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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.

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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.

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Time to get excited! Here’s the preliminary agenda for the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Regional Conference, set for April 8-9 at the Short Pump Hilton in Richmond. This year’s Region 2 conference will be held jointly with the Virginia Press Asspj-vert__5_sociation, meaning members of each group who register get access to the others’ activities and events.

This is a preliminary agenda, so check back here and on our Twitter and Facebook accounts for updated information, including how to register.

Friday, April 8

* 10 a.m. – Registration for VPA and SPJ

* 10 a.m. – VPA Contest display room opens.

* 1-4 p.m. – Bonus Session: VCU Photo Shooting & Editing Held at VCU Campus ($30 fee, separate registration required)

* 2-5 p.m. – VPA/VPS Board Meeting

* 2-4:30 p.m. – Job Fair/Clip-Resume Critiques

* 5:30 p.m. – VPA Reception

* 6:30 p.m. – VPA Virginian of the Year/AP Banquet

* 7-11 p.m. – Possible SPJ Reception/Film Screening

Saturday, April 9

* 9 a.m. – Registration for VPA and SPJ

* 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. SPJ Silent Auction & Resume Critiques

* 9 a.m. – VPA Contest Display

* 9:30-11 a.m. – FOIA Session

* 11 a.m.-noon -Reporter Safety: Tips for Doing Your Job Without Compromising Your Safety

* 11 a.m. -noon – So You Want to be An International Reporter: Hear From Those Who Have Done it and How You Can Do the Same

* 12-1:45 p.m. – VPA/AP Annual Meeting/Business Meeting and Awards Luncheon

* 12-1:45 p.m. – SPJ Annual Mark of Excellence Awards/Keynote Luncheon

* 2-3 p.m. – Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

* 2-3 p.m. – The State of the News Media: Discussion of a Pew Report about the Climate of Today’s News Outlets

* 2-3 p.m. – Sharpen Your Social Media Skills: How to Use It to Expand Your Reach and Attract More Readers

* 2-3 p.m. – New Products and Existing Products: “Steal Our Ideas”

* 3-4 p.m. -Stop Errors in Their Tracks: Copy Editing for Everyone

* 3-4 p.m. – Ethics Advice: How to Act When You Find Yourself in Questionable Situations

* 5-6 p.m. – SPJ Reception & Wrap Up

* 5-6 p.m. – VPA Reception & Cash Bar – Foyer

* 6 p.m. – VPA Ad/News/Editorial Awards Banquet

* 8:45 p.m. – 1 a.m. – Possible member-generated After Banquet Party

Questions? Comments? Email SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter Robyn Sidersky. You can also follow SPJ Region 2 on Twitter and Facebook.

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We need your RSVP!

Masonstatue2Join the Society of Professional Journalists Virginia Pro Chapter in celebrating George Mason’s 290th birthday on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Born in what is today Fairfax County on Dec. 11, 1725, Mason helped frame the Virginia Constitution and in 1776 wrote its Declaration of Rights, the forerunner of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Mason recognized the importance of a press unrestricted by the government, including in the Declaration of Rights “[t]hat the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.”

SPJVA will honor Mason with an event at the George Mason Memorial in Washington, D.C. at 11 a.m. on Dec. 12  followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant.

We’ve invited other SPJ Chapters from the region to join us from around Virginia, D.C. and Maryland – students and professionals alike. This celebration isn’t just for journalists though, it’s for anyone who values the freedom of the press and Mason’s contribution to history. We’re looking forward not only to a great time honoring Mason, but a great time getting to know each other.

SPJVA will coordinate carpooling in the D.C. area for anyone who wants to attend. More information will be announced at a later date.

In order to finalize some details, we need your help. If you’re interested in attending, please fill out the form below. Even if you’re still considering or can’t attend, we’d still love to have an RSVP from you for planning purposes.

Please send any questions to chapter president Robyn Sidersky (rsidersky@freelancestar.com) or programming chair Jordan Fifer (jordanfifer@gmail.com).

We can’t wait to see you!

 

 

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Registration is now open for the Region 2 Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, SPJ’s premiere leadership development program. Several of our chapter leaders have attended this event and benefited greatly from the training. The event will be held November 8-10 at the Richmond Omni.

Applications are due by Sept. 29.

The program was established in 1996 and is funded through a generous grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation. The Institute is named for Ted Scripps, grandson of the founder of The E.W. Scripps Company. Participants are responsible for their travel costs to and from the training, but lodging and meal costs are provided.

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One of the chapter’s objectives this year is to improve relations with the SPJ college chapters and college journalists throughout the state of Virginia.
As a direct result of that, we’re launching an event we hope will be a source of learning, networking and skill-building for the state’s budding journalists.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, we’ll host a College Media Day at The Richmond Times- Dispatch in downtown Richmond. The day will include panels and workshops put on by some of the state’s top journalists.
In addition, we’ll connect college journalists with reporters, editors and other pros for one-on-one critique sessions.
Mark the date on your calendar now and look for more information over the next few weeks.

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The Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter honored a leading journalist during the 2013 George Mason Award Banquet Tuesday, June 18 at the University of Richmond.

Dick Hammerstrom of The Free Lance-Star received the George Mason Award for his relentless efforts in the arena of freedom of information.

Hammerstrom told the crowd of about 50 journalists that during his first job covering government, he and a colleague found out that the janitor emptied the city manager’s trash into a third-floor bathroom. Those discarded documents became a gateway to understand what was really going on in the city. Today, “Hammer” is noted as a go-to for FOI and a mentor to his newsroom and beyond.

Also during the event, which serves as the annual meeting of the chapter, two local students were honored with the Virginia SPJ, SDX Educational Foundation scholarships. Recipients are Mark Robinson, a rising senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Katherin Johnson, also a rising senior at VCU.

A silent auction during the event raised more than $400 for the Virginia SPJ, SDX Educational Foundation.

In a surprise, Region 2 Director Brian Eckert received the George and Francine Crutchfield Distinguished Service Award from outgoing President Paul Fletcher and Francine Crutchfield. Eckert, who serves on SPJ’s national executive committee, is also a past president of the chapter and most recently served as treasurer.

Newly elected officers include President Pat Kane of The Progress-Index, Vice President Robyn Sidersky of The Free Lance-Star, Secretary Jeff South of VCU and Treasurer Mary Ellin Arch of TransUrban. New to the board of directors this year are Peter Vieth of Virginia Lawyers Weekly and Rachel DePompa of WWBT-TV NBC-12.

See more photos from the banquet on our Facebook page.

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