Three Associations That Do It Right

23 Apr Three Associations That Do It Right

By my unofficial tally, there are well more than 70 different associations that vie for your attention in the newspaper industry. Almost every state has an association. Some have two or more. Add in local, regional, national and international press, publishers and editors associations, and you’ll quickly get to my number.

“You really stepped in it this time, guy,” said a friend in the business who called last week. “I just got off the phone with (he named the executive director of a newspaper trade association) who was hopping mad over something your wrote.”

I figure his anger might have had something to do with me saying that the many industry trade groups may be good business for association directors, but not for the industry. I did not start writing this blog to become Mr. Popularity, but if this guy is angry, I am sorry.

Associations, and their directors, work hard to serve their constituents. However, duplication of efforts, pointless lack of coordination and political ax grinding that keeps our 70-plus associations from working together as one is an unaffordable luxury today.

Still, I want to give credit where credit is due. There are at least three associations that do it right: Inland Press, Local Media Association, SNPA (Southern Newspaper Publishers Association). Many other industry associations do a great job too, but these three deserve special credit if for no other reason than the fact that they work together to produce the annual Mega-Conference.

Inland Press has a deserved reputation for smart information and programming. The National Cost & Revenue Study is worth the price of membership by itself. But the association goes a step further by providing the best speakers and information at its conferences and webinars. It also has one of the best, most useful websites in keeping with its motto: Knowledge for Newspapers.

Local Media Association is no slouch when it comes to research and webinars, but what really distinguishes LMA is its forward-thinking leadership. Starting with its broad-based name, dedication to including “vendors” in the conversation (they call us research and development partners) and strong focus on the online future, LMA highlights inclusiveness and innovation.

SNPA delivers the best weekly newsletter in the business among other things. Many state and regional associations are little more than social clubs, long on camaraderie and golf, but short on substance. Don’t get me wrong. Camaraderie and golf are as much a part of the newspaper business as the bottle of Jack hidden in a desk drawer. But SNPA works hard and plays hard, balancing social considerations with the harsh realities of the marketplace.

Content That Works supports many different trade organizations in addition to those mentioned — as members, volunteering time and sponsoring events. However, for those with limited time and money to invest, these three organizations deserve special attention.

Our industry has too many associations and not enough cooperation. To effectively overcome the issues, we face that needs to change. There, now I’ve said it again.