Communication
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Student organization helps budding journalists step from classroom to the newsroom

by Fareeha Rehman, BA Communication '18, President, Society for Professional Journalists

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SPJ members with a Chuck Todd at a taping of Meet The Press

Journalism involvement on campus usually means writing for the Fourth Estate, anchoring for Mason Cable Network, or hosting a radio show on WGMU. These opportunities provide valuable experience, but professional journalism life can be very different.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is a young campus organization helping students make that leap from the classroom to the newsroom. Through informal and intimate meetings with active journalists in varied media careers, students get to hear insider information about what it’s like working in the industry.

SPJ members hear from Fox 5 entertainment reporter, Kevin McCarthy

This year alone, SPJ members heard about entertainment reporter Kevin McCarthy jetting to Los Angeles just for two-minute interviews with A-list stars, and how Capitals beat reporter, Isabelle Khurshudyan, found out the hockey team has a secret crossword puzzle club! Along with the candid stories, students learn the tips and tricks necessary to succeed and to truly enjoy the job.

SPJ also gives its members exclusive access to local and national media headquarters. In fall 2016 students were audience members in a live taping of NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, the day that Vice President Mike Pence was on the show.

The professional aspect of finding a career is just as important. SPJ has hosted workshops on personal branding, resume writing, and a networking using LinkedIn. Plus, meeting successful journalists almost weekly offers many chances to practice networking and interviewing.

Mason’s chapter of SPJ is one of many within the greater national organization. Attending national and regional SPJ conferences entails even more seminars and workshops, mingling with journalists from other areas, and a fun trip away from campus. SPJ is meant to improve and protect journalism. George Mason’s chapter commits to this by supporting aspiring journalism students at Mason and providing opportunities.

SPJ members collaborate on a video project with the Mason Cable Network

Student members also become a network within themselves, sharing internship and job opportunities with each other and showing support for personal and professional projects. With events like a “What Would You Do?” ethics game night and student-led collaborative workshops, SPJ forms friendships between students of all different journalism backgrounds who help each other succeed. SPJ member Manny Viezaga says that what he loves most about SPJ is “having the chance to meet with professionals in the field and network with them. Also, networking and meeting other students with similar interests and career goals is a great experience.”

SPJ meets every Tuesday at 5 pm, in the HUB room 1012. Non-members are welcome. To stay updated, you can follow @GmasonSPJ on Twitter and Facebook, and @spjgmu on Instagram.

To join, please contact President Fareeha Rehman at frehman3@gmu.edu. As one of our freelance guests, Lani Furbank advised, “never say no to things that sound fun to you!”

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