Discussion List

This page was current during autumn 2016; AOJ is merging into the American Society of News Editors by Jan. 1, 2017. 
Because the list is a separate function, it will continue on Google Groups so long as there are volunteers to maintain it. Journalists who are not members of ASNE as a result of their AOJ membership should apply to ASNE@ASNE.org.

NOTE that membership in either organization does NOT automatically include membership in the discussion list; it is granted after online application at Google Groups:

How to get on, as a member

One-more step is needed, either way 

List archives (updated 2/3/2015) how to see past posts, edit your profile...


The members’ discussion list was a valuable tool for National Conference of Editorial Writers members for more than a decade, continued that role for the Association of Opinion Journalists until December 2016. It is a function closely related to, but independent of, AOJ. Volunteers maintain it on Google.Groups and intend to continue after AOJ merges into the American Society of News Editors in December 2016.

Useful: It lets members share many things, such as tips for handling letters to the editor, ideas for integrating social media with professional opinion journalism, spotting canned letters campaigns by pressure groups (fake grassroots campaigns, dubbed “turf,” after Astroturf fake grass), job openings, help with dilemmas and more.

Funny: Sometimes, especially Friday afternoons, there’s humor. Letter writers and candidates say the darndest things.

Civil: It has been remarkably free of the irrelevant ranting and spouting of vitriol that have afflicted, and often killed off, other discussion lists, Listservs or online forums. (“Listserv” applies to such groups correctly only when that trademarked software is in use. We use Google Groups.)

Discreet: The AOJ board has affirmed its a policy that the list is to be a place where members can discuss professional issues freely among peers with little fear of outsiders. Of course, anything put into any digital system can be hacked and circulated, but it has not been happening on our list. The Masthead asks permission to quote when members’ posts are being considered for inclusion in an article, because it will be visible to the public.

Supportive: Members offer words of encouragement when another shares a tale of difficulties, and joyous (not visibly jealous or envious) congratulations when another notches a victory.

Nice-sized: As of April 2015, the list had 237 readers, some of whom just watch and some of whom contribute almost every week, and a few oftener than that. You won't go a week without something, and you won't get a glut of mail, especially if you use Gmail or another service that collects all messages on a specific subject in a single "thread" or "conversation." You can spot listers' messages because the subject always begins [AOJ].

Member benefit: The AOJ discussion list on Google Groups is was open to members of AOJ, and can be one of the great benefits of membership in ASNE. (top)

How-To-Get-In: It is easy with any of the approaches outlined below. It is easier than all this detail implies. You have options.

The process works best if you use the email address associated with your AOJ ASNE membership, or a Gmail account you check regularly. 

Current AOJ ASNE member?

The online application for membership may* allow for automatic inclusion on the list when membership is approved. Just work your way through the simple form at the Join us tab on this site. (*This feature is still in test-mode, January 2016)

As a new or current member, you can always join the list; it does require a separate application, as below.

The website address for applying for AOJ membership is http://aoj.wildapricot.org/join-us Existing, even lapsed, members wishing to update their accounts should use the Log-In tab instead, because Join-Us creates a new account.

AOJ members:

You can get on the list any of several ways: 

Ask to be added by sending a concise request to our web coordinator (Chris Trejbal ctrejbal@gmail.com). 
Send from the email that is in your membership info. Staff (via the Contact link at lower left of every AOJ web page) also can help with your AOJ Website log-in (you must be an AOJ member to be added to the discussion list). (next step) (top)


Use Google Groups' online sign-up and its AOJ-specific form:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/editorialwriters * (*The NCEW became AOJ in 2012, but changing the keyword would have been disruptive. Ditto for the ASNE merger 2106.)

  • On the first GoogleGroups page, click through sign-in, and the red “sign in” button becomes “sign up,” and that opens a GG sign-up form.
  • Now you can proceed one of these 3 ways:
  • Use an existing Gmail account; or
  • Use the sign-up tool to create a new Gmail account, or
  • Use the sign-up tool and gingerly choose to use another email account (click the line “I’d rather use a different email account” and type that address accurately; it should be the email that identifies your AOJ/ASNE membership.) You still have to create a basic Google account and give Google some info, and also login to that account via a pop-up, but you do not have to worry about tending yet-another email account.
  • Respond to the message the robot sends to confirm that you want on. (next) (top) OR

Use a robot to get on the list without creating a Google or Gmail account. It’s like the classic Unix-based list-server signup: (This feature appears to have been changed or de-activated by Google without notice to AOJ site admins, June 2015.)

ANY WAY you sign up, 1 more step:

As part of any of these routines, you will need to confirm your address by replying to a Google robot’s message, and then fill in the short AOJ-members form. When AOJ’s staff or a volunteer coordinator approves, you’ll get a welcoming email with user tips, and be ready to go. (*This process appears to be in transition, too, June 2015.)


Google Groups offers several options for your use of the list and access to such things as previous messages (archive) and user-traffic info. Once you are a member, go to groups.google.com, log in, click my groups, click AOJ. There, you can do lots. Look around; choose your identity and privacy settings. To choose daily summaries instead of individual emails, for example, click on members, on the icon for my membership (near upper right), and on "membership and email."

Those settings allow you to tell Google Groups to send you each message, or to send them in batches as a daily digest.

Hint #1: If you use Gmail or another service that collects all messages with the same subject line in a string, thread, or "conversation," it is easy to follow the discussion and to post a reply-all with the same subject.

Hint #2: While writing your own message on an ongoing topic, you can delete all, or all but the most highly relevant, of previous messages on a topic. You can direct your reply to the list (ReplyAll), to a recent poster, or some combination. This editing of to-lines and past posts can help minimize in-box clutter and let your words stand out.

Hint#3: If you tell Google to send you a digest, you'll see all the list traffic for that time frame (usually one day, or 25 messages) in one string. To reply to a specific item, you should start a new message and type (or copy-paste) the subject line exactly. If you simply hit Reply or Reply-All, your subject line will be "Daily Digest."

At the receiving end, you can manage the flow of messages. All mail originating in the list will have a subject line that begins with [AOJ] so you can recognize list traffic at a glance, or use a sorting routine in your email to send it to a sub-folder of your in-box.

Getting off:

Every message from the list has basic list info, including a link to un-subscribe. That works, and it automatically and directly works; sending a message to the list asking to be scrubbed does not. (Because of the federal CAN-SPAM law, if you take yourself off of a list, an affirmative opt-in by you is required to get back on.) (top)

(These instructions were solid in July, 2014; slightly updated through June 20, 2016 and again 12/14/2106. As with all digital systems, details change. If you find an error or see a disruptive change, please notify one of the list admins, Trejbal, Pepper, McClelland) 

Archives and your list profile

You can find more than 2,300 previous message strings from our discussion list easily in the Google Groups site, which is also the place to update your list profile. For an article on this: list-archive.

The groups address is https://groups.google.com.
(JM 12/24/14, updated 12/14/2016) (back to top)

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