Board Minutes – 11/2008

Board of Directors Meeting
At Bloomberg Offices
Nov. 17, 2008

President Dawn Reiss called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.

Present: Steve Walsh, Tony Noce, Jane Hirt, Beth Konrad, Tim Inklebarger, Kathy Catrambone, Susan S. Stevens. On phone: Jon Seidel, Kristen Schorsch, Laura Putre, Bonnie McGrath, Howard Dubin. Krisen McQueary could not get a phone link.

Minutes from previous meeting were approved.

Membership: Laura reported her committee met earlier in the month, had a table at Beth’s magazine event in Nov. 13, at which the collected $210 in non-member admission fee and signed up three new members. Will staff the Dec. 3 event, a town meeting about race and the presidency. Burger Night and holiday party Dec. 4 will provide free beer to all members, will encourage them to bring non-members and will try for special guest such as Steve Edwards of NPR; only members will get a free raffle ticket for a drawing for a swag bag worth $100. The membership committee is working on a contest for members who recruit new members. Motion approved for a $200 gift card for the winner. Will co-host an event in February with Chicago Women in Publishing. Tim is working on a new membership brochure and postcard.

FOI: Susan gave this report:

As you know, CHC issued a protest over the Oct. 21 arrest of Spot News videographer Mike Anzaldi and the seizure of his cameras. He got his still cameras back, with the film erased, when he was released that night but not his video camera. A specialist recovered the erased pictures from the still cameras. CHC and SPJ’s Legal Defense fund each kicked in $1,000 for his legal representation. At a hearing Nov. 12, a judge ordered the release of the video camera. Anzaldi has a Nov. 19 court date on misdemeanor criminal charges. CHC has asked police for a meeting to discuss not only this case but also to try to make sure this is an isolated case. City code allows journalists with Chicago Police credentials to cross yellow police lines. Since that request, Anzaldi was arrested a second time and held overnight. Charges were dismissed in court the following day. I sent an e-mail to three police officials Nov. 10, to further press for a meeting between police and all journalists.

A minor story – a Veterans Day wreath-laying – bodes poorly for media coverage of Chicago’s first president. Pool restrictions had NPR covering for all radio stations and Wall Street Journal covering for all print. All TV crews who asked got to go to the event at Soldier Field with President-elect Obama and Tammy Duckworth. Obviously, NPR and WSJ don’t cover Chicago for Chicagoans. Local news coverage is far more exacting. In addition, many of our reporters are multi-tasking on assignment – doing audio, still photos, video and print. CHC and INBA are jointly asking Obama’s PR people to meet in order to educate them. WBBM and WGN are on board here. SPJ HQs and FOI chairman David Cullier are watching. That same day, Obama transition chief John Podesta barred TV cameras from a briefing in Washington. Aside from having a hometown president to cover, some of us are hoping for a more open federal administration. Even before the Veterans Day curtailments on news media transpired, RTNDA sent on behalf of it and other groups a plea to Obama for a transparent administration.

CHC and INBA sent joint thanks to the CTA, which narrowly avoided what was going to be an Open Meetings Act violation, to let them know the agency is being watched. CTA board almost had a meeting on fare increases without the 48-hour notice required for agenda distribution. Bob Roberts, former CHC president and now INBA FOI chair, spotted the near-violation.

About 40 people attended the annual First Amendment Forum. The Freedom Museum was a great place and gracious host. Sen. Adlai Stevenson, our moderator, said he enjoyed it. Aside from not getting 100 people, the only damper was a Republican panelist who tried to dominate.

Web site: Joshua Pierce of our favored developer, SmartTechs, reported. MemberClicks and the current Web site are connected so we can’t drop MemberClicks unless a new site “hosts” it. Rather than MemberClicks, something ike PhP could be custom-built. He’d prefer we continue to use MemberClicks ($140 every month). This company’s Web design cost is high because of our desired functionalities. CEO did trim proposal to $22,000 by taking out the chat room provision. No ongoing costs with SmartTechs after deployment. $79 an hour tech support after deployment and training of us to use it. Steve suggested a three-year commitment, bringing up the most important things first, to see if we are satisfied and to allow for budgeting. Pierce did not make a company commitment. Beth said we need a whole other discussion about putting programs online because of legalities and ethics. She will have experts spec SmartTechs’ proposal

Lisagors: Beth said there will be a fall-off in newspaper entries (Jane agreed) so is beefing up such categories as online. A lot of marketing is needed, such as ambassadors in every shop to distribute entry forms and encourage submissions, a calling tree of prominent people. Kathy hopes to have the forms in early-December.

Other programs: Beth said 70 attended the magazine forum. The Dec. 3 town hall on race will involve several experts, 20 working Chicago journalists in the audience who have been in contact with individual students during the election coverage time. The town meeting will be at Loyola’s Rubloff Auditorium on the downtown campus, free to members and students. In January, Jane of the Tribune and Michael Cooke of the Sun-Times will discuss the status of newspapers.

Watchdog: Tony said We the People, the CHA Residents’ Journal, requested $6,000 to work on a story exploring whether eliminating public housing is a good idea. Kristen McQueary thinks the Watchdog funder, the Dreihaus Foundation, tipped the Journal to us. Dawn moved to go ahead with the grant, pending Tony’s and Kristen’s discretion as to how much to grant the publication. Motion carried. That will use up the money Dreihaus gave us, but we can ask for more.

Adjournment at 10:45 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan S. Stevens
Substitute secretary for Deb Cohen