Minutes from April 19, 2010, FSNE board meeting at The Miami Herald

Taken by vice president, Jim Baltzelle

At the Herald:

  • Mark Tomasik, veteran member
  • Tony Fins
  • Manny Garcia
  • Patty Cox
  • Gil Thelen, executive director
  • Terry Eberle, veteran member
  • Rick Hirsch, president
  • Jim Baltzelle, vice president

On the phone:

  • Sara Quinn
  • Mark Russell
  • Cory Lancaster, secretary
  • Bob Gabordi
  • Bill McKeen

Hirsch called the meeting to order at 11:02 a.m.

Approval of January minutes

Before approving the minutes from the previous board meeting, a correction was requested by Terry Eberle. He was present in the October meeting on the phone and the minutes need to reflect that fact. Cory Lancaster was to make the correction.

The minutes were approved with no further discussion.

Treasurer’s report

The latest financial statements were subsequently received and the organization’s financial health and reserves remain solid, largely due to a reduction in contest administration expenses and a new strategy for entries.

Sunshine Week

The 2010 effort was successful, thanks largely to the leadership of Bob Gabordi, who pointed out that it was not a stellar legislative session for sunshine issues. Board members reported wide use of FSNE’s slate of content for Sunshine Week.  Gabordi predicted a tough road for any measure dealing with the governor’s agenda, including open government legislation, despite years of preparation and public hearings. On public notices, Gabordi said the sense was that the issue is not going away, though there would  not be any negative affect this year. Much will depend on the next governor, who might not offer veto protection.

Gabordi will continue to coordinate FSNE’s sunshine initiatives next year.

Contest

Cory Lancaster was praised for coordinating the annual journalism contest. She said we had good financial results so far and the checks weren’t all in yet. We had about the same number of entries as last year, though there was a large drop off in the smallest division and the new categories for non-affiliated journalists did not draw entries and will need better marketing.

All judging was done. The plan was to send the winners list to the trophy maker May 1. There will not be an award booklet this year. A slideshow presentation will be placed on fsne.org. The board discussed having some sort of handout at the banquet that would list the winners.

Chris Porter from the Charlotte Sun has sent thank you notes and gift cards to the judges.

Lancaster reported that all entrants in the contest have paid FSNE dues,  with one exception.

The board agreed the contest committee would need to reevaluate divisions for 2011, perhaps using a new metric. There also should be a way for Spanish language papers to enter the main categories for photography, investigative reporting, page design, and so on.

Cory Lancaster and Jim Baltzelle were to return in June with recommendations. For instance, should overall readership numbers be used to create divisions? Should paper entries be scanned as pdfs, which would greatly reduce mailing costs? Should there be a mobile category? The board will split up the state and talk to editors who did not enter to try to get them back in the mix. Baltzelle will provide a framework for discussion in those calls at the June meeting.

Hirsch underscored that unaffiliated journalists are critical to the success and future of FSNE, though there were no entries in the new categories created for them. He said the board must improve its outreach and consider partnerships with groups like ONA. He said the effort to reach unaffiliated journalists will be a “phone call by phone call ground war…” He suggested that board members find out who the best contacts are in their communities, which all said they would do. Garcia and Hirsch will focus on South Florida recruitment. Other areas where board members will focus included St. Petersburg; the Poynter Institute (which might have a list); Orlando’s “Blogando;” Fort Lauderdale’s “Best of the Blogs;” and Tallahassee. It is also possible to refer to ONA’s list of Florida members.

Terry Eberle agreed to chair the contest next year and Mark Russell will assist with the idea of taking over the effort in 2012.

Web site relaunch

The fsne.org web site relaunch is a priority before the convention. The experiment with UF didn’t go as planned for a variety of reasons, Hirsch said. Instead, FSNE likely will migrate to WordPress, which will not require a Webmaster to post or alter content. More will come on this subject in June.

Membership

More will be known when the contest checks are all in, but FSNE picked up new members in the non-traditional categories, including academicians at FAMU, UF and UM. The board discussed reaching out to other smaller schools and larger community colleges. The academic area needs more focus and marketing efforts from the board. Russell said he would work on gathering support from UCF in Orlando.

Convention planning

The annual join FPA/FSNE convention is June 17-18 in Sarasota at the Ritz Carlton. Thursday morning will be the FSNE board meeting. Wednesday night we will arrange a board dinner on our own. Thursday afternoon, we will have two town hall forums, one for U.S. Senate and one for the governor’s race. AP’s Brendan Farrington has been instrumental in organizing this event. There will be a dine around on Thursday night. Friday morning, Anders Gyllenhaal, executive editor of The Miami Herald, will moderate a panel on partnerships. There will also be a panel on innovation.

The awards sessions will be in two parts with separate award sessions for FPA and FSNE at 11 a.m. and a noon banquet in which FSNE’s Gold Medal winners are announced. The meeting was planned to adjourn at 2 but board members asked for there to be a best practices in journalism session, perhaps led by some of the winners, and Mike Connelly was to coordinate.

Future of multimedia workshops

The thinking at the board meeting was the future of FSNE’s training initiatives is tied to the future or convention planning, since affordable and meaningful training have become hallmarks of the board’s mission. One of the reasons the training session is being added to the tail end of this year’s convention is the desire of the board to provide value to journalists who attend the convention. There was a discussion about looking for partners to work with moving forward, such as ONA, APME, and SPJ. ASNE has sought partners at the national level a year after canceling its event, including co-sponsors from Google and Yahoo, among others. It has reinvented itself.

So, how does FSNE change the mix? Instead of two stand-alone workshops, does the board do one at a location and another as part of the 2011 convention? And will that convention be different, tied more to a university setting with access to training labs and computers?

If there was a partnership with ONA, Unity, SPJ, what would be in it for them?

A lot of interest stemmed from building on the academic thread through partnering with j-schools in state.

Some concerns were expressed about the seemingly divergent interests and paths of FPA and FSNE. FPA has expressed interest or has partnered with groups, such as Tax Watch and Leadership Florida, which present conflicts for an editors group.

Quinn and Garcia, who has years with IRE, will apply some fresh thinking on these subjects and report back in June.

Tomasik summarized by saying that the training component is essential to conventions and to FSNE in general. He applauded the idea of building on that success. “The perk days are over,” he said. “They are gone and they are not coming back.” He said that FSNE members need to have a reason to attend a convention and have to be able to report back to their co-workers and bosses on what was learned or gained. He said he favored the idea of having an FSNE convention wrapped around that concept and at a site that made the training doable. He also said FSNE is not tapping its own organization’s expertise enough. “If everyone came up with one best practice,” he said, “something innovative and successful going on that could be shared, that would build audience.” His point was that new voices would emerge and new leaders of the organization of the state’s journalism.” Wouldn’t it be great to let them get up in front of the whole crowd and say, ‘Here’s what I did at my organization.’ Wow.”

Fins said the National Writer’s Workshop is sorely missed and is something that could be considered as a potential add-on to an FSNE convention. Baltzelle really liked this idea, as did others. Fins and Baltzelle were going to pursue it.

Discussion also turned to having more social media interaction with live chats; blogging on the big screen; planning an event on site; and transmitting live.

In essence, FSNE has worked hard in the last few years to become known for its training efforts and now it is time to evolve.

Garcia said the board should be mindful of ways to monetize the effort, too. Could training videos be sold? Would they be a value-add as part of membership? Topics could run from managing a beat at a small paper to steering change in complex organizations.

Thelen was going to research the history of the joint convention with FPA.

Garcia and Quinn will bring a proposal for stand-alone workshop in June.

Board succession

Cox agreed to become secretary in June when Lancaster becomes vice president and Baltzelle becomes president. Cox was praised for her work since joining the board, including her fast work on our FaceBook page, which led to more communication about the contest and entries, as well as members.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:20 p.m.

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