Confucius didn’t really say this, but a lot of people think he did: “I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.”
Whoever said it, the Society for Professional Journalism lives by it.
Our programs are participatory, easy, and free. We host them for you or help you host them – by providing all the boring logistics, so you can stick to the fun and creative parts. You can also add your own twists or even revamp everything, and we’re just fine with that.
A warning: It’s much easier to host panel discussions under fluorescent lights in chilly conference rooms. Our programs require participation, perspiration, and sometimes intimidation. You actually do something, instead of just listening to someone.
Click the photos below to learn more…
What you do: Rope off a section of your campus or your city and trade free food for signing away your First Amendment rights. That means no talking in line (no freedom of speech) or sitting with your friends (no freedom of assembly). Religious ceremonies are interrupted (no freedom of religion) and reporters are ejected (no freedom of press). Don’t like the food you’re served? Go to the empty complaint table (no right to petition for redress of grievances).
What you get: T-shirts, cigars, money and help for riot gear and other props, plus help negotiating with local food providers.
What you do: Play poker with specially printed decks of cards. The faces of the cards have entries from SPJ’s Code of Ethics. Because there are fewer entries than there are cards, some are repeated. Players get 100 extra chips for every match they find – which means greed isn’t only good, it’s ethical.
What you get: A couple free decks mailed to you and a copy of the rules you can change at a whim.
What you do: Host a halal lunch at a local mosque, where journalists and Muslim community members will discuss how we cover Islam here and abroad.
What you get: Through a partnership with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, we can introduce you to leaders of the nearest mosque and help you defray the cost of lunch. We can also show you agendas and share slide decks from other Muslimedias around the country, so you can tailor your own lunch to suit your needs.
What you do: Teach better interviewing tactics by employing zombies. Each participant get a free white Zombie Stories T-shirt, and if they ask a zombie a dumb question, they get doused in fake (?) blood. The least soiled interviewer wins a $50 gift certificate.
What you get: As many T-shirts as you need shipped to you, help finding makeup artists in your area, other logistical help, and the $50 gift certificate for free.
What you do: Advise a high school or college newspaper to violate as many entries as possible in SPJ’s Code of Ethics, publishing the results in print or online. Along the way, you educate readers about how journalism ethics really work – and what the world would look like without them.
What you get: As usual, any logistical help you need. Plus, the best effort during each calendar year, as determined by a panel of SPJ leaders, receives a $100 pizza party.
What you do: Fake a death in funeral home and teach journalists how to best write an obituary. The winner, as determined by the “corpse,” gets a trophy – a funeral urn with the words “Death Race” on it. Inside are the ashes of the local newspaper.
What you get: Help finding the funeral home. (We now have experience doing this.) We’ll also ship you the funeral urn trophy.
What you do: Recruit at least 20 local journalists – high school, college, or pro – who want to learn more about drone journalism. Every year, we send certified drone pilots who happen to be a journalists to your area, where they’ll show you exactly what you can do – because you’ll fly a drone and record footage with their help.
What you get: A free visit from a pilot/journalist with their drone to play with.
What you do: Go old-school and assemble competitive “zines.” If that doesn’t make sense, this might: Pit two teams of weary journalists against each other and let them do something creative using no computers. Feed them along the way, and watch them smile.
What you get: Zine materials shipped to your door and the usual help setting up the day (and/or night, depending on your mood).
What you do: A college newspaper publishes an entire issue using no computers, documenting the painful process every step of the way. Instead of learning about the history of journalism, students live it.
What you get: Typewriters and photo enlarger, chemicals, and paper shipped to you at cost, as long as you promise to ship them to the next participant. And of course, all the logistical help you need.
What you do: Pair two journalists who don’t know each other on teams, who must play a Scrabble game with a mere 30-second time limit to put down a word. Blow deadline and lose your turn. This is a quick way to make mixers and receptions less awkward, and it’s better than most corny icebreakers.
What you get: Instructions for the game.
What you do: Help a student newspaper turn over a web or print edition to its sources, where they’ll get hands-on publishing experience with you acting as journalism adviser. After all, the best way to learn about a free press is to run one.
What you get: Besides the usual logistical assistance, you can apply for a grant to defray the cost of providing lunch for those who will work in the newsroom.