Minutes from June 30, 2011, board meeting in St. Pete

Present: Jim Baltzelle, president; Cory Lancaster, vice president; Patty Cox, secretary-treasurer; Rick Hirsch, past president; Gil Thelen, executive director; Mark Russell, Chris Porter, Frank Denton, Terry Eberle, Mike Connelly, Manny Garcia, Barbara Petersen, Larry Sullivan, Bob Gabordi, Dave Carlson. On the phone: Tony Fins.

Baltzelle called the meeting to order at 8:36 a.m. He introduced and welcomed new board members Mc Nelly Torres of FICAR; Chris Porter, Charlotte Sun; Frank Denton, Florida Times-Union, and Dennis Durkee, Scripps Treasure Coast News. Baltzelle thanked departing board members Terry Eberle, Mark Tomasik and Larry Sullivan for their years of service.

Approval of minutes
Minutes from the April 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. As a result, the organization has been able to send donations to the Joplin Globe relief run and the First Amendment Foundation and pay an intern to maintain the website.

Sunshine Week results and future plans
Baltzelle and Petersen said the audit was revealing. Email addresses were the biggest hurdle. The board agreed that an earlier start on planning for next year and earlier story deadlines would be beneficial. Dennis Durkee will coordinate coverage, and Russell will work with Dennis on a proposal for direction before the next board meeting. The Associated Press and Sarasota Herald-Tribune are collaborating on an audit, e-mail requests and electronic returns of salary information. Other ideas discussed included the records requests from the governor’s office, the state vs. personal email issue and record requests from new agency chiefs and Cabinet members. Hirsch suggested targeting areas where organizations have issues and find a way to share information. Thelen suggested committing to a biweekly update, a concise narrative on opportunities and developments. A discussion about FSNE’s representation in the legislature prompted several questions. Lancaster was to sort this out with Ridings. Post-meeting update: Sandy D’Alemberte will register as a lobbyist for FSNE, and steps have been taken to improve communication between FSNE and FPA regarding legislative Sunshine and access issues, including weekly briefing calls during the session.

Waldo Jaiquith, statedecoded.com
Hirsch arranged for Waldo Jaiquith, developer of statedecoded.com and Knight News Challenge winner, to present a partnership opportunity to the board. Jaiquith’s platform displays state statutes, court decisions and information from legislative tracking services and would make that information understandable, searchable and more valuable to reporters and the public. The goal is to get an organization in every state to install this software and create a website for their state statues. A partner would supply expertise in Florida statutes and a technical resource. Petersen volunteered FAF’s expertise. Hirsch urged board members with questions or technical resource to contact him.

Florida Voices
Rosemary Goudreau and Rosemary Curtiss, Tampa Tribune alums, talked to the board about their new-media startup, Florida Voices, the State Opinion Page. Goudreau and Curtiss envision an engagement site, a one-stop shop to see what influence leaders are saying and to get issues on the public agenda. Goudreau said she hopes to syndicate original opinion content and create a mechanism to share opinion content. The site is expected to launch in the fall.

President’s report
Baltzelle talked about two projects that were important to him during his tenure: memorializing Florida journalists lost since last June in a slideshow at the convention and developing and an archive of FSNE history and records. Some of the historic information has been posted on fsne.org. Thelen has made arrangement to house other documents at USF in the Clendenin Library, named for one of FSNE founders. Baltzelle expressed interest in continuing to work on the project. He hopes the slideshow tribute at the convention will continue.

Incoming president’s report
Lancaster announced Russell as secretary-treasurer and Porter as contest chairman. Lancaster said she would make access issues a focus during her tenure. She suggested a board conference call in September in advance of a board meeting in November, around the time of AP’s pre-session meeting, which is earlier this year because of the holidays and the early start to the 2012 session.

UF journalism school expansion
Carlson shared plans for UF’s $4.4 million expansion of Weimer Hall. The new space will be organized around content rather than platforms. It will be a convergence newsroom, where students will have an environment to gain experience in all forms of media including TV, radio, print and web.

Writers’ workshop
Fins said plans for a two-day writers and journalists symposium with the University of Central Florida are taking shape. The event will begin on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 16, with a keynote address, and then sessions on Friday and Saturday. The Saturday sessions will feature journalists. All events will take place on the UCF campus. UCF is coordinating non-journalism tracks. Fins asked board members for speaker candidates. FSNE will commit $1,000 for the event.

Legislative update
The fall Sunshine Seminars are Sept. 21-30 and have been posted on floridafaf.org. Reporters get will get membership discount.

The meeting adjourned at 1:03.

Post meeting update: A conference call board meeting has been scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12, at 9 a.m. A board meeting in Tallahassee on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m. will coincide with AP’s Legislative Day on Nov. 2.

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