By John Ensslin, 2011-12 SPJ President | February 6th, 2012
Live from Charlotte
Our recent winter meeting of the SPJ Executive Committee on Jan. 28 in Charlotte, N.C., marked an important first: a live webcast of most of our daylong meeting.
It was not without some technical snags. We couldn’t access a WiFi network and the cord to the desktop computer was a bit short.
And the configuration of the room made it difficult for the Web audience to hear everyone.
But we made adjustments, moved some furniture closer and spoke a more clearly to the webcam.
About 11 members tuned in, and by the afternoon, several of them were emailing us with questions and observations that were helpful.
It was a good first effort, one that I’m sure we can improve upon when the full board meets in Indianapolis in April.
A tip of the fedora here to board member Michael Koretzky who has been advocating for these webcasts for several years.
Strategic Plan Revisited
During our meeting, we began work on updating our long-range strategic plan, which the SPJ board first adopted about five years ago.
When it was originally drafted in November 2007, the Executive Committee wanted the plan revised periodically.
In Charlotte, we quickly reached a consensus that no major overhaul was needed. In fact, many of the goals set in the document describe the work we’ve done since then.
But we did agree to update that plan, and we’ll take up the section that deals with Society operations when the Executive Committee reconvenes in Washington D.C. in July.
Prepping for the DNC
We heard a presentation from leaders of the Greater Charlotte chapter on their plans for raising SPJ’s profile when the Democratic National Convention is held there in early September.
The chapter has some ambitious plans, including a training seminar for journalists who will cover the convention, and a style guide that would help visiting journalists get to know the city.
The committee endorsed the chapter’s application for a grant to help them carry out these plans, subject to the approval of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board.
We also agreed to send a letter questioning Charlotte officials about a recently adopted ordinance that could make it difficult for photojournalists covering the convention to do their jobs (as well as for residents who live in that area).
International SPJ members
We heard a report from the International Journalism Committee on ways in which SPJ might go about growing its membership in other countries.
The committee’s overall sentiment was to welcome such members and charter chapters oversees while taking care to build in safeguards that will promote journalism that is independent and professional.
After some discussion, the board agreed to focus first on individual members, noting that SPJ already has a small number of members overseas.
We also instructed the committee to come back with specific policy proposals that we can put before the full SPJ board in late April.
Virtual chapters/Affinity groups
We discussed a report from an ad hoc committee that examined the feasibility of organizing members into virtual chapters or affinity groups based upon mutual professional interest such as court reporting or online journalism.
The ad hoc committee recommended against creating virtual chapters with some members seeing it as having a potentially negative effect on geographic chapters. We agreed.
But we also decided to further explore setting up some affinity groups on a trial basis. Our first step in this direction will be to poll members and see what sort of groups they might be interested in joining.
In other matters
The committee also endorsed several proposals, including:
-A strategic communication plan to bring some uniformity when SPJ issues press releases as well as a means to measure the impact of those statements.
-A plan to create a public service announcement consisting of a series of eight one-minute videos that feature various journalists and how their stories helped members of the public. We suggested some ways in which production costs of the video can be minimized. The plan will be subject to a vote by the SDX Foundation board.
-A plan by the Diversity Committee to continue with the diversity fellows program at the Excellence in Journalism 2012 conference as well as finding ways to work with the fellows during the rest of the year.
We also heard report from a committee that is working on implementing the one-member, one-vote system approved by delegates in 2011. Watch for more details on this plan in the months ahead.