May. 5, 2015  

Minutes from April 28, 2015


SPJ Board of Directors Meeting
7:00 pm | Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Panera Bread | Fort Lauderdale




Brandon Ballenger, president YES

Dori Zinn, executive vice president EXCUSED        Kristyn Caddell, director   EXCUSED

Christopher Persaud, treasurer  YES              Megan Fitzgerald, director  YES

Christiana Lilly, secretary    YES                    John McDonald, director  YES

Michele Boyet, membership vice president REMOTE       Andrea Richard, director         YES

Dina Weinstein, programs vice president REMOTEJohn Sotomayor, director REMOTE

Jason Parsley, past president   EXCUSED       Betty Wells, director EXCUSED

Connor Spielmaker, student member



Michael Koretzky, SPJ region 3 director

Excused:  Jason Parsley, Betty Wells, Kristyn Caddell, Dori Zinn



  1. Approve last meeting’s minutes — Christiana PASSES John/Chris
  2. Recap of 2 votes since last meeting — Brandon

– A student and professional won our Facebook raffle of the NewsTrain ticket

– Jason lead a movement to have SPJ stand out against Indiana’s religious freedom bill, lead to formation of #SPJForAll for people to take a picture of them embracing diversity to share on social media

Current financials — Chris

Bank of America Checking:  $32,707.58

Bank of America Savings: $32,463.80

Paypal: $23,631.10

– To do: calculate how much we made in profit from Sunshine State Awards (costs include cost of mailing out certificates, the program for submissions, paying Tim, etc.)

$20,000 last year profit during 2014 awards

$69.48 spent on food/drink at meeting

Current membership — Michele

We already have a challenge for showing value, so adding an additional fee (chapter dues) would be a detriment.

Committee updates — Jason/Michele/Christiana/Dina

Scholarships: Christiana is chairperson, split up state into regions and Connor, Jason, Michele, Andrea, John each took a region and personally emailing department chairpeople at each college in their region to spread the word. Also asking for Twitter handle at their school so we can tweet at them to spread the word.

Scripps recap — Dori/Michele/Christiana

Michele: It was a really inspirational, great experience, wonderful to represent SPJ Florida. We stood out and were able to help others in terms of planning events and such. Learned about myself and how we can organize our roles in SPJ. It was a really great experience and I appreciated going.

Christiana: We had a lot to teach other chapters and also realize what we excel in.

Charles Cobb event — Dina

Charlie Cobb came out to speak at Books & Books, was successful, lots of partnerships, he was included in a lot of other local media.

PRSA mixer — Christiana

Not that successful, only four people came out from SPJ, detriment that it was $20 to come which for our members is a turn off.

Freelance fair — Christiana

Had nine hiring editors come out to the Freelance Fair, was successful with a steady flow of people throughout the day. H&R Blocks reps came out to discuss taxes for contract workers. Gave away two gift cards for raffle, mailed out to winners. Sent out a survey to hiring editors to see how we can improve next time.

National board update — Koretzky

Religious freedom bill — SPJ rarely takes positions on things that will cause controversy, had a discussion of what we should do in the future? Koretzky says we should have come out beforehand “if a vacuum cleaner motor company can come out and say this isn’t cool, why can’t we?”

“Why does Jason hate us?” They think SPJ Florida doesn’t like SPJ National.

Diversity an issue, Jason would be the first openly gay officer if he wins.



National convention — Everyone

This year the convention is Sept. 18-20 in Orlando. Typically when it’s in our backyard we cover registration and room and leave travel costs since people can drive/carpool, which lets us send more people. Last year we budgeted $2,500.

Dori, Michele, Brandon, Jason (running for national office), John M, Christiana, Dina are interested in going

Loan-a-drone — Brandon

The FAA is coordinating with CNN on drone use, but what about everybody else being left behind? I want to buy a drone and teach interested journalists how to use it responsibly and effectively. Asking for $2,200 initially for the drone itself, an extra battery, a refurbished tablet, an SD card suitable for 4K video, and a sturdy case to protect our investment. $1,359 for Phantom 3 Pro with extra battery, $230 for a case, $300 or less for a refurbished tablet, $50 or less for the SD card, plus taxes and fees.

Koretzky and Brandon went to the drone training for 1.5 hours, tried it out, battery only lasts 20 minutes.

This model requested does not have a GoPro, this one has a 4K camera built in. Brandon is confident this is the best, most cost effective model. No insurance, does have a warranty.

Brandon would teach news organizations how to use it before they rent it out. Committee would decide how to rent out, deposits, etc. Brandon wants to purchase ASAP (on pre-order right now). Brandon would be the one to hold onto the drone and be responsible for it.

Dina: MDC is soon to offer drone training. Also who are we gearing this toward?

Brandon: Can also work with Drone Nerds, the group they worked with at the training. Pitch to big media, local media, and independent. Keep it tightly on news. FAA has odd laws of who and use drones and who can’t. USF rents them out as well — good opportunity to expand our reach to other regions

Whoever is interested in being on the committee, reach out to Brandon.

Chris/John PASSES

Will Write For Food — Koretzky

SPJ’s annual journalism program in a homeless shelter is relocating and needs money to retool it. Historically we match the income from our Sunshine State Awards student categories, so we should kick in about $2,175.

Seventh year of doing this, open to all college students across the country. Homeless shelter has been moved with the intention that it would bring the homeless people with them… now they have no place to go. He has hopes to create a “city of homeless people” in Haines City.

Do an alumni weekend of people who have done it since 2009. Students from Alaska and even Guam have wanted to come. Authorization for up to $2,175, but don’t anticipate needing to match that much.

John/Christiana PASSES

DISCUSSION (5 minutes unless otherwise specified)

Retired and Wired — Koretzky

Older journalists are out of work and many newsrooms don’t have the resources for data journalism. Koretzky has a scheme, and a Knight grant to carry it out.

Three publications to do it for Biscayne Times, Coastal Star, Florida Bulldog – spreadsheets, development maps, etc. Chris and Brandon to help train, turn this into a freelance gig. If you know any retired journalists who want to know about this, send them over. Looking for half a dozen. They will be fed. Want this done by the end of the summer to go back to Knight and ask for more money to make it a bigger event.

(Re)Forging the Future — Koretzky/Jason

Current plans on our awards banquet and associated programming.

Aug. 15 for the day, Sunshine State Awards with NAHJ, they will only partner with us if it’s in Miami at the Koubek Center, a converted mansion with auditorium and smaller black box theatres (we have two rooms, NAHJ has two rooms). We would probably have to throw in $1,500 for it, NAHJ covers most of it.

Get things finished in the next month or two. Bring the drone out?

We the Journalists  — Dina

Dina is bringing back the website feature Jason started and needs volunteers. Gideon sent out the list of people we’ve already featured, need access, work with students — needs contacts? What if we feature the editors who came out to the freelance fair?

Cuban journalist outreach — Dina

Dina wants to work with NAHJ to invite independent Cuban journalists to the conference.

Brought it up with NAHJ and Mariel Boat Lift survivor

Yoani Sanchez

Linked to the conference in August?

Programming discussion — All

Bring your crazy ideas.

Christiana: Social media programming with BACA in September, learn how to use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. to promote your work (aimed at artists but works with journalists too)

Christiana and Dina: Journalists who are published authors — combine that with our awards programming?

Koretzky: Bring out advisors and staff for a special drone event (Koretzky and Megan)

Chris: app training? Competition of helping local journalism with an app building competition.


Motion to adjourn Andrea/John M

Minutes for this meeting were approved at the July 21 SPJ Florida board meeting.

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