By Jeff Rosen | APSE President | Sports Editor, The Kansas City Star

OK, folks, I want to give you a heads-up: Things are going to look a little different at this year’s APSE Summer Conference.

You’ll notice more signs of sponsorship around the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt, our hotel headquarters, and that’s by design. So, too, are the short pre-luncheon videos you’ll watch, and the advertisements you’ll be thumbing through in our conference guide and banquet-night program.

To me, these are signs of progress representing a year’s worth of effort toward turning around APSE’s financial picture. It’s been many years since we went into a summer conference assured of remaining in the black. We’ll do that in June thanks to a list of presenting sponsors that includes Major League Soccer, a Major League Baseball community initiative and several other interests that have paid to be visible during our time in Nashville.

It won’t look quite like Time Square, but … if you are going to attend this summer’s APSE summer conference in Nashville, you may see more signage than usual.

In some ways, our organization is a microcosm of the newspaper industry. In both arenas, we’ve long resisted reliance on front-and-center sponsorship and advertising to pay our freight, choosing instead to rely on financial support from subscriptions (or membership, as APSE is concerned).

I won’t insult your intelligence with a recap of journalism’s financial struggles, but I do want to assure you that banking entirely on membership to keep APSE afloat, and in turn counting on host news organizations to foot the bill for summer conferences costing tens of thousands of dollars, is no longer an option.

I won’t be asking anyone to step up their coverage of MLS soccer, or baseball, or any of the other interests that continue to come forward with money in exchange for placement of their messaging. How you choose to cover a soccer match or youth baseball program is entirely up to you.

What I will seek is your thoughtful consideration about how we came to this place, and what event sponsorship means to APSE: namely, preservation of the chance to meet annually for fellowship and fun; breathing room to focus on more pressing matters, such as our diversity shortcomings; modernizing the contest to better reflect our changing membership; and building up that membership to a more comfortable and sustainable level.

Please understand that we have worked with our sponsors to make these “advertisements” as low-key and tasteful as possible, while still giving them value for their investment. Consider it a good reminder that we (and the organizations we represent) remain vital in their worlds.

We’re getting down to the final days of preparation for Nashville, and I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed with the lineup.

A couple more items before I scurry off to pack …

USA Wrestling credentials

APSE’s officers will be meeting with officials from USA Wrestling during the June 17-20 conference in Tennessee in hopes of making progress on the matter of credentialing.

The wrestling folks have remained steadfast in their requirements of reporters seeking credentials to cover sanctioned events, and APSE still advises members to refrain from abiding by those requirements. This is a standoff, to be sure, but we’re hoping for what we’d classify as positive developments out of the dialogue ahead.

Runoff for third VP

Most of you are aware by now that Justin Pelletier, who was recently elected to represent APSE’s smaller member organizations as third vice president, has accepted the sports editor job at the Boston Herald.

We’re excited for Justin and know he’ll do a great job, but we’ve accepted his resignation as third VP-elect because his new employer doesn’t qualify as a small paper.

We are reopening the election to small-paper members in a sort of runoff: the other two candidates in that recent election, Emily Horos of the American News in Aberdeen, S.D., and Dan Spears of the Wilmington Star-News in Wilmington, N.C., are vying for the seat that will be vacated on the final day of the Nashville conference when Robert Gagliardi, our friend in Wyoming, steps down after a distinguished run of service.

If you are eligible to cast a ballot as a small-paper member of APSE and voted before, vote again. If you’re eligible but missed the previous voting process, make sure you don’t this time. Emily and Dan are both quality candidates, and either will make a fine addition at the table of leadership.

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any feedback:¬†jrosen@kcstar.com.

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