An attempt to ask PRSA chair Joe Cohen via e-mail for a statement on Egypt jailing three journalists found Cohen telling all e-mailers July 1 he is "out of the country till July 7 and will not be checking e-mail."

Cohen
Cohen

Cohen is the acting CEO of the Society since former CEO Bill Murray cancelled his contract as of June 1. He should at least be available to members and the press via e-mail, even during a holiday period.

An O'Dwyer staffer who went to his New York office on Park Ave. South and 23rd St. in an attempt to interview him was only allowed to leave an envelope with the receptionist. Cohen has yet to appear before the membership of the New York chapter.

The question we have posed to him and VP-PR Stephanie Cegielski is a difficult one -- how about making a protest to Egypt which has sentenced three Al Jazeera reporters to long prison terms?

Just about everyone in the civilized world is making such pleas.

However, were PRSA to condemn Egypt, it would focus attention on the Society itself because it has barred all reporters from its annual legislative Assembly for three years and has a formal, off-stated boycott against reporters or freelancers for the O'Dwyer Co. The Society refuses to make a face-to-face presentation of its charges.

Society staff and leaders are in communication lockdown on many subjects and this lockdown is in force whether or not there is a holiday period.

The questions below have been sent to the 21 candidates for officer and board posts in 2015 but none has even acknowledged receiving the questions. The candidates, some of whom will get official nominations during the first week in August, can be challenged up until Sept. 11.

-- Non-Accredited members should be allowed to run for national board and officer posts. This has been forbidden since the 1970s although currently only 18% of members are APR and new APRs are coming in at a rate that for the past ten years is half the rate for the previous ten.


(    ) Yes     (    ) No

-- Reporters should be allowed to join PRSA and have full access to financial reports. PR people are allowed to join all press clubs in the U.S. and IABC allows reporter members. The press needs financial information in order to report fully and accurately on the Society. Gil Schwartz, CBS PR executive, is also a well known journalist, writing for Fortune magazine. If he is allowed to be a member, so should any journalist. IABC allows journalist members.

(    ) Yes      (    ) No

-- The Society should post its annual report and IRS Form 990 on its website early in the year but no later than May 31 each year. This practice is recommended by the Independent Sector (500+ non-profits).

(   )  Yes      (    ) No

-- The Assembly should have downloadable, full copies of the 990 weeks before it meets. The 990 has not been made available until after the Assembly for the past four years.

(   )  Yes      (    ) No

-- The Society, with about $5 million in cash and investments, should open a midtown New York facility for use by members, prospective member and the press. The New York chapter meets in various midtown bars since the downtown location of h.q. makes it too inconvenient to use.

(    ) Yes     (    ) No

-- The Society should provide an online directory of members that duplicates the former printed directory which was cancelled as of 2005. Reasons given were costs of printing, paper and postage. However, a PDF would shift all these costs to users. The PDF could easily be kept 100% up-to-date.

(    ) Yes     (    ) No

-- A list of all staff members including their titles, phones and e-mails should again appear on the Society website. Only eight names currently appear.

(    ) Yes     (    ) No

-- No member should lose any privileges without a hearing. A member recently was deprived of web access after being accused of forwarding Society finances to Jack O’Dwyer. The member did not do this. He only looked at the finances on the website. There was no hearing, no chance to present his side. He did not renew his membership. Non-members, including reporters, should also not be disciplined without a hearing. Member directories in the 1980s and 90s had two pages describing Judicial Panels that handled any charges against a member. Such due process should be returned to the Society.

(    ) Yes     (    ) No

-- The Assembly should elect its own officers just like lawyer, medical and accounting groups do and conduct its own meetings. Allowing staff and officers to monopolize the morning session with speeches followed by breaking up the Assembly into pieces for much of the afternoon should stop.

(    ) Yes     (    ) No

-- Non-APR members should be allowed to serve on the Board of Ethics and Professional Development. Only APRs may serve which implies that non-APRs are not as ethical as APRs.

(    ) Yes     (  ) No

-- The nominating committee should reflect the APR/non-APR proportion of members. The 2014 nomcom has 15 APRs and five non-APRs when the proportions should be reversed to reflect the 18% of members who are APR.
(    ) Yes     (    ) No