Society of Professional Journalists

(Redirected from Sigma Delta Chi)

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 on April 17, 1909, at DePauw University,[3][4] and its charter was designed by William Meharry Glenn.[5][1]

Society of Professional Journalists
FormationApril 17, 1909; 115 years ago (1909-04-17)[1]
Headquarters3909 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
Official language
Patricia Gallagher Newberry[2]
Key people
Matthew T. Hall - President-Elect
The original logo of ΣΔΧ; the pin was similar.



The Society of Professional Journalists was established on April 17, 1909, as a men's professional fraternity named Sigma Delta Chi. Its ten founding members were:[6]

  • 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
  • Lawrence H. Sloan.

The organization continued to function as a fraternity until 1960 when it became a professional society. At the 1969 San Diego convention, Sigma Delta Chi decided to begin admitting women into the society. In 1973, the society changed its name to Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. In 1988, the present Society of Professional Journalists name was adopted.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]



SPJ has nearly 300 chapters across the United States.



Its membership base is more than 6,000 members of the media.



The society's chapters bring educational programming to local areas and offer regular contact with other media professionals. 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 honor excellence in journalism.



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."[10]

Year Recipient References
2020 The Post and Courier
2019 Spotlight Team, Boston Globe
2018 Kansas City Star
2017 Better Government Association
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. [11]
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 William Lawbaugh, Mount Saint Mary's University
1997 Jonathan Marshall, Scottsdale Daily Progress

Kunkel Awards


Responding to concerns originating in the Gamergate controversy, in 2015 the SPJ launched the Kunkel Awards (named after pioneering video game journalist Bill Kunkel) for game journalism.[12][13] The award was folded into the Mark of Excellence Awards in 2020[14]

Year Recipient References
2019 Super Bunnyhop, Alex Andrejev (Washington Post), Luke Winkie (The Atlantic), Kenneth Niemeyer (Daily Mississippian), Alex Andrejev (Washington Post), Ferris Jabr (New York Times Magazine) [15]
2018 Mark Brown, Megan Fernandez (Indianapolis Monthly), Lydia Niles (The Daily Orange), Felix Gillette (Bloomberg), Cecilia D'Anastasio (Kotaku) [16]
2017 My Life in Gaming, Brian Crecente (Polygon), Caroline Bartholomew (The Daily Orange), Simon Parkin (Nautilus), Jason Schreier(Kotaku) [17]
2016 Brad Glasgow (Allthink), Richard Moss (Polygon)/Ben Sailer (Kill Screen), Aiden Strawhun (Kotaku), Danny O'Dwyer (Noclip) [18]
2015 Kotaku, The Guardian, Super Bunnyhop, Innuendo Studios, Ars Technica [19]

Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement


The Helen Thomas lifetime achievement award was awarded by the SPJ between 2000 and 2010.[20] It was named after Helen Thomas, who received the first award in 2000. The award was discontinued in 2011 due to the controversy surrounding Thomas's statements about Jews and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[21][22]

Year Recipient References
2010 David Perlman (science journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle) [23]
2009 Robert Churchwell [24]
2008 Caryl Rivers (Boston University) [25]
2007 Chuck Stone (first president of the National Association of Black Journalists) [26]
2006 Stan Chambers (KTLA, Los Angeles) [27]
2005 Alan Walden (WBAL Baltimore) [28]
2004 Tom Brokaw (NBC News) [20]
2003 Ed Barber (The Independent Florida Alligator) [20]
2002 Tom and Pat Gish (The Mountain Eagle, Whitesburg, Kentucky) [20]
2001 not awarded [20]
2000 Helen Thomas, former senior UPI White House correspondent [20]

Other Awards


The SPJ also administers the Green Eyeshade Awards and the Sunshine State Awards. The Green Eyeshade Awards annually recognize journalists in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.[29] The Sunshine State Awards are given each year to journalists in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.[30]


  1. ^ a b Professional Fraternities by Professional Interfraternity Conference - 1950
  2. ^ About the SPJ: Board of Directors at
  3. ^ Glenn, William Meharry (1949). The Sigma Delta Chi Story (1909-1949). Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  4. ^ 2009 SPJ Annual Report, letter from the presidents
  5. ^ "William Meharry Glenn". Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  6. ^ "Sigma Delta Chi, Honorary Journalism Fraternity, Founded at DePauw". DePauw University. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  7. ^ Aeikens, Dave (March 3, 2009). "Join us in celebrating 100 years of SPJ at DePauw University in April". Quill.
  8. ^ Society of Professional Journalists - "Our Mission"
  9. ^ "SPJ Code of Ethics". Society of Professional journalists. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  10. ^ "Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award"
  11. ^ "Reporter Dudley wins award" October 7, * 2010 The Post and Courier retrieved November 8, * 2015
  12. ^ "Why some SPJ leaders are engaging Gamergate". Columbia Journalism Review. November 23, 2015.
  13. ^ "#161 - #Gamergate debate, 'Original Gamer Podcast' - Podcat". Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  14. ^ Koretzky, Michael. Over, not out. Society of Professional Journalists. 10 May 2020.
  15. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2019 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2019.
  16. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2018 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2018.
  17. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2017 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2017.
  18. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2016 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2017.
  19. ^ Kunkel Awards - 2015 Winners. Society of Professional Journalists. 2016.
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement - Society of Professional Journalists".
  21. ^ SPJ board of directors votes to retire Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award
  22. ^ Retirement of Helen Thomas award upheld by convention delegates
  23. ^ "SPJ honors David Perlman with lifetime achievement award".
  24. ^ "Civil Rights-era journalist Robert Churchwell honored with Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement".
  25. ^ "Caryl Rivers Honored with Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement".
  26. ^ "Chuck Stone Honored with Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award".
  27. ^ "Stan Chambers Honored with Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award".
  28. ^ "SPJ honors Alan Walden with lifetime achievement award".
  29. ^ "Green Eyeshade Awards | Excellence in Journalism". Retrieved 2023-07-31.
  30. ^ "Sunshine State Awards | SPJ Florida". Retrieved 2023-07-31.