I received my proxy ballot for The Associated Press’s annual meeting yesterday.
About five years ago, the AP moved from a normal election process for its board of directors (multiple candidates running for a certain number of seats, the person with the most votes wins) to a Soviet Russia-type system in which a preferred slate of candidates was chosen (by the existing board, apparently?) and members could either vote “For” or “Against.”
An insular culture moves to guarantee that it will remain that way.
They did, however, leave space on the ballot for write-ins. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but it’s there.
So this year, in recognition of the tremendous changes that need to occur in the industry, and the Associated Press’s part in holding up that change, I voted “Against” every member of the preferred slate.
They are Michael Golden of the New York Times, R. Jack Fishman of Lakeway Publishers in Morristown, Tenn., (representing smaller newspaper publishers), Mary Junck of Lee Enterprises, Steven Newhouse of Advance Publications, Charles Pittman of Schurz Communications in South Bend, Ind., and the only newcomer to the board, Katharine Weymouth of the Washington Post.
For the fun of it, I wrote in one name, Jeff Jarvis, who recently argued that The Associated Press should disband.
You have to be an AP member to qualify for nomination to the board, but I figure that since Journal Register Company has 19 daily newspapers who have been members for decades, and that Jarvis recently agreed to join a special advisory board to JRC, that qualifies him.
It’s a nice fantasy to think that the AP would be that open to criticism and thinking about how it might change. But they’re not even open to allowing their members to vote on being open to it.