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FIU SPJ learns ethics by gambling

As part of the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Ethics Week,” members of the FIU chapter sat around a portable poker table Thursday, thumbing their chips and cards.

The setup belongs to SPJ Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky.

“Ethics week is like national dentistry week,” he told the group. “You know it’s good for you,but does anyone have any fun during national dentistry week?”

To make the week’s topic more interesting, Koretzky taught members how to play Texas Hold‘em with a twist - each card had printed on it an entry in the SPJ code of ethics.

At the end of each round, players read their cards, reinforcing their memory of the principles.

“There are 52 cards in a deck, and there are thankfully fewer entries into the SPJ code of ethics,”

Koretzky said. “So you put them all on the faces of some cards and they repeat.”

No one memorizes all of the items in the code, he said, but added he’s seen students who play the game recognize unethical behavior afterwards.

“I’ll ask how they know and they’ll say ‘I think I saw it on a poker card,’” he said. “The other professors don’t know what that’s about, but it warms my heart to see that.”

The winner of two games, Kayleen Padron, was a first-time poker player and first-semester SPJ


“I really liked it,” said Padron, 20. “It’s a really hard topic with journalists. Some can’t really grasp the idea of ethics, so it’s a fun, easy way to learn about it.”

The students picked the rules up quickly. Soon after the first round, Koretzky took a back seat to the event, allowing them to turn into ethics sharks on their own.

At the end of the meeting, Koretzky donated the table and cards, which were purchased with the SPJ Ethics Grant to the FIU chapter, initiating an annual FIU SPJ ethics and poker night.

“When we try to come up with SPJ programs we try to make them participatory,” said Koretzky. “Why talk about stuff? Just do it.”

Padron said she looks forward to future ethics-and- poker nights.

“It’s super fun and I win all the time, so yes, I’ll play!” she said.

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