Arkansas SPJ launches new Mentor Match program

Arkansas Pro Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists

For immediate release:

The Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter is proud to present its new Mentor Match program, which aims to match less experienced media professionals and students with their senior counterparts.

Mentees would ideally be college students, interns, young reporters or journalists who would like some guidance. Mentors will likely have several years of experience, be editors or managers, or have an interest in giving back to the news community.

A mentee can also be a mentor – those with more experience are encouraged to give back.

Arkansas SPJ will host regular meetups to help foster the relationships between mentor/mentee pairs, starting with a kickoff event at 6 p.m. Monday, July 29, at Fassler Hall, 311 E. Capitol Ave. in Little Rock. RSVP for that event here:

Mentor Match aims to provide mentees with mentors in the Arkansas news industry. Mentee status is exclusive to chapter members, so join now at Find your mentor (or mentee) through our application at

About Arkansas SPJ

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists meets monthly for programs and networking in central Arkansas. Membership is available to all professional journalists in good standing with the national Society of Professional Journalists. Learn more about Arkansas SPJ at or follow us on social media.

The chapter was recognized nationally in 2018 as a Circle of Excellence Award winner for professional development and received the Outstanding Professional Chapter recognition for a small chapter.

Media Contact

Maggie McNeary
Arkansas SPJ Secretary

Arkansas SPJ to host free Facebook Training for Journalists

Facebook Training.indd

connect with audiences • find content • build communities

Facebook and SPJ are committed to creating opportunities for journalists everywhere to learn about the ways Facebook tools can help create and share incredible works of journalism, as well as engage the public in the stories about their communities.

Arkansas SPJ is hosting a FREE training at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan 25 at the Darragh Center, 100 S. Rock St.

• How Journalists Can Best Utilize Facebook and Instagram
• Connect With Your Audience Using Facebook Live
• Immersive Storytelling With 360 Video and Photos
• Facebook Safety for Journalists
• Get Started with CrowdTangle
• Content Discovery and Social Monitoring with CrowdTangle
• Use Facebook Groups to Engage Your Audience

To register for this free training email or text (501) 533-0565

Our trainer is Lynn Walsh, an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. Based in San Diego, she is a past national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Project Manager at the Trusting News project, where she’s helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public.
GET SOCIAL find her on the following
Facebook @LynnWalshJournalist
Twitter @lwalsh
Instagram @lynnkwalsh

Have ice cream, will travel

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In an effort to extend its reach, Arkansas SPJ traveled more than 750 miles in the span of just over a month to bring Get the Scoop … and Check the Facts, a traveling ice cream social, to about 110 student journalists and professionals outside the Little Rock metropolitan area.

Speakers shared stories about how they got big scoops, ideas about how to cultivate sources on a beat and the importance of checking the facts. The tour included visits at the following:

• Henderson University in Arkadelphia at noon Oct. 30 at The Oracle newsroom with speaker Ginny Monk, projects reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Arkadelphia had recently lost its local newspaper. Fortunately, a new paper has emerged. There were about 30 people in attendance.
• University of Central Arkansas in Conway at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at The Echo newsroom with speaker Debra Hale-Shelton, a reporter in the ADG’s Conway bureau. She has since joined SPJ. There were about 25 people in attendance.
• Arkansas State University in Jonesboro at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26 in The Herald newsroom with George Jared, an author and investigative journalist who has written two true-crime books about stories he covered as a reporter at the Jonesboro Sun, and Sarah Campbell-Miller of Arkansas Business. There were about 12 student journalists in attendance.
• Harding University in Searcy at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 in the TV studio with speaker Tracy Whitaker of the Searcy Daily Citizen. There were about 20 in attendance.
• Arkansas Tech University in Russellville at 1 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Doc Bryan Student Services Center with speakers Tammy Keith of the ADG and Drew Brent of The Russellville Courier. There were about 22 in attendance.
The chapter didn’t make it to Lyon College in Batesville as it had planned, but has hopes to try to get there next semester as well as present the ice cream social in Little Rock, its regular stomping grounds. There are still plenty of scoops.

For photos and marketing materials of the events, visit Arkansas SPJ on Facebook.

Arkansas SPJ to host Ugly Sweater Mix and Mingle


Mix and mingle with fellow journalists at Arkansas SPJ’s Ugly Sweater Holiday Jingle at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 109 & Co. bar and lounge, 109 Main St. in downtown Little Rock. Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door for $15 and include hors d’oeuvres and libations. Prizes will be given for the best ugly holiday sweaters.

Buy tickets now

Elementary student who started school newspaper to receive Arkansas SPJ’s first Diamond in the Rough Award

By Maggie McNeary

Arkansas SPJ will present the first President’s Diamond in the Rough Award to a Greenbrier Eastside Elementary student who started his own school newspaper at the chapter’s Diamond Journalism Awards, set for 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25.

Israel Bollinger, who was a fourth grader when he helped create What’s Up Eastside, works with a staff of second through fifth graders to make the monthly publication, Eastside Elementary Principal Mandi Dunlap said.

The 10-year-old, now a fifth grader, said he got the idea to start the paper while reading The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz by Alan Silberberg. The characters in Silberberg’s book had a school paper, which made Bollinger realize that his school lacked one – a problem that he soon solved.

“I couldn’t help but be impressed by this kid’s gumption,” Arkansas SPJ President Jennifer Ellis said of Bollinger’s accomplishment.

Israel Bollinger, 10, holds a copy of the newspaper, “What’s Up Eastside,” he started at Greenbrier Eastside Elementary in January. Arkansas SPJ will present Bollinger with the first President’s Diamond in the Rough Award at the chapter’s Diamond Journalism Awards, set for 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 at the Flying Saucer in Little Rock. Photo courtesy of Jason Bollinger

After a conversation with Principal Dunlap, and the recruitment of about 16 elementary students, the publication started production in January.

“Israel had asked me about it back in the first semester and I began to think about how to make this happen,” Dunlap said.

Sherry Hogg, the school counselor, helps the students during their 30-minute daily production time. The students compose their stories in Google Docs, the principal said, and printed copies are distributed throughout the school.

“This has been a great creative outlet for a lot of students,” she said. “They not only learn literacy skills of writing articles, but also the power of networking with a group to produce a product! The kids absolutely love this!”

Students voted to name the paper What’s Up Eastside and decided on its topics together. Bollinger’s favorite part of the paper is the “Crackups” section, which features jokes from students.

Eastside students
The staff at Greenbrier Eastside Elementary’s school paper, “What’s Up Eastside,” are hard at work. The paper was started by Israel Bollinger, third from left, in January when he was a fourth grader. He will receive the President’s Diamond in the Rough Award from Arkansas SPJ Thursday. Photo courtesy of Mandi Dunlap

Bollinger plans to continue working on the publication for the rest of the school year.

“I really like working on the paper,” he said. “It’s fun.”

In the future, he said he might even start a middle school newspaper if next year’s campus doesn’t have one. And he’s looking even further than that.

“I think that when I grow up I want to be an entrepreneur and maybe own a newspaper,” he said.

Bollinger said he had been surprised by the media attention to him and the paper, and that he was excited to receive the Diamond in the Rough award.

“It’s going to be quite an honor,” he said.

Bollinger’s parents, Kerrie and Jason, have also been surprised by all the interest. Jason Bollinger said that his son has many good ideas and that, just as importantly, he sees them through.

“He sees a problem and he works to fix it,” he said.

Join Israel Bollinger and this year’s Diamond Journalism Award winners from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 in the private party room downstairs at the Flying Saucer in Little Rock, located at 323 President Clinton Ave. Tickets are $15 and include heavy hors d’oeuvres and libations.

For more information on the event and Arkansas SPJ, visit the chapter’s website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Diamond Awards ceremony set for Oct. 25


Finalists in the Diamond Journalism Awards have been announced here and on Facebook. Winners of the Community Service Award and Robert McCord Freedom of Information Award, as well as the Outstanding New Journalist and Diamond Journalist of the Year, will be announced at the 2018 SPJ Diamond Journalism Awards Ceremony.

Join us from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 in the private party room downstairs at the Flying Saucer in Little Rock, 323 President Clinton Ave.

Tickets can be purchased online via PayPal or at the door. The cost is $15 per person, including heavy hors d’oeuvres and libations.

Arkansas SPJ sells T-shirts to benefit Capital Gazette Families Fund

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Arkansas SPJ is selling T-shirts with proceeds to be donated to the Capital Gazette Families Fund, which was set up by the newspaper’s owner to provide immediate relief and long-term recovery support to employees and their immediate family members affected by the tragedy.

Get yours for $20 at the Reporting in the Midst of Tragedy event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 in Sturgis Hall at the Clinton School of Public Service.

Want to pay by PayPal before the event? Here’s the link.

Email Jennifer Ellis with the size at (Small through 4X available).


Reporting in the Midst of Tragedy


After the shooting deaths of five staff members at the Capital Gazette just over a month ago, reporter Chase Cook said “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper.”
Join the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 for a panel discussion about covering the news during even the toughest of times with moderator Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press.

Christina Muñoz, former anchor for KATV Channel 7
CORRECTION: Christina had just had her first baby in 2008 when her colleagues had to go on air with the news that their friend/co-worker Anne Pressly was murdered.
George Jared, author and investigative journalist
George has written two true-crime books and more news stories about WM3 than any other journalist.
Cathy Frye, former award-winning journalist
In 2013, Cathy became the subject of the kind of tragic stories she was known for writing after she and her husband, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette photographer Rick McFarland, spent days lost in the Chihuahuan Desert.

*This event is free and open to the public

Arkansas SPJ will be selling T-shirts with proceeds to benefit the Capital Gazette Families Fund, which was set up by the newspaper’s owner to provide immediate relief and long-term recovery support to employees and their immediate family members affected by the tragedy.

Send questions and comments for discussion to @ArkansasSPJ #ReportingTragedy





5 p.m.
Wednesday, July 25
Rock Town Distillery
1201 Main St. | Little Rock

For $20 join Arkansas SPJ on a private tour, which includes
a Solo-cup cocktail, the tasting of 10 items + 3 specialty items
(single barrel whiskeys, anniversary whiskeys and more).

Get there at 5 p.m. to get a drink before the tour and tasting begins at 5:15.
The tour and tasting takes about an hour.

Then we’ll meet in the bar for a mixer with Ashley Wimberley,
executive director of the Arkansas Press Association.

What Would You Run? Ethics for Journalists

What Would You Run? Ethics for Journalists

Anonymous sources, graphic images and conflicts of interest – these are just some of the ethical issues journalists must navigate on a daily basis. Join the SPJ Arkansas Pro Chapter at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 at Vino’s Brewpub, 923 W. Seventh St. in Little Rock, for a free event that asks the question, “What would you run?”
Inspired by the ABC News series What Would You Do?, competitors from two teams will learn about the SPJ Code of Ethics by playing editor in a variety of sketches designed to test ethical reasoning. Judges will award points for each response, and the team with the most points will win the game.
Ready to compete? Email Sarah DeClerk at by Friday, Feb. 9.
Spectators are also welcome.