PMJA Seeks Member Input on Bylaws Changes

PMJA News,

For the last six months, the PMJA Bylaws and Governance Committee has worked to completely revamp the organization’s bylaws. The idea at the beginning of the process was to start from scratch - and really examine the entire document to determine what should be kept and what should change. The proposed changes were approved by the board at our annual retreat in early December. We want to hear from you now about what you think of the changes. We’ve outlined the major changes below, and have attached the entire document here. Please feel free to reach out to committee chair Doug Nadvornick or PMJA staff to ask any questions and share  your thoughts about the proposed changes. The comment period will end on February 11.

Change #1: Updating member types.

Under the proposed bylaws, our membership types would change slightly. “News Organization” replaces “Outlet” and encompasses our traditional station members; “Media Professional” replaces “Individual Member” and includes individuals not employed at a news organization; “Supporter” replaces “Corporate” membership and includes any business that would like to support public media journalism; and “Student,” which is the same as it has been in the past. This proposed change would allow each station to continue to have a single vote, but would also allow corporate and individual members a vote.

Reasoning: The membership types don’t change significantly, but are better defined for people who are interested in joining.

Change #2: Allow voting for all member types.

Currently, only “Outlet” members are voting members of the organization. This change would allow a single vote for each dues-paying membership except student members.

Reasoning: While our main membership type will likely continue to be stations, the committee felt that there was really no reason to exclude other membership types from voting.

Change #3 - Board makeup.

Under the proposed changes, the size of the board would continue to be seven members, but not all members would be required to be working journalists at a member news organization. The new bylaws would require a majority of the seven to be working journalists and require efforts to ensure that size of organization is a consideration, rather than having a small, medium and large board representative.

Reasoning: Frequently, we have more than one person from a certain size station interested in serving while at the same time needing to search out an interested candidate from another size station. The current board makeup also doesn’t allow for us to encourage people who are technically outside of the newsroom to serve on the board, allowing the board to broaden its skillset to better serve membership. One example is a recent board member who was elevated to the position of chief content officer which made her ineligible for board service under the current bylaws. The changes would allow that person to serve.

Change #4 - Board elections would be conducted by the board rather than the membership.

Rather than having an electronic election voted on by the full membership, the board would become a self-perpetuating board where the board votes on new members. Candidates would continue to be nominated by membership and vetted by board members before elections are held.

Reasoning: This change would allow the board to select the most committed members with skillsets that will help the organization focus on its current strategic priorities.

Change #5 - Officers on the board would be chosen from the board rather than voted on individually by membership.

Currently, an individual runs for a specific office on the board (president, vice president, treasurer). Under this change, candidates would run for a board seat and then the board would select officers from among the current board members.

Reasoning: The board members get to know each other and learn about each other’s strengths. Membership at-large is probably not as familiar with each board member’s strengths and abilities as they relate to officer positions.

While there are other adjustments to the bylaws, these are the biggest changes from the current bylaws. We invite all members and interested parties to submit comments no later than February 11. The board will review all comments received before finalizing changes to the bylaws at its February meeting.