Melissa Lyttle Elected NPPA President

Incoming NPPA president Melissa Lyttle, vice president Michael King (on screen, upper left) and national secretary Seth Gitner were sworn in to their offices today during the organization's board of directors meeting at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens. Photograph by Kyle Grantham
Incoming NPPA president Melissa Lyttle, vice president Michael King (on screen, upper left) and national secretary Seth Gitner were sworn in to their offices today during the organization's board of directors meeting at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens. Photograph by Kyle Grantham

ATHENS, GA (January 24, 2016) – Independent photojournalist Melissa Lyttle from St. Petersburg, FL, today was elected president of the National Press Photographers Association during the organization's two-day board of directors meeting at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens. Lyttle has been serving for the past year as NPPA's vice president.

In addition, UGA journalism senior lecturer Mark E. Johnson was named NPPA's interim executive director to fill the post vacated by Chip Deale's departure. Johnson has been asked to serve in the director's post for a few months while NPPA conducts a search for the next director and then interviews candidates. Deale leaves NPPA at the end of this month.

Photojournalist Michael P. King of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, WI, was elected NPPA's vice president. Previously King has been serving as the organization's national secretary. And board member Seth Gitner, an associate professor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, was elected to the two-year term as national secretary. 

Ross Taylor, a visiting professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead creator of The Image, Deconstructed, will assume the remaining two years of Gitner’s board seat (because Taylor was the next-in-line runner-up in the most recent election). Carolyn Hall, a photojournalist for KTVA-TV in Anchorage, AK, is beginning the second year of her two-year post as national treasurer.

Multimedia producer and photography editor Luanne Dietz was sworn in as a new NPPA board member, along with photojournalist Alex Garcia. They were elected in the December 2, 2015 elections. Garcia was already on the board as an appointed member, and then he was elected. Today as the membership of the board changes, NPPA's past president Michael Borland leaves the panel as he is now replaced by NPPA's immediate past president, Mark Dolan.

The board also took special action today to create the John Long Ethics Award, which will be presented annually going forward as part of NPPA's yearly Honors & Awards program. The Long award honors an individual who has, through his or her efforts, upheld, shaped, and promoted ethical behavior in all forms of visual journalism. Honors & Awards committee chair Michael Borland, along with fellow committee members, Bob Gould and Michael Martinez, drafted the resolution which was passed by the board to create the John Long Ethics Award. 

The choice for the inaugural Long award was unanimous, Borland said. The first person to be honored with this important new presentation is Kenneth F. Irby (at left). The honor will be bestowed on Irby later this spring during ceremonies at NPPA's Northern Short Course.

During Saturday’s session, the board debated, adjusted, voted on and passed a proposed $959,000 budget for 2016. As part of this year's budget the board voted to publish six issues of News Photographer magazine in 2016 year rather than the usual 10, and they set aside funds for the future development of a "more robust" version of News Photographer's online digital edition, which is planned to launch in 2017. Other aspects of the planned digital efforts include addressing issues with NPPA's existing Web site.

In the executive director search, NPPA's new president Lyttle said there is still a February 12, 2016, deadline for candidates to apply for the job, but at this weekend's board meeting some additional and modified language has been added to the job description. The board will make the new job description available on the NPPA Web site and in other job postings in the coming days, Lyttle said. A three-person executive director search committee was created by Lyttle as her first presidential action, and she appointed interim executive director Mark E. Johnson to chair the search committee.

The break-even budget that was approved does not include a dues increase for the 10th straight year. Outgoing executive director Deale said, "Although expenses are climbing and revenue is declining, NPPA is sensitive to the economic situation of its members and is holding the line on dues at $110 (Professional) and $65 (Students and Retired)."

Deale said that the budget also includes funds for a nationwide series of day-long "Driving Short Courses" to be held in the spring and late fall in each of NPPA's nine new geographic regions. And funds also are allocated for a nationwide network of locally-based professional networking "communities" that will be launched in the markets where we have the greatest concentration of members (and prospective members).

Also, Deale said, "Leaders from NPPA and the American Society Of Media Photographers (ASMP) intend to hold discussions with one another on how the two organizations can collaborate to a greater extent for the mutual benefit of our shared and distinct constituencies. This ultimately might entail leveraging what each group does best (for example, ASMP's business practices training) and also jointly launching new initiatives (an example potentially could be new insurance products that visual storytellers need)."

On Sunday, the board made several operational and policy changes through resolutions and other motions:

• The Bylaws were clarified to reflect the intent that all members in good standing are eligible to be elected to the board of directors.

• Rules regarding advance notice of board meetings were strengthened, maintaining a 30-day notice for the Annual meeting, and requiring notice of special meetings to be sent as soon as they are scheduled. An explanation of the purpose of the special meeting must accompany the notice, and absent an emergency situation, special meetings cannot be scheduled less than one week in advance.

• Several duties of the national secretary were shifted to the executive director and vice president, and additional duties were given to the vice president to aid in communication between NPPA’s various committees and the board.

• NPPA’s standing committees were adjusted to promote greater activity and communication.

All of these changes will be reflected soon in updates to the online versions of NPPA’s Bylaws and Policies & Procedures.

Other items of business the board considered and debated this weekend included a long discussion on increasing membership, making much needed improvements to, the search for a new executive director, and increased collaboration with the National Press Photographers Foundation.

NPPA's new student representative to the board, Emily Selby, a senior photojournalism student at UGA, participated in her first board meeting in Athens. She is president of UGA’s NPPA Student Chapter and has served as chief photographer of the Red and Black, an independent student newspaper. Selby worked as a photographer for the Redcoat Marching Band at UGA in the fall of 2015, and will begin working as a photography intern for UGA Athletics beginning in 2016. Selby graduates in May of 2016 and plans to pursue a photojournalism career after graduation.

In advance of the board meeting a symposium entitled First Amendment Issues in Public Spaces was held on Friday, January 22 at the College jointly hosted by NPPA and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with the generous financial support provided by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. 

Approximately 115 students, faculty, and journalists attended the event which included panel discussions featuring Tim Tai & Mark Schierbecker, student journalists at University of Missouri, followed by another discussion of How Schools & Others Can Better Educate & Communicate with Students & the Community. The symposium concluded with a Crowd-Sourced Participatory Session, Tips When Covering Public Events; Advice on Best Practices; and Answers to Audience Questions, facilitated by Kenneth F. Irby.