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Number 1 Shimbun

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

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The FCCJ is no longer a real “correspondents” club. Correspondents are largely a thing of the past, unfortunately. The club has become, instead, a journalists’ club, but a critical review of the regular members’ qualifications is likely to show that many no longer even qualify as journalists as defined in our Articles of Association or Bylaws, taking work in other fields of business. Many others have retired. This raises the question whether the role with regard to governance of a club with a total membership of 2,000 by less than 300 regular members, who may or may not be involved in journalism can still be justified.

The quorum for decisions at General Membership Meetings is 50% of members entitled to vote (i.e. regular members). This percentage represents no more than 7.5% of total membership. This position of control – undemocratic as it may be – comes with responsibilities. If the recent General Membership Meeting is any indication, the regular members seem to take this responsibility rather lightly. Only a handful of members showed up in person at the GMM and it took a massive phone-call effort by the already beleaguered office staff to finally reach the number of votes necessary for a quorum. This in turn delayed the start of the GMM by two and a half hours and necessitated a one-week extension of that meeting and a corresponding delay in the selection of BoD officers for the 2018-2019 term. It is the third time this has happened in the past two years.

Participation by the associate membership in the preliminary round of voting for associate candidates for the board was also problematical. Probably only a little over 100 out of a total of 1700 associate members voted (around 6%).

Why is there so little interest in club affairs on the part of the associates? Is it a sense of disenfranchisement? If this is the case, why not give the associate membership a larger say in club matters? It is not necessary to restrict voting rights to journalists to maintain the journalistic character of the club. There are other and probably better ways to do so. 

Why this fear of giving associate members a larger say in club affairs? Do journalists not recognize that it is as much in the interest of associates as in their own interest to maintain the club as a genuine journalists’ club? If associates want to join a social or a dining club, there are better options. They join precisely because it is a journalists’ club and because of its professional activities. So -- in sum -- it is time to think seriously about the roles of regular and associate members and come up with a more workable system of governance.

-Willem Kortekaas
Board member (associate).

Published in: July 2018

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