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Spread the good word; think regional.

Thousands of editorial writers throughout North America will not be in Madison, Wis., in September for the annual convention - a luxury that many editorialists cannot afford.

Those fortunate enough to get to Madison must look beyond themselves if they are loyal to an organization established 50 years ago to improve editorial pages and promote high standards. With that thought in mind, NCEW president Sue Ryon asked me to spend this year trying to spark regional conferences.

This article is a plea for help.

Such meetings already occur in New England, North Carolina, Virginia, and a few other places, and NCEW members are developing others. Additional volunteers are needed to serve as regional captains - which means doing all the work and then letting me know about it so I can serve as a clearinghouse for information and ideas.

A regional or statewide conference can take any form the organizer thinks can be accomplished efficiently and effectively. In Virginia, I've helped pull together five different sessions during the past eight years. A two-day conference required a lot of work; in contrast, arranging a couple of panel discussions at the annual winter meeting of the Virginia Press Association was easy.

Editorialists at small dailies and weeklies seldom get an opportunity to talk with anyone who does what they do. Give them an affordable session close to home, and they'll show up.

Regional captains ought to promote NCEW and solicit new members when conducting regional sessions, but membership in the organization should not be required. The central idea is to encourage high standards and strong editorials by bringing people together to talk about opinion writing, cartooning, design, letters to the editor, and other subjects.

Some NCEW members probably are already involved in regional or state meetings but haven't mentioned it to Sue Ryon or the headquarters staff. If so, please let me know.

Reports from all over

Here is what's happening, according to NCEW members who have agreed to be regional captains.

* Alaska. Michael Carey of the Anchorage Daily News (907/257-4439) wants to hear from anyone with suggestions on how to arrange a conference in that huge state.

* Arizona. Paul Schatt (602/271-8475) of The Arizona Republic is setting up a session for editorial writers at this fall's meeting of the Arizona Newspapers Association.

* Florida. Kay Semion of the Tallahassee Democrat (904/599-2100) plans a session in Tallahassee during the 1998 session of the Florida legislature.

* Maryland. Barry Rascover of The Sun in Baltimore (410/332-6050) is the regional captain. He is looking for suggestions.

* New England. NCEW's Morgan McGinley helps put together a session each year at the fall meeting of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors, which covers New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Get information on the 1997 session from Maura Casey of The Day in New London (800/542-3354).

* North Carolina. An annual statewide conference will be held again in 1998 at Pinehurst. The regional captain is John Gates of the Winston-Salem Journal (910/727-7357).

* North Dakota/South Dakota/Montana Jack Zaleski of The Forum in Fargo, N.D. (701/235-7311) wants to talk with others about arranging a conference in that region.

* Pennsylvania. Dale Davenport of The Patriot-News (717/255-8111) is kicking around the idea of a conference that might also include Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.

* South Carolina. Regional captain Jerry Ausband of The Sun News in Myrtle Beach (803/626-0307) is organizing a session that will be held in February in Columbia at the annual meeting of the South Caroline Press Association.

NCEW member Larry Evans, chair of the Regional Conferences Committee, is editorial page editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va. He can be reached at 800/877-0500, ext. 409. His e-mail address is larrye@fls.infi.net.
COPYRIGHT 1997 National Conference of Editorial Writers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:News Councils: Watching the Watchdogs
Author:Evans, Larry
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Sep 22, 1997
Words:629
Previous Article:Convention to unfold on the Web.
Next Article:Minority Seminar earns high marks.
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