Graduation woes and journalists’ foes

Adam Stern
Sports Editor

VCU’s Society of Professional Journalists, a student organization, is hosting “Are We There Yet? A Road Map for Tomorrow’s Journalist”April 7from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the T. Edward Temple Building.

SPJ members said the program will provide attendees the opportunity to discuss the modern media environment and the journalism industry—addressing issues some mass communications majors might face after graduation.

“The way journalism is going, being told there are so few jobs, this gives a chance to meet professionals who actually work in the industry … and get a chance to network with them,” SPJ member Katherine Coates said.

The event will feature seven different workshops filled with professional writers and editors who will help students in both common ground aspects of the curriculum and other aspects that are not often discussed in VCU journalism classes, Coates said.

Workshops will include: A resume critique workshop, internship panel, The Sporting Life (featuring Richmond Times-Dispatch sports columnist Paul Woody) and entertainment reporting (featuring Richmond Times-Dispatch pop culture writer Melissa Ruggieri).

“Really (for events like this) we just ask what other students want to do, even if it’s something in left field, we can still try,” Coates said. “(With SPJ) we get so much more than what you get at a university setting just because we can have a session about what we want to learn more about.”

Coates said attendees will have an opportunity to network with established professionals.

“It’s really important (to network with current professionals) because they’re the ones who can give you advice; they can tell you what they’re looking for and that makes for an overall better experience,” Coates said.

The VCU branch of SPJ has about 10 members who organize events in addition to fulfilling their scholarly requirement of participating in charities and fundraisers. Recently, the group has had many prominent members of Virginia media come in to speak including Ryan Nobles of Richmond’s NBC12 and also traveled to a regional SPJ conference at the University of Maryland.

Members said they hope to hold more events similar to the upcoming conference and also aim to visit the Newseum in Washington D.C. They said they want to encourage more students at VCU to join an organization that has become an important tool in the kit of today’s modern journalist.

“Right now we’re suffering from what a lot of other organizations at VCU suffer from: We don’t have enough people who stay (in the long run),” Coates said. “We’re planning a lot of things for the future.”

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