Brian O’Connor reported to the board on the outcome from the Detroit conference. Russell Frank said, “I think I speak for all that he did an amazing & much appreciated job.” Tracy Beckerman commented, “It was my first conference, but I was knocked out by it! Really felt very well-organized!’ Brian is still finalizing the last few expenses and a few sponsor checks are still in the mail.
Especially appreciated by attendees were the off-site dinners made possible though our generous sponsors: Detroit News, Freep, Chrysler, Ford, Quicken, GalaxE Solutions, Ilitch Organization/Detroit Tigers, Comerica, PNC Bank, Compuware, Strategic Staffing, Wayne State, Blue Cross, and Huntington Bank. Also, very much appreciated was the bus transportation provided by the City of Detroit Convention Bureau, who, in addition, paid the expenses to bring in Don Fry, a journalism speaker associated with the Poynter Institute.
The board approved two new At-Large Board Members, Tracy Beckerman, columnist, blogger and speaker at the recent conference, who will chair a new Social Media committee and Brian O’Connor, as chair of a Conference Committee. He will use his Detroit experience to help the board and conference chairs with advice, research, recommendations, fund-raising, marketing, and programming to provide continuity and avoid “reinventing the wheel” for every conference.
Regarding at-large board members, Ben Pollock noted that at-large members this year, and maybe future years, are committee chairs, in that at-large members will have duties, in exchange for the privilege of voting and setting policy. “I ask that the committee chairs pick whom they need. Let me know and all that.” Pollock suggested. ”My first interest is that committee members be NSNC members in good standing.” (If you are interested in being on a committee, please contact the Committee Chair via the feedback form.)
The previously formed Awards Committee co-chaired by Bob Haught and Dave Astor recommended that our Columnist of the Year and Legacy Award not be given on a regular basis, but only when there is a notable and outstanding candidate.
There was lengthy discussion of our conferences in general, primarily around the expenses involved in putting on a high-quality conference. Brian noted, “The key to a successful conference, according to the survey, was it had to be cheap to register AND cheap to get to, as well as offering folks a way to boost their writing, audience and income.” Various ideas were brainstormed by the board without a solution that was acceptable. Pollock noted that “… our long term traditional projects are interdependent. So if we change one, we have to note the impact elsewhere.” O’Connor’s first assignment is make a researched recommendation to the board regarding our conferences.
On the topic of the writing contest, VP Larry Cohen believes contest categories are too limited and we need to add more. Contest Chair Mike Dupree said his first inclination is negative toward adding categories, but he is willing to listen to ideas. They agreed to revisit the rules and gather input in order to make a recommendation to the board .
Ben Pollock reported on the meeting of the Council of National Journalism Organizations. It’s an umbrella group of several dozen groups like ours. Representatives discussed partnering with other organizations for conferences and say it can work if you have same goals and parameters. Social networking was explored with recommendations on when and how to use it to your best advantage. In regard to membership and it was suggested that automatic renewal from credit cards can help with retention. In the area of student journalism, it was reported that students are very aware of the current state of journalism but still eager to enter the profession. It was suggested that organizations promote their annual conferences to colleges as students want to network with pros. All agreed that the top benefit of belonging to a journalism association is education and networking.