In an effort to better reflect the evolving industry, The Newspaper Association of America has renamed itself the News Media Alliance and expanded its membership requirements to allow digital-only news organizations become members.
“The word ‘newspaper’ is powerful and has a lot of amazing history behind it but there’s also nobody who is just in the print business anymore,” chief executive officer and president David Chavern said. “I think everyone realizes that the industry is more complex than that and the association has to show that.”
A particularly revealing incident, Chavern said, came during a conversation with a U.S. Senator. “When I told him I represented the newspaper industry, he responded by saying that he didn’t read newspapers anymore, emphasizing how all his news came from the internet. I knew if someone this sophisticated and media aware still thought newspapers just meant something that landed on your driveway, that we probably had a communications problem about what the industry really is about.”
The realization eventually caused Chavern to recommend a rebranding to the organization’s board of directors this past spring. Though the most visible alteration may be the new name, Chavern said that it’s just one of several new upgrades the organization has made.
In addition to a redesigned, mobile friendly website featuring a more modern layout (newsmediaalliance.org), the News Media Alliance also welcomed its first two digital-only publications as members—The Independent Journal Review and Jim Brady’s Spirited Media.
“We wanted the connective tissue for accepting these digital-only news sites to be original journalism and not just aggregation,” Chavern said.
The alliance will also be offering new tools and resources to the nearly 2,000 news organizations it represents.
The ideaXchange provides members with a platform to share, brainstorm and learn from each other in collaborative environment while the dashboard tool dubbed metricsXchange shows comparisons between markets and publications. The organization plans to offer analyses and highlight newsworthy trends using this data as well.
Meanwhile, the alliance’s annual convention in New Orleans next year will be restructured with an emphasis primarily on innovation and advertising technology.
Though the process may be a gradual one, Chavern says the public’s understanding of the industry and its role across all platforms beyond just print will become clearer with the changes being made by the alliance.
“People always talk about the importance of multi-channel communication and I respond by telling them that we’ll put it on your phone, iPad, computer or throw it in your driveway,” Chavern said. “Who is more multi-channel than we are?”