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Pennsylvania property-tax reassessment:  A public symposium

  • Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Hadley Union Building, Ohio Room
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania

At this free public event, experts will discuss Pennsylvania’s property tax and answer audience questions.

This event is cosponsored by the IUP Journalism and Public Relations Department, the IUP Political Science Department, the IUP chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Elizabeth Ray Sweeney Trust Fund.

Outlines of the April 19 public discussion are:

  • Knowledge-based journalism
  • State tax policies in Pennsylvania (compared with neighboring states) and how they impact local taxes
  • Solutions that address adverse impacts
  • Audience Q&A

Knowledge-based journalism—alternately called wisdom journalism or quality journalism—aims to deepen news coverage beyond the who, what, where, when, and why of daily events and, instead, to emphasize the question of “so what?”

Advocates of this reformist kind of journalism say it calls for more informed, more interpretive, and more explanatory reporting than traditional, event-driven news coverage that in its 24/7 rush can fail to foster public understanding of important and complex public issues.

On the important and complex issue of Keystone State property tax policies, opposition is both historic and timely—and occasionally violent, as during the colonial period of Pennsylvania history. Today, opposition is growing again, in part because the state’s political leadership has been unwilling or unable to act on overdue substantive reforms.

Among proposed reforms, for example, is a provision that would require local taxing authorities to revalue real property for tax purposes as frequently as every five years—far more often than Indiana County’s 47 years.

Meanwhile, current public opposition is driven by Pennsylvania’s comparatively high property tax burden. The average American household spends $2,127 on property taxes for a home each year, according to a March 2016 study based on U.S. Census Bureau data; the average Pennsylvania household pays $2,484, or 17 percent more than the national average.

Pennsylvania’s effective real estate tax (millage) rate of 1.51 percent is higher than Hawaii’s lowest-in-the nation rate of .28 percent, according to the March 2016 study. But it is lower than New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation rate of 2.29 percent.

For more information about the April 19 symposium on Pennsylvania’s property tax, click on the links below:

Panelist Bios:

Pennsylvania state government studies, documents, reform proposals:

Knowledge-based-journalism readings:

Nongovernment conference papers, analyses:

News release

Promotional flier

State and county government officials representing Indiana County—Contact Information

For more information, contact:

David Loomis, PhD
Department of Journalism and Public Relations
Phone: 724 357-4411

About SPJ

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is one of the oldest organizations representing journalists in the United States. The national organization debuted in 1909.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s current SPJ chapter received recognition from the national organization in December 2005. The IUP chapter adheres to the national SPJ mission—to promote and defend the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, to encourage high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism, and to promote and support diversity in journalism.

National Society of Professional Journalists

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 10,000 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.

Chapter goals also include:

  • To facilitate convergence of various mediums on campus and off to help members adapt skills across various news platforms—print, broadcast, Web, and others
  • To develop links between the Journalism Department and other academic disciplines on campus
  • To support campus news media, including the Penn, the primary news source at IUP since 1926
  • To facilitate visits to campus by news professionals who can enrich academic learning by SPJ members and who can foster contacts between SPJ members and professionals in news media
  • To help organize symposiums to address current public issues of concern to the profession and to engage the community in deliberating such issues
  • To elevate the professional standards of local news media and to help recognize and reward good local journalism

SPJ Officers: Dr. David Loomis, Advisor


Annual Fundraiser: “Get Down at the Brown”


Global Alert

Global Alert is Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s only campus-produced, community-focused, public-affairs news and opinion radio program. Producers think global and act local by airing such controversies as the local debate over logging in White’s Woods, the 250-acre recreational forest near the IUP campus. Global Alert airs every other Sunday morning on WIUP-FM (90.1). It is sponsored and produced by the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The program features live interviews with local newsmakers and citizens. The program is interactive. Live listener phone calls are welcome. Listen to the audio streams at the HawkEye.

Global Alert won the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcaster’s Outstanding Radio Public Affairs Program award in its 2010 Excellence in Broadcasting Competition. Read the entire story.

Indi Week in Review

Indi Week in Review is Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s only campus-produced, community-focused, public-affairs news and opinion radio program. It is sponsored by the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ student members produce and air the program, which features live interviews with local newsmakers and citizens. The program is interactive—live listener phone calls, e-mails, and instant messages are welcome.

J-Jobs Boot Camp

SPJ Meeting Schedule

SPJ Meeting Minutes

Annual reports

Constitution and Bylaws

Bill Harder Enrichment Fund

The Bill Harder Enrichment Fund is named for the founding president (in 2006) of the current IUP chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Harder proposed and the chapter created a source of money to support chapter members’ expenses for attendance at sponsored conferences or similar events where academic or professional journalism skills can be advanced.

The fund had a balance of $1,957 as of March 12, 2013. The money was raised entirely though SPJ-sponsored benefit concerts held periodically at venues around Indiana, Pa. This fundraising approach was inaugurated by Harder, a professional blues harmonica player.

Applications of two members have been approved and funded to support Melissa Thompson’s fall 2009 attendance at a conference in Washington, D.C., and Kaitlyn Johnson’s participation at a fall 2008 internship event at CNN in Atlanta.

Jake Williams Internship Fund

Established by former IUP SPJ President Jake Williams in 2014, this fund is for journalism students who take unpaid internships in journalism. SPJ officers will review the candidates written requests for financial support. Recipients do not have to be SPJ members, but they must be taking a journalism internship and have either a minor or major in journalism.

Recent Pictures

of SPJ-sponsored events


SPJ sponsors and manages the HawkEye , an online newspaper. The HawkEye publishes investigative stories by IUP journalism students reporting on the Indiana, Pa. community, including IUP.

Join the Society of Professional Journalists IUP Chapter on Facebook and the Journalism Department on Facebook.

National SPJ website

  • Journalism and Public Relations Department
  • Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room 404
    981 Grant Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-4411
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 7:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.