I have been expecting some sort of change for the American Press Institute for more than a year. But today’s news that API is merging with the Newspaper Association of America Foundation still hit me with a wave of fondness and nostalgia.
I won’t speculate on the future, except to express my hope that the new organization serves the news business as well over the next 65 years as API has for the past 65. And to hope that it continues to employ my remaining API colleagues.
And I won’t dwell on the decline of API. It serves the newspaper industry, which has been in a freefall. I don’t know what could have been done to prevent the decline of an institute tied to an industry whose primary revenue source was declining. I have noted before that the industry did not do enough to follow the advice we presented in the Newspaper Next project. But I wish some newspapers would have tried everything we advocated. I think the business and API would be doing much better.
Where I want to focus in this post is on my gratitude to API for enriching my career and the careers of so many journalists and newspaper industry leaders. API has served the newspaper industry well.
I first became aware of API early in my career, when various editors left my newsrooms for a week or two and returned energized, with lots of new ideas for us to try. Nearly a decade ago, I was first invited (by Mary Glick, to whom I am eternally grateful) to be a discussion leader at an API seminar for city and metro editors. I led one of my leadership workshops and was energized myself by the discussion with the editors. I loved the staff, the experience and the facility and thought that I’d love to work there someday.
I returned a few more times as a discussion leader and in 2004 for API’s first “Train the Trainer” seminar, where Alan Weiss taught me a whole lot more about training and Carol Ann Riordan, API’s amazing bedrock for more than 25 years, taught by example about running a seminar. Again, I thought I’d love to work there someday, and soon I started making my pitch to do that.
Within a year, Drew Davis hired me as Director of Tailored Programs. I had a wonderful three-year run at API, taking me across the United States and Canada, as well as to Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Ecuador. I decided to move on in 2008, in part because of opportunities that beckoned and in part because I feared the future did not look bright.
I learned a lot at API and loved working there with Mary Peskin, Mark Mulholland, Elaine Clisham and other colleagues, with more than a hundred interesting clients and dozens of board members, consultants, partners, discussion leaders and seminar members.
Working at API was a delight and an honor. It will always be a cherished highlight of my career. I hope it remains so for my friends there.