Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Announcements and milestones

I've been running around like a crazy man for the past few days ... working, decorating my new apartment, selling my car, meeting with clients, pitching for new business and exploring my new neighborhood with my daughter. As a result, I haven't done much blogging. So there are a few things I haven't had a chance to make note of until now.

First, I want to congratulate Ryan, Zac, Howard and everyone else involved with Wired Journalists. Some 700 of our peers have already joined this new social network for journalists who want to improve their new media skills. If you haven't signed up, do so now.

Second, the global B2B journalism association known as TABPI (Trade, Association and Business Publications International) has launched its first spinoff unit outside the United States. TABPI South Africa will be run by Louise Marsland of and Natalia Thomson of Now Media. Many members of TABPI and ASBPE will remember Natalia as one of the first international winners of those groups' Young Leaders Scholarship.

Third, Speaking of the Young Leaders Scholarship, the deadline for this year's application is March 3. Winners will get a chance to travel to the ASBPE convention in Kansas City in July. And since I'm the keynote speaker there this year, I think that's a really, really great prize.

Fourth, speaking of deadlines, B2B editors from around the world have until March 5 to enter TABPI's Tabbie awards for the best in trade journalism editorial and design.

Fifth, I recently noticed that this blog has broken the top 100,000 level on Technorati. In a world with as many as 57 million blogs, I'm pretty pleased by that. Granted, a good portion of the blogosphere is spam, gibberish and crap. But there are also bloggers far more talented than I that have not been lucky enough to attract as much attention as I have. So I want to thank everyone who has ever read, commented upon or linked to this blog.
Making it to the top-tier of the blogging world is akin to being named the prima ballerina in the Boise Ballet. It's hardly the Bolshoi, but I still feel like dancing.

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  1. Congrats on the Technorati milestone! It's definitely worth doing a happy dance.

  2. Paul,

    Congrats on breaking through the 100K barrier. I like to think that, as a loyal reader, I’ve played some small role in that accomplishment!

    I would say that I don’t quite get the South African TABPI, but to be honest (and perhaps embarrassingly ignorant), I don’t get TABPI, period. How exactly is it different or better than ASBPE? Is it a complement or a competitor to that august organization (of which I am a member)? And do we really need yet another awards program? (Not that we won’t take part in it . . .)

    I suppose I could just ask TABPI pres Paul Heney, but that would be too easy. More fun to be curmudgeonly here.

  3. Hi guys,
    Thanks. I appreciate the thoughts, and I appreciate your support of this blog.
    John, you raise an interesting question (and it's perfectly appropriate to be curmudgeonly here.) I can tell you my opinion. Paul Heney will let us know if I'm wrong.
    I see TABPI as a partner of ASBPE's in an important mission -- to push for higher standards in B2B journalism. I don't see the groups as competitors. I don't think they see each other that way either. (They co-host events, etc.)
    I think the primary difference is that ASBPE's mission is domestic and is aimed at "enforcing" ethical stanards and spreading best practices. I think TABPI's mission is global and aimed at providng support on ethics to B2B journalists in places where there are no formal guidelines. I also see TABPI as a place that collects information on best practices around the globe and shares it with U.S.-based journalists. I see both groups as great places for networking and education.
    So Mr. Heney, what did I miss/get wrong?

  4. Paul has correctly described the differing roles of ASBPE and TABPI.

    Our groups complement one another and we are not competitors. In a nutshell, I think it's fair to say that TABPI's president Paul Heney (who is a former ASBPE president) is taking ASBPE's basic mission (e.g., promoting ethics, best practices etc.) and spreading it to countries that don't have groups that are solely devoted to the business press. So, the establishment of TABPI South Africa is really an important achievement because it represents the first group of its kind there.

    Incidentally, TABPI South Africa's Louise Marsland and Natalia Thomson will be at ASBPE's national conference in Kansas City this summer.

    Steve Roll
    President, ASBPE

  5. Thanks everyone, for the questions and comments. Paul and Steve, you've hardly left me with anything to say, great summations.

    Steve is correct, I was ASBPE national president from 1999-2003. I am a huge supporter of the group and am still actively involved in it.

    What led me to create TABPI was seeing that nowhere else in the world were there groups quite like ASBPE, focusing on b2b journalism, ethics, design excellence, etc. Sure, some countries have b2b magazine associations, but editors can be an afterthought, with the focus on the CEO level people. Some countries have magazine editorial groups, but the b2b folks may be forgotten.

    One of the main thrusts of TABPI's being is to foster ASBPE-like groups in other countries. That's what's so exciting about TABPI South Africa, it's the first realization of that goal, an independent group of SA editors doing what is right for their local community. (One other distinction between ASBPE and TABPI ... we don't have individual memberships as they do. I don't see that as our mission or strength, certainly not now, maybe not ever. But TABPI South Africa may offer individual memberships, if they choose, or if they see a demand for that in their country.)

    Beyond that, we do work with other existing groups around the world, and I hope we can make a difference in "showing them the light" about b2b editorial and design professionals.

  6. Excellent comments. As one of the joint-coordinators of TABPI South Africa, if I may weigh in on the debate...

    We no longer have a specialised press association focused on B2B/ trade media. We have magazine/newspaper print organisations and we have an online publishers association which also deals with web hosts and general media. There is no one body that looks after the interests of a media sector which is largely still disregarded by the mainstream media as a nonentity, albeit being a major contibutor to the economy in the industry sectors where we get it right.

    Overall our B2B media industry in South Africa is fragmented, young, dominated by smaller publishing houses and lacking largely in online competency, with pockets of innovation (mostly from those publishers who have embraced online and global relationships).

    Remember that our democracy is only 15 years old. We were isolated from the global stage and interacting with organisations such as TABPI and ASBPE assists us enormously in getting information to our editors on global best practice. Advertisers dominate and we have to work hard to support editors who strive for content excellence above the mighty power of advertising money.

    All it takes in an industry to facilitate change is a champion. And TABPI/Paul has been that for us in South Africa - aiding those of us passionate enough about our industry to study further and conduct our own research - giving us a global platform to upskill and provide a legitimate mechanism for research, training and support in South Africa.

    We are very excited down here on the southernmost tip of Africa!

    Louise Marsland
    Joint-Coordinator: TABPI South Africa

  7. I just wanted to make it clear that the Young Leaders Scholarship is open to U.S.-based editors as well. Here's the link to information specifically about U.S. scholarships.

    Martha Spizziri
    Web Editor

  8. Just another thought on the TABPI SA debate:

    The idea of B2B journalism as a profession here in SA is a bit of a novel thought.

    Each time I interview a journalist to join our team I have to 'sell' the concept of B2B before I actually even get to interview them.

    The reason being? Many of the journalism educational institutions in SA view B2B with such disdain, not only do they often ignore the topic, but if it is addressed, it is done so with limited interest.

    Before heading off to the ASBPE conference in Chicago a couple of years ago, I had no idea that there were these kinds of B2B resources and, better still, that I could have access to information which would raise my professionalism as a B2B editor.

    Having experienced it, and become a part of this global B2B editors community, I'd like to share the value with other B2B editors in SA.

    I think the new chapter here will be an invaluable contributor to B2B editorial professionalism in SA and I'm proud to be a part of it.

    Thanks for the opportunity Paul to add to the debate and hope to see you at the ASBPE conference!

    Natalia Thomson
    Eeditor: Now Media (

  9. Paul...congrats on cracking the 100,000 plateau. My hope is to meet you there in the near future. Keep up the great work.