NINA future: Your ideas wanted

JASON SCHAUMBURG
2012 NINA President

As we draw closer to NINA’s Fall Conference and celebration of its 50th anniversary, work still is being done to keep NINA relevant for another 50 years.

You might recall that in this space earlier this year I announced that a task force was going to tackle an examination of our organization. Task force members include myself, Sauk Valley Media Executive Editor Larry Lough, Ottawa Times Managing Editor Lonny Cain, Suburban Life Publications Publisher Mark Colosimo, former Northern Star Adviser Jim Killam, The Observer Features Editor Sharon Boehlefeld, Kane County Chronicle Editor Kathy Gresey and Rock Island Argus Managing Editor Roger Ruthhart.

The goal: Determine what NINA is, what it wants to be and how its structure can better reflect the organization’s membership and mission. To this point, discussions have focused on the following areas:

Training

The amount of money media organizations spend has been cut. The number of editors and reporters in newsrooms has been cut. With no money and fewer people, training has taken a backseat. We’re examining ways to develop meaningful training and make sure people receive that training. One possibility is to bring our training sessions to members. Another possibility is more webinars. What do you think?

Education

It is becoming more difficult to for media organizations to find quality journalists coming out of college. That’s partly because it’s becoming more difficult for college newspapers buy personal narrative essay to find students interested in journalism. We’re examining ways to get more involved in journalism education at the high school level.

Networking

Socializing and making connections with peers in our industry also has taken a hit as newsroom budgets have decreased. Networking, however, can help spur the sharing of ideas, the recruiting of talent and the building of friendships. We’d like to bring networking back to our business.

Advocacy

As government continues its assault on the state’s revised Freedom of Information Act, it’s clear many public officials would rather do the public’s business without the public interfering. We’d like to take a larger role in advocacy of issues pertaining to journalism and serve as a watchdog.

Contest

Each year, it seems the same handful of member organizations are the only ones to enter NINA’s annual contest to recognize outstanding journalism. We are looking at ways to make the NINA contest relevant and increase participation.

The task force is scheduled to have an all-day meeting Sept. 28 to tackle these issues. It is our goal to have our work done – or nearly done – before the Fall Conference on Oct. 18. If you have any ideas that fall into five areas, please email them to me for consideration.

Jason Schaumburg is executive editor of Sun-Times Media’s Pioneer Press newspapers and websites. If you would like to weigh in on the future of NINA, email Jason at jschaumburg@pioneerlocal.com.

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