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UW-Eau Claire Society of Professional Journalists chapter receives national honors

RELEASED: Nov. 29, 2011

Schossow
Breann Schossow

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was recognized this fall as its region's Chapter of the Year, making it one of the top 12 chapters in the nation.

The UW-Eau Claire chapter of SPJ is one of 15 student chapters in region six, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota.

Breann Schossow, a senior from Houston, Minn., and UW-Eau Claire SPJ president, represented the chapter at the national conference in September in New Orleans. She said that while a strategist from National Public Radio was the most influential speaker, she most enjoyed meeting other students from chapters around the nation who are as passionate about journalism as she and her fellow UW-Eau Claire SPJ members.

According to Schossow, to be eligible for the award an SPJ student chapter must turn in an annual report demonstrating its dedication to the programming requirements of diversity, ethics and freedom of information, professional development and locally important issues.

"We try, like other SPJ chapters, to lead by example and highlight the importance of ethics and responsibility," Schossow said, adding that some of the chapter's programming is specifically targeted at SPJ members and students interested in pursuing a journalism career, while at least one of its events is open to everyone at UW-Eau Claire and in the community.

SPJ Award

Schossow said the chapter is especially proud of its First Amendment Free Food Festival, an event it has hosted for two years. Festival participants sign away their First Amendment rights in exchange for a free lunch and, while eating that free lunch, are made aware of some of the rights they were willing to sign away.

"We love it as it offers the opportunity for Eau Claire students, faculty and staff, and community members to learn more about how fortunate we are to live in a country that provides protection of First Amendment rights," Schossow said, noting that the next festival is slated for April 18, 2012. "We have had good turnouts over the past two years."

Schossow said future plans for the SPJ chapter include collaborating with student chapters at the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State in Minnesota, and co-hosting "SPJ Cafes," a discussion group focused on current journalism issues, with the Western Wisconsin Press Club.

For more information about UW-Eau Claire's SPJ chapter, contact Breann Schossow at schossbm@uwec.edu.

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MC/JB/DW

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