Saturday, September 24, 2016

National SPJ board structure studied

By Tom McKee, President

How many members should sit on the board of directors of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)? Who should be on the board? Should the board’s focus change?

Those are some of the questions posed by the SPJ governance task force charged with mapping out a plan of action.

An overview of possible changes was discussed in great detail in a one-hour membership session during the excellence in journalism 2016 convention in New Orleans.

The task force has been meeting for several months and now feedback is being sought from every member. The number of board members now stands at 23, but the thought is a total between five and 11 might be more efficient.

Plus, the smaller number might make the board more focused on strategic issues instead of tasks. It also might mean better efficiency with quicker responses on key issues.

SPJ executive director Joe Skeel says studies show the most effective makeup has strategic leaders making decisions. It’s a corporate governance model.

“Get the right people on the bus and don’t get caught up in numbers or people from specific areas,” he said. “Engagement does not equal governnance or leadership.”

Who would be on the board?  All 12 regional directors currently are members.  should they remain?  should a single regional director be chosen for the board by the other directors?  

Skeel said there is a cost savings for a smaller board. Stipends for travel, lodging and meals current runs $50,000 to $55,000 a year. A smaller board, perhaps with nine members, would mean a savings of $22,000 to $25,000 annually.

The plan unveiled in new orleans is for study and debate.  no decisions have been made.  no timetable has been established for making any decisions.

Details are posted on the SPJ web site at On-line focus groups are being formed