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Home > About SPJ > Documentation > Meeting Minutes

APRIL 28, 2012


With President John Ensslin presiding, the meeting of the board of directors of the Society of Professional Journalists was called to order at 9:18 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, 2012, at the Westin Indianapolis.

Roll Call

In addition to Ensslin, the following were present: President-Elect Sonny Albarado; Secretary-Treasurer Dave Cuillier; Vice President for Campus Chapter Affairs Neil Ralston; Immediate Past President Hagit Limor; Directors at-Large Bill McCloskey and Lauren Bartlett; Campus Advisers at-Large George Daniels and Kym Fox; Student Representatives Gideon Grudo and Taylor Mirfendireski; Regional Directors Luther Turmelle, Brian Eckert, Michael Koretzky, James Pilcher, Liz Hansen, Amanda Theisen, Don Meyers, Dana Neuts, Teri Carnicelli and Kelly Kissel.

Staff members present for the meeting were Executive Director Joe Skeel; Director of Events Heather Dunn; Membership Coordinator Linda Hall; Awards Coordinator Lauren Rochester; and Chapter Coordinator Tara Puckey along with SDX Foundation Associate Executive Director Chris Vachon.

Others in attendance were SDX Foundation President Steve Geimann, Foundation Secretary Irwin Gratz and SDX Foundation board members Fred Brown, Dave Carlson, Mac McKerral and Dave Aeikens.

SPJ President’s Report

President Ensslin cited that his focus has been on membership and that it is notable throughout the meeting agenda and has been throughout his term.

SPJ was involved in a situation at East Carolina University regarding the dismissal of student media advisor Paul Isom. The university settled with Isom for $31,000. SPJ continued to do much advocacy work regarding matters in Charlotte, Memphis, Tempe University and with the Stars & Stripes.

Ensslin reported on a SPJ history digital timeline being developed by former Digital Media committee chair Jennifer Peebles.

FY2013 Budget

Executive Director Joe Skeel reported that the finance committee met the prior day to review the budget thoroughly.

The board of directors reviewed the supplied budget and the projected budget shows a $27,115 surplus.

Upon proper motion and second by Albarado and Limor, respectively, the board approved the 2012-13 budget for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2013.

Meeting Minutes Approved

Upon proper motion and second by Bartlett and Daniels, respectively, the board approved the minutes, with edits, from the following board of directors meetings: Sept 25, 2011; Sept 28, 2011; Dec 22, 2011; Feb 23, 2012.

The following edits were requested:
— Sept 25, 2011: Correct that the meeting was adjourned by President Limor not President Ensslin.
— Dec 22, 2011: For the Convention 2013 location, add that Turmelle and Daniels voted against the location due to the date of the convention.

Chapter Action

Upon proper motion and second by Limor and Meyers, respectively, the board approved the following:


Texas Panhandle Pro Region 8
Tarleton State University Region 8
Canisius College Region 1
Webster University Region 1
Regent University Region 2
Oakland University Region 4
Colorado Mesa University Region 9
Fullerton College Region 11


Atlanta Pro* Region 3
Milwaukee Pro* Region 6
Iowa Pro* Region 7
Dallas Pro Region 8
Austin Pro Region 8
Farthest North Pro* Region 10
Orange Co. Pro Region 10
So Cal Inland Pro* Region 11

*indicates this chapter was placed on assistance at the 2010 convention.


Delaware State University Region 1
Fordham University Region 1
Marist College Region 1
Northeastern University Region 1
Shippensburg University Region 1
St. Bonaventure University Region 1
State University Cortland Region 1
University of Pennsylvania Region 1
Westfield State College Region 1
George Washington University Region 2
Howard University Region 2
Lenoir-Rhyne College Region 2
Norfolk State University Region 2
Georgia College & State Univ. Region 3
Georgia Southern University Region 3
State University of West Georgia Region 3
University of So Florida-St. Pete Region 3
Bethany College Region 4
Central Michigan University Region 4
Edinboro University of Penns Region 4
Otterbein College Region 4
Shepherd University Region 4
Wayne State College Region 4
Emporia State University Region 5
Illinois State University Region 5
Louisville Collegiate (Satellite) Region 5
Roosevelt University Region 5
Marquette University Region 6
University of North Dakota Region 6
University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse Region 6
Baker University Region 7
Central Missouri State University Region 7
Pittsburg State University Region 7
SW Missouri Student Regional Region 7
Truman State University Region 7
University of Nebraska-Omaha Region 7
Wichita State University Region 7
Cameron University Region 8
East Texas State University Region 8
NW Oklahoma State University Region 8
Southern Methodist Univeristy Region 8
Texas Southern University Region 8
University of Houston Region 8
University of North Texas Region 8
West Texas State University Region 8
New Mexico State University Region 9
University of New Mexico Region 9
University of Southern Colorado Region 9
Inland NW Student Collegiate Region 10
University of California-San Diego Region 11
University of Nevada Region 11
Valley of the Sun Student Region 11
Humboldt State University Region 12
Lincoln University Region 12
Mississippi State University Region 12
Mississippi University for Women Region 12
Nicholls State University Region 12
NorthWestern State Univ. of LA Region 12
Tennessee State University Region 12
University of Southern Mississippi Region 12
University of Tennessee-Martin Region 12
There is no action required, for informational purposes only:


American University Region 2
North Carolina Pro Region 2
Franklin College Region 5
Wichita State University Region 7
Pepperdine Univ.-Malibu Region 11
Univ. of Louisiana-Monroe Region 12
Hofstra University Region 1

Staff Report

Executive Director Skeel communicated that SPJ continues to work in partnership with many organizations and he also provided an overview of SPJ’s training for the year.

Skeel reported that the second floor of the headquarters building is being rented by a company called Avencos and that will generate $54,000 in year one to be split between SPJ and the SDX Foundation. The expenses of the build-out and the increased utilities will also be shared between the two organizations.

In addition, Skeel informed the board that an online platform has been selected for SPJ’s new election system.

He reported that the first dues increase since 2002 was implemented seamlessly.

NAHJ (National Association of Hispanic Journalists) continues to be a client of SPJ’s for back-end services such as bookkeeping and membership services.

The membership database upgrade will be completed by the end of May.

Convention Report

Vachon provided the convention schedule for planning purposes. She reminded the board that the registration fee did not increase for 2012.

Based on the board’s recommendation to research Opryland for the 2014 convention site, the staff conducted a site visit at Opryland and feel confident in recommending the Nashville hotel to the board for 2014.

Upon proper motion and second by Albarado and Carnicelli, respectively, the board approved the 2014 convention to be held at Opryland.

Nominations Report

Nomination chair Hagit Limor reports that David Cuillier plans to run for President-elect and Dana Neuts has indicated she will be running for Secretary-Treasurer. Limor is working through the other open board positions and finding qualified members for all the open slots.

Action/Discussion Items

International Members

A discussion ensued about why international members join, what services/benefits are of interest to them and whether or not we should work to seek out international members or if we should continue to have them just come to us. Does having more international members promote the Code of Ethics?

The discussion turned to other related items such as representation on the board, regions and voting. Other areas mentioned were Legal Defense Fund grants and the board expressed the opinion that the fund should be global.

Finally, the awards programs were discussed in terms of the ability and the logistics of accepting international journalists’ award entries.

Journalists Toolbox e-book Proposal

The board reviewed a proposal from Journalist Toolbox creator and author Mike Reilly. The proposal outlined a plan to create an e-book based on the Journalists Toolbox content. The group had questions, directed Skeel to gather more information and the board will review it again at an upcoming virtual meeting.

Member Elections Update/Mock Elections

A mock election took place for the board to allow them to experience the voting platform. Comments from the board were all positive. The platform will cost $2,500/year and can be used for up to three elections/surveys each year.

The board reviewed the campaign guidelines which were modified for one member, one vote.

Upon proper motion and second by Bartlett and Carnicelli, respectively, the board approved the revised campaign guidelines with a friendly amendment of adding:

“6. No one may use the membership database for political purposes.”

The revised election guidelines are Appendix A of the minutes.

Campus Chapter Requirements

The current requirements for campus chapters includes a minimum of three educators whose principal teaching duties are in the field of journalism and who also must be members of SPJ. There is a proposal to change three educators to one educator with one back-up due to the fact that getting three involved educators, at one time, can be difficult.

Upon proper motion and second by Pilcher and Daniels, respectively, the board approved the elimination of paragraph 9 from the Expansion Policy Guidelines for Student Chapters and revised wording for paragraph 7 of the Guidelines which will now read:

Paragraph 7. Schools seeking a charter will have one confirmed faculty adviser who teaches or works in the field of journalism and one back-up adviser also teaching or working in the field of journalism, in the event the primary adviser takes a leave of absence, changes jobs, or has other conflicting issues that no longer allows him or her to serve. The primary adviser must by an active member of SPJ; should the back-up adviser need to step into the primary adviser position, he/she would be required to join SPJ within an appropriate time frame not to exceed 30 days from acceptance of that position.

The revised campus chapter guidelines are Appendix B of the minutes.

New Business: Newsroom Memberships

President Ensslin initiated a conversation with the board about memberships for newsrooms. He explained that he would like to explore the possibility of creating a newsroom membership, possibly similar to the current Collegiate Institutional memberships. The objective is to get into the culture of newsrooms. The benefits of such a membership need to be developed and Ensslin directed staff to develop a plan.

Upon proper motion and second by Albarado and Grudo, respectively, the board directs staff to develop a concrete proposal for newsroom memberships for the board to review. The plan should include an assessment tool. In addition, the current Collegiate Institutional membership should be reviewed and updated.

New Business: Multi-State Sunshine Summit Proposal

Board member Taylor Mirfendereski shared with the group the success of the Ohio Sunshine Summit which involved the Ohio University campus chapters of SPJ and RTDNA conducting a one-day event centered on access to public records and spaces across Ohio’s higher education system.

Mirfendereski proposed that SPJ facilitate Student Sunshine Summit Week with events across the country as an “official” SPJ program for the 2012-13 school year.

Old Business

Daniels inquired about the new pass/fail document that replaces the star system. It was explained that the new document has been created.

Regional directors expressed concern that the waiver for attendance at regional conferences and the national convention, that is part of the annual report, is not communicated well to chapter leaders. The directors requested a form to be developed as well as an FAQ.

An update on the strategic plan was requested. Ensslin reported that the Executive Committee is going through the strategic plan section-by-section to evaluate and update it.

It was requested that the deadline for annual reports remain at May 1 and June 1 in the future.

SDX Foundation President Report

President Geimann reported that the Foundation accounts have increased to $11.8 million.

He noted the change in headquarters staffing for the Foundation as Chris Vachon will serve as the Associate Executive Director for the Foundation focusing on indentifying and cultivating grant and partnership opportunities as well as our continued efforts to individual donors.

Vachon reminded board members about the importance of board giving to the Foundation and all who have not made a donation in the past year have been sent a friendly reminder.


Upon proper motion and second by Meyers and Bartlett, respectively, the board voted to adjourn at 5:18 p.m.


SPJ Campaign Guidelines

These election campaign guidelines should be followed by all candidates for the SPJ national board of directors. Candidates with questions should the SPJ Nominations Committee Chairman or the Executive Director.

1. There will be no candidate speeches during regional meetings, other than those given by candidates for regional director.
2. Candidate speeches will be no more than three minutes in duration and will be delivered during the opening business meeting. Speeches will be streamed live and available on the election home page as soon as possible after they are delivered.
3. No signs may be posted in the hotel or convention site.
4. Headquarters staff will format and send members emails three times during the election cycle for the candidates. Headquarters staff will send emails according to the following timeline:

— The same week candidate profiles are published in Quill magazine. Candidates should submit this email no later than two weeks before Quill is published.
— Sometime during the election cycle after profiles are published in Quill, but earlier than four weeks before convention. Staff will have one week to format and send these emails.
— One week before the election. This email should be submitted no later than two weeks before the opening business session.

— 5. Current national SPJ board members should remain neutral in all elections.
— 6. No one may use the membership database for political purposes.


— The order in which candidates give speeches will be based on the alphabetical order of their last names.

—While candidates may not post signs in the convention hotel, fliers, buttons and other literature may be distributed. Contact SPJ Executive Director (or designee) to arrange for display space near the convention’s registration area or trade show.

—All candidates will receive information about board and committee meetings before the convention. Candidates are encouraged to attend board and committee meetings that are applicable to their prospective position.

— Candidates may purchase advertising space in Quill, the convention program or the convention newspaper at rates discounted 50 percent off the current rate card. Contact SPJ Executive Director (or designee) for information.




The Society of Professional Journalists is a professional organization. It is not honorary in nature, nor is it any longer a fraternity.

In function and membership requirements it is concerned only with the field of journalism and the free flow of information to the public at large.

SPJ’s campus chapter expansion policy establishes requirements which embrace the highest standards of professionalism. The campus chapter encourages and assists members in carrying out common objectives. It is through the chapter that individual members join in freedom of the press issues, learn of ethical problems, and professional standards and enjoy fellowship of common purpose.

Before the Society’s board of directors will consider chartering a new campus chapter of the Society, several requirements must be met and several steps taken.

Who Can Form A Chapter?

If you and other journalists in your school or metropolitan area are interested in starting a new campus chapter of the Society, under no circumstances should you take any steps or actions as a chapter of the Society until you have notified SPJ’s national headquarters and your appropriate regional director of your interest. The national office will provide you with the regional director’s name, address, and telephone number.

The national office and your regional director will be of invaluable assistance as you plan from the start. You must keep them closely informed of your activities.

Before you act at all as a chapter, you will have to determine whether your group meets the requirements of a provisional SPJ chapter.

Under SPJ’s bylaws, a group or organization of students may be granted a charter by the board of directors as a campus chapter upon presentation of a formal petition and completion of the requirements of this expansion policy.

Charters to campus and satellite chapters are granted by majority vote of the board of directors or by majority vote of the delegates to a national convention.

Campus chapters may be established at two-year or four-year universities or colleges that have a school or department of journalism or that offer courses in journalism. At least ten students expressing a serious interest in journalism are required to start a campus chapter.

Schools seeking a charter will have one confirmed faculty adviser who teaches in the field of journalism and one back-up adviser also teaching in the field of journalism, in the event the primary adviser takes a leave of absence, changes jobs, or has other conflicting issues that no longer allows him or her to serve. The primary adviser must by an active member of SPJ; should the back-up adviser need to step into the primary adviser position, he/she would be required to join SPJ within an appropriate time frame not to exceed 30 days from acceptance of that position.

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