Mar. 20, 2009  

Minutes of March 16, 2009

The meeting was called to order by Julie Kay at 7:15 PM at Nakorn Sushi & Thai in Hollywood, Florida. Members present: Sylvia Gurinsky, Darcie Lunsford, Bill Hirschman, John Hopkins, Jaime Danielson, Sergy Odiduro, and Julie Kay. Chapter administrator Tim Dodson was also present as was new member Stacey Singer of the Palm Beach Post. Member Alana Roberts arrived 20 minutes later.

The minutes of the previous board meeting were discussed briefly. Tim Dodson suggested that we forgo reading them at meetings since they are posted online so rapidly. Jaime Danielson suggested board members who spot errors in minutes posted online simply email her with corrections that need to be made.

Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Hirschman reported that the chapter had approximately $26,000 in its checking account, $12,000 in its savings account, and $32,000 in a CD that rolls over this month. He also expected $19,000 more in income from the Sunshine State Awards to go into the chapter’s coffers soon. Hirschman also reported that the chapter is caught up on paying bills due.

Julie Kay announced that Martha Sternberg had resigned from the chapter board due to personal reasons.

Tim Dodson launched into a discussion of the chapter budget for 2008-2009. He presented the board with two spreadsheets. One spreadsheet detailed overall income and expenses for the period, and one spreadsheet detailed income and expenses for this year’s Sunshine State Awards. Dodson pointed out that the chapter budget was incomplete because he still needed additional information from Michael Koretzky.

Dodson said, as expected, income from the Sunshine State Awards was way down. He had $19,000 in entry fees in hand, and there were several outstanding entry fee payments due. Total revenues should total $20,000. John Hopkins asked for last year’s total. Several board members put it at around $25,000.

Since revenues are down, Dodson and Julie Kay have been planning a more frugal event this year. It will be a cocktail reception. They expect a total of 90 guests and will charge about $35 for tickets. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and two drink tickets will be provided to attendees for that cost. Tim also expects some income from duplicate awards sales.
Dodson said he expects expenses for the awards ceremony to be around $30 per person. He and Julie Kay believe the Art & Culture Center in Hollywood to be the best place to hold the ceremony this year.

They also looked at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Cinema Paradiso, and the Girl’s Club Gallery. Of all four options, Dodson and Kay believe the Art & Culture Center to be the best for its charm, price, and free parking.

The board unanimously approved holding this year’s Sunshine State Awards Ceremony at the Art & Culture Center in Hollywood. Dodson said the date will probably be Saturday, May 30th.

John Hopkins made a suggestion that Dodson look for ways to get ticket price down a bit lower. Dodson said he would look into it.

Darcie Lunsford wondered if Phil Latzman should still host this year’s awards ceremony, but said it could be decided at a later time.

After the discussion of the Sunshine State Awards budget, Dodson returned to discussion of the Chapter’s general budget. Income from membership dues was examined. Lunsford said she wouldn’t be surprised if the Chapter gets fewer membership renewals this year. Dodson said we should go after new members to make up the loss. Dodson also noted that SPJ National will begin to automatically invoice members for local dues, which could help push membership and membership revenue higher.

Dodson and Hirschman also pointed out that interest income will be lower this year. They will go to bank to review other means of generating interest income.

Next, Dodson reviewed Chapter expenses. The Sunshine State Awards, Chapter Management, National Meeting and Event Attendance will be the largest expenses.

The Board then discussed how many delegates it should send to this year’s SPJ National Convention in Indianapolis. Lunsford said the chapter needs to figure out how many members it has because that determines the minimum number of delegates to send. Lunsford wondered if members who had their local dues waived were actually being counted on local membership rolls. Lunsford and Kay said they would check with Linda at national headquarters to get the answer to that question.

Hopkins said the chapter shouldn’t send more than 3 people, regardless. Those people would be Julie Kay, Darcie Lunsford, and Michael Koretzky – who all must attend the convention. The Board had general agreement on this point.

Next, Stacey Singer of the Palm Beach Post presented a proposal to the board to organize a way to help out-of-work journalists monetarily. She said she is driven to help colleagues who have lost their jobs during this tumultuous time in the media industry. She said it is obvious many of these journalists will have to turn to other industries to find employment. They’ll need money to go to school or just to pay rent for a couple months. She has seen larger companies donate for such causes, and she suggested partnering with FSNE to create a tax deductible organization to collect and distribute funds to displaced journalists. She also suggested we hold fundraisers to add to the funds.

The board immediately agreed this was a good idea. They discussed a need for a committee to head up such a non-profit corporation and also deal with ethical concerns about determining who would be awarded the funds. Singer pointed out that the organization will need buy-in from leading journalists in South Florida, and she suggested the organization might be called “After the Jump.” Dodson pointed out that creating a 501 3c corporation can be difficult and involve a lot of legal paperwork, so he suggested that we might want to look into getting a group like the Dade Community Foundation to handle the money. Singer said she would look into it. In addition, Lunsford suggested Singer call Board member Sam Terilli, who has legal background, for insight.

Next, the Board reviewed Michael Koretzky’s scholarship proposal. The proposal was presented on paper, since Koretzky could not attend the meeting. Kay asked why there weren’t any scholarships for out of work journalists in the proposal. Danielson and Dodson said Koretzky didn’t want to get into that complicated matter this year and would consider it for next year.

Hopkins opposed #2 in Koretzky’s list, which discussed offering two $250 instant online scholarships at the regional convention. There was general agreement among board members that it sounded like a lottery and it should not be approved. The Board wants scholarships only given out for meritorious reasons.

The Board also agreed it would increase the total amount of scholarship money from the $2,500 in Koretzky’s proposal to $3,000. Board members would like to see two $1,000 scholarships, one $500 scholarship, and two $250 scholarships (if they are awarded for meritorious reasons). Danielson pointed out that next year the chapter should consider offering a scholarship to the Sunshine State Awards College Journalist of the Year.

The Board also decided that Hopkins will write bios of the people behind the chapter’s named scholarships, so the information (along with photos) can be posted in a special section of the website. The suggestion was also made to build a chapter history section of the website. Gurinsky said she would try to find an old video she had that could offer insight into chapter history.

Kay asked, on behalf of board member Merwin Sigale, for volunteers to judge a high school essay contest. Roberts and Odiduro agreed to help out.

Dodson reminded everyone to register for the Regional Convention. He said they can do it via the convention link on the chapter website.

The board also decideed that Danielson and one of her colleagues from Nightly Business Report would judge the College Journalist of the Year Award this year because the entries received were broadcast entries.

The board then discussed ideas to offer grants or some other assistance to journalists working to create local community news websites. Coastal Star was offered as an example of such a site. Lunsford wondered if a Knight Foundation grant could be obtained to help fund such a project.

Odiduro offered an update on her Trauma Reporting event. She said there have been obstacles in her efforts to get speakers committed. The board agreed that now might not be the right time for this topic, so the idea was tabled.

Hopkins suggested the chapter put its efforts into creating support meetings for out-of-work journalists. The board had general agreement that this would be a fabulous idea. Kay offered to organize the first meeting in Hollywood next week, and suggested that they be organized in each of the three counties.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM.

Minutes respectfully submitted by:
Jaime Danielson

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