In a message to its membership, the Public Radio News Directors – better known as PRNDI aka “PRIN-dee” – announced that it is considering changing its name to the Association of Public Media Journalists. Perhaps the acronym APMJ is just around the corner.
The name change may also signify a change in the focus the organization. Time will tell if it is just a new name or a strategic expansion of the scope of its mission and membership.
Not long ago media job titles were predictable. Public radio stations had General Managers, Program Directors, News Directors, etc. In the new multi-platform, multiple device communications landscape, just plain “radio” seems too limiting. Many stations and organizations have simply deleted “radio” and replaced it with “media” without changing the purpose of the entity. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t.
When Vivian Schiller was CEO of NPR, she tried to take “radio” out of the company name. It hasn’t caught on. NPR is still “National Public Radio” to most folks. The Development Exchange became “Greater Public” to expand its membership and mission to include public television and other noncom media. Results have been mixed. The term “radio” may be retro but it still has power because it is direct, specific and describes audio communication.
What the organization does, and the value it brings to its members, is more important than a new name. As Maria Muldaur sings: It ain’t the meat, its the motion.
WHO ARE PUBLIC MEDIA JOURNALISTS?
The essential question for PRNDI is whether changing their name to the Association of Public Media Journalists means it will try to become a larger organization that embraces folks working in other noncom media. PRNDI president George Bodarky puts it this way:
To the outside world, the name [PRNDI] indicates we’re simply a “club” of public radio news directors. But, as those of us on the inside know, PRNDI is an organization that represents all journalists in public radio newsrooms.
So, is the organization’s scope only folks in public radio newsrooms? Apparently not. Bodarky says the goal is to make PRNDI/APMJ the premiere trade organization for public media journalists. The goal, according to Bodarky’s message to current PRNDI members is to attract television and digital media journalists to the annual conference and perhaps encourage them to join the organization.
Here is the problem: The new members can’t be voting members. Bodarky explains:
We would still operate under the “one station, one vote” policy. That said, we believe the membership may want to consider revising the rules in the future. [The] name change could better reflect the make-up of the board since last year the membership voted to allow public radio newsroom staffers who are not "news directors" to serve in the at-large positions.
Bodarky is referring to PRNDI’s current system where stations, not individuals, determine policy. In PRNDI’s governance system, each member station – regardless of market size or staff size – gets one vote. So, South Dakota Public Radio has the same voting impact as WBUR.
PRNDI will consider the name change at a business meeting in June 2016 at the annual conference in St. Louis. In the meantime, Bodarky is asking for feedback. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.