IUP SPJ Chapter Participates in Regional Conference

Posted on 3/19/2018 2:22:37 PM

IUP Society of Professional Journalists members Nathan Zisk (left), Courtney Taylor, Candace Howell, and chapter President Cody Minich (right) gather at the annual SPJ Region IV conference at Point Park UniversityFour members of the IUP chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists began their spring break with a road trip to Pittsburgh for a day and a half of networking and presentations among scores of students and pros from four states. The 2018 SPJ Region IV conference at Point Park University March 9–10 hosted journalists from Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania.

The March 10 luncheon keynote address was delivered by Dan Heyman, a reporter with the West Virginia Public News Service. On May 9, police in Charleston arrested Heyman in the state capitol for allegedly asking overly aggressive questions of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who has since resigned.

Charges against Heyman later were dropped. He told his keynote audience that he could live without his brief celebrity, but he said he would do it again. SPJ honored him with an award and an ovation.

A daylong Saturday schedule of panel discussions covered such timely issues as student editors contending with campus administrators, handling sexual harassment in the newsroom, resisting assaults on facts and truth, coping with public relations, podcasting, producing news as a nonprofit, following media law, finding a job, and more.

IUP SPJ members attended the conference thanks to the Bill Harder Fund, an eponymous scholarship established by the 2004 IUP SPJ chapter president who sought to encourage such professional enrichment among IUP journalism students. An annual IUP SPJ benefit replenishes the Harder fund. The 12th annual event is scheduled for March 23 at the Brown Hotel in Indiana.

The IUP Journalism and Public Relations Department subsidized hotel and travel expenses.

Students said they got their chapter’s money’s worth.

“I was glad I went,” said IUP SPJ member Candace Howell. “So often you hear the general public’s opinion on what journalists do or what they should be doing, or you get so much negativity about the profession. It was refreshing to get a glimpse of what professionals are doing in the field and hear their opinions on various topics and current concerns in the profession.”

Chapter President Cody Minich agreed.

“The conference was thoroughly enjoyable and informative,” Minich said. “SPJ Region 4 staffers and our hosts at Point Park University were very kind and provided an incredible experience for my first time attending an SPJ conference.”

IUP SPJ members Courtney Taylor and Nathan Zisk also attended.

Photo: IUP Society of Professional Journalists members Nathan Zisk (left), Courtney Taylor, Candace Howell, and chapter President Cody Minich (right) gather at the annual SPJ Region IV conference at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, March 10. Photo by David Loomis.