Tag Archives: nabj

Vote No to the NABJ Constitutional Amendment

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Thank you to members of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Constitutional Committee for your leadership and service. Your commitment to NABJ is commendable.

I voted NO to amend the NABJ Constitution for two reasons: one, this proposed new governance structure has no immediate profitable fiscal impact on NABJ. Rather, it increases the size of an already 14-person BIG board. So why remove two board positions and create two new board positions?

Over the past few years, the downturn in the economy has set a new standard among nonprofit leaders to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. That said, it’s prudent to reduce board positions and keep travel and expenses at a minimum. Let us also remember that in recent NABJ elections, we did not attract enough candidates to run for national office. Many of those seats were filled as appointments by a new president.

Two, the amendment doesn’t represent an overhaul of our governance model. Instead, it is the same structure we set up 40 years ago, with the addition of board members. Again, more costs. What we need is a national leadership model that outlines a financial sustainability plan to rely less on our cash reserves that are becoming more difficult to replenish year after year.

Therefore, I cannot support this amendment to the NABJ Constitution.

Sheila Brooks is a former NABJ Secretary (1986-91), a three-term national board member, the founder of NABJ-TV and the NABJ Monitor, and an NABJ member since 1977.

Take Your Journalism Career To The Next Level: Sign Up For The Executive Suite

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Every year at the National Association of Black Journalists Annual Convention & Career Fair, members looking to move up the career ladder have access to a unique program: The Executive Suite, July 30-31, 2014.

The Executive Suite is an exclusive series of workshops led by news and corporate executives designed to help middle managers who aspire to more senior roles to gain a better sense of what it takes o be an executive editor, a publisher, a news director or a general manager.  Attendees of the two-day program walk away with a better understanding of the skills and relationships it takes to land and keep those jobs. From hiring and managing to building the skills and connections you’ll need to move up, the Executive Suite will help you prepare for advancement.

The speakers read like a who’s who of media executives, including:

  • David Boardman, President, American Society of News Editors;
  • Jill Geisler, Senior Faculty, Leadership and Management Programs, The Poynter Institute;
  • Deborah Adams Simmons, Vice President, News Development, Advance Local;
  • Alfredo Carbajal, Managing Editor, The Dallas Morning News/Al Dia;
  • Mizell Stewart, Senior Vice President, News, E. W. Scripps Newspapers; and
  • Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, Vice President, News, CBS News.

And there will be a special event on Thursday, July 31 when Keith Woods, Vice President of Diversity for NPR leads a conversation with Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., Publisher of the New York Times, and Dean Baquet, Executive Editor, of the Times.

The good news is that they are still taking applications — but only until Friday, July 25. So if you think you have what it takes — or know someone else who does — send an email coordinator Duschene Drew, Managing Editor for Operations, Newsroom at the Star-Tribune at  ddrew@startribune.com. And please put  Executive Suite in the subject line. In the email, tell him why you think you deserve to be in the Executive Suite. It wouldn’t hurt to include a resume or a link to your portfolio website. And please — pass this along to anyone you think may benefit from this great programming in Boston!

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force.  She also serves on the board of the Online News Association.  She is  the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and  a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.

Governance Survey Informs NABJ Commission

The National Association of Black Journalists is poised to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2015 – and with the future in mind its membership is voting on proposed changes to its primary governing document during a special election this summer. I urged support for the amendment in a prior post.

Last fall, the NABJ Constitutional Commission sought members’ input via two national surveys conducted online. About 100 did so each time. A governance survey focused on how NABJ could or should enhance its continuity and competency of leadership, consistency of purpose, institutional knowledge, etc. The survey introduction included this passage: “NABJ members every two years have elected a president to lead a national board of directors to govern the association.

According to our current constitution, the board of directors consists of an executive board (president, vice president-broadcast, vice president-print, secretary, treasurer, parliamentarian), six regional directors and one representative each for associate and student members. The president and representatives may not seek reelection; the other board members may serve up to terms in a row. It is possible for NABJ members to elect an entirely new board of directors every two years.”

NABJ’s constitution requires that amendments might only be adopted if ratified by at least two-thirds of those voting in an election. The commission therefore decided to not pursue any changes that members were unlikely to support based on the survey.

Q1: NABJ’s president should be able to seek reelection to a second term.

• Agree: 70

• Don’t Agree: 17

• Not Sure: 7

• Other: 1

The proposed amendment would allow the president to seek a single, additional two-year term, beginning with the 2017 election.

Q2: Should NABJ move to a limited “ladder” system of succession, in which members vote for both a president and president-elect (or vice president who would assume the presidency next)? Once the president’s term ends, the president-elect or vice president would succeed him or her.

• Agree: 36

• Don’t Agree: 40

• Not Sure: 18

• Other: 1

Many members either disagreed with this idea or were unsure of its merits – and thus the proposed amendment does not include a provision for a ladder system.

Q3: Should NABJ’s presidency be a paid, full-time position – rather than the current unpaid, voluntary role – in order to better meet the association’s demands (operations, advocacy, fundraising, membership recruitment/programs, chapter relations, etc.)?

• Yes: 29

• No: 43

• Not Sure: 17

• Other: 6

Many members either disagreed with this idea or were unsure of its merits – and thus the proposed amendment does not call for NABJ’s presidency to be a paid position.

Q4: NABJ members should continue to elect the board of directors, however, the top elected position would be board chairman. The chairman and board would hire a president or CEO to serve as primary spokesman and run the association’s daily operations (advocacy, fundraising, membership recruitment and programs, etc.).

• Agree: 35

• Don’t Agree: 37

• Not Sure: 21

• Other: 2

Many members either disagreed with this idea or were unsure of its merits – and thus the proposed amendment does not call for changing the top elected leadership position.

Q5: The size of NABJ’s board of directors should (choose one)

• Remain the same: 57

• Shrink to include fewer members: 26

• Increase to include more members: 6

• Other: 6

Not enough members seemed ready to reduce the board’s size to make it likely the idea would be ratified as part of an amendment in an election.

Q6: Should NABJ still elect each member of the board of directors to two-year terms, but now based on staggered terms? For example, one group of board seats would be up for election in one year, while a second group of seats would be contested the following year.

• Yes: 66

• No: 22

• Not Sure: 6

• Other: 1

The proposed amendment would allow for staggering board terms beginning with the 2015 election – and then an election held each year afterward.

Q7: NABJ members should elect one vice president instead of having multiple vice presidents (e.g., one each for print, broadcast, digital, journalism educators, etc.).

• Agree: 35

• Don’t Agree: 49

• Not Sure: 9

• Other: 2

Not enough members seemed ready to have only one vice president to make it likely the idea would be ratified as part of an amendment in an election.

Q8: NABJ members should elect at-large board members based on journalism skill sets and constituencies (for example, one each for print, broadcast, digital, journalism educators, etc.) more so than on geographic location (north, south, east, west, etc.).

• Agree: 49

• Don’t Agree: 29

• Not Sure: 17

• Other: 0

Too many members either disagreed with this idea, or were unsure of its merits, for it likely to be ratified – and so the proposed amendment accounts for leadership based on both where members live and what they do.

The commission thanks all those members who participated in the governance survey. It also urges all full NABJ members to support the proposed amendment – to ensure it enables us all to build an even stronger organization, one capable of serving and empowering new generations of black journalists.

Herbert Lowe served as NABJ’s president from 2003 to 2005 and is co-chairman of the constitutional commission. Previously a newspaper reporter for 22 years and communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, he is the journalism professional in residence and director of journalism for social change at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force Holds #NABJ14 TweetChat

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NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force held its annual convention TweetChat July 15  to help attendees get ready for Boston. Check out tips given by veteran NABJ convention attendees Kelly Carter, Kathy Chaney, Kirstin Garriss and Justin Madden. We hope tips provided in this Storify  to prepare for Boston will be helpful!

Advocating for a New NABJ Constitution

Several weeks ago, DJTF Vice President Benet Wilson offered her views on the proposed changes to the NABJ constitution. Benet, one of the hardest working members serving our beloved association, said she would vote to ratify the changes after online voting begins Monday, July 14. As a co-chair of the NABJ Constitutional Commission, I appreciate the chance to briefly urge for their adoption as well.

First, please note that the NABJ Digital Task Force will host a Twitter chat regarding the constitutional proposals from 8 to 9 p.m. (EST) Monday. I look forward to interacting with my fellow members then via the hashtag #AmendNABJ.

NABJ’s primary governing document needs refreshing. We all know how much our industry has changed since 44 men and women founded our now 3,100-member association in 1975. We are approaching our 40th anniversary. Our constitution no longer serves us well. It’s outdated. It’s too constricting. NABJ cannot even change its logo without a constitutional amendment. It needs a new constitution that reinforces its mission, identity and principals without limiting progress.

The membership, at the 2013 convention in Orlando, established a 15-member commission to review the constitution – and propose changes to better position NABJ and its members to succeed and flourish. Its efforts have resulted in a comprehensive overall that affects matters ranging from vision and goals to governance and membership to chapters and regions.

Following last year’s convention, NABJ President Bob Butler appointed five members from the Council of Presidents, five from the Founders Task Force and five at large to the commission. The group includes two NABJ founders (Joe Davidson and Allison Davis) and three past presidents (Barbara Ciara, Bryan Monroe and myself). Butler tapped Davis and me to serve as co-chairs.

The commission did its work diligently. It focused on ensuring that our members, our communities and journalism are best served in the years to come. Wanting an inclusive and thorough process, the commission also sought input from the membership (via webinars and surveys), national office and board of directors, and reviewed mission statements and governing structures of comparable journalism organizations. The board accepted the recommendations in April.

I urge all NABJ members to review the current constitution and proposed constitution. Also review the extensive overview and answers to frequently asked questions offered on NABJ’s website.

The proposals are not perfect. They surely will not please everyone. But the commission kept at the forefront of its deliberations that for every member who votes no, two other members must vote yes for the changes to take effect. Hence my mandate as a co-chair: Only put forward that which would be supported by seven out of 10 members. The webinars and surveys helped with this immensely.

In my opinion, the most important changes relate to NABJ membership. They would, among things:

  • Create an overarching dynamic that embraces anyone who is creating, producing or supervising the creation of journalism, whether one works for traditional or legacy media companies, or as an independent journalist or media entrepreneur.
  • Enhance membership opportunities for journalists, journalism educators, those former journalists who have served NABJ and the industry significantly, and those new in the business but who are not yet able to afford the costs of professional membership.
  • Remove the “class” concept that certain members are “full” and others are not, particularly with respect to voting on the association’s leaders and initiatives, by creating, for example, such categories as “professional” and “emerging professional.”

Elected leadership is another key concern. The membership’s input made it clear that 1) the board of directors should retain its current size – 14 members – and 2) representation should be based on where we live as much as on what we do. That meant ensuring spots for regional directors and academic and media-related representatives.

It also led to a position for vice president-digital. Some may say only one vice president is necessary. Again, the membership input signaled that not enough members want that approach. It did, though, stress that digital matters, particularly with start-ups sprouting each day and more and more members working in digital-only jobs in legacy newsrooms.

The new constitution would also lead to greater continuity of leadership. Beginning in 2017, members could choose to re-elect NABJ’s president to a second two-year term. This change recognizes the learning curve for whoever assumes the presidency. In addition, staggered terms would begin in 2015 so that only half of the board is up for election each year.

The commission also focused on NABJ’s chapters. However, only minor changes are proposed, to more accurately reflect that they are separately incorporated 501(c)(3) organizations. The commission accepts that a proper constitution cannot solve every problem based on day-to-day competencies and capacities. Take, for example, the idea of having board members take on some of the expense of attending quarterly meetings. Many might agree, but that is not a constitutional matter. It is better left for NABJ’s operating procedures, which the board can amend at any time.

That’s all for now. Remember, the current constitution and operating procedures provide that only full members as of June 30 can vote on the proposed changes. Online voting begins July 14 and ends 5 p.m., Aug. 1. The results will be announced that night at the 2014 convention in Boston.

On behalf of the commission, thank you for your consideration. Please join the Digital Journalism Task Force and me for our #AmendNABJ Twitter chat on Monday night. Please vote to adopt the proposed constitution – and then continue to hold NABJ and its elected leadership accountable.

Herbert Lowe served as NABJ’s president from 2003 to 2005. Previously a reporter for 22 years at several newspapers and communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, he is the journalism professional in residence and director of journalism for social change at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

DJTF Partners With Knight Foundation On JournoPreneur Panel In Boston

 

nabj_djtf_200x200logo wordsThe Digital Journalism Task Force will be out front at the NABJ convention in Boston next month. We are very proud to have a special workshop, “JournoPreneurs: What It Takes To Build A Media Company,” that is being sponsored by the  John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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Tracie Powell

DJTF Co-char Tracie Powell, owner of the All Digitocracy blog, said that with all the upheaval in the industry,more and more journalists of color are choosing to produce and distribute their own content instead of begging for jobs. “Whether we are doing it intentionally or not, we’re creating and launching our own media ventures or trying to, but we’re doing so on a prayer and a string,” she said. “We haven’t the faintest clue about business plans, market studies or venture capitalism. We are already entrepreneurial, but do we know how to take that next step and truly become entrepreneurs?”

Powell feels that journalists need to know how to apply their unique skills to being an entrepreneur. “As journalists the skills we have are necessary in the startup world. We are articulate and determined. Our ability to clearly communicate ideas to others, especially those unfamiliar with a given issue, can translate into success explaining and generating excitement from venture capitalists. Finally, we have the tenacity to pursue a challenging story; that same tenacity can be used to aggressively seek funding and gain users.”

“What we need is to better understand the difference between building a personal brand versus building a media company, and we need to know how to take an idea from concept to launch. That’s what this workshop is all about,” she said.

The workshop will start by helping attendees figure out if they really want to start their own businesses, said Powell. “If the answer is yes, then we will have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with media entrepreneurs who are already doing this,” she said. “Those of us who are really ready to make the leap will not only learn from the panelists’ expertise at the convention, we will leave with the workings of a business plan in hand and a possible mentor.”

So many journalists of color have been laid off and downsized, people with real talent, knowledge and skills that are of benefit to the industry and to their communities, said Powell. “That should not and cannot go to waste. We have journalism skills that we can apply to being entrepreneurs, heck, many of us are already doing it and don’t even know it. So why not?” she asked. “What else are you doing besides begging for a limited number of newsroom jobs, working for somebody else when you really want to work for yourself?”

There are whole communities that are consistently ignored by mainstream newsrooms, Powell observed. “Launching our own media companies — whether it be developing mobile news apps, websites or innovative tools that connect communities with the information they need to strengthen our democracy — is one way we get to do the important work that we crave and that our communities need,” she said. “This is especially true as many of us find ourselves displaced and unemployed.”

Powell called the speakers for JournoPreneurs her personal dream panel. The panel consists of entrepreneurs at varying stages in the launch process, which will make this even more interesting and beneficial to those in attendance. “I thought of everybody that I would want to meet and learn from, then I invited them to Boston,” she said. “Of course, the Knight Foundation stepped in and offered to help make connections with some of the panelists and they also gave the task force some money to help turn the dream panel into a reality. That was a real plus.”

“We wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t be here without them. I’m really looking forward to this being the start of something truly special in terms of nurturing our members and equipping them with the tools to become digital media entrepreneurs,” Powell said about the Knight Foundation. “I’m serious about this being a long-term project and a long-term relationship, not just some one-off chance encounter at the convention, and I believe Knight is too.”

Powell hopes that attendees will walk away from the workshop with a business plan and a mentor. “We’re looking to identify promising ventures by a handful of journalists and hope to bring those media entrepreneurs back together in the next couple of months at a entrepreneurial media institute, or at the very least, enable them to meet personally with their mentors,” she said. “That part is still a work in progress, but it will all start at the convention in Boston.”

The workshop is on Thursday, July 31 from 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

JournoPreneurs: What It Takes To Build A Media Company

When it comes to digital media innovation, journalists of color are largely missing from the landscape. Earlier this year, the American Society of News Editors surveyed 68 online news organizations about the percentage of journalists of color inside their newsrooms and found that 43 sites didn’t have any person of color on staff. Meanwhile, more journalists, including journalists of color, are creating their own media companies or hyperlocal sites. JournoPreneurs: How To Build Your Own Media Company will provide hands-on experience with drafting business plans, filing articles of incorporation, advice on how to access funding and build teams as well as concrete steps on how to launch a media company and what happens after the launch. #nabj

Panelists:

Michael Bolden, Knight Foundation

Ezra Klein, Co-Founder, Vox Media

Carlos Watson, Founder, Ozy.com

Kelly Virella, Founder, Dominion of New York and The Urban Thinker

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force.  She also serves on the board of the Online News Association.  She is  the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and  a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.

10 Things to Do NOW to Prepare for #NABJ14

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The 2014 NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is coming up fast. In order to have a successful convention, you need to be prepared. Below are 10 things you need to do now to be on your game in Boston.

  1. Buy your plane ticket. The closer you get to the convention date, the more expensive that air fare will be. I bought my Baltimore-Boston ticket in March on Southwest Airlines for $124 round trip (and if you we’re following @NABJDigital or @AvQueenBenet, you would have known I shared the deal). They are now running a shade under $200. Search Airfarewatchdog.com for lowest fares and fare alerts.
  2. Business cards. Get them now. Vistaprint has a great selection and you can get 500 for as little as $10. You can even get free cards (minus shipping costs) that sport an ad on the back.
  3. Resume/online portfolio. Now is the time to tighten up that resume and freshen up or create an online portfolio to impress recruiters at the convention. Need help? Check our the DJTF webinars covering online portfolios and resumes that we did in January. They’re free to watch, but you must register.
  4. Find ways to save money. Going to convention is not cheap, but you can do it and not break the bank. Find folks to share a hotel room at the NABJ Convention Roommate Bureau. If you’re checking a bag, tuck some non-perishable snacks and water. Reach out on our listserves and social media channels for ride shares to and from the airport.  Check out sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon to find nearby places to eat that are less expensive than the hotel. And search Hotwire and Priceline for nearby hotel deals.
  5. Look at the convention schedule. Work out a plan on what workshops you want to attend and create a schedule.
  6. Check out the exhibitors and recruiters (not posted yet, but the site says coming soon). See who will be in Boston and start prioritizing who are the must-see employers on your list.
  7. Start making appointments. The schedules of those attending the conference are very tight. Call folks now to set up interview/chat times. And consider breakfast meetings, since schedules tend to slip as the day goes by.
  8. Check your wardrobe. See what clothes fit and what don’t. See what needs to be cleaned or altered. And if you need to buy things, do it  now.
  9. Check your social media profile. Google yourself and see what comes up. Check your Facebook profile and make sure there are no embarrassing photos or posts, because potential employers will be checking.
  10. Hang out with your friends now. The convention is the time to meet new people and grow your network. It is not the time to hang with the same group of people you do at home, because as much as you love them, they are not going to get you a job.

Calendar of Multimedia Training and Events

JUNE

  •  Since 2002, the Society of Professional Journalists has awarded $10,000 to a person, group or organization that works to preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. If you, a person or an organization you know fiercely protects these rights, submit a nomination for the 2014 Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award by June 22. The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation (SPJ’s supporting foundation) dedicates this honor to anyone who upholds this pillar of democracy, not just journalists. Visit SPJ’s website to learn more, see a list of past honorees and submit the nomination materials. Awards Coordinator Chad Hosier, awards@spj.org, can answer any questions you may have. Submit a Pulliam First Amendment Award nomination today.
  • The best in the business will gather for more than 100 panels, hands-on classes and special presentations about covering business, public safety, government, health care, education, the military, the environment and other key beats at the 2014 IRE conference June 26-29, 2014 in San Francisco. Speakers will share strategies for locating documents and gaining access to public records, finding the best stories and managing investigations. Join the discussion about how to practice investigative journalism in print, broadcast, Web and alternative newsroom models.

JULY

  • The Native American Journalists Association will hold the 2014 National Native Media Conference held in Santa Clara, Calif. Join more than 300 Native journalists, media professionals and tribal community representatives from across the country at the 30th annual event commemorating three decades of enhancing Native journalism July 10-13, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara. Members of the Native American Journalists Association save $50 on conference registration - become a member to take advantage of the discount.
  • The National Association of Black Journalists will hold its 39th Annual Convention and Career Fair in Boston July 30-Aug. 3, 2014. Thousands of journalists, media executives, public relations professionals, and students are expected to attend to network, participate in professional development sessions and celebrate excellence in journalism.

AUGUST 

  • The National Association of Hispanic Journalists will hold its Annual Multimedia Convention & Career Expo August 7-9, 2014 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. NAHJ has approximately 1,500 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators.

SEPTEMBER

  • For the past 7 years, data enthusiasts from all over the globe have come together for the Tableau Conference. They’ve discovered how to leverage their investment in data analytics, hear what’s next in business intelligence, and network with other like-minded individuals. This year you can expect the same. The conference will host more than 240 sessions, 10 super sessions, 4 engaging keynote speakers in Seattle, Washington from September 8 to 12. 
  • The Online News Association 2014 Conference & Awards Banquet is the premier gathering of highly engaged digital journalists shaping media now. Learn about new tools and technologies, network with peers from around the world and celebrate excellence at the Online Journalism Awards. ONA  is looking for your input on sessions for ONA14, Sept. 25-27, in Chicago. Submit your session proposals  from March 20 to April 18. Submit one here

If you have items you wish to include, please email them to me at benet AT aviationqueen DOT COM. Thanks!!

Digital Programming At The NABJ Boston Convention

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The 2014 NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is coming up quickly.  The full convention schedule has been released, and there’s a nice representation of digital programming that will allow attendees to up their skills. Below are some of the highlighted workshops you may want to consider in Boston.

  • Google for Media Bootcamp NABJ 2014
  • BrandingExchange (InvitationOnly)
  • Writing,Editing,Design,Computing: An Introduction to Computational Journalism
  • Multimedia Gadgets and Lighting
  • DigitalJournalism101:Write,Click,Tweet
  • JournoPreneurs: What It Takes To Build A Media Company
  • How to be a WordPress VIP
  • Social Media Reporting Tools: Using Social Media to Leverage Your Journalism Brand: Apps, Tech and Tools for Journalists (this is how it appeared on the website)
  • Robot Reporters
  • Bloggers,Tweeters, and Journalists-What is the Difference?

Pre-registration ends on June 15, so register — and book your hotel and flight — today.  See you in Boston!

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force.  She also serves on the board of the Online News Association.  She is  the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and  a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.

Thoughts On The Proposed Changes In The NABJ Constitution

As NABJ reaches its 40th year, now is an ideal time to look at what our founders created back in 1975 and make adjustments to reflect the drastic changes in the journalism industry. As wise as our founders were, none of them could have predicted back then in Washington, D.C., all the changes we’ve seen in the journalism industry in the past four decades.

I applaud the NABJ Constitutional Commission for engaging with members and taking a hard look at the document that has governed the association since 1975. Every one of the members, led by Founder Allison Davis and former President Herbert Lowe, have busy lives, so I appreciate all the time and effort that went into crafting these changes. I would like to weigh in with my thoughts on these changes.

Chapter II, Article 1, Section 1 adds a Vice President of Digital to the NABJ board. As someone who has worked in the digital space since 2006, it is good to see the recognition of its importance in journalism recognized. That being said, I feel that as newsrooms continue to converge, we will all be digital journalists. I would have preferred to see a single vice president covering all media platforms, but am happy to see this position added.

Other board changes include a reduction from six to four regional directors, the elimination of the associate member category and the addition of a media-related representative and an academic representative. The student representative would remain. While I applaud the additions of the media and academic representative, I wish the decision had been made to keep the current six regions and instead eliminate the vice presidents of print and broadcast and have a single vice president on the 14-member board.

Under Article II. Eligibility for Office and Term of Office, I was pleased to see that the NABJ board would be moving to staggered terms. Although board members (except for president) are allowed to run for two terms, there was still board turnover, which affected the decision making process. This change will ensure a smoother transition when the membership elects a board. I also agree with the provision to allow the NABJ President to run for a second term. I have always felt that by the time a president had hit her or his stride, their term was over.

Section 4 calls for the board to meet twice a year in person, including a meeting at the annual convention. Between monthly calls and two in-person meetings, the board should be able to conduct the business it needs. As a member of the board at the Online News Association, we have two meetings a year (but not one at our convention) and monthly calls, and this has been more than sufficient to handle our duties.

But I would have liked to see a provision that required board members take on some of the expense of attending in-person meetings and pay for their attendance at our national convention. ONA board members pay all their board meeting travel expenses, and pay to attend the annual conference.

I was concerned that the current NABJ Constitution did not recognize the massive change in newsrooms that have occurred in the past 10 years. Those changes include mergers, layoffs, the growth of online-only publications, the explosion of the blogosphere, an emphasis on social media and community management and massive changes in the skills journalists now need to be effective storytellers.

Chapter 4, Article I. Composition of the National Membership and Membership Eligibility addresses my concern by “The organization shall be composed of journalists, journalism educators, students interested in pursuing a career in journalism and people or entities that support the organization’s vision and goals.”

The commission revamped the membership categories to the following:

  • Lifetime
  • Professional
  • Emerging Professional
  • Academic
  • Alumni
  • Media-Related Professional
  • Student
  • Honorary or Corporate

I am pleased to see changes to membership eligibility that better reflect jobs in the current workplace. It is also good to see broader representation on the board that reflects the changes in the industry. And finally, I applaud the commission for adding the professional member grandfather clause to protect those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and made the hard decision to seek other employment.

So after looking at the commission’s recommendations, I fully endorse them and plan on voting yes to this slate. Click here for a list of FAQs on the recommendations.

According to the NABJ website, “voting on the constitution amendment will occur between 12:01 a.m., Monday, July 14 and 5 p.m. (EST), Friday, August 1. If the amendment is affirmed by at least 66.66 percent of those who vote, the new constitution shall take effect on Sunday, August 3 – the last day of the convention.”

This is a rare opportunity for members to vote on a proposal that was created to take NABJ into the next 40 years, and I hope you’ll join me in voting yes on these changes to the NABJ Constitution.

Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force.  She also serves on the board of the Online News Association.  She is  the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and  a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.