Monday, October 15, 2012

Join or Die

Here's a question for you.

How many academic or professional organizations are enough?

I'm gonna throw some alphabet soup your way.  Right now I belong to AEJMC, AAPOR, IRE and ONA.  Maybe I'm forgetting one or two.  They're all costly, figure a hundred bucks or so a year, and that comes straight out of my pocket as UGA doesn't kick in a dime.  And even within AEJMC, the major academic organization of my field, I pay extra to belong to various divisions or interest groups.

So, how many is enough?

I ask because my AAPOR dues are, well, due.  I owe $115.  I've belonged for a long time.  I've already cut ICA and SPJ, so AAPOR may be next in line.  What's it stand for?  It's the American Association for Public Opinion Research.  In 20 years I've never attended an AAPOR conference, but I'm a fan of its journal (Public Opinion Quarterly) and I teach grad classes in public opinion, including one this coming Spring semester, so it's hard not to be a member.  And yet, and yet.  As in -- and yet soon I'll have two kids in college.

It's a semi-interesting question as to how useful such organizations are and whether they're worth the cost.  I certainly am stuck with AEJMC, would never quit IRE, can't say much about ONA yet, and as to AAPOR, I don't read much of the journal or even the listserv any more (does it even exist, the old AAPORnet?  Can't seem to find it).

Odds are I'll couch up another hundred bucks or so and send it into the black hole that is organizational membership, supporting AAPOR's mission of publishing highly technical papers about how to measure public opinion that even I sometimes struggle to understand and holding conferences that I never have the travel money to attend.

In other words, I'm whining.  But I suspect faculty elsewhere also face a situation of dwindling funds and deciding what orgs they can keep, what ones they can let go.

AEJMC = Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

IRE = Investigative Reporters & Editors

ONA = Online News Association

ICA = International Communication Association

SPJ = Society of Professional Journalists

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