NASW membership categories (part 3)

This document is the third part of the record of a discussion that took place on the NASW-Freelance mailing list from July 10th through July 19th, 1997. It deals with the issue of the various categories of NASW membership. Part one. | Part two.


Message From: Bill Thomasson <71101.2601@CompuServe.COM> Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 15:28:36 -0400 Subject: Re: promotional materials

Henry Lansford wrote: "Several years ago, the American Meteorological Society hired me to write and supervise production of a booklet called "Challenges of the Changing Atmosphere: Careers in Atmospheric Research and Applied Meteorology." It was intended to promote meteorology as a career option for high school students. If you're interested, you can check it out at (invalid link) (I didn't do the Web page; the print version looks better.)

"A couple of years later, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a nonprofit consortium of North American universities, hired me as workshop editor for a two-week international ocean-atmosphere data workshop in Toulouse, France. I worked with scientists and research managers to plan, develop, design, and produce print and electronic publications for the workshop. On a separate contract, I also wrote an article about the workshop for the UCAR Quarterly, a newsletter designed to inform UCAR's university constituency about what's going on in the community. (This one is at (invalid link).)

"If I also had been writing freelance pieces for publications aimed at the general public during this period, would/should those two publications have disqualified me for active NASW membership? (I dropped out of NASW for a few years, so the question didn't come up at the time.)"

The suggestion that a single non-journalistic piece might disqualify you for active membership has now been given the burial it deserves. Under what I feel is the most straightforward interpretation of the present constitution, you would have been an active member if your income from the consumer-audience pieces exceeded your combined income from the workshop and the two promotional pieces. Under my proposed redefinition, you would have been an active member if your combined income from the general-audience pieces and the workshop exceeded your income from the promotional pieces.

Bill Thomasson


Message From: Rick Borchelt Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 15:29:32 -0400 (EDT) Subject: Re: nasw-freelance V2 #127

Larry Krumenaker queries:

>2) Do you feel you need a quota of board representation to adequately >address your issues? > >Not sure I follow what you mean by a "quota."

For example, should a certain number of seats on the board be "reserved" for freelance members ... or staff journalists ... or PIOs, for that matter (and if so, how many? Percentage representation of membership)?



Message From: Rick Borchelt Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 16:20:08 -0400 (EDT) Subject: Re: nasw-freelance V2 #128

Steve Hart notes:

> >True, but to attend AAAS as a member of the press--if you're a >freelancer--you have had to be an active NASW member, or supply a letter >from an editor stating that you are covering the meeting for that >publication. (What one commenter called the "Mother May I" letter.)

You may have interacted with someone at AAAS who didn't know the policy, but NASW membership at whatever level admits you to AAAS ... at least currently. Or at least that was my understanding. Ellen Cooper would be able to clarify.



Message From: Bob Holmes Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 13:20:38 -0800 Subject: constitutional issues

Many thanks to Rick Borchelt for his concise summation of a discussion that was threatening to run off in all directions. He posed four questions that NASW freelances need to resolve. I'll toss my thoughts on the pile:

>1) Could you live with a one-category membership for NASW? (i.e., should >there continue to be active and associate freelance members) We've been trying to get our NASW card accepted for admission to meetings, etc. Since many meeting organizers provide free registration to working press but not PR officers, a one-category membership would make it less likely we could use NASW membership as a credential. (By the way, contrary to some others' experience, I've used my NASW card as a credential to get into NASA events.)

>2) Do you feel you need a quota of board representation to adequately >address your issues? Doesn't this happen naturally anyway? Our membership includes lots of freelances; if we feel we need representation, we'll vote for board candidates who are freelances themselves.

>3) Should all members vote in a general election for board and officers? I don't see a downside to this, other than the hypothetical (and rather unlikely) risk of a coup d'etat by PR types who don't subscribe to standard journalistic ethics. Few (none?) of our PR members fall in that category anyway.

>4) Should officers be bona fide science journalists strictly defined (and >how would word that definition and enforce it)? Despite my response to #3, I see a benefit in having our officers be bona fide journalists, since that will give them more credibility when they speak for our organization on issues like copyright, rights and contracts, etc. As for definition, here's one try: A real journalist is one who's free to write/speak/draw without any prior allegiance to any particular view. That would easily include writers for Science and C&EN, but exclude PIOs. For freelances, it's a little murkier. If I write one story for, say, Nature Conservancy magazine, that won't inhibit me from later writing a story critical of the conservancy. But if they're my main client, prior allegiance becomes a bigger issue. I suspect, though, that this issue would be easier to resolve in particular than to define in general. In that sense, maybe a journalist is like a pornographer--you know one when you see one.

Bob Holmes Santa Cruz, CA



Message From: Eric Bobinsky Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 17:06:31 -0400 Subject: Re: Rick's survey

At 03:09 PM 07/14/97 -0400, you [Bill T.] wrote:

>Eric Bobinsky wrote: "I support a one-category system, >with admission to membership based on applicant's >adherence to "dissemination of accurate information >regarding science, through all media normally devoted to >informing the public; and shall foster the ACCURATE >interpretation of science and its meaning to society." > >Eric, let's be clear about this so that there is no >possible misunderstanding: You wish to deny any form of >membership, active, associate, or whatever, not only to >all PIOs but to all writers whose primary outlets are not >devoted primarily to informing the public -- for example, >those devoted to informing members of a specific >organization such as the AMA. > >Is this an accurate statement of your position? >

Bill,

NO! My position is exactly the opposite!

Maybe I'm causing confusion by using the word "public" (the phrase comes from the current constitution). My intended interpretation is pretty broad-- more like the "society" in the second clause.

Anyway, I feel strongly that a cross-section of the science writing community (from journalists to PIOs to working scientists to JAMA staffers) meet the criterion of disseminating accurate information regarding science...etc. This criterion is not limited to full-time reporters.

To wit: would we have denied "active" status to Carl Sagan or Loren Eisely merely because they were university professors? Would we have barred them from holding office? I certainly hope not, but the existing rules would do so.

To clarify: I wish to ADMIT anyone satisfying this criterion (taken from the existing constitution) on an equal membership basis. At the same time, I'm not suggesting that the gates be wide open for anyone that wants in-- some proof of meeting said criteria would have to be provided at application time, just as now (although I can't see people beating down the gates to get in unless they truly are promoters of good science writing...).

Eric

PS- I recently joined the CSWA. I like its approach: "The CSWA is a national non-profit alliance of professional science communicators in all media [emphasis added]...mission is to cultivate excellence in scienced writing and science journalism...goal is to increase puble awareness of science...".



Message From: Eric Bobinsky Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 17:33:42 -0400 Subject: Re: constitutional issues

At 01:20 PM 07/14/97 -0800, you [Bob Holmes] wrote: >I see a benefit in having our officers >be bona fide journalists, since that will give them more credibility when >they speak for our organization on issues like copyright, rights and >contracts, etc. As for definition, here's one try: A real journalist is one >who's free to write/speak/draw without any prior allegiance to any >particular view. That would easily include writers for Science and C&EN, >but exclude PIOs. For freelances, it's a little murkier...

I think it may be murky for bona fide journalists too-- e.g. how could an NYT staffer represent the interests of freelance members against her own employer's abominable work-for-hire contract of recent notoriety? I'm not sure they're necessarily concerned with copyright/rights/contracts/etc in their everyday work (unless they're also publishing books or moonlighting). My understanding-- which could be wrong-- is that reporters get a paycheck and no rights to their own articles (except in rare cases). Is this correct, anyone? Or do they own some kind of rights?

Full-time staffers are loyal to their papers (quite reasonably since a paycheck is a nice thing), which may from time to time be out to give the shaft to freelancers. Anyway, that's one reason I'd like to able to vote for a freelancer, or even a PIO that does freelance work or at least has no conflicts of interest in this regard. I don't think it would be fair to ask a media employee to fight his/her own institution on our behalf.

Eric



Message From: Henry Lansford Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 16:31:34 -0600 Subject: Re: promotional materials

Bill Thomasson wrote:

>Under what I feel is the most straightforward interpretation >of the present constitution, you would have been an active >member if your income from the consumer-audience pieces exceeded >your combined income from the workshop and the two >promotional pieces. Under my proposed redefinition, you >would have been an active member if your combined income >from the general-audience pieces and the workshop >exceeded your income from the promotional pieces.

Bill, are you really saying what it sounds like you're saying? Is the breakdown of a writer's income from various sources now, or has it ever been or should it ever be, the main criterion for determining the class of NASW membership?

I have been able to write some good (at least I thought so) freelance science pieces that gave me great satisfaction for publications that didn't pay very much because their low fees were offset by more substantial ones that I got for duller consulting work. Some was promotional, but a lot of it over the past two or three years has been focused on tring to render scientific information intelligible to policy people, not for lobbying purposes but to help them make informed decisions about things like improving visibility in the Grand Canyon and using risk-cost-benefit analysis in setting state air-quality standards. How does that kind of work sort out in the active/associate equation? It ain't science journalism, but it's not flackery either.

Also, over the years I have done some travel writing for consumer publications like Travel & Leisure, Modern Maturity, and a bunch of airline in-flight magazines. How does that factor in?

The current membership directory indicates that I'm an active member, but I'm not sure who made that decision or how. When I rejoined NASW in 1994 (the first time was around 1967, as I recall), I certainly never submitted any information about the sources of my income.

I think the active/associate distinction belongs to a simpler era in the business of writing for a living. A single class of membership appears to me to be the only workable solution.

Henry



Message From: Stephen Hart Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 16:44:17 -0700 Subject: Re: president's letter

>A real journalist is one >who's free to write/speak/draw without any prior allegiance to any >particular view >Bob Holmes

I like that definition. It really gets to the fourth-estate essence. In fact, maybe freelances are the only writers truly free to inform the public. Any time we feel the chilling hand of editorial restraint, we can walk. Only half in jest.

Steve



Message From: Stephen Hart Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 16:37:55 -0700 Subject: Re: president's letter

>You may have interacted with someone at AAAS who didn't know the policy, >but NASW membership at whatever level admits you to AAAS ... at least >currently. Or at least that was my understanding. Ellen Cooper would be >able to clarify. >Rick Borchelt

I'm referring to AAAS's written policy on their invitation to the press. But I can't put my hand on a copy here. (Whoh! Synchronicity with an independent thread.)

Surely someone has a copy close at hand and can quote the relevant paragraph. I think it's on the third page.

Steve



Message From: Bill Thomasson <71101.2601@CompuServe.COM> Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 22:12:19 -0400 Subject: Re: promotional writing

Henry Lansford wrote: "Bill, are you really saying what it sounds like you're saying? Is the breakdown of a writer's income from various sources now, or has it ever been or should it ever be, the main criterion for determining the class of NASW membership?"

The constitutional criterion for determining your class of NASW membership is what you do "predominantly." I don't know that the question of how that might be settled in close cases has ever officially come up, but several people have suggested that counting income would be the most objective way.

"I have been able to write some good (at least I thought so) freelance science pieces that gave me great satisfaction for publications that didn't pay very much because their low fees were offset by more substantial ones that I got for duller consulting work. Some was promotional, but a lot of it over the past two or three years has been focused on tring to render scientific information intelligible to policy people, not for lobbying purposes but to help them make informed decisions about things like improving visibility in the Grand Canyon and using risk-cost-benefit analysis in setting state air-quality standards. How does that kind of work sort out in the active/associate equation? It ain't science journalism, but it's not flackery either."

Under the present constitution, if it ain't journalism it falls on the associate side of the ledger. Under my proposed redefinition, if it ain't flackery, it falls on the active side of the ledger. (Your example is in fact precisely the kind of thing I was trying to deal with there. And note that, if we go to a one-category system, these questions only apply to top officers.)

"Also, over the years I have done some travel writing for consumer publications like Travel & Leisure, Modern Maturity, and a bunch of airline in-flight magazines. How does that factor in?"

That's a real good question that I don't know anyone has ever thought about the answer to. My best guess would be that it falls on the active side of the ledger under either definition. But perhaps it just doesn't count at all. Anyone else have any thoughts?

"The current membership directory indicates that I'm an active member, but I'm not sure who made that decision or how. When I rejoined NASW in 1994 (the first time was around 1967, as I recall), I certainly never submitted any information about the sources of my income."

When I joined back in 1979, I submitted clips that clearly reflected consumer writing. So it was understandable that I was classified as active. The I almost immediately joined a PR firm, and took the initiative in telling the organization to reclassify me as associate. I've been associate ever since, even though I suspect I really should be calling myself active at this point.

That's what Richard means when he says that the classification of freelances needs to be looked at more carefully. I don't think we're ever going to see anybody asking for an actual income breakdown (except in the case of officers), but if we stay with a two-category system we may well see some sort of check-box certification on the dues form.

"I think the active/associate distinction belongs to a simpler era in the business of writing for a living. A single class of membership appears to me to be the only workable solution."

I agree.

Bill Thomasson



Message From: Bill Thomasson <71101.2601@CompuServe.COM> Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 22:12:26 -0400 Subject: Re: Rick's Survery

Erick Bobinsky wrote: "NO! My position is exactly the opposite!

"Maybe I'm causing confusion by using the word "public" (the phrase comes from the current constitution). My intended interpretation is pretty broad-- more like the "society" in the second clause.

"To clarify: I wish to ADMIT anyone satisfying this criterion (taken from the existing constitution) on an equal membership basis. At the same time, I'm not suggesting that the gates be wide open for anyone that wants in-- some proof of meeting said criteria would have to be provided at application time, just as now (although I can't see people beating down the gates to get in unless they truly are promoters of good science writing...)."

Just as I suspected. You presumably failed to note that the definition you took from the current constitution was of an active member, and had been specifically crafted to exclude all non-journalists. Many of us feel that the most logical interpretation of the word "public" would exclude many people that we consider journalists as well.

You do raise an interesting point, though. If we go to a single class of membership, do we want the only requirement to be that "the applicant must have been active in preparation of science information or the development or teaching of science-writing courses?" (From the present constitution's section on associate membership.) That looks like enough to me, but others may disagree. It would seem that you do.

Bill Thomasson



Message From: Larry Krumenaker Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 02:05:02 +0000 Subject: Re: nasw-freelance V2 #127

At 07:29 PM 7/14/97 +0000, you wrote: >Larry Krumenaker queries: > >>2) Do you feel you need a quota of board representation to adequately >>address your issues? >> >>Not sure I follow what you mean by a "quota." > >For example, should a certain number of seats on the board be "reserved" >for freelance members ... or staff journalists ... or PIOs, for that matter >(and if so, how many? Percentage representation of membership)? > Ah, I see. I would say we might consider minimums. What do we have now, 11 board seats and 4 officers? How about 3 each (freelance, PIO-type, active-type) and the two left over can vary with election results. We revisit the formula every X years.

Actually, I'm of two minds because I do believe I'd like to be able to vote for good "promotional" PIO types and I'm not sure if minimums are good. I suppose it depends on the mechanism put in place in the balloting.

I'd also like to go on record as saying that I have no objection to an officer being a "promotional"-type person. Dennis Meredith, Earle Holland, Andrea Messer are among the most respected associate members. In these examples (sorry to pick on you people) most do some writing on the side, or came from a journalism background and by virtue of their insight into modern science journalism I feel they would be equally as good for our field as a staff writer from the Times or Newsweek, for example.

Since we have a nominating committee, and you can't really run for the officer slots without having served a couple or so terms on the Board, I think we'd be safe from being lead by bad flacks, for lack of a better euphemism.

Let the stoning begin.

Larry



Message From: Eric Alan Bobinsky Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 14:58:29 -0400 Subject: Re: Rick's Survery

At 10:12 PM 7/14/97 -0400, you [Bill T.] wrote: > >Just as I suspected. You presumably failed to note that >the definition you took from the current constitution was >of an active member, and had been specifically crafted >to exclude all non-journalists.

Bill-

Actually, I did notice that. I guess what I'm really suggesting is that the two definitions be effectively merged into a single category that doesn't make the somewhat archaic, 1937-ish distinction of the current constitution. I think we have a few PIOs that would make splendid officers.

>Many of us feel that the >most logical interpretation of the word "public" would >exclude many people that we consider journalists as well.

Yes-- me for example, since I write for scientists'/engineers' magazines-- although I always considered scientists members of the public (if they're reading outside of their fields, then they are usually are, anyway). Magazines like Nature, Science, Physics World, New Scientist-- these are available on newstands and in bookstores along with Newsweek, so I don't know what the fuss is about. Society organs like IEEE Spectrum or Physics Today may have a limited subscriber base, but they still serve to disseminate science to a fairly broad audience of practitioners, administrators, policymakers and educators. Most of the content here is pure science news and features; what little "promotional" or "lobbying" content of these magazines there is is clearly demarcated as editorial. Another consideration is that some of these 'special-interest' magazines are now freely available on the Web and so can be accessed by members of the public.

You're right: using the term "public" can lead down a sloppery slipe!

>You do raise an interesting point, though. If we go to a >single class of membership, do we want the only >requirement to be that "the applicant must have been >active in preparation of science information or the >development or teaching of science-writing courses?" >(From the present constitution's section on associate >membership.) That looks like enough to me, but others may >disagree. It would seem that you do. >

I can't speak to the professor/teacher issue. I don't really understand why they were originally limited to associate status; I assume it's some deep, dark internal issue of the journalism body politic. Would this exclude McPhee, by the way, since according to his dust jacket bio he teaches?

But yes, I do agree with you, although as I said earlier-- and here I agree with my research colleagues-- that important things like "scientific accuracy" should to be in the list of criteria along with "journalistic integrity".

                                    ***

THANKS very much to all of you who took the time and energy to address my comments during the past week. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to listen to and engage in a little healthy debate with a member you've never met and who never seems to be able to get to annual meetings. Maybe next year! But I think I'd better withdraw from this discussion now and get back to work before my editors forget about me!

Best regards, Eric



Message From: John Ludwigson Date: Tue, 15 Jul 97 17:24:26 -0400 Subject: Re: constitution revisions

>So, for the freelance membership, key issues: > >1) Could you live with a one-category membership for NASW? (i.e., should >there continue to be active and associate freelance members) >2) Do you feel you need a quota of board representation to adequately >address your issues? >3) Should all members vote in a general election for board and officers? >4) Should officers be bona fide science journalists strictly defined (and >how would word that definition and enforce it)? > >Rick

OK. I'll try again, although my basic sentiments roughly parallel those expressed by Joel Shurkin. As a practical matter, Less really is More! That is, the Constitution should be broad and general. Any distinctions, such as special qualifications for officers, should be made in the by-laws. (The Constitution might state this.."qualifications for the several offices shall be adopted by the membership as necessary as a part of the by-laws."

1.) Yes. Just members; dump the active/associate dichotomy. Since nearly all members freelance to at least some extent, the real question would not be freelance vs full-time, but the primary focus of the member's activity: (a) promotion of one or more specific organizations/causes/points of views; or (b) the information/education of the readers and viewers according to the best set of facts and current knowledge available to the reporter/writer.

2.) No. As I see it, NASW addresses the issues I feel are important. If the members of the board are elected fairly from the broad membership, the chances are good they will respond reasonably to whatever issues arise.

3.) Yes. If we want to keep the evil "promos" from taking over (this is tongue-in-cheek, folks!), the solution lies in the statement of qualifications that might be part of the by-laws. That is, "promos" might not be candidates for the top offices, but all members would vote on all candidates.

4.) Here's the can of worms. Terms such as "bona fide" fairly ask for controversy and miffed members; we're all bona fide here. But should the president/secretary/treasurer...be full-time, never-freelancing, employees of recognized news organizations? I attempted to finesse this above by writing that the qualifications should be in the by-laws, if anywhere, not cast in iron in the Constitution. This way of setting the qualifications allows us to cope with the constant changes in our profession without having to undergo a major upheaval each time. I suspect that it's going to, eventually, become impossible to find such people.

The world was simpler back when our present Constitution was written. No one foresaw the incredible pace and scope of change that would become an accepted constant of life as we near the end of the century. The challenge now is to recast that Constitution in more flexible terms that will allow us to meet the future armed and ready for whatever comes along.

One final thing: We've got to trust each other.

John Ludwigson



Message From: skerrett@world.std.com (PJ Skerrett) Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 12:00:41 -0400 Subject: Constitutional questions

With all this electrified debate about the NASW constitution, I wanted to read said document. I turned to the most likely source -- nasw.org, but either couldn't find it or it wasn't posted.

If I wanted to look at the constitution, how would I do it?

pjs



Message From: Bob Finn Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 09:11:40 -0700 Subject: Re: Constitutional questions

At 12:00 PM 7/17/97 -0400, PJ Skerrett wrote: >With all this electrified debate about the NASW constitution, I wanted to >read said document. I turned to the most likely source -- nasw.org, but >either couldn't find it or it wasn't posted. >

The NASW constitution is at . A link there is toward the top of our main public page at .


Bob Finn cybrarian@nasw.org



Message From: Stephen Hart Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 09:51:46 -0700 Subject: Re: Rick's Survey

>Magazines like Nature, Science, Physics World, New Scientist-- these are >available on newstands and in bookstores along with Newsweek, so I don't >know what the fuss is about.

Good point. Furthermore, being on the newsstand is not the only way a magazine affects the public. Some others are widely found in school and/or public libraries. Also, few if any of the society magazines are restricted to scientists. Anyone can buy a subscription to one of these magazines. Finally, why is a publication tainted if it's targeted to a particular group of consumers?

>Would this >exclude McPhee, by the way, since according to his dust jacket bio he teaches?

Or Timothy Ferris or (now) Deborah Blum or Rick McCourt, or Discover contributing editors Jared Diamond and Peter Radetsky...

Yet none of these people is seen as primarily promoting the institution at which they teach.

Steve



Message From: ADold@aol.com Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 23:31:33 -0400 (EDT) Subject: Re: promotional materials

>>If there's no practical value, might not many freelancers spend their dues and effort elsewhere?<<

I confess I have not read every post dealing with this issue -- I was away on assignment for a few days and came back to a very full mailbox.

However, I just want to say that if I am required to justify my active membership every year by either an income accounting or a clip accounting or ANY basis, I will be gone from NASW. The time, effort, and aggravation just would not be worth it.

My client list changes dramatically from year to year. But my adherence to good journalistic principles doesn't.

Frankly, I'm tired of being treated as a second class citizen just because I don't have a full-time job with one organization (and believe me, I don't WANT one). The Society of Environmental Journalists is now going through the same discussion. I am currently an active member in both organizations, and if I have to start jumping through hoops to stay as an active member in either one, I'm gone. I've got plenty of places to spend my money.

As I said in the SEJ discussion, the world of work is changing, and the old rules just don't apply anymore.

To be honest, the organization I like the best is the American Society of Journalists and Authors. It costs me much more per year to be a member, but as it is an organization of freelance writers, it serves my needs much better. Believe it or not, I get expert advice on every contract I sign, tons of information about current rates, and this year got some really terrific help on a legal matter at no charge -- ASJA even sent someone to court to testify on behalf of me and several other writers who were screwed by Time Life Medical. I have yet to see anything approaching that from NASW or SEJ.

I do value my memberships in NASW and SEJ (although I confess I do think twice before sending in my membership fees every year). I am a science and environment writer, and I want to stay affiliated with these organizations. But, hey, if they don't want me cause I'm a lowly freelancer, I'm outta here.

Catherine Dold freelance writer Boulder, CO



Message From: Bill Thomasson <71101.2601@CompuServe.COM> Date: Fri, 18 Jul 1997 15:22:25 -0400 Subject: Re: constitutional issues

Catherine Dold wrote: "I just want to say that if I am required to justify my active membership every year by either an income accounting or a clip accounting or ANY basis, I will be gone from NASW. The time, effort, and aggravation just would not be worth it."

Am I correct in thinking that this is intended as support for Richard's proposal for a single category of membership? That is the only way I can see to avoid the current hassel of people being (at least theoretically) required to change categories whenever their jobs or client mix changes from journalistic to promotional/other or vice versa.

Just as a matte of curiosity: I've never been an ASJA member so I don't know what their constitution says. But my impression has been that people who aren't eligible for active NASW membership are not eligible for any type of ASJA membership. Not so? Or is the difference that, whereas your NASW membership category is (again, theoretically) supposed to be determined on a year-by-year basis, ASJA operates on the basis of: once eligible, always eligible?

"My client list changes dramatically from year to year. But my adherence to good journalistic principles doesn't."

I'm not sure where that second sentence came from. Surely you are not implying that those of us who spend less than half our time "informing the public" (whatever "the public" may mean in this context) do not adhere to good journalistic principles. No, of course you don't.

Bill Thomasson



Message From: ADold@aol.com Date: Sat, 19 Jul 1997 12:33:39 -0400 (EDT) Subject: Re: constitutional issues

Bill Thomasson wrote:

"Catherine Dold wrote: "I just want to say that if I am required to justify my active membership every year by either an income accounting or a clip accounting or ANY basis, I will be gone from NASW. The time, effort, and aggravation just would not be worth it."

Am I correct in thinking that this is intended as support for Richard's proposal for a single category of membership? "

I'm not saying I'm for or against it. I don't know enough about the pros and cons of his proposal to say one way or another.

I'm just saying that I am an active member now, and while my client list does change from year to year, I don't feel I need to justify my active membership year after year. Some years it may be a bit heavier in corporate writing, some years heavier in magazine and newspaper stuff. But overall it doesn't change all that much. If I take a full time job as a PR person, fine, I'll change categories. But I'm not going to analyze my client list, my time allocations, or my income sources, every year for NASW. It's just too much to ask, frankly.

And besides, what would be the deciding factor? Time spent, or income? I make a whole lot more from some corporate clients than I do from some newspapers. Yet I might spend proportionally more time on some lower paying clients. There's no way I'm gonna go through my calendar every year to figure out all my time spent!

I spend enough time figuring out my income taxes. I don't need to do something similar for NASW every year.

"Just as a matte of curiosity: I've never been an ASJA member so I don't know what their constitution says. But my impression has been that people who aren't eligible for active NASW membership are not eligible for any type of ASJA membership. Not so? Or is the difference that, whereas your NASW membership category is (again, theoretically) supposed to be determined on a year-by-year basis, ASJA operates on the basis of: once eligible, always eligible? "

ASJA has a stringent application process -- prospective members must submit several recent clips from national publications, etc. Thus, it is an organization composed of professional, published, freelance writers. There is no year to year re-application required as far as I know.

You can't really compare the two organizations, however. Although publication in national magazines or newspapers (or books) is a requirement of membership, ASJA does not prohibit or look askance at members who do corporate communications or PR-type of work.

So someone who does a mix of journalism and PR stuff and is considered an associate member of NASW could be a member of ASJA. Plus, there are no categories of membership in ASJA.

(DISCLAIMER -- I'm not presenting the official word on ASJA -- just my understanding of the organization.)

"My client list changes dramatically from year to year. But my adherence to good journalistic principles doesn't."

I'm not sure where that second sentence came from. Surely you are not implying that those of us who spend less than half our time "informing the public" (whatever "the public" may mean in this context) do not adhere to good journalistic principles. No, of course you don't. "

No, of course not. I'm saying that I (and I assume most freelancers) do a fair and decent job for whoever the client is, whether it's the New York Times or Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Just because I write for MSK on occasion does not mean I am beholden to them when I move on to other projects. As much as I enjoy my work with MSK, as someone else said on here, it's a matter of getting the check and "Thank you! Goodbye!" And I don't think MSK or anyone else expects anything more from a freelancer. I am hired for a specific project, I do my best to produce an excellent product, and that's that.

Catherine Dold



Message From: Stephen Hart Date: Sat, 19 Jul 1997 10:23:36 -0700 Subject: Re: promotional materials (president's letter)

>... But, hey, if they don't want me cause I'm a lowly freelancer, I'm >outta here. >Catherine Dold

Well said. I'd especially like NASW to be able to offer the kinds of help ASJA does. Steve

Part one. | Part two.