ASNE's first-quarter report

There has been a great deal of activity at ASNE since the 2011 convention ended. From a bylaws change and training webinars to survey results, amicus briefs and a diversity summit, ASNE President Ken Paulson provides the details in his quarterly report to the membership.

At our convention in San Diego, we talked about the need for this to be a transformative year for ASNE. We committed to expanding membership, improving communications and launching new training opportunities, while maintaining our longstanding commitment to First Amendment values and diversity.

To bring focus to the mission, we scaled our standing committees back to six and called on each to develop an ambitious agenda. Here's where we stand at the end of the first quarter.

Membership and Marketing Committee
Andy Alexander, Pam Fine, and Arnie Robbins, co-chairs

Andy Alexander Pam Fine Arnie Robbins

By a 121 to 10 vote, ASNE members voted to broaden the range of those eligible to join. The revised bylaws expand membership to a wider range of journalism educators and open ASNE to leaders of a growing number of nonacademic groups dedicated to media research or press freedom. The vote also established a new “Friends of ASNE” category that will broaden both our membership and perspective.

The committee also launched a regular newsletter, designed to provide a weekly reminder that ASNE is vibrant and active, that lets members know that they are receiving value for their dues.

Looking ahead: We're about to launch a major effort to recruit members under our newly expanded membership criteria and encourage those who have allowed their membership to lapse to rejoin ASNE.

Diversity Committee
Karen Magnuson and Ronnie Agnew, co-chairs

Karen Magnuson Ronnie Agnew

The ASNE Diversity Committee worked with former ASNE President Milton Coleman and a range of media association partners to conduct a two-day session entitled, “Leadership in Diversity: New Models for Growing Audience, Talent and Revenue.” The first meeting was held in June in Orlando.

Participants gained new insights into diversity based on new census numbers and the role it can play in growing audience and revenue. Panelists emphasized:

  • The importance of niches, helping connect targeted segments with useful information and with each other.
  • The move to digital. People of color use mobile far more than white counterparts. Social networking is essential.
  • The growing acceptance of "voice" (analysis/opinion) in sharing or delivering the news.
  • The use of collaborations and partnerships to reach more people and extend the brand.
  • The importance of professional development of journalists of color – and the free stuff that's available online if you don't have a budget.
  • The need for our industry to recommit to being inclusive and authentically reflecting the more diverse communities we serve.

We also formed a diversity sub-committee, chaired by the Diversity Institute's Jack Marsh, to oversee the search for a partner to conduct the newsroom census. The subcommittee expects to make a decision before Labor Day.

Looking ahead: The second Leadership in Diversity session focusing on the business case for diversity is scheduled for Sept. 19-20 in New York City.

Partnerships and Projects Committee
David Boardman and Susan Goldberg, co-chairs

David Boardman Susan Goldberg

The Committee has been focusing on the possible relocation of ASNE Headquarters. The idea is to save on rent and to create synergy with an educational institution. The committee has created a request for proposals that was sent out to 55 colleges last month. More than a dozen have enthusiastically responded and discussions continue. The timetable calls for a decision before October.

Leadership Development Committee
Mizell Stewart III, chair; and Linda Grist Cunningham, vice-chair

Mizell Stewart III Linda Grist Cunningham

ASNE's Leadership Development Committee partnered with the American Press Institute in June to survey ASNE members and nonmembers on the most critical challenges and opportunities over the next 18 months. The survey results, which were released last week, were clear on three challenges: maintaining strong writing, editing and First Amendment responsibilities; ensuring their staffs bring together the right people with the right skills in the right places; and developing, implementing and sustaining strong mobile approaches to news gathering. These editors are solidly grounded in their journalism and actively seeking pragmatic solutions to the transformations through which they are working.

The Committee also held webinars on paid content, digital strategy, copyright, legal issues and research from the Reynolds Journalism Institute on tablet computing.

Looking ahead: The Leadership Development Committee and the University of Kentucky in Lexington will be host for the first of a series of seminars on Oct. 10. The discussion, which will be webcast live with the support of the Scripps Foundation, will bring together retired Hall of Fame journalists with editors of ASNE and other organizations. The group will explore pragmatic solutions to the leadership challenges facing working editors.

A series of seminars on the use of “Smart Phones, Smart Journalism,” developed by the Diversity Institute, will be launched on September 20 at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Freedom of Information Committee
Amanda Bennett and Bill Sternberg, co-chairs

Amanda Bennett Bill Sternberg

ASNE was a supporter of the 2011 State of the First Amendment survey released by the First Amendment Center at the National Press Club.

1 for All, the national marketing campaign on behalf of the First Amendment, which was founded as an ASNE project, will expand to a new round of campuses in the coming year, including the University of Missouri, University of Minnesota, Wilbur Wright College, Dominican University of California, and North Georgia College and State University. The campus initiative is funded by the McCormick Foundation.

The committee worked closely with ASNE legal counsel Kevin Goldberg, agreeing to join ACLU v. Alvarez (supporting the ACLU's challenge to the constitutionality of the Illinois wiretapping statute); Baker v. Goldman Sachs (supporting the right of a journalist to invoke the reporter's privilege in a fraud case brought by business owners against Goldman Sachs.); and Daniel Snyder v. Creative Loafing (supporting a news organization in its effort to apply the D.C. Anti-SLAPP statute to a frivolous defamation suit filed by the owner of the Washington Redskins).

The committee also agreed to sign on to letters to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee endorsing a bill that would require agency reports statutorily required to be sent to Congress and releasable under FOIA to be posted online; and urging the committee to assert its jurisdiction over bills introduced in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Milner eliminating certain FOIA exemptions.

Looking ahead: The Freedom of Information Committee is planning regional seminars to help news organizations do a better job of watchdog reporting on municipal government.

Convention Program Committee (April 2-4, 2012, Washington, D.C.)
George Stanley and Gene Policinski, chairs

George Stanley Gene Policinski

Discussions are under way with the Newspaper Association of America for combined convention activities and cost-sharing, and a site visit was made with NAA to the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to review ASNE meeting space. A tentative convention agenda was developed and circulated among committee members.

Web Strategies Committee
Jim Brady, chair

Jim Brady

Plans are under way to make Twitter a vehicle for communicating and exchanging ideas among ASNE members. The ASNE home page currently features tweets by ASNE members. Here's where you can sign up to follow the list of ASNE members on Twitter.