FSNE Board Meeting July 9, 2009

Palm Beach, Fla.
Present: Mark Tomasik, Larry Sullivan, John Bartosek, Jim Baltzelle, Jeanne Grinstead, Rick Hirsch, Michael Connelly, Bill McKeen, AntonioFins, Cory Lancaster, Barbara Petersen, Rafael Palacio, Keith Woods.

Also attending: Gil Thelen.

Not present: Terry Eberle, Bob Gabordi.

President Tomasik called the meeting to order at 8:05 a.m. He thanked the board for its help during his term in office, with a special nod to his executive board, executive director and contest chairs and past presidents who all helped make the year positive, despite tough times.

Minutes: Board reviewed the minutes from April’s meeting and approved them, adding that they need to be posted to the FSNE Web site. There also was one clarification in that the State News Service has joined and the April minutes were uncertain about that fact.

Treasurer report/budget

  • Final balance sheets from June 2009 were presented and approved.
  • Questions pertained to whether the Knight Foundation money had been allocated and whether a Sun Sentinel candidate had qualified for some of the $3,000. Fins was to verify.
  • Thelen expressed pleasure in the fact that dues had not dropped, largely because more sub editors had joined the organization.
  • Costs for contest judging went down and there will be more discussion about how to keep those expenses flat, if not lower. Some contest expenses will not be reflected until later statements, such as checks cut for Web work and contest booklet preparation.

Update on the 2009-10 FSNE Contests

  • Cory Lancaster agreed to become chair of the contest committee.
  • There will be upcoming evaluations of categories, trying to capitalize again on growth areas while minimizing expense. For instance, online growth in video production should be split into different types of video: spot, enterprise, and so on; while best home page probably should be dropped completely. Various people, including Baltzelle and Hirsch, agreed to assist in rethinking online, especially in light of our new membership criteria, which is in the works.
  • Rafael Palacio suggested similar changes might need to be made to Spanish-language  judging. He pointed out that four Florida Spanish-language publications that had participated are now defunct.
  • There was a brief huddle about logistics for the next day’s awards banquet,  which was well attended.
  • Next year’s convention will be in Sarasota, June 17-18, at the Ritz-Carlton with a $139 room rate.

Upcoming Sunshine Week

  • Larry Sullivan agreed to take over coordination of the effort, which Lancaster led this past year to much applause.
  • Petersen suggested an audit in 2010 would not be worthwhile and the board agreed.
  • Petersen also suggested FSNE and FAF partner on a project, similar to one done in Texas, where front pages were displayed with the bodies of stories left blank – only headlines – wherever the stories depended on public records. The result was a rather stunning online presentation and educational booklet. Lots of blank space.
  • Petersen was going to pursue a grant application for the booklet expense.
  • Discussion centered on hosting seminars for community bloggers, with help from groups like the League of Women Voters, to show the presentation. This effort would coincide with vetting possible blogger members and the creation of new blogger contest categories.
  • It might be possible to repeat, as we did this year, the process of having board organizations write a few themed-based stories to make available for use. Lancaster said the profiles were widely appreciated and used, moving on AP’s wires and posted on the FSNE Web site.

Report on Web site, UF task force presentation

  • The UF contingent unveiled its prototype for FSNE’s new design, a result of six weeks of initial work that will be further refined.
  • The presentation was tremendous and ambitious, with an emphasis on making the site more interactive and visually appealing.
  • The new look is less text heavy and has easier navigation. It is also a work in progress. But the concept is for it to be easy to maintain and user friendly.
  • The student-driven team showed off the new model, which keeps our logo and plays with color to match the brand. There is a revolving news interface, sort of a feature carousel at the top, along with a list of upcoming events. Much of the text-heavy content has been pushed down page.
  • The links section we currently have needs to be down-sized, perhaps with brief explanations about why they are on the site. No person was assigned that task.
  • A richer section on contests will be included.
  • The Freelance Exchange is highlighted.
  • There will be places for video, such as a training video from one of our seminars.
  • Details will be worked out on how to become a member and  a member’s only area.
  • The demo is similar to newzine.ju.edu. A beta can be viewed at www.brassringboat.com
  • Issues, such as how to include Spanish-language member news, will be addressed. But the presentation was enthusiastically received and is a  major step.
  • The collaboration would not have been possible without board member William McKeen’s help and support at UF.

Multimedia skills workshops

  • Workshops likely will continue to focus on daylong training events, with a special emphasis on multimedia. There will continue to be two, with new trainers and new subject matter, as skill sets evolve.
  • Early plans call for one session in October/November and one in the spring. It is possible a smaller lecture-style session, like we had this year at the annual convention in West Palm Beach, would occur in Sarasota, perhaps emphasizing ethics.
  • There is a high school journalism event, the Scholastic Press Association, that meets in October. FAF, AP and FSNE might combine resources to discuss Sunshine issues and community journalism at the event.
  • Petersen mentioned that the Knight Foundation has concerns about newspapers not being as aggressive, given the new economy, and Florida might be one of the states ripe for support for the right cause.
  • The Asian American Journalism Association has approached USF about a training day, which might be an opportunity for some sort of involvement. No date has been set and the cost structure is more than double what FSNE’s has been.
  • The goal is to keep our session’s relevant and affordable, enlarging the time per session but limiting the number to two per year, most likely in Central, West or South Florida.
  • We probably will increase the cost to attend to $45, which includes lunch.

Report on Freelance Exchange

  • The effort is up and running and there has been some traffic.
  • It remains unclear how much work has been hired through the site and it is hoped the new Web site will help drive interest.
  • Other places, such as possible links on Poynter’s Web site or Mediabistro, were mentioned, too. No one was assigned this task.
  • Many stringer budgets have been cut and most of us have our go-to people, some of them former staffers.

Membership

  • Baltzelle confirmed membership by the State News Service in Tallahassee. He also echoed interest in partnering on training by the state’s AP broadcast board, which he and Tomasik met with in April in Orlando. Baltzelle will keep nurturing that interest.
  • Diario Las Americas was mentioned as a possible new Hispanic member, at least worth contacting again. Palacio said he would do so.
  • There was discussion about offering former professional journalists, retired or laid off, membership at a discount rate.
  • There was discussion about creating special contest categories for such new members.
  • Similar ideas were discussed for community bloggers and freelance writers.
  • Fins and Baltzelle will meet before September to discuss possible new member criteria to send for the board to review. Larry Sullivan said he would help also.

New officers

  • Tomasik was thanked for his great service to the board during a rough year and presented with gifts.
  • Hirsch became the new president; Baltzelle vice president; Lancaster secretary/treasurer.
  • Jeanne Grinstead moves off the board with her likely replacement being Patty Cox, ME of the St. Petersburg Times.
  • It is possible Grinstead might serve the board in another capacity.
  • Bartosek moves off the board and said he had such a wonderful time and enjoyed greatly working with such professionals.
  • There was a discussion about possible new board members. Names not listed intentionally here.
  • There was a discussion about having three meetings instead of four: January in Tallahassee in conjunction with AP Legislative Day; April at The Miami Herald; summer at the convention in Sarasota.

Submitted by: Jim Baltzelle

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