Members to vote on bylaws proposal approved by ASNE board

ASNE members will begin voting next week on broadening the organization's bylaws to include more of those leading change in American journalism. The bylaws changes would expand the pool of potential members to include a wider range of editors, educators and nonprofit leaders dedicated to journalism, and create a nonvoting "Friends of ASNE" category for others whose participation will benefit the Society.

ASNE members will begin voting next week on broadening the organization's bylaws to include more of those leading change in American journalism.

Early next week, members will receive an e-mail explaining the proposed changes and inviting them to join a listserv where they can discuss them. Electronic voting will begin Friday, May 6, and will conclude two weeks later on May 20. The results will be announced the following week.

ASNE's board approved the proposed bylaws revisions on the final day of the organization's recent annual convention in San Diego. A vote by the full membership is required.

At least 50 members must vote to constitute a quorum, and the amendments must be approved by a two-thirds vote to pass.

"In the coming year, we plan to build membership and momentum, but that's only possible if we take care of a little business first," said ASNE President Ken Paulson. "The phrase 'revise ASNE's bylaws' won't quicken anyone's pulse, but it's a critical step we need to take to expand our reach and resources. We're asking our members to vote in favor of these changes, paving the way for a more inclusive and innovative ASNE."

The bylaws changes would …

  • Permit membership by a wider range of those involved in journalism education. Currently, it is restricted mainly to journalism deans, assistant deans and those who hold endowed chairs at universities. The new language would open membership to those in "faculty or supervisory positions" at universities or "related media institutions or programs" such as media research or innovation programs. It would also capture the growing number of highly respected journalists who have left newsrooms to become visiting or resident professionals in academia.
  • Broaden membership criteria to include leaders and faculty with groups "dedicated to media education and study or the promotion of free press and quality journalism." These might include leaders of groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists or the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism.
  • Clarify that membership, once restricted only to top newspaper editors, is open to all directing or supervisory editors involved in "print, online, electronic or digital media."
  • Allow the ASNE board, by a two-thirds vote, to grant membership to individuals "whose participation the board determines may be beneficial to ASNE and its journalistic endeavors." These might include respected media attorneys, as well as bloggers or independent researchers widely recognized as journalism thought leaders. Those in this new "Friends of ASNE" category would enjoy all membership benefits but would not have voting rights and could not serve in leadership positions.

Like many similar journalism organizations, ASNE has seen a sharp drop in membership over the past decade. The bylaws changes are intended to help reverse this decline by expanding the pool of potential members. But the revisions also reflect the changing definition of who is a "leader" in producing news content delivered to audiences on multiple platforms.

There also will be a vote on a minor bylaws change regarding removal of those who are delinquent in paying their dues.

A detailed description of the bylaws changes is attached.

Detailed description of proposed changes to ASNE bylaws