President’s Message – Samantha Bennett

By Samantha Bennett

Samanta BennettI don’t mean to gloat and make you feel bad if you weren’t there, but I have to say: Ventura kicked butt. It was a career seminar that was also a great party, a celebration that was also an education.

Steve Lopez inspired us. Jeff Zaslow brought us to tears. Jon Carroll made us laugh and made us proud. And our other speakers and panelists gave us tools, ideas, game plans,  encouragement, advice and causes. Even the attendance list was fresh with interesting new people doing interesting new things. We wouldn’t have seen them two or three years ago, but they showed a lot of enthusiasm and brought a new electricity.

One of the messages we got loud and clear was this: Instead of lamenting how the wicked Web ate the newspapers out from under us, we would be wiser to befriend it, embrace it and harness it to pull our own wagons out of the mud. To that end, NSNC has expanded its presence online.

In addition to our Yahoo Groups Discussion List, which we’ve had for a long time, we’re now on Twitter. Search #NSNC at search.twitter.com, and tag your posts with #NSNC to Tweet your comments.

If you’re not a fan of NSNC on Facebook, shame on you! It’s a great way to get in contact with other columnists and find out how they’re using social networking to advance their brands. Or just swap goofy YouTube videos.

… And speaking of YouTube videos, NSNC has its own channel on YouTube! It’s at http://www.youtube.com/columnists , and there’s some nice amateur filmmaking there to help you relive your conference memories – or feel as if you were there if you weren’t.

Contest-winning columns, along with judges’ comments, are up on the NSNC Web site, and I encourage you to read about Will Rogers Humanitarian Award recipient and former NSNC President Jonathan Nicholas. Another role model is our first-place General Interest (100K+ circulation) Column Contest winner, Tom Rademacher, who took a buyout but went out on top and isn’t crying in his beer. We also seem to have dislodged Sarah Palin by giving her the Sitting Duck Award. Whether we dropped her like an unwary moose or freed her to ascend like an eagle remains to be seen.

Next year, we will convene in Bloomington, Indiana, and those who couldn’t manage a trip out to the West Coast will have a shorter journey. (And I hope those for whom Ventura was local will gamely pack your bags.) Former NSNC President Mike Leonard and his splendid wife, Mardi, are already well into the planning and hat-passing – excuse me, fundraising – to ensure another stellar gathering.

In the meantime, we must look ahead. I’d like to appoint a Task Force on the Future of NSNC. Its mission will be to examine the state of the organization and develop recommendations for a rebuilding effort that will strengthen NSNC and enable it to carry on the traditions of its 33-year history while meeting the challenges of this, um, transitional period in journalism.

I’m looking for three to five people to make up a diverse group: current and former board members, past presidents and newer members, representative of print and online, salaried and freelance columnists. We’ll spend the coming year looking at financing, membership, communications/marketing and organizational issues. Surviving and thriving isn’t just something to do individually – we have to explore our options and decide how to do it as an organization as well.

This is your chance to make a difference and help chart a course for NSNC into the future. Interested? Shoot me an e-mail at sambennett1@verizon.net .

7/1/09

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