Society of Professional Journalists makes its way back to K-State

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Although the Society of Professional Journalists had a presence on the K-State campus in the past, in more recent years it has not been an official student organization. This year, Tom Hallaq and Bonnie Bressers, professors of journalism and mass communications, are co-advisers for the new SPJ chapter on campus, and in doing so have opened the door to many opportunities for SPJ as a student organization.

Hallaq said the main focus of the nationally known group is First Amendment rights, and that the local K-State chapter will be adding an emphasis on professional networking.

Austin Nichols, senior in journalism and mass communications and K-State SPJ president, said his affiliation with the group was inspired by that networking opportunity.

“The
most important part and the reason I got involved was because of the
networking,” Nichols said. “I’ve done a lot of internships and I’ve done
a lot of networking.”

Nichols said that students go to college hoping that a career follows, and he thinks SPJ can assist with that process.

“We’re
all here to get a job,” Nichols said. “[SPJ] gives students the
opportunity to get to know people within the department, not just
professionals, but classmates.”

Hallaq said the national SPJ organization requires a minimum of 10 paying members of the campus group to be considered an active chapter of the national organization.

“They really encourage all campus members to be national members,” Hallaq said.

Although SPJ is open to anyone who believes in First Amendment rights, Hallaq said the focus is on the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

“We haven’t really promoted ourselves outside the JMC school,” Hallaq said. “Our target audience is JMC students.”

Hallaq said SPJ will host a number of events that will focus on a range of topics, including the First Amendment rights of United States citizens.

“With the emphasis on the First Amendment, that’s something we will express [as a group],” Hallaq said. “It’s surprising how many people do not know their rights.”

Hallaq said SPJ is an organization that K-State is offering to those interested in standing up for First Amendment rights and learning more about them. However, he said that it does not mean one has to be a journalism student to participate.

“[SPJ] is really an organization that people who are interested in journalism on any level should be involved in,” Hallaq said. “Here at K-State, we are offering people the opportunity to get involved with that organization.”

Morgan Huelsman, sophomore in journalism and mass communications and the vice president for K-State SPJ, said the organization is here to help students remember ethical ways to be a journalist and to gain experience of that nature.

“In
the field of journalism, it is very easy to steer away from the truth
or say ‘a little white lie,'” Huelsman said in an email interview. “SPJ is there to remind students the ethics of journalism and give them hands-on experience in the their
fields of interest.”

Huelsman said SPJ is working towards being involved throughout campus and being present at various events.

We
want to be as involved as possible in the community and are continuing
to look for ways to sponsor different events and conferences that are
beneficial to K-State journalism students,” Huelsman said.

Nichols said he thinks the organization’s success will be a gradual process, but it has made a move in the right direction for its future.

“I have a lot of confidence that
it will be successful in the future, slowly but surely,” Nichols said.
“My job right now is to start it off in the right direction.”

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