Uphold, or Hold Up, Standards

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Sunday, July 11, 2010 — Indiana University feels bigger than my hometown’s University of Arkansas. Yep, 1,933 acres versus 345 acres. It has a journalism school not a department, a music school not a department. It is a handsome forested campus, full of sculptures (even a huge Calder) and fountains. Come October it must be something.

The 2010 conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists ended with the annual general membership meeting. It had the usual agenda — the executive director reviews numbers from the budget (holding the course), of members (only slightly down), of contest entries (up a bit) — plus committee reports and (drum roll) election of officers.

Views and details on the conference are linked at a special page in Columnists.com. No one probably will write up the business session. Still, the page is being updated as new blogs and columns come in, and will be archived indefinitely.

NSNC Oath of Office
NSNC Oath of Office, Sunday, July 11, 2010. Photo by Bonnie Squires

With no nominations from the floor, we elect a slate, conference chair, secretary, vice president and president. The last job on that list now is mine through summer 2012. I claimed all weekend that I’d vote for any write-in candidate, serious if they were, but none offered.

Now I start pleading for impeachment. The self-deprecation is getting old, but I did not seek this job. Helping the NSNC as a board member for five years has been a blast. But it has had a few resignations, due directly and indirectly to the Good Depression, so here I was Sunday, neither “acting” nor “interim” but letterhead-official.

What’s unexpected is how confident I feel.

The membership meeting aims for 90 minutes because people always start leaving for the airport, and President Samantha Bennett wrapped it up in 60, including a non-agenda discussion on the society’s advocacy role. I had ready an inaugural address, about what I said at the Thursday board meeting, but I scuttled that in favor of writing it up for the NSNC newsletter. I’ll post it as a Brick, too. But I did organize a mock Oath of Office, perhaps to join the Sitting Duck and Mystic Tie traditions.

NSNC Education Foundation Secretary Dave Lieber administered the oath. First lady Christy Pollock held an Ernie Pyle volume, on which I placed my left hand. In my right I hoisted a fountain pen. It was loaded.

I, (name), do soberly swear,
To advocate for the craft of columns, in the field of journalism,
To abide by the Code of Conduct of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists,
To represent the National Society of Newspaper Columnists as (title).
How great Art —
— Buchwald.
Thy Will —
— Rogers.
So help me, Erma and Ernie.

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