Board Minutes – 02/2000


Chicago Headline Club
Board of Directors Meeting

February 17, 2000

The meeting was called to order at 5:30. Members present: Ed Avis, Diane Monk, Steve Rynkiewicz, Susan Stevens, Pat Kosar, Rob Hess, Ilyce Glink, Christine Tatum, John Carpenter, Molly McDonough, Marsha Barancik, Casey Bukro, Maria Traska, Bob Roberts. Guests: Paolina Milana, PR Newswire; Dr. David Ozar, director, Loyola University Center for Ethics.

Ethics: Casey and Dr. Ozar discussed exactly what they conceived as their goal for this project. Casey began by laying out a three-fold goal: the hotline, hopefully manned by trained ethicists at Loyola; ethics training program for journalists at Loyola; and forums at Loyola on ethical issues.

Dr. Ozar then made his presentation. He has taught at Loyola since 1972, He welcomed the opportunity to work with journalists when it arose. In 1994, he was asked to become the director of the Center for Ethics. The Institute was founded for two purposes: to enhance the reflection of ethics within the university, and to then share the fruits of the work they do with the larger community. When he arrived in ’94, the message he received from the university was that it was time to begin the outreach. There were two assumptions made at the outset: that there would be no adverse effects on programs within the university and that no extra resources would be made available for the outreach. They did provide limited resources and a little extra time for Ozar; he still teaches one course every semester, and he has a graduate assistant to help him with that. The university is now pulling back on some of its expenses, and Ozar’s graduate assistant is one of the elements they are no longer able to support. He is now attempting to acquire some funds from outreach to support the graduate student.

Ozar said that he was considering asking his trained people to help with this project, but the health care community is squeezed at the moment and there are no funds for ethics studies. At the moment, he said his institute is looking for grants, and hoping that will be successful. In the meantime, Ozar’s Institute has set up a corporate advisory board, which has been able to provide some funding. This enables them to have five or six breakfasts a year, They are able to attract such speakers as Dan Rostenkowski, Henry Hyde, and Andrew McKenna. The advantage of these breakfasts, said Ozar, is that they have built the Institute friends in the corporate community. He said he would love to become independent enough not to have to ask for money. He is now in the position of needing to seek financial help to allow his program to grow, and to fund some of the internal activities that he is no longer able to pay for as much as he used to.”If Loyola, by partnering with you, can help the cause of ethics in journalism, that will help the ethics community in huge ways,” said Ozar. He and Casey have discussed three things: 1) Workshops that the staff at Loyola could put together for journalists and help to see ethic education for ourselves; 2) public forums that could either be held at Loyola or with Loyola’s assistance that would give the public a chance to air their grievances about coverage ; 3) the hotline itself, which Ozar and Casey have pursued most. Ozar said his style when confronted with an ethics question is to take it under advisement and possibly discuss it with a few friends before rendering an answer. Ozar said he understands journalists are working on deadlines and can’t operate that way. He said he really doesn’t know whether it would be feasible to do this until we establish a pilot program. “The only possible pilot for us and you if you are willing to collaborate on the people”, he said. A collaborative workforce of journalists and Loyola people working together are needed to cover this. He would he and his colleagues would have very little time to devote to this project. Ozar envisions a committee of 10-12 because it’s going to take a committee to meet monthly to discuss what cases arose, what answers were given and the group’s reaction to the responses. To do this correctly it is not simply a question of answering the phone and either giving an immediate answer or calling back. He said he would like to reach the point where we have a group that is ready to man it in the foreseeable future; he said he is pretty sure we will not be able to have the group up and functioning in time for the Lisagor dinner at the end of April. It may not be possible to announce the hotline at that point, Ozar thinks. Rob explained that the Lisagor awards dinner is the highest-profile event of the year for us and the time when we connect with working journalists. This is our best opportunity to communicate with the newsrooms. He also said most of those who attend are not members of the Headline Club. Rob explained we are envisioning a presentation that would incorporate Ozar, Casey and a video. An example of the kind of question that is asked in the real world was what do you know about the Tibetan Code of Ethics? Ozar said he is not authorized to sign a contract without approval from his superiors. He is so busy right now he is unable to devote 10 hours a week to this project between now and the end of April; he has spoken to his colleagues and they will also be unable to devote much time to the project between now and the end of April. Ozar said he would really like to see this get to the point of a pilot program. Casey then said one of the requirements will be record-keeping; if they keep records of the kinds of questions they receive and the answers they find, that is research that can become stories for us, and further research from them. That contrasts with what Fred Brown, the SPJ ethics chair does in Denver, which is just to answer the phone and respond to the question. No ethics person who claims to be reputable would present himself/herself as an expert on all matters ethical, or anywhere close to it, said Ozar. John Carpenter said there will be two kinds of questions: what should I do in a given situation or my editor asked me do something that I’m not sure is ethical? The other would be an answer we know but need to find an expert to quote; we can’t quote ourselves. The reason he is looking to the journalism faculty is because they are conversant with the topic. Christine said that we have to be careful with the kinds of questions we can answer. She suggested that Ozar might find time to meet with the management of the Tribune and the Sun-Times if the editors would compile 6 weeks’ worth of ethics questions, to give us an idea of what the issues are. “That would speak volumes of our commitment, as a society and a chapter, to news organizations in Chicago.” Christine suggested limiting the nature of the calls from the outset and see what we are able to do. There has to be an understanding with SPJ that we are not trying to compete with them, said Marsha and Ozar. Maria Traska suggested we all take turns checking the voice mail and e-mailing the questions to the committee. A chat room was also mentioned as a possibility. John said we need trained ethicists. John then suggested that the voice mail be set up so that whoever is on call can be paged to pick up the question when it comes in. Ozar suggested we announce we are having a training session for those who agree to participate. The session could then be held in June or July depending on schedules. It might be necessary to say at the beginning “I can’t answer the question before consulting the committee.”

Rob suggested we use the Lisagor as an educational opportunity to explain what we are doing and that we are in partnership with Loyola. Casey suggested we ask for a show of hands of people who are interested. Rob proposed a motion that we agree to do three things: 1} Agree that the Headline Club and Loyola want to move forward with this project 2) We make the announcement at the Lisagor awards dinner 3) Agree to provide funding for the project, subject to a budget we approve at a future meeting.

The motion was approved unanimously.

Dr. Ozar’s e-mail address:

Treasurer’s Report: Expenses since last report (1/12/00

Chicago Journalist $ 1510.46 David Plotz (cancelled air) 147.50 Sodexho Marriott 334.53 Lisagor 527.50 Ethics 71.44 Misc. Secy 185.55 Phone 13.95 Total $2,991.03

Income Since last report (1/12/00) Lisagor entries $21,550.00 Dues 300.00 Ad in CJ 225.00 Total $22,075.00

Surplus for the period: $19,083.97 Surplus year-to-date $11,669.94

Assets Bank on Checking Account $5636.48 Zurich Money Mkt Fund 44,750.00 First Bank and Trust CD 25,000.00 Total: $75,386.48

Behind the Badge: Doug Cummings (by phone) and John Carpenter reported that the proposed Behind the Badge program is on track to be held May 13. Doug called the Chicago Police Dept. in an attempt to secure the participation of Supt. Terry Hilliard as well as victims and crime reporters. The location for the program has not yet been established. Doug said he believes having Supt. Hillard and the new head of the FBI office will attract much greater press coverage.

Doug Cummings phone: (847) 432-1677 E-Mail: Subnews67@

No web report

Sue Stevens said she has all the judges she needs for Lisagor entries. Christine suggested projecting the winning articles and photos on screen as the names are announced.

FOI: Bob Roberts e-mailed that Attorney General Ryan’s bill passed the House 82-27, but that Pate Philip opposes it and says it will not receive any special treatment in the Senate.

FOJ: Maria e-mailed that due to lack of support the spring program has been cancelled.

The next board meeting will be Mar. 22 @ 8 A.M, in the 7th floor atrium of the Sun-Times.