TRACY CHAN / The Working Press
New national leaders for the Society of Professional Journalists were elected and sworn in to cheers and applause at Saturday’s business meeting. Kevin Smith won the president-elect position by a landslide vote of 106-22. There was a vote by acclimation for all unopposed positions, and all positions were filled.
Jeremy Steele won the Region 4 director’s post in the other contested race.
“The vote wasn’t a surprise to me,” said Steele, who was appointed a year ago to finish Kevin Smith’s term when Smith was elected secretary-treasurer.
Some said this year’s races lacked the fireworks of past contests.
Becky Tallent, a member of SPJ since 1973, has attended most national conventions since 1981. She remembers some strange elections, some of which were colored by nasty rumors and board members campaigning for people when they weren’t supposed to be. “Over the years, there have been some times when … we just looked at each other and said, ‘Isn’t this getting a little crazy?’”
Despite the lack of non-delegate spectators, a lively debate ensued when delegates voted on resolutions, all of which were approved. The issue receiving the most discussion was Resolution No. 2, involving the proposed federal shield law. More than 15 people spoke for and against the resolution, and two separate amendments were added and then scrapped.
To the surprise of some conference attendees, Toni Locy said in an SPJ session Saturday that she is still not enthusiastic about shield laws. Locy is a former USA Today reporter who was referenced in the resolution because she was subpoenaed for a story on former army scientist Steven Hatfill and ordered to pay $5,000. “I don’t like when reporters are set apart from the rest of the public,” she said.