Board Minutes – 08/1999


Chicago Headline Club
Board of Directors Meeting

August 18, 1999

The meeting was called to order at 8:10 A.M.

Attending: Bob Roberts, Mike, Cordts, Diane Monk, Anna Marie Kukec, Howard Dubin, Susan S. Stevens, Ed Cooper, John McClelland, Stephen Rynkiewicz, Maria Traska (by phone), Casey Bukro (by phone), Tom LaPorte(by phone) Marcia Barancik, Rob Hess,

Guest: Abigail Pickus

Future of Journalism: Maria reported there are a half dozen suggestions for speakers, the most popular of whom is Ira Glass. There are also many suggestions for subject matter, but many of them are how-to things, and Maria is trying to decide whether they should be discussed in the afternoon or maybe at another conference. She is also attempting to sort out broad topics, such as how the workplace is changing, how the work we do is changing, changes in technology. Maria is trying to sort through all the material this week, and make a report. She then has to match speakers with the subjects. Maria quoted Bob Roberts as saying the club is willing to spend a little extra money for out-of- town speakers; and some of them may be willing to pay some of their own expenses as long as we pay the hotel. (An additional note from Rob: we need to draft a budget to ensure that we have sufficient funds to pay these expenses, and still make a profit from the event. He hopes we will be able to attract a minimum of 100 attendees at the conference. If we project more, we will be able to increase the budget for speakers and expenses.) Maria now has to see who will be available. She said she needs three or four core people to work on this until the program until it’s finished. She said she has one volunteer already, Ed Cooper. Maria said she e-mailed Tom LaPorte asking what he thought of the idea o taking maybe an hour for a keynote speaker for the program,. We could take a highlight of the program, put it on the website, and use it for publicity to register people in the future.

Rob said we want to broaden the program as much as we can. He also suggested expanding on the Internet training we’ve been doing to the last couple of years to focus more on computer-assisted reporting and using the tools that are available to help reporters to know more about how to get information and not just how to browse and search web sites. Any panel of that sort we do l will have to be led by experts. Maria said what she needs this year is people to read the books, and be able to discuss them. The conference will be Saturday November 6.

President’s Report: July meetings were approved without corrections.

To save time at this busy meeting, Rob will contact board members individually and by e-mail with more thought on our upcoming priorities.

Rob went to an SPJ leadership retreat in Greencastle last weekend, which was attended by Chapter leaders from around the country “and Howard Dubin was one of the stars”. His efforts and the fund-raising we have done over the years with the Lisagor was definitely a showcase model for the rest of the SPJ. Our brown bag programs and our website were compared to others and used as an example of what chapters are doing.

Marilyn Moats Kennedy, a former Headline Club president and longtime SPJ member, has resigned from the board because she was unable to attend the meetings and didn’t wish to occupy a place she couldn’t fill. However, she will be organizing a program this winter on jobs and careers and act as a jobs counselor.

We now have two vacancies on the board and Rob asked for names of prospective board members.

President-Elect’s Report: Marsha began with the brown bag lunch for Aug. 27. Her committee has distributed invitations for the Sept. 16 Second City event. She also had tickets at $20 apiece that she requested board members to take if they could think of anyone who would be interested in attending. She asked us to sell a minimum of 5 tickets. Marsha has her home voicemail as the response number. If someone reserves on the voicemail, the person needs to leave the credit card number, expiration date, and a number where Marsha can return the call. Rob commented that we are hoping to bring as many people as possible working in our business to this event. One reason for doing this is trying to build our membership. We’re hoping to raise $1000 or $2000 from this event. This will be at the Second City Etc. theater, which is best accessed from Pipers Alley on North Ave. Marsha said we are also looking for people to participate in the talent half hour before the show.

Casey Bukro (by phone) discussed the Ethics in Journalism Award. He mentioned the problem of finding nominees for the award, and also the criteria for what should be considered. We should attempt to find examples in journalism throughout the year, rather than cramming at the end to try to decide who should be recognized. Rob suggested we start thinking six months in advance about when the nominations will be needed. Someone made the point that reporters make ethical decisions every day, and that the award doesn’t necessarilyhave to be given for a widely publicized story. Rob would like some of the nominations to come from within the various newsrooms. Bob Roberts suggested enlisting the critics at the Sun-Times and the Tribune to recognize those whom they believe qualify for the award. Casey expressed doubt as to whether the Tribune critic, George Langford, would be willing to look for meritorious stories outside the Tribune. Bob said he was thinking of George Langford, Jim Kirk at the Tribune and Robert Feder at the Sun-Times, Jeff Borden at Crain’s and Mike Miner at the Reader; anybody who does media criticism in this town should be invited to participate in an ethics program. Casey said there is a great deal to learn from these people.

Tom LaPorte (by phone) New Media Committee : Tom said there are a number of people have agreed to sign up for this committee, including Steve Rynkiewicz and Barb Malott of the Transportation Dept. He said we are looking for ways to provide incentives for the new media community to join the Headline Club and use it as a recruitment tool. Bob Roberts asked that the new media committee send openings to the job file.

Chicago Journalist: Diane said she would like to see some sort of monthly communication, but the form has not been finalized. She doesn’t know at this point what direction the paper will go. She added that there is an immediate need for additional editors, and a working editorial board. Neither she nor John has the same amount of time to work on it that she and Kathy had. The September and October issues will get out but she hopes there will be a different structure by late September. Diane and John both want to continue working on the Journalist, but additional people are needed. Rob mentioned how important the Journalist is as a communications organ for the Headline Club. At the next meeting, the Board will need to decide on the cost of producing and the future form of the newsletter.

Treasurer’s Report: No report. Howard said the SPJ board has decided to move the headquarters to Indianapolis. They will take a couple of hundred thousand out of reserves.

Internship committee: Addendum from Rob. Ilyce was unable to attend the board meeting due to the tragic death of her friend Harry Bull and his daughters. Ilyce assumed the responsibility of media contact for the family, as well as her help with funeral arrangements. Our hearts go out to Ilyce at this difficult time. We will have an update on the internship program as soon as possible. Your support for Ilyce will be appreciated.

Christine Tatum Media Relations: Members of the committee are going to start making calls about the Second City event.

FOI: Bob Roberts said that we had a victory in the Legislature on the subject of what the police are required to report. The loss, which came because Bob was not aware of it, was for rape and sexual assault victims to be able to petition courts to unseal their records. He also recommended a series on FOI to us that appeared in the Daily Southtown by the AP concerning state compliance with FOI. The Attorney General is quoted in the report as saying he has ordered his staff to put some teeth into the FOI Act. The series is also on the Copley website. The Tribune and Sun-Times did not participate.

Website: Steve said we are using software on the Medill server that enables us more easily to count the pages we put together and how many hits there are etc. There were 68 subscribers to the list-serve.

Lisagor: Susan Stevens began the discussion of moving up the deadline for Lisagor submissions and the dinner is being moved up one week to April 20 for 2000. She wants to send out postcards to the non-member mailing list informing them of the changes.. Rob stated that the judging process must also be moved up.He also suggested that people should start looking back on what they wrote during the year. Bob Roberts stated that the January 15th deadline would make preparing the broadcast entries very difficult. There followed a long discussion of the deadline date, and made the tentative decision to move the deadline to January 28.

Rob needs to know who the delegates will be to the convention.

The next meeting will be Sept 15 at 5:30 P.M., the night before the Second City party.