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Strategic plan provides a ‘guiding light’

By Billy O'Keefe

LAURA ZAICHKIN / The Working Press
The SPJ strategic plan was passed Wednesday afternoon by the board of directors, setting into motion a “guiding light” for staff and leadership that begins in the 2007-2008 year, SPJ executives said.
Drafting of the strategic plan began in November 2006 in Denver when volunteers set long-term goals for SPJ, president Christine Tatum said. The document passed this week includes goals under the headings of: media credibility, press freedom, professional development, inclusiveness, member connections and society operations.
“You can’t be those things willy nilly,” Tatum said. “It really has an overarching vision and philosophy.”
The plan is organized into three documents:
The broad-goals document focuses on where the organization’s priorities will be in the coming years and will guide decision making regarding budget planning, activities, program consideration and staffing. While the other two strategic-plan documents are fluid, changes to this portion will be rare, according to the document.
• The master document identifies methods that will help the organization meet its broad goals. This document identifies tasks to be accomplished.
• The current-year goals will complement the master tasks and be evaluated annually.
SPJ has had plans like this in the past, but Tatum said the fluidity of this strategic plan makes it different from the others. SPJ president-elect Clint Brewer said the previous plan was created in 1999.
“It was time to come back and do a new one,” Brewer said. “You need to have a guiding document.”
The plan is designed to evolve and will map out the society’s goals three to five years in advance at all times, Tatum said.

Board addresses e-mail issue
A major topic of discussion at the board of directors meeting was whether SPJ should require people to register with a viable e-mail address before being allowed to post comments on its Web site message boards, SPJ president Christine Tatum said.
The board passed a resolution that people should not be able to leave anonymous comments, she said.
“People need to step up to the plate here,” Tatum said. “(Journalists) should always operate with our names behind what we say.”
The board recognized that anonymous comment is sometimes important, but by having to register with a valid e-mail address—even if a real name is not used—when aggressive comments are made, it is known that a real person made the comments, Tatum said.

Tatum and Brewer said SPJ members will see evidence of the 2007-2008 goals being carried out particularly in journalism responsibility and inclusiveness—several citizen journalism academies will take place in the coming year—and in SPJ’s immediacy and aggressiveness toward its members’ priorities.
“That is something we’re going to hit the ground running with as soon as we leave this convention,” Brewer said about the citizen journalism academies.
Another 2007-2008 goal includes designating a team leader—Brewer—who will ensure the strategic plan and priorities are being implemented through all SPJ activities.
“I was the president who made sure things got done,” while Brewer will be the president who will carry the plan out, Tatum said. “We’re all now on the same page. We can see where the goals are.”
Society ‘very well’ financially
The board also reviewed SPJ’s budget and financial status at its meeting.
The society’s budget has grown from $1.4 million to $1.8 million in five years, Tatum said.
SPJ currently has about $380,000 in reserves, Tatum said.
“Five years ago, the society had nothing in reserves,” Tatum said, crediting executive director Terry Harper’s financial management.
The 2007-2008 budget has an estimated surplus of $4,600 after budgeting $1.838 million in revenue and $1.833 million in expenses.
• 36 percent will come from SPJ’s training efforts, such as newsroom training, narrative workshops and the national convention.
• 27 percent will come from communication, such as advertising in Quill and on the Web site.
• 19 percent will come from membership.
• 10 percent will come from award entry fees.
• 8 percent will be generated from financial management.
• 36 percent will be spent on training and professional development.
• 29 percent for communication.
• 14 percent for membership.
• 6 percent for awards.
• 14 percent for management.
*figures are rounded off