You’ve reached the San Antonio chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, the oldest organization representing journalists in the United States. We host area networking events and workshops, address major issues and put on a yearly fundraiser called Gridiron, an SNL-style political satire show that raises money for scholarships for local student journalists. Join us!
GRIDIRON 2023: Thank you!
AI: Absolute Insanity
It was absolutely crazy! And we have all of you fantastic fans who turned out (daring people that you are) to thank for that. We had a great time — we heard you did, too — and raised funds for scholarships.
We had a fine crowd for both the matinee and the evening shows, with plenty of VIPs. Celebrity watchers got an eyeful!
Last year, the highlight of the show was “Thriller,” fitting since it was Halloween weekend. This year, it was the gritorious opening extravaganza with excellent UTSA mariachi performers and our own Nora Lopez as the lead singer for a one-of-a-kind “Gridiron Loco,” perfectly suited for the day of our performances, Saturday, Sept. 16, el dieciséis de septiembre!
The focus of the show was on Artificial Intelligence — the jokes and skits just boggled the mind (and some sensibilities). If you didn’t get to see it, well, we’re sure sorry you missed it! (Actually, a couple of cast members are probably glad certain folks weren’t there since we took a few pratfalls, you know, but it’s all for the students!) If you didn’t get to go and you’d like to help the students, you can still donate here! We know they (and we) appreciate it.
Once again, we were at the beautiful Buena Vista Theater at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s downtown San Antonio. It is a stellar venue, and we very much appreciate UTSA’s support, especially Teresa Niño, UTSA’s vice president of university relations!
As mentioned, the show, sponsored by the San Antonio Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (when they care to admit it), raises scholarship funds for the next generation of truth-tellers. So not only did those in the audience have the proverbial barrel of laughs at our expense, they donated to a worthwhile cause.
Keep an eye on this space for information on next year’s show. Who knows what our band of thespian wannabes will come up with next!
SPJ Region 8
Talk is already underway about where we’re going to be for next year’s Region 8 conference, after San Antonio’s own Laura Garcia, night news editor at the Texas Tribune, was elected Regional Coordinator for the Society of Professional Journalists Region 8, which covers Texas and Oklahoma. Garcia was appointed in December 2022, and won election at the SPJ annual conference in September.
Options for the conference locations are a hot topic, but the decision hasn’t been made yet. Keep an eye on the Region 8 blog for information.
For 2023, The Society of Professional Journalists had its Region 8 conference on April 1 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, bringing together journalists from across Texas and Oklahoma.
The 2023 conference started with a networking mixer on Friday, March 31, followed by a full day of on-campus journalism sessions on April 1, including the Mark of Excellence collegiate journalism award ceremony.
Participants heard from experts in their fields about digging for public records, landing that first job, starting a podcast, safety during live shots, covering courts and cops, the politics beat, becoming a newsroom leader and so much more. Coffee and a boxed lunch were included.
We received much positive feedback and some constructive critiques about potential improvements. If you didn’t get to attend the one in April, we hope you will join us for the next conference. In the meantime, visit the Region 8 blog for the latest updates.
2023 scholarships have been awarded!
Thank you to everyone who applied. The Society of Professional Journalists-San Antonio Chapter awards scholarships annually. The next round of scholarships will be presented in 2024. You may be eligible for a scholarship if you attend a San Antonio or South Texas college or university OR if you have a permanent address in the San Antonio or South Texas region, which includes San Antonio, Seguin, New Braunfels, and San Marcos.
For more information, visit our scholarship page.
GRIDIRON 2022: IT WAS SCARY
A big thank you!
We are so grateful for all those who helped make Gridiron’s in-person return possible. The show helps fund scholarships for the region’s top journalism students.
The San Antonio Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists would especially like to thank the show’s sponsors, the Gridiron cast and crew, and the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Buena Vista Theater staff. And, of course, our marvelous guest stars who were a highlight of the show! Here are just a few images from the October 31 performances.
Commentary: Journalists under threat in Uvalde
Our chapter president, Michael Drudge, wrote a column about the intimidation and resistance journalists are facing after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde. The column first appeared in the San Antonio Express-News on June 7, 2022.
Michael W. Drudge, For the Express-News
The journalism community is alarmed by the threats and intimidation news media have faced trying to report the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde.
It began last Wednesday when police threatened news crews with arrest for criminal trespassing while journalists waited at the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District office in hope of interviewing UCISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo. The next day, police leveled the same threat at reporters trying to cover the funerals of shooting victims.
Police have kept reporters and camera crews blocks away from Sacred Heart Catholic Church during funeral Masses. Police from agencies across the state have strategically parked vehicles to block video and photographic coverage. Motorcycle club members have confronted news crews outside the church, claiming to act on behalf of the police. Tensions are high. Nerves are raw.
Adding to the problems journalists face is a virtual news blackout on the part of state and local authorities.
Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez represents Uvalde. He’s been a high-profile news source with contacts inside the Texas Department of Public Safety. He revealed Friday that a DPS official told him Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee ordered DPS not to release any more information to the senator or the public. The Associated Press reported Friday the DPS referred all questions to Busbee, who did not return phone calls and text messages from the Associated Press.
For their part, police are understandably on edge, particularly at the UCISD. Arredondo has been widely criticized for not acting more quickly to confront the shooter. Arredondo has had extra security placed around him. And Uvalde is a small city with no experience handling such intense scrutiny from media around the world.
There is widespread empathy among journalists for the pain and suffering Uvalde is experiencing. Many journalists are parents or grandparents, aunts and uncles of children just like those slain at Robb Elementary School. Journalists have fought back tears, live on TV, while reporting on this tragedy.
And journalists have been following an obligation to practice ethical norms as they report.
These standards have been on display in Uvalde.
Journalists have treated the relatives of victims and the survivors with respect. They have told moving stories about the dead. And they have reported as much as we can learn so far about the shooter without sensationalizing the crime.
The Uvalde story is far from finished. Journalists will continue to seek answers to the many unanswered questions. We ask for understanding and cooperation from police and civil authorities. The public relies on all of us to get to the truth and report it.