By Samantha Bennett
Well, this is it. I hope your travel plans are made and your registration is paid, because this is going to be one hell of a conference — especially considering the air of austerity and nervousness permeating our nation and our industry. Conference chairs Bill Nash and Gretchen Macchiarella have done an absolutely superhuman job pulling Ventura together, with notable assists from Bob Haught and Suzette Standring and pretty much everyone else on the NSNC Board. It wasn’t easy to shake money out of the trees in this economy, but we were bound and determined not to cave to the pressures that have extinguished so many journalism gatherings this year.
We’re meeting, we’ve got an outstanding lineup of speakers and activities, and by God we’re going to dig our toes into the sand and not get washed out to sea. We — and I mean all of us — don’t do what we do because we’re quitters or wimps. It takes stubbornness and guts to stick your opinions up the public’s nose and take the heat for it. We gather in Ventura to celebrate that doggedness and to share ways to climb in through the window when the door is locked.
Conference won’t be the same without the late John Kanaley, whose outgoing smile and gravelly voice were so long a fixture in the NSNC hospitality suite. John wasn’t a columnist; he was a groupie of sorts who graced us with his jovial presence and tireless spirit of volunteerism year after year. He was always ready and cheerful to run out for batteries, track down another corkscrew, fetch more books, scare up extra ice — whatever we needed, along with a hearty greeting, a sympathetic ear, a hug, a roar of laughter. We were so lucky to have him for as long as we did, but he left us suddenly this spring, and we are the poorer. We’ll remember him in Ventura and always.
If you’re not coming to conference, we’ll miss you and keep our fingers crossed that things will improve enough for you to join us next year in Bloomington, Ind. Because we’re going to keep doing this. We’re not going away, and we hope you won’t either. And if you are coming — see you on the beach, dude!