No Name Change for PRNDI

Jun 28, 2016

Public Radio News Directors Inc. will continue to be known as “PRNDI”.

During the business meeting at the annual conference in St. Louis, the membership rejected a proposal to rename the organization the “Association of Public Media Journalists” or “APMJ”. Objections largely centered around dropping “radio” and how a new name should encompass digital.

According to a survey conducted earlier this year, PRNDI represents over 1,100 full-time working journalists at the 120 public radio stations in its membership, including news managers, digital editors, reporters, and producers. That doesn’t even count the 200-plus part-time journalists, educators, consultants, and trainers who are also part of the membership.

A year ago, changes to PRNDI’s bylaws were adopted, opening up at-large positions on the board to station newsroom staffers who are not “news directors.” Outgoing president George Bodarky said a name change was the next stop along that road toward a more inclusive organization.

“We are a very different organization than we were when this organization was founded. We are a very different industry,” Bodarky said.  

The resolution for a name change presented by the board referenced goals for growing membership and conference attendance.

“If you’re a digital editor, why would you go to the public radio news directors conference? But would you go to APMJ, yeah,” Bodarky suggested.

“I don’t want to forget where we came from,” said incoming president Terry Gildea. “But now is the time,” he said, “to reinvent ourselves to make the tent a little bit larger.”

But then came the outcry from the floor.

“I recognize there is new media,” said Brian O'Keefe of WDCB in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. “But this is an organization of radio journalists.”

Erin Hennessey of KPLU in Seattle, Washington said she, “couldn’t love radio more,” but wanted a name change for PRNDI that could bridge radio and digital. “I think the most important word in that name is 'journalists',” she said.

What had been known as RTNDA, “Radio and Television News Directors Association,” changed its name in 2009. To acknowledge the shrinking number of “news directors” in broadcasting and insert “digital,” it became RTDNA for “Radio Television Digital News Association.”

In St. Louis, Bob Beck of Wyoming Public Radio offered a similar alternative for PRNDI, “Public Radio News and Digital Inc.,” that would have preserved the familiar acronym.

But Beck’s idea didn’t feel right to the membership either.

“That would separate digital from news, and digital is news,” said Alicia Zuckerman of WLRN in Miami, Florida.

Zuckerman and others also expressed concern that the proposed “Association of Public Media Journalists” did not connote PRNDI’s long-standing focus on news managers.  

Without another change to the bylaws – and none is on the table – Gildea noted that the power of the organization would continue to be held primarily by public radio newsroom management. That raised more questions of whether, without “radio” in the name, there would be confusion for television journalists about their place within the organization.

The back and forth ended after the membership amended the resolution, swapping “Association of Public Media Journalists” for “Public Radio Digital News Inc.,” as Beck had suggested, but then voted against a name change altogether.