Society of Professional Journalists

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"Sigma Delta Chi" redirects here. For the sorority, see Sigma Delta Chi (sorority).
Society of Professional Journalists
Society of Professional Journalists logo.jpg
Logo, Society of Professional Journalists
Formation 1909; 106 years ago (1909)
Headquarters 3909 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
Official language
Dana Neuts [1]
Key people
Paul Fletcher - President Elect

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi, is one of the oldest organizations representing journalists in the United States. It was established in April 1909 at DePauw University,[2][3] and its charter was designed by William Meharry Glenn.[4] The ten founding members of Sigma Delta Chi included Gilbert C. Clippinger, Charles A. Fisher, William M. Glenn, Marion H. Hedges, L. Aldis Hutchens, Edward H. Lockwood, LeRoy H. Millikan, Eugene C. Pulliam, Paul M. Riddick, and Lawrence H. Sloan.[5]


The stated mission of the 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 9,000 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.

The organization helped foster the creation of the American Reporter, the first electronic internet-only newspaper.

Its president of the SPJ in 2008-09 was Dave Aeikens.[3] From 1939 to 1940, the president was the university professor Elmo Scott Watson, then at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Watson was particularly known for his work on the history of the American West.[7]

In 2011, the SPJ Executive Board voted to retire an achievement award that had been given since 2000 in the name of Helen Thomas, after Thomas' career-ending comments demanding that Israeli Jews "get the hell out of Palestine" and subsequent follow-up claims of Jewish conspiracies in the U.S. While several longtime SPJ officers opposed any change to the award, due to a combination of Thomas' impressive career and their not finding any problems with her comments on Israel and Jews, the SPJ sought a compromise between doing nothing and in both nixing the award and removing all references to it from the organization's archives. An effort to reinstate the award was defeated by a sizable margin at the 2011 SPJ National Convention, and it remains defunct as of 2015.


In 2009, The Society of Professional Journalists had revenue of $1.4 million. It spent $1.6 million.[8] The same year, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation had a revenue of $934,731 and expenditures of $766,690.[8]

Sigma Delta Chi received $312,500 in grants in 2009.[9]

Recent Activity[edit]

  • On August 16, 2014, SPJ President Dana Neuts formally announced the creation of a blog.[10] This is significant because for many years the society did not recognize blogs as SPJ worthy.
  • On August 25, 2014, The Society of Professional Journalists had awarded nine of its professional chapters with the Circle of Excellence, a collection of awards that recognizes outstanding work in five areas: First Amendment/freedom of information, professional development, chapter communications, diversity and campus relations. In a sign that the organization is adapting to the ever changing social media world, one award stood out. The East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists won the coveted award for communication by creating an emergency internet #hashtag system.

The program works when during hazardous weather all news stations, government organizations, and citizens of the community tweet out emergency and non emergency pictures and information using the hashtag #knoxwx. Thus streamlining information on social media.[11] The program was originated by Dan Andrews of the Knoxville Focus [12]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Glenn, William Meharry (1949). The Sigma Delta Chi Story (1909-1949). Retrieved August 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b 2009 SPJ Annual Report, letter from the presidents
  4. ^ "William Meharry Glenn". Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Sigma Delta Chi, Honorary Journalism Fraternity, Founded at DePauw". DePauw University. Retrieved August 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ Society of Professional Journalists - "Our Mission"
  7. ^ Frank H. Maynard, Cowboy's Lament: A Life on the Open Range (Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2010), p. 29, ISBN 978-0-89672-705-2
  8. ^ a b 2009 SPJ annual report, page 10
  9. ^ 2009 SPJ annual report, page 6
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Cathy Young, Bomb Threat Disrupts SPJ Airplay #GamerGate Debate

External links[edit]