Sep. 19, 2018  

Minutes from August 30, 2018

SPJ Florida Board of Directors Meeting

Aug. 30 | 7 p.m.

Creative Ventures | Fort Lauderdale




Christiana Lilly, president

Abbi Perry, vice president

Brandon Ballenger, VP of membership

Emily Bloch, VP of programming (absent)

Brendon Lies, secretary

Christopher Persaud, treasurer

Dori Zinn, immediate past president


Cassidy Alexander (remote)

Michele Boyet (remote or absent)

Richard Gaspar (remote)

Carina Mask (absent)

Lulu Ramadan

Suzette Speaks

Hope Dean (student rep) (remote)


Michael Koretzky, Region 3 Director

Jason Parsley, past president



QUICK UPDATES // REVIEWS 2 minutes each

  • Approve last meeting’s minutes

Dori makes a motion, Lulu seconds, motion passes. Suzette abstains.

  • Everyone introduce themselves
  • Committee updates
    1. Membership (Brandon)

22 lapsed members from last year. Would like to do a poll. We could remind them that their membership has lapsed. If someone is interested, give them Brandon’s email. If the amount is too much, you can actually pay monthly. And there are no dues. Board members, if you can talk to your friends, we have different rates for students, etc.

    1. Programs (Emily)


  • PAST


  • F*ck Words With Friends (Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville)



Fort Lauderdale was not successful, it was summer, during a concert… it’s a creative way to do networking, but Dave Matthews was that night. Next weekend was going to be Sunshine State, and previous weekend was NAHJ…

On the flip side, she brought to Jacksonville, and for $70, and as a way to reintroduce ourselves, there were about 25 or 30 people and was very successful for getting our names out there.


  • Lulu spoke on FMA Parkland Panel


Lulu Ramadan is a reporter for the Palm Beach Post.

Lulu: It was Florida Media Association, mostly editors and publishers, we got a really interesting feedback for that reason, and it gave me and Emily some ideas. We did a panel on parkland coverage. Nedej Greene was even there. We also had a student from MSDHS come, along with their advisor from the newspaper. It sparked a lot of complaints about how local media was abrasive, intrusive, camping out on lawns. Everyone on the panel was sure they weren’t that aggressive, but was interesting to hear that it was local and not national media that were aggressively pursuing harsh questions. It brought up the point that these traditional media outlets don’t offer any kind of training for sensitivity or empathetic reporting. It presented an opportunity where we could maybe have someone talk about ethics in reporting. One of the ideas was to reach out to newsrooms all throughout newsrooms, ask editors for tips on how to handle a tragedy.

Dori: We could do a google forum, and we could be more specific to have info about where we got tips from.

Lulu: They have like a 60 page thing on trauma reporting, but it is dense and overwhelming, so it would be nice to have a place of where to go. Would also be nice to hear what did and didn’t work so we can learn from that.




  • Won chapter grant for Journalists Against Humanity



Christiana: Instead of scenarios, we’d put together headlines, and make it a game. If it does really well, we could sell it on Etsy. Emily has researched some costs, I don’t think we need to have the kit, we could ask them how much it takes to print a deck. It’s just two colors, so that’s something if anyone’s interested in helping… Brendon offers to help with design.

    • First Amendment Foundation seminars coming up, help promote

Information is already online, coming up in October.

      • SPJ/Google News coming to Miami for election seminar, help promote


  • NPPA Oct. 13


We’re will help promote, it’s in Miami beach but since we can’t send anyone to it who I (Christiana) would like to present there can’t go

    1. Scholarships (Christiana)


  • Scholarships awarded


Three of them, they all go to UF…We need someone who reaches out to classes, advisors, and pushes them to apply.

Cassidy: Maybe the community colleges think they can’t compete with the bigger universities.

Christiana: It’s just that no one is even applying…. This is a conversation for the scholarship committee, if anyone is interested you can get involved in that.


  • Time to launch high school newsroom grant


    1. Student Affairs (Richard)
  1. HCC will be hosting SNO Day (School Newspapers Online). If any SPJ board members want to attend to learn more about WordPress, I can provide complimentary passes. (Oct. 5, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Hillsborough Community College – Ybor City Campus)
  2. Call for FCSPA presenters. The conference is Oct. 11-13 in Tampa. Most sessions will take place on Oct. 12. Last year’s SPJ presentations were a hit, and it would be great if we could get a group to present again this year. If we have anyone who lives in the area and wants to do a presentation or student outreach, that’s a good opportunity.
    1. Sunshine State Awards (Jason and Christiana)


  • Sunshine State Awards ceremony Aug. 4 at UM


It went well, we had about 130 people, we had more sponsorships, we made a profit, and our check is ready for NAHJ.

Drone (Brandon)


  • Are we ready to launch Loan a Drone?


I would like to do that next week, getting settled in my new job (everyone snaps for Brandon) I’m thinking of buying a new generation drone for me, so they could get better shots… just gotta keep in mind this SPJ drone will get less sexy with time, which would attract less people. We could sell it if we want, there’s three or four websites…. I can look into it. I don’t think we need to sell right now.

      1. Finance/Current financials (Chris)


  • Vote to pass budget


Dori: motion to pass budget. Abbi seconds, budget passes.


  • Vanguard and Chase synced


We put 50 into stocks and bonds, and we have so far made 700 dollars in a week, stocks go up faster than saving.

Dori: Are we taking that growth and investing in programs, or just putting in vanguard?

Chris: we have not yet allocated that.

Christiana: There’s a lot of things we could do, programs, grants, I welcome ideas on that. We could do mini grants for students.

Hope: If our spending is lower than last year, what causes that, and what is all the money in savings? Can’t we use that?

Christiana: Well certain programming has lower costs this year, so that kinda thing goes in savings… it’s not that we can’t touch it, we just keep it there for backup.


Announcements (Christiana) 2 minutes

  • Please provide your updated bios and headshots to Dori ASAP for the website.



DISCUSSION 15 minutes



Some were not happy with Sinclair being a sponsor due to controversy. A group under the Koch brothers is also funding a panel on ethics. Christiana spoke to the ethics chair about it, some are more upset over different aspects. Koretzky is here, the region director… so he’s able to guide us through questions we have.

Koretzky: Apparently Chicago did not know, and found out today, it’s not the Koch brothers, they’re committed to a free press and they’re very Libertarian. But the Koch foundation is separate from the Koch brothers. They can’t lobby. Harvard, American society of Newspaper Editors have also accepted from the foundation. They have no say over who speaks, they just put their name on it. They did request, said “you can program any way we want but we want our name on it.” If you get rid of the Koch foundation, FOX news is also sponsoring this foundation. They’re giving us money because they think it’s valuable to be attached to the foundation, but they pick zero speakers. And it’s a separate committee who pick the speakers. My basic philosophy, if you do evil sh-t, you should get evil sh-t back, but if you give money, then who cares… They are a legitimate organization, and they do deal with the press, despite political outlook, so they can give money to the conference. You could recommend to the board that they pass a policy that we will not accept money from blank, but right now no policy exists.

So it’s up to you guys if you wish to make a statement, I can take it back to the board, if you have an opinion on it. I don’t think it’s a good vs evil thing, I just don’t see the problem with it.

Christiana: I get like, they said it was a first amendment issue, and you need diligence and research, but on the other hand just because you don’t agree, you say this is only a left is organization from here on out? Where do you draw the line? At FOX news, they did a donation or wherever, but they just had a little photo head shot stall.

Lulu: So who’s setting up the sessions?

Dori: There’s a program committee, very secretive… You can submit recommendations, but they select separate from the organizations.

Suzette: So is there no chance of informal influence from the donations?

Jason: I don’t believe it would sway the programming committee…. The actual programs that get selected… it’s just members that send the program ideas. It’s not like the committee is actually coming up with the programs, they just accept suggestions from members.

Suzette: So they’re organically from membership.

Koretzky: I suppose for national, if someone gave enough money, we might feel pressure, but I don’t think that SPJ National is organized enough to collude.

Cassidy: If we do make a policy, it should just be that if you donate, you don’t have a say in what they can influence, and that they cannot influence what the panels are.

Christiana: Agree, that’s kinda been happening, but more people are just paying attention now.

Koretzky: There could be a Task Force, I can get you guys in.

Christiana: I’ll talk to chicago, and say we can’t change anything, we can’t give it back, they’re not influencing… but going forward, we’ll take money but have a policy that you can’t have any political influence. I don’t think we need to make a motion. If you get more ideas, slack, call me, email…

Abbi: just don’t reply all.

Brandon: I do think that Chicago wasn’t very specific about the definition of political. The only sponsor I even know is the one who does reception and gives flip flops, I don’t feel like it’s a big deal. I understand the anger, but it’s funding.


(Announcement) This is actually Dori’s last meeting. Dori will remain on as a devoted volunteer.

Abbi makes motion to end the meeting, Brendon seconds. The meeting is over.


Minutes approved at Oct. 13 meeting.

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