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A very good year, despite Sept. 11. (President's Letter Straight talk from Fred Fiske).

There wasn't a chance to "make my speech" to a captive audience at our annual meeting in Pittsburgh scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15. The horrors of Sept. 11 took care of that -- and took care of NCEW's 55th annual convention. NCEW members had much more pressing duties, helping their readers make sense of the terror attacks and adjust to the sudden, harsh new realities of the 21st century.

So let me take this opportunity now to sum up an eventful year for NCEW, with brief glimpses ahead.

At last year's meeting I exhorted the Faithful to respond to NCEW's bidding: "When NCEW calls, say yes!"

In succeeding months, you have responded magnificently. My heart's desire, reinforced by a mandate from NCEW Foundation president Tommy Denton, is to establish partnerships between NCEW and universities and co-sponsor day-long editorial workshops for student journalists. So far we have six workshops up and running -- at Penn State, Columbia, Vanderbilt, the University of South Florida, St. Bonaventure in southwestern New York, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The list of volunteer leaders and "faculty" is not short and ever-evolving, but I'd like to mention as many as I can right now: James Abraham, Rich Aregood, Harry Austin, Tom Berner, John Bersia, Robyn Blumner, Dawn Bracely, Linda Campbell, Chris Carroll, Van Cavett, Dale Davenport, Bob Davis, Deborah Decker, Jim Eckstrom, John Ehinger, Jay Friedman, Robert Friedman, Vanessa Gallman, John Hill, Joe Holley, Nancy Keefe, David Klement, Camille Kraepin, Dave Kubissa, Sharon Larsen, Morgan McGinley, Bill McKenzie, Mitch Olszak, Isaiah Poole, Sandra Roberts, Dave Schultz, Kay Semion, Bernard Stein, John Taylor, Luanne Traud, Tom Tryon, Tom Waseleski, Jim Waters, Denny Wilkins, Carroll Wilson, and Gayle Williams. Whom have I left out?

This critical mass of talented professionals already is forging new connections with college editorial writers and editors -- connections we intend to build on. I hope we can repeat these workshops and add at least four more next year, sparked by Howard Ziff at the University of Massachutts/Amherst, Tom Klevan at Penn State/Bloomsburg, Francis Ward at Syracuse University, and Carolyn Nielsen working with the University of Western Washington. Vanessa Gallman also has proposed a workshop for minority college editorialists at Florida A&M in Tallahassee, to which I say: Let's do it! My term as president may be over December 31, but I'm staying with this project, working with Tom Berner and your Journalism Education Committee. How about a workshop near you? When NCEW calls, please say yes!

NCEW continues to forge connections with the Society of Professional Journalists. Before year's end, I expect Regional Conferences chair Dick Mial and NCEW's regional captains will have offered NCEW's services again to help enrich SPJ programs m 2002. Look for this effort to keep producing results in future.

Speaking of enrichment, you have in your hands one of NCEW's most enduring assets: The Masthead. Under the inspired leadership of editor Kay Semion, our quarterly has kept you abreast of innovations, current thinking, and exceptional writing in our field. The NCEW Web grows into an ever-more-solid resource, thanks to webmaster Phineas Fiske and his New Technology Committee collaborator, Dan Radmacher. More informally, but with bursting vitality and diversity, the listserv keeps us all connected on a daily basis.

NCEW Foundation is central

I want to devote the rest of my space to the NCEW Foundation -- not to shortchange any of NCEW's many other talented volunteers and their worthy activities, but indeed to highlight them. That's because the NCEW Foundation is so central to all that we do and aspire to:

* Co-sponsoring with the Freedom Forum the Minority Writers Seminar, whose sixth session in Nashville this year was in many ways the best ever, according to Foundation president Tommy Denton and his dedicated collaborators, Alvin Bessent, Dwight Lewis, Doug Lyons, Alane Megna, and Chuck Stokes.

* Foundation support for the International Affairs Committee, which made this year's trips to China and the Middle East affordable to NCEW travelers led by Eric Ringham and Committee chair Dave Hage.

* Underwriting, with the Scripps Howard Foundation, Beyond Argument, the matchless and indispensable handbook setting exciting new standards for the editorial profession, the brainchild of Susan Albright and the loving creation of co-editors Maura Casey and Mike Zuzel and their band of gifted writers.

The NCEW Foundation took a financial hit from the recent downturn in the market. But NCEW treasurer John Taylor and NCEW Foundation treasurer Morgan McGinley note that things could have been much worse but for the skillful management of our assets by our adviser, Kristina Testor of Salomon Smith Barney.

In any case, the Foundation is poised to blossom with the market recovery, making more good things possible. We have embarked on ambitious plans to build endowment funds to support the Minority Writers Seminar and the Barry Bingham Award. We are underwriting the modest costs of the expanding network of student editorial workshops (mostly for pizza and so da!). We continue to support the Clendinen editorial professorship at the University of South Florida, and expand our partnerships in journalism education and other areas.

But to do so, we need your support. We have set a goal this year of 100% participation by NCEW's board and committee leadership in support of the Foundation. We made a good start, and I'm told more than $1,200 in donations and matching gifts came in from board members meeting before our ill-fated convention in Pittsburgh. I urge you to make your tax-deductible contribution soon. I can't think of a better way to show your solidarity with NCEW, your commitment to its principles and purposes, and your determination to preserve the bright, clear flame of informed advocacy in journalism.

NCEW president Fred Fiske is senior writer with The Syracuse Post-Standard.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Conference of Editorial Writers
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Publication:The Masthead
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2001
Previous Article:Make a donation and help the Foundation.
Next Article:Zakarian named NCEW life member.

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