Meet Girl Boss And Free Press Advocate, Laura Scudder

Laura Scudder is a sophomore at Mason studying Communication with a concentration in Journalism. She works on the Fourth Estate as a copy editor, is a social media editor for Her Campus George Mason, and is now adding the title of President of Mason’s Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) to her extensive resume. In short, Laura is a total Girl Boss. She is already making waves in the journalism world and her passion for the free press is undeniable, so it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to her about stepping into the role of President of SPJ. 

What is the purpose of the Society of Professional Journalists? 

LS: The Society of Professional Journalists is an organization which promotes the importance of a free and fair press. SPJ also focuses on teaching journalists ethics, legalities and the like. 

Why did you decide to join GMU’s chapter of SPJ? 

LS: I decided to join George Mason’s chapter of SPJ as soon as I realized it was a thing. Coming into my freshman year, I knew I wanted to join organizations that centered around journalism and media. I found out about SPJ through the Office of Student Media website, attended the first interest meeting, and that was that. The people were really cool and the chapter itself was doing great things, so it was a great fit for me from the get-go.

What do you hope to accomplish during your presidency? 

LS: As president, I really want to see the organization grow. I think that we could not only use SPJ as a way for college journalists to network with professionals in the industry, but we can also use it as a platform to teach people in student media about ethics, legalities, how to do certain things that might be daunting—like getting a Freedom of Information Act to access documents—and so on. I think people can get a lot out of the organization—it is very low stress, the people are great, and there are some really fun opportunities involved. I would like to see even more people join, more speakers and workshops, fun bonding events; I really want the community of journalists on campus to grow.

Photo courtesy of Laura Scudder

What are you most looking forward to during your time as president? 

LS: I am looking forward to seeing other people get something out of SPJ, just as I did. 

What advice do you have for other young female journalists? 

LS: I think some of the best advice I have for young female journalists is what I’ve heard from other young, experienced women in the field. The biggest common denominator out of things I’ve either heard or experienced is to advocate for yourself. When I originally joined SPJ, I ran for the open Social Media position. I didn’t get it, but that led to me being a Social Media Editor for Fourth Estate, Mason’s school newspaper. Advocating for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get what you want right away, but trying—even if it scares you—is definitely the first step. Lauryn Cantrell, the president of SPJ this past year, was always so encouraging about me pursuing different things in student media (and in general)—and encouraged me to run for president for the 2019-2020 year. When I did that, I did have to advocate for myself and explain why I would be a good fit for the position. Maybe I wasn’t ready for any position at the beginning of the year, but by the time the spring elections came around, I felt confident in the work I had been doing all year long. I knew I could advocate for myself because of the young women, like Lauryn, in my life who supported me and gave me the confidence to do these sorts of things. 

Why does SPJ mean so much to you as a journalist? 

LS: SPJ means a lot to me as a journalist because I realize how important the First Amendment really is! We can often take the media for granted—and I understand, as there are times when people can get the story wrong—but it is important that we recognize what a free press does for democracy. SPJ is an organization that allows for such recognition to thrive. 

You can read more from Laura online or in print with the Fourth Estate and on her Her Campus George Mason author profile.