Magazine article The Quill

Incarcerated Society of Professional Journalists

Magazine article The Quill

Incarcerated Society of Professional Journalists

Article excerpt

When Nancy Mullane said she thought the Society of Professional Journalists might accept a group of incarcerated men as members of a satellite chapter, I thought, "This woman is crazy." No way would "Professional Journalists" accept men banned from society as colleagues. But it turns out, they have. Now, 38 incarcerated SPJ members attend weekly meetings held inside a media center building surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers.

This project, to build an SPJ group inside San Quentin, took over a year to happen. We met once a month to discuss our plans, but more than that, Mullane brought fellow colleagues inside the prison. We had to win over the heads of the SPJ national office and the SPJ Northern California chapter board - and we did.

I still remember the day Lila LaHood, president of the Northern California chapter, came in and made the official announcement. It was June 17, 2015, that she personally welcomed us as members of the San Quentin satellite chapter of the NorCal SPJ. We celebrated with smiles and handshakes and posed for photographs, our first as SPJ members. I felt proud to receive the blue SPJ membership card with my name printed on its face.

Now we have colleagues visit as guests on a regular basis - awesome people like Michael Bott, producer for NBC Bay Area's "We Investigate" program; Quentin Hardy, formerly a reporter with The New York Times and now working for Google News; Julia Love, a reporter with Reuters, as well as Mullane, mentoring us. …

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