This page was current during summer 2016; AOJ is merging into the American Society of News Editors by Jan. 1, 2017.

Frequently asked, or anticipated, questions about the merger.

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Posted 5/10/2016 JM

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What about AOJ and ASNE?

This page was current during summer 2016; AOJ is merging into the American Society of News Editors by Jan. 1, 2017.

Here are frequently asked questions about the pending merger of the Association of Opinion Journalist and the American Society of News Editors, and the agreement in principle to turn over AOJ’s Minority Writers Seminar to The Poynter Institute:

Index of questions, or just scroll down:

Why merge?
Why move Minority Writers?
What of MWS endowment?
How much did money matter?
When is merger final?
Standing committee?
Board seat?
State Dept, how long?
Uncommitted funds?
New ASNE initiatives?
Cost of membership?
Life members?
Convention, when, cost?
Convention hotel?
Convention day-rate?
Opinion writing sessions?
What's convention like?
Will discussion list last?
Will AOJ website last?
When does transition occur?


Why did AOJ decide to merge with ASNE?

AOJ’s board of trustees decided to seek a merger with another professional organization earlier this year because with fewer than 200 members, AOJ no longer has the volunteer capacity to manage its own non-profit organization. The board believed strongly that the mission of training and supporting opinion journalists needed to be preserved, and we believe we can do that from within ASNE.

Why did the AOJ board decide to turn over the Minority Writers Seminar to The Poynter Institute?

The board relied heavily on the recommendations of seminar faculty, who agreed that the seminar was well-managed at Poynter last fall. Poynter is a world leader in journalism training and already has a number of other diversity initiatives. The seminar is a perfect fit for Poynter. This year’s seminar will be Nov. 2-5 at Poynter.

What will happen to the Minority Writers Seminar Endowment? (back to top of article

It will be given to the Poynter Institute, which will manage the money to fund the annual seminar.

How much did AOJ finances have to do with this decision?

Very little. This decision was driven by a desire to relieve a small group of volunteers from the burden of managing a non-profit, including the need to raise money. AOJ’s accounts are in good order, the endowment for the Minority Writers Seminar remains strong, and we have money in the bank.

When will the merger be final? (back to top of article)

We expect AOJ members to officially become members of ASNE after a vote by ASNE membership in September. The ASNE board is expected to vote this week to change ASNE bylaws to allow for full membership for opinion journalists.

You mentioned a new standing committee being formed by ASNE on opinion journalism. What will that committee do?

AOJ’s existing board will be invited to join this new committee, which we expect to form quickly to advise ASNE on issues of importance to opinion journalists and to help ensure that the State Department Briefing and other activities are well-executed. The committee will help develop new programming and other initiatives to serve all ASNE members. (back to top of article)

ASNE has offered to appoint an opinion journalist to its board? Will there be a permanent position on the ASNE board for an opinion writer or editor?

ASNE’s bylaws do not allow the organization to appoint permanent board members. However, ASNE’s next president (Mizell Stewart) has agreed to make a one-year appointment of an AOJ member in September. The hope is that the new appointee would agree to run for a board seat in September, 2017. If he or she did not get elected, ASNE’s next president (Alfredo Carbajal) has agreed to appoint the person to a second one-year term, after which he or she could again run for a seat. After the merger, ASNE will seek to recruit former AOJ members to be candidates for the board.

How long has ASNE pledged to fund the State Department Briefing?

ASNE would fund the State Department Briefing for five years, at which time the program will be evaluated. ASNE believes this is a valuable program but believes it is prudent to evaluate all programs periodically. (back to top of article)

What will happen to AOJ’s unencumbered funds (money not committed to the Minority Writers Seminar Endowment)?

The money will be given to ASNE. After setting aside funds to cover the State Department Briefing for five years, ASNE expects to use the remaining funds to pay for administrative costs and programs that would have value to the combined membership.

What new initiatives has ASNE embarked on in the past year?

ASNE has expanded programming and digital content in several ways. These include a new seminar on Cybersecurity issues and two additional training seminars for emerging leaders, in addition to the sessions it conducts each year at minority journalism conferences and at the organization’s annual conference. ASNE has added a legal hotline that gives members access to ASNE’s attorney, improved its annual survey of newsroom employees and developed a series of News Literacy/Community Engagement roundtables. ASNE is re-launching its website this spring with several member-developed columns and features. After the merger, ASNE would create a special section for opinion-related content on the site with input from AOJ members. (back to top of article)

What does an ASNE membership cost?

All AOJ members who are paid in full for 2016 will automatically become ASNE members upon consummation of the final agreement and be considered paid in full through the end of the calendar year. In the 2017 fiscal year, ASNE anticipates a membership rate of $95 for members who are not among the top two in a news organization.

Will ASNE honor AOJ’s “life” memberships?

Yes. Current AOJ “life” members will be able to continue on as before as ASNE members.

When is the 2016 ASNE convention and how much will it cost? (back to top of article)

The convention will be Sept. 11-14 in Philadelphia. AOJ members may register for $150 (current ASNE member rate is $275.) by using this link: Steps:
1. Click on the green "Public Registration" button.
2. Fill in registration details. 3.
Don't forget to add any lunches ($40 per meal). 4.
Use AOJMember16 as the promo code to receive the discounted $150 rate.
5. Hit "Register & Pay Online" to pay and complete the process.

For more information about the convention, go to:

(back to top of article)

What is the convention hotel, and what is the convention rate?

A terrific group rate is available at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, at 1201 Market St., until Friday, Aug. 19, for only $199/night for Sunday, Sept. 11 through Wednesday, Sept. 14

Make a reservation online here.

What if I want to attend only a portion of the convention?

AOJ members who want to attend only a portion of the convention can register for individual days by clicking the links below. The one-day registration rate is $150.
Monday registration
Tuesday registration

Will there be any sessions at the ASNE convention geared to opinion writing? 

We expect at the very least a networking session for opinion journalists and in subsequent years specific workshops for the craft. Sessions already scheduled are sure to be of great interest to opinion journalists as well as present ASNE members. The pre-convention workshop on Sunday, for example, is geared to anyone who has to cope with digital-media-related change within an organization.

To register for the Sunday pre-conference workshop: Email ASNE Communications Coordinator Jiyoung Won at The workshop has limited space and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to those who are registered to attend the conference. (back to top of article)

What is an ASNE convention like?

A summary of the 2016 program begins in paragraph 2 here:

Three links in the left box lead to details from 2015:

Will the enduringly valuable NCEW-AOJ online discussion list (loosely, "list-serv") continue, and how?

Yes, definitely! The free list is independent, based on Google Groups, and can continue indefinitely there. Three AOJ officers share the light administrative duty now and have agreed to continue at least through the transition. More about it is at

Will the AOJ website endure? (back to top of article)

Short-term, absolutely. is a reserved domain paid up to December and renewable annually for $35 to $190 depending on level of protection from cybersquatters. And is our current web-hosting service, paid up to July and extendable at $70 per month.

Mid- and long-term: ASNE has said our ongoing assets (such as 2009-2016 Masthead materials and some organizational history) can be ported to a place on its website, and opinion journalism will have a visible role there. Details, of course, to-be-worked-out.

When will the transition occur?

Real work is underway today (May 10) and continues with leaders face-to-face in DC on May 15. Timing of membership database activity is t.b.d., as are close-out actions for the AOJ 501c3 educational foundation (targeted for before year-end), transfer of Minority Writers to Poynter, porting of website material, and wrap-up of membership status after the ASNE business meeting of Sept. 13 or 14. (back to top of article)

(Drafted by David Haynes and John McClelland)
(posted 5/10/16 2:45pm cdt)

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