For the first time in its 105 years, SPJ members are in talks for possibly creating their first ever virtual chapter. The Freelance Community, the first non-geographic community recognized by SPJ, has made a motion at EIJ14 for the Bylaw Committee to consider making a chapter for the future.
The motion, initially drafted by D.C. freelancer and Freelance Committee member Hazel Becker, states “The Freelance Community requests that the SPJ Board ask the Bylaw Committee to consider what changes might be needed to give communities a voice in governance of the society.” The Freelance Committee voted unanimously for the motion and planned to relay the message to respective parties before the upcoming Board of Directors meeting.
While all were in favor of the decision, that did not stop members from having some concerns about the longevity and outreach of the possible chapter. By the numbers, there are roughly 1,500 freelance journalists that are registered SPJ members. The Freelance Committee has about 50 signed up members (about the size of a small chapter). “We need to do more to get freelancers on board…we have not done much promotion at the moment,” says Michael Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Freelance Community.
Job opportunities were a common discussion topic during the agenda. There was an array of recent college graduates and older journalists who have recently decided to make the transition into the Freelance industry. The new website, which launched in July, plan to have more job updates and opportunities.
There are currently three virtual communities recognized by SPJ: Freelance, Digital Media, and Nepalese American. If approved and set in motion, The Freelance Community would be the first virtual chapter in SPJ history.