Upcoming speakers: Geoff Roth, Jonathon Jones; January recap

Below is an update from Greater Charlotte SPJ President Frank Barrows.

Mark your calendars for our next SPJ gatherings…
Geoff Roth picFebruary 12, “A Conversation With Geoffrey Roth,” 6:30 p.m., Dilworth Neighborhood Grille, 911 East Morehead Street. Roth is vice president of local content at WJZY, the new Fox operation in Charlotte. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and has worked in television news at stations across the country.
March 12, “A Conversation With Jonathon Jones,” 6:30 p.m., Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. Jones is the director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition and its Sunshine Center at Elon University. He’s a former reporter for the Greensboro News & Record and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s law school.
Food, drink, networking, fellowship, and interesting discussions about journalism. Bring a colleague. Bring two.
By the way: Attached to this e-mail is a flyer you can print out and put up in your newsroom or office about our February 12 meeting. Please help us publicize our meeting. Download the flyer by clicking here
Helping with an application to the SPJ Legal Defense Fund
As you know, some former Charlotte journalists have here of late attempted to force the city to follow open-meetings laws as they believe the regulations were intended. Their initiative arose from decisions the city made to spend money on improvements to the Carolina Panthers NFL stadium.
Because this kind of legal action is expensive, I’ve asked SPJ’s national Legal Defense Fund if it would review the case and decide if it can provide financial assistance; the Charlotte chapter’s officers voted unanimously to endorse the request. 
We would not become a party to the litigation; our role, at this time, is limited to facilitating the application process for the plaintiffs, who include Bruce Bowers and Mike Cozza. 
This is nonetheless an important step; the ’70s case that is the antecedent for their action now was brought by members of Charlotte’s original SPJ chapter.
If you have questions, please let me know. I’ll keep you posted on how things proceed.
Next steps for our chapter…
You’ll recall that we’ve set three major goals for the Greater Charlotte SPJ chapter for 2014. Those are expanding our membership, with a special emphasis on reaching into our area’s college journalism programs; enhancing and expanding our website to make it into a must-read for Charlotte-region media; and launching several awards that will both honor excellent achievement and raise our profile.
At our January meeting, vice president Keith Cannon led a discussion of steps we might take to reach those objectives. Keith is chairing a committee that will work on outreach to colleges; secretary April Bethea is leading the one that will focus on our website; and treasurer Corey Inscoe’s committee has been working on the awards project for several months.
Here is Keith’s summary of the discussion:
* Networking emphasis is valuable as selling point for membership.
* To draw broader range of people, expand programming beyond traditional print and broadcast journalism. Include photojournalists, bloggers for example.
* Members expressed interest in having skill development sessions or discussions related to specific issues — Freedom of Information, etc.
* Expand reach by having joint meetings with other local journalism/media organizations (Social Media Charlotte, NABJ, etc.).
* Meet with editors, news directors of local media organizations to pitch membership. Maybe leave flyers in break rooms.
* Go to college campuses and talk to journalism/communications students.
* Work through any communications clubs to find prospective members.
* Website needs to be updated more often.
* Blog isn’t used very often and has same issue, should have something new each week. Would help to build brand.
* Find volunteers among membership to write articles about chapter news, or just topics of interest to members and prospective members.
* Could have “panels” about issues.
* We need to purchase charlottespj.com domain name. Carries a little more weight than the Wordpress name.
* Blog and website should take more advantage of links. Curate links to other interesting journalism websites.
* Same with Facebook page – update more often. Photos from events and meetings. Start discussions.
* We could expand to other social media platforms – Google Plus, LinkedIn for Journalists.
* We could reach out to colleges/universities here too. Maybe offer internship opportunities for students for working with our social media, website.
* Three categories for awards – Journalist of the Year, College Journalist of the Year, Diversity Award.
* Some discussion of the award names, maybe “Outstanding Journalist” or “Oustanding College Journalist” instead of “….of the Year.”
* Also talked about the description of the Diversity Award – keep focus on what the journalist does through body of work to promote diversity, the idea that it’s possible for a journalist who’s not minority could win the Diversity Award.
* Discussed some logistics: How many “pieces” should be allowed for each entry? Maybe 3-5 tops. Who judges? Send to another chapter. Should we charge a modest fee per entry? Consensus was yes.
There are lots of good ideas here. But making them happen will require your participation. This is your SPJ chapter, and I’m encouraging you to contact Keith (cannon@wingate.edu) or April (adbethea@gmail.com) if you want to help with their efforts (Corey has put together a committee of five people, and they’re well down their road already). Our chapter will be as active and full-blooded — and beneficial to journalism in the Charlotte region — as you make it.

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