FSNE Board Meeting

The Poynter Institute
St. Petersburg, Fl
Oct. 6, 2008

Present: Mark Tomasik, Rosemary Goudreau, Anthony Fins, Rafael Palacio, John  Bartosek, Jim Baltzelle, Jeanne Grinstead, Terry Eberle, Keith Woods, Rick Hirsch, Michael Connelly, Bill McKeen, Bob Gabordi (by phone from Tally)

Also attending:
Gil Thelen
Martin Frobisher for online discussion

Not present: Cory Lancaster.

President Tomasik called the meeting to order at 10:05 p.m.

Minutes: Board reviewed and unanimously approved the minutes from the June meeting.

Treasurer report/budget

  • In general, financial picture is stable, holding close to last year. Because of staffing changes at Florida Press, we couldn’t get too deep under the topline numbers.
  • We ended up netting a small surplus on our multimedia workshops during ’07 and ’08, though the August budget suggests a deficit because some expenses from the Dec. ’07 workshop hit in early ’08, and the revenue for that session was in the ’07 numbers. Overall, for four workshops, we came out ahead by $2,538.
  • Our receivables are up by more than $3,000. We need try to report back on why. Initial thought was we were behind in dues collection.

Contest Planning

  • With Robyn Tomlin leaving the board, the Contest Committee needed a new co-chair. Terry Eberle agreed to join Rafael Palacio and JBart.
  • JBart gave an overview of recommendations that he and Robyn compiled, and there was general agreement on main points: Allow more time before entry deadline and the start of judging (only one week last year); reduce the number of judges invited for visuals from five to four (and accept that you may have to go with three if one bows out); develop a means for online entry forms (and payment); provide a consistent guideline for online entry cover letters, and explanation/cover letter for photo entries.
  • JBart recommended removing the requirement that all photo entries be judged blind – so judges cannot tell what newspaper submitted what entry. He said it made judging more complicated. Keith said he thought that was in sync with the NPPA contest standard.
  • We will try to put in place an electronic entry form for the new contest season. Rick Hirsch and the website committee agreed to report back before year-end on whether we can set this up along with online credit card payment.
  • Keith suggested we look into setting up an ftp site to make it easier to submit photo and online entries that include large digital files. Rick said we would report back on that as well.
  • Rafael asked that the committee get a list of dues paying members so the group can know if all entries are truly eligible.
  • Questions were raised about contest expenses this year versus last year; we had different breakdowns in the budget report. Rick will report back and see that we have better and clearer definitions going forward.
  • Rosemary suggested we put together a manual on standard operating procedures so future chairs don’t have to reinvent or wonder about the process. JBart and Rafael agreed to assemble one, perhaps with Robyn’s help. Rosemary also suggested putting together an FAQ for contest entrants to use which would live on the FSNE website.

Membership

  • Rosemary asked that we distribute a list of who has and hasn’t paid their dues, and that we approach those who are behind.
  • Jim Baltzelle and Anthony Fins agreed to work with Rosemary on the membership committee, and develop a new letter (as we had last year) to send out to members and potential members.

Multimedia training

  • Rick proposed, based on our conversation at the June meeting and a survey of workshop participants, that we hold two workshops this year. The first will be held at the University of Miami on Saturday, Dec. 13. The second will be held in Tampa at USF, and Gil is working on a specific date, during spring break. We believe this will be March 21.
  • Rick provided a proposed outline of courses, with three all-day training sessions and a track of classes focused on editors/managers and a second on reporters/copy editors.
  • Rick and Gil proposed raising the fee from $25 per person to $35. Keith Woods asked whether we should charge a premium for the all-day sessions. After some discussion, the consensus was to keep the fee for all participants at $35, at least for the Miami workshop.
  • Rick said he would be working with Gail Bulfin from the Sun-Sentinel, Gil, Bill McKeen and Jim Baltzelle to finalize faculty for the Miami workshop.

Public Records Audit

  • Mike Connelly reported that the public records audit is moving forward. Survey is scheduled to happen the week of Oct. 20, and we have 63 of Florida’s 67 counties covered. We want to publish stories in mid-November, after the election but before Thanksgiving.
  • Our focus is on email. Kudos to Cory Lancaster, who has driven the effort with help from Mike.
  • Jim Baltzelle said AP would work with Mike and Cory to try to close the loop on the four counties not yet accounted for. Jim also said that Brendan Farrington of the AP Tallahassee bureau could anchor a main story. Rosemary noted that private email from public officials is a big story, and asked whether we’d be seeking that. Mike said our request for email records is generic, and doesn’t specify. We agreed that a sidebar on private email accounts would be a valuable part of the package.
  • Mike said the database of how counties respond should be available about a week after the audit is done.

Convention

  • Gil reported that convention planning has yet to really begin at Florida Press, but asked for guidance on the key topics the board sees as being relevant to members at the July conference.
  • Rosemary said the economic crisis would need to be addressed, as well as issues of newsgathering
  • Gil noted that we talked in June about providing multimedia training relevant to editors, and that JBart had agreed we could use facilities at the Palm Beach Post as a base for it.
  • Bill McKeen offered to contact Tom Wolfe, who is spending much time in Miami working on a book on immigration, to see if he’d agree to speak and provide a headliner quality name to draw people to the conference. He will report back to the group.
  • Rosemary mentioned Jay Rosen as a potential speaker, given the forward looking role he’s played advocating citizen journalism, crowd-sourcing, etc….”He will poke us and make us think,” she said.
  • Gil said he would report to the group on the first conference planning meeting from Florida Press, which happens soon.

DCF Workshops

Not much new here, JBart reported, with Bob Butterworth stepping down. JBart will meet soon with the new chief, George Shelton, and report back on next steps.

Meeting Schedules

The next meeting will be the afternoon of Jan. 21 in Tallahassee, hosted by the Tallahassee Democrat and new board member Bob Gabordi. The next day, AP will host its annual table-setter for the legislative session.
Gil suggested changing plans from going to UCF in Spring, because of a change in administration there, and going there instead next fall. At JBart’s suggestion, we tentatively decided on meeting in April at FIU in Miami.

Strategic Planning

Membership and Name

  • Mark presented the recommendations of the strategic planning committee.
  • Board members discussed the need to broaden our membership base, and whether to change the name of the organization. Florida Society of News Editors was mentioned, and received general support from the group.
  • Tony Fins said we needed to include more online editors and branch out.
  • Mark suggested that the membership committee work to explore including editors from multimedia, the online and blogging space. He said we are now largely an organization with members from print or websites tied to print, and we need to expand to become the multimedia journalism organization for the state of Florida, looking to the possibility of expanding our membership to include bloggers, independent organizations, multimedia sites not driven by newspapers – all being done with the objective of growing our membership and solidifying it for the future.
  • Keith noted that the board membership would need to expand the represent those new populations. And we’d need to establish some metrics on how the organization would grow its members in different areas, and by when.
  • JBart, reading the organization bylaws, noted that it said members needed to be “news organizations” but made no mention of print.
  • Mark proposed that the strategic committee continue to meet, that we reach out to members of the Online News Association, and work on Keith’s notion of setting short-term, midterm and long-term goals. And the membership committee will report back in January.

Improving the website

  • Mark said the strategic planning committee identified improving our website as a key step in securing our future. We discussed how to  make it a focal point for communication, training and idea sharing.
  • We agreed it should become the touchstone for Membership and Commerce, Sharing of Florida’s Best Journalism, Training and Education on Open Government, Public Records and Best Practices
  • Webmaster Martin Frobisher and Rick said everything we discussed was do-able; it was just a question of providing the content and the support to keep the website fresh.
  • Rick said he and Martin would discuss some options and would get back to the group quickly on proposed short-term and long-term improvements that can be made in the site, a timeline for doing it and an estimate of costs in terms of resources and time. That will include a quick turnaround on creating a blog on what’s happening in Florida journalism that board members would contribute to….
  • Rick and Bill said they would work together to define a partnership role for the University of Florida College of Journalism in supporting the site. It may focus on the training issue.

Finance

  • The strategic planning group discussed the possibility of FSNE reducing its contest fees and eliminating membership dues. After discussion, the board decided to revisit the idea later one new revenue sources are identified.
  • Keith said FSNE should expand the grant search beyond newspaper foundations to organizations who are supportive of journalism and democracy, and look into the possibility of securing underwriting of contests.
  • Rosemary said we should look into developing a proposal for a Knight Foundation community challenge grant.
  • Bob said that the Tallahassee Democrat is working with the Leroy Collins Center at FSU on a  grant to fund a model to provide state capital coverage to news organizations.
  • Mark, Jeanne and Terry said they would continue to work on the idea of approaching foundations for grant funding.

In other business:

  • Jim Baltzelle reported that AP is working with a number of Florida papers on a new way of doing legal advertising across the state using AP Exchange.
  • Rick, JBart and Tony gave an outline of the content sharing efforts underway between The Palm Beach Post, SunSentinel and Miami Herald.
  • Rosemary gave an overview of the changes at The Tampa Tribune, which on Monday introduced a new, one-section weekday format. The Sunday edition will be expanded to included a Sunday magazine and other new content.

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