The Society of Professional Journalists became the smallest club on campus in the winter quarter of the 2022-23 year.
The club, which has been active on and off since 1970, has frequently gained and lost members over the course of its existence. Currently, the club consists of four official members — all of them being officers.
“Anyone who’s interested in journalism would benefit from coming here, I think, just to learn about different journalism topics,” said SPJ officer Joshua Solorzano. “Of course, people who are journalism majors, I think they would learn a lot from coming here. We usually have very informational meetings.”
A small number of official members doesn't mean there are not many people present at meetings, though; anyone is allowed to sit in on their meetings. SPJ also frequently hosts guest speakers.
“We try to have guests every time to speak about different topics,” Solorzano said. “And if it’s not guests coming to speak, we’ll research different topics.”
Solorzano said SPJ is planning to hold a meeting about crime reporting soon. The club plans to invite several crime reporters to discuss ways to ethically report on criminal activity.
Officer Jacob O’Donnell said the goal of the club is to make a safe community for journalists to gather, share resources and mingle.
“Can’t do much mingling if no one shows up,” O’Donnell said. “We’re just hoping that more people come here so that we can all exchange ideas, get to know each other [and] connect across the three tracks, which are news ed, visual journalism and [public relations].”
He said journalism teaches people to uncover the truth and to communicate and interact well with other people. Journalism also teaches people how to represent their ideas both visually and through writing.
Associate journalism professor Peggy Watt said that students were not only welcome to attend, but invited and encouraged to do so, whether they intended to officially join the club or not.
“There’s a professional chapter in Western Washington, but it’s based in Seattle. If you’re a journalist in Bellingham, you’re probably not gonna be able to run down to Seattle for an evening meeting on a Wednesday,” Watt said.
As a local alternative, Watt suggested that journalists could try visiting Western for the SPJ club meetings. These meetings are not exclusive to students; alumni and professional journalists are welcomed.
For students interested in attending an SPJ meeting or joining the club, weekly meetings are held at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays in room 227 of the Communications Facility. Refreshments are typically provided by the club as well.
“I really don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t benefit from joining because … there’s just so many crossover skills that go into journalism,” O’Donnell said.
Jenna Kramer (she/her) is a campus life reporter for The Front this quarter. She is studying visual journalism and enjoys playing video games and learning languages.
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.