- Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles by 2019 NINA Board President James Fuller of the Daily Herald.
To my fellow NINA members:
Thank you all for putting your faith in me as the new president of this organization. I have just a few ideas for growth in mind as we enter this new year.
Any organization is only as strong as its members. I fully agree we must place a strong emphasis on member recruitment in the coming year. But I believe the only way for that effort to be successful is for us to demonstrate and expand the relevance of NINA to our existing and prospective members.
The first way I suggest doing this is for NINA to become more vocal and more visible.
By vocal, I mean being active proponents for journalism and journalists. There are many ways to do this.
First, you’ve all noticed there is a full-frontal attack on the legitimacy of our profession. We should be vocal in setting the record straight. I’d like to see us issue organizational statements countering false portrayals of the role of journalism and the work of journalists as the need arises.
I believe we must also be proactive in educating the public about what true journalism is. Journalism has no impact if people don’t read it. People won’t read if we’ve lost their trust. We should encourage all member publications to have active public education efforts about fake news vs. true journalism and commentary vs. objective reporting.
Second, we should promote the successes of our member organizations. When there are significant achievements, awards or stories of deep public interest created by our members we should promote the heck out of those. The public needs to see the impact of good journalism on society and their day-to-day lives. Promoting such work will drive readership. Readership drives journalism jobs. Journalism jobs drive our membership.
Third, when new journalism outlets spring up in our region we should do whatever we can to help them succeed. That means connecting our members who are looking for work to those new outlets. It also means making people aware the publications exist and promoting their good work. And, wherever we can, providing free or low-cost training to those organizations to promote their vitality.
Finally, we maintain visibility by being consistently visible to each other. The annual banquet is great, but let’s be social. It’s not always easy for folks to come out to NIU. I would suggest networking events of some fashion two to three times a year at various locations (perhaps one each in the north, central and southern ends of the NINA universe).
In terms of training, it makes sense to match the product to the need. The main need I see as news outlets shrink is to for all journalists to have as diverse a toolkit as possible to remain as necessary as possible when downsizing comes. This also makes journalists more attractive applicants when they need to seek other employment.
The in-demand skills I see today are: podcasting, being able to shoot usable photos with minimal gear, being able to create short videos from start to finish, being a social media guru across all existing and emerging platforms and data journalism (these are all in addition, of course, to being a quality traditional journalist). I would suggest we focus our training efforts around these skills.
In fact, while we’re at it, we might even want to consider our very own NINA podcast (I see this as an audio partner of our existing newsletter.) And I would like to see us continue to work toward transforming our social media platforms into true social communities where there are streams of ongoing conversations.
This will require some buy-in by all of us to engage with fellow and prospective members on these channels. At a minimum, we must add Instagram to our channels. It’s just about the only form of social media college students use.
This is my vision for the year. I’m looking forward to discussing these ideas with all of you as well as hearing your own.
Daily Herald Senior Writer