Society of Professional Journalists

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Society of Professional Journalists
FormationApril 17, 1909; 113 years ago (1909-04-17)[1]
Headquarters3909 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
Official language
Patricia Gallagher Newberry[2]
Key people
Matthew T. Hall - President-Elect

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi, is the oldest organization representing journalists in the United States. It was established on April 17, 1909, at DePauw University,[3][4] and its charter was designed by William Meharry Glenn.[5][1]


The stated mission of SPJ is to promote and defend the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press; encourage high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism; and promote and support diversity in journalism.[6]

SPJ has nearly 300 chapters across the United States that bring educational programming to local areas and offer regular contact with other media professionals. Its membership base is more than 6,000 members of the media.

SPJ initiatives include a Legal Defense Fund that wages court battles to secure First Amendment rights; the Project Sunshine campaign, to improve the ability of journalists and the public to obtain access to government records; the magazine Quill; and the annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which honour excellence in journalism.

It has also drawn up a Code of Ethics that aims to inspire journalists to adhere to high standards of behavior and decision-making while performing their work.

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) claim to have a strong belief that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The journalists claim to work to ensure that the free exchange of information is accurate, fair and thorough.[7] The SPJ's code of ethics states that journalists should "seek truth and report it" and that "journalists should be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information." The society declares the following four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism;[8]

  1. Seek truth and report it: Ethical Journalism should be accurate and fair. Ethical journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  2. Minimize harm: Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
  3. Act independently: The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
  4. Be accountable: Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one's work and explaining one's decisions to the public.[9]

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) encourage the use of these principles in its practice by all people in all media.

The original logo of ΣΔΧ; the pin was similar.


The Society of Professional Journalists was established on April 17, 1909, as a men's professional fraternity named Sigma Delta Chi, the ten founding members of which were Gilbert C. Clippinger, Charles A. Fisher, William M. Glenn, H. Hedges, L. Aldis Hutchens, Edward H. Lockwood, LeRoy H. Millikan, Eugene C. Pulliam, Paul M. Riddick, and Lawrence H. Sloan.[10] The organization continued to function as a fraternity until 1960, when it became a professional society. At the 1969 San Diego convention, Sigma Delta Chi made the decision to begin admitting women into the society. In 1973, the society changed its name to Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. Finally, in 1988 "Sigma Delta Chi" was dropped from the name altogether and the present Society of Professional Journalists name was officially adopted.[11]


In 2009, The Society of Professional Journalists had revenue of $1.4 million. It spent $1.6 million.[12] The same year, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation had a revenue of $934,731 and expenditures of $766,690.[12]

Sigma Delta Chi received $312,500 in grants in 2009.[13]

Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award[edit]

The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award is awarded annually by the Society of Professional Journalists in honor of publisher Eugene S. Pulliam's dedication to First Amendment rights and values. The award seeks "to honor a person or persons who have fought to protect and preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment."[14]

2019 Spotlight Team, Boston Globe
2018 Kansas City Star
2017 Better Government Association
2015 The Columbus Dispatch and the Student Press Law Center
2014 Associated Press
2013 Gina Barton, John Diedrich and Ben Poston, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
2012 Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald
2011 Associated Press
2010 Renee Dudley, The Island Packet of Bluffton, S.C.[15]
2009 Jill Riepenhoff and Todd Jones, The Columbus Dispatch
2008 Jim Schaefer & M.L. Elrick, Detroit Free Press
2007 Joe Adams, The Florida Times-Union
2006 Terry Francke, Peter Scheer and the California First Amendment Coalition
2005 Kate Martin and the Center for National Security Studies
2004 Dan Christensen, Miami Daily Business Review
2003 Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Chronicle
2002 Dr. William Lawbaugh, Mount Saint Mary's University
1997 Jonathan Marshall, Scottsdale Daily Progress

Kunkel Awards[edit]

Responding to concerns originating in the Gamergate controversy, in 2015 the SPJ launched the Kunkel Awards (named after pioneering video game journalist Bill Kunkel) for game journalism.[16][17] The award was folded into the Mark of Excellence Awards in 2020[18]

2019[19] Super Bunnyhop, Alex Andrejev (Washington Post), Luke Winkie (The Atlantic), Kenneth Niemeyer (Daily Mississippian), Alex Andrejev (Washington Post), Ferris Jabr (New York Times Magazine)
2018[20] Mark Brown, Megan Fernandez (Indianapolis Monthly), Lydia Niles (The Daily Orange), Felix Gillette (Bloomberg), Cecilia D'Anastasio (Kotaku)
2017[21] My Life in Gaming, Brian Crecente (Polygon), Caroline Bartholomew (The Daily Orange), Simon Parkin (Nautilus), Jason Schreier(Kotaku)
2016[22] Brad Glasgow (Allthink), Richard Moss (Polygon)/Ben Sailer (Kill Screen), Aiden Strawhun (Kotaku), Danny O'Dwyer (Noclip)
2015[23] Kotaku, The Guardian, Super Bunnyhop, Innuendo Studios, Ars Technica

Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement[edit]

The Helen Thomas lifetime achievement award was awarded by the SPJ between 2000 and 2010.[24] It was named after Helen Thomas, who received the first award in 2000. The award was discontinued in 2011 due to the controversy surrounding Thomas's statements about Jews and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[25][26]

2010[27] David Perlman (science journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle)
2009[28] Robert Churchwell
2008[29] Caryl Rivers (Boston University)
2007[30] Chuck Stone (first president of the National Association of Black Journalists)
2006[31] Stan Chambers (KTLA, Los Angeles)
2005[32] Alan Walden (WBAL Baltimore)
2004[24] Tom Brokaw (NBC News)
2003[24] Ed Barber (The Independent Florida Alligator)
2002[24] Tom and Pat Gish (The Mountain Eagle, Whitesburg, Kentucky)
2001[24] not awarded
2000[24] Helen Thomas, former senior UPI White House correspondent

Other Awards[edit]

The SPJ also administers the Green Eyeshade Awards and the Sunshine State Awards. The Green Eyeshade Awards annually recognize journalists in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.[33] The Sunshine State Awards are given each year to journalists in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. [34]


  1. ^ a b Professional Fraternities by Professional Interfraternity Conference - 1950
  2. ^ About the SPJ: Board of Directors at
  3. ^ Glenn, William Meharry (1949). The Sigma Delta Chi Story (1909-1949). Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  4. ^ 2009 SPJ Annual Report, letter from the presidents
  5. ^ "William Meharry Glenn". Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  6. ^ Society of Professional Journalists - "Our Mission"
  7. ^ "SPJ Code of Ethics". Society of Professional journalists. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  8. ^ McIntosh, Shawn; Pavlik, John V. (2015). Converging media : a new introduction to mass communication (Fourth ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199342303.
  9. ^ "Code of Ethics pdf" (PDF). PDF file. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  10. ^ "Sigma Delta Chi, Honorary Journalism Fraternity, Founded at DePauw". DePauw University. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  11. ^ Aeikens, Dave (March 3, 2009). "Join us in celebrating 100 years of SPJ at DePauw University in April". Quill.
  12. ^ a b 2009 SPJ Annual Report, page 10.
  13. ^ 2009 SPJ Annual Report, page 6.
  14. ^ "Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award"
  15. ^ "Reporter Dudley wins award" October 7, * 2010 The Post and Courier retrieved November 8, * 2015
  16. ^ "Why some SPJ leaders are engaging Gamergate". Columbia Journalism Review. November 23, 2015.
  17. ^ "#161 - #Gamergate debate, 'Original Gamer Podcast' - Podcat". Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  18. ^ Koretzky, Michael. Over, not out. Society of Professional Journalists. 10 May 2020.
  19. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2019 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2019.
  20. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2018 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2018.
  21. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2017 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2017.
  22. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2016 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2017.
  23. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2015 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2016.
  24. ^ a b c d e f "Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement - Society of Professional Journalists".
  25. ^ SPJ board of directors votes to retire Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award
  26. ^ Retirement of Helen Thomas award upheld by convention delegates
  27. ^ "SPJ honors David Perlman with lifetime achievement award".
  28. ^ "Civil Rights-era journalist Robert Churchwell honored with Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement".
  29. ^ "Caryl Rivers Honored with Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement".
  30. ^ "Chuck Stone Honored with Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award".
  31. ^ "Stan Chambers Honored with Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award".
  32. ^ "SPJ honors Alan Walden with lifetime achievement award".
  33. ^ ""
  34. ^ ""

External links[edit]