Bylaws of the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists
Adopted in 2019
ARTICLE I — NAME
The “New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists,” also known as NJ-SPJ, is the New Jersey chapter of the national Society of Professional Journalists, founded in 1909. NJ-SPJ was founded in 1959.
ARTICLEII— MISSION STATEMENT
Our mission is to further the ethics and ideals of journalism.
Section 1 — It is recommended that members live in New Jersey or cover New Jersey news to be eligible to be a member of the chapter. (“New Jersey news” shall also include cross-state regional news that affects people in New Jersey.) Those who grew up in New Jersey or were educated in New Jersey are also eligible, as are retirees who previously met any of the above criteria. Chapter members who leave New Jersey or retire may retain their chapter membership.
Section 2 — Chapter members must pay dues to the national Society and the chapter will accept all categories of the SPJ as members of the chapter. (See section on Voting.)
Section 3 — The chapter encourages student members to be active in their campus chapter, if one exists. Their participation in NJ-SPJ will not be limited by their campus membership.
Section 4 — The chapter will also accept educators as members if their responsibilities include Journalism, English, History or Communication, or a similar field; as well as an advisor to campus news media.
ARTICLE IV — OFFICERS
Section 1 — The executive officers of the chapter shall be: President, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
PRESIDENT — The president shall be the chief executive officer and shall supervise and direct the business and affairs of the chapter. The president shall have the power to delegate such functions to other officers as necessary. The president shall have the power to create committees of officers, directors, members, or any combination thereof, to further the business and affairs of the chapter.
VICE PRESIDENT— The vice president shall exercise the functions of the president in the absence or inability of the president, either temporarily or for the duration of the president’s term.
SECRETARY —The secretary shall record the minutes of meetings of the chapter membership and the executive officers or board of directors, be custodian of chapter records, maintain chapter membership rolls, and maintain contact with the national Society. The Secretary shall perform such other duties as may be assigned by the president or board, and provide all notices required by these Bylaws. The secretary will certify that people running for the board are members in good standing.
TREASURER —The treasurer shall be the principal accounting and financial officer of the chapter. The treasurer shall be responsible for the financial books of account for the chapter, will have custody of all chapter funds and securities, and will make disbursements of funds in accordance with chapter policies and at the direction of the executive officers.
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT — The Immediate Past President shall serve as an ex-officio officer of the chapter.
Section 2 — If the president and vice president are both unable to carry out their duties, executive power shall flow to the following officers, in order: the secretary, the treasurer, the immediate past president.
Section 3 — Officers’ terms shall begin on July 1, and each shall serve for one year or until their successors have been selected and qualified.
Section 4 — The board, by majority vote, will have the power to fill any board positions that become vacant before the next scheduled election. New members of the board of directors shall be nominated by the president with input from the executive officers.
There shall be six directors, who will serve staggered terms. Directors will begin their terms at the first board meeting after they are elected. Terms for board members will be two years, beginning July 1.
ARTICLE V — OPEN MEETINGS & OPEN PROGRAMS
Section 1 — “Meetings” as used herein shall mean regularly scheduled or special meetings that are publicized or announced and approved by the executive officers.
Section 2 — At a meeting of the chapter, a quorum consisting of six of the board members must be present to conduct any business.
Section 3 — Any action of the executive officers and/or board of directorsmay be rescinded by a majority vote of the members in good standing present at a meeting of the chapter membership if notice has been given in accordance with Section 2 above that the action previously taken by the executive officers and/or board of directors shall be put to a vote of the membership at the meeting.
Section 4 — ROBERT’S RULES OF ORDER shall be the parliamentary authority for all matters of procedure not specifically covered by these bylaws.
Section 5 — All membership meetings and programs of the New Jersey chapter of SPJ shall be on the record and open to coverage by any or all communications media, unless the board will be considering personnel, financial or legal matters. Coverage of programs of the New Jersey chapter of SPJ shall be encouraged in order to acquaint the profession and public at large with the issues discussed by and before the chapter membership. Individual guest speakers shall be apprised in advance that this is a chapter policy.
Section 6 — The financial records of the chapter and minutes of all meetings shall be open for inspection to members in good standing. Requests for inspection shall be made to the custodian(s) of such records and shall be made available, if practical, at the next meeting of the membership or the executive officers or board of directors.
ARTICLE VI — ELECTIONS
Section 1 — There shall be an election annually in June to elect the executive officers and six directors of the New Jersey chapter of SPJ.
Section 2 — In preparation for the annual election, in April (2 months before the election) the President shall appoint a Nominating Committee to prepare a slate of candidates for each officer and director position to be filled.
Section 3 — No later than 45 days before the election the Nominating Committee shall forward to the President a slate of qualified candidates for executive and director positions.
Section 4 — Upon determination that each candidate is a member of the chapter in good standing, the secretary shall, at least 30 days before the election, publish the candidates’ names and qualifications for office to the chapter membership.
Section 5 — Any chapter member in good standing may nominate a candidate or candidates to run against the proposed slate. Nominations must be received by the chapter President no later than 14 days before the election and must include a statement of the candidate’s qualifications to hold the office for which s/he has been nominated. Upon verification that a candidate nominated in this way is qualified, the secretary shall, no later than 10 days before the election, publish the names of candidates and their qualifications by the same method used to publish the official slate.
Section 6 — The election shall be conducted by secret ballot of all chapter members in good standing at a regular chapter meeting in June. Voting by electronic means shall commence on the election date and continue until 11:59 p.m. on that date. Ballots shall be sent to the secretary.
Section 7 — All chapter members in good standing are eligible to vote.
Section 8 — No later than a week after the election, a committee appointed by the President shall count the ballots and report the results of the election to the officers and board, which shall inform the membership of the outcome of the election, either electronically or by U.S. Mail.
Section 9 — If there are more candidates for director positions than the number of seats to be filled, the first seat will be filled by the candidate who received the largest number of votes, the second seat will be filled by the candidate who received the second largest number of votes, and so on until all seats have been filled.
ARTICLE VII — GOVERNANCE
BOARD OF DIRECTORS – The board of directors is the decision-making body of the chapter. It shall meet at least monthly between September and June to conduct the chapter’s business. The board shall be made up of the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, immediate past president and directors.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – The executive officers (president, vice president, treasurer and secretary) may exercise all of the power of the board of directors while the board is not in session, except to the extent, if any, that such authority shall be limited by action of the board.
FILLING UNEXPIRED TERMS – Vacancies among officers, other than the President, due to death, resignation or other cause shall be filled by a majority vote of a quorum of six of the officers and directors. Officers appointed under this section shall serve until the next chapter election. Directors appointed under this section shall serve the unexpired term of the person being replaced.
ADVOCACY POWERS – The chapter, its officers and members are authorized to address any issue as they advocate for high standards within the profession and in advocating for the First Amendment. Officers and members must make it clear when they are expressing their own views‚ as opposed to espousing positions formally adopted by the chapter or its board.
ARTICLE VIII — ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMS
Section 1 – As feasible‚ the chapter will conduct an annual journalism awards contest and/or maintain a Hall of Fame to honor the best people in our profession. As feasible, the chapter will add locations to its registry of New Jersey historic sites in journalism.
Section 2 – The chapter will promote journalism education through cooperation with high school‚ college‚ media organizations and community groups. The chapter will support the formation and continuation of college SPJ chapters.
Section 3 – The chapter will promote public access to public information. We will work to ensure that private actions with impacts on the public are revealed. The chapter will monitor compliance with the New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, the Open Public Meetings Act and similar statutes‚ and will support freedom of information efforts in the nation and state.
ARTICLE IX — DUES AND FEES
Section 1 — The amount of local dues to be paid by each member of the chapter shall be fixed by the chapter officers subject to ratification by the professional membership when the officers propose to increase or decrease the annual dues.
Section 2 – Dues and fees (such as those charged for events) shall be used for expenses related to meeting the goals of Article II, the Mission Statement.
ARTICLE X — AMENDMENTS & REVISIONS
Section 1 — The board of directors has the power to amend, revise or replace these bylaws upon a two-thirds vote of a quorum of the directors. Any amendments, revisions or new bylaws adopted by the board may be amended or repealed by a referendum initiated by the NJSPJ membership if proposed by 10 percent members.
Section 2 — The text of member-initiated proposed changes should be presented to the membership at least 60 days before balloting is to begin. Objections to board-initiated amendments or bylaws changes should be explained or alternatives proposed at least 30 days before the balloting. Electronic means and/or U.S. mail are acceptable ways to communicate those changes.
Section 3 — Amendments become effective immediately after voting results are announced. Voting results should be announced within a week of the vote.
ARTICLE XI — VOTING PROCESS
Members can vote at meetings of the membership or by electronic means.
ARTICLE XII —REMOVAL FROM OFFICE
Section 1 — Board members can be removed from office after failure to attend three regularly scheduled, consecutive meetings, or any five meetings during a business year without an excuse approved by a quorum of six of the officers and directors; as well as for causes listed in Section 4.
Section 2 — The affected board member shall be given seven days’ notice of a vote for removal from office. At the next regular board meeting and upon recommendation of the President, two-thirds of the remaining officers and directors shall vote on the removal. If removal is approved, the officer or board member shall be considered removed from office.
Section 3 –The board is empowered to review the performance of the elected officers. It is authorized to investigate complaints of misfeasance or malfeasance against the organization‚ officers or members‚ and recommend appropriate steps to the membership for a vote.
Section 4 – Persons holding the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer may be removed for just cause by a two-thirds vote of a quorum of board members. Members may be removed from the chapter. Causes for removal include but are not limited to: misfeasance, malfeasance, theft, neglecting duties, violation of rules, harm or potential harm to the chapter, disobedience of instructions from the board of directors, or acting in place of direction from the board in a deleterious or potentially deleterious manner.
Discussion can be held at a regular or special meeting of the board members, and the affected board member will be given a chance to address the board. After discussion, the board will vote.
Two-thirds of a quorum must vote in favor of removal. The affected board member does not have to be present for the vote, although the president or vice president must report to the board of directors that the affected board member was notified of the possibility of action so that the board member can be given a chance to address the board. The board member is removed immediately after a vote to do so.
Board members have the discretion to treat the reason for removals with confidentiality.
ARTICLE XIII — DISBANDING THE CHAPTER
Upon the decision to terminate the chapter, whether by dissolution, disbandment, revocation pursuant to the national Bylaws, or otherwise, any remaining chapter funds shall be distributed to an adjoining active Society chapter then in good standing, to the Society or to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, as directed by the chapter’s governing body, or, in the absence of action within 60 days of termination by the local governing body, by the Board of Directors of the national Society. (The wording in this section is taken from Art. V, Sec. 14 of the national Bylaws.)
(End of NJSPJ Bylaws, as adopted in full during 2019)