Association exists to ensure Fourth Estate thrives

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The Capitol Dispatch  •  Amelia McClure

My husband will be the first to tell you I hesitate to describe my job as a lobbyist. He thinks it’s funny to expose me to new acquaintances when I say I’m in government affairs. The hesitation to label myself a lobbyist, of course, comes from the connotation of fat-cat, would-be mafiosos bribing their way to policy. And that’s not me.

Instead, I’ve always thought of myself as more of a connector. Building bridges from Washington and Capitol to Main Street. From legislators to their constituents. A zealous advocate for those with lived experience who can’t take off three months in the depths of winter to stand around the hallways of the Statehouse.

But here’s the thing I’ve come to terms with—lobbyists are not an ill. At least most of them. In a state that prides itself on a citizen legislature, there need to be experts in the halls who can educate lawmakers on the encyclopedia of issues they couldn’t possibly all master.

I will do everything in my power to facilitate effective, easy, and efficient advocacy where your voice will be heard. Because I truly believe our members’ voices are the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.

While lobbyists are necessary stewards of their respective causes, they are but a mere piece of the advocacy puzzle. That’s because the real work—the trials and tribulations that inform policy—are experienced by you. And there’s nothing more effective in advocacy than first-hand storytelling. How lucky are we? That’s something I suspect we’ve got a pretty good handle on.

The stories that illustrate our shared experience show the impact of the legislation that whirls through the hallways of the Statehouse in the several short weeks of session. Hearing from their own constituents, especially ones whose names arrive on their doorstep every morning, makes what they’re doing real.

I know that’s not easy, I just said that most people don’t have the time to hurry up and wait for action at the Statehouse. But, as my introduction to you all, let me make you a promise. I will do everything in my power to facilitate effective, easy, and efficient advocacy where your voice will be heard. Because I truly believe our members’ voices are the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.

So, now we have two pieces of the puzzle, lobbyists and grassroots advocates. What’s the third? Our association. Here’s where it all comes together. As our industry faces a paradigm shift we are poised to be a force in state policy. We’re holding all of the puzzle pieces, we just need to put them together. And our association is exactly how we do that.
My vision is to use HSPA as a network of newspapers who share their stories, cultivate their hopes for the future, and shape the policy that will ensure that the fourth estate does not just exist, but thrives.

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve got the stewardship piece down pretty well—I can tell you what chairperson you need to meet with, which committee will hear the bill, and get amendments pretty easily, but I need you. I will be calling you to action, I hope you pick up the phone.

Amelia McClure is the government relations counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.

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