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Limping, but not lost.

Limping, but not lost

A mid hundreds of journalism peers, occasionally stimulating professional development sessions, roasts, banquets, and controversial run-ins between Donna Rice and the local media, the most helpful part of the 1988 SPJ national convention was a rather informal campus chapter workshop Saturday evening.

The Murray State [Kentucky] chapter of SPJ has been struggling the past couple of years. I almost hate telling that to people when they ask what our chapter has been doing and how it is doing. Sometimes I think that I am using that as a crutch as our chapter limps along.

But what gave me the most encouragement about our chapter's future and our goals was the fact that the national organization has been experiencing the same painful limp. I am sure it is not the most popular topic of conversation at the national office.

What with the death of Pearl Luttrell last year, an outdated computer system, and several other kicks in the shin, it is no wonder that the structure of the organization began to tremble - believe me, the shockwaves hit some chapters pretty hard.

I have been president of our chapter for two years, and it has been a frustrating ordeal at times because when I became president I had just become a member of SPJ as well - trial by fire maybe? That is how bad things had gotten at our school. When I was initiated, the only officer that we had not lost to graduation or purgatory was our vice president. She was it.

Our chapter has struggled with low numbers, few active members, and campuswide apathy. Nobody is joining anything, and if they do, it is just to pad their resume. My main concern, as president, was to try to get the organization of our chapter back on line. I did not see any way to try and get interesting speakers and new members with our chapter in disarray.

The same thing happened with the national office as well. Reports showed a downward trend in membership, and then with the reorganization of the business end of the office and then the convention....It was kind of reminiscent of a chicken running around with its head cut off.

In a talk with Mary Martinka, coordinator of chapter services, and some of the members of the student advisory board, I learned that the future of SPJ looks good and is getting better. The Cincinnati national convention was the first one for many of the people in the national office, and it went very well. The new computer system is up and running and the chapter files are all there (hopefully).

I have gone through our chapter's files and have read its history. It was kind of mind-boggling that the chapter could have crippled itself the way it did in such a short time.

But the focus of what I am saying is not that we are crippled here at Murray State. We are, and I think that national SPJ has been limping, too. But we all are moving!

At the project Watchdog Luncheon, Pat Minarcin, anchor for WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, said he saw an ad in The Cincinnati Post that read "Lost. Black dog. One ear, one eye, one leg missing. Jagged scar on back. Castrated. Answers to |Lucky.'"

That story was not only appropriate for the state of media defense, but for SPJ in general. Our campus chapter has some bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes and a limb or two missing, but we are still "Lucky" and, I might add, no longer lost.

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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Murray State, KY chapter of Society of Professional Journalists
Author:Ross, Todd O.
Publication:The Quill
Article Type:letter to the editor
Date:Feb 1, 1989
Words:595
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