GERGANA BOBEVA / The Working Press
Incoming President Clint Brewer said he plans to expand the SPJ tent “by reaching out to bloggers, social media practitioners, online journalists and minority journalists more than ever before.”
Brewer said he would create a Citizen Journalism Academy to promote ethics and change people’s perception of the value and ethics of journalism.
With the SPJ 50 Project, Brewer said, he will take the organization to states where professional chapters are not yet established.
Brewer, executive editor of The City Paper in Nashville, Tenn., had said he also plans to establish a group to study how diverse the Society is and to create a diversity mission statement.
In his installation speech, Brewer also declared accelerating support for passage of a federal shield law as one of his goals for SPJ.
Citing SPJ’s code of ethics, Brewer focused on the importance of journalism in a democratic society and the challenges reporters often face.
“Journalists, perhaps more so than any other profession, actively participate in democracy,” he said. “Our positions are not elected, but our work to hold government accountable is every bit as important to the health of the nation as the work of any elected official or bureaucrat.”
Despite their importance, Brewer said, reporters have a difficult job, making personal sacrifices that few other professions require.
“Good journalists bear witness to the tragedies of this world … and tell the stories of life and death in all their complexity, horror and beauty,” he said. “Our world needs that truth. Seeking truth and reporting it can leave scars on those who do this work.”
Reflecting discussions from earlier in the convention, Brewer referred to legal challenges that journalists confront. He said that, with individual exceptions, neither political party fully supports reporters.
Brewer expressed hope that society would reject policies that allow journalists to be sent to jail. He said SPJ can and will work to change this.
Members of the Society supported Brewer by standing and applauding as he thanked his family, co-members and SPJ staff for their support.