Meanwhile, Steinberg is plunging into the nuts and bolts of governance and financial responsibility. UNITY currently lacks a permanent executive director, and there’s also no guarantee it will host a convention in 2016. Instead of an executive director, board members are discussing hiring someone with a different title or different job responsibilities, which may include writing grants and reports as well conducting audits. Two years prior to a convention, UNITY may hire a consultant to help with convention planning, Steinberg said. And while he hopes to have a convention, board members are only in the early stages of researching cities and, more importantly, potential partners that will join UNITY in producing a conference.

“If we reconfigure how we work, then we’ll also likely need to reconfigure staffing, which obviously would impact the costs. That could be a good thing if it helps make us more fiscally responsible,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg also wants to establish an advisory board made up of representatives of other journalism organizations—including NABJ and the Society of Professional Journalists as well as the American Society of News Editors—who share UNITY’s vision and can help promote media diversity. “By working together through UNITY, we can speak with a louder voice to promote causes that advance—and challenge obstacles that threaten—media diversity,” he said.

Steinberg acknowledges that UNITY will have to get its financial house in order and adjust the way it does business in order to be more relevant and responsive to stakeholders. “We have to restore the partnership and shared values that UNITY was founded on and try to overcome the differences that ultimately distract us from that mission,” he said.

*The story originally had AAJA and NAHJ membership proportions reversed.


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Tracie Powell writes about the media and media policy, specifically on issues regarding piracy, media ownership, government transparency and the business of journalism. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, she lives in Washington, DC. She has contributed to Poynter, NPR, and Publica, the first nonprofit investigative journalism center in Brazil.