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Hosting regionals is easy as 1, 2, 3.

HERE ARE AT LEAST THREE good reasons why you -- yes, you -- should consider hosting a regional conference for editorial writers this year:

* It won't take much time. Trust me.

* It will be fun. Trust me on this point, too. I try to do very little in life that I don't enjoy.

* If you don't host a regional conference, chances are that nobody else in your area will.

Here in New England, I have helped host regional conferences for editorial writers for three years. I always look forward to them.

The key to a hassle-free regional editorial writers' conference is to work under the auspices of an organization with deeper pockets and more clerical help than any one or two editorial writers could muster alone.

In 1990, Morgan McGinley, editorial page editor of The Day in New London, Conn., asked the New England Society of Newspaper Editors to sponsor a day for editorial writers as part of its annual convention, held in November. This would accomplish several things at once. It would help boost the profile of NCEW in New England; it would give editorial writers from other regions, invited to take part, a chance to give feedback to New England editorial writers; and it would boost the numbers expected to attend the NESNE convention, since publishers, editors, and writers involved in putting out the editorial page would be given special help and attention.

After three years, having an editorial writing component to the NESNE convention is becoming somewhat of a tradition. The convention begins on a Thursday night and ends on a Saturday night. The editorial writers' workshop lasts all day Saturday. Two NCEW members conduct it, critiquing both the pages and the writing of the editorial writers present, and presiding over what generally becomes a wide-ranging discussion.

The first year NESNE asked Joanna Wragg and Paul Greenberg to conduct the workshop; the second year, Nancy Keefe and Keith Runyon came. Last year, Tommy Denton and Rena Pederson gave a Texas view of how the New Englanders present were doing.

Most of the New England editorial writers who attend work in one-person or, at most, two-person shops, and they really appreciate the chance to discuss problems they face with people from other regions of the country.

New England editorial writers have been lucky to have the leadership of Morgan McGinley and the commitment of NESNE to bring outside speakers and make an editorial writing workshop an integral part of the regional convention. But workshops needn't be so elaborate. NESNE also holds "brown bag" lunches, where editors meet at one newspaper for part of a day to discuss a specific topic. As the name implies, everyone brings his or her own lunch. There is no reason why the same thing couldn't be done by editorial writers elsewhere in the country.

The advantage New England has, however, is that it has many newspapers in a small geographic region. A drive of three hours is the most the majority of editorial writers must endure to get together. Distance is more of a problem in other states.

If that is the case, a day-long conference might be more practical. Again, it isn't hard to arrange: The basics include contacting other editorial writers in your region about the meeting, arranging for meeting rooms at a hotel or a university, setting up coffee and doughnuts in the morning, arranging for a luncheon, drafting someone to run critiques of editorial pages, and charging a registration fee sufficient to cover the costs. Many newspapers are willing to cover part of the price tag.

NCEW has how-to material available for anyone interested in setting up a regional conference. And a useful book to offer anyone attending the conference is the second volume of Editorial Excellence, a collection of wonderful editorials that are really timeless in their topics and use of literary techniques to get points across. It's available from NCEW headquarters at a nominal price.

NCEW member Maura Casey, co-chair of the Regional Conferences Committee, is an editorial writer and columnist for The Day in New London, Conn.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Conference of Editorial Writers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:regional conference
Author:Casey, Maura
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Jun 22, 1993
Words:679
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