After Election Coup, SPJ Wins National Award

Koretzky, still a rebel.

When last we left the South Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, members were reeling from a

coup staged by Florida Atlantic University student newspaper adviser Michael Koretzky

and a band of young whippersnapper journos.

Old-guard board members of the venerable group were aghast at Koretzky's unconventional election tactics --new board members were voted in by surprise nominations from the floor--and a storm of finger-pointing and feather-ruffling erupted on this blog.

Now, less than a year later, the divided group has been recognized as the best large

professional SPJ chapter in the nation. "For all the gnashing of teeth and tearing of garments...something must have been done right," Koretzky says.

"It's a huge deal," adds chapter president Darcie Lunsford. "It's a good indication that we've been able to work really well together."

Not that it was easy. Shortly after the election, Koretzky was booted off the board. But other new,young members stayed on. And ironically, Koretzky continued to help organize some of the innovative programs that won the chapter national attention.

"I'm allowed to do programming, as long as I don't come around the house," he says.

Some of the year's best efforts included:

Will Write for Food: A group of college journalists stayed overnight in a Hollywood homeless shelter and produced a multimedia issue of the Homeless Voice newspaper.

-Project Invictus: A program to provide emotional support and inspiration to veteran journalists dealing with the massive layoffs and changes in the industry.

-Ethics Hold 'Em: A poker game on college campuses designed to teach student journalists the ethical tenets of the profession.

Lunsford points out that the chapter recruited 47 new members this year, although that was offset by 43 veterans who failed to renew their membership.

Meanwhile, the chapter's hard at work rewriting its by-laws so a coup can't be launched again this fall. Basking in the light of the new award, Lunsford is judicious about last year's controversy.

"I actually think that we've been able to put the bad feelings behind us," she says."It was a hard experience but...you grow from the things that are sometimes the most difficult." 

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