Sep. 21, 2020  

SPJ Florida named ‘Chapter of the Year’ for the sixth time in a decade

The Society of Professional Journalists named SPJ Florida its 2020 Professional Chapter of the Year (Large Chapter), a designation that highlights the success of local chapters at supporting the society’s mission. 

SPJ leaders delivered the announcement Sunday, Sept. 13 at the annual award ceremony, capping its two-day virtual conference. It is the sixth time in a decade that the SPJ Florida professional chapter has earned the recognition.

Despite a grueling year for journalists, SPJ Florida continued to deliver a slate of creative programs and scholarships, pivoting mid-year to hosting training and events online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything,” SPJ Florida President Emily Bloch said. “In a tumultuous year for journalism, we led a national campaign on media literacy, took an unprecedented stance pro-newsroom unions and created a fund to help journalists affected financially by COVID-19. I am so proud.”

Bloch also won the society’s prestigious Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award (large chapter) in recognition of her leadership.

Though half SPJ Florida’s board members at one point were either laid off or furloughed, the organization still hosted online programs, including panels on how to start a podcast and how to connect with underserved communities.

SPJ Florida also started the Hand Up Fund, which dispenses donations to journalists financially burdened by the pandemic.  

In keeping with its trend of focusing on interactive programs, SPJ Florida hosted a series of Fake News Game Shows at public libraries, a program geared toward teaching media literacy. The chapter’s signature program, Fake News TM — a national campaign where the group attempted to trademark the term “fake news” in an effort to teach the general public about media literacy — was also highlighted. 

Notably, the SPJ Florida board took an unprecedented step when it became the first professional chapter to publicly support journalists’ right to organize labor unions. It partnered with The NewsGuild, a branch of the Communication Workers of America, on two events: a webinar on how to organize your newsroom and a panel discussion on how to reach communities with shrinking newsrooms and fewer resources.

“We’re so proud to be recognized for our efforts, this year especially,” Bloch said. “But most importantly, we hope our programs have helped journalists locally and beyond. That’s why we offer initiatives like our Fake News Game Show to anyone or any SPJ chapter interested.”

For more information about hosting an SPJ Florida program, email

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