By Diana Elbasha
The Working Press
Delegates at the Society of Professional Journalists’ convention will vote Tuesday on “One Member, One Vote,” a twice-rejected proposal that would give all SPJ members voting rights in annual elections.
SPJ Director at Large Bill McCloskey called on members at Sunday’s business meeting to support the proposal, citing it as a way to give journalists in unrepresented areas a say in the society’s governance.
“We feel that in order to be an open organization, everyone ought to have a chance to vote for their national officers,” McCloskey said in an interview.
He said the proposal would fix what he sees as a flawed system that allows one delegate for every 50 members of a chapter. Only delegates are allowed to vote in annual officer elections.
Some are less optimistic about the idea and insist that members should come to the convention to speak with candidates before voting if the “One Member, One Vote” rule is adopted.
McCloskey dismissed the argument, saying that with current technology, members can read a candidate’s bio and issues ahead of time.
“A lot of other organizations are doing it,” he said.
Though the board of directors previously decided not to bring the proposal to the convention, SPJ’s bylaws allow amendments to be voted on at the convention through alternate means.
By rallying the support of 10 individual chapters, Andy Schotz, the immediate past president of SPJ’s Washington, D.C., chapter, was able to bring “One Member, One Vote” back to the floor.
Schotz’s support for the amendment stems from his past experience living in upstate New York, where there are no SPJ chapters. Journalists in such areas are at a disadvantage, he said, because they have no delegates to represent them in national SPJ elections.
“I think part of the problem is that people who are not part of chapters may already be isolated enough that they are uninterested,” Schotz said. “I think this is a way to actually reach more people and bring them in.”
If the proposal passes, Schotz said it would likely take effect in time for next year’s elections. The proposal would not affect voting on amendments to SPJ’s bylaws, which will continue to operate on the delegate system.
September 26, 2011 • 2011: New Orleans
‘One Member, One Vote,’ one more time
By Diana Elbasha