Charting our course for the next 50 years

By Jason Schaumburg | NINA President

Welcome to the 50th anniversary of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association. I have the tremendous honor of serving as president of NINA during this landmark year. We started Dec. 1, 1962, as the Northern Illinois Editorial Association. In 1974, the name changed to the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.

While we will spend time this year looking back and celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary, we also must spend time looking forward. So much has changed in journalism and newspapers in the past 50 years; circulation gains and losses; new tools for journalists; advancements in printing. I could use 50 column inches and come up with 50 changes.

Perhaps the biggest change has been our transition from newspaper companies to information companies — something NINA 1st Vice President Larry Lough has been preaching for the better part of a decade — and the birth of new, online-only information companies.

No longer is ink on paper the only way we disseminate news and advertising to readers. Increasing numbers of people consume the news on their smartphones or tablet devices. Paywalls, monetizing the web and increasing page views have become the focus of the business side of what we do.

Much like our industry, NINA is at a crossroads. Sure, we’ve been around for 50 years. But will we be around for another 50 years? And what changes does NINA need to make to stay relevant for another 50 years? We will spend this year trying to answer that question.

A task force has been formed to tackle the issue. I am leading a discussion focused on our mission; who are we and what do we want to be? Joining me are Ottawa Times Managing Editor Lonny Cain, Suburban Life Publications Publisher Mark Colosimo and Northern Star Adviser Jim Killam.

Also as part of the task force: Lough, the executive editor of Sauk Valley Media, will lead a discussion looking at the makeup of NINA and how our structure can better reflect our membership and our mission. He will be joined by The Observer Features Editor Sharon Boehlefeld, Kane County Chronicle Editor Kathy Gresey and Rock Island Argus Managing Editor Roger Ruthhart.

Of course, these groups won’t work in a vacuum. We would like to hear from the membership about what you think the future should look like for NINA. After all, this organization belongs to the members.

If you have an idea — large or small — please email it to me or simply add a comment below. If you have an opinion on how NINA can better serve our journalists, speak up. Now is your chance to help shape the future of our organization.

NINA’s mission is to advance the quality, integrity and credibility of journalism and journalism education in northern Illinois. Spending our 50th anniversary studying how to carry out that mission is essential to our sustainability.

Jason Schaumburg is editor of the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb. If you would like to weigh in on the future of NINA, please email Jason at jschaumburg@shawmedia.com. Or, simply leave a comment below.

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