April 10, 2013 LION Board meeting minutes

Meeting of the LION Board, 4/10/13

June 6, 2013 by Dylan Smith

Via conference call

Present: Brandy Tuzon Boyd Charlotte-Anne Lucas Dylan Smith Howard Owens Jerry DeMarco Krystal Knapp Ned Burke Scott Brodbeck Ikaika Hussey was able to join the call midway.

The minutes for our March 20 meeting were approved 7-0-1 with one abstention by Jerry Demarco, who was absent for that meeting.

Facebook Group

Dylan asked if the Facebook LIOP group should be part of LION. Krystal pointed out that we already voted on whether the group should just be open to LION members the previous meeting. Board members reaffirmed their support for making the group a formal LION Facebook page, but allowing nonmember publishers to remain part of the group. Brandy pointed out that most people assume the two are on and the same anyway and we should go ahead and formalize it. Howard said the Facebook group gives publishers cohesion and that is valuable. The board decided to change the name of the Facebook group to LION's Den.

Membership in the Facebook group – The board decided that while the group is open to Indies regardless of LION membership, it should only be open to publishers and partner publishers, not freelancers and other staff. Scott pointed out that the group is a platform for business practices and that it is oriented to people who own and run websites, i.e. the people making the business decisions. Howard said he likes the idea of the group being for owner operators, not employees. Vendors and academics can discuss things in the LION forums or post on the general LION Facebook page.

We agreed that new members should be introduced by the person who adds them. Anyone who is in a gray area can be reviewed first. The membership chair will keep track of new members and make the pitch to join LION formally about a month after the person joins the Facebook group. We will use Highrise to keep track of Facebook members.

The Membership Committee report was skipped. The creation of the fundraising and awards committees will be announced on the Facebook group.

Conference Committee Report

Krystal discussed the proposal to have Randy Bennett recruit sponsors and vendors for the conference and be paid a commission. He will send us a proposal. The conference committee will hold a conference call next week. Our dream budget for the conference will be $100,000. The mid-level budget will be $75,000. The austerity budget would be $50,000. Krystal said she would post a full update in writing. We are working on a survey about what people want from the conference.

The board decided not to try to stay with the name Block by Block. It will be better for us to promote our brand by having a name people associate with our organization. It is not clear that we would be allowed to use that name anyway. Ned pointed out that as the biggest thing we do, the conference should have our name on it.

Membership Benefits Committee

Scott said we need to get moving on the membership benefits committee, which has been on the back burner. Scott is willing to donate a week of a staff member's time to work on this. He will be in touch with members of the committee and set up a meeting. People will brainstorm on other ideas the group has not talked about yet.

The conference is a big part of providing value to members. We need to offer other training opportunities and benefits that engage our members. Charlotte recommended using Google hangouts to live stream workshops. Ned suggested Charlotte teach a webinar on how news websites can use Google hangouts. Members of the Facebook group had a few informal telephone conference chats on topics like advertising and some people would like to see us revive those. We should archive everything on our website.

The committee will research platforms and programming. Ned volunteered to join the programming committee. Charlotte, Ikaika and Dylan are also on that committee.

There has been no consensus about how we should intact with vendors. There was opposition to LION endorsing particular vendors. Jerry proposed the idea of raising money from vendors in exchange for endorsing vendors. The board decided we want to be neutral and give people good advice. We want to share offers as a membership benefit and get deals for our members, but no endorse anyone. The membership benefits committee will screen all offers.

Board Committees

Every board member should be active on at least one committee. Dylan posted recommendations for LION members to add to committees based on their involvement with the Facebook group. The board agreed to ask LION members if they would join the various committees.

Board Member Recruitment

The board has three vacancies with the departure of Ben Ifeld. Krystal, Howard and others agreed that we should fill a seat. The board unanimously agreed we would like Denise Civiletti to join the board.

Open Government

We decided it is important for us to take a position that government should be open without getting involved in the particular facts of a case. We need to lend a voice to online news organizations in a general way. This issue came up in relation to a statement about Lake County News. The lawyer for Lake County News approached us. Lake County News won their case but are seeking attorney fees. We have been asked to weigh in with an amicus brief. Their lawyer would write it. There are instances like this where we should take a position and use our collective power to back up other news organizations and promote transparency and open government, the board strongly agreed.

Board Documents, Basecamp, and Communication

We will take over Basecamp from Ben and paid the $50 month fee ourselves. We need a system for filing all bank statements, treasurer reports, correspondence, emails, etc. Krystal said we need to filed the original documents instead of embedding excerpts summaries in comments in emails. If we met in person we would all receive board packets that include copies of all the original documents. Krystal said we need to do this online, either through base camp of through emailing people all the supporting documents. Krystal asked if we can set Basecamp up in a more organized fashion to organize documents better instead of just general document posts and threads. Krystal asked that we look in to that because documents are not very organized and as the number of documents grow, things will get messy. Dylan said it looks like there is a way to put documents in certain categories.

Board Member Conduct

Charlotte brought up the issue of the Facebook group and how we conduct ourselves as board members. We need to make sure that in our posts we recognize we are seen as board members first regardless of whether someone says "I'm speaking for myself first." We can't assume our comments don't reflect on the board somehow. People need to keep that in mind when commenting on the Facebook page. When we post about LION issues we need to invite members to comment and get their feedback, and not stifle conversation. We should not be dismissive and shoot down ideas too abruptly. Dylan said he hopes that is implied in how we act, but we need to say it more. Charlotte pointed out we need to be careful about the tone of posts because sometimes things can be perceived the wrong way online. Charlotte stressed asking members for their point of view. Brandy suggested we reiterate that to people when we announce the name change, and post our comment policy on the Facebook page. Dylan said he would post a draft policy on Basecamp and for feedback before posting to the Facebook group.

Fiscal Sponsor

We do not have a fiscal sponsor. The one Dylan had approached in Arizona fell through. Krystal will ask the Poynter Institute if they are willing to serve as a fiscal sponsor. We need one by June so that we can accept our Patterson funding.

Board members agreed we should have another phone meeting in three weeks.

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