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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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2017 Meeting Minutes

Dec. 8, 2017 - Providence Media

In Attendance: James Bessette, The Newport Daily News, president; Mike McDermott, The Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; Julie Tremaine and Tony Pacitti, Providence Media, and Ron Scopelliti and Larry Sasso, Smithfield Times.

Minutes of October Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Balance at beginning of October: $15,082.74. October expenses, $25 to Authnet Gateway Billing for contest website; and November expenses, $25 to Authnet Gateway Billing for contest website. Balance at end of November: $15,057.74.

Contest Report: The board voted to instruct the Hall of Fame Committee to elect three new members, to be approved by the board. The committee meets in January. Despite the lack of spaces for plaques in the cases at URI, the press association will continue to make two plaques, one for the recipient and the other to be kept in reserve. Levin suggested asking the Harrington School of Communication and Media at URI if there was a place for one large plaque with each recipient’s name, year inducted, and affiliation. She will look into this.

The board discussed changing the rules to entries in the photography categories in the contest to allow photographers to enter only one photo in each category because writers can submit only one entry per category. The board concluded that photographers can submit only one entry, and two new photo categories will be added: arts and entertainment and food. Two more categories could be added next year if the board chooses. Changes were approved.

High School Journalism Sub Committee Report: Scopelliti said the committee has been unable to meet. Bessette said he will talk with committee chair, Matt Enright.

New Business: Banquet: Bessette will ask immediate past president Paul Spetrini about putting some live portions on Facebook and uploading a video of the Hall of Fame inductions to YouTube. Tremaine suggested putting pdf’s of first place winners’ stories on Facebook or the RIPA website. Board said it would consider this. RIPA Workshops: Pacitti said one of his writers would like to have a workshop on FOI requests and other issues. Bessette suggested she attend the next board meeting to discuss this.

Next Meeting: The next board meeting will be Friday, January 19, at 10 a.m. at Providence Business News.

Submitted by Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

Oct. 27, 2017 - The Westerly Sun

In Attendance: James Bessette, The Newport Daily News, president; Mike McDermott, The Providence Journal, vice president; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; Matt Enright, The Independent; Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times; Laura Damon, The Newport Daily News; Dave Tranchida, The Westerly Sun, and Jake Morocco, The Independent.

Minutes of September Meeting:  Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Starting Balance: $15,107.74;  Online Debit: 9/5/17 Authnet Gateway Billing $25; Other Debits: $0;  Total Debits: $25; Deposits: $0; Ending Balance: $15,082.74.

Sale of Newport Daily News and its news holdings: Bessette, who is a copy editor at the newspaper, cited news stories about the sale and complimented the Sherman family for producing quality publications. They were sold earlier this week to GateHouse Media. Bessette wrote a statement about the sale which was approved by the board. He will put it on the RIPA website soon.

Contest: The board agreed to discuss for approval the contest changes, which involves photo submissions, at the next meeting.

High School Journalism: Suggestions were floated, including giving a monetary award to a high school journalist or a high school newspaper of the year at the annual banquet. The committee will continue to work on this.

Photos at the 2017 Banquet: Bessette asked the board to agree to hire Paul Spetrini, past president of RIPA who has taken the photos in past years. He would be paid $300. Board approved.

Jobs Page on RIPA Website: Bessette reminded the board that this is a place where editors can post available jobs at their newspapers for free.

Next Meeting:  (Tentative) Providence Monthly in Pawtucket, Dec. 8, 10 a.m.


Submitted by Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

Sept. 15, 2017 - The Valley Breeze

In Attendance: James Bessette, The Newport Daily News, president; Mike McDermott, The Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, R.I. Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; John Pantalone, URI journalism; Colin Howarth and Matt Enright, The Independent; Larry Sasso and Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times; Nancy Kirsch, freelance; Tom Ward, Ethan Shorey, Ann Marie Donahue, Brittany Ballentyne, and Pat Erickson, The Valley Breeze.

Minutes of June Meeting:  Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: For June: starting balance, $15,723.20; ending balance, $15,179.80. Expenses in June were $25, Authnet Gateway Billing for contest web site; World Trophies replacement plaques, $83.46, and Sansiveri-Kimball filing 990 IRS tax year 2016, $500. Income was $25 John Pantalone membership; East Bay Newspapers, $40 for banquet. Expenses in July were $25, Authnet Gateway. Income was zero.  Balance for end of July was $15,154.74. Expenses in August were $25, Authnet Gateway, and $22, Ratcliffe Harten annual filing fee. Ending balance was $15,107.74. Report approved.

Legislation Updates: Levin said some changes were approved for the Open Meetings Act.

Hall of Fame Update: Pantalone said there is one space available in the cases at URI; hence, he has not had the 2016 plaques put on display. He asked the Hall of Fame Committee to decide what to do with these plaques and future plaques since there is no room in Ranger Hall, home of the Harrington School of which journalism is a department. The board asked Levin to send the current list of the nominees for the HoF. (She sent them a few days after this meeting, but they also are attached to these minutes.) Bessette urged RIPA members to send nominations to HoF committee chair, Len Levin, Later in the meeting, the board directed the HoF committee to devise an  alternative way to showcase the HoF inductees. Approved.

Contest Update: Should photographers be allowed only one entry per category to make this the same as the rules of writing entries? McDermott, the contest chair, said he would check to find out if any photo categories in last year’s contest would have had too few entries to be eligible for judging. He will report at the next board meeting. The board asked that McDermott convey to the Idaho Press Club, which judges the RIPA contest, that we would like more feedback on winning entries.

Journalism Day: Pantalone said too few high schools were interested in attending a journalism day program at URI. He suggested that individual schools could send students at their convenience for a tour of the Harrington School of Communication and Media, and then an editor or reporter from a RIPA member could speak to the students. A number of ideas were suggested for RIPA to connect with students. A committee was set up to explore ideas. Members are Scopelliti, Pantalone, Ward, Erickson, and Enright.

President’s Goals: Brief discussions were held on these:  A) Have elected officials speak to the RIPA board on bills that affect journalism.  B) Reach out to colleges beyond URI to become involved with RIPA. C) Set up a speakers bureau for RIPA members to speak to journalism classes at high schools and colleges. D) Conduct clinics on topics and skills related to journalism.  E) Reach out to college newspapers to see if editors want to attend RIPA meetings.  F) Post national and regional fellowship opportunities on the RIPA website. Bessette said that he set up a “job openings” page on the website. He suggested RIPA board meetings be posted on Facebook Live. Pantalone said the best way to get people involved is through their editors and publishers.

Next Board Meeting: Tentatively at the Westerly Sun on Friday, October 27, at 10 a.m.

Submitted by Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

June 2, 2017 - Newport Daily News

Attending: James Bessette, The Independent, president; Sarah Francis, R.I. Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; John Pantalone, URI journalism; Dan Kittredge, Colin Howarth, and Helena Touhey, The Independent;  Janine Weisman, Newport Mercury; Lynne Tungett, Newport This Week; Larry Sasso and Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times.

Minutes of March Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: April starting balance, $16,783.99; ending balance, $18,955.80. Expenses in April were $25, Authnet Gateway Billing for contest web site; $814, PMA Industries, banquet a.v.; and $4,854.19 for O Club banquet. Income of $7,865 came from banquet tickets and dues. Expenses in May were $25, Authnet Gateway, and expenses related to the banquet, totaling $4,752.60. Income of $1,520 came from additional banquet payments.  Balance for end of May was $15,723.20.  Report approved.

Banquet/Contest Feedback: Board members said they thought that overall the banquet was a success. Francis and Levin said those who arrived at the O Club early to put up hard copies of the winning entries on cork boards suggested that next year those entries should be labeled more clearly so it is easier to tack them up. Bessette said the association should consider allowing only one photo entry in each photo category rather than multiple entries. Tungett said she was disappointed that the Newspaper of the Year had disappeared for lack of entries. The board discussed this and concluded the category needs to be promoted to publishers and editors. She also asked whether or not the contest should include a magazine division and have an award for the best magazine pieces. The board approved having the banquet at the O Club next year on April 27. Pantalone suggested having a few students from URI help put up the winning entries that are displayed at the banquet.

Legislation: Bessette said he testified and wrote letters on a bill to enhance the rights of student journalists. He said one of the reporters at his newspaper asked Governor Raimondo recently if she planned to sign into law the “revenge porn” bill that she vetoed last year and that RIPA had testified against last year. She said that if it’s the same bill, she will not sign it. If it protects the public but does not infringe on the First Amendment, she would sign it. Levin said she had been told that the attorney general refused to make any changes to last year’s bill.

Journalism Day at URI: Pantalone said he is still trying to put together a high school journalism day, probably for next fall, but only two schools have responded to his invitation. He said each of those schools could separately bring their students to a campus tour and some seminars. As for a journalism day at the university, he said he is fine with reviving it, but he would need a commitment from newspapers to send their staff to help. As an alternative, Pantalone suggested a program on jobs advice for the students. Another idea was having a program at night for journalists, students, and the public on a topic relating to a current media topic. Pantalone said he might ask the press association to write to the administration at URI supporting the journalism department. 

New Meeting Time: The board voted to hold upcoming meetings at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. on Fridays.

Social Gatherings and Member Recruitment: Bessette said it might help get staffers at member publications interested in the organization if we held gatherings every month or two during the week at different venues around the state. The board agreed.

RIPA Website: The website,, should be used more often than it is now. Bessette urged members to use Twitter (@RIPress) to link to interesting stories, either in member papers or on other sites and to send users to the association’s website.

New Business: Bessette said North Kingstown High School has halted its newspaper production class, but there are students who want it reinstated. He suggested RIPA members write a letter backing the students and send it to the administration.

Next Meeting: It will be Friday, September 15, at 10 a.m., at the Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Lincoln.

 Submitted by Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

March 24, 2017- Rhode Island Monthly

In Attendance: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI emeritus, secretary; James Bessette, Independent; and Len Levin,Providence Journal, retired, chair of Hall of Fame Committee.

Minutes of February Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Francis said the starting balance in March was $16,201.48. The ending balance was $16,783.99, with debits of $537.50, and deposits of $1,120.

Contest: Idaho’s deadline to get winners to RIPA is March 31. We will let our members know their winners no later than April 7.

Scholarship: The deadline for entries is March 31. Dan Kittredge, managing editor of the Independent,is the scholarship committee chairperson.

Banquet: Francis said Rhode Island Monthly will produce the program, the backdrop, and the power point. Levin will email the banquet flyer to members.

Hall of Fame: Len Levin will send bios and photos to Spetrini for the RIPA website ( Levin said the plaques are being made. Bessette said he plans to nominate for the Hall of Fame Mark Thompson, now retired from Time magazine and who began his career at the weekly in East Greenwich.

Recruiting New Board Members:  The board agreed that the new president should contact newspapers not involved with the board. The board suggested a social gathering for younger staffers to get them acquainted with RIPA. Using social media to link with members was another idea. Linda Levin said she would be interested in updating the RIPA website.

Officers for 2017-2018:  After discussion, the board agreed that James Bessette, news reporter for the Independent, would be the new president; and the other officers---Mike McDermott, Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, and Linda Levin-- would remain in their current positions.

Open Government:  The board asked Linda Levin to contact the ACLU in RI to see if the group planned to send another letter to the governor regarding the so-called Revenge Porn bill that passed the House. (She contacted the executive director of the ACLU, and he said he is working on a letter asking the governor to veto the bill as she did last year. Levin told him that again RIPA would like to sign on to the letter.)

Next Meeting:  Friday, June 2, at 9 a.m. at the Newport Daily News.  Bessette suggested that a future meeting could be held at URI. The board postponed discussion on this until June.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

February 24, 2017- Rhode Island Monthly

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Mike McDermott, Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI emeritus, secretary; James Bessette, Independent; Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times,freelance; Fraser and Betty Lang, Block Island Times, and John Palumbo, R.I. Monthly.

Minutes of January Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Francis reported a balance of $14,019.85, with an expenditure of $25 to Authnet Gateway Billing for contest cost. Approved.

Contest: McDermott said there are at least as many entries as last year. Problems so far are failure to attach a file, and someone entering more than one entry in a category. RIPA’s deadline to judge the Idaho Press Club’s contest is March 19. He will be sending an email asking for judges. Spetrini said someone complained to him that the Providence Journal submits entries in the design categories when the design work is done in Texas. McDermott explained that all inside pages are designed in Texas, but page A-1 is designed in Providence and laid out in Texas. He said some other display pages are occasionally designed in Providence. It was suggested that after the contest RIPA send a questionnaire to members asking what problems they had this year. Agreed.

Banquet: Francis said it’s all set for Friday, April 28, at the O Club at Quonset. RI Monthly will do the powerpoint again. The board asked what the cost of the a/v at the banquet are, and Palumbo said it was $815. Spetrini will be the photographer. Francis said a small stage at the front of the banquet room will cost $360, and the board asked her to arrange it. Spetrini said the Twitter handle will again be #RIPAawards.

Officers for 2017-2018: Francis and Levin will remain in their respective positions; McDermott will become president, and Bessette is considering the vice presidency.

Open Government: Levin said she will notify the board if and when relevant bills are up for hearings.

Next Meeting: March 24, at Levin’s (282 Doyle Ave., Providence) at 9 a.m. Palumbo will check with the Harrington School to see if the June meeting can be held at URI.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

January 27, 2017- Warwick Beacon

Attending: Paul Spetrini, Independent Newspapers, president; Mike McDermott, Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI emeritus, secretary; John Howell, Beacon Communications; Tony Pacitti, Providence Media; James Bessette, Independent.

Minutes of December, 2016, meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Beginning balance was $14,069.85; ending balance was $14,044.85, which included $25 payment to Authnet Gateway Billing for contest online fee.

Contest: McDermott reported that he has received some entries, and so far, the contest is moving along with no problems. February 10 is the deadline. RIPA will judge the Idaho Press Club’s contest again this year, and McDermott said he will send RIPA members a list of Idaho’s categories to select one or more to judge. Idaho’s deadline for the winners we pick is March 31.

Banquet: Francis said the banquet will be held on Friday, April 28, at the O Club in Quonset. Cost is $40 per person.

Hall of Fame: HoF committee member Levin said the committee selected three journalists: the late Bill Malinowski, reporter for the Providence Journal; Marcia Green, editor of the Valley Breeze, and Donna Lee, retired food editor of the Providence Journal. The board approved the nominees. Levin said the committee is soliciting names for potential nominees. Len Levin, the HoF committee will notify the winners and do a press release.

2016-2017 Officers: Spetrini said that after three years, he will not be seeking reelection. Francis and Levin said they will remain in their offices if necessary. McDermott said he will think about moving up to the presidency. Bessette said he will consider the vice presidency.

Open Government and Press Freedom: Levin, who also is president of ACCESS/RI, reported that the so-called “revenge porn” bill is expected to surface again in the legislature. She said ACCESS has prepared amendments to the Access to Public Records Act and to the Open Meetings Act. Both are being introduced into the General Assembly this session. Howell said a bill to overturn the requirement that legal notices be published in local newspapers should be coming up. He argued that publishing these notices in newspapers makes them a permanent record, as opposed to putting them on the internet where they eventually will disappear. Howell said he also expects the “litter bill,” which includes a ban on free newspapers being delivered house to house, to come before the General Assembly. Levin said she will notify board members when legislation affecting the press is being heard so that members can be on hand to testify.

The next RIPA board meeting: Friday, February 24, at a place to be announced.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

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