SPJ, USA Today promote reading

Mark Hammontree

In order to promote the College Readership service and to encourage students to read newspapers, The University of Alabama’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will partner with USA Today and The New York Times for Get Caught Reading Day.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, students across campus can tweet photos for an opportunity to win prizes.

In past years, the campaign has consisted of SPJ members canvasing campus to take photos of students reading newspapers, but this year, Get Caught Reading will rely on students to submit their own photos.

(See also “Students ask public to submit photos for digital media project“)

“We decided this year, instead of walking all over campus on a specific day and finding people reading either The Crimson White, The New York Times or USA Today and giving out prizes, we’d have people send in photos,” President of SPJ Casey Voyles said. “Since we have such a big campus, and it’s growing everywhere, it would take so many of us to spread all over campus all day long, and so it’s just more effective and more efficient if we have people just tweet in pictures.”

Voyles said any student can participate by simply tweeting their photos using the hashtag #getcaught and tagging @UASPJ and @USATODAYcollege.

“It’s pretty short and simple; they could be reading USA Today, The New York Times or The Crimson White, just reading some sort of newspaper,” Voyles said. “USA Today, of course, likes the Twitter idea because they can track it throughout the day, too. It may put a little bit more pressure on us, but it’s kind of encouraging, too, to make it bigger and better than it was in previous years.”

(See also “UA alums promote literacy through poetry readings“)

The best submitted photos in a variety of categories will be chosen by SPJ leadership, and the winners will be announced Wednesday.

“The New York Times and also USA Today have donated us prizes to give out,” Voyles said. “We’ll be looking for the funniest pictures, the best visual pictures and the best group pictures, all that sort of stuff.”

Other universities and campuses will hold their own Get Caught Reading events on other dates, but Voyles said Tuesday’s event is specific to the University.

The University, the journalism department and SPJ have long had a good relationship with USA Today, and Voyles said she sees this campaign as an example of that connection and an opportunity for SPJ to express gratitude for the College Readership program that provides students free copies of USA Today and The New York Times at newsstands across campus.

“USA Today has been a great partnership with UA and the journalism department and all of us,” Voyles said. “They encourage us each and every year to try out for things, you know, each competition and scholarship that they have, and it’s important that since they support us, we support them and show them that we’re grateful for the ability that we have to get these papers every day. It’s kind of a luxury that not every campus has, and we’re very thankful for our partnership with them.”

(See also “The Crimson White staff honored at SEJC“)