The assistant professor of journalism begins a one-year appointment overseeing the financial well-being of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Dating back to his career as a broadcast news reporter, Israel Balderas has always valued the mission of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) to improve and protect journalism. In recent years, the assistant professor of journalism has turned his support into action, accepting several SPJ leadership roles, and he recently earned a new title.
As part of the organization’s 2022-23 election process, Balderas was elected as SPJ’s new secretary-treasurer. During his one-year term, he will serve as a member of organization’s national board and executive committee, overseeing the society’s financial well-being. This will include managing all receipts, disbursements, assets and liabilities for the organization, while keeping SPJ’s 6,000-plus members informed of budgetary issues.
Balderas explained that taking on these responsibilities to help propel the organization’s mission forward mirrors his efforts in the School of Communications and the classroom.
“One of my priorities when teaching Media Law and Ethics at Elon is to help students understand that the First Amendment is – will be – the most important area of law that communicators need to know well. But it goes beyond just knowing it. I believe you need to be passionate about it,” Balderas said. “And there’s a reason why Elon teaches both media law and ethics in one course. We believe ethics helps a free people act with integrity. In this way, Elon and SPJ align in their belief that such public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Everything Elon’s faculty, staff and students believe in regarding the First Amendment is also advanced by the Society of Professional Journalists. And by me championing SPJ’s mission, I’m also elevating Elon’s place in this public endeavor.”
Balderas said he is proud of SPJ’s role “encouraging free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior” because of their importance to our society and informing communities.
“As we fight to ensure that the free exchange of information is accurate, fair and thorough, we believe that results in a well-informed citizenry, which in turn builds up a healthy democracy,” he said. “And as stewards for ethical journalism, we aim to build public trust in the media and greater accountability in the profession.”
Balderas was a prominent figure during SPJ’s annual convention, MediaFest22, held Oct. 27-30 in Washington, D.C. In addition to being elected as secretary-treasurer, narrowly defeating runner-up Michael Koretzky, president of SPJ Florida, he emceed the Fellows of the Society keynote address. The event honored Jerry Green, Roland Martin, John Quiñones, Clarissa Ward and Bill Whitaker with the organization’s highest professional honor.
Additionally, Balderas was recognized as well, receiving the President’s Award from outgoing president – and good friend – Rebecca Aguilar. The award honors an individual for “outstanding contributions of talent, truth and energy of the highest level for the betterment of the profession, the Society and its members.”
An Emmy Award-winning journalist and an attorney, Balderas arrived at Elon in fall 2021. Previously, he taught journalism and media law at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he served as the faculty adviser to The Beacon Today, the school’s student newspaper.
Balderas also worked as a journalist at several local TV stations, news agencies and cable networks from Florida to Texas. He has experience as a producer and news experience in Washington, D.C., with The Associated Press Latin America and Reuters.
In other MediaFest22 news, Elon News Network won both a Newspaper Pacemaker and an inaugural Multiplatform Pacemaker from the Associated Collegiate Press at the Fall National College Media Convention that was sponsored jointly by SPJ, ACP and the College Media Association.