Minutes of Quarterly FSNE Board Meeting 4/15/15

Minutes of Quarterly FSNE Board Meeting 4/15/15

The meeting was called to order at 2:10 p.m. by Frank Denton.


Those in attendance were Frank Denton, Bob Gabordi, Gil Thelen, Terry Spencer, David Carlson, Manny Garcia, Rosemary Goudreau, Tristram Korten, Ken Koehn, Cindy McCurry Ross.


The minutes from the January meeting were approved.


Contest update:

An update of the contest was given by Doug Ray. There were 600 entries in the general contest, which was down somewhat from previous years.

Judging would take place to select finalists, then a smaller panel will be created to select winners. Ten judges are confirmed and ten to fifteen more have promised to act as judges. The final group of judges will be paid an honorarium of $500.00 per person. Frank Denton will provide additional names.

There are no entries for the Hansell award at this time but there have been inquiries. There were entries from only one newspaper last year and entries from several newspapers are preferred.  The student category did not come together and probably should be timed for the school year rather than the calendar year.

The Florida Times-Union created ads used to celebrate their contest winners including congratulations from FSNE and FPA. The idea behind it was to add prestige and universal appeal to the contests and improve the judging. Letters were sent to editors and publishers to look for the ads. The ads were designed to also be used in future years.

Frank Denton, Doug Ray and Tristram Korten will discuss how to make the awards presentation more meaningful. Doug Ray said their designer would create posters celebrating the winners to be displayed in various areas at the convention. Frank urged all board members to nominate at least one person for the Hansell award.



Tristram Korten reported that James Meroney of the Dallas Morning News is confirmed as keynote speaker on July 24th but a speaker is needed for July 23rd. Marty Baron of the Washington Post is not available and Jeff Bezos of Amazon will not. Yumi Wilson of Linked In was contacted but has not yet responded. Speakers are needed who can address the digital platform and use of social media.

It was agreed that Gannett’s Picasso initiative is definitely worth having at the convention.  McKinsey Warren, one of the architects of the Picasso program, will be contacted. Warren also worked at News Press so he has some history in Florida and is a dynamic speaker. It was agreed that a panel or key-note address presenting the digital only platform be included at the convention. Representatives from Buzzfeed, Politico and VOX will be contacted. Max Fisher of VOX was suggested for a panel. Frank suggested a separate call to further discuss the digital only panels.

Other panels suggested for the convention were maximizing social media, where the next generation of journalists is coming from, how to run a learning newsroom on a budget, then a fourth panel open to membership. The topic for the fourth panel will be decided later. The board members will be surveyed for panel topic ideas.



Gil Thelen reported a deficit of $2,800.00 last year, as predicted. The budget for this year is on track but, as of this date, only about half of the newspapers have paid their dues.


Sunshine Week Outcome:

Frank stated that the Sunshine Week was very successful thanks in large part to Rosemary’s leadership and a lot of cooperation from newsrooms around the state including AP. He thanked all who participated. Rosemary said that a good effort was made by all and we should declare victory. Rosemary was unsure what the participation was of the newspapers but that all were encouraged to participate. Frank thanked Rosemary for her hard work and said that her efforts were appreciated. He also said that it might be a good idea next year to survey the newspapers and find out who ran what including editorials.



Gil Thelen reported that at this time only about 30 people were signed up for NewsTrain and emergency measures were needed to save it.  Gil proposed that all board members send staff, then use a portion of the reserves to subsidize a 3-for-1 plan. One person’s registration would be paid and two could attend free. The plan would only be offered to FSNE members. Gil mentioned that APME sponsors minority attendees and that he knows of several candidates. He proposed that FSNE sponsor those not sponsored by APME. Gil will contact some of you individually and ask you to personally contact others.

This effort could get 60 to 65 participants. The financial exposure for the subsidies would be no more than $5,000.00 and probably closer to $3,000.00. Frank said he sent letters to the local news stations and general managers praising the NewsTrain training and suggested they send attendees. The decision was made to proceed with Gil’s proposal.


Legislative Mess:

Frank reported that Barbara Petersen was not in attendance because she was giving a speech to tax assessors. Several board members have been on Barbara’s email string regarding the legislature. Barbara emailed that last year 12% of the bills passed were Sunshine exemptions. Regardless, the work that Barbara and the First Amendment foundation do is having an effect.

Frank said he would arrange for those who do not receive Barbara’s weekly news alerts to get them. Rosemary said she wishes there was more that we could do, that our voices were louder. It seems that those in Tallahassee are not listening to what the people are saying. Frank mentioned the mediation regarding a Sunshine violation in the firing of Gerald Bailey. In addition, the bodycam bill would prevent the disclosure of the bodycam footage without a court order or unless the police wanted to release it. It gives the police all the power to release it and the citizens would have to get a court order to have access. The FAF is fighting that  because it defeats the purpose of the bodycam.


Access to Member Websites:

Frank Denton mentioned an idea discussed previously that, as a benefit of membership in FSNE, they would have free access to newspaper websites. Rosemary said the Sun Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel agreed to participate. Frank said The Florida Times-Union would also participate. Frank suggested that the idea should be discussed at the convention.


AP Co-op Project:
Terry Spencer reported that the APME board voted to develop a project like Sunshine Week in every state.  The project is to look at issues regarding statewide infrastructure such as sewers, roads – whatever we decide. Terry will send out an email with further description. It would be a cooperative project. Frank said the Times-Union would participate and that infrastructure is a national issue that is not getting much attention.


Membership Update:

Gil Thelen reported that newspaper membership in FSNE, including Florida News Service, has increased from 29 to 32. He will send out the numbers of actual individuals as soon as he has them.


Futuring Process: Denton

Frank said that with the departure from the Board of Bill Church and the departure from the State of David Plessis the futuring process has stalled. Frank, Doug and Gil will confer and plan for the futuring process at a later date.


In Addition:

Cindy Ross-McCurry mentioned the impact of Low Income Pools funds and the stand-off on Medicaid expansion. All Gannett Florida papers are editorializing on that topic the following Sunday.


The meeting was adjourned by Frank Denton.