January 11, 1999 Meeting Minutes

Members Present
Dave Aeikens, president; Steve LeBeau, president-elect; Mike Knaak, treasurer; Kathleen Hansen, secretary; Judith Borger, Lucy Dalglish, Mike Dougherty, Jim Durkin, Gary Hill, Jay Maxwell, board members; Bob Franklin, FOI adviser

Thanks to Jim Durkin for hosting the meeting and providing refreshments.

FOI Report
Dalglish discussed the December 20 arrest and equipment seizure of photographer Richard Bancroft. Bancroft was the only journalist who witnessed and photographed a police raid at the site of a Highway 55 expansion protest. He has retained attorney Mark Gehan to help prepare a suit to be filed in federal court.

Dalglish reported that a letter of protest from the SPJ Minnesota Pro Chapter was sent to the Minneapolis police chief, the city attorney and the state Commissioner of Public Safety on January 4. SPJ also prepared and distributed a news release which was picked up by the AP and several television and print news organizations. KFAI radio also did several stories. The Freedom Forum web site posted information, and a number of comments and notes of support
were posted on the SPJ Minnesota Pro Chapter web site.

Bancroft was eventually allowed to retrieve his equipment from the police and found that the film in the camera was gone and the automatic spooling mechanism on his Nikon camera was broken.

Dalglish asked the board for support for sending a second letter (which was mailed on January 13) to protest the seizure of the film. Board members discussed the precedents for film seizure based on a WCCO case and others. The Board agreed that a second letter should be sent, and that it should be copied to Doug Grow at the Star Tribune in an effort to get the paper to cover the story.

Dalglish reported that the Minnesota State Bar Association Media Committee was doing a panel on invasion of privacy at the state meeting in Duluth in June. She asked if SPJ should be a co-sponsor and the board agreed it should. Aeikens agreed to help identify a print reporter and a broadcast reporter to be on the panel.

Dalglish reported that the Information Policy Task Force met the previous week and their report is due to be completed and sent to the legislature by February 1. Representative Betzold will write the report. SPJ will send out a notice to all state media when the report is issues and will make people available to appear or serve as sources to respond to the content of the report. Dalglish will review the notice before it goes out.

Dalglish reported that there is a move to prepare a First Amendment Manifesto — a position paper for the Governor’s office. Board members discussed the governor’s disdain for the press and expressed concern about what his public policy will be toward several important issues. Franklin suggested that the main issues for the position paper should be access, cost, copyright and privatization. Several board members said that access to computer information is a huge problem that must be addressed because the law doesn’t make a provision for electronically-stored information now.

If a position paper is prepared, it will be sent to the Governor and perhaps also to the Attorney General. Several board members suggested that Wendy Woostenberg in the government relations office might be able to arrange a round table discussion of information access issues, with participation from government officials and journalists.

Aeikens distributed a memo reminding members that elections must be held in a time manner so officers and board members can take office on July 1 as the bylaws state. He proposed a plan for holding elections. (see memo)

Board members discussed the fact that LeBeau has taken a job as press secretary for the lieutenant governor. There is nothing in the bylaws which addresses whether the president of the chapter should also work for the government. Some members expressed uneasiness about whether the SPJ president would be able to take a strong stand against unreasonable government actions if he/she were working for the government. Board members suggested LeBeau should talk to Doug Hennes, D.J. Leary, Bob Steele and Bruce Sanford for advice.

Regional Program Report
The SPJ Regional/ National Press Photographers Association meeting on April 16 and 17 is coming together very slowly. Hansen reported that Dave Wertheimer needed to know if NBC White House correspondent David Bloom could be reimbursed for his travel and expenses for appearing at the NPPA part of the conference. Board members said that $750 was available from SPJ and NPPA to cover some costs and that Bloom should be asked to do something for the SPJ meeting on Friday along with the Saturday NPPA meeting. (Wertheimer later sent a letter to Bloom to that effect).

Wertheimer has arranged for the Saturday NPPA sessions: Mark Anderson and John Gross, KSTP and J. R. Mahon, Johnathan Mallatt and Boyd Huppert, KARE will do the workshops on Saturday, with Bloom as the keynoter. Hansen expressed concern that all the workshop leaders were men. Hill said he would suggest a more inclusive plan to Wertheimer. (Wertheimer later reported that Trish Van Pilsum from WCCO has agreed to serve as well).

Hansen reported that the only other confirmed program participants for Friday’s SPJ sessions were John Ullmann and Deb Hurley. Board members were asked to provide suggestions for panelists and speakers so Hansen can start lining people up. (Hill later provided a list of session topics and panelists).

No funds for the regional event have been solicited so it is difficult to know whether any other big-name speakers or panelists can be tapped for programs. Knaak and Aeikens will work on the solicitation of Minnesota media organizations (see finance report below).

Hansen asked board members about how they wanted to handle registration fee sharing with NPPA. The initial idea was to allow participants to register for both events with one fee. Hill suggested that we propose to NPPA that the fees be used first to cover expenses and then be shared equally between the two organizations. (NPPA later agreed to that arrangement).

Monthly Programs
Hansen reported that no other programs had been planned for February, March or April. Franklin earlier provided a program idea that would look at how journalists should cover Jesse Ventura, since journalists are part of the “insider” group that Ventura voters retaliated against with their votes. Franklin suggested a panel with somebody from the Ventura campaign, journalists, and political experts such as Hy Berman or Karal Ann Marling.

Members suggested doing an event that could serve as both a program and a membership recruitment device. Durkin will plan two morning programs (one at the Star Tribune and one at the Pioneer Press) that will be titled “Why SPJ is Worthwhile.” He will try to arrange for Dick Bancroft and a media attorney to do a presentation about the value of the organization. Light refreshments will be served and SPJ members will try to encourage wide attendance by newsroom colleagues.

After some discussion about what the chapter could do for programs the next few months, Hansen asked a question about the philosophy of doing many small programs or doing a few larger events. Issues include whether the programs are supposed to be for socializing or for professional development, whether quantity is more important than quality, whether potential members find the current model useful or compelling for joining SPJ and what the desired outcome
of chapter program activity should be.

After considerable discussion, Aeikens agreed to put the issue of restructuring the programming model on the agenda for the next meeting.

Finance Report
Knaak reported that the chapter’s current balance is $10,583.92 The Media Guide is $269.74 in the red.

Funding for the regional meeting is not yet secured. Hill suggested that we should ask for $1000 from each print organization in town and $500 from each of the three big broadcast organizations. Members suggested enlisting the help of SPJ members McGuire and Sadowski. Knaak and Aeikens will ask Dalglish for help in soliciting funds.

Membership Report
Aeikens reported that 30 previous members did not renew their memberships. When some were asked why not they said they hadn’t received any information for renewal. Aeikens spoke with national and was assured that they are trying to deal with the problem.

LeBeau said that he would ask for the chapter roster and membership information from Greencastle to find potential members (those who used to be members but who haven’t renewed).

SPJ will have a booth at the upcoming MNA convention in January 28th and 29th. Aeikens asked for volunteers to staff the booth. He will do the Thursday shift from 5-8 p.m. Maxwell offered to take a shift on Friday. Two-hour shifts between 8 and 5 on Friday are yet to be staffed. A notice will be posted
(by whom?) on the membership listbot asking for volunteers to staff the booth.

No one will be able to attend the Minnesota Broadcasters Association meeting but SPJ will send some flyers and ask that they be put on tables, etc.

The issue of LeBeau’s possible conflict of interest as membership chair now that he is working for the governor’s office was raised again. It was agreed that no one should ask LeBeau for special access to the governor’s office and that he should pursue the strategy outlined earlier in the meeting about what to do for the coming year.

Page One Contest and Banquet
Borger asked members to help stuff and label the Page One Call for Entry forms. They were to be mailed the next day. The web site has the entry form as well. Borger has the disk to log in entries as they arrive.

Maxwell reported that the judges are being lined up. Western Washington’s chapter will judge most of the categories, including the radio-TV category that they hadn’t originally agreed to do.

Hansen reported that an invitation has been extended to Ventura’s office for the Banquet keynote. If that falls through, other possibilities are Bruce Sanford who has a book coming out in September and Steven Brill.

Weir from Region 6 asked for help in judging the Mark of Excellence award, but board members said that the agreement was that we would host the meeting and she would get the entries judged. Aeikens will convey that information.

Aeikens reported that someone wanted to use the SPJ mailing list to announce a contest for women journalists. Board members agreed to provide it.

Next Meeting
The next meeting will be Monday, February 8 at 6:00 at the Star Tribune. The meeting adjourned at 9:00.