Membership has its privileges.

That was the slogan used in commercials for the American Express card, but it also holds true if you are part of the Associated Press Sports Editors.

APSE is a national organization that strives to improve professional standards for sports departments of professional news organizations, and to recognize professional excellence among its membership.

One of tRG_piche major goals for APSE moving forward is to build membership. Over the years as our profession has changed — some for the better, some for the worse — we’ve seen a dramatic drop in members.

We are only as good as the people in the organization, and while there are many great people currently in APSE, we need more. It doesn’t matter if your news organization is big or small. There is power in numbers, and right now, APSE needs more numbers.

If you’re not familiar with APSE you may be asking why — why should I join?

Here are some reasons:

— Be part of the annual contest, which is judged by APSE members.

— Opportunities to participate in region meetings, contest judging and summer conferences with workshops and seminars.

— Opportunities to run for region and organizational offices.

— Network with other sports editors around the country.

— Writers and student journalists are eligible to join.

— Opportunities for critiques of sections, and other work done by your staff.

— Opportunities to grow, learn and develop as sports editors and for your staff to do so with the relationships made at APSE.

— A voice to help deal with access and credentialing issues in college and professional sports.

For more information and the benefits of APSE, and how to join, http://bit.ly/29o6A1o.

Still not convinced?

Here are some testimonials from current APSE members:

Dana Sulonen, sports editor of the Opelika-Auburn News

“I can literally say I’m at the job I’m at now, and likely where I end up in the future, because of APSE. I joined in 2013 and my first judging and conference experiences were in 2014. From the day I walked in to the first meeting, not knowing a soul in Indianapolis, I felt like this is where I belonged. A room full of sports editors ranging from small papers like the one I was at to The New York Times and Washington Post. I was treated as an equal even though I was a first-timer from a small paper and one of maybe six women in the room. My opinion mattered.

“Since I joined, I have grown so much as an editor, a journalist and a person. Every judging and summer conference I attend, I come away with a notebook full of ideas that make me, and my paper, better. I have made connections that make it possible for me to reach out to The Boston Globe and say, “Hey, can you send me your story?” I’ve also gained a network of peers whoinspire me to do better work every day.

“I’ve been asked many times how I ended up in the deep South from Warren, Ohio. My answer every time is APSE.”

Jeff Rosen, sports editor of The Kansas City Star and APSE First Vice-President

“Let’s set aside for a moment the dire narrative about newspapers going down the toilet. In many ways, there’s never been a better time to be sports journalist. Whether you’re an editor or writer, you have more technology at your disposal than your predecessors ever dreamed possible.

“But about that toilet…

“In most shops, today’s lack of ‘human’ resource is a tough reality. From the smallest news organization to the largest, nearly every paper and website has cut costs, and continues to do so, by asking you to do more with less.

“This is the yin and yang of sports journalism today, and it’s where APSE comes in.

“APSE is continuing education, so we know about the latest apps and gizmos and how to use them. It’s camaraderie and friendships that remind us we’re not alone in this fight. And it’s an ally in the face of those who would keep us from doing our jobs (not to mention a trusted network of colleagues when it comes time to find a new one).

“I’ve been in this business for more than 20 years, enough time to witness firsthand a lot of changes in sports journalism. APSE has been, and will continue to be, my constant.”

In the coming days and weeks, myself and other APSE members will be reaching out to sports editors and newspapers who are not members to get our membership drive started. We want you and need you, and I think you will see the benefits that APSE has to offer.

That’s because membership has its privileges.

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