Presidents Message – Samantha Bennett

Samanta BennettSamanta Bennett
NSNC President

“We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” 

     – Benjamin Franklin

As the drumbeat of bad news pounds on, day after day, it’s hard not to become fearful. But we didn’t become columnists because we are fearful.
We became columnists because of trust. We trust sources, instincts, our ability to tell a story and change something, and trust that truth will out and justice will be done. In turn, we earn the trust of our readers, and maybe even of our editors. (Maybe.)
Like all precious things, trust comes with a challenge. The upheaval we see around us, in the economy and our business, tests our trust in our relevance and value. There are probably very few of us who haven’t wondered lately, “What the hell will I be doing in two years?”

The bad news is, you may well not be doing exactly what you’re doing now, the way you’re doing it now. That’s also the good news. This is the time to take control of your destiny and turn your faith in yourself and your audience into new opportunities.

That’s the message of NSNC’s 2009 conference in Ventura, and we’re working to pack it with information and inspiration to show you how to use your acumen as a columnist to branch into other media, find other ways of telling stories, other ways of getting people laughing or riled up or motivated. Freelancers will find ideas for current and potential clients in the changing climate. In 2008, we went to New Orleans because there were stories that needed to be told; we not only told them, but we’re compiling them into a book. For ’09, we’re gathering speakers who spun columns into movies and TV, who wrote books, went global with blogs and Webcasts, or took humor live into comedy clubs. All while paying tribute to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll, our Lifetime Achievement Award winner, whose longevity reassures us of the power of damned good writing.

We can struggle to transform our livelihoods on our own or help each other do it together. NSNC isn’t me or the board of directors, it’s you – every member. This organization’s strength and value lies in the contributions of the members, and that has never been clearer than in this difficult time. Sometimes, columnists tell me, “I joined NSNC for a year, but I didn’t get anything out of it, so I didn’t renew.” And I want to ask them, “What did you put in?” Did you use the Web site and syndication guide? Did you come to the conference? Did you offer to be on a committee or propose a project? Did you “chat” in our Yahoo discussion group about how things are going in your specialty, in your region?

Because as in any relationship, what you put in dictates what you get out. NSNC isn’t a bailout; it’s a partnership. We have a lot to offer, and so do you.

We want your ideas, your contest entry, your experience, your commitment. Tell us how to be better and help us do it. Be part of the future. This is no time to pull up the drawbridge and tremble – the more we reach out, to each other and to our communities and the world, the stronger we become.

NSNC has been the wind in the sails of those willing to join in hoisting them. Our board members have gained exposure and opportunities due to their involvement, and we’re always looking for fresh faces and energy. We can worry about the future, or we can make it.

Let’s live by what we trust, and not by what we fear.

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