Chicago Produces Top-Notch Member Programs

By Roy Harris
ASPBE Past President

Several ASBPE chapters are known for their powerful program planning. But it would be hard to top the work done by the Chicago chapter in designing this month’s half-day workshop titled “B2B Survival Strategies for Difficult Economic Times.”

Featured speakers at the Nov. 7, program, held at Columbia College in the Loop, were

Marina Dock Age and Boat & Motor Dealer editor Peter Gallanis discussed how to use interns to your greatest advantage. Addressing multiplatform editorial strategies were Telephony editor-in-chief Carol Wilson, Time Out Chicago web editor Scott Smith and Pierce Hollingsworth, president of his own marketing consultancy. Just seeing a variety of websites up on the screen and the different way editors handle making them work for readers helped produce insights. Carol’s dedication to devoting slower afternoon hours to getting stories ready for early-morning runs, for example, pays off by giving other outlets good material from her site to be picked up during the day. That brings Telephony an extra promotional benefit from such stories.

As impressive as the firepower that Chicago leaders called in to discuss survival, though, was the careful thought that they gave to the program lineup. By making the first topic of the day ethics—the discussion I was honored to moderate—they took note of how vital it is that publications maintain the trust of their readers, especially when times are hard and the financial challenges are greatest.

It was clear to all the attendees—when the examples started pouring in during the Q&A—that newsroom ethics are far more than window-dressing. And that editors are the ones on the spot, not just for training writers in ethical behavior, but for confronting publishers who may be tempted to go over the edge when advertiser pressures mount. It is more and more important, in fact, as the advertising dollar looks to some companies like the ultimate goal, whereas we know that the goal must continue to be reader service.

I was proud to be able to point out in Chicago that ASBPE’s redesign of our ethics code has provided useful guidelines for editors to follow in examining ethical questions and finding answers to practical questions. The proof has been in the response we’ve had since we installed a redesigned ethics program that uses a standing Advisory Committee to deal with inquiries reflecting real-life quandaries. We now get answers back to member questions within three days, and stand ready to back them up with their publishers, if that’s required. And I was glad that the 30 attendees seemed so eager to learn how the code has been working of late under its new committee chairperson, Spring Suptic. The one-word answer: effectively.

For chapters seeking a model for programming, I suggest getting in touch with Chicago Chapter President Nikki Golden, or with Vice President Erin Erickson, who managed the program so well. Congratulations, Chicago.

Roy Harris is senior editor of CFO magazine.

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