NNA's Business: Service p. 30

By: Editorial Staff IF THERE'S ONE thing the National Newspaper Association wants to be known for, it's service. NNA, which touts itself as the voice of community papers, was founded in 1885 and has about 3,600 members, including 533 dailies.
Service to members is at the top of the agenda for Dalton C. Wright, president, and Kenneth B. Allen, executive vice president and CEO. Wright, president of Lebanon Publishing Co. of Missouri, was elected president at NNA's annual convention in September. Allen became CEO last April.
"I'm here because I think community newspapers are the best-kept secret in America," said Allen. "They are one of the most incredible assets in America, and I think their future is bright."
Allen is former president of governmental relations for the Information Industry Association and formerly was a senior policy analyst for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
Filling the executive's post allowed NNA to tackle its most pressing concerns, including the pending postal rate increase. NNA representatives testified recently before the Postal Rate Commission, which is considering a Postal Service request to increase first-class rates by 1 cent and periodicals by 3.5%. Up to 75% of NNA members use the in-county postal rates, Wright says.
"Our concern is to represent or protect them against any major changes that would impact them financially in postal costs and service," he said.
Allen notes that the requested increase is modest, compared with the 34% increase proposed in 1994 for in-county rates. NNA vigorously lobbied against it, and the Postal Service revised its request, calling for a 1.5% decrease. Allen is pleased that the increases sought this time are modest.
With respect to legislative affairs, Wright said NAA staffers aggressively track legislation of concern to publishers. Its Congressional Action Team is a group of volunteer newspaper publishers who lobby federal elected officials on pressing legislation. Former lobbyist Allen sees the effectiveness of the grass-roots-level volunteers. "These publishers know personally the congressmen and senators in their community," he said.
NNA's Distance Learning Program is a relatively new offering. A joint venture of NNA and the journalism department at the University of Memphis, the program allows journalists to take courses via computer, for undergraduate, graduate or professional development credit. Journalists who work for NNA member papers get discounts on tuition.
Wright is proud of the management course offerings, because knowledge is crucial to publishers. Many NNA members are small ? average circulation under 9,000 ? and publishers face changing business models and new technologies, so it's increasingly tough to go it alone.
? (E&P Web Site: http:www.mediainfo. com)
? (Editor & Publisher: February 14, 1998)


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