In a move to mitigate potential dues revenue loss, APSE’s executive committee has voted overwhelmingly to slightly change some dues for 2012.

Dues in the A, B and C categories will increase by $5 for primary members as a result of the email vote that took place in mid-August. Dues for the D category (under 40,000 circulation) will not change. Neither will dues for additional members.

A year ago, circulation categories of APSE’s print contest were changed to better reflect our membership and to make the contest more equitable. In 2009, fewer than 40 news organizations were competing in the A, or largest, category. Meanwhile, 150 competed in the D, or smallest, category.

Contest categories were changed to lower the circulation breakdowns, and, from a contest standpoint, the changes have been successful.

However, another issue was inadvertently created. The change was not meant to have anyone pay higher dues than they were already paying. So there was one set of circulation categories for dues and one for the contest. This sounded workable, but it ended up being a bookkeeping challenge and confusing members.

"The solution adopted by the executive committee is the best to meet the several goals we had in the process," said APSE President Michael Anastasi. "It should ensure APSE does not lose revenue in these challenging times, we protect our smallest members and we spread out financial responsibility throughout membership in a way that should have minimal impact."

To review, here are the old dues categories:
A: over 250,000 ($300)
B: 100-250,000 ($225)
C: 40-100,000 ($150)
D: under 40,000 ($95)

The current contest categories:
A: over 175,000
B: 75,001-175,000
C: 30-75,000
D: under 30,000

After discussion in Boston and during a recent conference call, the officers proposed changes to the dues structure. Three options were examined and sent to the executive committee.

Option 3 received 20 yes votes. Option 1 received 2 votes. Five former presidents abstained.

The options:

1. Simply align the dues and contest circulation categories.

This option is the most simple and straight-forward. Some papers would see their dues go down, more would see them go up. It would raise dues revenue by approximately $2,000. However, because it would increase dues for about 100 members, the majority of them papers moving from the D to C category, the Officers did not endorse this option.

2. Do nothing and clarify language.

Under this option, we would keep separate contest and circulation categories. Organizations would pay in the appropriate circulation category and compete in the appropriate category. The 

Boston Globe and Miami Herald, for instance, would now pay dues at the ‘B’ level but compete at the ‘A’ level. (This is essentially what we did last year, and the 10 papers whose circulations fell below 250 voluntarily continued to pay the higher dues.) This option results in a loss of revenue of approximately $750. Because of the loss of revenue, the Officers did not endorse this option.

3. Change the dues structure to this: 

As described above, organizations pay in the appropriate circulation category and compete in the appropriate contest category. To mitigate the loss of the $750, dues for every member in the A, B and C categories are raised by $5. D-level dues stay the same. Dues do not change for secondary members. This option is roughly revenue neutral.

Dues would now be:
A: over 250,000 ($305)
B: 100-250,000: ($230)
C: 40-100,000: ($155)
D: Under 40: ($95)

This option achieves our goal of bookkeeping simplicity and is revenue neutral. The Officers endorsed this option.

The passage of Option 3 means that if a paper’s circulation has dropped below 250,000, the paper pays dues at the B level (100,000-250,000) but will compete in the contest at the A level (over 175,000).

The dues change will take effect immediately. For newspapers, the circulation figure you put on your information form will be the contest category in which you compete. Please be accurate.

Dues notices and information forms will be e-mailed about Sept. 1.