Talking back: New org chart should help with communication

Communicators sometimes are not the best communicators.

We’ve all heard that in our workplaces – and your national board heard that from plenty of members last year, too.

In response, this year’s board today unveils a new organizational chart.

Yes, pretty wonky news. Woo hoo! New org chart!

But we think it could go a long way to making sure we communicate with you and you can communicate with us.

As you likely know, the board now includes just seven elected members. Three are officers and four are at-large. Soon, we’ll appoint two more members. (More on that in a moment.)

In shrinking from 23 members two years ago to 18 last year to nine now — effective just more than two weeks ago, at the Excellence in Journalism conference in San Antonio – the board’s highest  priority is strategy. (More on that in a moment, too.) We will aim to set goals with our staff and our members, and then help facilitate success in reaching those goals. Translation: More queen bee, less worker bee.

To get there, we want to make sure all parts of the SPJ universe know the best ways to connect.

So that means:

  • I’ll be the chief liaison to our staff, while serving as chair of one committee and member of one other.
  • President-Elect Matt Hall will chair a task force and serve as a member of two committees.
  • Secretary-Treasurer Rebecca Aguilar will chair the Finance and Diversity Committees.
  • At-large director Yvette Walker will be the go-to for the J-Education, Ethics, Legal Defense Fund and Nominations Committees.
  • At-large director Mike Reilley will serve in that role for the FOIA, Awards & Membership, Bylaws and Resolutions Committees.
  • Tess Fox, also an at-large director, will be the liaison for our five Communities and Students/Educators.
  • Lauren Bartlett, also at-large, will be the chief point of contact for our new Regional Coordinators Committee and Members at Large (a.k.a., members not affiliated with chapters).

If you lead one of those parts of the SPJ world, expect to hear from them. If you need anything – large or small – be in touch. And, yes, of course, you are welcome to contact any of us anytime and we’ll respond!

Returning to the appointed board member question, the org chart identifies “partnerships” and “membership initiatives” as their assigned duties. That is my hope. The board will consider possible appointees at its Oct. 19 meeting (noon-2 p.m., ET, with Zoom link to come if you want to join us!). I’m hoping we can recruit one-year appointees that align with those priorities, but that is still TBA at this date.

While I’m communicating news of our new modes of communicating with all of you, I’ll share a few other updates:

  • We are moving forward on our search for SPJ’s next executive director. We’ve interviewed two candidates since EIJ and hope to have news very soon!
  • We’ve set three more opportunities for you to join the conversation about SPJ’s future. You’ll find links very soon to online focus group sessions of Oct. 26, 29 and 30 on the Strategic Planning Task Force’s landing page.
  • We’ve established an EIJ Planning Committee to help share the heavy load that is planning a national conference. Matt and I will represent the board and are working to populate that now to bring you the best-possible EIJ20, next Sept. 10-12, in Washington, D.C.
  • We’re working to establish a new EIJ Sponsorship Committee, in response to a measure passed in San Antonio. Matt will be the board rep, with invites now out to a number of folks most engaged on that topic.
  • We’ve investigated some issues with voting at EIJ19 and determined the problems did not affect the outcome of any of the races. Steps are being taken to ensure next year’s election runs more smoothly. (Apologies, again, to at-large candidate Haisten Willis for inadvertently reading incorrect results in your race.)
  • We’ve responded to two complaints filed via the “EIJ19 Code of Conduct” policy and decided the EIJ Planning Committee should review the code for next year.

Since returning from EIJ, it’s been pretty much all-SPJ, all-the-time. (Shhh, don’t tell my boss.) Every time I’ve been asked, “How’s it going?” I’ve turned to my new favorite cliché’. “Like drinking from a fire hose.”

But worthy work, and worth the time. I was reminded of that yet again today, when I read A.G. Sulzberger’s most-excellent essay on just what’s at stake in a world where our elected leaders demonize the press, daily, as fake news. Hope you’ll read his smart take and share, if you are so inclined.

P.S. Giant thanks to ace SPJ designer Tony Peterson for making our org chart pretty!


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