The Membership Committee of HSPA’s board of directors continues to explore the possibility of increasing membership opportunities not available for some publications and news entities.
Only paid-circulation newspapers with periodical permits issued by the U.S. Postal Service currently are eligible for a business membership in HSPA.
Committee member Shannon Williams, publisher of The Indianapolis Recorder, and HSPA Executive Director and General Counsel Steve Key met recently with Celeste Colvitto, owner of The Bright Beacon; Jim Poyser, editor of NUVO (Indianapolis); and David McChesney of 1UP! Software.
The discussion focused on the benefits that free or online publications would gain from a business membership and what benefits HSPA might gain.
The Beacon, NUVO, and 1UP are not eligible for HSPA membership as publications, although Colvitto and Poyser are associate members and 1UP is a sustaining member.
The July meeting determined this list of potential benefits for free publications as HSPA members:
• Status or credibility through recognition as an association member
• Greater chance for exposure to advertising opportunities
• Legal advice
• Camaraderie and networking with other publishers and journalists.
Potential benefits for HSPA from the inclusion of new membership classes include:
• More dues revenue
• Flexibility to meet changing dynamics, such as publications going from print to digital, for example
• Greater diversity, both in ideas on how to make journalism work financially and by opening the door to more minority publications.
The other members of the Membership Committee are chairman Tim Timmons, publisher of The Paper of Montgomery County (Crawfordsville) and The Times (Noblesville); and Don Hurd, publisher of The Benton Review (Fowler) and The News & Review (Monon).
The options available for the committee to recommend to the full board range from keeping the status quo to creating new membership categories for free or online publications.
The new categories could have limitations that would make their membership different from the paid-circulation newspapers.
Any dramatic changes to the membership criteria would require approval by the full board of directors.