April 18th, 2011
Notes from SPJ Spring Board Meeting
By Amanda Theisen
The SPJ Board of Directors met this past weekend for its annual spring board meeting in Indianapolis. We had a great, spirited discussion on several key topics.
One of the big issues we tackled was whether to send the “one person, one vote” proposal back to the delegates to vote on at the National SPJ Convention this fall in New Orleans. This is not a new issue; it was voted down by SPJ delegates in 2004 and 2006. Here’s some of the background:
SPJ has always had a delegate system of voting for officers, bylaws changes, and other business items. This voting has always taken place at the national convention. Some feel the system works well, but others feels it disenfranchises SPJ members who may not have a chapter in their area and/or who are unable to attend the national convention.
This particular proposal would give “one person, one vote” power to SPJ members for officer elections, not bylaws or other society business.
Right now, chapters have to “earn” their right to vote by filing their annual report, proving they’re in good standing with SPJ. A chapter gets one delegate vote for every 50 members it has: for example, chapters with 1-50 members gets one vote, 51-100 members get two, etc.
Another argument in favor of the proposal is that if more SPJ members have a say in who represents them in the society, they will become more involved in the organization, as a whole. In addition, supporters argued there is better technology available today that would make it easier for all members to vote and for headquarters to implement and tally up votes.
We had a spirited debate about whether SPJ members really want this power, if its fair to members who’ve put in a lot of time and effort into SPJ versus members who are not active at all, and whether it would discourage members from attending the national convention.
Ultimately, the board voted 15-8 to not send the proposal to the delegates. Many of us weren’t convinced that a majority of members really want this ability to vote on their own, rather than let their chapter delegates make those decisions.
However, in our discussion, we discovered several problems that need to be addressed, such as ways to make sure more chapters are getting to the convention in order to vote and make their voices heard. One idea was to open up an absentee-voting system for chapter delegates unable to attend the convention. These are some ideas we asked the bylaws committee to play around with and come up with ideas that could change our voting structure and make it more accessible to chapters who aren’t always able to attend the convention.
One note: although the board voted to not send “one person, one vote” to the delegates, it could still be brought up at the national convention business meeting if at least 10 chapters agree to support and make a motion on it.
What do you think? Should SPJ change its voting system to “one person, one vote” or keep it how it is now? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at email@example.com.
The board also approved sending a bylaws change to the delegates that would allow student members to join professional chapters, as long as a student chapter is not already established at that school.
We also had a lengthy discussion about the SPJ membership database. Some of us RDs found chapter rosters that contained dead members, that pro members were still on student chapter rosters years after graduating, or pro members were listed on multiple chapter rosters as a result of moving from state to state. I will be serving on a task force looking for ways to clean up the member database and establishing guidelines as to what rosters an SPJ member should be listed on.
The board also got updates on what should be an exciting national convention in New Orleans this fall. I hope you will all start saving now and get ready to attend the Excellence in Journalism Convention, September 25-27. This is first time SPJ will host a joint convention with RTDNA. We’re all looking forward to it!
If you have any other questions about this weekend’s spring board meeting, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,