MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
SIGMA DELTA CHI FOUNDATION
SEPTEMBER 6, 2008
MEETING CALLED TO ORDER
With President Steve Geimann presiding, the meeting of the board of directors of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation was called to order at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 6, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia.
In addition to Geimann, the following board members were present: Secretary Irwin Gratz; Treasurer Howard Dubin; Directors Dave Aeikens, Ann Augherton, Clint Brewer, Fred Brown, David Carlson, Al Cross, Alex Jones, Bill Ketter, Jane Kirtley, Sue Kopen Katcef, Al Leeds, Dori Maynard, Mac McKerral, Sue Porter, Neil Ralston and Kevin Smith.
Staff members present included Executive Director Terrence G. Harper and Director of Development Amy Posavac.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Upon proper motion and second by Brown and Carlson, respectively, the board approved the minutes of the May 4, 2008 board of directors meeting.
Referring to his written report, Geimann reported on this years Pulliam Editorial Fellowship winner, Jay Bookman, who will receive his award later in September, and this years Pulliam First Amendment winners, Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick of the Detroit Free Press, who will receive their awards at the SPJ Presidents Installation Banquet later this evening.
Geimann reported on recent relief efforts by the Iowa Newspaper Foundation in support of the flood victims and posed the question of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation supporting such efforts as well. While it was agreed that it would be a good public relations move, the consensus was that it may set a precedent for funding all future relief efforts and is not in the scope of the Foundations mission.
Geimanns report included a discussion about a grant from the Knight Foundation to fund San Francisco-based Spot.us, whose business model is based on advertisers paying to hire reporters to cover a story, a process known as crowdfunding. While it was regarded as experimental, Geimann agreed to reach out to Gary Kebbel at the Knight Foundation.
SPJ PRESIDENTS REPORT
Brewer reported that the membership of SPJ stands at 9,650 members and credits the number to good efforts of reaching out to new members and a reorganization of staff. An upcoming database upgrade and marketing efforts should help retention.
Brewer reported that the Shield Law has provided national-level exposure to SPJ and the Citizen Journalism Academies are being well received, with media law aspects being of special interest. Brewer expressed interest in SPJ looking for new partners, such as a newswire service.
In reply to a question regarding SPJs lobbying efforts, Brewer reported that Baker Hostetler are paid as legal counsel, not lobbyists. Recent meetings with key people on the Hill have raised SPJs visibility in Washington.
Harper reported on the recent addition of Amy Posavac to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation staff. Her primary focus is on the creation and execution of a fundraising development plan. Harper will oversee all administration and grant management for the Foundation.
Harper reported that all grants approved on May 4, 2008, have been paid out, and that Sigma Delta Chis investments are now under $11 million. He projects that funds available for distribution in 2009 2010 will be less based on the Foundations spending policy which is based on a rolling average of the previous four quarters, ending January 31, 2009.
Harper addressed the recent staff reorganization and commented that Scott Leadingham is serving a one-year term as communications coordinator funded by the Ward Neff bequest and Joe Skeel is responsible for the overall communication and membership efforts. The vacant bookkeeper position will be filled sometime after the convention.
In response to a question regarding SPJs financial position, Harper is projecting a loss on the order of approximately $170,000 for the fiscal year ended July 31, 2008. Membership numbers are trending upward, but retention remains a challenge. If the upheaval in the industry is going to effect SPJs numbers, Harper predicts SPJ will feel it in seven to eight months when out-of-work members choose not to renew.
Posavac presented her 16-month development plan in which she emphasized the need for meaningful mail as a way to contact donors, and she encouraged the board members to be ambassadors for the organization.
OFFICER AND DIRECTOR ELECTIONS
McKerral presented the nominations report for SDX Foundation officers:
President: Steve Geimann (two-year term expiring in 2010)
Vice President Robert Leger (one-year term expiring in 2009)
Secretary Irwin Gratz (one-year term expiring in 2009)
Treasurer Howard Dubin (one-year term expiring in 2009)
Upon proper motion and second by Aeikens and Carlson, respectively, the board elected the officers of the foundation as listed above and to the terms noted.
McKerrals report further included nominations for SDX Foundation directors. All nominees will serve three-year terms expiring in 2011.
Upon proper motion and second by Cross and Brown, respectively, the board elected the directors listed above to three-year terms each.
SPJ BOARD APPOINTMENTS TO FOUNDATION BOARD
Aeikens reported that the SPJ board ratified the SDX appointments of Aeikens, Brewer, Smith, Limor, Ralston, Lunsford, Augherton and Kopen Katcef to serve one-year terms on the Foundation board.
Geimann addressed the need for continuing committee work and will be making appointments to the following committees: Development, Finance, Governance, and Awards & Grants upon speaking individually to each director.
PULLIAM EDITORIAL FELLOWSHIP
Ketter expressed concern regarding repeat Pulliam Fellowship winners, in light of the fact that it is coupled with a $75,000 check. Upon consensus of the board, a one-time hiatus is being taken from the 2009 Pulliam Fellowship, and those funds will be re-purposed to a bound book dedicated to the First Amendment. Geimann appointed a committee of Jane Kirtley, Alex Jones, Irwin Gratz, Bill Ketter, Dori Maynard and Howard Dubin to oversee the project.
Brown reported that the forth edition of Doing Ethics in Journalism is almost complete. An October 1 deadline was set to get a publishing agent in place.
Brewer opened a discussion regarding future SPJ conventions, commenting that New York in 2010 is prohibitively expensive and we need to be looking at second tier cities. For now, San Francisco in 2011 stands as is.
INSTITUTE FOR RURAL JOURNALISM
Cross reported briefly on the use of a $25,000 grant to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and circulated the Institutes latest newsletter. Cross also directed those interested to its website, www.ruraljournalism.org. This grant was awarded before Cross joined the SDX board in 2001.
Kirtley voiced concerns regarding the current climate of journalism with regards to the upcoming election and the media becoming a target. Aeikens and Smith reminded the board that many of these issues are addressed in SPJs strategic plan, specifically with attention to FOI. Geimann and Kirtley added that a sense of urgency is needed and that we must be proactive.
With no further business to come before the board, Geimann declared the meeting adjourned at 11:50 am on Saturday, September 6, 2008.