Fresh from another engaging weekend at SPJ's Ted Scripps Leadership Institute I am struck by how much I learned from the wonderful participants in this program.
I was there to talk to them about chapter programming, funding and leadership continuity. I did those three things, but the real gem of the weekend funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation was the conversations in the hallways and over meals.
Several themes emerged and I'll likely spend some time writing more about them later. But what I learned is that there is increasing interest in freelancers in SPJ, there's a lot of concern about a federal shield law, a growing desire to work with bloggers, an almost overwhelming need to discuss the watchdog function of the press with the public and great frustration over newsroom burnout. Said one journalist: "No one ever retires from the newsroom anymore."
None of these subjects had anything really to do with what we discussed in the formal sessions of the retreat, but they are concerns the journalists leading SPJ are addressing. There are no easy answers and no quick fixes for the challenges that face our profession. But I was inspired simply by the wonderful, incredibly smart and compassionate human beings whom we call leaders.