Orlando, FL


Present: Kenny Irby, Terry Spencer, Rick Hirsch, Jim Baltzelle, Chris Porter, Bob Gabordi, Doug Ray, Mark Russell, Frank Denton, Dennis Durkee, Dave Carlson. On phone: Cory Lancaster, McNelly Torres


Also present: Gil Thelen, Melissa Wolfe


Russell calls the meeting to order at 9:04, welcomes the group. Gil welcomes intern Melissa Wolfe.


Approval of the minutes of the previous board meeting is moved, seconded and approved.


Treasurer report.


Wilson gives breakdown of financials. Thelen says between dues and contest revenue, we break even. We are in a steady state now but have to anticipate declines. In the past we received dues from top editors and their deputies, but now just from top editors. He says we could face decline in revenue from contest.


Report is approved by board.


Electing new board members.


Russell moves new terms for Manny Garcia and Carlson. Moves we confirm Barbara Petersen as ex-officio and Spencer and Mindy Marques as new board members.


Seconded and approved.


Russell takes moment of personal privilege to thank Hirsch and Baltzelle as they conclude their service. They “embody the heart and soul of this group and Florida journalism in general.” Russell thanks MacNelly Torres as she leaves the board. She is going to school and leaves FCIR to go part time.


Russell mentions Phil Lewis, who is retiring from the Naples Daily News and thus leaving the board. Suggests we consider Howard Saltz of the Sun-Sentinel for the opening. No action taken immediately. Hirsch mentions that Saltz might be on the First Amendment Foundation Board.


There is a discussion of the need to bring more women and minorities to the board and to expand to include nontraditional news agencies. Gabordi thanks the board for raising this issue and says he will make it a priority for his term as president.


Hirsch suggests we include Carol Gentry’s Health News Florida site; Ray mentions the News Service of Florida; Torres mentions ethnic media and suggests broadcast and radio.


Gabordi summarizes, saying he has asked incoming VP Wilson to put together a group to study what we want to look like in 5-10 years and how we will get there. The goal is to become more diverse and inclusive of different kinds of journalism in our state. A “transformation committee,” he calls it.


Russell says he likes the idea of “a deep dive.” He suggests we not fill the board opening until we’ve had the discussion. He also mentions we are down to two female board members.


Thelen offers a word about broadcast. Baltzelle did outreach to broadcasters and tried to get them into tent. There was interest but nothing came of it.


Porter says we should not ignore the papers that have fallen out of membership. He mentions Hernando, Bradenton, Lake City, NW Florida Daily News, Palatka. He says he will get list to Gabordi and Wilson.


New officers.


Russell introduces new officers: President Gabordi, VP Wilson, Sec/Treas Denton.


Slate of officers is moved, seconded and approved.


Legislative report.


Barbara Peterson is on vacation, so Russell gives update. For Sunshine Week she suggests Frank Denton as chair along with Dennis Durkee. FAF celebrating 30th anniversary, seeks FSNE help.


(((Manny Garcia joins call.))


In the Sunshine Sunday report by Durkee, he mentions Barbara Petersen’s seminar.


Thelen worries about decline of civics education. He sees people coming into college in with sketchy knowledge. Denton responds – he has seen civics integrated into the public school curriculum and that means it has been integrated into oblivion. Since Justice O’Connor has left the Supreme Court she has made it a cause nationally; it was picked up in Florida. Legislature mandated teaching of civics in schools. Florida is better off than most other states.


Gabordi: Is there something we could do with NIE on this. Any opportunity for synergy on this?


Thelen asks Melissa Wolfe for her view. The most informed students were poli sci people, she says. Most of her peers interested in sensationalized news rather than how things work and what’s behind the news.


Contest report.


Porter: We are just about done. We will do the presentation differently. We’ll hand out prizes as we read through them. He asks for a Spanish language presenter; Garcia offers to do this. After morning general board meeting we will do the arranging of awards.


Porter: 692 entries down from 778 last year and 884 the year before. It’s not that papers have dropped out; they’ve had fewer entries. PayPal system worked. It cost us $484. All money went right into the account; not all but most. We had a hitch where some folks wanted to put in single entries; he worked it out. The Better Newspaper Contest site has added a payment arm.


Hirsch: We have fewer news orgs entering; papers have narrowed the number of contests. FSNE comes after national contests in terms of priority at the Herald. Is there some offer we could make – if you rejoin FSNE for a first-year discounted rate, it includes an entry. You have to be a member to enter. Maybe give people a threshold to reach, after which they can enter all they want. “The more participation the better the contest.”


Gabordi: You want the very best in Florida journalism.


Hirsch. We’re disconnected from papers west of Tallahassee.


Russell thanks Porter for his service on contests, brings Ray and Irby to the team, with help from Wilson.


Thelen: Just saw an old colleague, Dennis Hetzel, now heading the Ohio Press Association. We may have an opportunity to engage the Ohio Press Association as judges of our contest. He promises to introduce Hetzel to Ray and Irby.


College contest progress.


Gabordi: We need to decide categories, get letters to j schools around the state. We can be ready by the time school starts up again to get that out. Then it’s just the matter of administrating the contest. We have a “good clean list” of who should get the mailings.


Training plans.


Denton: he, Baltzelle and Torres had phone conversations. They ended up with the 11 a.m. session on watchdog reporting.


Baltzelle sees potential for a new type of FSNE member representing college journalism. Knight News.com has a good business model. A news service. Like the Alligator but digital. Maybe have board membership for college representation.


Thelen suggests the Wilson Committee look into what kind of training can FSNE provide to our members.


FAF/FSNE overlapping board proposal.


Denton. FAF has gone through rethinking of its purpose and structure, driven somewhat by finances and Barbara Petersen’s wish to transition to another life. The trend at FAF is to broaden membership and support beyond the stalwarts – people at newspapers. Still, FAF values relationship with FSNE. We’ve always had an overlapping member, right now it’s Denton. The idea: this board would nominate a person to serve on the FAF board. It has happened by serendipity in the past, this would formalize it. It’s a two-year term.


Thelen: One of our bylaws is that one of our board members must be on FAF board. So there’s no need for a motion to do this formally. He continues: in the six years he has done this job, the relationship between Barbara Petersen and this board has grown closer. We have foot soldiers and she has work that needs doing. He asks Durkee, are the demands of us realistic?


Durkee: Yes. Most of the work has been on her side in terms of pulling the work together and getting the venues.


Denton: She is a phenomenon. This spring his paper called upon Barbara Petersen and Dean Ridings for help with a worrisome bill moving through the Legislature. “I was really impressed with the responsiveness and substantiveness of their work on this.”


Hirsch: Barbara had a successor in place, asks what happened there.



Denton: That didn’t work out. FAF has just hired a new office admin who is not a laywer. Barbara is difficult to replace. It’s because of her energy and passion.


Open business.


Hirsch suggests FSNE be more vocal about issues and legislation.


Gabordi: We have a great tool for that. We could use our Facebook page; it sits dormant as a communication tool.


Ray says he’d like to know about things brewing that his paper could add its editorial voice to.


Hirsch says he has his lawyers contacting all the other lawyers; they’re talking, but editors aren’t.


Denton: He can talk to Barbara about another way to communicate with us. … He raises another issue: Cities filing bogus lawsuits and going to mediation as a way to avoid public scrutiny when dealing with pension issues, etc.



Hirsch: Rounding up some of this in Sunshine Week would be more helpful than some of our recycled columns on the importance of Sunshine Week.


Baltzelle. The 67-county test of public records requests got a lot of play and got a good result.


Denton. Overall I’ve detected that people who are anti-sunshine are smelling weakness among newspapers. Newspapers have always been the ones to fight these battles, not so much TV stations, not so much others


Baltzelle: This might be the point to intersect with broadcasters.


Rick. If it’s access to a court hearing they want to show on TV, they’ll join in, but they might not ask for all those records. He asks, are there broadcast reps on FAF?


Denton: Yes. Two or three seats.


Russell suggests folding this issue into the Wilson Committee work.


Gabordi: It’s a visibility issue, and we should be more visible. When there is a First Amendment thing, we quote Barbara, or we quote the president. It’s part of the branding and marketing of who we are.


Denton: When we get aggressive about our journalistic mission, public is with us.


President’s report.


Russell: “Thank you for allowing me to serve you.” Has called everyone on the board in search of help, has gotten it. People leaped to help. He is proud of the group. “I want to save my most praise for Gil,” whom he has contacted by phone, text, and email, and has always received a prompt and professional response. “I’m looking forward to passing the gavel to Bob.”


He does, and Gabordi honors him with a gift – a golf club.


A motion is made to adjourn. Meeting ends at 10:36.


Mike Wilson