Highlights from Jan. 18, 2011, board meeting in Tallahassee

Present: Jim Baltzelle, president; Gil Thelen, executive director; Patty Cox, treasurer; Rick Hirsch, past president; Mark Russell, Terry Eberle, Mike Connelly, Manny Garcia, Barbara Petersen, Larry Sullivan, Bob Gabordi, Barbara Petersen, Dave Carlson

On the phone:
Tony Fins, Cory Lancaster, Sara Quinn, Mark Tomasik.

Baltzelle called the meeting to order at 10:03 a.m.

Approval of September minutes
Minutes from the September board meeting were approved.

Treasurer’s report
The latest financial statements were distributed and approved. The organization’s financial health and reserves remain solid, largely because of a reduction in contest administration expenses. Because of staffing changes at FPA, FSNE doesn’t have an updated membership list or accounting of dues. Baltzelle and Thelen will work to compile a new list and ensure accounts are current before contest entries are received.

Sunshine Week
A free Sunshine Summit on citizen access will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The Sunshine Recognition luncheon will be held on March 15. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will speak at both events. Carolyn Timmann, Gov. Scott’s director of open government, and Pat Gleason, one of Florida’s top experts on public meetings and records, will participate in the March 16 program. Petersen is looking for panelists and someone to speak about the history of open government. Invitations have been sent to Charlie Crist and Bob Butterworth.

USF is arranging to live stream and archive the event. Dave Carlson will post the video on FSNE.org.

Bob Gabordi and Larry Sullivan were charged with budgeting stories for Sunshine Week. They will focus on profiling citizen activists/journalists whose work has made a difference. The budget should be complete in early February.

The Associated Press and Sarasota Herald-Tribune staffers are collaborating on an audit, e-mail requests and electronic returns of salary information.

Contest update
The setup for the contest on http://www.betterbnc.com is taking shape. Rules and instructions will be distributed to editors next week. The deadline for entries is Feb. 27. This year, every organization will get one free entry, so contest chair Terry Eberle is hoping for 100 percent participation. The contest committee will have judges selected by Feb. 1.

Update from Tallahassee press corps
Nine reporters addressed the board with concerns about media access in the early days of the Scott administration. Attending were: Paul Flemming and Bill Cotterell, Gannett News Service and Tallahassee Democrat; Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald; Steve Bousquet, St. Petersburg Times; Brendan Farrington, Associated Press; Dave Royse, News Service of Florida; Lloyd Dunkelberger, New York Times Regional Newspaper Group; Aaron Deslatte, Orlando Sentinel; and Bob Rathgeber, Fort Myers News-Press.

Their concerns focused on the lack of access to the governor and to events that previously would have been open to the entire press corps, the “cherry picking” of reporters to provide pool reports, and a slow response by Scott’s office to records requests. The administration appears determined to impose a form of order on day-to-day news coverage that has not been seen before in Tallahassee.

Baltzelle will write a letter to the governor’s office and will circulate for the board’s approval and signatures. An FSNE board member was to question the governor at AP’s legislative planning session.

FSNE.org
Thelen will look into creating an internship that will pay a small stipend and find a qualified candidate to update the site on a regular basis with news items relevant to the membership. Hirsch, Carslon and Cox will determine at a later date how much to invest in new functionality for the site.

Membership update
Patrick Sanders of the New York Times Regional Group and Wayne Garcia of USF are the newest members of FSNE. Baltzelle encouraged board members to grow membership through their own organizations.

Multimedia workshop
This event will be part of the annual convention this year, possibly at Poynter. Garcia and Quinn are working off a theme of ethical decisions in the digital age.

Convention planning
The convention will be held June 30-July 1 at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg. A joint board dinner, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times, will be held June 29. The theme of this year’s event is Recovery: Getting Back to Basics. Possible sessions will focus on beat reporting, ethical decision-making, developing sources and covering political conventions. An addition to this year’s convention is a dinner Thursday night, where some awards – Florida Journalism Hall of Fame, Waldo Proffit, Friend of the First Amendment – will be presented. Separate FPA/FSNE awards ceremonies will precede lunch, where the groups will honor the Gold Medal winners.

Writers’ workshop
Fins will send a proposal to Baltzelle about co-sponsoring a writers’ workshop with the University of Central Florida on Aug. 19-21. Fins said UCF is well organized and progressing with the plans.

Legislative update
Petersen provided a list and update of several bills to pay attention to in the upcoming session. Among them:
SB 262 HB 129 Intimidation of a judge
SB 416 HB 163 Exemption/photos and recordings – killing of a person
SB 310 Public’s right to speak/public meetings
HB 4005, which would repeal on number of exemptions on legislative records, including drafts of redistricting maps.

The meeting adjourned at 1:03. Baltzelle thanked Gabordi for hosting. 

Addendum: Baltzelle was going to ask Russell about hosting the next meeting in Orlando in April.

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