Home' Local Media Today : April 2009 Contents Alphabet Soup Of Associations...
Recipe For Common
Throughout my time on the board the question has come up periodically: is there
a way for the various trade associations that serve the newspaper industry to work
together on conferences, training, marketing and research?
Oftimes the question is borne of frus-
tration and concern over time spent
out of the office attending multiple
conferences with sometimes overlap-
ping agendas. Other times it is
prompted by a review of travel and
dues budgets. And once or twice I
confess muttering under my breath
about attending “warm weather” conferences scheduled for early February in
northern Florida—when only Mexico or Hawaii are reliably warm—in order to
avoid conflicts with other associations with similar objectives. Regardless, at no
time in my 20 years of SNA attendance has what I loosely term “association
redundancy” been truly addressed.
Admit it, who hasn’t scratched their head trying to keep straight all the players
that serve our industry? Combined, our association appellations could make a
good alphabet soup. On a wall chart, we look like the Balkans—only with over-
lapping borders. I wonder how we’ve avoided armed conflict...but then I remem-
ber: we’re journalists; the pen is mightier than the sword.
Early in March, a step was taken to address this issue. Nancy Lane and I had the
privilege to represent SNA at a meeting in Chicago attended by the chairs and
ceo’s of Inland, SNPA, API, and NAA with the sole agenda item of finding com-
While it would be premature to state that we sang Kumbayaa on all issues, I can
say that we were at least all speaking—in the same language, even.
Specifically, we discussed merging conferences or at least holding our respective
events at the same time in the same city. Inland and SNA have already agreed to
coordinate respective Fall conferences this September in Kansas City. And SNPA
has joined forces with us this November at our contiguous circulation and classi-
fied conferences scheduled for Myrtle Beach, SC.
We also agreed to begin exploring common marketing initiatives. Everyone at
the table enthusiastically supported Nancy Lane’s suggestion that the entire
industry develop a campaign, aimed at advertisers, promoting the combination of
metro and community papers. Frankly, if preprints shift to ADVO, we need each
other. As Nancy said, ours is no longer an either/or world.
Finally, we have agreed to develop a master calendar of training events by region.
As an aside, you will be pleased to know that the other associations’ participants
praised SNA’s business model—outsourced back office, diversified revenue
stream—as the likely template for the whole industry going forward. I may be
guilty of only a little hyperbole when I say that we are the envy of our peers.
The over-arching view of the group was that we need to rationalize our industry
association assets in a manner similar to those of the radio, cable, tv and maga-
So the goals are simple: to avoid redundancy in programming, to create clearly
defined pathways for training, and to look for ways to reduce expenses.
Here’s my promise: while I believe that addressing association redundancy is
overdue, as SNA’s current chair I want to make clear that Nancy and my foremost
goal is to do only what is right for our membership. Lots of dedicated communi-
ty publishers have worked hard over the last 33 years to make SNA the strong
organization it is today. So rest assured that we will protect the franchise—but
avoiding redundancy and partnering, where appropriate, only makes sense.
SNA Board of Directors
“We are unrelenting watchdogs.
You can count on us. We don’t
sleep. We are constantly under
scrutiny. We fight for democracy,
for good, and for the people,”
said Chris March, Promotions
and Marketing Manager for The
Mercury (Pottstown, PA). It was
with that realization about his newspaper that he and artist Alan MacBain collab-
orated to create the super-hero Mercury mascot Skippy and his trusty sidekick
Dot (as in pottsmerc.com!) in cartoon fashion.
The heroes took a prominent place in a cartoon strip that appeared in a recent
Opinion page entirely devoted to the newspaper and their relationship with the
community. Publisher Tom Abbott said they wanted to tackle the issue of negativ-
ity swirling around the newspaper industry head on. Editor Nancy March said
they decided to create the page with accompanying editorial as letters supporting
the newspaper were crossing her desk after the announcement of the Chapter 11
filing by their parent company, Journal Register Company.
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