Symbols of a Transition Ahead for SEJ

November 1, 2016

SEJ President's Report: Symbols of a Transition Ahead for SEJ

By SEJ President Bobby Magill

When I walked through the door of SEJ’s headquarters in Jenkintown, Pa., for the first time recently, I was greeted by large file cabinets full of nearly a quarter century of SEJ history and membership records. Inside are thousands of manila folders full of paper SEJ membership applications, resumes, payment receipts and much more.

I found my original SEJ application, from 2004 when I was the environment reporter at the weekly Taos News in northern New Mexico. The neat ballpoint script pressed into the pulp is a testament to how a lack of practice has atrophied my handwriting in the digital age.

Also in these cabinets: Folders full of SEJournal back issues — a complete archive of the predecessor to this online magazine, from its first print edition to its most recent.

As the SEJournal transforms into a digital weekly (we’ll still be publishing occasional topic-related printed editions of the magazine), it will be more timely and relevant as it reaches more and more of SEJ’s members.

In the coming months, as SEJ moves its headquarters to a location still yet to be determined, these file cabinets and the relics inside will be stashed into storage in favor of online membership and conference registration and digital record keeping, which have rendered dead-tree membership applications as obsolete as telephone books, newspaper border tape and pica poles.

These changes are easily symbolic of not only the digital revolution, but of the larger transition SEJ is undergoing through the next year.

Finding a place in SEJ for journalists of all stripes

In addition to the headquarters move, we’ll welcome a new executive director, explore new partnerships and seek new sources of funding that will provide for a more financially stable future for SEJ.

We’ll also begin considering new ideas for how SEJ can appeal to a wider range of journalists, including those who cover environment-related stories but don’t consider themselves “environmental” journalists.

In other words, if you’re a statehouse blogger in California who covers energy policy, you’ve got a place in SEJ. If you’re a city hall reporter for a college town newspaper covering land use changes created by a new football stadium, you’ve got a place in SEJ. If you cover biotech for a niche magazine in Texas, you’ve got a place in SEJ. 

Cover microgrids in Brooklyn, anti-flooding measures in the subway system in Manhattan, the reconstruction of LaGuardia Airport in Queens, Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx or a New Jersey commute made less predictable by a safety-challenged railroad? You’ve got a place in SEJ.

Is your Boulder beer beat connecting the dots between wildfires, flooding and the quality of the water in your milk stout? Repeat after me — you’ve got a place in SEJ!  

As you might have guessed, I’m incredibly excited about working with the board and SEJ’s new executive director to explore the many possibilities for new member outreach.

Finally, I’d like to tip my hat to our outgoing executive director, Beth Parke, who will be doing an incredible amount of work in the coming months to help shepherd SEJ’s transition from one epoch to the next. 

Her hard work, vision and passion for SEJ’s mission have helped make this organization so successful over the last 26 years. It will be her deft and caring passing of the baton that will help ensure that the legacy she has helped to create will endure long into a new era of leadership.

Thank you, Beth. 

Bobby Magill is senior science and energy writer at Climate Central in New York and is president of the SEJ.


* From the weekly news magazine SEJournal Online, Vol. 1, No. 1. Content from each new issue of SEJournal Online is available to the public via the SEJournal Online main page. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here. And see past issues of the SEJournal archived here.

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