SOURCE: Society of Professional Journalists

October 31, 2007 12:15 ET

Society of Professional Journalists, National Arab American Journalists Association Join Forces

INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwire - October 31, 2007) - One of the nation's oldest journalism-advocacy organizations and the country's largest professional association for Arab-American journalists have joined to form a special membership group within the Society of Professional Journalists.

By providing tips, resources, training, mentoring and related discussion, SPJ and the National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) will work together to develop a dialogue that is sure to encourage newsroom diversity, crossover memberships and a greater understanding of cultures within the profession.

"This is the first step in a renewed effort by SPJ to reach out to all journalists across different cultures and media," SPJ National President Clint Brewer said. "SPJ wants to foster an atmosphere in the organization where all journalists are welcomed and find value in being a member."

The concept of membership sections was introduced in 2006 by the Society's national Board of Directors as a way of furthering member benefits in SPJ. With these special sections, members would be able to connect and interact regularly at professional levels, regardless of the medium in which they work. In early 2007, Ray Hanania, president of NAAJA, submitted a proposal for consideration to form the first membership section with the Society that would attract Arab Americans who work in journalism or who are journalism students. In May, the board voted to create the Arab American membership section within the Society. The blog "Al-Sahafiyeen," meaning "the journalists," was launched Oct. 15 on SPJ.org.

"Our goal in pursuing this is to provide a professional resource where Arab Americans can find guidance as they pursue careers in journalism," Hanania said. "And when it comes to professional journalism, no other organization offers more resources and support than the SPJ. We also hope the new SPJ-Arab Journalism Section will serve as a resource for all journalists on issues related to Arab Americans and the Middle East."

Membership into the Arab-American section is open to any SPJ member who pays an additional $10 per year to their national dues. The money raised will go toward grants for programs related to Arab-American journalism issues.

The NAAJA was launched in 1999 to help professional Arab-Americans journalists network. It has hosted four journalism conferences and has more than 150 members nationally.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For further information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.

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