April 17 Celebration Will Mark 100th Anniversary of SPJ's Founding at DePauw
February 28, 2009
February 28, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — The Society of Professional Journalists -- the nation's most broad-based journalism organization, which was founded on the DePauw University campus (as Sigma Delta Chi) in May 1909 -- will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a series of events at DePauw on April 17. Honored guests will include Ken Paulson, president of the Newseum in Washington, D.C.; Richard Tofel, journalist and author of a new biography of "business journalist of the century" Barney Kilgore (DePauw '29); and award-winning journalist Jane Pauley.
"We are so very proud that members of the Society of Professional Journalists from around the nation will be coming to DePauw, where the roots of the organization and journalism itself run deep," says DePauw University President Brian W. Casey. "Our students, faculty and staff will benefit from these events, as will the Greencastle community and the state as a whole, and we invite people to be a part of this historic celebration."
"This gathering is about celebrating our past and contemplating the future of our organization and industry," notes Terry Harper, executive director of SPJ and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. "And it seems like we’ve come full circle in going to DePauw for this event. SPJ started there, but the headquarters has moved from Chicago, back to Greencastle and finally to Indianapolis. We’ve expanded and moved, but it’s always important to recognize your roots."
The day's events will begin with a 2 p.m. presentation by Richard J. Tofel, author of Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism. Tofel's address, in Meharry Hall of historic East College, will examine the career of Bernard Kilgore, who has been called the "man who transformed the Wall Street Journal -- and modern media," and whose career in journalism began at DePauw.
At 3 p.m., Bob Steele '69, Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw and Poynter Institute faculty member, will moderate a panel discussion on "Journalism in Times of Peril and Promise," which will examine the profession's past, present and future. Panelists will include Ken Paulson, who now leads the Freedom Forum and Newseum and is former editor of USA Today; Karen B. Dunlap, president of the Poynter Institute; Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism; Suzanne McCarroll, a reporter at KCNC-TV in Denver; and Bruce Sanford, SPJ legal counsel and First Amendment attorney. The session will also take place in Meharry Hall, up the stairs from the room in which SPJ was founded 100 years ago. [UPDATE 3/16: Bob Edwards of XM Radio will also be part of the panel.]
In the same location at 4:45 p.m., a ceremony will be held to commemorate SPJ's 100th anniversary, inspired by the fraternal traditions started by the Society's original members.
An anniversary dinner will begin at 5:45 in the ballroom of the Memorial Student Union Building. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online.
The historic day will be capped off with a lecture by Jane Pauley, a veteran of many years at NBC News and a 30-year member of SPJ, which is presented by DePauw's Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture Series. The 7:30 p.m. speech will take place in Meharry Hall. The following afternoon at Walden Inn, she and another four journalists -- Craig Klugman, James Brown, Janet Flanner and Ernest Wilkinson -- will be inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
"The Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame was created by SPJ and is located at DePauw University's historic East College in the room where Sigma Delta Chi was founded," said Ray Moscowitz, president of the IJHoF organization. "The journalistic excellence and diversity in the Class of 2009 is typical. We are honoring an outstanding newspaper editor, a retired top editor, a legendary national magazine columnist, a noted broadcast journalist, and a leading educator."
Learn more at SPJ's Web site.
On May 6, 1909, a story on the front page of The DePauw Daily announced that ten DePauw University student-journalists had formed Sigma Delta Chi, a journalism fraternity. The founders decided at the outset that the fraternity should be honorary, as distinguished from the usual pattern of social Greek-letter fraternities. The idea was to support a truthful, honorable press, one not dominated by commercialism. By planting journalistic ideals in student newspapermen they could make great strides towards their goal. Within a few years, Sigma Delta Chi had spread to a dozen other campuses and eventually became a national institution and an influential voice in American journalism.Back