Arkansas SPJ to update bylaws

The Arkansas Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists plans to update its bylaws. Please see the proposed new bylaws below. Chapter members may send a proposed amendment to the bylaws within 15 days (by Oct. 10, 2020), at which time the bylaws will be adopted. If you have any questions, contact chapter president Sarah DeClerk at
Bylaws of The Arkansas Pro Chapter,
Society of Professional Journalists
P.O. Box 2221
Little Rock, Ark. 72203
(Revised Sept. 21, 2020)
The Society of Professional Journalists is the oldest, most broad-based journalism organization in the United States, founded in April 1909 as an honorary journalistic fraternity, Sigma Delta Chi. In 1916, SDX became a professional fraternity and, in 1960, reorganized itself from a fraternity into a professional society. It changed its name to the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi in 1973 and again to Society of Professional Journalists in 1988 to reflect its inclusiveness of all who work as journalists.
The Society, organized as a 501(c)6 tax-exempt professional association, has chapters throughout the country that operate as independent entities but adhere to the parent organization’s mission and purpose.
The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was formally installed at Little Rock on December 15, 1961, as the Little Rock Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi. It became the Arkansas Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, upon vote of its members and approval of the SPJ, SDX National Board of Directors in July 1976. The chapter’s name now reflects the national organization’s 1988 name change.
We do hereby establish and ordain these Bylaws of the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to support the mission of the national Society of Professional Journalists. Like the national organization, the Arkansas Pro Chapter encourages the free flow of information as essential to American self-governance, seeks to protect the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and the press, stimulates high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism, inspires and educates current and future journalists through professional development, and encourages diversity and inclusion in the field of journalism.
Section One: The name of this organization shall be: Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Section Two: Journalism Defined: Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities and the teaching or study of the methods used by journalists to inform and empower citizens with verified information about their society and government.
Section One: The motto of the Chapter shall be that of the Society’s: They Serve Best Who Serve the Truth.
Section Two: The Chapter’s watchwords shall be that of the Society’s: Talent, Truth, Energy.
Section One: The badge of the Chapter shall be the same as that prescribed for the Society.
Section One: All members of the Society of Professional Journalists in good standing with the national Society shall be eligible for membership in the Arkansas Pro Chapter.
Section Two: Members must pay current chapter and national dues in order to be eligible to hold membership, to vote, to hold office or to serve as a delegate to the national convention.
Section One: The chapter shall have as officers a President, a Vice President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. These officers shall be elected annually and shall take office immediately.
Section Two: The President shall serve as the chief executive officer and chair of the board of directors, appoint members to chair all standing committees and establish other committees as necessary with the advice and consent of the board.
Section Three: The Vice President shall fulfill the President’s duties in case of the President’s temporary absence or incapacity, in addition to any other duties imposed by the bylaws or by decision of the board. In the event of the death, resignation or removal of the President, the Vice President shall assume the.presidency, and a new Vice President shall be elected by the board of directors.
Section Four: The Secretary shall keep accurate minutes of all chapter and Board of Directors meetings, convey information to members about the chapter and its activities in a regular and timely manner, be formal custodian of all chapter records, and maintain, in conjunction with the Treasurer, membership records in good order.
In addition, the Secretary shall make regular reports to the Society’s magazine, Quill, or the appropriate national staff member about chapter activities, in addition to any other duties assigned by the chapter President.
Section Five: The Treasurer shall be responsible for all chapter funds, collecting receipts and making disbursements at the direction of the Board. In conjunction with the chapter Secretary, the Treasurer shall serve dues notices and collect dues and other assessments.
Section Six: The Board of Directors may at any time consolidate, separate or redefine the offices of Secretary and Treasurer. If the offices are consolidated, the board shall have one more appointive director.
Section Seven: The Chapter shall have a standing Freedom of Information Committee that shall carry out the Chapter’s mission of promoting freedom of speech and press and the free flow of information. The President is also authorized to appoint and assign duties to special committees which the President deems necessary to study, investigate or otherwise function in fields that concern the Society, journalists or journalism.
Section Eight: The Chapter shall submit an annual report to national headquarters in which it reviews its year’s activities and accomplishments. The report shall be submitted under the Society’s rules and prior to the National Convention and shall be made available to any Chapter member upon request.
Section Nine: The financial records of the Chapter and minutes of all meetings shall be open for inspection to members in good standing. Requests for
inspection shall be made to the custodian of such records and shall be made available, if practical, at the next Chapter or Board meeting.
Section One: The Board of Directors shall be composed of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary, the Treasurer and seven directors elected annually by the Chapter members. The immediate past president may serve as either a non-voting member or may run for another voting position on the board after his or her term expires.
Section Two: Any vacancy in the Board of Directors shall be filled by vote of the remaining members of the Board. The member so elected shall serve until the next annual election.
Section Three: The Board shall meet regularly throughout the year to transact business for the Chapter. The Board can take binding action by email or conference call if circumstances, in the Board’s opinion, require it.
Section Four: The Board of Directors shall be responsible for these basic functions: (1) Membership and attendance; (2) Chapter meetings and events; (3) Professional programs; (4) Planning; (5) Convention representatives; and (6) Cooperation with national Headquarters and other SPJ chapters.
Section One: Officers and directors shall be elected by majority vote of the qualified members in attendance at a Chapter meeting before July 1. They shall take office July 1 and serve one-year terms or until their successors are elected and installed.
Section Two: A nominating committee, consisting of the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer shall nominate candidates for the Board of Directors at least 10 days before an election, in writing or via email to the membership.
Section Three: Candidates shall be nominated on the floor of a Chapter meeting, with the nominating committee’s nominations for officers announced first. The floor shall then be opened for other nominations for officers, followed by election of officers.
Section Four: If an officer election is contested, or if there are more nominees for director than available board seats, that election shall be held by
secret ballot. The election shall be supervised by the Secretary or, if the Secretary Is a candidate for a contested office, by a non-candidate appointed by the presiding officer.
Uncontested elections shall be by voice vote.
Section One: National membership fees shall be that amount determined by the national organization. A person who has not paid their national dues cannot be considered a member of the Chapter.
Section Two: Chapter dues shalI be determined by the membership upon recommendation of the Board of Directors and payable by June 30 of each year. The board has the authority, by a majority vote, to waive or reduce chapter dues for any member. ·
Section One: These Bylaws may be amended and become effective immediately, unless otherwise specified, in the following manner:
● By a majority of votes cast in a Chapter meeting, provided that the proposal to amend the bylaws and the exact wording of the proposed amendment shall be made available to all chapter members not less than 15 days prior to the vote.
● Or by a majority vote cast in a Chapter meeting, provided that the proposed amendment was recommended by the President and approved by a majority of the Board and a copy of which shall have been made available to all chapter members not less than 7 days prior to the vote.
Section Two: The Board of Directors shall have the authority to make minor edits or technical corrections to the Bylaws at any time. Members shall be notified of any edits or changes to the Bylaws approved by the Board within 15 days of the change.
Section Three: “Robert’s Rules of Order” shall be the parliamentary authority for all matters of procedure not specifically covered by these Bylaws. ·
Section One: The Board shall hold monthly meetings.
Section Two: The Board shall endeavor to hold monthly Chapter meetings and events, except when the Board determines that the likelihood of low attendance or other circumstances would make a meeting non-beneficial to the Chapter.
Section Three: The Board shall call Chapter meetings with written notice to members, such as by newsletter, email or website, at least five days before such a meeting. Action taken at any Chapter meeting called with less notice shall be of no force and effect.
Section Four: All persons Invited to speak at chapter meetings and events shall be informed in advance that their remarks to those assembled shall be considered public and on the record. Should a speaker ask to speak off the record, the presiding officer shall again serve notice that all remarks are on the record.
Section Five: This being an association of journalists, no Chapter or Board meeting may be closed to the public except for reasons of safety or for discussions of legal matters on advice of counsel.
Section Six: The Board may impose a reasonable fee for any event or meeting, including meal, drink and service charges. Members attending such events or meetings shall be obligated to pay the fee unless payment is waived by the Board of Directors.

2020 Board of Directors to be elected at Membership Meeting Friday, July 17

2020 Board of Directors to be elected at  Membership Meeting Friday, July 17

The Society of Professional Journalists – Arkansas Pro annual Membership Meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, July 17. During the meeting, we will elect the 2020 board of directors. We will also hear from local reporters about their experiences covering the protests against racial injustice in Little Rock. Our keynote speakers will be Alexis Wainright of KARK and Fox 16 and Paige Cushman and Shelby Rose of KATV.

Board candidates for the 2020-2021 term include Sarah DeClerk of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (president); Steven Listopad of Henderson State University (vice president); Rob Moritz of the University of Central Arkansas (treasurer); Lauren McCabe, who recently graduated from UCA (secretary); Jennifer Ellis of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Sonny Albarado, who recently retired from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Sarah Campbell-Miller of Arkansas Business; Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press; Wendy Miller of The Trucker; Brittany Reese of KATV Channel 7; and Ronak Patel, a student journalist at UCA.

Attendees may register in advance for this webinar at

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Email chapter president Sarah DeClerk at with any questions about the event.

Arkansas SPJ hosts Every Day I’m Husslin’ freelance program

Arkansas SPJ hosts Every Day I’m Husslin’ freelance program

Learn what it takes to make it in the freelance game from two pros whose livelihoods depend on it at 6 p.m. March 11 at Damgoode Pies in the River Market.

Erica Sweeney is a full-time freelance writer based in Little Rock. She previously worked in local media, but now solely writes for national media outlets, including The New York Times, HuffPost, Parade,, Fast Company and lots more. She doesn’t believe there’s one special recipe for a successful freelance career, but enjoys sharing what she’s learned along the way, including finding gigs, pitching stories, understanding rates and embodying traits that make the freelance lifestyle work.

Dwain Hebda is a freelance journalist, editor and president of Little Rock-based editorial services company Ya!Mule Wordsmiths. His work appears in approximately 35 local publications in three states, as well as a growing number of corporate clients including advertising firms, Main Street banks, University of Arkansas System eVersity and the Arkansas State Fair. Nebraskan by birth, Southern by the grace of God,
he and his wife shower their affection on their four grown children and three spoiled dogs.
Questions? Comments. #FreelanceHussle
This event is brought to you by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas SPJ

Earn Your Diamonds

Enter the 2020 Diamond Journalism Awards Today!

Attention professional and student journalists in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas:

The 2020 Diamond Journalism Awards entry period is underway.

Sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Diamond Journalism Awards is open to any professional or student journalist, including freelancers, working in Arkansas and bordering states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee).

Eligible work must have been published or broadcast between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019.

Entries are now being accepted online at Submitted entries can be either pdfs or URL links or both. No Word documents accepted.

The entry deadline is March 20, 2020

For details on entry rules and requirements please visit here.

To pay for entries, go here.

No Fooling: Arkansas SPJ offers two $1K scholarships for 2020-21 — Application deadline is April 1

No Fooling: Arkansas SPJ offers two $1K scholarships for 2020-21 — Application deadline is April 1

Society of Professional Journalists — Arkansas Pro Chapter
Instructions for scholarship application
Application Deadline is April 1, 2020

Applications will be reviewed after all the necessary documents have been received. Only those applications and supporting materials emailed or postmarked by the April 1, 2020, deadline will be considered.

Besides the application, you must submit:

1. An essay about your career aspirations and any personal information deemed relevant
(500-word maximum) to demonstrate your writing ability.

2. Two letters of reference, one from a person familiar with your abilities.

3. A transcript of college grades through the Fall 2019 semester.

4. Three examples of your work and any other relevant information.

Please note: All application information will be held in strict confidence. Applications are destroyed after a decision is reached and announced.

Scholarships will be given only to a sophomore, junior, or senior attending
an Arkansas college or university during the 2020-21 school year. An applicant must be
majoring or minoring in a journalism, public relations, or an associated communications emphasis. Each scholarship will be awarded to a full-time student on the basis of need,
academic achievement, and distinguished ability in media-related fields.

Visit to submit your application online or email this Application and accompanying materials to or send the materials by mail, no later than April 1, 2020, to:

Sonny Rhodes
School of Mass Communication
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 South University Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72204

Arkansas SPJ condemns TV reporter’s 3-day jail sentence for recording in courtroom

Arkansas SPJ condemns TV reporter’s 3-day jail sentence for recording in courtroom

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, along with SPJ’s Region 12 coordinator, call on Circuit Judge Brad Karren to withdraw the unjust and improper jail sentence he imposed on KNWA-TV journalist Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye for recording audio in his courtroom.

In addition to the unsettling three-day jail sentence, the judge placed Omeronye on six months probation and barred her from covering a murder trial in his court.

We consider the judge’s actions to be excessive and disrespectful of the public service provided by journalists to all citizens interested in the judicial process,” said Arkansas SPJ chapter President Sarah DeClerk.

As reported by various media, Omeronye said she made the recording for note-taking purposes only to ensure accuracy, a common practice in many courtrooms, including at the federal level.

Omeronye said she was unaware of Judge Karren’s order banning recording in his court, and she apologized for violating that order.

We believe her apology should have been sufficient. So did the judge, apparently, based on this quote from him in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: I think you have shown the proper remorse,” Karren said. “I don’t think you were thumbing your nose at the court.”

Yet the judge decided jail time was warranted for a journalist just trying to do her job and to ensure that her report would be accurate.

We deplore Judge Karren’s decision and again call on him to remove the sanctions he has imposed on  Omeronge.

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s oldest and most broad-based journalism organization. SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

Other SPJ chapters in support of this condemnation include, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Arkansas SPJ gets new president, VP

Arkansas SPJ gets new president, VP

After being elected the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 coordinator at the national conference in September, Arkansas SPJ’s three-term president, Jennifer Ellis, resigned the presidency today at the chapter’s board meeting. She will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors.

The board unanimously voted to approve a succession plan put forth by Ellis naming Sarah DeClerk president and Wendy Miller vice president. DeClerk previously served as vice president, and Miller served as co-treasurer with Rob Moritz, who will continue as the sole treasurer. Maggie McNeary remains the chapter’s secretary. In addition to Arkansas, Region 12 includes, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Arkansas SPJ is in good hands. We’ve worked hard these last few years to improve and protect journalism in our state and I’m confident our chapter will continue to be a standout,” Ellis said. “I look forward to encouraging communication and collaboration throughout our region for a Society that’s as vibrant as we are.”

Updated 2018-2019 Board Candidates long.indd

Arkansas SPJ wins small Chapter of the Year, student relations award

At the Society of Professional Journalists opening business meeting during the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference in San Antonio on Sept. 5, from left, are Arkansas SPJ board members Sarah DeClerk, vice president; Wendy Miller, treasurer; and Jennifer Ellis, president. Arkansas Pro won Small Chapter of the Year for the second year in a row, as well as a Circle of Excellence award in the area of student relations.

Circle of Excellence Awards recognize chapters that perform outstanding work in the areas of student relations (formerly campus relations), professional development, diversity and Freedom of Information Act/First Amendment. The winners in these categories are finalists for Chapter of the Year.

“Not long after the Capital Gazette newsroom shootings, the Arkansas chapter explored what it was like to report in the face of tragedy. A former TV anchor recalled her colleagues having to go on the air to report the news of their friend’s homicide. Other participants also told compelling stories. The chapter sold T-shirts to raise $500 for a fund to help the Capital Gazette,” said SPJ national president J. Alex Tarquinio.

The chapter was praised for inviting the public to events focused on immigration coverage, police and the press and FOI.

“One of the most fun events was called “Get the Scoop … and Check the Facts,” a traveling ice cream social. With actual ice cream scoops to give away, the series visited several college campuses and covered topics such as cultivating sources,” Tarquinio said.

“During Sunshine Week, one of the chapter’s FOIA blitz events was a FOI trivia game over pizza and beer. The chapter is helping to pay the cost of printing a state FOI handbook and is active in a state FOIA network,” she added.

SPJ’s 12 regional directors selected Arkansas Pro for these awards based on recommendations by the Directors-at-Large.

Chapter president Jennifer Ellis, Zoned Editions Editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was sworn in as SPJ’s Region 12 Coordinator at the closing business meeting on Sept. 7.

To join this award-winning chapter, visit

Arkansas SPJ to host Sports Reporting For Rookies

Arkansas SPJ to host Sports Reporting For Rookies

A Sports Reporting Workshop For Rookies

5:30 – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 21
North Little Rock High School
201 W. 22nd St., North Little Rock

Don’t just sit in the bleachers! Tackle the world of sports reporting with the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21. Come out to North Little Rock High School for an opportunity to tour the student TV station and the Charging Wildcat Football Stadium pressbox. Following the tour, professional , award-winning journalists will participate in a panel discussion about all things sports reporting. With topics ranging from Freedom of Information regarding high school and college athletics, to diversity in the field, this is a great opportunity to hear the Xs and Os from the pros. Oh yeah, and there will be pizza!

RSVP via Facebook or email Wendy Miller at by Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Make a donation toward the printing of the 2020 Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook and enter for a chance to win an All-Arkansas Preps football autographed by LA Charger and former Razorback Hunter Henry!

Panelists: Bruce Guthrie, Searcy Daily Citizen; Dorian Craft, THV 11; and Jeremy Muck, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Moderated by Nate Olson,