Minutes of the SPJ D.C. Pro Chapter Board Meeting
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
National Press Club
Present: President Julie Asher; Vice President Kathy Burns; Treasurer Amy Fickling; Recording Secretary Kathryn Foxhall; and board members Daniel Young, Al Leeds, Jonathan Make, Eric Falquero and James Plante.
Excused absences: Corresponding Secretary Joe Starrs.
CALL TO ORDER
At 7:07 p.m. President Julie Asher called the meeting to order.
The minutes of the May 10 board meeting were not ready for review, due to personal issues of Recording Secretary Kathryn Foxhall. She will circulate them for review shortly.
Treasurer Amy Fickling had sent the monthly treasurer’s report to board members by email on June 20. It was noted the chapter has two checking accounts. Fickling said that was due to a special offer from a bank sometime back. It was suggested that the board might put the SPJ Region 2 funds, which the chapter holds, in the second checking account.
Vice President Kathleen Burns asked if the board might put some of its money into a mutual fund. Fickling said she did not think it would be a good idea.
Burns moved that the board accept the June Treasurer’s Report; Asher seconded; the motion passed unanimously.
ANNUAL DINNER: President Julie Asher thanked Fickling and new board members Eric Falquero for their work on reservations and other details for the Hall of Fame Awards dinner, held June 14. Other chapter members also pitched in in various capacities, she said.
In discussing how the annual event turned out this year, Fickling noted there were 113 attendees (of which about 20 were comp’d guests of the chapter) and that no one came and paid at the door. Jonathan Make noted we had fewer entries in the Dateline Awards contest this year, so that may have impacted dinner attendance. The awards are given out at the HOF dinner. He said that four news outlets got most of the Dateline Awards.
DATELINE CONTEST: Board members talked about how to communicate better about the contest, including using all the email lists we have on various platforms. Kathryn Foxhall will send the list created from the Hudson’s Washington Media directory to Elizabeth Grisham so she can work on using that list, along with others.
Fickling said lack of a capacity to pay online this year, the first year the entries were submitted online, may have held down the number of entries for the contest. The board agreed that online payment needs to be in place for the 2017 contest.
It was noted that a broader range of outlets submitted entries this year than in previous years.
ANNUAL REPORT: Asher reported that the chapter’s annual report had been sent to SPJ headquarters on time last month.
JUNE 15 INTERN MIXER: She also said the chapter did hold the planned summer mixer for interns at the Georgetown University satellite campus on Massachusetts Ave., with about 70 people attending. Jenna Johnson, a political reporter for the Washington Post, talked about coverage of presidential candidate Donald Trump.
ASSISTANT TREASURER: Asher also noted she had asked Daniel Young to be assistant treasurer for the chapter, and he agreed to accept the new position. The Audit Committee, which met in May, had recommended that an assistant to the treasurer be appointed to share the workload.
BOARD RETREAT: The board is deciding on a date for a retreat, possibly in late July or August. Since a location and date for the chapter picnic, which traditionally includes a “joint board” meeting of the outgoing and incoming boards before the meal, have not been determined, a separate retreat is an option as a meeting to orient the new board members.
Elizabeth Grisham, who has agreed to help with chapter communications and the Dateline newsletter, will set up and send out a Doodle poll for board members to indicate dates they would be available for a retreat. She also will set up and send out a Doodle poll on days of the week when board members can meet during a month, to try to get a consensus for a monthly board meeting date.
FINAL MEETING AS PRESIDENT: Asher also noted that since the chapter presidency changes hands the night of the chapter’s annual dinner, this is her last meeting as president. As newly minted immediate past president, she will be in charge of the annual dinner for 2017, per chapter tradition for the immediate past president’s role during his/her year in that capacity.
Incoming president Burns took this moment to present to Asher a gift card from the board in appreciation for her service during the past three years as president.
VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT
Newly minted Vice President Jonathan Make said that new board member Alice Ollstein has arranged a panel on new media political journalism. The chapter has asked the Specialized Information Publishers Association to co-sponsor it, but a venue has not been finalized.
Asher asked whether we want to have a summer picnic. Young said he might prefer a fall picnic. Asher and Young will work on finding a suitable location for a picnic in the fall.
Make noted he hopes to arrange a panel on libel and slander, particularly in light of some statements by presidential candidate Donald Trump. He said we might have a lawyer and a journalist speak for that one.
Outgoing vice president Burns said she is looking into having the chapter holiday party at a venue near George Washington University where she attended an event recently. She said the food is good and lunch prices are much cheaper than holding an evening event. Asher called for other ideas on where to have the holiday party.
Make also said one idea is to do a happy hour with the foreign press.
Asher also said there is a possibility of showing the film “Spotlight” the fall, possibly at the Georgetown University satellite campus on Massachusetts Ave. She said she will talk to her contacts about using that facility. If available, we could invite other groups to participate. National headquarters has arranged licensing rights that allows local chapters to have a viewing, but licensing rights expire October 1.
Burns said tickets for “Phantom of the Opera” at the Kennedy Center on August 17 are still available, but anyone wanting to attend should get the money to her by July 7.
Burns reported that a committee consisting of herself, Maurine Beasley and Andy Schotz have a revised chapter bylaws document for consideration, and that they would like to get it passed in August.
Asher said the chapter is still thinking about revisions in the bylaws and the announcement about that, soliciting any ideas from members, has been in the chapter newsletter. It may be too ambitious to think the process can be completed in August, since the board still has to approve any draft that would go before the general membership for a vote, she noted.
Burns said the committee would be sending them out to the board. Schotz has the changes on “track changes,” so she will get that and send that version out.
The question had come up, she said, as to whether the chapter has to have an in-person meeting of the membership to vote on these bylaws changes.
Fickling noted that working on the draft needs to include checks on whether when a change is made in one part of the document that necessitates a change in another part. Internal consistency, in other words.
Asher said she will be working with Dan Kubiske on filling some of the holes on the chapter website.
Foxhall reported the work with the national SPJ on censorship through restraints by public information officers is continuing. She noted incoming SPJ national president Lynn Walsh is particularly focused on the issue.
SDX FOUNDATION OF WASHINGTON: Asher presented a request from the president of the SDX Foundation of Washington, Reginald Stuart, asking that the chapter board approve four members recommended for the SDX-DC board for newthree-year terms expiring December 31, 2018. The SDX-DC board recommended that the chapter board approve these current SDX-DC members for new terms: Lesley Israel, William ”Bill” McCloskey, Frank Quine, and Joel Whitaker.
Asher said Fickling is a member of the foundation board, elected apart from her membership on that board by virtue of being an officer of the chapter board. She said that any of the chapter board members can attend the foundation meetings because they are ex-officio members of the foundation board.
On a motion for approval by Jim Plante, the board approved the four recommended SDX-DC board members unanimously.
Fickling said she will provide the board officers the date and location of the next SDX-DC meeting.
Burns said the chapter needs to consider that SDX-DC had been getting $10,000 from the Kiplinger Foundation as a contribution for its scholarship fund, and that amount will be reduced, now that Austin Kiplinger, SDX-DC’s main supporter on the Kiplinger Foundation board, has died.
Burns asked for suggestions for someone to fill the board vacancy created because Jonathan Make was elected vice president. Board members supplied several possible names. Burns offered four or five names with “star power” in journalism, none of whom are currently SPJ members. She reasoned that having them on the board would boost membership. Others expressed the view that we should be seeking current members of the chapter to get them more involved by serving on the board.
Asher stated the chapter has about 158 members. Burns said the chapter has not done a great deal on membership recruitment.
Plante said there were a great number of awards given out at the Hall of Fame Awards dinner this year. He suggested we may need another way to showcase them, perhaps a separate event from the Hall of Fame inductions.
Asher said there has been a suggestion of having a luncheon to showcase the award winners.
Make said Dan Kubiske did write a storify about the awards and we did have coverage of the dinner on the chapter website. He said we could live stream the awards event in the future.
Asher said we did have a Twitter hashtag for the event.
The deadline for copy for the next Dateline newsletter is August 13.
A motion to adjourn was approved unanimously at 8:45 p.m.