SPJ Hawaii: October 2023 Newsletter

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Budget deficit triggers worries at convention

By Nancy Cook Lauer
Chapter Vice President

SPJ's almost $400,000 budget shortfall was the elephant in the room during the 2023 convention, held Sept. 28-30 this year in Las Vegas.

Outgoing President Claire Regan didn't even mention it during the opening business section of the convention, which led several members (including your Hawaii delegate) to approach her after the meeting to ask questions. Regan said she inherited the deficit and assured the members there was a rainy day fund (about $300k) making the deficit not as serious as it first sounds.

SPJ has hired a new accountant, apparently its third in a year, as well as ordered an audit to find out what happened and set the books straight. In addition, the SPJ Foundation is working on a plan to make the society more solvent, Regan said.

The SPJ board also voted to cancel the 2024 convention, Regan said.

Still, Regan said, she's all for transparency, but she didn't want word to spread beyond the SPJ community for fear of losing even more members and supporters.

Incoming President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins told the Fort Worth SPJ Pro Chapter shortly after the conference that she had led the charge to cancel the convention, because she believed it would be fiscally irresponsible to have the convention when there isn't the money to pay for it. (https://spjfw.org/?p=2989)

As an aside, there were 530-something attendees at the convention, including presenters, an apparent decrease from previous years. Also, it was noted by this journalist that the exhibit hall was not as robust with exhibitors as in prior conventions, with universities (E.W. Scripps, U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, University of Alabama) and a few of the stalwart media companies (Sinclair, Kiplinger, the Wall Street Journal) representing. It's unknown whether the decrease in exhibitors is related to the economy or to a rules change several years ago allowing SPJ to reject potential exhibitors based on their business practices.


The four candidates who raised the alarm about the budget crisis batted .500 in the election: Emily Bloch won vice president by a 408-291 vote and Wesley Wright won a Director at Large seat with 371 votes. Nicole DeCriscio did not garner a director seat (232 votes) and Michael Koretzky (310 votes) lost to Daniela Ibarra (390 votes) for Secretary/Treasurer. Koretzky was voted Region 3 coordinator instead. Region 11 now has a new coordinator, with Ankita M. Kumar running unopposed.

Bylaw changes

Amendment 1: Replacing the Delegate System with Referendums, i.e., "One Member, One Vote. Passed 53-42 after a lot of debate.

The other two amendments (changing dates of terms of office and setting participatory standards for SPJ events, did not pass.

See: https://www.spj.org/news.asp?REF=2979

Parking at Region 11 conference

Because of the massive wildfire that destroyed Lahaina, the popular Maui Invitational college basketball tournament has been moved to the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus on Oahu. Parking is expected to be extremely limited because of this and will affect the SPJ Region 11 conference scheduled at the same time (Nov. 20-21) at UH-Manoa's Campus Center.

The Hawaii Professional Chapter advises conference attendees to be prepared to wait in line (with students, faculty) as early as 6 a.m. each day to pay to get into the lower campus parking structure, take Uber or TheBus or get dropped off and picked up.

Details on the conference with panels on AI, the future of journalism, Google training and the Lahaina wildfire: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spj-region-11-conference-journalism-at-the-edge-looking-to-the-future-tickets-720842367927?aff=oddtdtcreator

You can still sign up for the five remaining dorm-like rooms ($85 a night) at Lincoln Hall at the East-West Center, not far from the venue: Contact Hawaii Professional Chapter President Stirling Morita at smorita1@twc.com


In addition, 10 resolutions submitted at the conference passed. In addition to the usual laudatory ones and statements of concern on issues, the resolutions include:

Resolution 9: Ensuring Fiscal Accountability and Transparency within the Society of Professional Journalists.

Resolution 10: creates a task force to revisit a 2017 vote that shrunk the 23-member Board of Directors to nine positions. The new group is to explore alternative board configurations and lengths of service including removing appointed directors, adding at least one Regional Coordinator representative, and increasing the number of directors serving on the national board.

Resolution 11: Establishing an Official Year-Round Communication Channel for SPJ Members. The year-round communication channel shall include discussion forums, chat rooms, message boards, and private messaging capabilities. b. It shall also provide a platform for sharing resources, organizing events, and seeking input from the SPJ membership on matters of importance.

See: https://www.spj.org/news.asp?REF=2978

Region 11 Meeting

The Region 11 meeting group appreciated the Big Island Candies cookies we distributed but generally said they wouldn't be attending our regional in Honolulu. (Kumar later told SPJ-Hawaii she is attending.)They are all focused on a Region 11 regional tentatively set for San Francisco in the spring.

There was the usual range of convention topics; I primarily centered on the tools: Google tools, TikTok for news: how newsrooms are keeping Gen-Z informed, Instagram and AI.


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