Posted in journalism

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.

Advertisements

Author:

Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s