The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi, is the oldest organization representing journalists in the United States. It was established on April 17, 1909 at DePauw University, and its charter was designed by William Meharry Glenn.
The stated mission of SPJ is to promote and defend the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press; encourage high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism; and promote and support diversity in journalism.
SPJ has nearly 300 chapters across the United States that bring educational programming to local areas and offer regular contact with other media professionals. Its membership base is more than 9,000 members of the media.
SPJ initiatives include a Legal Defense Fund that wages court battles to secure First Amendment rights; the Project Sunshine campaign, to improve the ability of journalists and the public to obtain access to government records; the magazine Quill; and the annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which honour excellence in journalism.
It has also drawn up a Code of Ethics that aims to inspire journalists to adhere to high standards of behavior and decision-making while performing their work.
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) claim to have a strong belief that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The journalists claim to work to ensure that the free exchange of information is accurate, fair and thorough. The SPJ’s code of ethics states that journalists should "seek truth and report it" and that "journalists should be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information." The society declares the following four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism;
- Seek truth and report it: Ethical Journalism should be accurate and fair. Ethical journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
- Minimize harm: Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
- Act independently: The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
- Be accountable: Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) encourage the use of these principles in its practice by all people in all media.
The Society of Professional Journalists was founded as a men's professional fraternity by the name Sigma Delta Chi. The ten founding members of Sigma Delta Chi were Gilbert C. Clippinger, Charles A. Fisher, William M. Glenn, H. Hedges, L. Aldis Hutchens, Edward H. Lockwood, LeRoy H. Millikan, Eugene C. Pulliam, Paul M. Riddick, and Lawrence H. Sloan. The organization continued to function as a fraternity until 1960, when it became a professional society. At the 1969 San Diego convention, Sigma Delta Chi made the decision to begin admitting women into the society. In 1973, the society changed its name to Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. Finally, in 1988 "Sigma Delta Chi" was dropped from the name altogether and the present Society of Professional Journalists name was officially adopted.
In 2009, The Society of Professional Journalists had revenue of $1.4 million. It spent $1.6 million. The same year, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation had a revenue of $934,731 and expenditures of $766,690.
Sigma Delta Chi received $312,500 in grants in 2009.
Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award
The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award is awarded annually by the Society of Professional Journalists in honor of publisher Eugene S. Pulliam's dedication to First Amendment rights and values. The award seeks "to honor a person or persons who have fought to protect and preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment."
|2017||Better Government Association|
|2015||The Columbus Dispatch and the Student Press Law Center|
|2013||Gina Barton, John Diedrich and Ben Poston, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
|2012||Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald|
|2010||Renee Dudley, The Island Packet of Bluffton, S.C.|
|2009||Jill Riepenhoff and Todd Jones, The Columbus Dispatch|
|2008||Jim Schaefer & M.L. Elrick, Detroit Free Press|
|2007||Joe Adams, The Florida Times-Union|
|2006||Terry Francke, Peter Scheer and the California First Amendment Coalition|
|2005||Kate Martin and the Center for National Security Studies|
|2004||Dan Christensen, Miami Daily Business Review|
|2003||Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Chronicle|
|2002||Dr. William Lawbaugh, Mount Saint Mary's University|
|1997||Jonathan Marshall, Scottsdale Daily Progress|
Responding to concerns originating in the Gamergate controversy, in 2015 the SPJ launched the Kunkel Awards (named after pioneering video game journalist, Bill Kunkel) for ethics in game journalism.
|2016||Brad Glasgow (Allthink), Richard Moss (Polygon)/Ben Sailer (Kill Screen), Aiden Strawhun, Kotaku, Danny O'Dwyer (NoClip)|
|2015||Kotaku, The Guardian, Super Bunnyhop, Innuendo Studios, Ars Technica|