Why I’m Done With SPJ, ONA & Others – NewsGeeks

March 12, 2009

Letters asking for renewal dues start popping up in my mailbox around this time of year. I’ve received one from my local NPR affiliate station, about a hundred from Wired Magazine and two from the Society of Professional Journalists. The amount of funding each letter is requesting isn’t terribly unreasonable… mostly.

I won’t be sending in my membership dues to the SPJ. This is the first year I’m not being counted as a student so the dues are significantly higher. Sure, I can afford to pay them, but I’m not so sure I want to bother. It’s been well over a year since a local chapter scheduled a meeting — and even when those meeting actually happened, it was always a $25 meal and I never quite connected with any of the contacts I’d made.

For me, it was listening to fundamentals of journalism, and its hard not to see value in that. But the climate has changed. The conversation has shifted to financial models and how to best use technology at a news organization.

If I were seeking information about using technology effectively or how to run a business, the very LAST place I would look is at an SPJ meeting. I’m sorry, but that’s the god’s honest truth.

Other organizations that are geared more towards the discussion of online media aren’t much better. Most of the people who are in charge come from the organizations with the most problems. It’s not their fault of course, but their perspective is skewed. They are talking to large groups of journalists who don’t know how to best use technology and social media within their reporting, and they don’t have much of a clue either — not because they aren’t intelligent but again, because they are unable to bring forth a different perspective.

I love my fellow journalists. I think they are smart, resourceful and nearly always interesting to converse with. I tend to hang out with a lot of people who are just like that but who aren’t journalists. With the way the economy is going combined with the outlook on our industry’s job growth, pretty soon we’ll all be former editors, reports, writers, anchors and producers. We’ll all just be citizens sitting around a pub table evangelizing about news. And at that point we’ll all need to be journalists. Every one of us.

That’s why the NewsGeeks meetup was formed. I want the community, I don’t want the emotions from the industry. I don’t want an agenda or a topic of discussion. I just want to chat with other people who like to dissect the news and how the news travels on social media.

I’m not against the SPJ or ONA…(or any other journalistic organization for that matter) because they do a lot of activism that most people wouldn’t realize. But the community in the pre existing organizations is as gone for me as the job openings at metro newspapers.