By Eric Heyl
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
The question is well worth pondering.
“Why aren’t we promoting the value of NSNC membership?”
The query was posed recently in an unsolicited email from long-time NSNC member and author Anne Louise Grimm.
Her message recommended selling the organization’s merits not just to columnists, but also to reporters, photojournalists and bloggers, among others.
The inquiry comes at a good time. As the new year begins, so does our annual solicitation to the NSNC’s lifeblood — that would include you — to renew your membership. Before we can begin considering Anne Louise’s outreach idea, it’s essential to shore up our base.
A great way to begin is to note that our dues are low compared to many other professional journalism organizations. Still, given the fragile economy and our industry’s continuing occupational uncertainty, it’s understandable to ask yourself this question: “Would my $50 be better spent on one of those premium Black Angus steak dinners and a couple of margaritas at T.G.I. Friday’s?”
It’s a no-brainer that I’m going to advise that you spend that money on a year’s worth of professional benefits rather than a single evening’s enjoyment at a ubiquitous chain restaurant with far too much distracting ephemera on its walls.
I’m here to convince you that your membership not only is valuable to you, but it also is vital to ensuring the continued success of perhaps the nation’s most unique and colorful collection of wordsmiths. I wouldn’t be much of an NSNC president if I used this space to extol the merits of a fire-grilled flat iron, topped with maison butter and served with two sides of your choice.
I’m getting hungry here. So perhaps it’s better to have the motivational pep talk delivered by Anne Louise, whose books include Intimate Reflections: Two Years at the Panama Canal.
“My membership is well worth the small annual fee,” she wrote in the email. “More than my National Press Club membership was worth when I was writing and selling as a photojournalist to U.S. magazines.”
Please go on, Anne Louise. You still have the floor.
“Any chance I get, I proudly mention my NSNC membership,” she wrote. “Not only because I began my professional writing at a small trade paper. … Admittedly, I trade on the name recognition of the ‘big name’ columnists who are fellow NSNC members. I’d love to see (or) hear any one of them interviewed on TV (or) radio saying how much their membership means to them.”
Actually, I’d love that as well.
But there are other reasons for renewing your membership other than maintaining a modest professional connection to someone like W. Bruce Cameron, the wildly successful bestselling author whose most recent work is the well-received A Dog’s Journey: Another Novel for Humans.
We offer the annual column contest, which returns this year with cash awards in addition to professional prestige. We offer the annual conference, which will be held in Hartford, Conn., in June. We offer the conviviality of the columnist community, and you really can’t put a price on that (primarily because it’s not a product, but you know what I’m trying to say).
If that’s not $50 worth of value, I don’t know what is. I urge you to fork over the fifty (or $45 with automatic renewal) and enjoy another year of membership benefits in the NSNC.
Anne Louise undoubtedly would agree: The Friday’s flat iron can wait.