By John Ensslin, 2011-12 SPJ President | May 1st, 2012
One of the pleasures of being SPJ president is the opportunity to preside over meetings with lots of intelligent discussion on large, meaningful issues.
That was the case Saturday in Indianapolis when the national SPJ board gathered for its spring meeting. We took on several big topics. Here’s a brief recap of what was discussed:
- Past president Hagit Limor briefed us on the email ballot system we will be using in September when all 8,000 SPJ members will have their first chance to directly elect officers under the one member, one vote rule we adopted last year.
We also approved a set of campaign guidelines for candidates that reaffirmed our long-standing tradition that board members should not engage in any electioneering for other candidates.
Our plan calls for a process that will enable candidates to send up to three email messages directly to members as well as a means to create candidate websites. You’ll hear more about this in the months ahead.
Much of our meeting was devoted to issues involving growing SPJ’s membership. No surprise there since that had been my emphasis this year.
-We discussed reviving our institutional membership for media organizations on a one-year trial basis. We currently have about 19 collegiate institutional members. We formerly had some newspapers join as institutions, but currently we do not have any.
The board instructed Executive Director Joe Skeel to craft a proposal later this year as well as to explore ways in which we can make SPJ’s presence felt in more newsrooms.
-We had a long discussion on the pros and cons of actively recruiting SPJ members from other countries. We also talked about whether our legal defense fund should be only for U.S. journalists or should it be a global fund.
The board didn’t take a vote on that, although an informal show of hands indicated a majority of the board favored taking a global approach on both of these questions. This matter will come up for a vote later in the year.
-We also adopted a recommendation from Region 11 Director Teri Carnicelli, by streamlining the requirements for a new campus chapter to form. From now on, such chapters will be required to have one adviser who is an SPJ member rather than three faculty members.
-Sadly, we deactivated several pro and student chapters that we had been carrying on our membership rolls despite the lack of any recent activity. We did, however, welcome a new chapter, the Texas Panhandle Pro chapter.
-Last but not least, the board agreed to locate our 2014 Excellence in Journalism conference at the Grand Opry Hotel in Nashville, TN. I’m very excited by this selection. Nashville is a great city in which to hold a national conference.
Your national board members are a hard-working bunch. They started at 8 a.m., and except for a lunch break, kept going until 5:30 p.m. when we adjourned. I appreciate their effort and attention.