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Mission and History

Mission

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The Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington Chapter is dedicated to the promotion of high standards of journalism and fellowship among all professional journalists. This chapter works to serve Western Washington journalists from the Canadian border down to Vancouver, Washington through programming, awards, scholarships, and education. While this chapter does not take in dues or income from the national or regional organization, we are considered part of SPJ, the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 7,500 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts. 

Charter

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The Western Washington Professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists received its charter on Nov. 14, 1947.

The charter was presented by John McClelland Jr., national secretary of Sigma Delta Chi and editor of the (Longview) Daily News, in a ceremony in the Communications Building at the University of Washington.

One professional and 14 student chapter members were initiated at the same event, according to a 1948 Quill magazine story.

The welcoming address was made by Sol Lewis, editor and publisher of the (Lynden) Tribune and a past national president of Sigma Delta Chi, later renamed the Society of Professional Journalists.

First Members

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The account doesn’t give the number of chapter members at that time, but said a group of them met informally every morning at the Boeing Airplane Company. Carl Cleveland, another chapter member mentioned, was advertising manager there and was perhaps one of the earliest members in the area. He joined the national society in 1926.

The initial organization of the chapter actually began in the first decades of the century. In 1935, the national fraternity “approved” the chapter, and finally granted the charter 12 years later.

The chapter’s members come from all areas of journalism, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, wire services and on-line news. The roster includes reporters, editors, publishers, media owners, freelancers, educators, students and nearly every kind of journalist, as well as some who have moved to other fields and some associate members.

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