Skeel begins duties after long process of selecting SPJ’s top executive

It’s exciting to see the process of selecting the next executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists come to an end as Joe Skeel assumes his duties this week.hq-skeel

As the person in charge of the day-to-day operations of the nation’s largest, most broad-based group of journalists, the executive director is the key to making SPJ run on a daily basis.

As a member of the SPJ National Board of Directors and a member of the search committee, I had a role in selecting our new executive director.

The Process

The process of going through dozens of applications and narrowing it to a smaller group of candidates for interviews was daunting, to say the least.

But, in the end, we selected the BEST person for the job.   So, on Monday when I and my fellows SPJ Board members voted to hire Joe Skeel, it was with a collective sigh of relief.  We knew SPJ would be going in the right direction.

The Press

Already, some Web sites have picked up on the news:

SPJ Interim Executive Director Skeel Gets the Job Permanently
Editor & Publisher’s article was linked to the Web site of another professional organization to which I belong, the Radio-Television News Directors association.   By the way, RTNDA next month becomes RTDNA, the Radio-Television Digital News Association.

Joe Skeel named executive director of SPJ
Media bistro also picked up on the story and ran a short item on our decision, just two days ago.

The Pain of Loss

The decision tProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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hire a new executive director came with mixed emotions.  Many of us are still saddened the man who held this position for nearly a decade is no longer with us.

SPJ executive director Terry Harper passes away after battle with cancer
This news came this summer right when many SPJ leaders were preparing to come to Indianapolis, where our national headquarters is located, for a leadership retreat.

Thumping My Melon
Terry always kept an upbeat tone through his fight against cancer.  He even prepared a final posting that his wife, LeAnn, posted on the blog on the day of his death.  I get emotional every time I go to his Web site.

My Parents Dropped The Newspaper

One of the biggest reasons I became a journalist was because of my early exposure to the world of news and information via the daily newspaper.

As a child, I grew up in a house where we received by the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch (the morning newspaper) and The Richmond News Leader (the afternoon newspaper).

Tonight my father broke the BIG news to me– he had decided to discontinue receiving the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He asked if I would show him how to efficiently get his news on the Internet.

What made him make that decision?

The subscription cost just continued to rise even though the paper itself was shrinking.

Why should a customer pay MORE for less news?

I think the whole idea of printed newspaper going away wasn’t real to me — until this MAJOR shift in news consumption took place.

When I return home to Virginia later this year, there won’t be a copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch on my front porch.

My dad plans to get the community weekly, which specializes in covering Richmond’s black community.

I worked briefly as a stringer for The Richmond Free Press. But, this weekly has always been free.

Dad says even the Free Press is smaller than it used to be.

I’m having a hard time processing this latest news about newspapers.

Right now I’m in Alabama and I still get 3 or 4 papers each day.

But I can’t say that’s the case with many of my neighbors.

Since my dad won’t immediately be reading the content of the Times-Dispatch online, the reality is the staff there has lost a longtime reader.

That’s what is most troubling.

Is the cost of newsprint that much higher that newspapers have to charged subscribers more for a smaller newspaper that has less news?

That’s a question I would like to put the management at the Times-Dispatch and its parent company, Media General.