In concurrent board meetings held earlier this week, directors of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association (SNPA) and the Inland Press Association unanimously approved a plan to consolidate the two associations, effective Oct. 1.
Details of the plan approved by the two boards will be sent to members of both associations on June 7 for their consideration and vote. The result of the member balloting is expected to be announced on June 28.
The consolidated association is crafted to be the champion of the newspaper industry and a proactive voice that promotes the value and contributions of newspapers to the communities that they serve.
“The industry has seen a significant change in the last decade,” said Doug Phares, this year’s president of Inland and co-chair of the merger planning group. “There has been a migration to larger groups and an exiting of many long-term family owners. It has also seen a seismic shift in the business model and long-held practices have been upended.”
Phares said that the boards of both associations saw a critical need for an industry association that “provides voice, focus and function equal to the challenges of our new reality.”
PJ Browning, the current president of SNPA, said that the boards were also mindful of the culture and history that has attracted loyal and engaged members to both associations for more than 100 years.
“While we are proposing a new association with a new focus, we are also committed to preserving the networking, the camaraderie, and the idea-sharing that are hallmarks of SNPA and Inland,” Browning said.
Colorado Springs publisher Chris Reen, who co-chaired the merger planning group, outlined the member benefits of the consolidated association:
- A new unapologetic and relentless champion for newspapers and a voice for the newspaper industry.
- Leadership that fills a significant void in the industry.
- Materials and training on how to educate and inform employees and communities about the indispensable value of newspapers and local journalism.
- More resource-rich in-person events with larger pool of attendees, speakers and vendors, and expanded and improved opportunities for free digital training and idea-sharing.
- Industry research and white papers.
- Education and discovery on sustainable business models.
- Enhanced coordination and partnerships with j-schools and other industry organizations.
In anticipation of approval by the membership, the merger planning group has engaged an attorney to prepare legal documents and filings, a marketing/branding firm to work on naming and messaging, and a company to conduct a national search for a CEO to lead the new association.