Why NABJ is Not Headed to Philly in 2025 and a Family Reminder
Dear NABJ Family:
Over the last few days, there have been concerns expressed about why specific locations were not selected to host our conventions for 2023-2026. I have read comments that certain cities should have been selected because of the historical significance of a chapter or because of the types of businesses that are in the city. You know I value our chapters and the contributions our members have made in their respective cities, but this Board acted in the best interest of NABJ.
We chose convention sites that will result in the lowest cost to our members and the highest revenue and resources for our organization. This will ensure we provide the programming and services that help to fulfill our mission and meet our membership’s needs.
Before we get into the rest of my message, please know that you can always contact me directly with any questions about any topics regarding NABJ. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I believe that direct dialogue is a more effective and efficient way to communicate. Sometimes the inadvertent disseminating of misinformation creates a contentious environment on listservs and public platforms. Many of our members complain about the “tone” of comments. Most of the issues can be resolved with a simple direct email or even a phone call.
Let me repeat what I said in an earlier message, we applaud the NABJ chapters that worked to help their Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) make a great pitch and again extend our congratulations to the winning cities. The purpose of this message is to ensure that a “family disagreement” doesn’t take away from the fact that the winning cities, with the help of the local chapters, put forth impressive proposals that went above and beyond the requests of NABJ and will provide the best financial benefit to our entire organization.
Now, let’s address the Philadelphia chapter’s letter. The chapter expressed its disappointment on why the city was not selected. I know the chapter worked hard to help with the city’s proposal and historically has worked hard for NABJ since its inception. Let me be honest, I am a Philly fan. I spent many weekends there at football and soccer games when my sons, who attended East coast schools, played UPenn teams. I know the city well because my daughter graduated from UPenn in 2017. I would love to see a convention in Philly, but the numbers don’t work.
Here are a few highlights:
A. Philly’s CVB “fully” bid on only one year, 2025, and passed on three other years. (See items 1,2 and 3 in the link.)
B. Philly was far too expensive (hundreds of thousands of dollars more) because of labor prices. (See items 8 and 9 in the link.)
C. The Philly CVB concessions value as incentives to NABJ was $646,000 plus a $75,000 cash incentive (a total of $721,000), while Cleveland’s value incentives rounded to $1,068,000 plus a $300,000 cash incentive (a total of $1,368,000), almost doubling Philly’s offer. (See items 5 & 6 in the link.)
D. Philly’s room rates were $30 a night more expensive than Cleveland’s winning bid. (See item 4 in the link.)
E. Philly’s 2025 dates would have required NABJ to start the convention on a Tuesday and end sometime Saturday. (See item 3 in the link.)
F. Out of the 10 lowest attendance conventions in the last 25 years, Philly hosted two of them: 1995 at 2,453 and 2011 at 2,390. These are official numbers. (See item 10 in the link.)
Philadelphia did receive good scores for “ease of travel,” chapter engagement and for a CVB contribution, but those factors were not enough because other bidders had higher overall scores in several areas. Despite our love for the Philadelphia chapter, it would not have been a good business decision to choose the city. The financials clearly pointed to Cleveland. Going back to the years of NABJ deficits is not an option.
As noted in our previous announcement, the process of choosing our convention cities was not taken lightly. It was a heavy lift and executed thoroughly. We sent out a team to each finalist city to ensure an objective review of the offerings of each bidder. The team included our financial manager, director of operations and executive director to ensure that all convention needs were addressed. While all members may not agree with our decision, we should not minimize the efforts of the staff and the Birmingham, Cleveland, Atlanta and Chicago teams that put forth great proposals.
While the numbers did not work out for Philly in this process, we must state the Philly chapter leadership did a great job of galvanizing everyone to help land the convention, but the city’s bid simply was not in the best interest of NABJ. Know that we will find a way to celebrate Philly’s significant contributions to our organization. We appreciate the work of Chuck Stone, the entire Philly membership and Region I for helping NABJ become what it is today, but making a business decision that negatively impacts our members and organization as a whole because of a chapter’s or region’s historical significance was not the route to go in this process. It is also important to note that we could not select a city that did not bid. New York was not a part of the process, as some may have reported.
I am disheartened to see some of the negative and demeaning comments that have been presented on the listserv and in other ways about the cities (and chapters) who did win a convention. None of the cities (or chapters) selected deserve to be demeaned, nor do any of the cities/chapters that were not selected. No Board member or staff member should demean a chapter or member and no member should demean a Board member, chapter, fellow member or staff. NABJ is a family and family members have differences. However, our differences don’t have to be taken personally or become offensive. As they say, we can agree to disagree.
I’d also like to note that while Board members may have personal opinions, our official Board position must only reflect that which is for the good of the order and as the chief spokesperson of the organization, I am sharing with you this message and the linked information as the official position of the Board. If any member, chapter or region wants to ensure they have the official viewpoint of the Board, please know that it will come from our website, e-blasts, official social media accounts or from myself.
As we move forward, the Board and I are working together to maximize everything we do so that our members benefit. That is why we took the route we took in choosing the convention cities. Another example is our recent trip to LA. It was fruitful to the organization as a whole. Meetings resulted in possible partnerships with major companies that will provide resources and job opportunities for our members. We also had a chance to connect with and hear from local members and we look forward to doing this whenever we meet.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and I look forward to working with everyone as we work to move NABJ Forward with a collaborative and positive spirit. Remember, I am just an email away. I am a working journalist (in fact, work deadlines delayed me in getting this message to you yesterday), but I will always find time to work with and for you!
Yours in Service,