Nov. 18, 2019  

Minutes from Oct. 10 Meeting

SPJ Florida Board of Directors Meeting

Oct. 10, 2019 | 7 p.m.

Main: Florida Atlantic University | Boca Raton

Secondary: Bold Bean Coffee Roasters | Jacksonville






Emily Bloch, president (Jax)

Cassidy Alexander, vice president (Jax)

Lulu Ramadan, VP of programming 

Michele Boyet, VP of membership (remote)

Brendon Lies, secretary

Christopher Persaud, treasurer 

Christiana Lilly, past president


Richard Gaspar (absent)

Lindsey Kilbride (Jax)

Hannah Lee (absent)

Carina Mask (absent)

Abigail Perry (absent)

Suzette Speaks (absent)

Kristen Grau, student rep 



  • Guests


  • Michael Koretzky, Region 3 Director
  • Jason Parsley, past president/SSA coordinator (remote)








Lulu makes a motion to start the meeting, Christiana seconds it.


  • Tone-setting (Emily and Cassidy)


Emily: This is a new feat for SPJ for us to actually be a statewide chapter, there are gonna be some growing pains in not just how we meet but how we can make our future events better.


Cassidy: Emily and I have been talking, we want everyone to be empowered to speak up and make sure things are the best they can be in this new chapter as it goes forward. We want to make sure our chapter is focusing in two major areas this year: first of all, that SPJ florida is advocating for a free press. Second, that we’re advocating for journalists and helping people be media-literate. 



  • Approve last meeting’s minutes


Lulu makes a motion to approve, Cassidy seconds. The motion passes.



  • Budget update (Chris, 1 minute)


  • Bank balance: $23,217.01 in our Chase account as of 8:02 p.m. on Oct. 7. 
  • Investments: our $60K in Vanguard funds are worth $62,505 as of Oct. 9.







  • Fake News Game Show (Lulu/Christiana/attendees) 


  • Notes: What’s the one thing the board should know from Christiana @ FAU and Cassidy @ FSPA? And how can we keep FNGS fresh?




Emily: We’ve had a few since we last met; FAU, an abridged one at FSPA. What are things that came out of it and what could be done better?


Christiana: I did notice there were some errors and we realized it was a typo on our part. So, I can go through that later and make those adjustments with you guys. I think something cool would be when we gave them the answers, we actually tell them the source, this was a Washington Post story, this was a CNN story, so they can actually see it was from a reputable news source.


Cassidy: My takeaway was that some things were a little bit bad for high school students. They loved it obviously, but I was thinking whether there was a better way to do things for high school students. If we had one ready for students.


Kristen: It was my first time doing it, and I loved how we were split into teams, I think everyone seemed to be enjoying it, I would do it again but I don’t know what we would change, since I haven’t done it enough.


Emily: There are tie breakers, we have to uniformly make sure they’re included so you don’t have to search for them.


Lulu: If we do the same library again, a lot of elderly crowd, they’re actually a great audience to target because they’re very susceptible to fake news. They asked great questions about the news media in general, it did seem evident that they were a great audience to target.


Lulu: One suggestion is sharing websites that help people with fact-checking so they have something to turn to if they see a questionable source.


Chris: We could have groups against each other, by [political party], [gender], etc.


Lulu: If anyone sees any fake stories circulating online [Christiana: or even satire], feel free to send them my way so we can update it. I’ll make a folder where people can drop their documents, pictures, links, etc. If anyone is interested in partnering to redo an updated version of the slideshow, we can pick a day, crank it out, or you know, do research in advance… it would be a great experience. [Chris expresses interest]



  • Sunshine State Awards (Jason/Lulu/Christiana) 


  • Notes: We made $32,225.86 from contest entry fees and $5,776.26 from the ceremony, mostly in ticket sales and cash sponsorship. We only make $118.05 in profit. (What did we spend?) Chris P: Catering, $1,870.95 and venue rental, $3,735. What were the takeaways from the small group discussion, and what needs to change for next year?




Christiana: So this year, we only made $118 in profit. In the past few years, we had the ability to bring outside alcohol, and we used that to get a sponsor that saved us thousands. But this company we got at the last minute, they didn’t allow it, which cut into our profit. Our goal for the ceremony was to break even, but since we have been making profit, we should try to continue to do so. If anyone is interested in coming on board, you can join the sponsorship committee to help with the event. Right now there are only three people that run it, and as it grows, it gets more demanding. Also, any venues that people know of, we either need to update the amount we’re allowed to spend on venues or get more sponsors. The committee helps a lot.


Lulu: One thing we talked about based on where we hosted it, we were trying to figure out what location was best for attendees, who we never charge more than $50 for… also the programs, but that’s all part of sponsorships. If we want to avoid raising ticket prices, we also talked about not having an open bar… I know a lot of people who were up for big awards who didn’t attend, either from tickets, location, and they knew it would just be mailed.


Christiana: People said they liked that it wasn’t a sit down dinner, and it also keeps prices low.


Lulu: If anyone knows anyone who is best on how to go about things…


Christiana: Because we work with NAHJ South Florida, so if someone is a sponsor they can write it off on taxes. So it’s good to work with them, and people are able to write off what they spend for their sponsorship on taxes. 


Lulu: We can talk about details, but if anyone wants to join the subcommittee, reach out to me or Christiana and we can coordinate that. I know it might be tough for people in the North, but even if you have connections, it’s an event that’s growing in popularity.


Christiana: I would love if we had the location set by the deadline, so we can tell people to mark the calendars and set the event. Previously we told them two months before, but we also need more help if we want to do earlier, like when we know the dates.


Jason: The contest this year had 1,008 entries, that is our first time in my history with the chapter that we got over a thousand. Last year 934… we really did well with money this year. Everyone is used to the extension at this point, and they know it’s coming. It always brings in another hundred entries, and 32 an entry, that’s a lot of money. In another month we’re gonna start talking about categories, and that’s about it.


Christiana: I would love if Lindsey could collaborate on you with the radio categories. We come from a print background, but in TV they say that’s not how it works… now things are revamped and people fell like we know what we’re talking about.


Jason: And the most important thing is marketing.


Cassidy: We should have a separate brainstorming in the future.




  • Drone (Carina)


  • What’s up with our drone program? How can we make it better?




Christiana: The committee last year didn’t do much, Carina is really interested in the program, so she’s taken it over. Previously we had done a drone tour, and when Brandon was more active he would go to universities and host talks where people could try. We have a 1000 grant to take another tour, and Carina is excited to travel up the state, maybe a tour from Miami to Tampa in a Florida drone tour.


Emily: We also could get up our loan a drone program, for people to borrow and for us to help them get it up.


Christiana: Carina has been downloading and updating the software of the drone, which was 18 months out of date… now she’s working to get the ipad up to date, but she’s working very hard to get it up and running. Also, the FAA license has expired, so we need to get that done again. A cable was missing, the propellers were damage, and maybe be an ipad refurbished… we have that $1000 grant from the loan a drone we could use for that, or we could pull it out of programming. But if we want to continue, these are some low costs. But this is a discussion you would have to have.


Koretzky: Somewhere in your budget, you should have 1000 encumbered. The grant is for travel and food only, not for the drone. I believe we had a thousand. So we got this from national; if we don’t spend it, we have to give it back. It would be most economic just to do a tour within Florida.


Christiana: Maybe board members could even house Carina during her tour.


Carina: FSA license 150, cable 20, propellers 20 for a set, and the ipad would be more expensive… a few hundred?


Cassidy: Do we want to be in with a drone? Is this a worthy investment? It seems like we have put a lot of money and time into it.


Emily: I would like to see it, Brandon’s tour was very successful. I think it could be very cool, and if we have a grant we have to hand over anyway, then personally I have no problems getting that drone up to speed. I think we’re all a little scarred by it fizzling out, but Carina is excited. It’s a matter of having the right person.


Cassidy: I don’t love this, because it relies on one person on the board, but I’m very excited for Carina.


Emily: As any chapter has, there are programs we’ve invested in that are good and bad, and this is much like investing in a program, $500-ish is fine because the rest would come out of the grant.


Christiana: We do have people in newsrooms etc. who are waiting for our tour, so it would be really cool for them.


Lulu: Yea just making sure Carina makes sure she’s not alone, if we can step in and help however we can. There are a few people at the Post who use drones, maybe they would want to step in and help.


Christiana: Brandon had also done sessions at FSPA places, where one half would be in a class, and the other half would be in a field.


Emily; We won’t have anything to vote on until Doctor 1 is up to speed, so we’ll see how Carina keeps us updated and go from there.







  • We signed a letter with FIRE and SPLC encouraging FIU Athletics to revise its media relations policy. 


    • Notes: Sept. 27, FIU General Counsel replied saying they would review the policy; FIRE rep will follow up in the next few weeks for update


Christiana: Thanks for taking that initiative, guys.


Emily: I would like to take more initiatives like this.










  • Approve resignation of Abbi Perry from board of directors *Needs vote*


  • Abbi’s resigning for personal reasons. Her full letter is at the end of this agenda. We need to vote to approve the resignation. If you know someone interested in joining the board, we’re about to have an open slot. 




Emily: We adore Abbi, but she has a lot on her plate right now.


Chris: What happens if we vote no on a vote?


Lulu: I move to approve Abbi’s resignation. Christiana sadly seconds. Most approve, Chris nay… motion passes.


Emily: You can email lulu, cassidy and I if you know any other potential directors.



  • Budget approval (Chris/Emily) *Needs vote*


    • Notes: See the proposed FY2019-20 budget here. We earned $13,192.71 in profit for FY2019, whose fiscal year was Aug. 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019. We spent  $27,797.95 and brought in $40,990.66, including a one-time repayment of $2,988.54 from SPJ Region 3. Budget expects $10,974.78 in profit for FY2020.
    • The new budget cuts $2,500 from scholarships and adds $1,500 to programming. Christiana: overview of scholarship program. How many applicants do we usually have? 


Emily: Yes, we’ve had fewer applicants over the years, we’ve spoken over this. It’s not that there are no scholarships now, just less, and using that money to inflate events that do make a difference for us.


Christiana: I was a bit confused, in the budget it only shows a 2000 decrease, and I wanted to confirm? Also, one scholarship doesn’t come from us, it’s 1000 that comes from a family. Has that been counted? Last, are we thinking all high school, or would we do some across the board? Maybe taking out second place? I’m hoping specifying that you can apply for both scholarships but only win one on the scholarship page will help this year.


Chris: I think molly turner’s 1000 should be split into a different part of the budget. 2000 is correct. 


Christiana: It helps in the budget if we include a bit of description in the budget.


Lulu: So, 2500 plus 1000…. So just a thousand would go to programming.


Lulu: Motion to move 1000 from scholarships to programming. Cassidy: Seconded. Emily: all in favor? The motion passes, unanimous.


      • Emily: Any other things on the budget?


Christiana: we need to account for the drone grant.


Lulu: 6000 needs to be moved to a separate line item. So we approve the budget


Lulu: Can we approve the budget? I move to approve the budget, Chris seconds it. Emily: All in favor? Budget approved.


    • Endowment (Jason) 




Jason: Someone mentioned earlier that we need to partner with NAJH to use their non profit status for venues, and for years I have wanted to see if we could do that ourselves. So I found out someone can become our agent as part of a non profit, but another was is to start an endowment. Especially if the sunshine state awards goes downhill we would have another source. I spoke to two foundations, but I keep running into that we need to be a 501c nonprofit ourselves, I can’t find any way around that myself. I believe Koretzky has tried himself, and becoming a non profit can be complicated and expensive.


Cassidy: So why do we want to be a non profit?


Lulu: You can get tax deductions.


Jason: Collect tax exempt donations, and it would also really encourage legacy giving, for example the foundation of browards matches interests but they won’t give any donations to organizations that aren’t non profit. We would also save on rent locations, sales tax, that stuff… so that’s the main benefits.


Cassidy: And what does an endowment do for us?


Jason: An endowment would be like when you invest in the stock market. This would guarantee us a 5% rate every year. The DC chapter has an endowment that they use only for scholarships, every year it grows and they use it to give more money out.


Lulu: There’s no doubt that non profits, it’s easier to collect. What are the costs?


Jason: This can get confusing, I’m still working through these numbers. Foundation of Broward charged percentages for investment fees, you would never really notice some fees, the 1.5% they charge is cut in half if you found it with them, another charges at 1.2% but they don’t guarantee as much. They also usually have millions in the bank, so they can give lower fees, and they can handle things like taxes. I’m in early stages, and I’m gonna continue to research.


Lulu: If anyone has any questions, reach out to Jason.


Emily: Or if you want to help. Jason has been great helping with us, so if you want to help with our future hit him up. We can talk more on slack.


Jason: If we started with found of broward, we would never be able to touch it and I see that as a positive.


Cassidy: Is there a date we wanna decide?


Jason: No, just as much as I can work on it.



  • Newsroom union support 


  • PART 1: A letter to McClatchy/Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald supporting the One Herald Guild and requesting acknowledgement of its union 




Emily: They’re taking a vote tomorrow, they anticipate that the miami herald is going to try to make it difficult that they’re a recognized union, setting down rules, like the vote has to be in person. They also fear that they might exclude the nuevo herald, which goes against what they’re trying to do – to protect ALL staffers with this union. Would we like to put out a letter, calling on the herald tomorrow to have the best vote possible, in case things go sour? This could be a big deal, spj hasn’t touched unions before.


Koretzky: SPJ national actually turned down requests to represent union journalists, back in the day newsrooms used to pay for spj membership. So they didn’t want to piss off newsrooms. So it’s a daring move.


Emily: So does anyone have any concerns about this letter?


Lulu: I would love to help with this letter, and I think it would be important to include context on the industry and florida newspapers, we work for different papers but for the same company buying up papers in Florida… so half the directors work for gatehouse media. I fully support my fellow journalists, even though I’m not in a union paper, and given that it’s not a company that doens’t pay for spj memberships, I think it’s important note. I volunteer to help write that.


Koretzky: Does anyone work for a paper where this might come back to them?


Lulu: It might, but I’m willing to put myself out there.


Koretzky: When you announce you’re going to unionize, you’re protected…


Emily: But if you are worried about it affecting you, no one will hold it against you. The letter also won’t say every name, although they could google it and tie it back to you.


Lulu: I suggest that we ask the board members and see if we should be signing as individuals or as the spj chapter. If you’re on this call now, just voice that.


Emily: The next thing is to vote and make it clear if you’re abstaining. If anyone didn’t get a vote, we want to make sure we get their view, to make sure they’re not included in this letter.


Cassidy: I think this is a big deal, it’s a good thing to do.


Emily: Chris calls motion, Lulu seconds. Unanimously passes.



  • Notes for slack discussion: Exploring a chapter statement/bill(?)/program expressing support for newsroom unionization. Maybe including a guide on where newsrooms can start if they’re interested? A webinar? A video? 





LOOKING AHEAD/We need your help



  • Scholarship committee seeking members 


  • We need volunteers to help give money to high school students. Tell Christiana if you’re interested.




Emily: Please look at the committees that need help. Tell Christiana if you’re interested. Michelle went over itt with me.



  • Notes: Membership numbers are a hot mess 


  • Michele is seeking help with membership outreach.




Michelle: I can put it in slack later, but there’s a bunch of people – three people, who aren’t even listed in spj florida. Cassidy and Lulu, you don’t even have a chapter. People belong to other states? And people not students who belong to a student chapter but aren’t students? So I have to reach out to people, it’ll be tedious but I think it’ll be worth it.


Lulu: I just want to point out that I had this issue two years ago, and the same thing happened. They have a real issue. 


Michelle: Easily 150 here who have no chapter, and many who are wrong…


Emily: So help michelle, please.


Michelle: my only real issue is campus chapter ones, if our student rep would like to help. In slack channel for membership, I’ll put all the info in there.


Christiana: For those chapters that rely on dues, this has been an issue for them.


Koretzky: I think you should just go forth as you feel is best, don’t try too hard to understand the dues, it’s a mess. It is what it is.


Michelle: My last question, would you guys mind if I had access to do this through the spj account, so I can handle this more professionally?


Lulu: That’s an excellent idea.


Emily: I don’t think that requires a vote, that is very ok.



  • Notes: We need people to join the contest and ceremony committee for next year’s ceremony, and we’re looking to create a separate scholarship committee. Let Jason or Christiana know if you want to help and if you’re well connected.




  • Programming Brainstorm meeting


  • Notes: We’d like to host a programming-specific meeting in November as an official meeting. These meetings historically help produce our most successful signature events. Having one as a standalone meeting will allow for time slotted to just think big + no distractions or other new biz to vote on.  If budget’s approved, we’ll have more money for programs. 




Emily: Literally the only thing I’m changing is that it’s an official meeting, I think the more people there and who HAVE to be there, the more we have people there who can give ideas. I don’t want to organize it myself. I’ll send out a doodle in the next few weeks, but keep your eyes out for a program specific meeting.


Lulu: I’m gonna send out an email for a brainstorming meeting, just to kind of see what people want to support.





      • Mock Press Conference Oct. 25 – Does this need $?


  • Christiana: It does not need money.


    • Facebook for Journalists in Jax  Nov. 15 – Does this need $?


Emily: I don’t think we’re gonna need much, but I was thinking a refreshment like bagels or something?


Koretzky: Definitely. We always have food, it’s journalism, man.


Lulu: $150? So I make the motion to give up to $150, Christiana seconds it. Emily abstains. The motion approves.


    • News Swap – TK – We approved $500 and submitted a grant application for $500 more


Kirsten: We’ve tried to get it scheduled 5 times, a week or so ago I sent out a doodle to our participants, but looking at about 15 people at about the end of october.


Emily: I don’t think we got an update yet.


Koretzky: I’ll check.


    • Journalists Against Humanity – TK grant funded supplies


    • Fake News Game Show library branch – multiple dates TK grant funded prizes 


Vote to end the meeting

Cassidy: I move to adjourn the meeting. Lulu: Second the motion. Emily: The motion passes, and the meeting ends.


Minutes will be approved at an upcoming meeting on Nov. 19. 

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