Benefits of belonging to professional organization

Casandra Workman, Co-President

The start of the school year often brings with it solicitations from professional organizations asking staffs, advisers and schools to join their organizations. Some advisers simply discard these memberships as unworthy of the price of membership, but these memberships offer benefits of which many advisers may not be aware.

First and foremost, membership in professional organizations offer a network of support in a profession notorious for its isolation. Often, advisers in a journalism class have very few co-workers, if any, with whom they can collaborate. In some schools, the same person advises the newspaper, yearbook and broadcast journalism class, which means there is no one else left to collaborate, share lessons, and commiserate. Joining professional organizations gives advisers a whole network of people that can offer support, advice, lessons, suggestions for content, and strength when tasks become overwhelming.

Second, joining a journalism organization, or several, gives credence to your program, and identifies it as a program serious about journalism. Aside from the added prestige for the program, high school students participating in the program may also include the credentials in their college applications. With colleges being more and more selective and competitive, anything that gives our students material for their resumes` only adds to their overall package.

Finally, many organizations offer incentives such as a listserv, which provides advisers with a forum to post ideas or questions, as well as responding to any other posts. Other incentives include entries into contests, and professional advice on sensitive topics such as Law and Ethics. Most organizations come with recognition of membership in the form of certificates or pins. Many offer scholarship opportunities to members, and some even allow induction as honorees, such as Quill and Scroll.

Before you throw away a solicitation for membership, take the time to look at what the membership includes and the cost. It may be worth spending the money to be part of something bigger, that gives so much more than what appears on paper.


About Matthew LaPorte

Matthew LaPorte is the current adviser of the Southwest Shadow online news site and The Howl yearbook at Southwest Career and Technical Academy. He is also the co-President of SNSJ. One of his goals as a founding member of SNSJ is to help create a network of students and advisers who can share their expertise and share the benefits of participating in scholastic journalism in Southern Nevada. When he is not working, Matt enjoys heading off to The Pearl or to The Joint to relive his teenage years rocking out.