Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’


From the annual reports (pro)

Three of the pro chapters in Region 2 submitted annual reports this year. Here are some highlights from their reports:

Maryland

• The top program of the year was a collaboration with the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Salisbury University campus chapter: a program called “Can reporters balance activism and objectivity?”

• Chapter President Jennifer Brannock Cox was part of that panel, as well as one on President Donald Trump and the media. She gave a presentation on mobile apps at the Region 2 conference at Elon University in North Carolina.

• The chapter spoke out forcefully against the mayor of Baltimore’s decision to ban a radio reporter (and the chapter’s vice president at the time) from her weekly press briefing. Brannock Cox helped promote press freedom issues in Annapolis at the start of the the state legislature’s session.

Virginia

• The chapter in 2016 launched a program to match college students and early-career journalists to more experienced professionals. The chapter expects to expand the program.

• A trivia night mixer included the SPJ chapter and the Hampton Roads chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

• The chapter gives scholarships to college journalists to attend the annual Excellence in Journalism conference.

Washington, D.C.

• The chapter held panel discussions on coverage of D.C. regional news, election coverage, police cameras, and solutions for the newsroom.

• #HomelessNewsBlitz was a chapter effort spearheaded by board member Eric Falquero, the editor in chief of Street Sense, a street paper. Local journalists gathered to report stories for an issue of the paper.

• The chapter hosted 18 journalists from Shanghai, China, for a lunch meeting.

N.C. FOI law doesn’t care about motivation, ‘outsiders’

Many times, I’ve heard resistance from public officials to public records requests. Sometimes, they’re right, such as when a request is unreasonably voluminous. Some “Send me all…” requests need to be reined in.

But a sheriff in North Carolina recently complained in a way I’ve never heard: He objects to an “outsider” seeking public records, poking his nose in the county’s business — even though state law makes no such distinction.

Ashe County Sheriff Terry Buchanan railed during a public meeting about a reporter requesting public records while working elsewhere in the state — Charlotte, which appears to be about 110 miles south.

For everyone at the meeting, Buchanan repeatedly held up a copy of WBTV reporter Nick Ochsner‘s records request. It’s a peculiar diatribe — watch here.

In the clip, Buchanan explains: “Now, this is unprecedented, as I checked, in the county. We have never had a Charlotte reporter come up here to inquire about anything.” The sheriff denounces the request as “a political fishing expedition.”

Curiously, Buchanan says he doesn’t mind releasing records from his government cellphone. Instead, he harps on letting “an outside reporter come in from Charlotte” to get public records while Ashe County is busy with important projects and coping with a political divide. “We don’t have time for this,” he declares, continuing to grip and hold up the records request.

Buchanan says the public records request “thwarts my efforts and thwarts my job” of keeping the community safe.

The rant gets weirder when the sheriff turns to tell “our local guys, our local media” what he wants them do to — ask for even more information than WBTV requested, involving other officials. He urges them to be more concerned with the fact that a county commissioner also is a deputy sheriff with arrest powers and with the settlement of a court case.

Buchanan urges local reporters, local residents and county officials to question the Charlotte reporter about “who brought this to his attention.”

“Why would we have an outsider come into our county, put us on state and national news,” Buchanan says. “Why? Why would we do such a thing? It’s beyond me. If we love this county, and we want to keep the county out of the national news, we should stay right here in the county.”

Clearly, there’s a back story that I don’t know, but none of that matters when someone asks for public records.

“These types of things should not be allowed,” Buchanan says about the records request. “They should not interfere with county business.”

Another county official correctly reminds the sheriff that the law allows anyone to request public information, which many people do, even from other states.

The sheriff’s screed is a wild overreach of authority and shows a disregard for the purpose and intent of public records laws.

North Carolina’s public records law (which looks much better than the loophole-ridden law here in Maryland) permits nothing anywhere near what Buchanan is calling for — closing borders on public information to “outsiders,” questioning motivation.

Here is a guide posted by the University of North Carolina’s School of Government:

“G.S. 132-6 accords the rights of inspection and copying to “any person,” and there is no reason to think that the quoted words are limiting in any way. The rights extend both to natural persons and to corporations and other artificial persons (such as associations, partnerships, and cooperatives). And they extend both to citizens of the government holding the record and to noncitizens. Furthermore, as a general rule a person’s intended use of the records is irrelevant to the right of access, and the records custodian may not deny access simply because of the intended use.”
 ***
The sheriff may complain and be as unhappy as he wants, but it’s irrelevant and beyond the scope of his duties. It doesn’t matter if he likes the law — it’s still the law.
But the sheriff is free to ignore my opinion, too. I’m another “outsider.”

Region 2’s Mark of Excellence winners/finalists

Congratulations to all of the Mark of Excellence winners and finalists from 14 schools in Region 2. Here are the results.

*****

Region 2 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Elon, North Carolina

4/11/2017

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists recognizes the best collegiate journalism in Region 2 with 2016 Mark of Excellence Awards winners.

SPJ’s Region 2 comprises Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. Honorees received award certificates on April 8 at the Region 2 conference. First-place winners from all 12 SPJ regions will compete at the national level.

National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, California.

MOE Awards entries are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience. Judges were directed to choose entries they felt were among the best in student journalism. If no entry rose to the level of excellence, no award was given. Any category not listed has no winner.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, including both graduate and undergraduate: Large schools have at least 10,000 students and small schools have 9,999 or fewer students.

The list below details all Region 2 winners. If you have any questions regarding the MOE Awards, contact Abbi Martzall at amartzall@hq.spj.org or 317-920-4791.

This list reflects the spelling and titles submitted in the award entries.

Art / Graphics
Breaking News Photography (Large)
Winner: Fire on the Mountain – by Daniel Stein, The Breeze, James Madison University
Finalist: Israel Fest protest – by Josh Loock, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Richmond Greyhound shooting – by Andrew Crider, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

Editorial Cartooning
Winner: Eva Shen, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Gareth Bentall, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Dan Kilbridge, American Word, American University

Feature Photography (Large)
Winner: Borneo’s Vanishing Forests: African Oil Palms – by Kent Wagner, Pulitzer Center’s Untold Stories, American University
Finalist: Trump’s shocking win sparks days of civil unrest in Richmond – by Casey Cole, Julie Tripp, Ali Jones, Erin Edgerton, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Tangier Island – by Diana DiGangi, WKTR.com via Capital News Service, Virginia Commonwealth University

Feature Photography (Small)
Winner: Quintana descending a ladder – by Hali Tauxe, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Matt and Kim in smoke – by AJ Mandell, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Kim Schifino crowdsurfs – by Jack Hartmann, Elon News Network, Elon University

General News Photography (Large)
Winner: SremmLife 2 takes on The National – by Geo Mirador, The Comonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn awards local hero Renita Smith – by Tom Hausman, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: School Protest – by Andrew Crider, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

General News Photography (Small)
Winner: Trump has late election-night lead – by Diego Pineda, Elon News Network, Elon University

Photo Illustration (Large)
Winner: Identities of Islam – by Chris Simms and Kara Bucaro, The Towerlight, Towson University
Finalist: A Veiled Life – by Jaclyn Merica, Julienne DeVita, American Word, American University
Finalist: Down but not out – by Chris Simms and Jordan Stephenson, The Towerlight, Towson University

Photo Illustration (Small)
Winner: Phoenix in a Haze – by Stephanie Hays, Elon News Network, Elon University

Sports Photography (Large)
Winner: Touchdown – by Connor Woisard, The Breeze, James Madison University
Finalist: Goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier after Maryland soccer NCAA tournament loss – by Matt Regan, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Sophomore point guard Jonathan Williams – by Becca Schwartz, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

Sports Photography (Small)
Winner: Emmanuel Rivera slams helmet – by Andrew Feather, Elon News Network, Elon University

Magazines
Best Student Magazine
Winner: 22807 – by Bri Ellison, Maddy Williams, James Madison University

Non-Fiction Magazine Article
Winner: Cultivating community isn’t that easy: D.C.’s public gardens and farms dividing communities – by Lindsay Maizland, American Word, American University

Newspapers
Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper
Winner: The Diamondback – University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: The Eagle – American University
Finalist: The Towerlight – Towson University

Breaking News Reporting (Large)
Winner: A murder-suicide stuns College Park – by Michael Brice-Saddler, Andrew Dunn, Natalie Schwartz, Mina Haq, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Months after Brexit, English residents find American political divide ‘appalling’ – by Mina Haq, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Reports of racist attacks in Anderson Hall prompt student outcry – by Katherine Saltzman, The Eagle, American University

Editorial Writing
Winner: The GW Hatchet staff, The George Washington University
Finalist: The Eagle editorial board, American University

Feature Writing (Large)
Winner: In age of Trump, profile of Maryland-born white nationalist grows – by J.F. Meils, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Maryland’s unclaimed dead become body donors – by Eliana Block, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Tiny public school teaches K-8 rural, Amish students – by Vickie Connor, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Feature Writing (Small)
Winner: Victorian charm, a Berlin mainstay – by Rachel Taylor, Salisbury University
Finalist: Night riders: on patrol with Salisbury Police – by Rachel Taylor, Salisbury University
Finalist: Years of country fun with Lee Brice – by Rachel Taylor, Salisbury University

General Column Writing (Large)
Winner: Melissa Holzberg, The GW Hatchet, The George Washington University
Finalist: Muktaru Jalloh, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Nickolaus Mack, Sydney Young, Naomi Zeigler, The Eagle, American University

General Column Writing (Small)
Winner: Enough with white men behind podiums; Visual transcripts; Civil discourse – by Jane Seidel, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Christian privilege; Show people they matter; Let’s talk about email signatures – by Cassidy Levy, Elon News Network, Elon University

General News Reporting (Large)
Winner: Complaints filed against unlicensed counseling director – by Ellie Smith, The GW Hatchet, The George Washington University
Finalist: White nationalist posters found at the University of Maryland – by Ellie Silverman, Talia Richman, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Ex-student sues UMD after expulsion for sexual assault – by Ellie Silverman, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park

General News Reporting (Small)
Winner: Strength, energy defined Dennion on, off field – by Alex Simon and Tommy Hamzik, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Charlotte business owners grapple with new overtime pay rules – by Rachel Stone, Washington and Lee University, for The Charlotte Observer

In-Depth Reporting (Large)
Winner: Police use pepper spray on graduation party of mostly black students – by The Diamondback staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Foundation helps addicts recover as opioid deaths soar – by Sarah King, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Why experts say Virginia’s mental health system fell through the cracks – by Fadel Allassan, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

In-Depth Reporting (Small)
Winner: A shooting on campus – by Tucker Higgins; Kayla Sharpe; Sarah Smith, The Flat Hat, College of William and Mary
Finalist: Mount president’s attempt to improve retention rate included seeking dismissal of 20-25 first-year students – by Rebecca Schisler and Ryan Golden, The Mountain Echo, Mount St. Mary’s University
Finalist: Caught between fear and misunderstanding, Elon community addresses divisiveness after Election Day – by Emmanuel Morgan, Elon News Network, Elon University

Sports Column Writing
Winner: Callie Caplan, Kyle Stackpole, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Sophia Belletti, Zach Joachim, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Football needs improved results; Football suffers ‘humiliating’ defeat; women’s track & field best – by Alex Simon, Elon News Network, Elon University

Sports Writing (Large)
Winner: Two weeks in March: A team and a school unite in a championship – by Nora Princiotti, The GW Hatchet, The George Washington University
Finalist: Straight from print: 700 and counting – by Vincent Salandro, The Eagle, American University
Finalist: While not mainstream sport, falconry has dedicated following – by Robbie Greenspan, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Sports Writing (Small)
Winner: How Elon hosted a USA-USSR women’s basketball game during the middle of the Cold War – by Alex Simon, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Kicking it in San Antonio – by Jordan Spritzer, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: LGBTQIA athletes find match at Elon – by Alex Simon, Elon News Network, Elon University

Online
Best Affiliated Website
Winner: CNSMaryland.org – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: www.dbknews.com — The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: BreezeJMU.org – The Breeze, James Madison University

Best Digital-Only Student Publication
Winner: CNSMaryland.org – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Best Independent Online Student Publication
Winner: CNSMaryland.org – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: The Rockbridge Report – Washington and Lee University

Best Use of Multimedia
Winner: In poor health – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: 2016 convention coverage – Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Anti-Trump protestors shut down highway – by Jesse Adcock, Julie Tripp, and staff, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University

Online Feature Reporting
Winner: Catholic Church in Ireland caught between tradition and modernity – by Michael Bodley, Meredith Stutz, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: ProtectUMD has 64 demands to aid vulnerable students. These are the stories behind them. – by The Diamondback staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Evolution of a fandom – by Danielle Ohl, The Diamondback, University of Maryland, College Park

Online In-Depth Reporting
Winner: In poor health – by Capital News Service staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Discharging trouble – by Capital News Service staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Purple Line: a divided rail – by Brittany Britto and Jordan Branch, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Online News Reporting
Winner: Presidential election underscores Maryland’s wealth divide – by Zachary Melvin, Hannah Lang and Ben Harris, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Purple Line: a divided rail – by Brittany Britto and Jordan Branch, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Maryland patients still waiting on medical marijuana – by Katishi Maake, Jake Eisenberg, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Online Sports Reporting
Winner: In football recruiting sweepstakes, Maryland has fallen short – by Ryan Connors and Troy Jefferson, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Nationals’ Bryce Harper is having a historically poor MVP follow-up – by Connor Mount and Charlie Wright, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Lizzie Bellinger: The strength behind the D.C. Current – by Chateau Mangaroo, www.mlultimate.com, George Mason University

Online Opinion and Commentary
Winner: Eleanor Fialk, The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Big Brotha columns – by Marc Rivers, TruthBeTold.news, Howard University
Finalist: A-Greener-Merica column – by Jaclyn Merica, American Word, American University

Radio
Best All-Around Radio Newscast
Winner: The Dive, Mr. President – by The Diamondback staff, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Nov. 5, 2016, program – by Tenley Garrett, John Thomas, Jessa O’Connor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Radio Feature
Winner: Botanical Garden saves seeds for future conservation – by Liz Schlemmer, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: What is the Black College Experience? – by Jamai Harris, Howard University News Service

Radio In-Depth Reporting
Winner: In-depth coverage: UNC reacts to discrimination law – by Jessa O’Connor, John Thomas, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Radio News Reporting
Winner: UNC study finds contaminated water in Wake County wells – by Jessa O’Connor, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Racial segregation survives death – by Faith Pinho, WMRA, Washington and Lee University
Finalist: Sexual assault while studying abroad common but rarely discussed – by John Thomas, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Radio Sports Reporting
Winner: The psychology behind sports fandom – by John Thomas, Carolina Connection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Television
Best All-Around Television Newscast
Winner: Elon Local News, Oct. 31, 2016, broadcast – by Erik Webb, Elizabeth Bilka, Daniel MacLaury, Ashley Bohle, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: ELN Morning, Nov. 10, 2016, broadcast – by Audrey Rosegg Engelman, Daniel MacLaury, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: VCU InSight — by Darnell Myrick, Erika Robinson, Danielle Guichard and Nancy Gabaldon, WCVW-TV PBS, Virginia Commonwealth University

Television Breaking News Reporting
Winner: Spellings walkout – by Paris Alston, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Protests in Charlotte after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott – by Paige Pauroso, Andrew Feather, Kailey Tracey, Audrey Rosegg Engelman, Elon News Network, Elon University
Finalist: Prosecuting Baltimore Police misconduct reform – by Michael Stern, Alex Pacinda, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

Television Feature Reporting
Winner: Gold star mothers – by Maggie Gottlieb, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Soccer without borders: adjusting to life in the U.S. – by Stephanie Brown, Michelle Chavez, Capital News Service, University of Maryland
Finalist: The missing half – by Hannah Burton, Ryan Eskalis, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park

Television General News Reporting
Winner: Safe drones – by Sarah Dean, Maggie Gottlieb, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Dead sea lions – by Jaclyn Lee, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Phone scams target Elon students – by Paige Pauroso, Elon News Network, Elon University

Television In-Depth Reporting
Winner: Coal ash update – by Sharon Nunn, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: Faces of the fair – by ViewFinder Fall ’16, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Forgiven – by Ricky Lasser, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park

Television News and Feature Photography
Winner: My last chance – by Ryan Eskalis, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Soccer without borders: adjusting to life in the U.S. – by Stephanie Brown, Michelle Chavez, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Twin sisters’ garden – by Drew Kurzman, Carolina Week, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Television Sports Photography
Winner: Little tennis star – by Lindsey Sparrow, Sports Xtra, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: The Southern Barnyard Runners – by Hannah Burton, Mackenzie Happe, ViewFinder, University of Maryland, College Park

Television Sports Reporting
Winner: ESPN’s most powerful producer – by Jourdan Henry, Howard University
Finalist: Soccer without borders: adjusting to life in the U.S. – by Stephanie Brown, Michelle Chavez, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park
Finalist: Maryland minor leagues attendance – by Michael Stern, Craig Weisenfeld, Capital News Service, University of Maryland, College Park

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

-END-

Thoughts on revamping the SPJ board

The SPJ board of directors is considering a plan to change the board’s makeup.

The plan has four parts.
One is to reduce the number of SPJ regions from 12 to 9. As proposed, this would be the new map: https://spjrefresh.com/motions
North Carolina would be removed from Region 2.
West Virginia and Kentucky would be added to Region 2.

The proposal was pitched by Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky. He explained it at https://spjrefresh.com/regions.

*****

The national board held an electronic meeting about the proposal on May 9.
Some considerations:
• geography: How does this affect the ability of a regional director (RD) to represent chapters and work with them? How does this affect regional conferences and travel plans, particularly for students?
• board structure: Should board members represent regions or be elected at large? Currently, there are 12 directors by region. Two pros, two campus chapter advisers and two student members are elected at large. The full board is listed at http://www.spj.org/spjboard.asp.
• benefits: Will this change be useful?

The board decided not to take any action during that meeting and instead solicit more public feedback.

SPJ President Paul Fletcher posted a summary of the proposal a few weeks ago and got several responses. His post is at: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/president/2016/05/11/spj-considers-reduction-in-size-of-board.

This proposal would not require a bylaws change and can be approved by the board.
Koretzky sees a window of opportunity, since there are no declared candidates yet for the three RD positions that would be contracted.

The board will meet again electronically on Monday, May 23, at 1 p.m.
I will post a summary of the meeting.

*****

I see merit in the concept of contraction. Twenty-three people is a large number for a board in which all members are active.
I’m less enthused about the proposed boundaries. Kentucky and Washington, D.C., for example, are pretty far apart to be grouped together. But, regions in the west already are quite large.

No grouping that we choose will be perfect. Also, RDs don’t need to worry much anymore about traveling throughout the region (except for the regional conference). Electronic communication and participation should be sufficient.

*****

On the “useful” question, Koretzky cited four benefits:
1) A smaller board would be more “nimble.”
2) We have trouble finding candidates for regional director.
3) Fewer regions could lead to more contested races.
4) Cost savings.

My thoughts:

1) Skeptics on the board have focused on this point the most. How is it more “nimble” to have 19 people gather for a meeting (in person or electronically) than 23?
Fewer people can have more efficient discussions and debates (but that’s no guarantee). In a smaller group, it’s more likely that everyone’s voice is heard. A big factor is who is running the meeting and allowing or cutting off debate.
For electronic meetings — which are becoming more frequent for the board — the number of people participating matters even more. We are using a video conferencing system called Zoom that includes a chat function, which helps. Still, there are some people (like me) who participate by phone because these electronic meetings always are in the middle of the work day. Twenty-three board members, plus headquarters staff, on a conference call is clunky. It’s hard to get around that, though, unless we drop down to single digits.

There other considerations, too, for how large a board should be. More on that below.

2) This is mostly true. RD races are usually uncontested. Often, an RD who is completing a term recruits a replacement to take over.
There are exceptions, though, especially when RD seats become vacant. During my time on the board, the last five times an RD seat was vacated in the middle of a term, there were multiple people interested and the board had to choose.
I don’t know why there is more interest in those cases. Maybe we get the word out better for vacancies than scheduled elections. Maybe people are more willing to fill out a term than make a two-year commitment.

3) This might be true. If we have six states from which to draw candidates in a region instead of five, common sense says a larger candidate pool is more likely — but we can’t be sure.
On the other hand, if the new RD territory seems unmanageable under the proposed changes, we could get fewer candidates.

4) The cost savings is legitimate. RDs are entitled to a $1,500 stipend to cover travel costs. Nine stipends instead of 12 would be less money.
Some of that savings would boost stipends for RDs. That’s appealing for RDs who rely on the stipend and could lead to more RD candidates, as described above. The rest of the savings would help chapters with programming. That’s useful, too.

*****

Last week, I was curious about what guidance was out there on the topic of nonprofit board size.
I looked at three websites with pieces on this topic.
All agreed that 23 is a large number for a nonprofit board, unless spots are designated for people with fundraising connections. (That’s not a factor for the SPJ national board.)
These pieces suggested the mid-teens as a maximum, depending on the size of the organization and the work of the board.

Here are links and excerpts from what I read:

1. Nonprofit Law Blog

http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/number-of-directors-whats-the-best-practice

“Maximum number of directors.  Setting a maximum number of directors is a trickier issue and one not appropriate for legislation.  If all of your directors are each meeting their fiduciary duties and providing value to the organization, there may be no need to reduce their number based on some arbitrary best practice maximum.  On the other hand, from a practical perspective, if an organization has so many directors that individual directors reasonably believe that they do not have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in discussions, deliberations, and decision-making, the organization has too many directors.

“The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector notes that ‘[a]lthough a larger board may ensure a wide range of perspectives and expertise, a very large board may become unwieldy and end up delegating too much responsibility to an executive committee or permitting a small group of board members to exercise substantial control.’ Inactive directors, more interested in affiliation than governance, may get a free ride from the active participation of a core group, but this is not an ideal situation. Note that very large boards played a major part in the recent high profile governance problems of organizations like the American Red Cross, United Way, and Nature Conservancy.”

A report from the Council on Foundations, At Issue: What is the Best Size for Your Board? (January 2006), details some of the advantages and disadvantages of large boards.
Advantages:
•    Large numbers allow for more opportunities for diversity and inclusiveness.
•    More seats allow for for inclusion of legal and financial advisors, community leaders and funding area experts.
•    Work can be shared among the group; more people are available to serve on committees.
•    Fundraising may be easier because there are more people on the board with more connections.
•    More board members helps maintain institutional memory in times of leadership change.
Disadvantages:
•    Members may feel less individual responsibility and less ownership of the work.
•    Large groups may hinder communication and interactive discussion.
•    Cliques or core groups may form, deteriorating board cohesion.
•    Some voices may not be heard.
•    Bigger boards may not be able to engage all members, which can lead to apathy and loss of interest.
•    Meetings are more difficult to schedule; more staff time is needed to coordinate board functions.

2. This is from The Nonprofit Consultant Blog:

http://nonprofitconsultant.blogspot.com/2010/06/how-many-board-members.html

“The generally accepted number for most small- to mid-sized nonprofits is 9-14 members. Any fewer and you will burn out your members quickly with multiple duties, have difficulty making a quorum when even a couple of people are ill or out-of-town, and you will fail to build in new leadership development into your regular board activities. Many more than that and meetings can get bogged down in side conversations, factionalization, and members will begin to feel that they’re no longer contributing or making a difference.”

3. This was the third piece I read:

http://www.bridgespan.org/Publications-and-Tools/Nonprofit-Boards/Nonprofit-Boards-101/Size-of-Board.aspx#.VzVEPxUrKi5

The Bridgespan Group
Average board sizes
Remember that every board is different. Average figures only reflect what exists, not a recommended norm. Newly-formed boards often start cautiously with a small number of members, and expand as the organization gets more established and the programs and services diversify. It is common to encounter large boards in older, more institutionalized organizations where a principal role of the board members tends to be fundraising. Small community-based nonprofits are often governed by a few devoted volunteers. A recent BoardSource survey found that, among those nonprofits who responded, the average size of the board is 16, the median 15.
Regulation of size in the bylaws
Normally the size of the board is determined in the bylaws of the organization. It is wise to set a guideline within a certain range, not an exact number, so that an unforeseen situation does not force the board to contradict its bylaws. Term limits and constant recruitment secure a continuous balance. Some boards find it important to have an uneven number of members to avoid a tie vote. This, however, can be managed by the chair who can either abstain from voting or cast a determining vote to break a tie.
Resizing
Structural factors, including size, can have consequences on the board’s efficiency. Down-sizing or increasing the size may eliminate some road blocks, but the board’s core problem may lie elsewhere. Before restructuring the board, it may be wise to search elsewhere for reasons of malfunction. Is there a lack of commitment or lack of leadership? Involving outsiders in committees, task forces or advisory groups is another way to benefit from skills and perspectives without actually changing the board’s size. Executive committees may also facilitate the functioning of a larger board.

*****

I’d also like SPJ to think more broadly, beyond optimal numbers and geographical boundaries.
I see an opportunity in this analysis for what could be two meaningful changes.

First, SPJ should consider a representational model that the Radio Television Digital News Association uses. RTDNA’s board includes ex officio members from other journalism organizations:
• National Association of Black Journalists
• National Association of Hispanic Journalists
• Native American Journalists Association
• National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
• Asian American Journalists Association
• UNITY: Journalists for Diversity
• Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

Which, of course, means more board slots. I count 33 members for RTDNA.

I thought NABJ, NAHJ, NAJA, NLGJA and AAJA would be good candidates for representation on the SPJ board.
I contacted those organizations to ask for their thoughts, and only heard from two (NAHJ and AAJA). Neither was excited about the idea.

To have this type of cross-organization representation would require a more radical change to the current SPJ board structure.

How about:
• 4 officers (president, president-elect, secretary-treasurer, vice president for campus chapter affairs)
• 2 students
• 1 campus adviser at large
• 5 ex officio members from the journalism organizations above
• 5 pro members elected at large

That’s a total of 17.

That leads to the second meaningful change: Removing regional directors from the board.
Currently, RDs have a dual role — overseeing a region and serving on the board.
As an RD, I can attest that both roles require time and attention. I’d rather see one person in one role and a second person in the other role.
I can’t recall any topic in which “the Northeast” might feel one way and “the Midwest” another, so there is no need for regional representation in this way on national issues.
Board members should be elected for their abilities to manage an organization, think creatively, look to the future, etc. The RD role is beside the point for all of that.

This would create the most upheaval and the most questions.
Would the current RDs try to remain on the board or stick to overseeing their local chapters?
Would there be a need for more stipend money for more people (at-large directors, plus RDs)?
Would someone be interested in just the RD part of the job and give up the board representation part?

All of the above needs more discussion. That’s OK, though. A fuller analysis of board structure and function is fine, since we’re going down that path.

Feedback on any of the above is welcome, by email or through a post on this page.

-Andy Schotz, Region 2 director, LawnGyland@aol.com

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