Radford’s SPJ Student Chapter Continues to Make Strides

SPJ Members
From left to right-Aaron Farmer, Jamie McCormick, Kimberly Busch, LeeAnn Scarberry, Jennifer Bennett, & Miles Bates

By Amy Caudill

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Radford chapter is ready to defend ethical journalism one injustice at a time. Last semester marked the official formulation of Radford University’s SPJ chapter.

SPJ is described on its website as being “dedicated to encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced more freely and fully, stimulating high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism and perpetuating a free press.”

First started by Miles Bates and Victoria Scarberry, SPJ has now taken on new leaders since the original founders graduated. Aaron Farmer serves as the current president, with Jennifer Bennett as the vice president, Emily Lewis as secretary, and Emily Shoemaker as treasurer. Farmer will graduate in December and leave Bennett as the new president.

Dr. William Kovarik, the faculty advisor for SPJ, said the chapter was founded after an unethical incident involving a journalist occurred on campus. When Donald Trump visited Radford last year for his presidential campaign, a Time magazine photographer was harassed by a Secret Service agent.

“When that incident happened, there was no one here to defend that reporter. We needed a platform to be able to say ‘that isn’t right,’” Kovarik said.

“We tried thinking of what kind of group could be started for such a thing. And we thought of SPJ. We promote the code of ethics and we defend journalism.”

SPJ, while still a fairly new chapter at Radford, has big plans in mind for participating members.

Farmer said they are hoping to have a panel of professionals come to campus and speak to communications and media studies students about life in the journalism field.

“I think student reporters benefit a lot from dialogue with working professionals,” Farmer said.

Farmer would also like to collaborate with other CHBS student organizations that would benefit multiple majors within the college. A trip to a regional SPJ conference is also on Farmer’s list of things he would like to do for the chapter, but securing funding and support would be the first step for that particular goal.

Farmer said the chapter is still getting things started, “We’re still one of the smaller organizations to fall under the college—but there’s plenty of opportunity for collaboration.”

Oct 5, 2016
School of Communication