The Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists seeks nominees for the following open positions on its board of directors:

President (one year term)
Vice President (one year term)
Secretary (one year term)
Treasurer (one year term)

Board positions
One director to serve one term expiring in 2018
Two directors to serve terms expiring in 2019

What’s required in a nutshell: help plan programming around the state for SPJ, call in to monthly board meetings, support SPJ’s mission, represent SPJ in your newsroom and at journalism events, including regional and national conferences.

If you are interested in filling one of these positions or have questions, please send chapter president Robyn Sidersky an email at robyn.sidersky@gmail.com by Dec. 7.

The Coleman Bridge over the James River at Yorktown.


SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter gathered by the James River for the 2016 George Mason Award Brunch on Sunday, Oct. 30. About two dozen members met at Riverwalk Restaurant in Yorktown to honor George Mason Award recipient Dave Ress.

A reporter at The Daily Press and noted Virginia freedom of information and open government expert, Ress accepted the award from chapter President Robyn Sidersky. Betsy Edwards, executive director of the Virginia Press Association and the person who nominated Ress, remarked on his willingness to share his knowledge with fellow reporters and open government advocates.

Dave Ress speaks during the George Mason Award Brunch.

Dave Ress speaks during the George Mason Award Brunch.

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.

Catherine Wiedman, a senior at Emory & Henry and recipient of the Virginia SPJ/SDX Educational Foundation’s fellowship, was also honored during the event.


Catherine Wiedman, Dave Ress, Clissa England, Paul Fletcher and Robyn Sidersky at the brunch.


National Immediate Past President Paul Fletcher shares his thoughts.

20161030_122332 20161030_112015

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

 Buy tickets here.

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.