CHC Board Meeting: June 5, 2020

Board of Directors meeting
Fri. June 5, 2020

President Rob Elder called the meeting to order. Also present: Greg Karp, Flynn McRoberts, Amanda Vinicky, Mike Ewing, Suzanne McBride, Stan Zoller, Madhu Krishmarthy, Howard Dubin, Maria Zamudio, Alejandra Cancino, Ben Meyerson, Blair Chavis, Christine Wolf, Maya Dukmasova, and Susan S. Stevens. All of us were on a Zoom conference call.

Minutes from the May meeting were approved with two corrections: Lifetime winner Jim DeRogatis is with WBEZ and Columbia College (not the Chicago Sun-Times any more). And Suzanne was not present at the meeting.

Rob urged us to continue recruiting members and sharing our activities on social media. Howard and Susan thanked the board for the service awards, which are beautiful, crystal bookends.

Board thought the virtual Lisagor awards went well. Rob gave special thanks to Brandis Friedman and WTTW for help.

Membership: Rob thanked the Dubin Foundation for its generous contribution to pay for free memberships for Lisagor winners and finalists (376) and journalists (110) who received hardship grants. Rob sent two emails to everyone, and 200 signed up. He will send us spreadsheets so we can enlist people on it who we know. SPJ HQs reports our current membership totals 190. That’s the lowest Rob has ever seen. Susan says it’s the lowest she has seen since she joined the board in the 1980s. Howard, who goes back further, agreed. SPJ reduced its dues to $50, a 33% savings, for this push.

Greg said he received 133 applications and approved 110 for the $500 hardship grants. $50,500 was given out. People donated about $250.

Sponsorships at national conferences: Rob is optimistic that restrictions against potential sponsors such as the Koch family will pass at the upcoming conference. A dozen other chapters including a majority of the large chapters joined us in demanding this.

Poynter gave a “mealy-mouthed” response to our request that it sever ties with the Koch family. Alejandra, who spurred it, said she does not know what to do next. Rob said he favors keeping up the pressure. Rob thanked Alejandra for crafting a statement expressing our outrage at journalists’ arrests in Minneapolis.

Our shop: See Ben’s socks and facemasks purchased by Stan and Susan.

Maudelyn Ihejirika of NABJ and CJA asks if we would like to co-sponsor a program on how COVID-19 deaths this year and heat wave deaths in 1995 overlap on the map. This is similar to what we did in a Zoom conference, “Cooked,” which is on our website. We voted to cosponsor. But we will turn down foundation funding that was offered.

Slate: Madhu will send it to Rob later today. She has added Nader Issa of the Sun-Times as a board member. Still need vice presidents for FOI and programming. Maybe Nader for FOI since he’s participated in FOIAfests? Rob will circulate for a board vote, then an eblast for a membership vote.

If you have done outside trainings such as Ben’s Facebook sessions, let Rob know by the weekend so he can include you in the annual report.

Leadership conference feedback: Greg would like it expanded to such things as case studies. Susan said the advice could be summed up in a word – respect.

SPJ program grants: three through the year of up to $500 available from SPJ. We got $250 for this year’s FOIAFest. Our regional director, Amy Merrick at DePaul University, urges us to apply.

Rob asks leaders to contribute to Googledocs FAQ and master calendar. Calendar link is FAQs are to give leader-successors detailed how-to information.

Treasurer: Greg said we had $101,647 in savings and $3,435 in checking May 31. He will transfer $25,000 to the foundation account for the journalists hardship fund. He plans to work on an over-all budget plus give committee chairs skeletons for them to detail. This will avoid them having to return to the board for approval of expenditures and also will help in asking foundations for grants.

Programs: Mike said he wants to sketch a calendar of events for the coming year, since it worked pretty well in the year just ending. He wants to do more Zoom trainings. Rob said about 20 attended each, though 40-50 signed up. Madhu will work on one for this summer on how journalists approached and should approach current turmoil.

Lisagor: Flynn will take over from Ben. Applause for both.

100th CHC anniversary: Madhu will chair a celebration committee with Rob and Mike helping.

Scholarship and intern grants: Susan said the foundation will announce the winners eventually. Deadlines for both were extended to June 1. In a better year, these are announced at the Lisagor banquet.

Salute: Howard led a round of thanks and applause to Rob for his achievements this year. Rob said he couldn’t have done it without the board’s great work.

Next meeting: TBA. It will be the summer planning session and, if Madhu deems necessary, a regular board meeting as well.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan S Stevens, secretary