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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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2018 Meeting Minutes

Sept. 14, 2018 - Providence Media

Attending: James Bessette, Providence Business News, president; Mike McDermott, The Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, R.I. Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times; John Palumbo, R.I. Monthly; Marcia Green, Valley Breeze, retired; Len Levin, Hall of Fame chair; and Elyse Major and Tony Pacitti, Providence Media. Guest: Adam Roth, director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media, URI.

Minutes of June Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Francis reported a June starting balance of $13,720.14; expenses, $25, Authnet Gateway Billing; ending balance of $13,695.14. For July, starting balance of $13,695.14; expenses, $25, Authnet Gateway Billing; income from banquet ($40), dues from RI Catholic, $100, Gatehouse/Newport Daily News, $500, and Marilyn Busch, $25; ending balance, $14,335.14. August starting balance, $14,335.14; expenses, $25, Authnet Gateway; $500, #2504, Sansiveri Kimball, Form 990 prep for 2017; ending balance, $13,810.14.

Hall of Fame at URI: Board members discussed adding cases to the current location in Chafee; instead of more cases, options include a kiosk in Ranger Hall where the Harrington School is located, and cost of a kiosk. Bessette said he and Levin visited Chafee in the summer and determined there is space for a minimum of five additional cases. They looked at an interactive kiosk in the Memorial Union which they thought suitable for the press association. Roth said he would like the Hall of Fame to be more engaging with students, so a kiosk could be placed on the second floor of Ranger Hall. He pointed out that the physical Hall of Fame in Chafee has no contract with URI, so the state could remove the cases at any time, although, he said, there is no plan to do so at this time.

Bessette asked who would own the kiosk. Palumbo suggested a memorandum of ownership between RIPA and URI. Pacitti asked who would update information on the kiosk. Roth said it probably would be RIPA’s responsibility. Palumbo said RIPA could ask the Rhode Island Foundation for a grant to purchase and install the kiosk. Green said the kiosk should include a list of newspapers in the state. Major said she likes the wall of fame in Chafee because it’s visual, and she thinks students would like to see a visual like a wall.

Bessette said he believed the kiosk was the best way to go. Roth said URI could draw up an agreement. Palumbo said we should secure funding. Bessette moved that URI put together a memorandum of understanding on the cost of a kiosk, including cost of equipment and ongoing maintenance. Motion was approved. Bessette asked Palumbo to look into funding for a kiosk. Palumbo agreed.

Possible Expansion to Other Media, such as tv news and digital: Bessette said he wanted to invite some digital journalists but had some concerns about whether or not the board would agree. He noted that more news organizations in RIPA would give the group fresh faces and new perspectives. A discussion ensued: Palumbo said what the board needs is more engagement from current members. McDermott said he would be comfortable with broadcast news members. Levin noted that the bylaws would need to be amended to incorporate broadcast. Bessette will contact the executive director of the R.I. broadcasters’ organization to find out more about that group.

High School Journalism Programs: Scopelliti said he continues to gather contact information and web addresses for high school newspapers. He said that if RIPA members plan to speak to local high school journalists, it would be nice to have a video for them to show or at least to send the video for the schools to show.

Discussion of Verbal Attacks on the News Media and How to Respond: Moved to the next meeting.

Next Meeting: Friday, October 12, at 10 a.m. at Rhode Island Monthly, Allens Avenue, Providence.


Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

June 1, 2018 - Newport Daily News

Attending: James Bessette, Providence Business News, president; Mike McDermott, The Providence Journal, vice president; Sarah Francis, R.I. Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times; and Lynne Tungett, Newport This Week. Guest: Steven Brown, executive director, R.I. Affiliate, ACLU.

Revenge Porn Legislation: Brown said the bill, which he expects the governor to sign very soon, lacks an “intent to harm” clause although it does allow as a defense “if published in the public interest.” He said all this could leave the news media in the state vulnerable to being successfully sued if it publishes or broadcasts a photo that a court said intended to do harm to someone under this law. Brown said the ACLU believes the law will be declared unconstitutional, and he asked the association to find a news outlet willing to provide a test case. He said the ACLU would handle the legalities. Tungett suggested also contacting the television stations. Bessette said he believes that the press association should wait until the bill is signed into law and then weight the options. The board agreed.

Minutes of March Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: March starting balance, $16,657.14; ending balance, $19,547.14 (this includes dues paid by Southern RI Newspapers;  RIM; BI Times; Gatehouse Media; and R. Scopelliti).  April starting balance, $19,547.14; ending balance, $17,214.79 (includes banquet costs); April ending balance, $17,214.79 (includes banquet payments). May starting balance, $17,214.79; ending balance, $13,720.14. Approved.

Banquet: Board members agreed that it went well. The board voted to hold next year’s banquet at the Quonset O Club again. The date will be Friday, April 26. McDermott will see if someone at the Journal wants to handle the photography.

Contest: McDermott said there were some problems with website security and were fixed. A discussion ensued about who should host the contest website. The Newport Daily News has been the host, but the board agreed that it should be on the press association’s own website beginning next year.

High School Journalism: Scopelliti said the committee is still working on finding high schools that want to work with the association to bring in speakers or hold journalism-related events for their students. Later in the meeting, Tungett said the association should contact high schools to get local journalists involved in career days.


New Business:  McDermott said a hearing will be held soon on an amended complaint involving public release of the list of names and other information about jurors in a recent trial. Scopelliti asked about the status of the association’s Hall of Fame, and Bessette said he and Levin were planning to meet this summer with the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at URI, the physical location of the Hall of Fame. Bessette said the association will reschedule the workshop on access issues sometime in the fall. Bessette said he wants to have some social networking events to bring together younger journalists to try to get them involved in the association.


Next Meeting: Friday, September 14, at a location to be announced.


Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

March 2, 2018 - East Bay Newspapers

In Attendance: James Bessette, Providence Business News, president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times; Matt Enright, The Independent; Scott Pickering, East Bay Newspapers; and Lynne Tungett, Newport This Week.

Minutes of January Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Starting balance for February, $14,982.14; Debit, $25, Authnet Gateway Billling; Deposits, $1,675 for dues, Prov. Media, $250; Beacon Comm, $250; Sentinel, $200; East Bay, $250; Larry Sasso, $25; Linda and Len Levin, $50; Jewish Alliance, $100; Westerly Sun, $100; PBN, $100; Valley Breeze, $200; Nancy Kirsch, $25; Rudi Hampe, $25, and Newport This Week, $100. Ending balance for February, $16,657.14.

Legislation: Levin said two bills amending the Access to Public Records Act and the Open Meeting Act will be heard at the State House at a time to be announced, probably later this month.

FOIA Workshop: This will be held at Providence Media in Pawtucket on Saturday, April 7, from 10-noon. Seating is limited to 12. Deadline to register is March 25. Register with Levin at

High School Journalism: Enright has met with some teachers; Scopelliti has contacted several. Nothing new to report.

Banquet and Contest: Some papers have been having trouble with the contest website; this will be on the agenda at the next meeting. Judges are needed for the Idaho Press Club contest,

Hall of Fame: The board had a lengthy discussion about the location and format of the Hall of Fame at URI. Two suggestions were made: have additional cases made and installed in Chafee Hall to hold current and future plaques, and work with Adam Roth, associate dean of the Harrington School, to write a grant to fund a digital display of the Hall of Fame in Ranger Hall, home of the Harrington School. Bessette and Levin will meet with Jeanette Riley, dean of Arts and Sciences whose office is in Chafee, to discuss putting up more cases, and they will talk with Roth about the digital display and report back to the board.

Scholarship: Bessette will contact Dan Kittredge, scholarship chair, to make sure he has notified the colleges.

New Business: Enright suggested RIPA meet with the broadcasters’ association in Rhode Island. Board will discuss this at a later meeting. Bessette reminded the board that the RIPA website has a jobs’ site for free postings.

Next Meeting: This will be June 1, Friday, at 10 a.m. in Newport. Location to be determined.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

January 19, 2018- Providence Business News

In Attendance: James Bessette, The Newport Daily News, president; Sarah Francis, Rhode Island Monthly, treasurer; Linda Levin, URI journalism emerita, secretary; Ron Scopelliti, Smithfield Times; Matt Enright, The Independent; Pat Erickson, The Valley Breeze, and Sophie Hagen, Providence Media.

Minutes of December Meeting: Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Starting balance for December, $15,032.14; expense, Authnet Gateway, $25; ending balance, $15,007.79.

Update on Legislation: Levin said the Revenge Porn is back, and the press association joined other organizations in ACCESS/RI to send a letter to the governor asking her to again veto the bill if it comes to her. Levin also said that ACCESS of which RIPA is a founding member is submitting amendments to the Access to Public Records Act and the Open Records Act. She asked RIPA members to consider testifying when the bills are heard by committees. She will email the board when the hearings are set.

High School Journalism: Scopelliti, a member of the subcommittee working on this, said the committee met last Sunday and decided to talk with high school journalism classes and/or their newspaper staffs. The committee said it will be important to get school administrators to understand the importance of the First Amendment, especially a free press, if RIPA wants to work with high school journalists. The committee will continue to meet and then report to the RIPA board.

Unfinished Business:

YouTube videos at the annual banquet: Bessette will create a YouTube site that videos can be uploaded to.

FOIA workshop: Hagen asked the board to consider holding a workshop for reporters and freelancers to learn how to navigate FOIA and where information used in reporting can be found on the web. The board decided on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to noon, possibly at CCRI in Warwick. Levin will arrange the place and the speakers. Enright said the program should be put on YouTube. He also suggested that RIPA use YouTube for interviews with Hall of Fame inductees as an educational tool for local journalists.

Hall of Fame: Levin said the Hall of Fame subcommittee is meeting on February 1, so the board can vote on proposed inductees at the next board meeting. She said she has not discussed with the Harrington School director the board’s idea for a wall plaque with HoF names on it. She said she plans to in the near future.

Contest: Bessette said the forms have been emailed, and the contest site is ready for entries to be loaded..

RIPA website: Bessette reminded the board that the website includes a jobs site. It is free. You can let him know if you want to post a job opening or if you need a job hire.

Next Meeting: Friday, March 2, at 10 a.m. at (tentatively) the Bristol Phoenix.

Submitted by: Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary

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