FSNE Board Meeting Notes – April 24, 2014

FSNE Board Meeting Notes – April 24, 2014

Meeting by conference call, 11 am.

On the call were: Bob Gabordi, Gil Thelen,
Dean Ridings, Cory Lancaster, Mindy Marques, Manny Garcia, Bill Church, Kenny Irby, Terry Spencer, David Plazas, Frank Denton, Dave Carlson

Absent: Chris Porter

Gabordi moved for adoption of the minutes, approved unanimously.

Treasurer report:

Thelen reported that revenue is running behind last year in dues and contest entries. He said he will prepare a spreadsheet for distribution to the board to show membership and trends. Ray reported that the number of contest entries has been dropping at least since 2011, and will develop a spreadsheet to break that down by year and circulation divisions.

Moved to accept, seconded and approved unanimously.

Convention planning report:

Marquez reported that Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has accepted the invitation to be keynote speaker for the opening day FSNE awards luncheon.

Four panel programs – building an investigative culture, digital storytelling, fellowships and grants, and how diversity issues impact coverage — are shaping up, and could be finalized by the end of April.

Gabordi said he would like there to be a flow of information to FSNE members about convention plans in order to raise awareness, interest and registrations.  Thelen said he would work toward developing social media channels as well as direct communication to members.

There was extensive discussion on how to approach the gubernatorial candidates. Gabordi described how lack of information on our approach toward this in the past resulted in invitations going out to candidates prematurely, rather than being extended more formally by letter from FSNE and FPA, as has traditionally been the protocol.

Nan Rich, in a published report, has accepted the offer to participate.  Ridings said Charlie Crist would not appear alongside Rich because his campaign would not wish to put Rich’s campaign on the same level as his.  Both the Crist campaign and the Rick Scott campaign have responded that they are considering their response.

There was discussion about how to determine which candidates should be included and in what format.  Ridings suggested some metric, such as results form recognized state-wide polling that shows a candidate would receive 10 percent support with a four percent margin of error, or 12 percent with a three percent margin of error.

Gabordi agreed, but said he would like FSNE to avoid the accusation of trying to be kingmaker in the race. He suggested that Scott and Crist might appear together on Thursday, and have a separate program on Friday for other candidates such as Rich. His preference was to involve all three during the course of the convention in some manner if possible.

Spencer said he would prefer to see whether Scott and Christ reject the plan for a moderated panel with Rich, before moving on to other ideas. Gabordi suggested that we communicate with the Scott and Crist that we need a response by a specific date.

There was brief discussion about ways to do live coverage of the gubernatorial program, including video streaming, social media, blogging, etc.  That will be explored further. Gabordi asked David to help us proceed with that.

Gabordi reaffirmed the plan to contact the Scott and Crist campaigns to get a commitment by a defined date. If either or both decline, he will decide whether we need a board call to determine next steps.

Sunshine report:

Denton and Thelen reported that the Sunshine project this year was more modest than in some years past, but still successful. Students conducted a survey of local government website to see how much information they made available to the public.  This was followed by a sharing of opinion columns through the First Amendment Foundation.


Gabordi reported that the visioning effort is continuing, now with leadership from Church, along with Carlson and Plazas. He has asked them to be ready with an update at the convention.


Ray reported the number of entries is down again, continuing the trend in recent years. Newspaper journalists in Kentucky did judging.  That worked out fairly well, but a few of the judges didn’t come through. Their entries had to be reassigned to new judges, which has caused a delay but no real problem.

Other business:

Gabordi introduced and welcomed Plazas to the board.

Thelen noted that Marquez has made arrangements for a visit by FSNE board members to the Miami Herald on Wednesday before the convention opens, and a dinner at a nearby Cuban restaurant. Gabordi expressed his appreciation.

Lancaster noted that this is her final meeting as an FSNE board member. She expressed her high regard for the organization and said it has been a pleasure to work with the board. Gabordi thanked her for helping to orient him to different aspects of FSNE work and talked about what an asset she has been as the veteran member on the board. This was affirmed by many voices on the call.

Gabordi made the motion to adjourn. Carlson seconded. All affirmed.

The meeting concluded at 11:40 am.

Draft of meeting minutes submitted for approval by Doug Ray, May 21, 2014