Society of Professional Journalists creates new chapter in Panhandle

By Bailie Myers
Ranger Editor

A panel of six professional journalists is introduced by Mike Haynes, a journalism instructor and student media adviser, at the first meeting of the Texas Panhandle chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Sept. 27 in Badger Den of the College Union Building.

The Society of Professional Journalists has approved a local chapter of its organization for the Amarillo, Canyon and surrounding region. Organizers hope the chapter means improved journalism in the area and training for journalism students, professionals and others interested in the field of journalism.

SPJ exists to improve and protect journalism, and it has 10,000 members nationwide.

“For more than 90 years, the Society of Professional Journalists has been dedicated to encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced more freely and fully, stimulating high standards and ethical behavior in journalism and perpetuating a free press,” according to the SPJ website.

The first meeting was conducted Sept. 27 in Badger Den in the College Union Building and included a panel discussion about election coverage.

Panelists were Lee Wolverton, executive editor of the Amarillo Globe-News; Laurie Ezzell Brown, editor of Th e Canadian Record; James Hunt, agribusiness director for KGNC-AM, Newstalk 710; Walt Howard, news anchor at KFDA, NewsChannel 10; Travis Ruiz, interactive managing editor at KVII, Channel 7; and Kelly James, KCIT Fox 14 anchor.

Students from Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University were among those attending the meeting.

Howard gave advice to beginning journalists. “You have to know a little bit about everything to be a journalist,” he said.

The panel discussed the Internet’s dominance in reaching young people with the news. Brown said there still are people who want to read print media, however. “Good newspapers won’t die,” she said.

SPJ memberships are available for a variety of prices, with a lower rate for students. Membership includes admission to monthly meetings, publications and other resources.

To hear the panel discussion, go to and click on the Society of Professional Journalists tab.

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