Minutes of the SPJ D.C. Pro Chapter Board Meeting
Wednesday, April 14, 2017
The McClendon Room
The National Press Club
Present: President Kathleen Burns; Vice President Jonathan Make; Immediate Past President Julie Asher; Treasurer Amy Fickling; Recording Secretary Kathryn Foxhall; and board members Elizabeth Grisham, Eric Falquero, April Bethea and Alice Ollstein.
Excused absences: Board member Jim Asendio.
President Kathleen Burns called the meeting to order at about 7:10 p.m.
UPCOMING AWARDS DINNER, OTHER BUSINESS
Past President Julie Asher reported things are going well with the plans for the awards dinner in June, including the printing of the invitations and programs. She agreed she would browse the Meltwater list for people to send paper invitations. She will be working with the same vendor about getting the obelisks and the DSA plaque for this year’s honorees and will have the obelisks shipped to the National Press Club to hold for us until the event.
Eric Falquero reported all the Hall of Fame honorees have been confirmed.
President Kathleen Burns noted that Hall of Fame honorees will be offered a one year membership in national SPJ and the chapter, as has been the custom.
Falquero reported back on his research on buying a microphone for the chapter to make video casts more feasible. The ones that would adequately capture sound for a webinar or a panel are about $100-$200.
Vice President Jonathan Make moved the board approve the expenditure of up to $200 for such a microphone provided Falquero back up the recommendation and we decide on which one to buy by the next board meeting. Asher seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Falquero also reminded the board he is working on a brochure for the chapter to be used in addition to the national SPJ brochure. It was noted that it would be good to discuss our activities and signature issues in the brochure.
He suggested that one brochure panel should target students. Falquero and Board Member Elizabeth Grisham noted that the brochure should connect to social media, for instance through a QR code. And Grisham suggested it be posted on spjdc.org, suitable for downloading.
Board members were invited to contact him in the next two weeks with ideas.
BYLAWS AND CONSTITUTION DISCUSSION
Board Member April Bethea and Treasurer Amy Fickling continued the board’s discussion on potential changes to the chapter’s bylaws and constitution.
The first discussion was on how the chapter defines programs and meetings. Bethea noted that the suggested new language follows either the SPJ national language or that of other SPJ chapters.
The suggested language says that appropriate notice should be given for meetings, but consensus was that we should not mention a specific time in the bylaws themselves.
One discussion was whether there should be any qualification in that statement that meetings will be open, whether the reasons for going into executive session were too limited and whether the chapter could have a strong policy against having closed meetings without the bylaws themselves being strict on it.
Bethea noted that language for open meetings is in the SPJ model bylaws and at least 10 other SPJ chapter bylaws.
The board also discussed how the new policy on email votes would relate to the changes in the bylaws and constitution.
Members indicated the board can talk to experts in the chapter and at the national headquarters about the issues.
The board looked at the proposed new section of the bylaws that would add an order of succession in case the President is unable to perform his or her duties.
Another change would add instructions as to what would happen if the chapter were to ever disband, including what would happen to the chapter resources.
The board also discussed what level of expenditures should be mandated to be pre-approved by the board and what small amounts should be considered approved by the adopted budget, in terms of the bylaws.
Make indicated that the proposed addition to the bylaws basically codifies current chapter practice.
Another discussion was on whether the December deadline for naming the nominating committee is too early or whether it’s appropriate. Asher said she could not see changing the standard just because the deadline has not been met in the past. Fickling noted that with a February 1 deadline for contacting the nominating committee for self-nomination for any board slot already in the bylaws, December is not too early for having a nominating committee in place.
The board will continue the discussion of the bylaws and constitution at a later meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Recording Secretary Kathryn Foxhall had sent the minutes of the March meeting out by email. Fickling had offered amendments which were appreciated.
Burns suggested several other changes.
During discussion of the minutes, there was general agreement that the candidates’ names, bios and positions they are seeking will appear on the statement about the election going to the members.
Asher moved and Falquero seconded to approve the March minutes as amended. The motion was approved unanimously.
Burns thanked Board Member Elizabeth Grisham for her achievement of the posting of the minutes up to date on the chapter’s website.
UPDATES ON THE PIO ISSUE
Foxhall reported that she and SPJ president Lynn Walsh had communicated with people in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication about journalism schools getting involved in a project on the controls by public information officers.
Possible projects include doing research on the issue, or having discussions at their meetings.
Foxhall also said that the Institute of Journalism at the National Press Club will be having a panel discussion on World Press Freedom Day, May 3. She is making arrangements for Kathy Kiely, who works with the Institute of Journalism, to communicate with SPJ President Lynn Walsh about an SPJ presentation at that session.
Grisham reported that the ballot for the upcoming elections is set up and scheduled to go out by email on April 15. The chapter membership roster sent from national headquarters in the last several days will be used for that emailing.
Asher said that of her short list of members who need paper ballots most don’t show up on the chapter roster. Some of them are lifetime members.
One question was whether we have a problem with people who pay lifetime dues to the national SPJ, but do not appear on the chapter roster. Another question is whether people pay lifetime dues to the national SPJ and then do not pay chapter dues in succeeding years, meaning they don’t show up on the chapter roster.
Asher said she will call headquarters about the issue, but that people who are currently not on the roster will not be able to vote.
Make asked Asher if she would send a letter to those people who are lifetime members asking them if they also want to pay chapter dues.
Foxhall and Asher noted that they had discussed doing articles on the procedure for the elections and for the dinner for the chapter handbook that is in process.
Both indicated the handbook articles should be discussions of how the chapter is currently doing things and not rules for coming years. Foxhall also said that she would paste in the recent agreement on electronic voting.
Foxhall also said that if the board was happy with the proposed email letter for requesting renewals that could go out shortly.
Grisham discussed the idea of arranging the newsletter so that there would be shorter blurbs that would guide the reader to a longer story. She also talked about pushing the communications on events etc., to social media alerts. She said the chapter should make better use of Facebook to achieve better exposure.
Make said we should have a longer discussion about our use of social media.
Asher reported that the recent job fair that SPJ co-sponsors with other local journalism groups went well, with about 200 people and 22 recruiters attending. She said she and Fickling helped on the day of the event. Most of the recruiters were happy to be there, and a couple have already hired people from the event.
She said it is a good event for the chapter and the chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists does the heavy work on it.
Asked about the process of national headquarters paying the chapter for the chapter dues, Fickling said headquarters sends a check occasionally. This chapter year, she said, it has sent about three and we could get another before the year is over.
She had sent the treasurer’s report by email earlier. She noted we had a deficit last year for the awards program, due to the fact we moved online for the first time. However, this year we have more entrants and incoming funds are up.
Asher moved and Foxhall seconded approving the treasurer’s report. The motion was approved unanimously.
Asher said the chapter would use the new Meltwater list to ask people to come to the awards dinner.
The board discussed the chapter’s upcoming event at the New York Times bureau. Slots will be saved for national SPJ President Lynn Walsh, who will be in town, and Gideon Grudo, who is national Freedom of Information Committee chair.
Alice Ollstein said she hopes in the future we will try to ensure that some number of places at events go to students and young professionals. Make said that might involve sending the information out to those groups first.
The board also talked about holding a Muslim media event, as other SPJ chapters have.
Bethea said the event might require $400 to $750 from the chapter. The planning would include, she said, deciding which Islamic center to coordinate with and deciding how many people might be there.
The free event would include learning what is at the Islamic facility, having lunch and then a discussion. There may be journalists or a media contact from the center to speak.
SPJ has partnered with Counsel on Islamic-American Relations and SPJ headquarters is willing to make a connection with an Islamic center. There is a grant from national SPJ involved in this so that a graduate student can administer the event and do the marketing for it.
Make said that various events may push the Islamic session into the summer, at least. One question is whether attendance would be low in those months. Bethea said the Florida SPJ Chapter, which originated this program, would provide help with it and that she would be working on details.
Members also talked about possibly making this part of a series and including other religions.
Bethea will be providing additional information on planning the event.
During final comments, Make suggested that the newsletter be sent out in the middle of the day, rather than at midnight or the very early morning to keep it from being buried in people’s inboxes.
Grisham will send a Doodle Poll for selecting a date for the May board meeting, and will include dates in early June, before the week of the dinner.
The meeting was adjourned at about 9:20 p.m.