“…As an officer of the Society, I hereby promise to uphold its ideals. I pledge myself to do all in my power, to perform faithfully the duties assigned to me, and to serve fellow journalists, whether of the Society or not. And so endeavor to enrich the profession with the ideals of the Society of Professional Journalists. This I promise and pleasure myself to perform.”
And with those words, Lynn Walsh of Columbus, Ohio, was crowned the new president of the Society of Professional Journalists. Members across all states voted in this election, making Walsh the 100th president elected to the organization’s highest post.
Her passion for journalism started in high school, after a school event had been canceled without any notice. Students were angry, and wanted to know what happened. A curious Walsh decided to ask “Why?”, and started searching for the answer. “A difference was made, a change was made that I think was better and more fair. So when I saw that, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do!’”
After a brief line producing job in Dayton, OH, Walsh’s career in journalism took her all around Ohio, and throughout the United States; from Texas to Florida to New York, to her current position in San Diego, CA, where she leads the investigative team at the NBC affiliate as lead executive producer. Walsh has been a member of SPJ since her college days at Ohio University, but after lapsing in her membership for a short time, she later rejoined and decided to get involved at the national level, through a national committee. “I became a leader of the committee, and it just kind of escalated from there. I just got sucked in and I didn’t want to leave; I wanted to keep helping.”
President Walsh plans to hit the ground running as SPJ’s new leader, speaking at various SPJ chapters throughout the country, and at summits—such as one dealing with the topic of domestic violence. “Those are the types of organizations we haven’t really reached out to but that care about media. We need to engage the public more, we need to engage non-journalists.” Other leading issues are FOIA, Ethics, and diversifying the Society of Professional Journalists. “We keep saying it, and keep saying it, [but] we’re not there yet. I want us to be there.” Walsh isn’t only thinking in terms of race and ethnicity, but in age and different groups that are involved as well.
As for her life back in San Diego, Walsh says she’s prepared for the increased workload. “You know, sometimes it can be a thankless job! I still have a full-time job; they’re very, very supportive, which I’m very grateful for, but it’s just gonna be a lot more work, but I’m excited!”