Society of Professional Journalists

"Sigma Delta Chi" redirects here. For the sorority, see Sigma Delta Chi (sorority).
Society of Professional Journalists

Logo, Society of Professional Journalists
Formation 1909 (1909)
Headquarters 3909 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
Official language
Lynn Walsh [1]
Key people
Rebecca Baker - President-Elect

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi, is the oldest organization representing journalists in the United States. It was established in April 1909 at DePauw University,[2][3] and its charter was designed by William Meharry Glenn.[4] The ten founding members of Sigma Delta Chi were Gilbert C. Clippinger, Charles A. Fisher, William M. Glenn, H. Hedges, L. Aldis Hutchens, Edward H. Lockwood, LeRoy H. Millikan, Eugene C. Pulliam, Paul M. Riddick, and Lawrence H. Sloan.[5]


The stated mission of SPJ is to promote and defend the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press; encourage high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism; and promote and support diversity in journalism.[6]

SPJ has nearly 300 chapters across the United States that bring educational programming to local areas and offer regular contact with other media professionals. Its membership base is more than 9,000 members of the media.

SPJ initiatives include a Legal Defense Fund that wages court battles to secure First Amendment rights; the Project Sunshine campaign, to improve the ability of journalists and the public to obtain access to government records; the magazine Quill; and the annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which honour excellence in journalism.

It has also drawn up a Code of Ethics that aims to inspire journalists to adhere to high standards of behavior and decision-making while performing their work.

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) have a strong belief that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The ethical journalists work to ensure that the free exchange of information is accurate, fair and thorough.[7] The SPJ’s code of ethics states that journalists should "seek truth and report it" and that "journalists should be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information." The society declares the following four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism;[8]

  1. Seek truth and report it: Ethical Journalism should be accurate and fair. Ethical journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  2. Minimize harm: Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
  3. Act independently: The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
  4. Be accountable: Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.[9]

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) encourage the use of these principles in its practice by all people in all media.


In 2009, The Society of Professional Journalists had revenue of $1.4 million. It spent $1.6 million.[10] The same year, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation had a revenue of $934,731 and expenditures of $766,690.[10]

Sigma Delta Chi received $312,500 in grants in 2009.[11]

Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award

The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award is awarded annually by the Society of Professional Journalists in honor of publisher Eugene S. Pulliam's dedication to First Amendment rights and values. The award seeks "to honor a person or persons who have fought to protect and preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment."[12]

2015 The Columbus Dispatch and the Student Press Law Center
2014 Associated Press
2013 Gina Barton, John Diedrich and Ben Poston, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
2012 Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald
2011 Associated Press
2010 Renee Dudley, The Island Packet of Bluffton, S.C.[13]
2009 Jill Riepenhoff and Todd Jones, The Columbus Dispatch
2008 Jim Schaefer & M.L. Elrick, Detroit Free Press
2007 Joe Adams, The Florida Times-Union
2006 Terry Francke, Peter Scheer and the California First Amendment Coalition
2005 Kate Martin and the Center for National Security Studies
2004 Dan Christensen, Miami Daily Business Review
2003 Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Chronicle
2002 Dr. William Lawbaugh, Mount Saint Mary's University

Kunkel Award

Responding to concerns originating in the Gamergate controversy, in 2015 the SPJ launched the Kunkel Award (named after pioneering video game journalist, Bill Kunkel) for ethics in game journalism.[14][15]

2015 Kotaku, The Guardian, Super Bunnyhop, Innuendo Studios, Ars Technica


  1. About the SPJ: Board of Directors at
  2. Glenn, William Meharry (1949). The Sigma Delta Chi Story (1909-1949). Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  3. 2009 SPJ Annual Report, letter from the presidents
  4. "William Meharry Glenn". Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  5. "Sigma Delta Chi, Honorary Journalism Fraternity, Founded at DePauw". DePauw University. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  6. Society of Professional Journalists - "Our Mission"
  7. "SPJ Code of Ethics". Society of Professional journalists. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  8. McIntosh, Shawn; Pavlik, John V. (2015). Converging media : a new introduction to mass communication (Fourth edition. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199342303.
  9. "Code of Ethics pdf" (PDF). PDF file. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  10. 1 2 2009 SPJ annual report, page 10
  11. 2009 SPJ annual report, page 6
  12. ' "Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award"
  13. "Reporter Dudley wins award" October 7, * 2010 The Post and Courier retrieved November 8, * 2015
  14. "Why some SPJ leaders are engaging Gamergate". Columbia Journalism Review. 23 Nov 2015.
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