Minutes of the SPJ-DC Pro Chapter Board Meeting
Thursday June 15, 2017
2115 Ward Court, NW
Present: President Jonathan Make, Vice President Alice Ollstein, Treasurer Eric Falquero, Recording Secretary Elizabeth Grisham, Corresponding Secretary Amy Fickling, Directors April Bethea and Dee Ann Divis, Immediate Past President Kathleen Burns, Region 2 Director Andy Schotz and Julie Asher
Director Kathryn Foxhall had an excused absence but arrived after the meeting was in progress.
Immediate Past President Kathleen Burns called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m.
Region 2 Director Andy Schotz then conducted the swearing in of newly elected SPJ-DC board members. Director Kathryn Foxhall was not present, so she will be sworn in at the August 2017 board meeting.
Former Treasurer Amy Fickling emailed the treasurer’s report to board members on June 14.
Fickling reported that as of meeting time, she did not have a final numbers for the June 13 Dateline Awards dinner profit/loss. She mentioned she was focused on wrapping up financial aspects of the dinner, and that the final fiscal year budget numbers will not be ready before June 30, the fiscal year end.
Burns asked Fickling to serve as assistant treasurer until September 2017. Fickling agreed to do so.
There being no questions, Julie Asher moved to accept the treasurer’s report as submitted. Jonathan Make seconded. The motion carried.
DISCUSSION OF CHAPTER BYLAWS
Fickling and Director April Bethea have been working on language for the chapter bylaws revisions the board has discussed making. Bethea asked national SPJ Associate Executive Director Tara Puckey to review language on open meetings the board had suggested for addition to the bylaws. Bethea reported that Puckey supported addressing openness in the bylaws, but was concerned about being too specific about the circumstances under which the board could go into executive session. The concern is that doing so might unfavorably bind future boards. Puckey suggested having a policy as a separate document that would describe specific circumstances under which the board could go into closed or executive sessions. Puckey shared a copy of national SPJ’s executive session policy. SPJ-DC can adopt some or all of it, but Bethea said that due to differences between national and SPJ-DC, SPJ-DC might not need to adopt national’s policy as written. One difference is that national has staff and SPJ-DC does not.
This policy on open/closed sessions is not something that has to be adopted at the same time as the bylaws, but something that could be drafted at a later date.
The board reviewed proposed new sections five and six under Article Six – Meetings of the original chapter Constitution.
Bethea asked if the board wanted to vote on the open meetings sections. She said if that was approved, we could come back at the next meeting with the final document and vote it up or down.
Fickling raised the question of whether the board should just do one up or down vote on all revisions as a whole or vote per section, once a draft is approved by the board and is ready to go to the membership for a vote.
Schotz said the board should ask the membership if there are any revisions anyone objects to or wants to change. If there are not, then put the whole revised document to a vote. He said presentation to the members should involve doing enough that everyone’s questions get answered (i.e., solicit responses via email, do an FAQ page).
The board agreed that the sequence would be to vote on all the bylaws changes suggested so far at the next meeting, then release them as a draft and solicit input and then start an “education” campaign on what the changes are before holding a vote among the whole membership.
Make moved that new sections five and six of Article 6 of the Constitution be approved as amended. Grisham seconded. The motion carried.
Burns asked if a vote was needed on section seven and then asked about membership. She said that Foxhall had mentioned that lifetime members are not automatically local chapter members. Burns asked if there was any mention in the current bylaws draft about lifetime members. Burns said lifetime members should not automatically have voting privileges unless they join the chapter.
Fickling said this issue was addressed elsewhere in the bylaws under membership definitions.
Burns said not knowing who the lifetime members are meant that the board could not invite them to the meeting. Schotz said lifetime members can be identified in the online roster by the abbreviation LIF. He said SPJ has different categories of members—Pro, Student, Graduate, Associate, Supporter, Lifetime—and that each category has a three-letter identifier. Everyone on the board has access to the chapter roster online at spj.org.
Burns asked if the board needed to mention that lifetime members must pay local dues in the bylaws. Bethea said yes, and added that this was addressed elsewhere in the bylaws.
Fickling said that she made a note in the draft revisions that associates are not considered members.
Schotz recommended that Fickling say associates and supporters are not considered members, to include the new supporter category. He said the associate category will go away eventually and the supporter category is meant to replace it.
MINUTES OF THE MAY BOARD MEETING
Make moved that the board approve the minutes of the May 17 board meeting. Burns seconded and called for discussion.
Falquero asked if the board needed to vote on approving the purchase of the microphone.
Make said the board would do that at the present meeting. He said following the discussion of the minutes, the board would vote on approving the purchase of the microphone.
Fickling noted that she thought the board voted on this issue previously, but it should be noted in the minutes for this meeting that the purchase was made and the cost that was incurred, as the board had previously approved up to $200, pending selection of a model.
Burns called for a vote to ratify the May minutes.
Fickling mentioned that prior to the meeting, she emailed revisions to the minutes to board members. She said she added some details related to the Dateline dinner. Among other things, Fickling said the term MusliMedia should be one word.
Burns said that a date and location of the July 5 event should also be added to the minutes. Ollstein said the event will be held in Storey Park in NoMa at sundown.
Make asked if board members had any additional questions and then moved that the board approve the minutes as amended by Fickling. Falquero seconded. Burns called for discussion.
Schotz said the spelling of Michael Koretzky’s name needed to be corrected. Divis said she needed to be listed as in attendance at the May meeting.
Burns called for a vote on the amended motion that the minutes, as amended by Fickling, with the additions made at the meeting by Burns, Divis and Schotz, be approved. The motion carried.
Make moved that the board approve Asher as an at-large director until June 2018. Divis seconded. The motion carried.
DISCUSSION OF NEWSLETTER & WEBSITE
Grisham reported that the newsletter was sent to 679 people and was successfully delivered to 656. The open rate for the newsletter was 16.6 percent, down from 19 percent the previous month. Many of the clicks on the MailChimp newsletter are multiple clicks by the same individuals. The board discussed ways to improve newsletter and website readership.
Copy deadline for the June newsletter is June 17 at 11:59 p.m. There will be no July issue, so the next issue will be the one for August, with the copy deadline Aug. 10 at 11:59 p.m.
Burns said board members should note the early bird deadline for the SPJ convention registration is July 11. Burns said the chapter would vote on delegates and those individuals would need to take advantage of early bird registration, as that is the rate the chapter usually reimburses delegates for. Burns said the conference would be September 7-9 and said SPJ-DC will likely have three delegates.
Make said the board would discuss selection of delegates at the August meeting.
Make asked for someone to write a blurb for the June newsletter—a call for delegates. He said that at that time, anyone who wants to can submit his or her name to be a delegate. The board will discuss the matter via email.
Schotz suggested that people get one week to decide and submit their names if they are interested. In a poll at the meeting, Schotz, Foxhall, Fickling and Burns expressed an interest in serving as delegates.
Bethea asked if we needed to present the opportunity to serve as a delegate to the members.
Make said, yes, the board should do so, just in the interest of transparency. He did not foresee a large number of people seeking to serve as delegates. Schotz said that if a member expressed interest in serving as a delegate but had never previously reached out to the board, it would be easy to reject them.
Bethea said, this year, SPJ is partnering with the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. Schotz said SPJ is also partnering with RTDNA.
FOREIGN PRESS LIAISON COMMITTEE
Burns said she sent out a proposal to vote on members for the Foreign Press Liaison Committee.
Those potential members are: Ana Pinilla (Business Wire), Ariel Moutsatsos (Televisa) and Warren Nelson (bureau chief for the Iran Times).
Burns said Pinilla, Moutsatsos and Nelson were all interested in serving on the committee and all are members of SPJ. Burns will form the committee. The contact person for the committee will be Ana Pinilla.
Burns said the purpose is to figure out how we could better work with the foreign media and how they could better work with us.
Make moved to approve formation of the Foreign Press Liaison Committee with the three people who agreed to serve and Alice Ollstein seconded. The motion carried.
LIST OF MEMBERS’ CHAPTER LONGEVITY
Burns said Jim Asendio agreed to compile a list of long-term chapter members.
DATELINE AWARDS REPORT
Schotz said Joyce Wang submitted her report on the Dateline Awards June 15. Schotz said the report was just for the board and that Wang had submitted a press release announcing the winners presented at the June 13 Dateline Awards dinner that was already on the website.
MOVIE NIGHT—Vice President and Program Chair Alice Ollstein said the first upcoming event is an outdoor screening of “All the President’s Men.” Details about this event went out to SPJ-DC members in the chapter newsletter and on the JAWS webserv. There is currently a Facebook page for the movie screening and SPJ-DC can share that information on our Facebook page. Ollstein said she would also do an email blast the week before the event. It is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring along a picnic meal.
GERMAN JOURNALISTS—Ollstein said a group of German journalists will be visiting Washington August 16-19. Ollstein asked if anyone was willing to work with those individuals.
These journalists are looking for people who could possibly host them (provide them with a place to stay.) The journalists said they were OK with sleeping on couches.
CAIR—Bethea discussed an event with the Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky-sponsored MusliMedia theme and CAIR. CAIR is willing to help SPJ-DC find a location and organize an event. Bethea said she needs to speak with someone associated with the group to finalize the logistics. Bethea said they were looking at planning the event for August or September. Koretzky suggested doing an Eventbrite to gauge attendance. Burns said she has a neighbor who might be willing to help set up an event with a mosque in Falls Church off Route 7, but that location might be more difficult for people who do not have cars. Burns said Lucy Dalglish said the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland-College Park would be willing to partner with Bethea on the event.
Bethea said she had heard this from Sue Kopen Katcef. She said they would work with Hannah Yasharoff in exchange for doing a separate program on the University of Maryland-College Park campus.
COLLABORATING WITH GEORGETOWN—Make said the adviser from Georgetown’s SPJ student chapter contacted SPJ-DC and that the chapter is interested in collaborating on some events—similar to the Cops and Cameras event—with SPJ-DC. Make suggested that this person attend the next SPJ-DC board meeting. Make asked Fickling if she would speak to the contact from Georgetown.
SIPA (Specialized Information Publisher’s Association)—Make said SIPA is interested in SPJ-DC holding another event at their location during the fall or winter. Make said he did not have an event in mind.
ABC & WAMU TOURS—Burns said Martha Raddatz is willing to host a tour of ABC and take part in a panel. She said Kathy Kiely made a similar offer with regard to WAMU. Burns said both of these might be useful as free venues for SPJ-DC events.
SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING—Fickling said that she had an informal conversation with the membership engagement official at the Press Club—Suzanne Struglinsky—about the Press Club potentially offering training for more senior journalists who might not be as skilled at social media but want some pointers without a lot of classroom-type pressure. She said Struglinsky thinks Press Club members might be interested and that the Press Club might host the event. Fickling said she discussed with Struglinsky that SPJ-DC might be able to add members of the chapter to the audience for that, making the potential offering reach a larger target group.
Burns said the National Press Club would like SPJ-DC to endorse their resolution related to World Press Freedom Day. Burns read the statement.
Make questioned the endorsement, as the Press Club already issued the statement.
Burns confirmed that the statement was already issued, but said the Press Club was going to have 25 media organizations sign the statement and Burns said the Press Club would like SPJ-DC to be one of them.
Make moved that SPJ-DC be a co-signatory of the letter.
Foxhall said SPJ-DC should not wait until the last moment to fight this issue.
Make said SPJ-DC should send a paragraph via email to Kathy Kiely and ask the Press Club if they would be willing to do this.
Burns called for a motion to endorse. Make moved to endorse. Ollstein seconded. Make called for discussion. There was no discussion. The board voted for SPJ-DC to become a co-signatory on the letter.
DOODLE POLL FOR LEADERSHIP GATHERING
Burns said there would be a Doodle poll to solicit the best dates for an informal gathering at her home. The get-together is intended to allow board members and committee members to get to know one another. Burns asked Falquero or Grisham to set up the poll.
PRESENTATION OF GIFTS
Falquero presented gift cards to Immediate Past President Kathleen Burns and Former Treasurer Amy Fickling in recognition of their service to the chapter.
The next meeting will take place in August. Falquero said he will create a Doodle poll to determine the best date for the meeting, listing on the Thursdays in the month. The board agreed to meet at the National Press Club as long as there is a quiet space available.
GEORGETOWN STUDENT CHAPTER
Schotz said the Georgetown University chapter is currently at risk of closing. Schotz spoke with the adviser and told her that if the chapter does close, those student members are eligible to join the SPJ-DC chapter. All the students would have to do is let SPJ-DC and SPJ headquarters know that they would like to join SPJ-DC so that headquarters can mark them as chapter members. The students would join SPJ-DC for free for as long as they are students. If they join, the students will be classified as student members.
FIRST AMENDMENT T-SHIRTS
Schotz said he had been working on First Amendment t-shirts. Each of the four honorees at the Dateline Awards dinner received one. Now, he is trying to find takers for the remaining shirts. The shirts are $12 each (payable by check) and if you buy at least 3, they are $10 each. Sizes include S, M, L, XL, XXL.
DATELINE AWARDS DISCUSSION
Make said comments had been made about the Dateline Awards, regarding the number of awards and other issues. Make said those comments could be directed to Schotz.
Board members brought up a few issues at the meeting, including the value of notifying winners in advance (as an incentive for them to purchase tickets and bring guests) and the possibility of holding a separate event solely for presenting awards.
Fickling said she was in possession of the unclaimed awards from the Dateline Awards/HOF dinner. The board does not have a practice of automatically mailing awards to winners. If board members get emails from people seeking their awards, Fickling just needs to know that the individuals want them and an address where she can send them.
Make adjourned the meeting at 9:06 p.m.
SPJ-DC recording secretary