The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s largest organization serving the field of journalism.
The not-for-profit, voluntary group has a nationwide membership of 20,000.
The society was founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, a journalism fraternity, at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. In 1960, it became a professional association.
SPJ claims dedication to the highest ideals of journalism. It tries to constantly raise the standards of competence among its members, to recognize outstanding achievement by journalists, to recruit and keep good journalist, to advance the cause of freedom of information and to elevate the prestige of journalism.
Members meet annually to set the group’s policies and resolutions and to continue education in journalism. About 75 percent of the group’s members work in the media — either print or broadcast. The other 25 percent are at the college level, as students or educators.
SPJ members say they are dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press. “To ensure that the concept of self-government outlined by the United States Constitution remains a reality into future centuries, the American people must be well-informed in order to make decisions regarding their lives and their local and national communities,” the group’s mission statement reads.
Journalists should provide this information in an accurate, timely and understandable manner, according to the group.
Group goals include promotion of the free flow of information; encouragement of a climate in which journalism can be practiced freely and fully; stimulation of high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism; the fostering of excellence and encouragement of diversity among journalists; and inspiring successive generations of talented individuals to become dedicated journalists.