President’s column: It’s been quite a year; we’re still here!

By Betsy Russell

Normally, the Idaho Press Club’s annual membership meeting – at which we take care of such club business as the annual re-election of the board and officers and any bylaws changes – occurs at the same time as our annual awards banquet in the spring. This year, the banquet was canceled due to COVID-19, and we did our awards festivities online.

But then we realized we still had to hold an annual business meeting, so we did it via Zoom. The June 25 meeting was well-attended, positive, and pretty darn efficient. Members had nice things to say about what we’re doing as the Press Club, and it was much appreciated.

The current slate of officers and board members was re-elected unanimously for another one-year term. That includes:

President: Betsy Russell, Idaho Press; Vice President: Melissa Davlin, Idaho Public Television; Treasurer: Joan Cartan-Hansen, Idaho Public Television; Secretary: Deanna Darr, Freelance

Board members: Rebecca Boone, AP; Audrey Dutton, Idaho Statesman; Ryan Hawes, KBOI/KYUU TV; John Hecht, at-large; Deb Kristensen Grasham, at-large; Scott McIntosh, Idaho Statesman; Tom Michael, Boise State Public Radio; Kate Morris, KTVB; Sydney Sallabanks, Associate Rep; Jennifer Swindell, Idaho Education News

We also unanimously approved a bylaws change that the board had approved last fall, in collaboration with our Southwest Chapter, which is currently our only active chapter (though we’ve had interest in restarting chapters in the east and north). It adjusted the chapter dues share from one-half of the dues from the members in its region to 37.5% each year, due to the change in chapter duties and expenses since we formed a Training Committee under the state board. Audrey Dutton, the SW Chapter president, is the chair of our new Training Committee.

After the annual membership meeting, the Training Committee met, also via Zoom. We are moving ahead with an online cultural sensitivity training for journalists; more info will be coming on that. Our usual in-person fall conference isn’t happening this year, but stay tuned for other training opportunities. Our Journalists Institute on Covering the Courts has been postponed to next spring, to be held in conjunction with what we hope will be our annual awards banquet then.

The Idaho Press Club is in sound financial shape and paying attention to the needs of our members, including open meetings and public records concerns. One thing we have in the works is a fundraising project to help Idaho journalists who are in need during the pandemic, whether they’re unemployed, furloughed or on reduced pay.

Stay safe, everyone, and we’ll be in touch!

Betsy Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state Capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing, and is the president of the Idaho Press Club.