By Steve Key
Hoosier State Press Association

Every now and then it’s a good idea to toot our own horns.

It reminds those involved with Indiana newspapers about the value of membership in the Hoosier State Press Association and lets those who aren’t familiar with HSPA know what the association does.

First and foremost, HSPA exists for Indiana’s paid-circulation newspapers.

A board of directors comprised of Indiana newspaper executives guides the association. A similar board directs the activities of the HSPA Foundation.

Repeatedly, Indiana newspaper leadership has said the number one service provided by HSPA is representation of the industry before the Indiana General Assembly and other government entities.

That’s why HSPA was created in 1933 – a time when there were four different organizations serving Indiana newspapers.

The value of our voice for the industry and Hoosiers in general is hard to quantify.

How many thousands of dollars have been saved because newspaper stories shined a light on fraudulent or wasteful spending of tax dollars or proposals to spend tax dollars by public officials?

How many of those stories were possible because HSPA worked in the 1970s and ’80s with key legislators to pass the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act?

The battle to keep Indiana government as transparent as possible is a never-ending project.

No legislator advocates a repeal of either law, but there are arguments over whether this or that document should be confidential or this or that discussion should be allowed to be held behind closed doors.

The value of public notice advertising is another constant battleground before the state legislature.

Some legislators don’t appreciate the democratic responsibility for government units to inform the public through an independent third party about action those units are taking or contemplating. The recent loss of the publication requirement of local government budgets is a prime example.

Another service HSPA provides Indiana newspapers is a free legal resource that helps all departments.

HSPA is one of only four state press associations in the country to have an attorney on staff.

I answer questions on a wide spectrum of topics – government transparency, libel, advertising regulations and postal rules, to name a few.

Publishers who have moved to Indiana often comment on the speed of HSPA responses to queries compared to other press associations that rely on law firms to operate a legal hotline.

Another direct impact HSPA has on its members is through the Midwest Advertising Placements service.

Pamela Lego, MAP advertising director, serves as an extension of Indiana newspapers’ sales staffs. She’s a cheerleader and educator of the value of newspapers to advertising agencies and advertising clients.

MAP’s one-call, one-order, one-bill system makes it easy for clients to place advertising in newspapers throughout the state.

The service reduces the hassle that might lead decision-makers to go with a different medium to deliver their message.

In 2014, MAP placed $1.15 million in advertising in Indiana newspapers – and no newspaper company had to spend a dime for additional personnel to benefit from MAP’s representation.

HSPA fully absorbs the manpower costs to staff the HSPA Foundation, led by director Karen T. Braeckel. Newspapers benefit from multiple programs of the Foundation, and I won’t try to list them all in this column.

The Foundation’s Eugene S. Pulliam Internship Program places 10 student journalists each summer with Indiana newspapers for 10-week paid stints of summer employment.

The program furthers students’ educational experiences in print journalism and offers newspapers top-tier journalists.

The enthusiasm and talent of these students is evidenced by the fact some editors have tongue-in-cheek offered to keep the students and send back other employees to the universities.

The Foundation annually recognizes the best of Indiana newspapers through contests for editorial and advertising excellence. The morale boost for the winners is another value hard to quantify.

HSPA wants all our member newspapers and their staffs to remember we’re here for you. If you ever have a question or need, never hesitate to reach out to us.

For legal advice, email me at skey@hspa.com.

For advertising needs, email Lego at plego@hspa.com.

For Foundation questions, email Braeckel at kbraeckel@hspa.com.

Not sure who to contact for your need? Call the HSPA office at (317) 803-4772, and we’ll direct you.

Steve Key is executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.