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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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2016 Meeting Minutes

December 9, 2016- Providence, Rhode Island (Linda Levin's home)

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Mike McDermott, Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI emeritus, secretary; Nancy Kirsch, freelance; John Pantalone, URI journalism department chair; Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine (retired); and Len Levin, Providence Journal (retired).

Minutes of October Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Starting balance for November, $14,094.85; debit, $25 payment for contest site; ending balance, $14,069.85.

Contest: Election categories will be restored for this contest; community newspaper of the year and daily newspaper of the year categories will be deleted for lack of entries, but other newer categories, such as master reporter, will remain for now. After a discussion, the board agreed to keep the Idaho Press Club as this year’s judges. In turn, we will judge Idaho’s. The board would like to add members, and suggestion was to contact publishers via snail mail asking for a representative from their publications to become part of the board.

CONTEST DEADLINE: Entries must be submitted online no later than Friday, February 10, 2017. More information on the contest will be sent to member organizations. Idaho’s deadline to return results to RIPA will be March 31.

High School Journalism Day: Pantalone said it will be held in either late May or early June at URI and will include a keynote speaker; a panel of recent journalism graduates, and lunch. He said that so far three high schools—Lincoln, Barrington, North Kingstown—have agreed to send students. The day will include tours of the new Harrington School of Communication and Media and WRIU, the campus radio station. He said URI is looking at the event as a recruiting tool.

Hall of Fame: Len Levin asked Spetrini to gather information for a nomination of Joe Bake, who recently retired from the Newport Daily News. Other suggested nominees were Jim Donaldson and Bill Reynolds, both of the Providence Journal. Board members discussed lowering the age for induction and eliminating the one-year waiting requirement. The Hall of Fame Committee will meet on January 19 at 2 p.m. at Rhode Island Monthly and will consider these suggestions and will select candidates for 2017.

Upcoming Meetings: Friday, January 27, at the Warwick Beacon, at 9 a.m.

Friday, February 24, at Rhode Island Monthly, at 9 a.m.

Friday, March 24, at a place to be announced.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

October 28, 2016- Rhode Island Monthly

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI emeritus, secretary; John Palumbo, R.I. Monthly, and Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine (retired).

Minutes of September Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report for September: Debits of $25 (to online contest site). Deposits of $2.06 (Citizens Bank refund) and $25 (Marilyn Busch, associate member dues). End balance: $14,119.85.

Contest Discussion: Levin said she and Mark Murphy, ((Providence Business News), immediate past president of RIPA, earlier this month spoke with Linda Conway, executive director of the New England News and Press Association (NENPA), about the possibility of NENPA handling the contest in the future. NENPA would find judges and choreograph the entries and winners. Members present discussed the pros (less work for RIPA) and cons (judges would be academics or retired journalists mostly in New England). It was agreed that Mike McDermott, RIPA vice president and contest chair, should contact Conway to discuss details and report back to the board at the next meeting. At that meeting, the board also will decide which contest categories, if any, will be deleted for the 2016 contest.

High School Journalism Day: Discussion moved to the next meeting.

2017 Banquet: Francis said it will be April 28 at the Quonset ‘O’ Club.

ACCESS Issues: Moved to the next meeting.

Next Meeting: Friday, December 9, at (tentatively) Warwick Beacon.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

September 16, 2016- The Providence Journal

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Mike McDermott, Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI emeritus, secretary; and John Pantalone, URI journalism.

Minutes of June Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Beginning balance for June, $14,540.27; expenses for June, $25, Authnet Gateway (online contest site), $25.48, coffee , etc. for June meeting paid to Paul Spetrini, and $300 for deposit to Quonset O Club for next spring’s banquet; ending balance June, $14,189.79. July expenses were $25 for Authnet Gateway, with ending balance of $14,164.79. August expenses were $25 for Authnet Gateway, and $22 to Ratcliffe Harten for annual legal filing fee, with ending balance of $14,117.79. Report approved.

ACCESS Issues: McDermott said the Journal received the public documents for 38 Studios from the state police and published a story about them that morning. Levin said she received the same documents she requested on behalf of ACCESS/RI.

Hall of Fame: The board had a long discussion about the future of the physical form and location of the Hall of Fame, now sited in the Chafee building at URI, former home of the URI Department of Journalism. Pantalone said it has been suggested that eventually the Hall of Fame be part of a video about the press association and placed in the lobby of Ranger Hall, the new home of the Harrington School of Communication and Media, of which the journalism department is a part. Levin suggested leaving the Hall of Fame plaques in the cases in Chafee and have a plaque made listing all the members and placing it in Ranger Hall. Pantalone said he found names of journalists who are in the R.I. Heritage Hall of Fame who are not in the press association’s Hall of Fame and said they should be considered for the latter one. Spetrini suggested lowering the required age for consideration for RIPA’s Hall of Fame. No actions were taken.

High School Journalism Day: The board agreed that the press association should be involved. Pantalone said it would be in the late spring at URI. Levin volunteered to help him. Spetrini said it should be videotaped and put on the press association’s website. More discussion at the next board meeting.

RIPA Press Pass: Spetrini asked if the press association should produce a press pass for any member journalists who wants one. Publishers would foot the bills. After a discussion, the board said that it did not see the need for one.

Kennedy Plaza Press Conference: Spetrini said that since some reporters apparently were barred from this event, he wondered if RIPA should issue a statement of protest. After a discussion, the board decided that since at least one reporter chose to remain outside and because the press conference was not run by public officials, RIPA should not issue a statement.

Increasing Board Membership: Spetrini said the board needs more active members. He will contact newspapers that previously have supplied board members.

Next Board Meeting: Because Pantalone and Levin have to attend an event at URI, the meeting was moved from Friday, October 21, to Friday, October 28. It will remain at 9 a.m. at Rhode Island Monthly.


Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

June 3rd, 2016- The Newport Daily News

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Mike McDermott, Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI emeritus, secretary; Lynne Tungett, Newport This Week, and Len Levin, Hall of Fame committee chair.

Minutes of April Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: April starting balance was $16,012.23, and ending balance was $16,917.24. Income came from contest and banquet fees and dues. Beginning balance for May was $16,927.24, and ending balance was $14,540.27. Expenses included plaques and awards for banquet ($2,100.97); banquet power point ($500), and RIPA tax preparation, ( $450).

Banquet and Contest: The board discussed the pros and cons of the banquet, agreeing it can be held in 2017 at the Quonset O Club. Francis will try to book it for April 28, with May 5 as the second choice. Spetrini said there seemed to be a paucity of judge’s comments on many of the winning entries. Spetrini suggested setting up a stage where recipients would receive their awards and hire someone to videotape the Hall of Fame speeches to be put on the website. The board discussed solving the problem of getting tear sheets for the winning entries since this year they proved more difficult to obtain. A discussion ensued on the lack of entries in the daily and community newspaper of the year categories. Tungett suggested that instead of requiring a hard copy of the entries, they could be submitted digitally. Tungett said she will reach out to editors to ask why they are not entering.

Journalism Day: Based on previous discussions with the board and the chair of the Journalism Department there, the board affirmed that Journalism Day will not be held this fall.

RIPA and Journalism Issues: Spetrini asked the board how it wants to respond to issues that may require some statement from RIPA. The board said it should issue a statement for or against as issue only after the executive board has discussed it and come to an agreement.

Hall of Fame: Linda Levin noted that the cases on the wall in Chafee that hold the Hall of Fame plaques are running out of space. She said the board should decide the future of the plaques since the building housing the new Harrington School of Communication and Media is opening soon, and we may want to relocate the Hall of Fame there. This topic was moved to the September meeting for discussion.

Upcoming Meetings: Friday, September 16, at 9 a.m. at the Providence Journal. Friday, Oct. 21, at 9 a.m. at Rhode Island Monthly. Friday, Dec. 2, at 9 a.m., tentatively at the Warwick Beacon.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

April 1st, 2016- The Warwick Beacon

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sue Areson, Providence Journal (retired), vice president;  Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; Alan Rosenberg, Providence Journal; Liz Boardman and James Bessette, Independent Newspapers; John Howell, Warwick Beacon;  Len Levin, Hall of Fame Committee chair; Larry Sasso, Your Smithfield Magazine (retired), and John Pantalone, URI journalism chair.

Minutes of February, 2015, Meeting:  Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Francis said the starting balance was $14,502.23. After income from dues ($575); contest fees ($1,260); contest site fee ($25), and Hall of Fame drawings ($300), the ending balance is $16,012.23. Approved.

Contest/Banquet: Areson said the entries from Rhode Island Monthly were missing from the contest platform, and she has asked the Idaho Press Club to fix this. Once this is taken care of, she will send out the winners,;Levin said she will send out the banquet flyer on Monday. Areson said she needs tear sheets from the winners so they can be displayed at the banquet. Spetrini said the Twitter hashtag for this year’s banquet is #RIPA2016.

Hall of Fame: Len Levin said he has notified the winners and will ensure their banquet reservations get to Francis.

New Officers: Discussion continued from the last meeting. Areson said Michael McDermott, a Providence Journal editor, will replace her as vice president and contest chair. Areson said she will train him re: the contest. Spetrini said he will put together a guide for future contest chairs. Earlier Levin told Spetrini that she would stay on as secretary for another year.

ACCESS: Levin said amendments to the Open Meetings Act amendments and to the Access to Public Records Act have been introduced into the General Assembly. She said when they are scheduled for committee hearings, she will notify members.

Scholarship: Boardman said she has received one application but expects more by the April 8 deadline.

Journalism Day at URI: Pantalone said he talked with other chairs in the Harrington School, and they were not especially interested in being a part of Journalism Day. He said Adam Roth, the Harrington director, said he would help if needed. Pantalone said the event remains popular among journalism students and could be worthwhile. The board discussed whether or not to continue with Journalism Day. The board finally decided to forego Journalism Day for 2016 and look at some options, including holding a High School Journalism Day at a later date and having individual board members speak to URI journalism classes. 

Website: Spetrini said he and Sheila Mullowney, the Newport Daily News, continues to try to figure out how to transfer data from the old website to a new one. The board agreed to move  to the more friendly platform Wix and to use the domain name Spetrini said he would have the new site ready for the banquet.

New Business: The board discussed an issue that Howell and his paper the Warwick Beacon are having involving the release of a school department document and a possible libel suit resulting from the release. Howell said he expects the libel threat to disappear but he was concerned about the six months it took the state’s attorney general to announce a decision that the school department document was a public document. 

Next Meeting: Friday, June 3, at the Newport Daily News.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

February 26th, 2016- Rhode Island Monthly

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sue Areson, Providence Journal (retired), vice president;  Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emeritus, secretary; Sheila Mullowney, Newport Daily News; Alan Rosenberg, Providence Journal; John Palumbo, Rhode Island Monthly; Nancy Kirsch, freelance; Liz Boardman, Independent Newspapers; and John Pantalone, URI journalism.

Minutes of December, 2015 Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Current balance is $14, 502.23. This includes income of $951.58 for contest payments and dues income of $1,300.

Contest Update: Today is the deadline. Areson said that so far there have been about 250 entries, but she expects more. (Final tally was 381.) She said several Idaho contest categories still need judges, and she will send a list of all categories and who has agreed to judge which ones. Idaho is once again judging the RIPA contest, and the deadline for Idaho’s results is March 28. Areson then will begin notifying RIPA winners.

Banquet Update: Francis said the banquet is set for Friday, April 29, at the Quonset “O” Club. Cost per person will be $40. Levin will send out the flyer with menu choices and reservation information later in March. Palumbo said Rhode Island Monthly will take care of the banquet program, and Spetrini said he again will photograph it.

Hall of Fame: The board voted to approve this year’s inductees: Arline Fleming, feature writer for the Providence Journal and other publications; Len Levin, retired Providence Journal news editor, and the late Jim Baron, political reporter for the Pawtucket Times.

New Officers: Areson, who has left the Journal, said Mike McDermott, new assistant managing editor of the Journal, will be glad to replace her as vice president. She will train him on running the RIPA newspaper contest, the primary task of the vice president. Spetrini said he would stay on as president if no one else wants it. Mullowney said she would take over as secretary if Levin wants to leave. Levin said she will have an answer at the next board meeting. The board discussed recruiting board members. Suggestions included personal connections; a networking event, and targeting young journalists.  Discussion to be continued at the next meeting.

ACCESS/RI Update: Levin, who is president of the organization, said the group has found sponsors for two bills to be introduced into the General Assembly this spring. One would amend the Access to Public Records Law, the other would make significant changes to the Open Meetings Act. She said if and when the bills are heard in committees, she will ask members of RIPA to testify. Spetrini asked the board if RIPA should send out another press release on continuing lack of transparency, especially in state government. The board decided to postpone discussion of this.

Journalism Day: Pantalone said he is unclear about what the Harrington School, home of the Department of Journalism, wants from Journalism Day. He said he will talk with students and faculty in the school to see if they perhaps want a Media Day or a Jobs Fair. Levin moved, Kirsch seconded, that Pantalone find out what the Harrington School would like and report back to the board.

Sunshine Week: This is sponsored by the national Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and encourages local news media groups to put on events during this week. This year it is March 13-19.  Levin said the ACLU of RI has asked if RIPA was putting on an event. (After the meeting, Levin, and Mullowney talked about a program tentatively at CCRI on “Security and Privacy.” Panelists would be a police chief, someone from the ACLU, a journalist, a school superitendent, and someone from the New England First Amendment Coalition. Mullowney said she could moderate. Levin said she would check with the ACLU to see if they are interested in co-sponsoring.)

Next Meeting: Friday, April 1, at 9 a.m. at the Warwick Beacon on Warwick Avenue, Warwick.


Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

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