Board Minutes – 08/2011


Board meeting

August 12, 2011


President Steve Franklin calls the meeting to order at Bloomberg at 9:00 am.


Present: Steve Franklin, Fernando Diaz, Susan Stevens, Kathy Catrambone, Anna Tarkov, Rumanna Hussain, Alden Loury, Aimee DeBat, Amy Lee, Adrienne Samuels Gibbs. By phone: Kristen Schorsch, Rafer Weigel.





Steve Franklin:  We had a good meeting with the attorney for the President of the County Board. They both talked about new information that will be online and their willingness to take part in the Sept 17th meeting plus coordinate in a tip sheet for journalists.


Results of the FOIA survey said that 70% of the journalists who applied to the county for information got access in excess of 5 days, which exceeds the legal time limit.

People said they stopped trying and stopped asking questions because it takes so long.


We will be rolling out the information and the accessibility issues in a town hall meeting taking place Sept 17 th from 9:30 am to noon.  


The market of journalists who participated was 200 or so. That is about 20%.

The McCormick Foundation was deeply disappointed with our turn out from the survey.  But we explained that this is a normal return rate and that it was not an open survey which could skewed the results. We are the largest journalism group and should have done better, nonetheless.


We need a hands-on workshop on FOIA in October. Maybe use FB to get the word out more.


We are scheduled to meet with Aug 22 at the AG’s office. Dave Hiller from the McCormick Foundation wants to be at the meeting and we will reach out to have him speak at our Sept. 17th meeting. AG’s office may be able to help us with the mayor. Also Andy Shaw said he would help us. 


Beth Konrad update: (per Aimee)

I have a call into Jane Hint at the Chicago Tribune. I also got a message from Fran Spielman from the Sun-Times–she is working on contacts and will call me this afternoon.  The mayor’s office is not been able to secure a contact for us. We do have a contact at City Hall–Carol Gritzko from the new administration and they should get back to us as well. Has anyone tried the new woman at the press office again?

Keep the Sept 17th date.


Fernando Diaz commented that when they submit FOIA in Spanish they get the info right away. He submits to Alexis.




Amy Lee: 

So we will have an Open Access Workshop in early Oct.


Also in October we thought that maybe we would have a Google-plus workshop teaching peoples how to use it etc. How it is different than FB. Want to know if it is useful to reporters as a business tool. Maybe we can even use Google-plus to get the word out for FOIA.


For November we thought of asking the Sun times Pulitzer winners to speak about the ambitions of winning a Pulitzer. We could use this as a member ship idea to recruit younger members. Also maybe we could have other journalists on hand to critic résumés and do a Questions and Answer group. We could partner with other groups like AWJ for this as well.


Steve Franklin: Maybe we can have another charity event like the Heartland café event that raised $1600. Maybe in December. It really helps the under-employed and unemployed journalists. 


The Chicago Headline Club would like to sponsor the 8:15 pm Thursday, Aug. 25th showing of the Interrupters at the Gene Siskel theater in the Loop.


We journalists need to constantly change to do our best. We also need to feel for our reporting to do our best. Alex Kotlowitz’s career fits both categories. Some time ago he wrote a piece for the New York Times magazine about CeaseFire, an effort that takes a unique approach to fighting crime here. The story inspired a documentary and inspired Alex also to join in its production. 


The documentary’s producers are promoting the documentary in a unique manner. They are using the documentary as a tool for discussion about crime in Chicago in meetings with youths, community groups and political leaders. Alex will talk after the showing. 


Also I would like to see us offer some kind of mentoring service for freelancers. Maybe something like “Second Read”  a place to post a story and get feedback from other journalists. Also a lot of people are bloggers or citizen journalists–maybe we should have a workshop on how to blog. Also add a list of bloggers on our website. I believe there is a list of more than 400 bloggers. This would also help with FOIA.

In February we will had a “How to be a better blogger” workshop.







Jon Seidel

We’ve begun using MailChimp for our e-blasts and newsletters. The feedback received after the first trial was very positive, but there’s much more we can do as we get to know the system. We were forced, however, to remove several e-mails from our address list. MailChimp enforces a 5 percent bounce rate. Ours was 16.2 percent. Also, only about 25 percent of our July newsletter recipients opened it. So we’ll be paying closer attention to the subject line of the e-blasts in the future, hoping to catch a few more eyes.

Anna has done an excellent job of managing our Twitter account in the last several weeks. I’m sorry I can’t join the board for Steve and Anna’s discussions about website updates and social media. I’m excited to see we might pursue plans to host blogs/freelancers on our website. This shouldn’t be difficult to accomplish. Please ask Steve and Anna to contact me with a time when we may chat.

As usual, please let me know ASAP if the board has any questions/comments/concerns.



Steve Franklin:  Can Jon add update the website to include Ethnic press groups as well as NABJ, the Red Eye etc. and even blog groups? There are so many more that can be up there.



Anna Tarkov


If anyone has ideas to tweet or post please send them my way. I would like to see us tweeting as much as 5 times a day. It can be studies or stories or interesting links.

Anna offered to start a yahoo listserv for the Chicago headline Club. 

Adrienne Samuels offered insight into how NABJ has a forum for members only. Steve Franklin thought a Board list serv would be a good idea.




Sue Stevens:

The SPJ conference is in New Orleans in Sept.

Steve Franklin, Alden Loury and Beth Konrad are going to the conference on free passes for the registration. We have 2 passes at 35% discount and Randi Belisomo and Rumanna Hussain will be going using them. We were voted the best chapter and we have publicized it on FB and eblasts.  We are the only chapter that is working on FOIA in Chicago. I would like to see us make a FOIA book to pass out. Maybe work with Loyola Student Chapter or Columbia to educate students.


Also Aug 21st is the annual Brown Lee event at 537 Judson. It is $20 donation to attend the event which goes to the Foundation Scholarship Fund.  It is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.



In Alton, IL SPJ erected a monument or brass plaque for  Elijah Parish Lovejoy 

an American Presbyterian minister, journalist, newspaper editor and abolitionist.

He was murdered by an opposition mob in Alton Illinois for his publication of abolitionist materials. Lovejoy was a champion for freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom from slavery. Apparently someone stole the plaque and they are hoping to reestablish the monument in time for a Nov 10, 2012 ceremony.




Kathy Catrambone:

Only 9 of the 23 members responded.


7 voted for 9 a.m. Friday

Felicia Middlebrook voted for noon on Wed.

Adrienne Samuels voted for 8 a.m. Friday or 7 p.m. Friday.


The Board voted to change up the meeting times and have 1 or 2 at different times.

In October the meeting will be the first Friday at 9 a.m.



Casey Bukro

The Ethics Advice Line for Journalists was founded in 2001 with a partnership between Loyola. We have received 900 calls from Journalists on deadline. Call come in for advice from other counties and even other countries. Headline Club is the home of the advice line. There are 3 call takers at Loyola.  I would like to get the word out to more journalists in need of help how to find us through our website and other digital media. 

$123,000 was raised and spent to get the word out. Chicago Headline Club gave $5,000 to the Advice line.  I would like to see a digital marketing program started.


Chicago Headline Club has given Ethics in Journalism Awards to some 20 journalists. The past winners are not on the website.  This is part of who they are and what they did to make them noticeable. Good journalists doing good work and this should be pointed out.



Alden Loury:  Board approved ad in CMW book $400. Board received free copy of the book.


JUNE BOARD MEETING MINUTES:   Approved unanimously.


NOTE: No treasurer’s report; new treasurer Flynn McRoberts is on vacation

 The next meeting is scheduled for Friday morning, September 9th at Bloomberg.


Adjourned: 11:00 a.m.

—Secretary Aimee DeBat