Senior elected to national SPJ seat

Pledging to change the way student chapters boost membership, along with other goals, John Patrick won the constituents over and was recently elected campus representative to the national Society of Professional Journalists.

John Patrick
John Patrick

Patrick, a senior journalism and speech communications major at the University of La Verne, ran against three other students at the organization’s national convention in Chicago in August.

Patrick said his second major, speech communications, gave him an edge over the other candidates.

“I spoke about a need to change how the Society is presented to prospective members,” Patrick said. “They really liked it.”

In his campaign speech Patrick spoke of the need to highlight the Society’s ideology, more than the industry connections that come with being a national member.

He also spoke of the need to have better communication among student chapters and between past and current chapter leaders.

As one of two campus representatives, Patrick’s duties include traveling to SPJ student chapters and regional SPJ conventions throughout the country and attending national SPJ Board of Directors meetings among other activities.

He will also serve on committees along with 23 other national board members throughout the year.

“I am delighted that every time all of that happens, the name of the University of La Verne will be attached to his title,” George Keeler, professor of journalism and faculty adviser of the University of La Verne’s student SPJ chapter, said in an e-mail. “He will be meeting regularly with leading publishers, station owners and media executives. And when he does, so will the University of La Verne.”

Patrick said he had a great experience running for this post, and that he hopes he will have a lasting beneficial impact.

“I want to change the way we sell SPJ to prospective members,” Patrick said. “We can talk about networking opportunities, but they are not the only important issue. The important thing is the overall ideology. For example, when you go to church, you don’t just go there to meet new people. People go to church because of the ideology that is behind all that.”

Patrick said he is looking forward to serving and helping chapters all across the nation

“I think he is making a very solid campus representative,” said Paul McAfee, regional director for SPJ’s Region 11, which encompasses California, Arizona, Nevada and other western states. “He is informed about the issues that matter to student journalist.”

Being a part of the national board will give Patrick the ability to make policies that will help student journalists deal with issues that matter to them – from access to records, campus crime and safety to free speech on campus, McAfee said.

SPJ, America’s oldest and largest journalism advocacy organization, was founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi.

Its goal is to promote and protect the free practice of journalism.

Currently, the society has more than 10,000 members.

It is also committed to educating and inspiring current and future journalists.

“One of my major projects for the year is a user’s guide for chapter presidents,” Patrick said.

“The loss of knowledgeable students to graduation is pandemic for many students chapters,” he added.

He knows this first hand as he felt unprepared when he took over as president of the University of La Verene chapter for the 2005-2006 academic year.

“I want to give new presidents the tools to run their chapters successfully from the start,” Patrick said.

Andres Rivera can be reached at

Antonio Foncillas can be reached at

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