By Rachel Whittaker
ORLANDO, Fla. — The general membership meeting during the 2014 convention at the Rosen Shingle Creek gave the Association for Women in Sports Media Board of directors a chance to update the membership on some of the many projects we’re working on and to give everyone a chance to respond.
Here are some of the activities discussed:
Membership drive: The board asked members to reach out to sports journalists and media professionals in your area, not just to women, to tell them about AWSM and encourage them to join. Some of AWSM’s founders volunteered to re-recruit experienced individuals back to the organization. We also must remind people of their memberships, as some expire without members’ knowledge. (It is not an automatic renewal, but can be if a member chooses the auto-renewal feature).
Relationship with APSE: We discussed the possibility of partnering with the Associated Press Sports Editors at future conventions or events. Ideas presented included having an AWSM member attend the annual APSE convention, or holding another joint convention that could include some breakout sessions just for AWSM attendees, for example. Members present at the meeting said this could be considered if the parameters were favorable to AWSM. Also discussed was strengthening ties to other journalism organizations.
More accessible mentor program: A record number of students attended the 2014 convention, and maintaining that enthusiasm and attendance is key. One goal is to firm up details of a mentorship program – helping others become mentors to our youngest members and interns to keep them coming back and maintain a lifelong partnership with AWSM. In addition, we discussed a two-track mentor program geared toward mid-career professionals and those who want to be in management. It was noted that during the Denver planning meeting, having sessions specifically addressing the mid-career/management track could be on the agenda in 2015.
Student rate: A suggestion arose to decrease the student registration rate for the convention. Right now, the student and professional early bird rates are both $250, and the cost might prohibit some students from attending. At issue, however, is the cost to put the convention on since hotels don’t view students as less costly than professionals. It was proposed, and the board will review, having an option for convention “sponsorship” of a student at registration. For example, a professional member may “donate” an additional amount of money that could cover some or all costs for a student to attend.