Bar News Committee Annual Report
Report of the Bar News Committee 2014
There were major changes to the Bar News committee in 2014. The first was the evolution of the publication from a newspaper to a magazine format. It ceased to be published monthly and now appears every other month. As such it has less news and more features. One might note the decline of newspapers in the 21st century (our Trib is hardly worth buying anymore) and the former Bar News was no exception. On line communication of matters of immediate interest to bar members has been substituted for newspaper communication.
The second major change was the combination of the Bar News committee and the Editorial Board into one unit. As a technical matter the Editorial Board was a creature of our bylaws and those bylaws should be reviewed to recognize the change. The committee remains responsible for editorials but also does feature writing and is active in contributing articles.
I am advised that financially the publication is running at a slightly higher loss in that magazine/color format is more expensive than the black/white/various shades of grey newspaper, but the magazine is only published half as often. Ad revenue is higher. The publication has always been a member service and is not designed to turn a profit. Reference to the budget will provide financial details.
The reality of the committee’s efforts in the past year were that President Farina took the lead and did most of the work (along with Kit) in making the new format a success. They established a theme for each edition, saw that responsibility for writing articles was assigned and done, and finally worked with the printer to see to format and proof-reading. This latter job is very tedious and was mostly done by Kit in the past, but Dawn assumed a lot of this responsibility. I hope that Dawn will continue into the New Year to quarterback the publication and find someone to do it into the future.
It is suggested going forward that every effort be made to have the judges use the bar news to communicate their messages to our members and give our readers an insight into what they are doing. Given the long lead-time between putting an edition into final form and getting the printed page to our readers will present challenges.
It has always been a challenge to get the young lawyers involved in the process. Again lead times are difficult as is the fact that a soon as a young lawyer is found with writing ability who is able to meet deadlines, that lawyer becomes a senior lawyer and is no longer connected enough to produce young lawyer stories.
At some point the formatting of the magazine should provide consistent content. An example is the Zen Lawyer that is found on the back page of each edition. Also the president’s message usually appears on the inside front page. I suggest that Commissioner Kiesel’s monthly message be given similar treatment and that we have a monthly feature on technology, maybe even appointing a tech editor to write or quarterback the preparation of articles.
Finally, the editorial in each edition ought to be an opinion piece and not simply a nice, well-written feature article.
In conclusion it should be recognized that this publication has never in the past, nor into the future, happened without Kit’s participation. I would not want to be charged with putting together the first edition of the publication after Kit leaves.
Given that the publication has successfully launched a major change, and the fact that I don’t feel as connected with our legal community as I have in the past, I think it is time to relinquish this job. I look forward to participating in writing articles/editorials as some future committee chair would direct. I thank our legal community for its support and its ability to produce interesting stories over the years.
George S. Kelley
Bar News Committee Chairperson