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GERGANA BOBEVA / The Working Press
Hours away from his inauguration as SPJ president, Clint Brewer is already talking about his plans for next year.
As incoming president, elevating SPJ’s diversity to the same high level as its ethics and freedom-of-information issues is one of Brewer’s top priorities.
“We don’t have a sharp enough focus on diversity,” he said. “And you can’t be a watchdog in your community unless you include all your community.”
Brewer, executive editor of The City Paper in Nashville, Tenn., plans to establish an SPJ diversity committee consisting of at-large and board members with different backgrounds and links to the issue. He says he will ask them to research how diverse the organization is and to formalize the organization’s diversity statement. Brewer said there aren’t any current statistics about SPJ’s diversity.
During his tenure as president, he said he plans to expand SPJ chapters to all 50 states and increase resources to support regional leaders and chapters.
On a broader scope, Brewer said he would emphasize setting a higher profile for SPJ and creating awareness in the community and among politicians. Brewer, a fierce advocate of a free press, often emphasizes the importance of journalism in today’s society—in the power of journalists within the community.
“I look at my role as a journalist as the same as a police officer or a nurse – as a form of public service and a way to contribute to the community,” he said.
Brewer started his career as a music critic for The Knoxville Journal. In the mid-1990s, he moved to a daily in Wilson County, Tenn., The Lebanon Democrat. There, he covered local and state politics, business and economic development. He was also the four-time recipient of Tennessee’s most prestigious investigative-journalism award, the Malcolm Law Memorial Award.
During his first year at The City Paper, readership grew more than 50 percent.
In 2000, Brewer purchased a weekly in Mount Juliet, Tenn., which he ran until 2002. Afterward, he returned to the Democrat as managing editor, where, under his leadership, the paper won state and national recognition with a number of journalism and public service awards.
Bill Harless, a political reporter at The City Paper, said Brewer has been able to significantly improve the paper’s image in the community, and described him as demanding but patient in his expectations.
“The City Paper under Clint’s direction has become a critical source for breaking political and city news in Nashville,” Harless said. “We’re often followed by the city’s other media outlets.”
Jared Allen, a court reporter at The City Paper, started working for Brewer at the Democrat in May 2005. Allen says Brewer is understanding and compassionate.
“I have never once felt that I couldn’t talk to him about something, regardless of how detrimental it might be to my ability to work for him,” he said.
Brewer says he brings management experience and passion for development to SPJ.
“I understand the concepts of team building,” he said. “I’m good at delegating responsibility and bring professional-quality work.”
Outgoing President Christine Tatum said although Brewer will face a number of challenges, she is confident in his professionalism, his experience on various levels of leadership and his ability to handle the presidency.
“I know that Clint is aware of all the challenges that come with the presidency, and I think he’ll handle them beautifully,” she said.
She said the key is to be able to manage his time, stay on top of all the information on a national level,
and communicate well with people who don’t always agree with the leadership. She also added that the business aspect of the position is important for the well-being of the organization.
“One of the things I really like about Clint is that he has a business head on his shoulders and will be able to bring money to SPJ without jeopardizing its integrity. He knows how to think about marketing and new projects that will bring money in the door.”
Brewer is ready to welcome additional responsibilities and demand on his time.
“Now is the time for me to serve,” Brewer said. “Journalism is in a very interesting time right now. We have to continue the fight, and that’s what SPJ is about.”