Press Association Meetings & Minutes

The Rhode Island Press Association meets once per month from September-June at the offices of our member organizations. In addition to covering the business of the press association, including discussing matters related to the annual awards contest and banquet, these meetings serve as an opportunity for our orginzations to touch base with one another to discuss all of the issues they are currently facing in the world of Rhode Island journalism. 

Meetings typically last 90 minutes, with coffee and refreshments provided by the press association. Our meetings are open to all active, associate and honorary members of the press association. 

Active members of the press association are individuals who are active employees of publications qualified for membership in the Association. Associate membership is available to individuals from newsgathering organizations, feature syndicates, public relations and advertising agencies; and individuals, firms or corporations engaged in servicing or supplying the Rhode Island print media. Associate membership is also open to faculty members in journalism, writers, graphic artists and photographers, whether active or retired. 

Lastly, honorary members may be elected at any regular meeting for reasons deemed appropriate. Persons inducted into the R.I. Journalism Hall of Fame are automatically made honorary members for life. 

Interested in attending a meeting of the Rhode Island Press Association for the first time? Contact us!

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2012 Meeting Minutes

December 7th, 2012- Providence Business News

Attending: Mark Murphy, Providence Business News, president; Paul Spetrini, Southern R.I. Newspapers, vice president; Nancy Kirsch, Jewish Voice and Herald, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI, secretary; Sarah Francis, R.I.Monthly; Karen Bordeleau, Providence Journal, and John Pantalone, URI.

Minutes of September Meeting: Two corrections: Kirsch represents the Jewish Voice and Herald, not the Jewish Federation Voice and Herald, and the total in the treasury should have read $18,199.66 and not $18,2176.66.

Treasurer’s Report: Treasury has $17,660.79. Board asked Levin to send an email to all board members asking for the name, email and address of the person at the company who handles the annual dues payments.

Contest: Spetrini said Idaho has agreed to judge our contest, and will do theirs which will be 32 categories and 13 student newspaper categories. They will be sent online to us by the end of January. Board discussed putting ours online but not for this year. Murphy will work on an advertising category for RIPA, but the awards would be given out at a separate event. Spetrini will ask Idaho if they will judge our ads category. He also will ask how they handle their college newspaper contest in case RIPA decides to include them in its contest. The board voted unanimously to give a first place if there are fewer than the five required entries in a category. Reasoning was this will be an effort to reward good work. Spetrini will put together the entry form for this year’s contest and email to board members before sending it to member publications.

Banquet: Kirsch said the O Club at Quonset received the deposit for the May banquet. Spetrini said he will ask Regina Bell who oversees the public relations major at URI if some of her students can handle the banquet logistics.

Scholarship: Levin said she will find someone to coordinate the scholarship.

Journalism Day at URI: Levin and Pantalone said it went well. Board members who attended suggested keeping it in the ballroom of the student union next year and have someone speak to students at lunch about jobs in journalism. The board said more non-journalism majors should be encouraged to attend.

High School Journalism Day: Pantalone said he has been working on holding it at URI in mid May. However, board members suggested instead that journalism faculty and board members visit high schools to talk about journalism and democracy. The board also suggested reinstituting the high school newspaper awards. No action was taken.

Electronic Publications: Murphy, who sits on the board of the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) said the organization has tabled indefinitely a proposal to allow electronic only publications to join the organization.

Next Board Meeting: Friday, January 11, at 9 a.m. at a place to be announced.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

September 21st, 2012 - Providence Business News

Attendance: Mark Murphy, Providence Business News, president; Nancy Kirsch, Jewish Voice and Herald, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI, secretary; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, and John Pantalone, URI.

Minutes of June, 2012, Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: The association has $18,199.66 in the treasury.

2013 Contest: Discussion was postponed on the contest and new categories because the vice president, Paul Spetrini, was unable to attend the board meeting.

Banquet: Kirsch will book the O Club at Quonset for Friday, May 3.

Old Business:

Westerly Sun and its move to nearby Connecticut. The board decided that while the headquarters are not in Rhode Island, the newspaper’s major circulation is in Rhode Island, and it can remain a member of the press association.

Discussion of online only publications will be moved to a later meeting.

Journalism Day at URI will be Thursday, November 15. Pantalone and Levin will complete plans and inform the board.

High School Journalism Day will be next May at URI, and Pantalone is working with some RIPA editors and high school teachers.

New Business: Levin said that Lorman, a company that runs continuing education seminars, is looking for a local journalist to handle a workshop on access to public records. If anyone is interested, he or she can contact Levin.

Next Meeting: Board members will meet at URI after the pizza and soda lunch (about 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 15) as a part of Journalism Day.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

June 8th, 2012 - Newport Daily News

In Attendance: Mark Murphy, Providence Business News, president; Paul Spetrini, Southern Rhode Island Newspapers, vice president; Linda Levin, URI journalism, secretary; Sheila Mullowney, Newport Daily News; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly; Karen Bordeleau, Providence Journal; and John Howell, Warwick Beacon. Guests were Annie Sherman, Newport Life Magazine; John Pantalone, URI journalism department chair; Rudi Hempe, retired North Kingstown Standard-Times, and Gerry Goldstein, retired, Providence Journal.

Minutes of March Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Nancy Kirsch was unable to attend but said she would circulate her report soon.

Contest: Spetrini said the Idaho Press Club is interested in again judging our contest assuming we reciprocate and judge theirs again. The board agreed to do this.

Murphy said the time has come to include advertising awards in our contest, and he has asked advertising employees from the Providence Business News, Rhode Island Monthly, and East Bay Newspapers (he also will ask for representatives from the Providence Journal and the Newport Daily News) to form a committee to decide the categories for the contest and an appropriate venue other than the annual banquet in May to honor the winners. The board approved this unanimously.

Hempe talked about the history of the annual contest noting that when it began the Providence Journal had local bureaus which were allowed to compete in the contest with the local newspapers. However, there are no bureaus, and all reporters at the Journal are allowed to enter. Hempe and Goldstein’s concern is that it no longer is a level playing field with senior reporters from the Journal competing with younger, less experienced reporters from the local newspapers. After a vigorous discussion of this, Murphy said he will appoint a committee to look at ways to add some community journalism categories.

Spetrini said he will check to see if Idaho will allow us to enter all pdfs, thus making our contest all digital.

Banquet: Murphy said a suggestion was made that the banquet arrangements be turned over to a group of public relations students at URI. Murphy and Pantalone will discuss this as a possibility.

Legislation Update: Howell said a bill that amends the current law that bans the use of a person’s name or picture for advertising purposes without the person’s written consent to now exclude photos and names of politicians has passed the Senate. He said he is hopeful the House and then the full General Assembly will approve it. This stems from an issue that arose last fall when the Warwick Beacon ran an ad that included a photo of the city council president. The ad had been placed by a local resident upset over an action by the city. The ACLU took the Beacon’s case to court asking that the law be declared unconstitutional, but the court case is pending the outcome of the legislation.

The amendments to the Access to Public Records Law that were introduced into the General Assembly on behalf of the ACLU, RIPA and others have been approved by the House, but a different version of the bill that the attorney general has advocated for is in the Senate, but open records groups are displeased with it. Neither bill may pass.

Another bill, this one to require a court order to look at cellphone records, probably will go nowhere in this session.

New Business: Pantalone said he wants to hold a journalism day at URI next year for high school students. Mullowney said she would help him.

Pantalone suggested the board invite the new director of the Harrington School for Communication and Media at URI to a RIPA board meeting in the fall to talk about the school and journalism’s place in it. The board agreed.

Pantalone also said the survey he sent to board members last fall on how newspapers are using the web and new media elicited only one response, although several journalism students did interview some other editors. He plans to meet with editors this summer.

Journalism Day at URI: It will be held on Thursday, November 15. Levin and Pantalone will come up with the topics and make arrangements. Board members may be called on for suggestions for panelists.

The Westerly Sun: The newspaper recently moved its offices to Pawcatuck, Connecticut. The RIPA bylaws regarding corporate membership say that the publishing company must be “located and circulated within Rhode Island.” Murphy said that the board of the New England Newspaper and Press Association, of which he is a member, will vote next week on whether digital-only publications can join NENPA and one of the requirements is that the publication have an established office in New England, although if a newspaper currently a member of NENPA transitions to all digital, that publication could retain its membership. Murphy suggested that in light of the pending NENPA issue, the RIPA board postpone until fall any discussion of the Sun’s membership status.

Next Meeting: It will be Friday, September 21, at 9 a.m. at Providence Business News, located at Empire and Westminster Streets in downtown Providence.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

March 30th, 2012 - Rhode Island Monthly

In Attendance: Mark Murphy, Providence Business News, president; Nancy Kirsch, Jewish Federation Voice and Herald, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism department, secretary; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly; Paul Spetrini, Southern R.I. Newspapers; James Bessette, East Greenwich Pendulum, and Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine.

Minutes of Last Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Current balance is $20,393.12. Dues for 2012 still owed: Jamestown Press, Sun Publishing, and East Bay Newspapers.

2012 Contest Update: Spetrini will find out whether or not RIPA would want to become part of the Better Newspaper Contest and report back at the next meeting. Murphy said that RIPA’s judging of the Idaho Press Club contest earlier this month went smoothly.

Banquet: It is Friday, May 4, at the “O” Club in Quonset, with cocktails from 6-7 p.m. and dinner at 7. Kirsch and Levin will handle the publicity with Kirsch collecting the reservations.

Legislation Update: 1. Murphy said that the Prince Lobel lawyers in Boston who handle a lot of First Amendment issues in the region are not pleased with the legislation that resulted from a case involving a political advertisement in John Howell’s newspaper. The R.I. ACLU had filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that bans the use of a person’s name or picture for advertising purposes without the person’s written consent. Murphy said both Howell and the ACLU are fine with the legislation.

2. Murphy said a bill now is before the General Assembly that would require that police get a search warrant before they go through an individual’s cell phone records.

3. Murphy said a bill in the House amending the Access to Public Records Law has the support of the press association and the R.I. ACLU. Two similar bills in the Senate are being held up while interested parties try to determine which police records are open and how long individuals have to respond to FOI requests.

Scholarship: Levin will email Sheila Mullowney, editor of the Newport Daily News to see if she will send out the notice of the scholarship and handle the entries and the judging.

Officers for 2012-2013: The board elected Paul Spetrini to be the vice president and reelected Murphy, Kirsch, and Levin.

New Business: Murphy said The New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) is considering allowing purely online journalists to be members. He will talk more about this at a future meeting.

Next Meeting: Friday, June 8, at the Newport Daily News at 9 a.m.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

February 17th, 2012 - East Bay Newspapers

In Attendance: Mark Murphy, Providence Business News, president; Jill Rodrigues, East Bay Newspapers, vice president; Nancy Kirsch, Jewish Voice and Herald, treasurer; Linda Lotridge Levin, URI journalism, secretary; Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly Magazine; Paul Spetrini, Southern R.I. Newspapers; Sheila Mullowney, Newport Daily News, and James Bessette, East Greenwich Pendulum.

Minutes of January Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer's Report: Current balance is $16,518.90.

Banquet: Kirsch has a verbal commitment from the O Club at Quonset for a menu for the May banquet. Ticket cost remains $30.

Hall of Fame: Sasso, who is on the Hall of Fame committee, said Manuel Corriera, a staff writer for East Bay Newspapers, and the late Ray Clayton, photographer for Southern R. I. Newspapers, are being inducted in May. The committee is trying to locate the third inductee, Joe Goodrich, a retired business reporter and editor for The Providence Journal. Substitute inductee would be Charles H. Dow, who worked at the Providence Journal and later founded Dow Jones.

Contest: Deadline is today. Rodrigues said the board should discuss the entering of PDFs of pages with a story or photo entry before next year's contest. Murphy suggested RIPA look into using a company called Better Newspaper Contest that judges newspaper contests. (The website ishttp://betternewspapercontest.com/) Levin will look into RIPA joining or rejoining one or more of the national press associations.

Rodrigues said the entries for the Idaho Press Club contest arrived. They include daily newspapers, photography, and college papers. Judging will be March 2 at the University Club at URI. Levin, who made the arrangements at the club, will send directions and parking information to all board members.

Warwick Beacon lawsuit: Murphy said there is nothing new on this. (See January 2012 minutes for details.)

Access issues: Murphy asked that if anyone hears about any access issues before the General Assembly to please let him know.

NENPA hotline: Murphy said the New England Newspaper and Press Association whose board he sits on has a media law hotline that members of NENPA can use. The phone number is 1-888-428-7490. He said the organization also holds training sessions on a wide variety of topics.

Next Board Meeting: Friday, March 30, at 9 a.m. at R.I. Monthly on Allens Avenue, Providence.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

January 13th, 2012 - The Providence Journal