to EIJ update
  2. Mentoring program update
  3. Forms here: student mentorship applicationprofessional mentorship application
  1. VPA Day at the Capitol (formerly AP Day)
  2. VCOG Banquet
  3. George Mason banquet update
  4. Local events
  5. Board elections
  6. EIJ


Call-in number: 641-715-3580

Access Code: 583987


Any member is welcome to call in.

Five student journalists in Virginia will have the chance have their registration paid for to attend this year’s Excellence in Journalism Conference, being held Sept.18-20 in New Orleans.
Any college journalist in Virginia who is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists may enter to have their registration covered to attend the conference. One of the highlights of this year’s event is a question and answer session with The Washington Post’s Marty Baron, who is portrayed in the movie “Spotlight.”
To enter, students should write a 200-word essay explaining why they deserve to attend and what they’ll learn from the conference.
The deadline to enter is July 15, 2016. Entrants should email their essays to Greg Gilligan, business editor at The Richmond Times-Dispatch and an SPJ Virginia Board Member. Send essays to ggilligan@timesdispatch.com. Along with your essay, please include a few clips showing that you are a student journalist, along with your name, school, phone number, email, and mailing address.
The state’s professional SPJ chapter is sponsoring the scholarships.
The winners will be notified soon after.

The Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter, seeks nominations for its 53rd George Mason Award, to be presented in September 2016.

The annual award recognizes a person in Virginia has done something extraordinary for journalism and the public: reporting and writing that has righted a wrong, caused a sea change in attitudes, changed a law, started a watchdog group that exposed violation of the public trust, defended a reporter or news organization from unjust persecution, forced a reluctant government to make the people’s business public, mentored young reporters who went on to outstanding careers, or some other specific, noteworthy accomplishment.

Past winners have included reporters, columnists, editorial writers, publishers, broadcast station owners, attorneys, directors of public interest organizations and professional development associations, among others. They have worked for organizations large and small.

SPJ Virginia Pro named the award for Mason, Virginia’s “forgotten founding father,” because he risked lifelong friendships and personal fortune by insisting that the fledgling United States protect freedom of the press and the other civil liberties by enacting a Bill of Rights. He was born in Fairfax County in 1725, helped frame the Virginia Constitution and in 1776 wrote its Declaration of Rights, the first authoritative formulation of the doctrine of inalienable rights. Mason’s work influenced Thomas Jefferson in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

The chapter has presented the George Mason Award annually since 1964 to journalists and others who have supported freedom of the press and made significant contributions to Virginia journalism. It expresses the esteem of SPJ members, who are committed to ethics, freedom of information, education and legal defense of reporters in the practice of journalism. The award plaque carries Mason’s conviction regarding the role of the press: “Freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of Liberty and can never be restrained but by despotick governments.”

Nominations should be made in letter form, complete with reference to supporting information, to the chapter’s George Mason Committee chair, Robyn Sidersky and sent to robyn.sidersky@gmail.com.

Deadline for nominations is June 30, 2016.

The Board of Directors of the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will meet via phone at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17.

The call-in number is 641-715-3580 and the access code is 583987.

Any member is welcome to call in and listen.

This post will be updated with the agenda.

Tentative Meeting agenda:

SPJVA May Board Meeting Agenda



  • Call to order/roll call
  • Financial Report from Rachel
  • Old business: Wrap up of Richmond Conference
  • Update from Paul Fletcher about National
  • George Mason Banquet

  • Update on Fellowships
  • Programming
  • Annual report due May 30
  • Start discussing nominations for board for 16-17 year



Join the Virginia Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for happy hour at Jessy’s Taco Bistro in Ghent (328 W. 20th St.) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Here’s a recent food review of Jessy’s.

Paul Fletcher, the national president of SPJ and the publisher of Virginia Lawyers Weekly, will be visiting from Richmond.
You get the drinks, and The Pilot will get the appetizers.
Have questions? Get in touch with chapter president Robyn Sidersky at robyn.sidersky@gmail.com.