Yesterday we told you about the coup staged at our local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists by one Michael Koretzky -- student advisor to FAU's newspaper. Koretzky marched in to the elections on November 19th with a posse of pissed-off students and friends and voted in a number of new board members, including Koretzky himself, who will be replacing past President Julie Kay -- maybe.
We didn't have time to give Kay her say yesterday -- we were too busy trying to find our old Journalism 101 textbook to look up the rule about that (sounds like it might be rule #4?). But while we were brushing the dustbunnies off that musty tome, several commenters and emailers pointed out that we are supposed to give both sides of the debate some space. Thanks Harris! Thanks Stacey! So here goes:
SPJ Board President (?) Julie Kay responds:
Do SPJ board members spend an inordinate amount of money and time eating and drinking?
"We never held any board meetings at the Westin while I was president. We met in my office and ordered pizza. We drank sodas from the vending machines. And some board members were driving two hours to get to those meetings."
Was the November 19th election fair?
"We LOVE having new people run for the board, we love when young people get involved. In fact, all the board members and myself are always recruiting people to run. I even asked Michael if he wanted to run in this election and his answer was: ' I don't care about being on the board.'
You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find people to get involved in this -- journalists are already so busy. So finding people who want to work hard is a challenge. I don't object to having new people run at all. I just think everyone should have the facts ahead of time, you don't turn over a whole organization to people who just joined the chapter a month ago."
Should the students' votes in the SPJ election count? I believe in open, transparent elections, but our bylaws are very flawed. They need to be reworked; we should allow voting by email, it's much more practical. I don't know exactly what the rules are about students. Technically, they really should have their own chapter; there are student chapters all over the country. So the question is, why isn't there a student chapter here -- they could do their own fundraising, their own programming. Some people have wondered why Michael hasn't helped found a student chapter.
Does the SPJ produce enough programming? [In response to Koretzky saying SPJ does no programming]: That's not true at all. I've done quite a bit of programming myself: Just a month ago I organized a seminar on Launching Your Own News Organization: we had the people who launched the Coastal Star, someone from Tampa Health News, a representative from the Knight Foundation. It was a really great program. I've personally done tons of programming, so I find that comment really hurtful. I've put hundreds of hours into this organization. We completely revamped the Sunshine State Awards with the help of Harris Meyer last year. I set up the Mike McQueen scholarship fund. And I've supported Michael's programs, like his Project Invictus Seminar. I've supported Stacey Singer's Journalists in Transition.
I think some boardmembers didn't like Michael coming to every meeting and just constantly asking for money. And he'd started this website SPJihad.com. He can be a little divisive.
EDITED: Programming is really important, but there are so many other things that go into running a chapter. Handing out scholarships, we have to vet dozens of applications. And this year we formulated a letter to send out to lapsing members -- the national organization is bleeding membership right now. We reach out to people to get them to become members. We respond to people who need help: Like when Jim DeFede got fired, or Carlos Miller who was arrested in Miami for taking photos of police -- we connected him with the Legal Defense Fund. Or putting together an e-newsletter. Or running the contests. Or co-sponsoring our annual records search seminar.
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Are you going to fight to retain your seat? I was term limited anyway, I only had another year. I'm happy to go along with whatever the board wants to do. There have been 12 letters of complaint about the election lodged with the National President.
Now come on, y'awl, kiss and make up!