We’re thankful, but not for extra shopping day


By Karen T. Braeckel
HSPA Foundation

Although some try to turn Thanksgiving season into crunch time for holiday shopping, you can bet your turkey feathers I’m not falling for it.

December will come soon enough, along with the Newsroom Seminar – the Foundation’s largest event of the year (followed immediately by another birthday I won’t count).

But let’s take a minute at the end of November to fill our hearts with gratitude for the gifts we receive unboxed and unwrapped.

First and foremost, newspapers still exist – in multiple formats no less.

Watchdog reporters still keep an eye on government – the good and the bad.

Dedicated publishers and other executives offer their time to serve on the boards of HSPA and the Foundation. Organizations flounder without strong leadership, and these people with already demanding schedules find a way to tackle one more thing. (Although we would like to believe our staff’s charming personalities attract them to service, in reality we know dedication drives them.) We give thanks for these selfless leaders.

And the Foundation still carries out its mission due to the generosity of its members and others who support our work. We give thanks for your kind gifts that keep our programs going.

This week college and university students will receive information about applying for the Eugene S. Pulliam Internships and the IAPME and HSPA Foundation Journalism Job and Career Fair.

Student and newspaper applications are now online at HSPAfoundation.org.

Ball State University, Franklin College and IUPUI partner with us for the Job Fair by providing free space where editors can interview students from Indiana and surrounding states. We thank these institutions for years of cooperation with us.

Many talented young people still choose journalism as their major and hope to work in our industry.

Despite fewer job openings and paid internships, we have yet to experience a drop in applications for either program. We give thanks for their curiosity, intensity and skill that drive them to the field.

Indiana has some outstanding high school journalism programs that educate and motivate young journalists and act as a feeder group for higher education.

These would not exist were it not for dedicated publication advisers. For these we give thanks.

Other individual members also fill important roles that make HSPA Foundation programs not only better, but also possible. They assist with the planning of our major events and training sessions.

I’m told somewhere you can find the first Saturday of December chiseled in stone as the date of the Newsroom Seminar.

(It used to be the only Saturday in the fall without an in-state college football game. Enter the Big 10 Football Championship. Fortunately they kick off at 8:17 p.m., well after the completion of our event. We also do not need to worry about either of the state’s Big 10 schools participating in 2013.)

The Newsroom Seminar Committee members plan the program and recruit speakers. They know better than I what our members need. The same people serve as members of the editorial contest rules committee – an unusually thankless job.

But we give thanks and a turkey wing to this group for making the seminar fly! (I decided against asking them to take on the added responsibility of having an in-state representative in the football championship game. Several could care less as their alma maters belong to other conferences. Others care too much and tend to get emotional.)

The Indiana Newspaper Advertising Executives Association’s board plans the advertising conference and Awards Gala. They, too, take on the challenge of establishing the contest rules.

Through their efforts, the number of participating newspapers grows. (We give them thanks and a drumstick to help them continue to campaign for more contestants.)

Membership in the elite Copper Club comes with a price. All members served as president of the HSPA or the Foundation board. It used to mean a private breakfast at the Annual Meeting and the opportunity to bend the executive director’s ear.

But now this group also serves as a sounding board for Annual Meeting programs. For this they deserve a second helping of thanks.

In 2013 we needed more judges than ever for both advertising and editorial contests. We met those requests thanks to our volunteers.

The contest formats changed dramatically a few years ago, but our members’ willingness to help did not. Without reciprocal judging, our contests implode. We give thanks for our judges (but refrain from offering the gizzard to symbolize the innards that make contests work).

We thank our NIE Advisory Board members for their dedication and service to young readers.

And personally I give thanks for a job I truly enjoy.

Have a happy turkey day – and don’t gobble. Shopping can wait another day.

Karen T. Braeckel is director of the HSPA Foundation. Her column runs in the second issue of each month.