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Why I joined PWPA

by Stephanie Longo
Vice president, PWPA

It all started with a phone call.

I was working as the editor of The Villager newspaper in Moscow, near Scranton, when I received an intriguing phone call.

“Hello, this is Kathy Ruff, I am the Northeast Regional Director for the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association,” the friendly voice said.

Kathy then asked me a few questions about my job; I explained to her that I was editor of a one-woman show weekly newspaper and that I also was a full-time student at Regent University working on my masters in journalism.

“So, you’re really on your own up there?” she said.

Oh I was on my own.

I really was — especially considering the fact that my direct supervisor’s office was more than 45 minutes away in Honesdale.

By the end of that phone conversation, I was hooked. I had to join PWPA.

Flash forward to our Excellence in Journalism awards two years later. I had won an award for work I had done while at The Villager for a multimedia piece and, after the luncheon, my mother and I were relaxing in the Hilton Harrisburg’s lobby. This time, a smiling face approached me.

“Hello, you’re Stephanie Longo, you just won an award with us; I’m Kay Stephens. PWPA is looking for a secretary. I thought you might be interested.”

Again, I was intrigued. Admittedly, I’m not the type of person to immediately open my mouth and volunteer for something, so the fact that someone would actually go out of their way to invite me to participate meant a lot to me.

I now have been a PWPA member since 2007, having served as board secretary, Northeast Regional Director and now board vice president. While my involvement as a board member is something I always will cherish, it is the friendships I have made that have made my participation worthwhile.

I never would have met our current board president (and one of my dearest friends) Daveen Kurutz if it hadn’t been for this organization. Having a friend who understands the ins and outs of your job is priceless.

I also had the opportunity to make friends with other journalists from my region. Perhaps while at work we are “competition” but outside, we are all trying to make a living and sometimes it is nice just to get together, talk shop and remember why we became journalists in the first place.

On a more personal level, my membership with PWPA has helped me increase my self-confidence as a journalist. By winning awards, I discovered I am talented at my craft — something I often didn’t fully own. I also became a better journalist through conversations with other members and by getting to read their publications, especially those from outside of Northeast Pennsylvania.

If anyone were to ask me if they should join PWPA, I would emphatically say “yes.” For $25 a year, the benefits far outweigh the cost, which also is a bargain compared to other professional organizations in our field.

If any of you know a potential journalist who is “on the fence” about joining, I’d be happy to speak with them personally.

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