Summary by Marty Benson, Assistant Director of Communications, Indiana DNR
Representatives from Nebraska, Washington, South Carolina, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wyoming, Virginia, Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado and New Hampshire attended.
The meeting opened with a discussion about how to adjust to a challenge that all magazine editors have faced or likely will face eventually: a superior who wants to control what’s in the magazine, sometimes to the point of determining how many pages an article should be or what photos should run. Discussion led to advice that we are probably not going to be able to change such a person’s behavior but will need to change our approach to it.
If a superior is going to pull things at the last minute, having a backup plan for both content and photography is a must. Holding a lengthy meeting to discuss long-term goals and philosophies, backed by some data to support your desires, was also suggested. In particular, data on how fishing and hunting supports the rest of the organization was suggested, as that was usually the content that was questioned. The group advised to make sure to give the superior a couple of wins in some more minor things so you have a better chance of winning the more important battles.
In the issue of reader photos and reader pages, most editors said they did not receive many letters and have moved away from publishing many. Instead, they focus on publishing photos from readers.
After a 6-year absence, the Louisiana magazine is coming back. Discussion focused on making the debut issue great so people will want it back. Even though the state government wants the magazine back, funding is still a challenge that needs to be answered. Louisiana rep was advised to contact Minnesota, a state in which the magazine is run based on donations rather than state money, and to keep working to make sure the magazine is kept once it returns.
A discussion was held on where to get story ideas. Some of those suggested as we went around the table included staff, biologists, photographers, readers, Facebook, division chiefs and old issues of the magazine, as well as monitoring current articles that can be taken in other directions to spawn other articles. Monitoring internal newsletters is also a must. Keeping in touch with the colleges in the state, particularly the smaller ones that seek exposure, about their pertinent research can also be helpful. The general mantra was put forth that you should never turn down an idea outright because you never know how you might be able to use it in the future, even if you can’t use it right now.
One state suggested allowing readers who suggest an article that gets used to accompany the photographer or writer on the shoot or interviews for the story. This idea came from the fact that one state allows a contributors of ideas to its TV show to attend the video shoot.
The meeting closed with a consensus that the group would like to have a roundtable of magazine people early in the week of the conference, followed by another roundtable closer to the end of the week. This meeting was the last of the conference and ran short on time as people needed to prepare for the awards dinner.