SPJ/LA Minutes, Board of Directors Retreat: Jan. 17, 2015

SPJ/LA Minutes, Board of Directors Retreat
Jan. 17, 2015
9430 Wish Ave., Northridge

Board members present: Tami Abdollah, Tammy Audi, Linda Bowen, Stephanie Bluestein, Christina Cocca, Dan Evans, Michael Fleeman, Khalil Garriott, Elizabeth Marcellino, Navid Nonahal, Richard Saxton, Julia Seifer, Lori Streifler, Jeff Wald, Alice Walton, Robi Wax, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.

Wald made a motion to approve the minutes for the Dec. 1, 2014 board meeting. Bowen seconded. Minutes were approved unanimously.


  • New associate board member: Walton nominated writer Michael Fleeman to become an associate board member for 2015. Nonahal moved for approval, Saxton seconded. Motion approved unanimously.
  • Chapter bank account: Nonahal discussed the paperwork changes necessary for the changeover in SPJ/LA treasurer from Joel Bellman to Dick Hendrickson. Nonahal said she and Hendrickson will go to the Bank of America in February to add him as a signer.
  • 2013 taxes: Nonahal is concerned about the cost of tax preparation. She will look into the idea of finding a less costly tax preparer.
  • Posting of minutes: Nonahal said she wants board minutes to be posted on the SPJ chapter web site starting in 2015. Under the new procedure, minutes would be posted once they are approved by the board.
  • Home for SPJ/LA: Nonahal said she wants to focus this year on finding formal office space for the chapter. Not having an actual office complicates the chapter’s effort to secure an insurance policy. Wax asked if it was possible that SPJ’s attorney would have some room. Nonahal said the LA Times offices would be difficult because of all the security and badges involved. Abdollah said she would inquire about space at Associated Press. Audi brought up the possibility of space at the downtown courthouse pressroom. Marcellino said she would look into the courthouse option. Bowen pointed out that an office would ensure that chapter records are preserved long term.

Board members spent half an hour introducing themselves and discussing why they are involved in SPJ. Among the answers: the First Amendment; free speech issues; the chance to examine ethical issues; networking; seeing the big picture in journalism; staying on local issues, like the access to the council chamber at Los Angeles City Hall; supporting locally generated news. Those who work in academia said they also enjoy staying connected to the profession.

Committees: Nonahal distributed information on new committee assignments for board members in 2015.
Generation J: Bowen discussed the Generation J program, co-sponsored by SPJ/LA, which is held every fall for high school students at Cal State, Northridge, and whether to expand the chapter’s involvement in Generation J beyond the one yearly program. Marcellino suggested a program that would allow would-be reporters to shadow a journalist for a day.

Nonahal said SPJ/LA’s attorney, who handled the chapter’s past treasury issues, recommended having the board treasurer sign a contract spelling out his or her responsibilities, etc. Bowen said this is part of the larger effort to update the group’s financial policies following the problems with the SPJ/LA bank account in 2012. The chapter has already made other changes, including having two signers on SPJ/LA checks. The board reviewed the contract and made wording edits. Windsor made a motion, and Bowen seconded, to approve the use of the new contract. The motion carried unanimously.


Outreach: The board had a lengthy discussion on ways to improve outreach. Ideas included: providing access to job listings; keeping closer contact with new members; offering training sessions to help journalists improve their craft/skills/knowledge base; expanding email distribution. Board members also pointed out that membership can be expensive for younger journalists.

NBC4: Christina Cocca discussed upcoming ethics event to be held April 23 at NBC4.
Brainstorming: The chapter already has the annual banquet and the Linda Deutsch roast on the calendar for the first half of the year. Other event proposals included a panel discussion on the Sony hack (and the ethics of reporting on unlawfully obtained records); a panel discussion on Charlie Hebdo massacre and the publication of religious imagery, etc; a February mixer; an April ethics event; and a June workshop, possibly on a weekend day, with details TBD.

Next board meeting is Feb. 2 at Louise’s in Los Angeles.

The board adjourned the meeting in memory of Fred Stassel and Sidney Wald. Windsor made the motion, Wax seconded. Motion unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

David Zahniser

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