Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins. A one-on-one with the SPJ’s new president.


Recent reports concerning the future of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) have stated, with one September post from NiemanLab saying that both membership and revenues are so low that the organization is set to "end the year $391,000 in the red," according to an audit prepared by an external accountant and dated August 2023. The same article by Sarah Scire featured the sub-head, "If we don’t change our thinking, the next incoming president will be the last president.”

That new president was sworn in at the October 1, 2023, annual convention in Las Vegas. She is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, journalism professor and associate dean for the Center for Media Design at the Santa Monica College, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins.

Hopkins also made history on that date as the first black woman ever to be elected to that post.

Hopkins feels confident that the financial issues reported are not insurmountable, stating during this interview with E&P Publisher Mike Blinder, "I can firmly and unequivocally say that I will not be the last president of the SPJ. All of the journalism organizations across the country are facing financial situations. We have the benefit of having a foundation that was created to be in support of the society. That foundation has $12 million in the bank." She continued, "We are on our way to 'righting the ship,' and I can firmly say that will happen before the end of my term."

Diversity within the SPJ and the journalism industry is another goal of Hopkin's. As quoted in the press release announcing her presidency, "I hesitated to join SPJ for several years because I just didn't see anyone who looked like me in leadership positions. It made me feel like I didn't belong in the organization. But I decided to be the change that I wanted to see in SPJ," she said. "Representation matters, and I hope to show through my leadership and diverse board of directors that there is a place for everyone at SPJ."

In this episode of "E&P Reports," we go one-on-one with newly sworn-in Society of Professional Journalists President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins to discuss how she plans to keep the organization prospering during a time of lagging membership and conference attendance, as well as her plans for SPJ's success. We also hear her views on the news media ecosystem as a whole and how we can define what is journalism in a world of disinformation and "fake news."



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