ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Society of Professional Journalists installed David Cuillier, director and associate professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Journalism, as its 97th president Monday, Aug. 26. Cuillier accepted office at the President’s Installation Banquet at the Excellence in Journalism 2013 conference, co-hosted with the Radio Television Digital News Association and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
“Today, professional journalists are needed more than ever – given all the misinformation and bunk out there,” Cuillier said. “A democratic society requires professionals skilled at collecting information, analyzing it, vetting it, and disseminating it clearly, quickly, accurately, and ethically. This is a calling, my friends.”
David Cuillier was born and raised in Washington state, where he served as editor of his high school paper and worked on his hometown weekly newspaper in Ferndale, Wash. In college, he was president of the Western Washington University SPJ student chapter, and then worked as a reporter and editor at community daily newspapers in the Pacific Northwest, including The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian, Idaho Statesman, Tri-City Herald and The (Everett, Wash.) Herald.
He earned his Ph.D. in Communication from Washington State University in 2006 and was hired as a journalism professor at the University of Arizona School of Journalism in Tucson, where he researches freedom of information issues and teaches computer-assisted reporting, public affairs reporting and access to public records. He was named director of the school in 2012.
In his work with SPJ, Cuillier chaired the Freedom of Information Committee from 2007 to 2011, and has served as a newsroom trainer since 2005. In 2010, he conducted a 45-day "Access Across America" road tour training more than 1,000 journalists in more than 35 states. He is co-author of "The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records" and is frequently called upon to speak about public records issues, including testifying before Congress.
Cuillier has four main goals for the organization during his one-year term: encourage committees to continue important projects, update the code of ethics, advocate for the First Amendment and work on becoming increasingly relevant in the age of technology and innovation.
One of many specific plans Cuillier spoke of was the development of “communities” within the organization. These groups will be for members with particular interests such as journalism education, criminal justice, sports, community journalism and digital media, among others.
“I really think this will make SPJ more valuable, increase membership and potentially strengthen chapters,” Cuillier said.
Cuillier also noted that the organization will continue pushing for a federal shield law in response to the Obama administration’s actions against the protection of journalists’ sources.
“We are going to stand firm against the atrocities — these horrific atrocities — inflicted on journalists by the NSA and other government thugs who seek to undermine what we call democracy,” Cuillier said. “Really, spying on reporters? Then lying about it? We can’t have this. This is unacceptable, and we are not going to stand for it.”
Cuillier ended his speech with a call for help in his mission, as SPJ is an organization all about collaboration and teamwork.
“Reflect on the amazing journalism honored tonight, and be proud of yourself and SPJ,” Cuillier said. “Because we are the best society in the world for professional journalism. And, it matters.”
Complete coverage of the 2013 Excellence in Journalism conference is available from EIJ News and the NAHJ Student Project.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ 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 more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.
Details: Ellen Kobe, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, firstname.lastname@example.org