As president of College Media Association, I lead a national organization of more than 650 college media advisers who seek to develop strong, student-led media programs at colleges and universities across North America.
We impact young media professionals as both teachers and trainers, hosting thousands of students at national conventions. Our reach extends to college news organizations, free-form radio stations, campus TV stations, literary magazines and more. Training includes everything from libel law to ad sales to news judgment to FCC regulations and more.
I’ve sought to position CMA at the vanguard of efforts to protect First Amendment freedoms and to speak out against threats to the independence of student media. We’ve helped instigate and support New Voices laws that aim to prevent censorship at both the high school and college level, and we fight back against school officials who try to stifle the student press.
An update for the end of 2019:
Some thoughts about CMA
You might know already that I’m excited about the future of College Media Association. What you might not know is why.
So, as I prepare to wind down my term as CMA president, I wanted to share some thoughts—and stats! Because who doesn’t love stats?
CMA membership has increased by 11 percent.
Even as the media industry struggles, we’re successfully fighting against the current. In summer 2019, we reached 667 members, up from 600 just two years before: membership numbers not seen since October 2016. We see fluctuations, of course, but the trend is upward. Personally, I’m aiming for 700, which is the number I heard tossed around when I joined CMA.
Our organizational income has increased by 13 percent.
Since 2015, things have been looking up. We’re seeing increased hotel commission thanks to the work of the management team at Kellen, which we pay to manage our day-to-day work, and seeking out better deals at hotels for conventions. We’ve re-partnered with ACP for our fall convention and joined with ACP, CBI and CMBAM for our summer workshop. We also increased our membership fee from $55 to $75 in 2016—it had been cut from $110 in 2011—and increased Pinnacle Awards fees in 2017. Organizational entries remain free for members. Do we love these fee increases? Nope. But we feel it is essential for CMA to operate in the black.
We’ve cut expenses by more than 30 percent: After years of operating in the red, we’re solidly in the black.
Among the ways that we’ve reduced expenses since 2013, when this trend began: We eliminated our summer board meeting, reduced non-essential staff travel and sought only volunteers to teach pre-cons at our conventions: volunteers for whom we couldn’t be more grateful.
We can’t promise that these trends will continue, but it’s been a good few years.
Some other, non-statistics-based initiatives that we’re proud of:
- We’ve taken steps to be more welcoming to all students and advisers. In the past year, we’ve turned our focus to providing more programming related to diversity issues, and we’ve created a new diversity committee focusing on serving our members of color and other folks holding historically marginalized identities. The board approved an anti-harassment policy for conventions and online communications. We’ve increased programming for the radio and video students who have often felt left out of our conventions, and we’ve reached out to the Broadcast Education Association to join us for an upcoming convention.
- We’ve updated our strategic plan. CMA uses strategic planning as a framework to guide our decision making. The board met with an outside facilitator in March to update our plan and agree to three guiding objectives.
I’d like to personally thank all CMA’s board members, both past and present, with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work.
But, truly, credit for these successes go to every single member: those who contribute your time, energy and enthusiasm to CMA.
If you’re interested in getting more involved, please do. I was first pulled into joining the community college programming committee in 2004, and I’ve attended every convention I could since then. My time in CMA has been some of the most rewarding of my life. I hope that your experience can be just as fulfilling.
If it’s not—or, heck, if it is—let us know.