Board Minutes – 11/2010

Chicago Headline Club board meeting

Nov. 12, 2010, Bloomberg News offices

Start: 9:04 a.m.

In attendance: Sue Stevens, Fernando Diaz, Amy Lee, Aimee DeBat, Ken Davis, Hilary Fosdal, Tony Noce, Kristen Schorsch, Jon Seidel, Howard Dubin, Kathy Catrambone, Alden Loury, Rummana Hussain, Flynn McRoberts, Steve Franklin, Randi Belisomo, Beth Konrad.

The board welcomed new member Amy Lee of the SouthtownStar.

The board discussed the letter the Headline Club board leadership wrote to Tribune Media Company regarding a New York Times article that revealed inappropriate behavior among some top Tribune Co. executives. Fernando reviewed the board’s procedures for sending statements and letters. He said the procedure, which includes a vote among board members and allows members to recuse themselves, appears appropriate.

The board agreed to allow 24 hours for members to review statements and letters before they are sent.

Sue said she called more than 200 lapsed members, many of whom told her they couldn’t afford dues. 

The board discussed an issue with a member who did not receive a response when seeking help through the mentor process and asked that we make sure to pay attention to members. This man did not renew his membership.

The board discussed current and potentially new student scholarships. The board now offers two, $2,500 scholarships, but last year had only three applicants. The board discussed the creation of a new scholarship to honor influential African-American journalist Les Brownlee. Sue Stevens made a motion to move $1,000 from the Headline Club account to the Chicago Headline Club Foundation account for the Les Brownlee scholarship. Several board members were concerned about implementing a scholarship too quickly. The motion was tabled, pending a recommendation and report from the scholarship committee, which includes Randi, Fernando, Aimee and Howard.

The September minutes were approved with a correction. In the treasurer’s report, the club has spent since July 1 about $4,500.

The October minutes were approved. 

Kathy Catrambone provided an update on the Peter Lisagor award banquet. We are adding at least 20 entry categories, as well as changing some TV categories and splitting up non-daily entries by circulation. The awards banquet brochure is being redesigned. The Club also has signed a contract with Hotel Allegro, which will host the banquet on May 6, 2011.

Hilary Fosdal talked with a vendor about creating a system that would allow people to enter the Lisagor contest online, and allow judges to judge entries online. The total cost, including a one-time set-up fee, would be about $4,000. Hilary will talk to more vendors, and the club will explore its options.

Howard provided the treasurer’s report. The club began the fiscal year, July 1, with assets totaling $104,762.89. The club has since received $1,070 in revenues and spent $10,736.13. Assets now total $95,096.76.

Hilary gave a membership update. She said our e-blast list continues to grow and reported that not everyone is receiving e-blasts, including several board members. Jon Seidel is working to fix the problem. 

Jon provided an update about the Web site. We have a contract with eNews Park Forest. For $60 an hour ($1,000 is the limit) they are debugging our site. So far several pieces of content have been restored, and the site can be searched.

Beth provided an update on the access survey the Club will be conducting this winter. The Club will heavily market the survey on the Web site. She also thanked board members who participated in focus groups regarding transparency and access issues in journalism. Steve Edwards has helped vet the survey to make sure the questions are neutral, and two interns will help with the survey, mainly making follow-up phone calls and e-mails.

Ken Davis provided an update on the programming committee. He expressed concerns about the small attendance at some programs and wondered how to get more people to attend. He also asked for guidance on future programming. Fernando offered some tips for a social networking program and online sessions.

Tony Noce reported that he’s been in touch with the club’s Watchdog Fund recipients. 

Aimee DeBat is putting together brochures and applications for the ethics award and two scholarships the club offers. She and Brian Pitts also have been sending e-blasts to their media lists.

Beth Konrad said she would write a get-well note to Jim Tyree, the Sun-Times owner who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Adjourned: 10:55 a.m.

— Secretary Kristen Schorsch