In a sign of the continuing industry-wide shift away from print, the American Society of News Editors on Tuesday announced that its membership structure will focus on monthly web traffic rather than print circulation figures.
The change, announced by ASNE this morning in an email to members, is a "long overdue" acknowledgement that "digital media is a primary platform for storytelling and where consumers often turn first for news and information," ASNE President Mizell Stewart III, the vice president for news operations for Gannett and the USA Today Network, told Poynter.
"The leaders of U.S. newsrooms have moved far beyond their roots in daily newspapers, serving readers across every content platform. Now, ASNE’s membership structure reflects that reality," he said.
Under the previous dues structure, editors and news executives paid membership fees according to their publication's print circulation, with a separate section for online-only news sites. Going forward, that will change.
Now, membership will focus on monthly unique visitors. There are different membership tiers for news organizations with more than 10 million unique visitors ($395), 1 to 10 million unique visitors ($295), 500,000 to 1 million unique visitors ($195) and less than 500,000 unique visitors ($95).
ASNE has also announced a new, lower-priced membership tier for news leaders who aren't in a top-two position at a news organization and opinion journalists. These changes aim to reflect the organization's emphasis on cultivating up-and-coming news executives and welcome journalists from its merger with the Association of Opinion Journalists.
The ASNE board realized that expanding membership categories to include leaders at all levels of news organizations would only strengthen the organization and the services it provides, Stewart said.
"Our successful Emerging Leaders Institute, an annual training program for mid-level executives from local newsrooms as well as the Huffington Post, NPR and CNN, demonstrates the value of ASNE’s network and the skills of its members," he said.
This isn't the first change ASNE has made to reflect the rise of digital media. In 2009, the organization dropped "newspaper" from its name, citing a desire "to reflect the fact that we serve editors who are leaders in delivering news on multiple platforms."