August 27, 2007

Minutes of the 2007 meeting of COMJIG

The following are the draft minutes of the annual meeting of the Community Journalism Interest Group of AEJMC. 8:34 p.m. Friday, August 10, 2007, Washington, D.C. Minutes are unofficial until ratified at the 2008 annual meeting.

Members' meeting
The members meeting began with a gathering of both the Community Journalism Interest Group members and members of the Citizen/Civic Journalism Interest Group. About 32 people were in attendance.

Peggy Kuhr (new dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Montana), outgoing chair of COMJIG, began the meeting by explaining that the Assessment Committee of AEJMC had asked the difference between COMJIG and CCJIG. Kuhr and Andrea Breemer Frantz (Wilkes University), outgoing chair of CCJIG, decided to hold a joint meeting at the 2007 convention of AEJMC so members could discuss shared interests and differences, recognizing that many AEJMC members belong to both interest groups.

As the discussion ran for more than 30 minutes, Bill Reader (Ohio University), vice chair of COMJIG, summarized some focal points that came from the discussion. CCJIG studied and discussed: New business models; social networking/diasporic community; process/approach; citizenship; deliberate/intentional efforts to engage communities. COMJIG, on the other hand, studied and discussed: The business side of local news media; journalism in small markets; the importance of local information (and geography); reflection of local culture; holistic approach.

Several members suggested the conversation could continue within each group and across the groups, and that "defining" both citizen/civic journalism and community journalism were important and perpetual tasks of both groups.

Breemer Frantz suggested a special issue of a journalism scholarly journal could be devoted to this discussion or perhaps an online journal (which would be easier to manage) could be created to handle these specific areas of journalism.

The groups adjourned the group members' meeting and divided for their respective annual business meetings.

Business meeting
The regular annual meeting of the executive committee of the Community Journalism Interest Group of AEJMC began at 9:20 p.m. Friday, August 10, 2007, Washington, D.C.

Thirteen members were in attendance.

Outgoing Chair Peggy Kuhr (Montana) said the minutes from the 2006 meeting are online at the COMJIG Web site. There were no questions or comments about the minutes and they were accepted as submitted.

Outgoing Vice Chair Bill Reader (Ohio) noted that the officers of the interest group had reviewed and approved the bylaws of the Interest Group, which are also at the Web site.

Kuhr said the interest group has 110 paid members (which is up from the initial 22, founding chair Jock Lauterer [North Carolina] noted). The treasury includes about $1,300 from dues.

Old Business

Reader reported that electronic submission of papers went quite well after Jack Rosenberry (St. John Fisher College) worked out some kinks with AEJMC headquarters. The electronic submission saves the research chair much work in mailing papers to reviewers.

Twelve papers were submitted and 7 were accepted for the 2007 conference. During the assessment process with AEJMC, Reader was told that AEJMC's traditional 50 percent acceptance rule was no longer a requirement. The assessment group also said the interest group does not have to worry about putting on more than one research session at the annual conferences.

Kuhr added that the assessment committee offered many helpful suggestions for boosting diversity in programming and for helping COMJIG remain an interst group in good standing. She suggested that renewal of the group was likely. Kuhr said that after the positive review with the assessments group of AEJMC, the interest group goes another three years before having to seek renewal.

New Business

Peggy Kuhr is the new dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Montana.

E. Vaughn Whitmore is the new vice head for the Council of Divisions and Kim Bissell is the new chair, Kuhr said.

Bill Reader then took over running the meeting as the new Chair of COMJIG.

Reader nominated Liz Hansen (Eastern Kentucky) to be vice chair. Lauterer seconded. Hansen was accepted by acclamation.

John Hatcher (Minnesota-Duluth) was nominated for secretary/membership chair by Reader and seconded by Brian Steffens (National Newspaper Association/Missouri). Hatcher was accepted by acclamation.

Andris Straumanis (Wisconsin-River Falls) was nominated for Research Chair by Reader and seconded by Ralph Hanson (West Virginia). He was accepted by acclamation.

Amanda Brozana (Stillman/Alabama) and Eileen Gilligan (SUNY Oswego) were nominated to be Teaching Standards Co-Chairs by Reader, and they were accepted by acclamation.

Ralph Hanson (West Virginia) was nominated by Reader to be chair of PF&R and seconded by Lauterer. Hanson was accepted by acclamation.

Kuhr bestowed the "golden pica pole" and knighted Reader chair of the interest group at 9:44 p.m.

Reader announced that member s should offer ideas for panels for the 2008 conference in Chicago.

Goals for the next year

1) The group needs “The Gimmick,” one or two sentences that explain what we are and distinguishes us from other groups and divisions in AEJMC.

2)Get the word out about this interest group; the assessment committee recommended that. As Kuhr says: “We are the small group with the big footprint.” Despite our size, interest group members have received 3 of the only 30 New Voices grants awarded so far (including one at West Virginia through Hanson and COMJIG member Maryanne Reed, and Reader’s at Ohio University); the new community journalism master’s program at the University of Alabama; four centers for community journalism (Huck Boyd Center at Kansas State, Carolina Community Media Projetc at North Carolina, and Center for Community Journalism at SUNY Oswego; and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at Kentucky); and the growing interest group of scholars at AEJMC. (The assessment group loved the COMJIG blog, Kuhr noted.)

3) Stop worrying about quantity of research. One of our missions is to foster research into community journalism and help the profession.

Doug Fisher (South Carolina, COMJIG's Web master for four years) moved that we give a $100 award to the best student research paper each year; Al Cross (Kentucky) seconded that motion. It was unanimously approved.

4) Next year’s conference location in Chicago gives more opportunity for the urban and ethnic press to be represented in our interest group’s sessions.

5) It’s important that we document everything the interest group does. The annual reports are vitally important for renewal of COMJIG every three years.

6) Input is needed regarding the conference location for 2011. Future locations are scheduled as follows: 2008-Chicago, 2009-Boston, 2010-Denver, 2011-Open, and 2012-Chicago. Members decided the officers could vote as they see fit regarding the 2011 location.

Other Business

Doug Fisher (South Carolina) asked that the group pay about $5 per year to allow an e-mail module that would notify members who subscribed that there was a new posting to the ComJIG blog. The group agreed.

Brian Steffens announced that the Newspaper Foundation put out a book called “The Newspaper” and needs another 12 chapters written.

Kuhr noted that Reader bought the URL called:, which the group could use to feature the diversity of our group, such as the wide range of communities represented. Journalism classes each semester could host the site and pose questions for community journalists and members to answer, etc. The group should decide what should be done with this site.

Fisher moved to adjourn and Kuhr seconded it. All voted aye at approximately 10:10 p.m.

Minutes respectfully submitted by
Eileen Gilligan (outgoing Secretary)

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