Goals: stay on top of new media; close the consumer-business journalism education gap

Editors today are playing more roles than ever, often taking on tasks for which they’ve had little or no formal training. Podcasts were virtually unheard of five years ago, and yet today few B2B publications could be competitive if online audio products weren’t part of their editorial mix.

Web video is likely to chart a similar growth path, and, like audio, few editors know much about applying their content knowledge to this very different medium.

In part to help B2B editors stay focused on the editorial process in the expanding digital marketplace, ASBPE will formally launch the ASBPE Foundation in July at our National Editorial Conference in Kansas City as a cornerstone toward this goal.

ASBPE also hopes this new nonprofit charitable 501(c)(3) Foundation can close the longstanding education gap that exists between the consumer and business sides of journalism curricula.

Because the Foundation is incorporated as a tax-exempt charitable organization under the U.S. Tax Code, Foundation donors can deduct their contributions from their federal income taxes.

“This is a time of tremendous opportunity for B2B editors,” said Rob Freedman, president of the ASBPE Foundation. Freedman is a past president of ASBPE, which will continue to be an IRS 501(c)(6) business league.

“With the rise of new media like Web videos, podcasts, webinars, blogs, and social media platforms, editors have so many more ways of delivering content to their publication audiences,” Freedman said.

“But with this new opportunity comes the challenge of having to learn these technologies on the job. The Foundation will offer more training opportunities at reasonable prices or for free, thus helping to keep print and digital editorial content where it belongs: in the hands of editors.”

Online professional development

The Foundation’s ambitious education plan includes sponsoring on-site professional development seminars in partnership with B2B publishing companies, and funding a series of webinars and other online professional development programs.

At the university level, the Foundation will endow an academic chair, the ASBPE Professor of Business-to-Business Journalism, and fund graduate and undergraduate scholarships for students seeking a career in B2B journalism.

The Foundation will also help promote excellence in B2B journalism by hosting awards programs, like ASBPE’s existing Stephen Barr Award, that recognize exemplary work.

“With the Stephen Barr Award, we’ve been able to showcase B2B writing that ranks among the best journalism being done in the United States today,” said Roy Harris, a Foundation trustee and immediate past president of ASBPE.

“It was only through the generous contributions of the Barr family that we were able to host an award of that caliber. We’ll be looking to do even more of that.”

Governing body

The Foundation is governed by a six person board of trustees. ASBPE’s four national officers — president, vice president, treasurer, and immediate past president — and two others appointed by the ASBPE board. Foundation terms are for two years. Trustees may be reappointed.

“This is the right time, and ASBPE is the right organization to launch a nonprofit foundation dedicated exclusively to the ongoing excellence of B2B editors through education,” said Steve Roll, ASBPE president.

“Now everyone in business publishing who has a stake in the continuing excellence of the B2B editing profession has a vehicle for channeling their resources and making a difference.”

Big fete planned for kick-off

ASBPE will officially kick off the Foundation at the opening-night cocktail reception at the 2008 National Editorial Conference in Kansas City in July.

At the reception, trustees will share their vision for the Foundation and give a preview of its planned educational programs.