FSNE Visioning Committee recommends more partnerships and greater social media presence

FSNE Visioning Committee recommends more partnerships and greater social media presence

Mike Wilson

October 13, 2013


At President Bob Gabordi’s request, I put together a conference call last Monday to discuss ideas for the future of our organization. On the call were:


Jim Baltzelle, former board member

Kenny Irby, board member

Christine Montgomery, former president of the Online News Association, now with World Bank Mike Willson, board member


We also had written input from Grace Armstrong, CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay. Grace’s organization helps the leaders of nonprofits to be better managers and leaders by offering training, advice and other resources. So she is familiar with the challenge FSNE has in recruiting new members and offering them value.


Grace’s refreshingly candid comments served as a jumping-off point for our discussion. She asked, Is FSNE viable? What value do we offer in terms of helping members or serving the industry? People, she said, “want to belong to something meaningful.”


Grace also told us, “Your website is sad. The message it gives is of an organization that isn’t keeping up. … People want to feel a part of something that is up to date, relevant, fresh, interesting.”


We agreed that FSNE is viable and that it serves its members and makes a difference in the state (though it could do more). We talked about how that might happen.


— AGGRESSIVELY EXPAND OUR MEMBERSHIP. Christine told of how ONA went through an exercise similar to the one we are doing. It decided to be the bridge between traditional media and technologists, bringing people together and letting them decide what a journalist is. Everyone on the call saw the potential for FSNE to pull in both old members who have left us, along with new ones. Jim suggested it may be time to talk to broadcasters because their state organization is waning. It was suggested that we maintain strong ties with FCIR and reach out to smaller newspapers, including black and Hispanic publications. There was support for the idea of pulling in students and educators, who want inroads into our organizations. If any of this is to work, it will be important to bring influential, energetic new people onto the board.

— CHANGE OUR ONLINE FOCUS. Several of us wondered if it is time to move away from the website and put our energy into creating a more active, visible identity on Facebook and Twitter. How about a weekly or bi-weekly email blast to members and nonmembers touting FSNE’s priorities and positions on journalism issues?

— DOUBLECHECK OUR PRIORITIES. Do we have the right committees? Are they getting anything done?

— OFFER MORE TRAINING. Christine wondered if we might be able to get a grant from the Knight Foundation to offer training around the state in various skills – maybe shooting and editing video, web publishing strategies, writing and editing (let’s never forget them). More training will make FSNE more visible and more useful to its members and to the cause of good journalism.

— EXPAND THE CONTEST. Deliver on our promise to reach into the universities. Hold training and meet-and-greets for college students at our convention (or another time; summer may not be right for them). As for categories, Christine mentioned that ONA’s are based on the number of staff at an organization, not size of audience. Worth thinking about.

— DEVELOP PARTNERSHIPS. Are there opportunities for us to do more with Poynter, with university journalism departments, with other groups?


Our call was just the beginning of the conversation about where we’ll be as an organization a year from now and five years from now. I welcome the board’s thoughts on these ideas and on how the commission should proceed.

Irby commented we have an opportunity to diversify our membership and improve our website presentation. Gabordi suggested a closer working relationship with ONA. Ray said we need to determine what we are engaged in. He and others suggested the possibility of email blasts on current issues and weekly reports on FSNE activities and policy positions. Thelen said his social media skills and interests would not suited to greater involvement by him in social media expansion. Irby said it was time to “youthanize” FSNE. Denton suggested a closer connection with UF. Carlson  said he welcomed that conversation and would assist it happening. Gabordi divided the report’s charges this way: 1. Website solutions 2. Academic and professional partnerships 3. Membership enhancements 4. Training, education and students. Denton made motion, passed unanimously, to authorize President Gabordi to appointment a committee to develop talking points on our needs and expectations for a partnership with a university and begin those conversations. That committee would also examine our website and social media needs.

Legislative report: In Petersen’s absence, Thelen discussed various Sunshine exemptions presented to the First Amendment Foundation for comment, including one to relax requirements for public disclosures in university president searches.

Sunshine Sunday report and plans:  Denton said he would have recommended activities by the time of our Jan. 28board meeting.

Contest report: Ray said his contest committee was seeking judges and examining categories and entry fees. There was discussion about capping entry fees and ways to make awards presentation livelier.

FPA fee increase: Gabordi reported Flpress is increasing its fee for our administrative work from $1,500 to $2,500.

Upcoming meetings:

·         AP Pre-Legislative Meeting, Jan. 29, Tallahassee

·         FSNE Winter meeting, Jan. 28, Tallahassee

·         Spring meeting TBD, Teleconference

·         2014 FPA/FSNE Annual Convention<http://www.flpress.com/node/411>
The Biltmore
Miami ~ Coral Gables
1200 Anastasia Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134



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