Minutes of the SPJ D.C. Pro Chapter Board Meeting
Wednesday, May 17, 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 Eric Falquero, April Bethea and Alice Ollstein.
Excused absences: Board members Jim Asendio and Elizabeth Grisham.
President Kathleen Burns called the meeting to order at about 7:10 p.m.
UPCOMING AWARDS DINNER, OTHER BUSINESS
Past President Julie Asher reported progress on selling tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner and getting the printed program finished and to the printer by May 31 so it can be delivered to the Press Club ahead of the night of the event on June 13.
Table buying is on pace for each Hall of Fame or DSA honoree, and about 70-80 invitations to the dinner will be mailed to the Dateline Awards finalists.
Steve Taylor is writing the script for the evening and making the arrangements for the head table. The menu is in the program. The swearing in of the new board will be held at the reception.
Board member Eric Falquero and Asher will be working together to put out an Eventbrite invitation for the event.
Falquero said at this point we have 21 people paid from the paper invitations for the event compared to 11 at the same time last year.
Some of the paper invitations were returned by the post office as undeliverable. Board members discussed whether the problem was the lack of an up-to-date roster from the national SPJ or another issue.
Asher said the National Press Club has indicated it would give us a code to email to the attendees for the event so they can enter through the security gates on the thirteenth floor of the Club. She said we may have to have someone at the gates, in case some attendees forget the code.
Recording Secretary Kathryn Foxhall reported she had sent out emails to 35 chapter members asking them to renew their memberships. These were people whose renewal date was in the last month or so, or in the next two to three months. The process took about an hour, she said.
She reported that she spoke at the World Press Freedom Day at the National Press Club about the “Censorship by PIO” issue. But due to the fact she was on a panel of eight people there was only minor discussion of that issue.
She also noted she wrote a blog post for SPJ Ethics Week that questioned the journalism ethics of working under these controls.
National SPJ is working on instituting a page on its website on the PIO issue.
She also reported the chapter handbook is progressing since Stephenie Overman gave us a description of how elections are conducted, starting with the nominations process, and we can insert the board’s decision on how to do voting by email.
Burns indicated we should also put procedures for the audit committee in the handbook.
Treasurer Amy Fickling said she would put together a section on financial procedures for the handbook.
The board discussed questions that have come up about people who are lifetime members of the national SPJ, including whether they are asked regularly to become a member of the chapter.
Asher moved that the board approve the minutes for the April meeting, after accepting corrections submitted from Burns, Fickling and board member April Bethea. Falquero seconded. The board approved the motion.
Burns noted that board member Elizabeth Grisham requested that board members look at the chapter website to see if there is anything missing. She also asked board member Alice Ollstein if she would create a list of previous programs the chapter has had for the website.
After hearing a report about Dateline Awards contest results that Burns obtained from contest coordinator Joyce Wang, the board discussed whether we should mention in the newsletter the specific number of entries in the award contest. Last year there were 118 entries. This year there were about 171 entries and there will be about 60 awards, according to the board discussion. One question was whether we should mention the number of entries to indicate how much the numbers of entries has increased, or just use the percentage increase. Another was whether such mention would make the awards seem less prestigious. The agreement was that the number of entries would go into the minutes, but not the newsletter article about the contest.
Foxhall reported that national SPJ has said they have no objections to the chapter using the Meltwater media list for membership solicitation.
Treasurer Amy Fickling had sent the treasurer’s report to the board by email in advance of the meeting day.
Asher moved, and Falquero seconded that the board accept the Treasurer’s Report. There was no discussion. The board approved the motion.
Burns noted the Audit Committee had called for the chapter to consider consolidating the two savings accounts we have. Fickling said she will have to ask if, for example, taking funds out of the Capital One savings account to transfer them to the higher-interest money market account would cause us to incur monthly fees. She will look at it to see if there is any down side.
Burns read audit committee’s statement that everything is in order with the accounts and Fickling deserves commendation for her years of service to the chapter as treasurer. The board agreed with a round of applause.
Asher noted that one of the Audit Committee’s recommendations was that each expense should be pre-approved by the board.
Fickling said if a board member is doing something like spending $3 on postage to send something, the member should alert the board in advance, preferably when the budget planning for an event or program is pre-approved by the board. There was consensus on the board that this should be policy. There was also agreement that the notification could be by email.
Vice President Jonathan Make suggested that policy should include, for example, getting approval for sending mail by methods that incur extra expense such as certified mail or return receipt.
In seeking approval by the board for reimbursement of some of her expenses for two earlier programs, Burns explained some of the expenses she had for which she did not have receipts, including calligraphy and fortune cookies for our January holiday party, as well as stamps and envelops.
Asher moved that the board approve Kathy Burns’s expenses for the Nov. 15 and the Jan. 7 programs, as outlined in the Treasurer’s Report on program income and expenses. Make seconded. The board approved the motion.
SPJ ANNUAL REPORT
Burns noted she is progressing on the annual report for the chapter which will go to SPJ national.
She said she would like to move forward on creating a foreign press liaison committee.
There have been several programs with foreign press.
The State Department says there are 1,000 credentialed foreign press. Foxhall noted that Press Club members can get into the Club’s list, although she does not know if foreign press can be sorted out.
Burns said she would spearhead an effort to have journalists here relate to the foreign press.
Burns said we should call for names and biographies to be submitted for chapter members who might serve in the three board seats that will be vacant when current members move into other positions at the beginning of the chapter year in June.
The board agreed on a plan to send the call out in the newsletter and by any email to current chapter members after June 15.
Board member Alice Ollstein had talked to the Journalism and Women Symposium about doing a joint event with the chapter of an outdoor screening of “All the President’s Men.” There was agreement the chapter would co-sponsor that.
Burns said Bill McCloskey will be arranging another baseball night at a Washington Nationals game, with a possibility of attendees getting inside to see the press box.
Ollstein also noted that board members had been talking about a program to bring together journalists and public relations professionals on how they can help each other and not be adversaries. She and Falquero said they would work on that.
On the plans for a session called “Muslimedia,” board member April Bethea said SPJ Region 3 director Michael Koretzky wanted our chapter to commit to spending a certain amount before he would get in touch with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The South Florida Pro Chapter, of which Koretzky is part, created the program concept, and has earlier hosted a session. Bethea said there is an advantage to working under the SPJ umbrella because they have a prior relationship with CAIR.
Board members also suggested having a program about reporting on religion in general, or a series of programs featuring media coverage of different religious groups.
Falquero moved that the board commit to spending $400 for an event in the fall and that our preference would be to hold it at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue. Make seconded the motion. The motion was approved, with Fickling abstaining. Bethea will be getting back in touch with Koretzky and provide the board with an update.
Make requested that a Doodle poll for the June board meeting include at least two possible dates.
The meeting was adjourned at about 9:20 p.m.