Members of the Association for Women in Sports Media’s board met for two days in mid-December. The board discussed numerous items and voted on the following initiatives:
*Academic research: AWSM will no longer allow on-site academic studies to be conducted at its annual conference, based on feedback from attendees at multiple recent meetings. AWSM will, however, continue to promote relevant academic studies on its website, in newsletters and on social media channels. The organization also will consider, on a case-by-case basis, allowing one research study per regional event. Parties interested in conducting research should submit proposals to the chair of the board or president. As always, AWSM does not release its membership’s personal contact information to outside parties.
*Regional events: In an effort to provide more programming at a regional level, AWSM is committing to two spring events and two fall events featuring speakers and/or workshops. For 2017, the spring events will be held in Charlotte (Feb. 8) and Orlando (March 1). Locations under consideration for fall events include Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Portland. AWSM will continue to hold social events, ranging from receptions to lunches to group outings to games.
*Mentor program: AWSM Champions, a professional mentor program, will launch in February. Applications will be accepted from professional members working full-time in the following categories: Print/digital, broadcast, media relations and management. The application period will run for several weeks in February and winners will be announced in early March. Winners will be paired with a sports media veteran (10 years minimum experience) working in the appropriate field. Winners also will receive complimentary registration to AWSM’s conference as well as housing assistance, if desired. The mentor/mentee program will last for nine months with regular conference calls for all participants. In the first year, the program will accept up to six women. AWSM Champions will be re-evaluated after the first year to determine how it should continue. Pitches have been made to multiple outlets regarding potential sponsorship of the program. Students are not eligible to apply.
*Board positions: AWSM will add a senior vice president (SVP) and VP/membership to the board during the 2017 voting period. The SVP position will be designated for someone who is interested in becoming AWSM’s president in the future and serve as a training ground, of sorts, to enable that individual to be better prepared to oversee the organization. AWSM also will seek one or more convention coordinators who are based in / have extensive knowledge of the upcoming conference’s host city as well as multiple communications and digital coordinators.
*Membership fees: Beginning in February, AWSM will offer a three-year membership option for professionals. Individuals who select this option will receive a discount for their long-term commitment.
*Convention fees: AWSM will raise the nonmember registration fee for its annual conference beginning with the 2017 meeting in Texas. Nonmembers, as always, are encouraged to join AWSM beforehand and take advantage of the member discounts.
*AWSM website: AWSM has hired a firm out of Cleveland, Ohio, to redesign its website. Our goal is to launch the new site by the mid-year.
*Scholarship/internship program: AWSM will accept applications from female students who are sophomores and above beginning with this fall’s scholarship/internship application period. All applicants must be enrolled during the 2017-18 academic year. We will no longer accept applications from any students who graduate in December.
*Student chapter program: AWSM has placed groups at Arizona State and Georgia on probation for failing to comply with regulations set forth for all chapters. It is our hope that both universities are able to remain part of the program.