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Press Club in the Queen City

SPJ Charlotte Chapter Flier

Recently I was approached by a highly respected former colleague, Susan Stabley of the Charlotte Business Journal, regarding a grassroots movement to form a press club in Charlotte. Specifically, she wanted to start a Charlotte chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She asked Melissa Oyler Designs to become part of this endeavor as one of the voices for the design community and the freelance community.

The national chapter is hosting their annual meeting next month in Las Vegas. At this meeting, they will approve any new chapters. In order to create a chapter in Charlotte,  there need to be at least 20 members from the journalism community to join SPJ.

Susan asked me to mention how truly grassroots this movement is. She pointed out steering committee members Andria Krewson of the Charlotte Observer, a former design team leader and current section editor; Patricia Larson Guilfoyle of the Catholic News and Herald, who was the prior publisher of several South Carolina weekly newspapers for McClatchy (including two I designed: Fort Mill Times and Enquirer-Herald) and is now editor of a niche publication; additionally, Susan is a business weekly newspaper representative; Chris Miller of WBT Radio; Brad Broders of News 14 Carolina; and Rhi Bowman, a freelancer who writes for Charlotte Magazine and creates items for The Clog, Creative Loafing’s blog.

Below is text from an informational letter that explains the need for a local chapter of SPJ, and how you can become a part of this group. Come join!

Hello fellow journalists,

During the last few weeks, several of us in the Charlotte area, representing a cross-section of the local media, have been collaborating on a grassroots level to form local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Though Charlotte is the 18th biggest city in America and the 23rd largest TV market, one doesn’t exist. There hasn’t been an active press club in the Queen City in more than two decades … and most of us barely know each other.

You may ask why we need a local SPJ chapter.

So, here are a few questions: Are you frustrated with working with reporters, producers or editors who don’t know bankruptcy from foreclosure?  Worried about the growing gray areas between news and advertising? Burned out from having to churn out more with less — and for less?

This is a time of constant flux when it comes to what information is open even as access to records becomes technically easier. Our newsrooms have dwindled, and training budgets are nonexistent. And well-funded First Amendment legal fights have become few and far between. In our own backyard, UNC has imposed rules that require coaches and administrators access to a team member’s Twitter and FaceBook accounts. Last month, a woman in Salisbury was arrested for using a cell-phone to film a traffic stop from her front porch.

Those of us organizing this chapter believe it’s a great way to represent Charlotte, spend time with our peers outside work, and collaborate better on media issues such as ethics and open records that affect all of us.

The SPJ has established itself for more than a century as an organization that represents the best of what our industry can accomplish. Don’t take our word for it, visit SPJ.org to learn more.

And so, we are looking for newshounds who still believe in our mission. We want members who haven’t forgotten that a free press is vital to a healthy democracy. We need at least 20 professional journalists willing to work together to protect and improve our craft in an effort to make our community stronger and smarter.

The cost is $72 to sign up at SPJ.org and we understand that can be a burden to some. But that price is still inexpensive compared to many other trade associations. And this one will have a working chapter that’s local, active and gregarious.

Once we sign on 20 members, the national SPJ organization can grant us provisional chapter status so we can get started. Please join us in this endeavor.

An informal informational meeting is planned for  6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21 for those interested at Nix Burgers in Uptown. We got two free tickets for frosty domestic beers for the first 10 journalists – and paid SPJ members – that attend.

And by all means, please mention this to other reporters, anchors, camera operators and producers at your station and all writers, editors, photographers and graphic designers at your publication.

Thank you,

The Greater Charlotte Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist steering committee:

Brad Broders, News 14 Carolina
Chris Miller, WBT Radio
Andria Krewson, Charlotte Observer
Rhi Bowman, freelance journalist and blogger for Creative Loafing
Patricia Larson Guilfoyle, Catholic News and Herald
Susan Stabley, Charlotte Business Journal

3 Responses to “ Press Club in the Queen City ”

  1. Susan Stabley says:

    Nationals says we got the numbers and cleared us for take-off. Thanks for all your support!

  2. Melissa:

    If it’s not too late, I’d like to become associated with the Press Club for Charlotte. I have written a book: “48 Hours to Chaos,” and wish to network with writers in the business.

    Later, John.

  3. As an active member of Greater Charlotte, I am surprised that we don’t have a Press Club. Although I am not a journalist, I am an author and connected to many outstanding people in business and who own businesses. I’ve wondered why they didn’t get press coverage for the great products, services, and community contributions they make. Crystal Provance, owner of Southern Gourmet Cafe & Catering on Monroe Rd., Matthews, was just named “Member of the Year” by eWomen Charlotte, for example. If you will allow members of the public, I will join you and connect you to many incredible men and women who have fabulous stories. Call or email me, if I can help.

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