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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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2015 Meeting Minutes

December 4th, 2015- Rhode Island Monthly

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; Alan Rosenberg, Providence Journal; John Palumbo, Rhode Island Monthly; James Bessette, Newport Daily News; and Nancy Kirsch, freelance. Guest, Phil Eil.

Minutes of October Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: October: Beginning balance was $13,423.41; Debit: $25 to Authnet Gateway Billing (for contest); Ending balance was $13,398.41. November: Beginning balance was $13,398.41; Debit: $25 to Authnet; Ending balance was $13,373.41.

Guest, Phil Eil: The former reporter/editor for the Providence Phoenix told the board about his ongoing FOIA requests for records from the Drug Enforcement Administration within the Department of Justice. He is seeking records pertaining to a federal case involving a doctor who was convicted of prescription drug dealing for a book he is writing about the case. He said he has filed a lawsuit in Rhode Island against the federal agency. He asked for support from the press association. After he left, the board discussed his request and then voted unanimously to gather more information about the case from both sides and then consider whether or not to make a statement.

RIPA Incorporation: To complete this process, the board voted to approve its bylaws and to approve the board’s officers when the incorporation was undertaken: (Spetrini;  Sue Areson, Providence Journal, vice president; Levin, and Kirsch, who was the treasurer.) The board also approved the resignation of Kirsch and approved the election of Francis as her replacement. Palumbo said Rhode Island Monthly’s auditor will handle RIPA’s annual audit.

Journalism Day: The board discussed the pros and cons of this event which was held at URI on November 5: the noon panel with videos “needed more context on how the topic fits into journalism;” “most students seemed uninterested in the magazines program,” and “the social media program seemed interesting in part but also somewhat redundant to the students.” The board agreed that some major changes are needed if the event is to continue. Palumbo suggested the board meet with the director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at URI to see if the event could be expanded to include all majors in the school (film, communication, writing, public relations, and library science) not just journalism students. The board voted to have Palumbo, who is a member of the School’s advisory board, contact Adam Roth, the director, to set up a meeting in January somewhere on campus or in South County. The board also approved having details of the 2016 Journalism Day ready to announce at the annual banquet in late April.

Contest: Spetrini will send out contest information by the middle of this month.

Hall of Fame: The board wants Len Levin, the Hall of Fame committee chairman, to send a reminder to the membership that the committee is seeking nominations which would then be considered for 2017. 

Website: Spetrini said he is working on it. Linda Levin will send him the template with the logo to the board. 

Next Meetings: The January meeting is dependent on what Palumbo arranges with URI. The February meeting date will be either the 19th or toe 26, depending on whether Areson needs it to coincide with the contest entries deadline.


Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

October 2nd, 2015- Providence Media

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; Alan Rosenberg, Providence Journal; John Pantalone, URI Department of Journalism; Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine, retired; and Julie Tremaine, Grace Lentini, Tony Pacitti, and Courtney Denelle, Providence Media.

Minutes of September Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Beginning balance, $13,448.41; Expenses, $25 to Authnet Gateway billing for contest online hosting fee; ending balance is $13,423.41.

Journalism Day: Pantalone reported that the annual event will be held at URI on Thursday, Nov. 5. The program is Social Media Responsibilities for Reporters: Pam Cotter, Providence Journal; Dan McGowan, Channel 12.   9:15-10:15 a.m. and 10:30-11:30   Memorial Union room 360;  Breaking into the Magazine Business: Julie Tremaine, Providence Monthly and So Rhode Island; Jamie Coelho, Rhode Island Monthly. 9:15-10:15 a.m. and 10:30-11:30   Memorial Union room 308, and  Video Journalism: Best Practices for Print Reporters: Erica Moura, Boston Herald; Peter Huoppi, New London Day; Susan Kimball, Portland Press Herald; Sue O'Connell, Bay Windows; John Freidah, formerly Providence Journal, now of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;  Tim Egan, governor of the Boston Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Noon-1 p.m., Multi-cultural Center Hardge Forum.

A brief discussion was held on whether television news organizations should be members of RIPA. No decision.

Contest: Forms will be sent electronically to member news organizations next month.

Website: Spetrini said he needs to move it to Wix to make the site public. The board approved the move. He said he will take photos at Journalism Day and put them on the website.

RIPA Press Pass: Spetrini said he would like the organization to produce a press pass for all its members. Rosenberg questioned whether broadcast journalists would like to be included, thus having one standardized credential for all journalists in the state. Spetrini said the press association would pay for the passes, and they would be renewed every two years. The requester would supply his or her own photo for the pass. He asked that RIPA member organizations supply a list of staff who would want one. Meanwhile, he said, he will continue to look into the press pass issue. No action was taken by the board.

Access Issues: Levin said the R.I. affiliate of the ACLU will ask RIPA to sign on to a letter, along with ACCESS/RI; Common Cause Rhode Island; the R.I. League of Women Voters, and the New England First Amendment Coalition, to be sent to the governor complaining of a variety of public records closures under her administration. The board agreed to sign the letter.

RI ComiCon: Spetrini said that because RIPA members refused to sign a restrictive application for a press pass last year, ComiCon has hired a public relations person.  In a related issue, Levin said as a matter of interest that the editor of the Valley Breeze emailed her with a press release from the Pell Center at Salve Regina University in Newport saying that the press could attend a speech by David McKean, director of public policy for the U.S. Department of State but could not report on it.

New Business: Spetrini reported that the South County Independent and the North East Independent have merged and changed its name to the Independent. He said that this will affect their dues structure and contest fees. Pantalone said that he is working with some URI journalism alumni to put together a day of workshops for high school journalists. It would be in late May or early June, 2016.

Next Meeting: Friday, December 4, at 9 a.m. at Rhode Island Monthly.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

September 11th, 2015 - The Warwick Beacon

Attending: Sue Areson, Providence Journal, vice president; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; Julie Tremaine, Providence Monthly; Liz Boardman, Independent Newspapers; Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine (retired); Joe LaPlante, Smithfield Times;, and Jane Fusco, Johnston Times. Paul Spetrini, president, was on speaker phone for most of the meeting.

Minutes of June Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Balance at the end of June was $13,548.41 and at the end of August was $13,448. Expenses included Creative Circle host fee ($500) and deposit to the Quonset O Club for next year’s banquet ($300). Income included $200 in dues from the Sentinel Group (Providence Journal) for 2015 dues.

Contest: The sub-committee met over the summer and made several changes to the contest categories: election coverage is deleted for the time being; notable new journalist and photographer categories will remain and entries will be encouraged; the analytical/investigative category was split into investigative/analytical news story and single topic series categories.  The latter category recognizes excellence in on-going, in-depth coverage of a particular issue or news event. The committee also suggested that language be added to the photographer of the year category. It now will read: This is open to those on staff and those who work regularly on a publication. The committee also suggested that under the photo entry rules, the work must be created for the publication that is entering it. All changes were approved by the board.

The board discussed problems with payment for contest entries. Areson said RIPA needs to be a 501 c 3 non-profit organization before will allow credit card payments from our organizations entering the contest. Spetrini suggested not accepting credit cards until our 501 c 3 status is approved. No action was taken. Areson will look into using PayPal instead for the contest fees.

Journalism Day at URI: The sub-committee met over the summer. The date is Thursday, November 5. Proposed programs include “What is a reporter’s responsibility in the social media age?”; a debate among public officials, including the governor, and journalists about the public’s right to know; and Emmy-winning reporters discussing their multi-media work. The board asked that the sub-committee rethink some of the programs. Levin said the sub-committee will meet within the next two weeks and come up with the final Journalism Day programs, and send the list to the board via email for their approval. Areson said she wants Journalism Day all planned out soon. 

Website: Spetrini said he hopes to get it back up soon.

ACCESS/RI report: Levin, president of the group, said the board is looking at the state’s Open Meetings Law as well as those of other states to determine whether Rhode Island’s law needs revisions. 

Press Pass: Discussion postponed.

New Business: None.

Next Meeting: Friday, October 2, at Providence Monthly, 1070 Main Street, Pawtucket. 

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

June 5th, 2015 - The Newport Daily News

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sue Areson, Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; Alan Rosenberg, Providence Journal; Liz Boardman, Independent Newspapers; and James Bessette and Sheila Mullowney, Newport Daily News.

Minutes of March Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: The outgoing treasurer, Nancy Kirsch, could not attend, but she provided statements for April and May and a financial accounting for the annual banquet. Beginning balance in April was $19,234.96, and ending balance was $19,104.76, after expenditures for Hall of Fame plaques, the digital contest, and other smaller expenses. The balance at the end of May was $14,178, with expenditures that included the annual college scholarship ($1,000); banquet awards plaques, etc. ($2,174.78 ); the Community Service Award $500), and the O Club ($3,426.36). Total expenses for the banquet were $9,095.76; income to date from the banquet is $6,975. After a discussion about banquet expenses and income and about how much RIPA really needs in its bank account, the board approved all three reports. 

Banquet: Francis will contact the O Club to book next year’s banquet. The board’s first choice date is Friday, April 29; second choice is Friday, May 6. The board talked about handling the tear sheets and the easels more efficiently. No action was taken. 

Contest: The contest committee will meet on Wednesday, August 19, at the Newport Daily News at 5 p.m.

Journalism Day: Need to find a date for the committee to meet to discuss Journalism Day at URI next fall.

Website: Spetrini showed a power point of the website he has designed. He asked the board members to look at the site for errors before it goes live. He said he will make this site available through WIX, the server he is using. The cost for this server is about $150. Website address is

Access Issues: Areson said no court date has set for the Caleb Chafee/state police records case. Levin said that the attorney general has not released decisions on the complaints ACCESS/RI filed as a result of its audit last year.

New Business: Press Passes: Spetrini said he would like the press association to consider producing press passes for journalists in Rhode Island. The board discussed this and said they should be valid for a certain length of time; their use by media organizations should be optional, and RIPA would sell them for a modest fee. Areson asked that board members check with their organizations to see if they are interested and report back at the September meeting. She will check on prices to produce them. 

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

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

March 27th, 2015 - The Warwick Beacon

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sue Areson, Providence Journal, vice president; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; John Palumbo, Rhode Island Monthly; Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine (retired); Alan Rosenberg, Providence Journal; Liz Boardman, Independent Newspapers, and John Howell, Beacon Communications.

Minutes of February Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Kirsch was unable to attend, but she sent her report to the other officers. Total income since the last meeting was $3,640. This includes $3,290 in contest fees and $350 in dues. Expenses were $152.40, leaving a balance of $19,324.96. Report was approved.

Contest: Areson said she had some small issues with the new online contest, but she said overall she likes the platform. The deadline for the Idaho judges, to return the results is Monday, and then she will let member organizations know their winners. She reported that categories that received either no entries or too few to judge were distinguished reporter, photographer of the year, new reporter and daily newspaper of the year.

Banquet: Palumbo said that someone from his office will prepare the audio-visual presentation of the winners for the banquet on Friday, April 24. Areson asked that news organizations send her tear sheets of the winning entries to be displayed at the banquet. Spetrini will take the photos; Kirsch and Levin will handle the check-in table. Levin said she will email the banquet flyer to all board members.

Scholarship: Boardman, who is chair of the scholarship committee, said she has received one entry, but she said she expects one or two more. The deadline is April 3. The board discussed using the $1,000 designated annually for a scholarship for another purpose, such as giving $50 to each student who does an internship at a member newspaper, or changing the time of year the scholarship is awarded. No decision was made.

Open Government Issues: Spetrini said RIPA issued a statement to the media regarding the court-ordered gag placed on pension settlement details. Areson said the Journal is now cleared to be put on the court calendar regarding the state police refusal to open records about the Caleb Chafee case. Levin said that the attorney general has not released decisions on the complaints ACCESS/RI filed as a result of its audit last year.

New Business: Howell asked if anyone knew of bills in the General Assembly that affected newspapers. Levin said one bill that is in committee would close police log information about domestic victims. Levin said ACCESS testified against it recently.

Sasso asked that John Tassoni, the new owner of his magazine, now called Smithfield Times, as well as a union publication, Common Ground, be allowed to join RIPA. The board approved.

Palumbo said the new treasurer needs to meet with a lawyer or an accountant to find out what tax information needs to be filed. Howell suggested RIPA ask an accountant to handle its taxes and other complicated issues.

The board said that it welcomes the new publisher of The Providence Journal and suggested that she be told of the Journal’s involved in RIPA.

The board approved officers for 2015-2016: Spetrini, Areson, Levin and Sarah Francis of Rhode Island Monthly. The membership will give final approval at the banquet.

Next Meeting: June 5 at 9 a.m. at The Newport Daily News

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

February 27th, 2015 - Rhode Island Monthly

Attendance: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sue Areson, Providence Journal, vice president; Nancy Kirsch, freelance, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; Sarah Francis and John Palumbo, Rhode Island Monthly, Ron Scopelliti and Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine; Sheila Mullowney, Newport Daily News, and John Pantalone, URI journalism department.

Minutes of January Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Kirsch said the balance at the beginning of February was $13,600.80, and the current balance is $14,800.80. She will follow up with members who have not paid their dues.

Contest: A discussion was held on clarity of some of the rules, in particular entries in design and photos. It was agreed changes to the contest rules will be taken up at a future meeting. Palumbo suggested that Areson send out a after the contest to determine problems. No action taken.

Hall of Fame: Nominees this year are the late Peter Lord, environmental reporter for the Providence Journal, and Larry Sasso, former editor of The Observer and co-publisher of Your Smithfield Magazine. The board approved the nominees. After a discussion, the board agreed that the nominator of the hall of fame inductee will present the award to him or her and will be allowed to attend the banquet free of charge.

Banquet: Kirsch and Levin will handle the registration desk. Spetrini will take photos. Areson will take care of the banquet logistics, and Liz Boardman (Independent Newspapers), chair of the scholarship committee, will present the scholarship.

Scholarship: The deadline for the $1,000 scholarship is April 3.

Website/Logo: The board looked at a number of logos and voted on one, designed by Rhode Island Monthly. It will become part of the redesigned website. Palumbo, who is on the advisory board of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at URI, said the school has a student who can do the website for a stipend. No action was taken.

Journalism Day: Pantalone said the board needs to decide the future of this event. It was suggested that it be open to all colleges in the state. No decision was made. Further discussion will be at the June meeting.

New Business: Spetrini said he would tweet the following: The RIPA board sends condolences on the death of John Ford, Hall of Fame members and sports journalist for Observer publications and Your Smithfield Magazine. Our thoughts are with his family.

Next Meeting: Friday, March 27, at 9 a.m. at a place to be decided.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

January 9th, 2015 - The Providence Journal

In Attendance: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sue Areson,Providence Journal, vice president; Nancy Kirsch, freelance, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; Alan Rosenberg and Karen Bordeleau,Providence Journal, and Ron Scopelliti and  Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine.

Minutes of December Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Kirsch reported expenses of $84.83 for contest licensing fee; $199 to Internet Solutions for contest expenses, and $179.95 for pizza for Journalism Day. Income from dues was $200. Ending balance was $13,600.80.

ACCESS/RI Report: Levin, who is the ACCESS/RI president, reported that the organization has filed complaints based on results of a recent audit of access to public records in state and municipal agencies to the attorney general’s office. Bordeleau, the executive editor of the Journal reported that the newspaper still is awaiting a Superior Court decision on the release of state police records relating to Governor Chafee’s son. Sasso, who advises the student newspaper at Bryant University, said Smithfield police refused to give student editors information of a campus sexual assault. Eventually, he said, the case went on the police website.

Hall of Fame: The committee will meet later this month to select 2015 inductees.

Contest: The entry form is online. Areson suggested that a publication not upload all its entries at one time. She would like all entries uploaded to the site by Feb.15 if possible. The deadline is Feb. 20. Entries should be submitted in PDF format online at Entry fees may be paid by credit card. (A few specified categories will be mailed to Areson at RIPS 2014 Editorial Awards, co/ Sue Areson, at the Providence Journal News Department, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI, 02902, or these entries can be delivered to the February 20 RIPA board meeting at Rhode Island Monthly.) Spetrini suggested members explore the site ahead of time,

Areson said there still is work to do to get the site ready for the judges. She will have a tutorial on using the site if members are interested. The Idaho Press Association again will judge the contest this year, and NENPA has agreed to judge the community outreach award, distinguished reporters and photographer categories, and best community newspapers categories. 

Scholarship: The board stressed that it wants more nominations than the few it received last year. Spetrini asked that board members pass the word in their communities. After a discussion, the board voted to delete the word “print” in both places in the scholarship criteria. 

Website: Spetrini showed a mock up of a site on which could act as a platform for RIPA. Areson suggested that anyone who wants to may design a new logo for the organization and bring it to the February board meeting. Spetrini said the mock up needs a better color scheme and design. A sub-committee of Spetrini, Scopelliti, and Levin, and anyone else who wants to be involved will meet soon to work on the new site. Contact Spetrini at

Charlie Hebdo Statement: The board of the Rhode Island Press Association released this statement today: “We stand in solidarity with journalists worldwide who champion and exercise the rights of free speech, even at their peril. The price of free speech should not be one’s life." 

New Officers: Kirsch said she is leaving the board, so the organization will need a new treasurer. No decisions were made on officers who will be installed at the banquet on April 24.

Next Meeting: Friday, February 20, at 9 a.m. at Rhode Island Monthly.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

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