ASME Runs Toward Relevance

asme090908.gifBig changes are coming to the American Society of Magazine Editors. The keepers of the Ellies flame face the stark reality that the Internet is changing their business in ways we can only begin to imagine. The location of this year’s American Magazine Conference, tech-rich San Francisco, is a nod to this trend and while the Magazine Publishers of America took the lead on producing the event, ASME has significant input as well. (FishbowlNY will be covering the October panels and parties in glorious detail.)

The organization is also targeting the younger generation, as tonight marked the launch party for ASME Next, a group aimed at assistant- and associate-level editors. But this isn’t the only new initiative ASME will launch in the near future. In a wide-ranging interview earlier today for a So What Do You Do? article running in conjunction with the AMC, ASME’s current president and Runner’s World editor-in-chief David Willey spoke about where the organization is today, where it needs to go and how it will get there. Some highlights are below.

Mr. Willey, take it away:

ASME really needs to grow with the magazine world and diversify. Yes, we administer the National Magazine Awards and that’s very important. Yes, we administer the ASME guidelines in print and online, and that’s very important, but there are a lot of other things that ASME does and can do. I think the average ASME member probably just focuses on those two, the awards and the guidelines and violations. Both of those are more important than they’ve ever been but there’s all this other stuff that we need to do and be really useful to all editors.

We just launched ASME Next about a month ago that is really for assistant and associate level editors. We have 65 or 70 members who have already signed up for that.

We really need to get into the confluence of digital and print, how that impacts the awards, how that impacts the editors’ daily lives. It gets right back to the community. I think magazine editors are also a community.

It’s interesting. There are things that lots of us are doing with our magazines and our Web sites to serve our readers and we just need to come together as ASME and think about that the same way and make sure we are serving the membership the same way that each of us go back to our office’s and serve our readers.

Are you talking about this in board meetings? I sort of picture them as a Fall of Rome tableau.
Yeah, we talk about [these issues] all the time. The board meetings are filled with very smart, successful, opinionated people, which means that there’s lots of great ideas flying around and debate. There’s always a lot to do. We do, almost at every meeting, need to talk about the guidelines, to talk about the awards, but we have been having discussions about these larger, philosophical issues, partially because we’re all at our desks anyway. What does it mean to be a magazine editor today? What’s ASME’s role now, today? How much should we embrace digital vs. print. You’re going to notice some changes in the way ASME looks and works and feels and serves its membership pretty soon.

How soon?
Don’t know yet… don’t know yet. Soon.