Mar. 18, 2019  

Minutes from Feb. 28, 2019 Meeting

SPJ Florida Board of Directors Meeting

Feb. 28 | 7 p.m.

Boca magazine | Boca Raton





Christiana Lilly, president

Abbi Perry, vice president

Brandon Ballenger, VP of membership

Emily Bloch, VP of programming (remote)

Brendon Lies, secretary

Christopher Persaud, treasurer

Dori Zinn, immediate past president


Cassidy Alexander (remote)

Michele Boyet (remote)

Richard Gaspar (absent)

Carina Mask (absent)

Lulu Ramadan

Suzette Speaks (absent)

Hope Dean (student rep)



Michael Koretzky, Region 3 Director

Jason Parsley, past president



QUICK UPDATES // REVIEWS 2 minutes each

  • Approve last meeting’s minutes
    Christiana… motion to approve? Abbi seconds, all approve. Motion passes.

Committee updates

Membership (Brandon)

  • We have about 60 members, so something is wrong. We would lose a vote at national, and that we lost about 40 members. I’ll check if there’s something wrong.
    • Jason: They’re redoing the website (which could be part of it).
    • Michelle: Did some people not renew?
    • Brandon: It could be. I did make a list, I’ll work on mailchimp.


Chris: I’d like to make a motion to move budget to before programs, so if we start talking about programming, we’ll know what we have to work with.
Christiana: Awesome, I second that.

All in favor. Motion passes.


Programs (Emily)



  • Emily spoke to students at Westside High School in Jacksonville (2/7)
    • In Jacksonville; they have three elective journalism classes, 90 minutes long and 50 students each class. We did a quick Fake News Game Show, and I talked about journalism, SPJ Florida, and scholarships are available—which they can check the website for. They got a lot out of it, and the teachers were thrilled.
  • Christiana met up with leaders of ONA, NPPA and NABJ for a meet and greet, brainstorming
    • We were talking to each other about upcoming programming. Years ago we had a great rapport with each other, supporting each other’s organizations and brainstorming. So that was good, a good start to reconnecting with chapters we’ve fallen out of touch with.
  • Fake News Game Show at Wellington Branch Library (2/21)
    • Our first round, and it was a smash. It was probably our oldest crowd ever, but 20 people total. The library donated the book “bunk” to the winners in each team. They want to keep things going, so Lulu’s handling more dates.
    • In April, we have another programming event at a club/cafe with beer and wine with the Palm Beach County Library System, they wanted some upcoming element so we suggested F words with friends. So we’ll be doing this in April.


Finances (Chris)

(Moved up due to earlier vote)

  • Current budget
    • We have about $1,150 to $1,200 to play with until July 1.
      • Checking: 9451.04 in chase
      • Vanguard: $60,119.08
        • Our Vanguard is up 219 in investment. I’m keeping an eye on numbers, trends, etc to see if there’s any signs of a recession which could affect it.
  • Christiana: We have $500 untouched in our charities. I haven’t been able to find any fundraisers to piggy back off of to help our friends in Panama City, other reporters seem to be fine… if we’re interested in making a charitable contribution, though, that’s something we could do.
  • Chris: Our travel/conference… even after we send Koretzky, Michele, Emily and Christiana, we’ll still have money left over in travel. We can do something with that afterwards.


  • Emily and Michele attending CMA New York March 6-9
    • We’re going this week; I’ll be doing the game show again, we’ll be on talking on women’s work, branding yourself, etc.
    • Christiana: Make sure to take photos of yourself!
  • Christiana attending Region 3 Conference in Savannah March 9
    • On the same day, I’ll be at this; the theme is about trauma and stress in journalism; CNN reporter is keynote speaker, Hurricane Michael journalists will be there… we’re gonna be going over stress in the newsroom during all of this. Somehow I’m leading a yoga session during all of this. I’m also going to be doing the introduction for our keynote speaker.
  • Future FNGS: Boca library, Jax library, etc.
  • WordPress workshop at General Provision April 6
    • Christiana: General Provision is a shared workspace in Fort Lauderdale, they have a chef turned web developer who will be doing WordPress 101, there’s too much to cover to get people set up right away but it could be built on. $15 a person, but that seems pretty minimal—unless we help chip in, but it can only fit 15 people. The space is free, it’s just to pay the guy for his time.
    • Emily: I don’t have a problem with a fee, but I do wish they could at least have something to walk away with.
    • Christiana: They just said it would be too much in one session, I would like to make sure it’s something substantial or else it’s not worth their time.
    • Michele: I could also do a session like this for free, and it could be multiple sessions. And we know a ton of designers. Easily in an hour you can teach a WordPress. I think that’s possible.
    • Christiana: I went through them because of what was offered to me… I wasn’t anticipating that they would suggest somebody but they did.
    • Michele: I definitely see the appeal of programming ready to go, so I have no problem with it, but we should be able to get a product. This could be for a separate meeting, but if I talk to you can we get this set up?
    • Emily: We could set that up.
    • Christiana: Well, if we’re not gonna do it, I need to let them know ASAP.
    • Jason: I think it sounds like a done deal, and we could always do a separate event so we should move on.
    • Lulu: If the people who get the session aren’t happy, does it go to us at SPJ, or does it go to the guy?
    • Jason: Well, it’s $15.
    • Christiana: I did ask them for a bullet point list of what he’s planning on covering in the session. It would be in the middle of April. I’d rather get with them quickly.
    • Michele: I think it’s just how we promote it.
    • Christiana: Yeah, we’re not gonna promise them something they won’t get.
    • Michelle: We could plan ours for May then.
  • Koretzky attending FSPA State Convention April 11-13
    • Christiana: The reason I wanted him to go is they have new leadership. We had a great convo with the executive director about issues and we offered our time. So they invited us to attend, minimal cost—gas and hotel, all falls under the budget (would be about $200). This is a great way to start fresh with FSPA.
  • F Words With Friends in Lake Worth April 12
  • Want to do a webinar on what to do if you’re detained with NPPA
    • Talking about what to do if you get arrested, Zak Bennett from NPPA was a freelancer and didn’t have a press badge. Editors don’t always know what to do if they get that call. Even school property can get you arrested. We got in touch with a group in DC when Lulu got kicked out of a voting precinct, so if we have a webinar it would be a good end of the year, we just have to get moving on it.
  • Journalists Against Humanity
    • Emily: They’re almost ready to get sent to print, if anyone has any ideas for cards then please send them to me.
    • Christiana: Emily, can you share on slack what we have so far? And a reminder that this is being paid for by a grant.




Scholarships/Student Affairs (Christiana)

  • High School Journalism Grant winners: AP Mays and Seminole Ridge
    • AP Mays is a tiny magnet school that focuses on the arts. They had one DSLR camera for 6th through 12th grade, and wanted a second camera
    • Seminole Ridge, they were starting from scratch, so they needed new supplies.
  • Launch college scholarship
    • People interested in helping with this please let Christiana know; updating the website right now to make it easier to promote. [she’d] lke that to happen next week.


Sunshine State Awards (Jason)

  • Final deadline is March 4, we are WAY behind in our numbers.
    • Jason: Right now we’re at 590 entries, with 167 incomplete. Most incompletes won’t translate into entries. So we’re down to about 300 entries. Translates to $10,000. What I will propose is we extend the contest again for another week, and we’ll go from there, but if you don’t think that’s fair, we can always raise the price again to 45. 
    • Christiana: If we do extend it, the price has to go up. That’s only fair. I’m pessimistic about getting to 900, since so many newsrooms have cut their budgets. I’ve been emailing people, Tim was saying the Herald, Sentinel, etc have all entered less content… I’m shocked, I thought this year we would be great because of all the wonderful reporting on Parkland and Hurricane Michael. There was no shortage of reporting last year.
    • Jason: It’s the newspaper category that are devastating us this year. We have more radio than last year, Spanish is solid, it’s newspaper that’s way down. Today I went through last year’s list, and tweeted at them individually to get them to enter again. It’s also a problem because it’s not as much of a contest if they’re competing against themselves.
    • Abbi: Is it possible people are factoring the date or place?
    • Jason: No, it’s the same as last year. Also, the certificates… they were being done for cheap, but we lost that person.
    • Christiana: Pilar from NAHJ is talking to another printer, she may have gotten us a free venue. So the extra cost of printing may be offset by the added cost of printing. 
    • Jason: Maybe we can partner with more who don’t have their own contests. 
    • Lulu: Maybe we should promote people who were past winners. 
    • Jason: The only problem is time and resources. I would love to feature the winners all year round, who can feature those different winners. But we would need to have someone to do that. 
    • Christiana: On Facebook, even boosting the posts doesn’t come up, so it helps a lot more to share. Or even like, if you’re not comfortable sharing. Also, we need to change our category of large newspaper, we now only have one newspaper in Florida that technically qualifies for our large newspaper section.
    • Jason: I think individuals have still been entering, but the companies like the brands themselves, haven’t been entering as much.
    • Hope: I’ve been going through last years and reaching out, but there hasn’t been a lot of return so far.


  • On possibly extending the deadline


    • Jason: Monday is fine, we can see how it’s doing at that point and decide then. (No particular goal at this point)
    • Christiana: At the end of the day, this is our one program for making money that pays for all of our programs. Like the tweets, like the Facebook post, encourage your editor to enter.
    • Jason: Another issue is we never market the end of our budget; so if we start tweeting out final deadline, that would make a higher rate. Some people might see it’s the final, and that could really help push people. In the past, extending by a week brought in about 100 entries. There has been pushback in the past about extending, which they say is unfair, but that’s why we now raise the price.


Drone (Brandon)

  • Visiting classroom
    • Brandon: I’ve had a few conversations with Carina for us to go together, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. So I’m just going to email the teacher and say that I’m going to go myself.
    • Christiana: Just be very apologetic, she was interested in January and it’s now March.
    • Brandon: I talked to Carina about leading it, since I don’t think I should be the only one leading, but I gotta follow up. I just want it to go somewhere.
    • Christiana: I do applaud you for realizing that… you got it off to a great start. If we can get someone else to lead the drone initiative, if anyone is interested, or if there’s a volunteer we know, maybe we could partner with NPPA.


Announcements (Christiana) 2 minutes

  • Letter to the Sun Sentinel (Lulu, Cassidy and Emily)
    • They did not want to run it, we posted it on our own website
    • Lulu: We wrote the letter, but they didn’t want it… they said it was not timely enough, and it was a couple days later, but… this was after the PR person during the conference talking about the Sun Sentinel, outrageous stuff… Plus she had given advice on how to shut down the media. So we wrote a letter about how an attack on the media is inappropriate, we sent it to the editorial board Rosemary O’Hara, and she liked it but she said it was moving too quickly. We talked to Scott about it, and he retweeted it. He had been really offended by it, but wasn’t really surprised.
    • Christiana: Thank you for putting that together, it’s a shame it didn’t get into the Sentinel but it’s great we got the word out.

DISCUSSION 15 minutes

  • Request for up to $300 for Young Authors Program in Vero Beach (Koretzky)
    • A retired software company owner, dismayed with the lack of journalism in his area, launched an after-school newspaper program for elementary schoolers. He joined SPJ and seeks help training the students. Former FAU editor Wesley Wright, now an FSU educational policy grad student, has volunteered to train and document his visit in writing and photos. Money would pay for mileage, two meals, and two room nights.
      • Koretzky; It’ll probably be $270 to send Mr. Wright… So this guy started a magazine with the elementary school in his area. He said he didn’t think this through—he said he can teach kids, but he doesn’t know journalism. He requested someone who could speak to the kids, and Wesley Wright would be interested. He would workshop with the kids over the weekend. I emailed the guy over the phone. What you’d be doing is sending Wesley to Vero Beach to have their program not only go longer, but maybe be reputable. If journalism is like meth, you gotta hook em young.
      • Christiana: Two meals, two hotel nights.
      • Chris: The conference/travel budget, after spending for FSPA and CMA, and trip to regional, we should have about $200 from the travel budget alone, before getting into programming.
      • Emily submitted grant request to national for this. We’re in the time to spend for grants; all the money we got from them last time we’re still spending on the Fake News Game Show and so I requested up to $300 to go towards this, but even if not I can still get the money to spend on Vero Beach because if Wes is willing to do it we should just go for it, it’s minimal cost.
      • Christiana: If we win though, it has to be used after the event, it can’t go to a reimbursement.
      • Jason: There is a good chance we would win.
      • Koretzky: There are a lot more submissions now…
      • Christiana: We also have Under Fire upcoming
      • Koretzky: Austen Erblat, I spoke to him last weekend about getting into the range
      • Christiana: I wonder if a reporter we know, a veteran and journalist, might also be a connection.
      • Koretzky: I would like that. Austin is the only reporter I know who has multiple guns.
      • Abbi: For Vero Beach, I recommend  paying for it with money in charity fund.
      • Christiana: We’ll take it out of somewhere that we have money.
      • Abbi: I make a motion to approve this initiative to send Wright to Vero Beach…
        Lulu seconds, the motion passes.

Koretzky: March 15, 7 o clock – does anyone want to help me judge SDX Awards?. Last year we had the category magazine reporting. The cool thing is it’s only 1 category, and you only pick one first place. We meet at the UP, I provide drinks, pizza, anything you want. We sit around for an hour, review the entries, argue for an hour, then pick one winner. I have to send detailed comments for the winner. I’ll send out an email.
Christiana: And you should also be getting emails from Tim on judging other contests. Because they judge ours, we have to judge theirs. So invite your journalist friends to judge.

Abbi: I make a motion to end the meeting.
Brandon seconds it. The meeting is over.


Meeting minutes approved at May 2, 2019 board meeting.

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