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I'm sure I'm like the rest of you Editors out there and really am proud of the awards I have received from A.A.C.A. for my work. From my first "Award of Merit" back in 1994 to my "Award of Excellence" just received, they are all framed and proudly hang on my walls.<BR> If you are the Editor for a small Region with a limited budget, I'm sure that you also have tasted the frustration of competing against large Regions for the top awards.<BR> Here's my suggestion for the Publications Committee to consider and for you to comment on. Why not divide the competion into two or three categories based on the number of issues mailed out each month? Somthing like less than 100 issues, 101 through 200 issues and over 200 issues. This way the newsletters of the small Regions wouldn't be butting heads with the newsletters (magazines) of the really large Regions.<BR> Is the Editor from a small Region, who works his tail off alone to produce the best publication possible on a limited budget, less deserving of "Master Editor" status than one who has a large budget, maybe a couple of helpers and sends his work off to the printers?<P>Ron Springstead, Editor<BR>"The Schoharie Valley Rambler" <P>------------------<BR>

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Ron,<BR>I will respond to your suggestion but I want to get my thoughts together first. But be assured, the response will be in the positive sense.<BR>Patt

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I am the editor of a club newsletter that publishes about 90 copies a month. I do most of the writing, all of the formatting and set-up, and my wife and I do the printing and mailing. Printing is done by hand feeding sheets through a low cost desktop copier. Each monthly issue required about 720 pages to be printed (not counting the many scraps caused by a cheap copier).<P>Off the top of my head, I don't know if a bunch of different classes are needed based on club size. If the Publications Committee really evaluates newsletters based on the criteria stated, (i.e. content, etc..) then all newsletters SHOULD have an equal attempt. I guess I'm putting a lot of faith in those indiviuals that do the selection. I once may have thought that small clubs should not need to compete against large clubs, but if I remember right (someone please correct me if I am wrong), there was a Master Editor Award awarded at Phildelphia to a newsletter of a club with less than 100 copies published monthly.<BR> <BR>If any distinction is needed, then I would think that a distinction between professionally printed and home printed newsletters would be more appropriate. It takes a lot less effort to ship pages off to a professional printer and have them print the final copies. <P>Actually I don't think about trying to win an award every month I publish a newsletter but rather my most important aim is to produce a newsletter that the club and I can be proud of.<P>I'm new at the editorship (working on my 3rd issue) so my thoughts may be from inexperience and naivety<BR>These have all been first thoughts. Might have a few more after thinking on it a while.<p>[This message has been edited by BruceW (edited 03-13-2001).]

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Ron,<BR> The Chesapeake Region is in the 200 to 300 issues per month category. As editor, I do all the layout and preparation of copy. I receive excellent support from members in contributing material. I have a circulation team that gets the newsletters from the printer, staples, addresses and mails them. My sense is that the number of copies mailed or the size of the newsletter team is not as significant as what we the editors put in it. This year I am going to concentrate more on publicizing upcoming events, reporting on events that have taken place, and featuring members and their cars. I believe that the quality of photos is important. We recently switched from off-set printing to xerox for cost reasons and the quality of our photos has suffered. Also when I switched from scanning photos to a digital camera the quality suffered. I'm told that the Docutech copier does an excellent job on photos at reasonable cost. I need to explore that option. Finally, keep the content positive! I have drifted away from these principles and the quality of our newsletter has dropped. Hope this helps!<P>jnp

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Given the criteria stated above, I guess we'd fall into the "large" category. We need to mail 160 copies a month to serve the members, but we have to mail 200+ to qualify for the bulk rate. To make up the difference we send out about 40 copies to non-members. Those copies go to advertisers, publications committee members, newsletter exchanges, and the like. So, looking at total mailings may not be the best category definition. If size of region must be a consideration, I'd prefer to categorize by number of members instead.<P>Another thought: As the editor of a "large" publication, I have restrictions that I wouldn't have if I were putting together a short run newsletter. I have to consider the impact on printing costs with everything I do. If I only had a short run newsletter, I would have the option of printing all the copies on a color or laser copier, assuring a level of quality that I frankly just don't get with printing. A short run can add color very easily, for example, but it's more costly for a larger publication to do so.<P>I trust that the current rules work the best. Large or small, each region should be using its newsletter to promote the hobby, report on its events, and acknowledge its members in a way appropriate to that region. Content is the key.<P>Jan K. <BR><p>[This message has been edited by JanK (edited 03-13-2001).]

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Ron, You have hit a hot button for me. I agree that the contest should be split up into small medium and large size clubs. I was a presenter at the 2000 seminar, and I pick up newsletters from the back of the newsletter seminar every year. Many times I have seen big clubs get prizes, while the small clubs put together the best monthly they can on their limited budgets. I have also seen small clubs that have won the top prize. I know of a bi-monthy from a very large club that is loaded with pictures, (Usually the same people that the editor knows) that wins all the time. And I have seen some so so newsletters with Master editors that have spelling and grammer errors, but have real nice color covers which leads me to think about if they are read or just scanned for flash and color. Now, I know that some of the regulars on hear, who I know fairly well will jump on me for that last comment, but I am a big boy and I will still say hi when I see them. SalG<p>[This message has been edited by SalG (edited 03-13-2001).]

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If the other editors are like me, they put each issue together around all the other activities in life. I work a full time job, have a family and a house, not to mention the cars. The Beam often seems to take a back seat to everything else. <P>That said, given the time constraints, I still try to put out the best product I can. That means checking for spelling and grammar errors, and assuring basic formatting consistency. (For example, correcting the font change that suddenly appeared for no reason in the middle of a column.) Somehow, typos still make it through, though.<P>I receive a number of newsletters through the newsletter exchange, and I frequently notice that these basic principles are the ones that seem to be neglected by many of the editors. (If formating is their strong suit, but grammar isn't, I usually suggest that they find someone with grammar skills, who can act as proofreader. The word processor isn't a perfect tool.) In any case, I'm trusting that the publications committee is also taking note of these problems.<P>Another issue for me is copyright compliance. As a librarian by training, I'm very aware of this issue, and I am rigid in rejecting submissions that come in without reprint permission. But other newsletters reprint what is clearly copyrighted material without any indication that this has been approved by the copyright holder. Again, I'm trusting the publication committee notices.<P>I'll climb off my soapbox now, so that others may be heard.<P>Jan K.

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Allow me to share some info that got me started on this topic. First, I am a very competitive person and have always strived to do the best that I can at anything I take on. Whether it was in school, sports, my cars or my Editor's job... I always tried to learn from my mistakes and try to improve. Not to WIN an award, but to ACCEPT an award as recognition of my personal efforts. I think that is the whole idea behind the newsletter contest.<P>When I became Editor, our Region was 3 years old and I only mailed out about 30 copies of 2 or 3 pages. When I look back, it was pretty crude but still garnished an "Award of Merit"! I think this says that if you enter the contest, you'll at least get this award.<P>By my second year, I upgraded my computer and bought desktop publishing software out of my own pocket. This garnered an "Award of Distinction". The content wasn't much different but it looked better.<P>In my third year, the Region bought me a color printer and I began printing each page of 4 double-sided pages and mailed them to about 40 members each month. I also upgraded my software and received an "Award of Excellence". Maybe my writing and editing skills had improved but the big change was that the appearance had really improved.<P>Year 4, I was comfortable in my job but the Region was facing a crisis. We had one member putting his personal interests in control of a car show over the Region's and it just about destroyed our club. I felt it my duty to report ALL the news, good or bad, since more than half our members do not attend the meetings to get the news first hand. I rewrote articles many times trying to present bad news and not being too negative. My award that year was knocked back to "Award of Distiction". This shows the effect of negative content in your newsletters. Unfortunately, I still don't know how to present "bad news" in a manner that doesn't come across as negative.<P>Since then, I have received the "Award of Excellence" each year and have made small improvements where I can. I now feature color photos and mail out about 60 copies each month. The "Rambler" is usually 5 double-sided pages, each one printed on our Canon BJC-6000 printer.<P>In closing, let me offer this. Once an Editor gets his or her publication to the "Award of Excellence" level, the AACA Publications Committee should offer pointers to get him or her to the final award of "Master Editor". I don't think it would lessen the value of the "Master Editor" award, I think it would do nothing but improve the work of ALL AACA Editors!<P>Ron Springstead, Editor<BR>"The Schoharie Valley Rambler" <BR><P>------------------<BR>

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I heard if you submit a newsletter you are guaranteed the Award of Merit no matter what shape the newsletter is in. If there are 99 newsletters and 1/3 get an Award of Distinction and 1/3 get an Award of Excellence the remaining 1/3 will receive the Award of Merit. One person described it to me as the Thank You for Participating Award.

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Gotta get my ten cents worth in - the only difference between a big club and a small club is the number of newsletters you print. Everybody has to start with that first master copy and in that sense, regardless of how big your club is, we are all on equal footing. I see no valid reason to categorize awards based on the numbers of newsletters printed. <P>Professionally printed??? please define! Once you turn your master copy over to someone to print you're getting it "professionally" done. Trouble is we as editors don't hold those "printers" accountable for producing a quality product. On several occasions I recall actually rejecting a finished product from the printer because it was not of high enough quality. Once the manager realized I was not about to let them screw up all my hard work I got the kind of service in printing my newsletter that I felt it deserved. It doesnt hurt to shop around and ask printers to bid on a years worth of newsletters to get the job, and be sure to have them run sample copies for your review. Many print shops view your individual small run issues as a small individual print job, whereas you are actually a larger volune customer and may even be eligible for some special volume or "regular customer" discounts. It doesnt take money to win awards. Ive often waved copies of Tom Cresap's Tinkering Times in front of folks who compltain about "nothing going on" or "not anything to report." That newsletter comes from Alaska and if Tom can fill a newsletter with outstanding reporting and fascinating material (from a very small club too) then anyone can do it. Incidentally, Tom received our highest award this year in Philly - the Ann s. Eady Award. Sure, color covers are pretty, but its content that wins recognition. And, No, an award of Merit is not automatic just for entering the contest. Im sure Dave Zimmerman will be glad to post some guidance on what is evaluated for the Newsleter Contest, and also discuss the Master Editor awards. One thing I noted during my tenure as VP of Pubs was that as technology becomes more accessible, it tends to level the playing field on the graphics side of the house - which means content becomes even more critical.<BR>

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It would be nice to have the Master Editor winners posted here rather than those who read this particular forum having to wait<BR>until the May/June issue of AA to congratulate them.<BR>And a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Ron for being <BR>in the Club Clips of Old Cars Weekly. That<BR>must be an interesting article you did.<BR>Will be back with more later.<BR>Patt

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If you post the Master's winner, it would be interesting if you also posted the number of copies mailed, and whether they are monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Thanks in advance.<P>24T42

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I find all of your comments interesting but I feel that I have to add this.... if you've never been a member of a small Region, you really don't know what it's like. I suppose that ALL Regions, big or small, have only a certain percentage of members who contribute much to the club. When your number of members is smaller and you take a percentage of that smaller number, you end up with very few people to help you in anything you try to do. Have YOU ever come to the meeting for your election of officers and had no idea who, if anyone would accept the nomination for President? I have!<BR> In a small Region, it doesn't take long for the 15 or 20 members who have done all the work to get tired and you end up with no one to carry on.<BR> I keep hearing that "content" is what separates the Master Editors from the rest. Excuse me, but what the heck is "content"? I'm sure it's more than last month's minutes, the President's message, the Editor's comments and a calendar of events. If "content" is a variety of articles submitted by various members then Editors of small Regions are truly at a disadvantage. If we have problems getting members to take on officer positions, how do we get them to tell stories about their cars?<BR> As I stated in an earlier post, I'm always interested in improving by learning. Any suggestions would be appreciated.<P>Thanks a lot.... <P>------------------<BR>Ron Springstead, Editor<BR><I>The Schoharie Valley Rambler</I>

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Ron,<P>I do know what you are talking about as I come from a small region. Our region has about 70 members (families) with about 1/4 being active and the remainder consisting of those that were once active but are now very elderly or of ill health..... those that only show up for the freebies..... and those that are members for the insurance coverage and are never seen.<P>This is my first year as editor although I contributed to our newsletter for about 10 years. Many times, there were no other contributors, and if it wasn't for what I provided, then it would be just the President's message, Secretary Report and meeting minutes. I am not demeaning the old editor as she did a comendable job with the limited resources she used, however I would often talk with members that had not bothered to read the newsletter, even weeks after it was delivered.<P>As the new editor, I have made a concentrated effort to revise the format and add more content. I still provide most of the content. I also use articles from the Rummage Box. Since the old editor did not use this resource, I find I can go back several years and use old Rummage Box articles if the information is general and not dated.<P>I have also started asking for contributions<BR>from people that may never have thought of volunteering. For this past month's issue, I asked a gentleman who has participated in about every AACA Glidden (and a lot of Divisional tours) in the past 15 or so years for an article describing things needing done to take an antique car out of storage and prepare it for touring. I was first apprehensive at even asking and surpised he readily accepted. I even offered, that if he wrote down the ideas, I would put it into written form. What I received was a very well written and informative article that needed minimal editing from a person that does not have extensive writing experience. <P>My work at improving the newsletter was not done with winning any awards in mind but to simply improve a benefit of belonging to the club, especially for the active members to get something in return. <P>I personally believe that if someone does not worry too much about winning an award..but rather puts their heart and hard work into providing their members with a quality product.. then the newsletter will become a quality product. If it does win an award.. that is also nice.. but that is secondary. <P>I'm not saying there are any easy remedies. These are just things I am trying and I continue to experiment with new ideas. I know that getting something done in a small region is often uphill battle that is made more difficult by lack of other participants. Being primary writer, formatter, editor, printer (with the help of my wife who runs the copier), and distributor of our newsletter, I can relate with belonging to a small region. <P>Being fairly new to this, I am also always interested in learning and improving. I'm still waiting toi see if my attempts have been effective and hope they are. I just wanted to let you know you are not alone.<P>[This message has been edited by BruceW (edited 03-19-2001).]<p>[This message has been edited by BruceW (edited 03-19-2001).]

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We have about 160 families in our region, and like the others, about 40 (1/4) of them are active members. Even those 40 are not totally active. For example, we recently had to reduce our Board of Directors from 12 to 9, because we had so many difficulties filling the four spots that changed each year.<P>My husband and I have done the Beam (a monthly) for a total of about 8 years, over the past 15 years. When we first began, the two of us created the master pages (using a typewriter, gluesticks, tape and whatever else was handy). We typically had to provide the articles and pictures, even though we kept reminding the region that our title was Editor, not Writer or Reporter. The club had an old tabletop copier then and we ran off all the double sided copies for the 220 copies we mailed out in those days. The two of us also collated and stapled the issues, put them into envelopes, labelled them, and then sorted them for bulk mailing. And after all that, we were never quite sure than anyone read the darned thing!<P>Technology has improved our lot. I pull together most of the content on the computer now, which allows me to be more consistent in the formatting of the issues. We have the issues printed, collated and stapled these days. I'm still writing most of the articles, but I've come to believe that that just goes with the territory. I try to offer at least two articles each issue on whatever topics I can find. This takes some talking on my part, if I don't want to be the one who has to do them. I've learned that I have the most success when I talk to new members, especially when we're standing in front of their car at an event. (Flattery is a wonderful tool for an editor!) We also happen to have a couple of people in our club who are avid National meet judges, and they have been great at writing up their trips to other regions. Also, my husband will take pictures at various events and we'll offer to showcase the best pictures on the cover, if the car owner will give us some sort of cover story to go with it. We've been very firm about the need for words to accompany a picture, otherwise we'd have plenty of takers to show up on the cover, but there would never be anything inside the issues!<P>Most of our members DO NOT appreciate the role of the newsletter editor. Those who do still manage to take us for granted. To their credit, they recognize that the newsletter is necessary to the health of a region, but they don't want to be the one to do it! Compounding our problem is that our local Board, from the President on down, has assumed that because we were the editors, we were also responsible for anything that ever needed to be printed. Suddenly, we were producing the club roster, the membership form, all flyers, special invitations to certain events, dash plaques, you name it. Now you've taken a big job and made it overwhelming!<P>On the positive side: We really do like to do the Beam and feel this role suits our particular talents and interests. We prefer to be active members in the organizations to which we belong, and this is one way we can help in a big way.<P>If you don't like doing your newsletter, or just see it as another chore, you won't turn out a quality product, because you won't care enough to make it one. On the other hand, if you're truly excited by being the one member who can make or break your region (scary as that is), you will create something that is truly original to you, and of great benefit to your club. That excitement will transfer to your readers, and it's also something that the publications committee picks up on. Those are the regional newsletters that come out on top each year.<P>We belong to the newsletter exchange for a number of reasons. We like to see what other regions and chapters are doing, to see if we can adapt some of the ideas for ourselves, and to check out the competition! (We're always trying to improve our product.) As the winner of multiple Master Editor Awards, we feel we should share our product with others, for use as a benchmark. And lastly, it helps us bring our numbers up to the minimum 200 for bulk mailing. smile.gif<P>Whew, that was long-winded! Better stop while I'm ahead...<P>Jan K.

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Well I finally couldn't take it any longer. After being an avid reader of the forum over the past couple years, this thread got me involved enough to post a reply. The guy that started this one is 'my' editor. I say 'my', because I for one am very proud of the job he does for us every month. I know how much effort he puts into doing the job, but I'm not sure he knows how much it is appreciated by us members. As you have found out in the few posts he has made, he can be an alligator when he sinks his teeth into something. I think most editors feel much as Ron does about the responsibility, and I think the good feeling they can get from an award is certainly deserved. I can also tell you the recognition award is not the driving force behind the hard work. Editors do a great sevice for their club and the hobby. I'm not sure we make them know that we as recipients of their hard work do know and appreciate them. In my opinion, that's a good reason in itself to have the National make the awards. So to all you editors, I for one cheer your efforts. Final point, any editor who puts the kind of effort into a job that pays you in only self satisfaction, as Ron does, deserves all the awards available. The criteria used to evaluate who receives the Master should be common knowledge for all editors, not so they can figure out what to do to get the award but rather to help them make the very best newsletter for their members.<BR>Al

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Hi all, I do a newsletter for one of the 3 regions I belong to. My region, like that of BruceW has a small group, about 65 families. We have our share of paper members for insurance purposes, once active and now old and/or ill and about 1/3 who are active. For several years we would promote runs that were just fantistic, but you would get 3 or 4 non board member cars, now we do tours with other clubs and get great turn outs. Strength in numbers, some people will not go on the "small" tours. My newsletter is filled with info on the tour before and after and that is the key to getting people involved.<BR>Now, do not think all is rosey, I have to pull teeth to get articles out of people, that is why I use a lot of stuff from the USDOT, NHTSA, AAA, and old newsletters. I give people all kinds of interesting things, and I have gotten praise and the Distinction level 3 years in a row. I was a speaker in Philly in 2000. I know that I could do better if I had more time, articles, and pictures, but I want the newsletter to be a must read. I have had that for several years, even if the do not give me stuff. The newsletter should have good content, not just a nice look.<BR>Like JanK, my board would take me for granted, and now I get more input and some help. I still write most of the stuff not from one of the above sources. And I now get less trouble from one board member, who objects to things just for the sake of objecting. SalG<p>[This message has been edited by SalG (edited 03-19-2001).]

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A lot of good suggestions from some well qualified editors - Jan offers a great way to get stories about peoples cars - its something Ive used before and it works. Photo a car at a show, tour, parade, etc, then tell the owner you are going to put it in the N/L but need some words to go along with it. Everyone's image of a newspaper reporter is the guy with a note pad in hand a pencil behind the ear, and thats what you need to do too - be prepared to write stuff down and help get that article together. But, be sure to use the members name and credit them for the story. You'll be surprised at how many regular contributors you will find if you just lead them along to start with. People are much more willing to contribute if approached in a "help me" fashion rather than simply asked (or told) to "write something." All too often, frustrated editors will simply stand up at a meeting and brow-beat the membership with complaints of not getting any input. Its too negative and turns people off. The result is that the editor is viewed as difficult to please or work with. A good editor must be very proactive rather than just sitting back waiting for stuff to come in the mail. And, yes, the editor will have to do some of the writing too! There were some good points made about participation here also. Any organization, scouts, coin collectors, or your own AACA Region will have a group of hard, dedicated workers, and then an even larger group who seem to just get the magazine. I never demean those who don't or cant, or won't participate. Ask them and you'll find many valid reasons - too much work, not enough money, car doesn't run, kids in school, or whatever. My philosophy has always been based on a belief that we all participate to the best of our ability based on available time, interest, finances, etc. That means we are all at different levels in our hobby. We certainly should not be critical of anyone who doesn't (or can't) keep up with our pace. Give them good value for the membership buck with the best darned newsletter money can buy. Do your best to keep them active as possible, but if not active, keep them interested. If you've kept the doors open to them, when the time is right, you'll see them get active-maybe even rise into leadership positions. You don't ever want a member to feel like they can't keep up with the crowd or you'll loose them for sure.

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I sense this topic has about been beaten to death since the replies are winding down. Before it ends, I'd like to let all of you know what I've learned.<BR> This was the first item I've posted on the forum looking for discussion. I must say that I am overwhelmed by the response and the variety of input. Since I am self-employed, I have never found it possible to attend the Annual Meeting in Philly and meet some of you in person. This also means that I have never been able to participate in any of the newsletter workshops but, after your postings, I feel like I have attended a valuable one! Your ideas have given me some ideas to pursue in making my publication better.... Thanks a lot!<BR> From Terry's reply, I sense that the Publications Committee balks at making my suggested change. It would be nice if Dave Zimmerman were to add his views before this topic closes. If the committee were to review the 2000 awards, it might be interesting to them (and the rest of us) what percentage of the top awards were won by the Editors of small, medium and large Regions.<BR> Finally, if you enter your car to be judged at a National Meet and fail to win a Junior or Senior Award, it is my understanding that it is possible to find out in what areas your car was weak. You won't find out the number of points deducted but you will be told it was in the engine compartment, the authenticity, etc. Couldn't the same be done for us hardworking Editors?<BR> I've received an Award of Excellence, of which I am very proud, for several years but I can't seem to clear the final hurdle and become a Master Editor. Have I become cynical? Do my editorials come across as "negative"? Is there something wrong with the "content"? I'd really like to know!<BR> Since this issue is winding down and this may be my last response (but don't count on it) I want to thank all of you again. I have really enjoyed this Forum experience and am looking forward to many more!<P> <P>------------------<BR>Ron Springstead, Editor<BR><I>The Schoharie Valley Rambler</I>

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