National Press Club

Membership meeting: Kodjak takes gavel as 112th National Press Club president

January 11, 2019 | By Lorna Aldrich | lorna2@verizon.net

Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, the 112th National Press Club president, received the Club’s presidential gavel from President Andrea Edney at a General Membership Meeting Friday.

“I think it’s incredibly important that we work together to make the Club a valuable place for our members and also make the Club a valuable voice in the world of journalism,” Kodjak said after taking office.

The handover followed reports on the Club’s membership and financial status and a summary of 2018 highlights.

Eileen O’Reilly, incoming membership secretary, reported a total membership of 2,831 members, including 1,325 journalism members and 1,336 communicator members. (Other categories include spousal, students, interns and building tenants). The total is down just under 5 percent from last year.

Such fluctuation was “pretty standard” and “not a cause for alarm,” Edney said. She added that the Board of Governors would be developing a strategic plan and would look at all aspects of membership, including recruiting and retention.

Edney added the “good news” that the Board would shortly be considering an application of 150 journalism members from a newsroom that she could not yet name publicly.

The Club had operating revenues of $13.9 million in 2018, yielding an unaudited profit of $816,000, Treasurer Michael Freedman said. Both numbers were over budget and marked the 12th consecutive year of profits from the Club’s business operations.

Freedman characterized the Club as being in good financial shape, citing no debt, $4.25 million in cash and investment reserves and $6.76 million in long term investments from sale of the Rockwell painting. But stock market volatility in the fourth quarter led to a decline in those long term investments from $8.06 million to the $6.76 million.

Reviewing a long list of notable speakers last year, Edney highlighted four sitting senators, three cabinet members, two governors and CEOs of major corporations. She was especially proud of the Fourth Estate Dinner, which honored Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron and New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet.

Edney also elevated the Club’s Freedom of the Press accomplishments, citing its contribution to the release of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez-Soto from detention in El Paso.

There also was discussion of the decision to raise Club dues $1 a month. Some meeting participants said benefits of Club membership were insufficient to warrant the increase, while others argued the Club is a good value.

“I think this is a phenomenal bargain,” Edney said.