SPJ/LA Minutes, Board of Directors Retreat: Jan. 23, 2016

SPJ/LA Minutes, Board of Directors retreat

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, 10 a.m.

9430 Wish Ave., Northridge, CA

Joel Bellman, Stephanie Bluestein, Christina Cocca, Sarah Favot, Michael Fleeman, Dick Hendrickson, Elizabeth Marcellino, Frank Mottek, Navid Nonahal, John Schwada, Julia Seifer, Lori Streifler, Alice Walton, Jeff Wald, Roberta Wax, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.

I.               MINUTES. Windsor moves to approve the December 2015 board minutes, Bellman and Hendrickson second. Motion carried.


·      Nonahal welcomed the board’s newest member, Sarah Favot of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

·      Bellman made a motion for the approval of the board’s officers for 2016: president Navid Nonahal, vice president Elizabeth Marcellino, secretary Christina Cocca, treasurer Dick Hendrickson. Mottek seconded. The motion carried.

·      Hendrickson moved the 2016 slate of associate board members: Linda Bowen, Michael Fleeman, Khalil Garriott, Claudia Peschiutta, John Schwada, Julia Seifer, Lori Streifler, Natalie Windsor. Bellman seconded. Motion carried.III.           INTRODUCTIONS.
Board members introduced themselves, describing their professional backgrounds and their reasons for getting involved in SPJ/LA: building a sense of community with fellow journalists, support for the chapter’s work on ethics and First Amendment rights, enjoyment of the group’s activities, feeling a sense of obligation to the profession.


·      Committees.
Nonahal distributed the list of 2016 committee assignments for SPJ/LA board members.

·      Associate board members.

Nonahal explained the differences between board members and associate board members: Board members are elected by the membership for three-year terms. Associate board members are selected by the president for one-year terms. Board members can be asked to step down if they miss three or more meetings. That requirement is not imposed on associate board members. The votes of associate board members also become more important if there is not a quorum of board members.

Nonahal  also noted that she had reduced the number of associate board members for 2016, contacting those who have not been active to let them know.


Nonahal brought up the issue of declining membership in the SPJ/LA chapter. She asked whether it makes sense to eliminate the $20 chapter fee that is added to the $75 cost of national membership. Some chapters have done this and succeeded in improving membership.

Nonahal noted that local dues provided around $2,000 last year.

Zahniser said the chapter needs more information on the decrease. The board does not seem to be clear on whether this a one-time blip that resulted from SPJ national readjusting its membership numbers, or whether it’s part of a steady decline. He recommended a monthly update on membership numbers from the membership committee, similar to that provided by the treasurer. Zahniser also said membership is only important as it relates to other goals: For example, if the chapter has quality programs that draw a high turnout, how important is membership at that point?

Wax said the reason for charging local dues is that some of SPJ/LA’s programs cost the chapter money – the use of a room, snacks, etc. Mixers are great, of course, because there’s not a cost. But there’s also other expenditures, like web hosting, the PayPal account, which rely on dues.

Bellman said membership is a key part of having a strong, robust chapter.  The chapter has more influence if it has more members, and creates a momentum for its programs and advocacy. Bellman said the chapter should not simply be about people going out to hang out and drink.

Hendrickson questioned the wisdom of having local students pay additional SPJ/LA dues on top of the $35 national dues and the $10 campus dues that are charged to students.

Board members also discussed the tension between wanting to have events that are free to the public, versus those that cost money but can have a higher quality of food or programming. Cocca noted that last year’s ethics panel was made possible in part because NBC Los Angeles defrayed the cost of catering.

Schwada made a motion to establish a goal for 2016 membership, but others said the board doesn’t have enough information to diagnose the program or determine how realistic that goal should be. The motion was tabled.

Schwada made a motion to make it the board’s policy that students in the Los Angeles area should not be charged dues from SPJ/LA. If they are already paying national and campus dues, they should automatically become SPJ/LA members as well. Marcellino seconded. The motion carried unanimously.

Hedrickson issued the treasurer’s report, noting that the loss for the year in the Morgan Stanley account is $388. The report initiated another discussion of the nature of the investments made by the Morgan Stanley account. Wald moved the report and Cocca seconded. Motion carried.
VI.            LUNCH.

Lasagna, salad and a great number of desserts.


Board members proposed an array of panels, workshops and the annual banquet. Among the ideas were a video editing workshop, a panel on efforts to diversify newsrooms, programs on the 2016 presidential campaign and, later in the year, the process of fact-checking during an election campaign; and a Q&A on a series of stories about immigrant work visas that was nominated for a national magazine award.

The board’s proposals will be incorporated into the SPJ/LA calendar for 2016, which will be formalized by Nonahal for the next board meeting.

·      Banquet update. Discussed earlier, as part of the 2016 calendar preparation.

·      Nonahal reminded the board of the karaoke mixer, set for Wednesday, Jan. 27 at The Redwood.
IX.            NEXT BOARD MEETING. Monday, Feb. 8 at Louise’s Trattoria, 7 p.m.

X.              ADJOURNMENT.  Walton moved and Windsor seconded. Meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

David Zahniser

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