McKerral Has the Cure for Chapter Illnesses

Article excerpt

Chapter Doc: A prescription to bring new energy to ailing chapters

It doesn't take much to throw your health out of whack.

The slightest bug can turn a healthy body into a physical mess.

Radical changes in lifestyle often lead to the demise of health.

Lack of physical activity can lead to neglect that leads to susceptibility to sickness.

Serious financial woes or isolation can lead to depression that eventually leads to physical ailments.

And the list goes on and on.

SPJ chapters have many parallels with the human body when it comes to health. Remember that our chapters represent the individual organs that make up the SPJ body. Each one - student, pro, satellite or provisional - plays a role in the overall maintenance and effectiveness of SPJ as a national organization.

And as with the human body, it doesn't take much to throw a chapter's health out of whack. We all know that maintenance and nurturing constant and planned - increases our chances to stay physically fit and healthy. So it is with the SPJ chapters.

I know. I'm the chapter doctor.

Kyle Niederpruem, SPJ president, gave me my license after the national convention last year. After completing my residency - nine years of service at the national level with seven as a board member and five as a national officer - Kyle decided that I had picked up a few skills when it came to dealing with symptoms that often lead to the death of chapters.

The "bug" that leads to major health problems can take many forms in a chapter. Often it's complacency or losing sight of the value that comes with belonging to and supporting a professional journalism organization with a mission that holds benefits for all.

"Radical changes in lifestyle" for chapters is a common killer. The biggest threat: wholesale loss of leadership because of switches in jobs or burnout.

"Lack of physical activity" for chapters comes in the form of fewer and fewer programs for members and the public, and not sending chapter members to regional and national conventions where they can regenerate and share common "headaches" with other members. Often that camaraderie leads to a cure.

"Serious financial woes" at the chapter level come from lack of planning for fund-raisers needed to support chapter programs and hopefully to help chapter members attend SPJ regional and national functions. And perhaps the most insidious of all health threats is isolation from the SPJ network - usually over a period of time - that leads to belief that as journalists we can survive on our own without the help of a strong professional network. …