IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT (OF SPJ)

The nation’s largest journalism organization has a big problem.

The Society of Professional Journalists is led by a crazy woman. Seriously, SPJ’s president is insane. She talks nonstop. She also interrupts and insults nonstop.

How do I know this? I’m SPJ’s longest-serving national board member. Saturday afternoon, we held a virtual meeting that fireballed right away.

Don’t believe me? Above, watch my supercut of crazy. And trust me, it gets crazier the longer you tune in.

It’s not even important to know what we were debating, which was solely about who should chair a committee. The board of directors innocuously wanted one person, but president Alex Tarquinio wanted another – and she went thermonuclear over it. Which is SOP for her, SOL for us.

What crazy costs

Before you ask…

  • No, I’m not violating any confidences here. SPJ posts videos of its board meetings, although this latest shitshow isn’t there yet.
  • Yes, I’ll catch hell. Even though SPJ meetings are open, and even though we’re journalists who cover other people’s shitshows, SPJ leaders usually condemn me when I “air our dirty laundry.”

So why am I exposing SPJ’s soiled sheets right now? Because Tarquinio has been president for nine months, and we’ve tried everything to deal with her. Nothing has worked. She’s only getting crazier.

Meanwhile, SPJ’s membership has dropped 13 percent during Tarquinio’s term. SPJ will soon conduct interviews to hire a new executive director – and Tarquinio has named herself to the search committee. That means her megalomania could hobble SPJ far beyond her term, which ends in September.

I don’t think SPJ can survive that long.

Impeaching the president

SPJ’s bylaws, like any organization’s, allow for removing leaders who aren’t doing their job…

Article Seven Section Six. The board of directors may declare any national office or the position of any director vacant if the board determines the incumbent has failed to perform the duties of the office or no longer meets the qualifications for the office.

Such action shall require approval of two-thirds of the members of the board. Any elected person whose removal will be considered shall be notified in writing 14 days in advance that the board may take such action. The national board shall notify all campus and professional chapters of that meeting 14 days in advance.

If you watched the video, you might wonder why we didn’t oust Tarquinio long ago. The simple answer: SPJ’s board of directors is comprised of mostly nice people.

They’re also smart people. Without compelling evidence of crazy, SPJ leaders would create more problems than they’d solve by toppling Tarquinio. But Saturday, she played all her greatest hits, for all to see.

So starting today, I’ll contact as many SPJers as I can. I’ll ask them to watch this video. If they agree Tarquinio must go, that’ll give SPJ’s board the noble motivation – and political cover – to get rid of her.

Last hurrah, last gasp

And if this doesn’t work?

Well, I tried. If SPJers want to stay the course, I’ll shut my mouth. My time on the SPJ board ends in September. I’ve served since 2008 – with one year off to preserve my sanity – and I’m not running again.

I guess you call this going out with a bang.

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