What’s in a name? A lot, says RTNDA chairman Stacey Woelfel, which is why the organization will soon become RTDNA. “It’s not a typo,” Woelfel says. “It’s a big change for the association.”
The Radio-Television News Directors Association, founded in 1946, is becoming the Radio Television Digital News Association. For years now, the organization has been open to members who are not news managers. “By including the word digital we are looking to say this [organization] is about people who put out stories electronically,” Woelfel says in a podcast on the RTNDA site. “We can represent them and we do already.”
In part, Woelfel says, the new name is also about breaking down traditional silos that have divided broadcast, print and online journalism. To that end, RTDNA is already in discussions with SPJ about holding a joint national convention in 2011. “It doesn’t make a lot of economic or journalism sense to train separately,” Woelfel says. “There is more and more we overlap in what we do.”
The hope is that the partnership won’t just be a one-time thing and that additional journalism groups will join in. “I do picture one big J journalism conference, a one-stop shop that’s economically convenient for people to attend and gets them access to a lot more training than they would have [otherwise],” Woelfel says.
Over the past several years, attendance at the annual RTNDA convention has declined dramatically. Exhibitors have melted away. Economic pressures on the industry no doubt played a big role, but in my view the association also suffered from being forced to hold its annual meeting alongside the NAB conference in Las Vegas every year since 2001. The affiliation kept the RTNDA convention going but lately, it seemed to be on life support.
Perhaps a name change and some new partnerships will energize the organization’s annual get-together and expand its appeal to journalists of all stripes. Let’s hope so.