Convention odds and ends

It was great seeing so many people from Region 9 down in New Orleans. It was a rather informative conference, and our regional meeting was no exception. Here’s a recap of what we went over:

Star System: The national board of directors voted 12-8 to abolish the star ranking system for chapters. The regional directors, who make the initial recommendation on what a chapter should be ranked, found that the system had become too punitive. Right now, chapters will be deemed in good standing or not in good standing. The requirements for that are to have a minimum of three programs a year that involve the chapter membership and the journalism community, as well as reflect the society’s mission (FOI, ethics, diversity, etc.), and file an annual report on time. John Ensslin has also appointed two chapter doctors to work with struggling chapters, one of them being our own Deb Hurley.

Dues: I regret to report that the board voted to increase dues $3 a year for pros, and $1.50 for students, effective Jan. 1. The purpose of the dues increase is to raise money to further the society’s operations. Joe Skeel, the executive director, explained that membership dues are the only relatively reliable source of income the society has, and that there has not been a dues increase for 10 years. Joe also pointed out that other organizations, such as RTDNA, charge far more than our increased dues, so we are still a bargain.

So you know, I did argue for a dues decrease as a way of recognizing the struggles journalists are having in this economy, as well as possibly bringing in more revenue by making membership accessible to more people.

The delegates unsuccessfully attempted to reverse the increase on the convention floor.

Regional Conference: First, kudos to Utah Headliners for pulling off an excellent regional conference in Salt Lake City in April. At-large director Bill McCloskey, who represented the executive board at the conference, thought it was an informative program.

Now, for 2012.

The conference will be April 13-14 in Denver. So mark your calendar, and plan to have your income taxes filed before then.

This time, we’re doing something different in planning the programs. Instead of having one chapter do all the heavy lifting, we have a committee with people from each of the pro chapters that will meet and plan the conference and assist Colorado. The committee includes Cara Degette, Deputy Regional Director Holly Wolcott, Julie Ann Grimm, Tom Haraldsen, Sheryl Worsley and myself. If you have a suggestion on a program you’d like to see at regional let me know.

Volunteers: SPJ couldn’t function without volunteers. And, keeping with John’s tradition, I want to honor those folks who go above and beyond the call of duty. At New Orleans, I recognized David Brown for stepping in as an interim president in New Mexico, and Colorado Pro’s team that restarted the Auraria campus chapter. The winners receive a Sigma Delta Chi pin, from the days when SPJ was known by Greek letters.

If you know of anyone who deserves recognition, let me know.

Again, thank you for all you do, and let’s look forward to an even greater year.

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