Winning Standards, Despite Challenges

Photo: Amy FischbachBy Amy Florence Fischbach
2009 Awards Competition Chair

Publications are still meeting their readers’ needs for useful, timely, and in-depth information. The 2009 Print Azbees prove it.

Despite the challenges of working with streamlined staffs and fewer resources, award-winning editors have earned richly deserved props for buckling down, going above and beyond, and still looking out for their readers.

As the editorial standard-bearer and the only U.S. professional society for B2B editors, ASBPE offers a hearty “well done.”

Equally important, each Azbee Award, with its informed and tough criteria, is a valuable marketing tool for publications willing to understand and sell the significance.

ASBPE is proud of our national winners and our numerous regional award winners. They are part of our family as well. You see, there is a lot of good work out there.

Our judges know it. As always, more than 80 “in-the-trenches” editors, artists, academicians, and consultants invested their time and energy into carefully reviewing each entry.

Making a difference

This year, for the first time, ASBPE established a Journalism That Matters Award for editors whose efforts made a tangible change in their industry. Read how HSToday editor David Silverberg beat the National Football League.

Thank you

To all the publications that chose to support us (and yourselves) this year, we sincerely appreciate it. And so does your editorial and art staff. We all value your hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence in B2B journalism.

I also want to recognize ASBPE’s members for their continued support. Please, stay involved in your local chapters and with national, and donate to the ASBPE Foundation. Participation has rewards.

Finally, thanks to our staff: Janet Svazas, Holly Lundgren, Robin Sherman, and Martha Spizziri, and all the volunteer national and chapter board members.

The new Digital Azbees

For the first time in the history of the association, ASBPE is dividing the print and digital awards competition.

We’re introducing 15 new digital categories that represent the various activities in which editors are involved.

Of course, we’re still keeping all the other categories, including the top honors, Web Site of the Year and Multi-Platform General Excellence. This will be the premier digital event.

We urge you to enter your best Web sites, e-newsletters, podcasts, microsites, show coverage, and other examples of great digital work. The submission deadline for the Digital Azbees is Sept. 1, 2009. For more information, go to our website at

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Nominate Entries for the Barlett & Steele Awards

Who produced the best investigative business journalism in the past year? You tell us. The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism is accepting submissions for the annual Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism. The awards, named after Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporters Don Barlett and Jim Steele, highlight the top print and online business journalism.

The deadline for submission is Aug. 3. Entries must have appeared between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009. The $5,000 Gold and $2,000 Silver winners will be announced in the fall.

“We’d like to see journalists who keep the bigger picture in mind. Someone who brings an understanding of complex issues that have not been properly explained. Don and I have an informal motto: Tell the readers something they don’t know about,” Steele says.

Click here to find out how to enter.

For more information about free training and for daily tips on business coverage via Facebook and Twitter visit the Reynolds Center at

Questions? Contact Kelly Carr at 602-496-5439 or



New Media Tips

By Maureen Alley

During my five years in business-to-business trade, I've learned a great deal about niche marketing and writing. I've also learned a great deal about magazine production. Additionally, I've learned I have a huge passion for these. But one thing that surprised me about this industry is the struggle editors and publishers have with social media and new media in general.

I've always been excited about new media. Maybe this comes from my age, or maybe from the fact that I've been surrounded by computers my whole life (my dad is a computer guy) — but nevertheless, I have always looked at the computer as advantage, not disadvantage. And this is where I drift from the traditional B2B world. My ideas are different, and those who've been in B2B for a while don't tend to agree with me or see what I see.

There's no arguing that B2B is struggling to find its footing between loss of ads and growing reliance on the Web for users. I don't think it's as difficult as some think. The first step is being open-minded and realizing that past models are outdated. We must change the way we operate to succeed. I truly believe B2B has the most advantage of all media to succeed with the different platforms available. However, to do that, things need to change. Below are a few tips for B2B editors to guarantee you're getting the most out of social media and online.
  • Get on LinkedIn and make sure your profile is up-to-date and active. Only have connections on LinkedIn that you can vouch for — quality vs. quantity.
  • Start reading RSS feeds. RSS provides a more efficient way of reading more content faster.

  • Get on Twitter and use your name as your handle. Too many editors think you need a personal Twitter as well as a separate professional one. This is a huge mistake. Make yourself a brand — and your brand will enhance your magazine's brand.

  • Create your own website or blog. Again, use your name if possible as your domain name for branding purposes. Then use your website or blog to showcase your knowledge making yourself an expert in whatever you're an expert in.

  • Stay up to date on the latest technology and try it out. Most of them are free, so why not? Example: I just signed up for FriendFeed because it was being talked about so much online and I didn't know what it was. Surprise — I like it better than Twitter!

  • Participate in conversations online. Use Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, LinkedIn — and any other social platform to make connections.

  • Don't limit your connections to those in your industry. Read blogs and tweets from technology insiders so you stay up to date on the newest tools.

  • Despite my annoyance that Google has such a large market share (73 percent), it offers good tools. Use them!

    • Google Docs allows multiple people to collaborate, edit, share information on spreadsheets and other documents. This is huge for efficiency and communication.

    • Google Groups allows you to collaborate with others in a forum-like fashion.

    Create your Google profile to guarantee your owning your brand. Even if you only set it up with the basic information, you still own it.

  • Write blog posts on your magazine's website at least three times a day.

    • Readers like new content. If you're constantly putting new information up, they will come back.

    • Search engines like new content, so make sure you give it to them.

    • Market these new posts on all your social platforms such as Twitter.

    • Make sure these posts are of the highest quality (relevant information, written professionally, no spelling or grammatical errors).
These are just a handful of ideas that you should be doing at a minimum. Once you get this far, you'll have your own ideas on how to keep moving forward. It's just getting to this point that's been a struggle for so many. Good luck!

Maureen Alley is managing editor for Website Magazine, a trade publication dedicated to Web professionals. She was formerly managing editor for Residential Design & Build magazine, a property of Cygnus Business Media. Alley graduated with a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and is currently attending Roosevelt University in Chicago for her Masters of Science in Journalism. She has been a member of ASBPE since 2006 and was a judge for the 2009 Azbee Awards program. She writes a blog at about young journalists and new media. Contact her at malley13[at]gmail[dot]com.

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NPF Offers Fellowships to Biz Journalists

The National Press Foundation is offering two all-expense-paid fellowships to working print and broadcast journalists for the annual "Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists," that takes place this October at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Penn.

Fellowships include full tuition, housing, most meals and round trip transportation. Wharton seminars offer participants an opportunity to expand their business knowledge by attending courses led by Wharton faculty, guest lectures by business leaders, and compete in an computer-simulated strategic management exercise.

Interested in applying? Applicants must submit:
  • a letter stating why they wish to participate
  • a letter of support from a supervisor
  • work sample, a clip or a video/audio tape (copies are acceptable)
  • a brief bio
  • application form
Find full details on the fellowship and application materials, here.



Staying Positive in Tough Times

By Elena Gontar

The recession continues and, for some firms, things are not getting better. Most recently, I have been let go from my position as a news writer and editor for one of the leading commercial real estate publications. After 22 years of successful run, the product is rebranding and due to drastic budget cuts, most of the staff had to go.

After eight years with the publication, I was almost positive that the recession was not going to affect me or the product. But it did.

The announcement came in the wake of a bulk of bad news in the industry. And when I think about everything that’s been going on, I fear more difficult times are ahead. While still on staff, I covered daily news, and was amazed to see how many firms went bankrupt or had to close down.

Just a little over two months ago – in April – two major firms in the industry had been forced to say uncle in bankruptcy court. Mall owner and operator General Growth Properties Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection in United States Bankruptcy Code. Moreover, nearly 158 regional shopping centers owned by the firm also filed for bankruptcy protection. A few days after the announcement, the firm said that certain additional subsidiaries, including eight regional shopping centers, were also seeking relief under Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. And just days after GGP’s bankruptcy announcement, Opus South Corp., one of the divisions of Opus Corp., also filed for Chapter 11.

Is the recent spate of bankruptcies just the tip of the iceberg? As the economy continues its sluggish performance and credit markets remain frozen, will the industry see a rash of bankruptcy filings?

And as the difficult economic times continue, the unemployment rate keeps on the increase. At a time of aggressive store closings, shrinking sales and bankruptcies, it is not easy to stay positive. But I, for one, have no other choice. I always say: Whatever happens is for the best and while one door closes, the other door opens. Right?

In the meantime, during my second week of being unemployed I still can’t help but search the wires for real estate news. It’s a habit that I won’t be able to break for a long time.

So, yes, life can be unfair and at times difficult, but feeling depressed isn’t going to help. My advice to those who are in the same situation as I am at the moment is to stay positive and look on the bright side. Get motivated and something good is bound to happen.

Elena Gontar is a real estate writer in Brooklyn. She can be reached at

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First Kill All the Bloggers?

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

If you see a blogger on a bicycle, why should you swerve to avoid hitting him? It might be your bicycle!

What do you call 100 bloggers buried up to their necks in sand? Not enough sand!

If these jokes seem familiar to you, it’s because I’ve adapted from lawyer jokes.

What do bloggers have to do with lawyers?

For one thing, there are about as many people in the U.S. who make their living blogging as there are who practice law, the Wall Street Journal reported a few months ago.

At the same time, the number of journalists has significantly declined. There are about 80 percent fewer D.C.-based employees of major newspapers than there were just a few years ago, according to the Wall Street Journal story.

One thing that separates bloggers from lawyers and journalists is a code of ethics. Lost in all the laughter produced by lawyer jokes, is the fact that the legal profession has a code of conduct that is regularly enforced. Most attorneys can point to a former classmate who is also a former lawyer as a result of an ethics code violation.

Journalists typically belong to associations such as ASBPE or the Society for Professional Journalists, which have developed well-established codes of conduct.

But bloggers haven’t gotten around to adopting an ethics code yet. If they wait much longer, it looks like the government will do it for them.

One practice that has placed bloggers in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s sites is failing disclose payments or other forms of compensation in return for blog posts about a product or service. The FTC is expected to approve new guidelines this summer that would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers for failing to disclose conflicts of interest, the Associated Press reported recently.

Among other things, the guidelines would require bloggers to disclose any compensation received in exchange for endorsing a product or service.

Some bloggers have criticized the guidelines as being overly broad and unfair. But that's often the result when an industry fails to police itself. If bloggers wait much longer, their quickly growing profession will deserve the reputation it's earning as a laughingstock when it comes to ethics.

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Value-Added Blogging

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President.

I'm on a few different email distribution lists and sometimes I get useful information and other times, I'm simply hitting delete. More often than not, I don't have time to read them.

The same is true with blogs. I have hundreds bookmarked on my computer, but probably swing by each of those only a few times a year. So, how do you make sure your blog is one to which people return?

I got a tip off one of my email newsletters from Writer's Web Watch.

People return to your blog because your posts are informative and interesting. When you provide links to other sites that you find valuable, you're giving them even more reason to return. You're also using the Web the way it was meant to be used. Many corporate bloggers make the mistake of writing only about themselves and their organizations. In doing so, they miss out on the opportunity to link to sites where other professionals are making points that support their own.
That tip was contributed by Denise Shiffman, principal with Venture Essentials and the author of

So, I'll follow that advice and post a few informative links here. One that I thought was interesting with all the Twitter talk focuses on How Should Newspapers Use Twitter? I like it because even though B2B journalism is very different, we have similarities more and more with newspapers as we deliver breaking news on our websites.

So, there you go. I'm following the advice. What other things do you do - both professionally and personally - to keep the traffic coming back to your blog? Post it in the comments, then come back to see what others say.

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Facing the Pressures of Reporting

By Maureen Alley

A well-respected retired Chicago journalist spoke to my journalism graduate class the other night. His passion in reporting and researching important stories for his readers was hard to miss. From the start of his discussion, it was clear his biggest priority throughout his career was to give his listeners/readers the information they needed – not necessarily wanted. Though he has been retired for at least eight years, his drive for good journalism is as present today as if he was still on the beat.

One statement he made in class really struck me, “Make your goal during your career to leave it better than you found it.” He said this was his goal from his first day on the job to his last. Reporting today is faced with many pressures – financially and ethically. So it’s important to remember his call to action. However, as the saying goes, sometimes things are easier said than done, which is definitely true in this case. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our hardest to provide the best reporting and editorial for our readers.

Are you staying on top of trends in the industry you cover? And are you staying on top of trends in the journalism/editor industry? Knowing what is coming ahead and putting that information in front of your readers is job one. Understanding how to put the information in front of them is job two. It falls on us to take initiative to attend industry trade shows and seminars and network with professionals. All of these opportunities cost money, though, and during a turbulent time, those are often the tools that get cut. So to make sure we are still doing our best job possible, think about trading off trade shows among your colleagues and then having a meeting to discuss what they learned. Teamwork is the key to succeeding any time during a career – but especially when our resources are limited.

If you feel a little beat down with all the bad news and intense pressures, remind yourself that your number-one goal is “to make the industry better.” Rely on your colleagues and associations to help you find the passion to make this happen.

Maureen Alley is managing editor for Website Magazine, a trade publication dedicated to Web professionals. She was formerly managing editor for Residential Design & Build magazine, a property of Cygnus Business Media. Alley graduated with a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and is currently attending Roosevelt University in Chicago for her Masters of Science in Journalism. She has been a member of ASBPE since 2006 and was a judge for the 2009 Azbee Awards program. She writes a blog at about young journalists and new media. Contact her at malley13[at]gmail[dot]com.

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Unemployed? Here's a Tip

The headline says it all: “ to Laid-Off Journalists: ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ ”

Looks like hopes to get in the good graces of laid off journalists, so when they go back to work, they'll sing their praises.

According to a news release,, a remote technology service company, recognizes the contributions of journalists to the American way of life and is offering unemployed members of the media across the U.S. three free months of remote PC service to ensure they can maintain the tools of their trade as they look for new jobs or set up freelance work.

To take advantage of this offer, unemployed journalists should e-mail a link of a recent clip to between now and August 31, 2009, to get a code good for three free months of services. The code may be redeemed at

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