Dec. 20, 2018  

Minutes from Dec. 13, 2018 Meeting

SPJ Florida Board of Directors Meeting

Dec. 13 | 7 p.m.

South Florida Gay News | Wilton Manors





Christiana Lilly, president

Abbi Perry, vice president (remote)

Brandon Ballenger, VP of membership

Emily Bloch, VP of programming (absent)

Brendon Lies, secretary

Christopher Persaud, treasurer (remote)

Dori Zinn, immediate past president


Cassidy Alexander (remote)

Michele Boyet (absent)

Richard Gaspar (absent)

Carina Mask

Lulu Ramadan

Suzette Speaks (remote)

Hope Dean (student rep) (absent)



Michael Koretzky, Region 3 Director

Jason Parsley, past president

Dori Zinn, immediate past president



QUICK UPDATES // REVIEWS 2 minutes each

  • Approve last meeting’s minutes

Lulu makes motion to approve, Carina seconds…. approved

  • Committee updates
    1. Membership (Brandon)
  • We are down four members, 100 members even
    I still have emails to send out… (Lulu offers to help send emails)
  • Suzette: If he wants to send me a template, I can send out as well for new members

Programs (Emily)




  • Mock press conference with UM Business School, Oct. 20
    • Christiana: They had a Flint-like situation where they acted as though they were doing emergency management. We prepared a team of “press” for their “press conference.” We drilled them with questions and embedded a PR pro. One student: “In real life, we would have more time to prepare for a press conference, though?” but no… After, we got asked questions about why we asked certain things.
  • Facebook for Journalists took place at the Orlando Sentinel on 11/2. A full recap is live on our website. About 30 people were in attendance, including Sentinel staffers as well as local media. The event was free to attend.
  • FSPA on 11/10 was a success! Both were packed attendance wise and the new director has expressed interest in solidifying a better partnership in the future. We’ll follow up with him later in 2019 since he literally was just handed the position.
    • Suzette: The students were enthusiastic, hats off to Christiana stiana] for preparing our powerpoint and getting it to where we were ready. Students were very interactive with a mock press conference, and it was really well attended with positive response.
    • Christiana: we hope to work with them next year!
  • Holiday mixer December Dec. 6
    • Carina: Less than 50 people, but good turnout; got to network with folks from WLRN, and photos from the event will be coming





  • Fake News Game Show: We’ve solidified a partnership with the Palm Beach County Libraries. There are 18 branches that we have the opportunity to work with! So far, we’re starting with two trial runs in February. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING, WE NEED VOLUNTEERS. Visit the Slack #FNGS channel for a full update and to volunteer. I also connected Jason with the library coordinator we’ve been working with for a potential FOIA/Sunshine law presentation. If these two FNGS trials go well, it could be a big deal for future programs with the PBC libraries.
    • We have two possible libraries and don’t necessarily need to be there, so if anyone is interested in volunteering, Jason volunteered to talk about Sunshine State Laws on top of the game show. Whatever we do, they’re just excited for our… wealth of information.
    • Lulu: I’d be interested, if someone could show me how it works.
  • Journalists Against Humanity (JAH): We have been collecting JAH prompt suggestions for the last few months via social media and in person at the Holiday Mixer. When we’re comfortable with the final draft, we’ll send the prompts off to Koretzky, who conveniently has the Cards Against Humanity template, and get them printed. Printing costs are covered by the $500 grant we received from national.
  • In March we’re having the SPJ Region 3 in Savannah, it works for [Christiana] due to family… they’re still gathering speakers, and still need to send out a save-the-date.


Scholarships/Student Affairs (Christiana)

  • High School Journalism Grant applications closed, we are reviewing
    • We got 32 applications, last year we had 15. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to judge, you don’t have to go through all 32 but we would need someone at the end for a second round to judge the top picks
    • Lulu: What specifically would you look for? There’s some schools that are [ambitious] but others that are in need?
    • Dori: I think it’s a matter of being your call.
    • Christiana: as a judge, you have to decide! This year we have $500 to decide on, wherever it goes. A requirement of the winners is to give a recap of what they do with the winnings.
    • LuluWe could also always have people who don’t win receive visits and outreach from professionals like us to teach students at their schools.
  • Vero Communique (Michael)
    • A man in Vero Beach was appalled to learn that the newspaper didn’t cover their town… so he started a website with a bunch of press releases, and was horrified to learn we’re the “only country that doesn’t teach press literacy in school.” So he started an after school program that fits in with the curriculum and teaches students, and when [Michael] reached out to him, he requested help from someone who is a journalist, and maybe $175 to print an issue. Kerri, meanwhile, would like to be a teacher instead of a journalist, and offered to go up and help. They’re fourth-to-sixth graders. If you guys are interested in the topic, I’ll talk to Kerri and come back with a proposal. [collective ‘aww’]
    • Christiana: I think that falls into our mission of media literacy and ethics.

Sunshine State Awards (Jason)

  • Who would like to join the committee to help with the awards?
  • Jason has been spearheading it, and is looking for help… are we good with categories? Need to decide on dates, finish categories, and launch it.
    • Christiana: Carina, you might be good at looking over our photo category. Our photo section is very small.
    • Jason: and if anyone wants to judge rewards, let us know. We don’t judge our own contest, so we’ll swap with another contest and they’ll judge ours while we judge theirs. Last year we had over 900 entries, and had to split between four different chapters. And while NAJH helps up with Spanish-speaking categories, we might not receive any Spanish entries from northern states we trade with.


Drone (Brandon)

  • Loan a Drone
    • No update on that now, that email for outreach is still sitting with my memberships email. I’ll get moving on it over the holidays.
    • Christiana: Is anyone interested in joining the loan-a-drone program? Carina? I know you had a mishap in Japan with a drone…
    • Brandon: It’s a Phantom R3, once you try it you see it’s not a big deal… Doctor One only got in one accident, he went into a tree and had to go to the Drone Doctor.
    • Carina: Yea I’ll give it a shot.
  • Drone Tour
    • Possibility of a state-wide tour, interest from a college that would like to do the loan a drone… if we could hit some spots just in Florida, Gainesville would all be interested, we could start in Tallahassee with Ryan… it would just be easier if we kept it local.
    • Koretzky: when he did it before, he ended up in a national convention in Atlanta.
    • Christiana: So for Loan a Drone and drone tour, let’s get those going. Region 3 conference is March 9th if you wanted to be there.


Finances (Chris)

  • Current budget:
    • Paypal money still may not have transferred all from the Sunshine State awards… Tim doesn’t transfer it all at once. Waiting on Chris to verify.
    • Christiana: So when you’re saying $7,000 left, if you’ve spent $11,000 of a $21,000, how much of that is encumbered? We have to pay the website a certain amount, so we have only $7000 to cover it? Chris, do we need to be concerned?
    • Chris: Not yet, by the time we get our next major investment, we should have more coming in from the next awards.
    • Dori: Confirmed that there’s no more left in Paypal.
    • Christiana: Alright, so when you’re making these withdrawals, be mindful of every dollar. This is all we have left to work with.
  • Website: Chris and Brandon are looking for a new hosting company so Joey doesn’t have to manually update the SSL every month.
    • Dori: SSL means your website is secure, our website hosting doesn’t include it so I’ve suggested moving to a new company that would have SSL. If anyone has any suggestions, talk to Chris or Brandon. Our budget is $120, preferably less than that. We just want a hosting site that will automatically update instead of manually. We need to have that done before January 11.



Announcements (Christiana) 2 minutes

  • Updates from Panama City outlets
    • I heard from places in Panama City, and none of them said they need anything. No GoFundN=Me, not asking for help… they could still be filing claims, but so far they haven’t sworn to need anything.


DISCUSSION 15 minutes

  • Letter to the Sun Sentinel (Lulu, Cassidy and Emily)
    • We drafted a letter to the Sentinel in response to the crisis of the PR management they hired… the crisis PR management person made comments at a conference and made some fairly scandalous comments. The school district issued an apology to the journalists, but we wrote to the Editor calling for a public apology, saying we don’t stand for attacks. If anyone would like to read it, please do. Suggestions welcome.
  • SPJ has released its sponsorship policy (SPJ pres) (blog here on sponsorship policy). Thoughts?
    • If you remember, this is a discussion we had a few times…. At SPJ, that arm of the Koch brothers who sponsored the ethics panel actually picked a panelist to replace someone who dropped off the panel… in Chicago, a lot of rage from SPJ was put forth in a letter, which our board didn’t have time to sign. The head of SPJ released a letter, saying it should be open or private… Region 2 put out something…. But Chicago wasn’t happy. “We should have a policy, but we don’t accept any sponsors we don’t like.” Chicago suggested doing a conference at a university… [regardless of that drama] we’re glad that SPJ addressed for now, and we’re continuing to monitor it.
  • Jason: So many of you might remember Will Write For Food, it was a great extreme learning process… So I thought of a similar idea that would be HIV related that would bring in students to create a publication on HIV. It would be thousands of dollars, and I would pay for it by getting a grant from an HIV related organization. So that’s a quick idea.
    • Dori: Do you think we could get students from across the country?
    • Jason: We’re still brainstorming, Koretzky suggested that our budget would be enough to work with and we’d figure it out from there. We can continue the discussion more on slack.

Christiana: I’d like to see more people being active in SPJ, I’ll be talking to you over the new year.

Suzette makes a motion to end the meeting, Lulu seconds it. All in favor, and the meeting is over.


Minutes approved at Feb. 28 meeting.

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