Hello Fellow AdCom Members,
Don LaFond called me this morning, after receiving an email from Matt that he and Elizabeth had decided to replace Malcolm with Joe Tychonievich. I told him that I was unaware of this decision. Apparently, so was Betty. I do not know whether Richard was consulted, but I assume not.
David White just published the results of the survey. The Quarterly is the most important benefit of belonging to NARGS. If changes must be made to cover costs, then asking members who want hard copies to pay more is the most favored option. Reducing the number of editions is second. Going exclusively digital is not a favored option. These results show how important the Quarterly is to the viability of NARGS as an organization.
Had I been consulted as a member of AdCom, I would have discouraged consideration of Joe Tychonievich for the post. You may be unaware that Joe got his start in Michigan, working for Arrowhead Alpines. Longstanding Great Lakes Chapter members know him. While he is creative, with a strong sense of design, he is also known to move from project to project, leaving tasks uncompleted. Yes, he has just published a book on rock gardening, but he had the resources of the Timber Press behind him. Getting out an edition of the Quarterly requires wearying administrative tasks to be completed on deadline, as well as the contacts and deep knowledge of alpines to publish first rate articles. The belief among members with knowledge of Joe is that he will fall short, despite initial enthusiasm. And, we can’t afford to have the Quarterly fail. We need to consider other editors.
The hiring of Malcolm’s successor will involve more than just someone to assume his role. We do have ongoing financial difficulties with the Quarterly, as membership dues do not even cover the cost of printing and delivering the Quarterly. Malcolm’s departure is the time to consider whether we should follow the example of the SRGS, publishing only twice a year. Another possibility is that several donors will fund the gap between revenues and costs to allow the Quarterly to remain as such. In any event, these questions are ones of general policy which the Board must address.
As for whatever discussions were had with Joe, please recall that the Board has to approve the hiring of the Quarterly editor, so two members of AdCom can’t extend a binding offer.
There are many things to consider when choosing an editor. Better more choices than less. I think each candidate should be vetted. If there is an issue from the past, they should be allowed to answer it. And to assure us how it will not happen in the future.
Before offering the editor position, we ought to know what that position will require. And, we don't. Malcolm's retirement offers us an opportunity to address the perennial losses NARGS takes on the Quarterly. The results of the recent survey, which had an extraordinary response, show that our members value the Quarterly above all other benefits. If changes are needed due to losses, they favor first an extra charge for members who want to receive a hard copy with regular members receiving a digital copy. Second, they favor reducing the number of editions to three.
As these proposed changes involve general policy, the Board will have to decide on the best course. The following information should be considered:
1. When is Malcolm's contract up? in other words, what is the time frame for making changes to the Quarterly and then approving the hiring of an editor?
2. A job description - have Malcolm write up a detailed description of his responsibilities.
3. How much extra would we have to charge members wanting a hard copy to stem NARGS' losses? NARGS has three basic membership benefits: the Quarterly, the website and general administration. These three items cost more than annual dues revenue. And, the recent survey showed that members want to see more improvements to the website, which will have costs, even with Elizabeth's careful management. Richard would have information on the current amount of the shortfall, the projected shortfall and historic short fall going back at least three years. With this information, the Board would be in a position to decide how much the extra charge would need to be and whether such a charge is feasible.
4. How much would the cost savings be if the Quarterly were published three times a year? How much would the savings be if it were published only twice a year? Richard and Malcolm can best perform these analyses.
5. Are there major donors who feel strongly about the Quarterly and are willing to make significant, long-term commitments provided certain features remain? Betty, your group will have the answer to this question.
With this information AdCom should be able to prepare a report to the Board, with recommendations on the best general policies for the Quarterly and the factual grounds for these recommendations.
A few words about process. Changes to the Quarterly and/or extra charges to members for the Quarterly require the approval of the Board of Directors. See, Art. III, Sec. 7; Art. IV, Sec. 1; Art. VIII, Sec. 1. With the approval of the Board, AdCom is authorized to annually appoint or contract for the editor of the Quarterly. AdCom consists of four officers and one director at large. See, Art. VIII, Sec. 3. To make the best decisions regarding the Quarterly and to have the resulting changes accepted and supported by the members, the By Laws need to be followed.
Finally, what to do about the "offer" to Joe. Why not be upfront and tell him that the offer was premature? We don't yet know what the position will require. He has many talents - he's a charismatic speaker and writer, who has just published a second book. And, he will be quite occupied in the coming months with speaking and promoting the book. NARGS needs to decide what kind of publication it wants, how it will be delivered and what it can pay for editorial services. Let's know what the job is first, then decide who might suit and be willing to take the terms.
Perhaps you didn't see what Matt said? He covered most of it. I am reposting it here
- Knowledge of Adobe InDesign 5.5 or higher
- book or long page layout and epub experience
- asset management (both image files,and written text), graphic design
- of course – a capacity to write well and to edit.
There has been much discussion about Joseph Tychonievich and the NARGS Quarterly editorship. Today, Timber Press published an interview with him on its Web site: http://www.timberpress.com/blog/2016/11/an-interview-with-joseph-tychonievich/
You have to love his flow chart of "Should you have a rock garden?", including a plug for NARGS showing our logo.
If you haven't yet seen a copy of the book (Panayoti Kelaidis does a jacket endorsement), there are links to about ten pages inside the book at the bottom of the Timber interview.
We have two issues: what changes to make in the Quarterly in light of NARGS' budget constraints and finding a new editor. I've raised points we need to consider regarding the costs of the Quarterly. Matt's message focused on the requirements for an editor and the search for him or her, while also addressing questions of compensation and investments in software. The two issues aren't separate - more part of a continuum of decision points we will address in deciding the future of the Quarterly. For instance: we do need a search committee. but, that committee will need to know how many issues of the Quarterly will be published each year, how much compensation can be offered the editor, whether individuals who have worked on the Quarterly will remain involved and compensated, and what resources will be available in the form of software and printing services. These parameters won't be set until will resolve the cost issues surrounding the Quarterly. A written plan, outlining what information is needed, assigning tasks to specific individuals and setting deadlines, would help us achieve good results in a timely manner.
Perhaps we could rely on the wisdom of the search committee that picked Malcolm. It consisted of Michael Riley, Anne Spiegel, and Maria Gallett. WIth Michael's permission, I am inserting below the a document the committee used in beginning it's search.
Following is our basic premise in the search for a new editor for the NARGS Quarterly:
We need to redefine the NARGS Quarterly for the purpose of being more vital and relative to the membership of the organization. We see a journal with more and better color, interspersed throughout the text, where it best illustrates the topic at hand. We see excellent quality photographs and excellent quality writing, editing and printing. We need a journal that is exciting and informative to read for both our expert and novice membership, and one that will attract new members. We also see a journal that will be interactive with our website.
We need an Editor to solicit and develop content relative to many diverse aspects of our interests as an alpine and rock garden society. These may include botanical profiles of individual species, species in a genus, hybrids in a focused group, garden profiles, plants in nature, field observations, first-hand horticultural trials and observations, ten best plants, ten easiest plants, ten most killed plants, etc.
This editor should possess creative skills, be capable of meeting deadlines, and above all, have people skills.
There exists also a question about including newsworthy content in the journal. In the past, much of the "current events" have been inserted to mailings rather than included within the journal itself. Due to cost constraints, this will no longer be possible and we intend for the journal pages to reflect all the activities and interests of the organization. What would we like to see within the journal? We could include any or all, or none of the following items:
Seed Exchange information
Financial information (required)
Committee activities and reports (website, books, awards, etc.)
Chapter activities, etc.
We see this new journal as being the product of the above described Editor, and having at his or her disposal an Editorial Committee composed of an Advertising Manager, an Image Editor, Proofreaders, Copy Editors, Regional Editors or whatever other help the Editor might need in order to produce a high-quality publication for the membership. It goes without saying that the Editor would work with a production team including a Compositor, Printer and Distribution. The Editor would receive a token salary, the Editorial Committee would be a volunteer one, the production team of Compositor, Printer and Distributor would be an outsourced and hired professional service. Please apply directly to this email address: [email protected].
Maria Galletti, Vice President and Editor Search Committee Chairperson
Anne Spiegel Committee Member
Michael Riley Committee Member
This is where NARGS got into $$ trouble last time.
The Editor should not receive a salary if he cannot ready the product for printing. It just isn't that hard or time consuming. Sure maybe NARGS needs to buy an Adobe license. But these are skills every middle school is now teaching. Just look at print on demand - many people manage to print their own books without fuss.
Also I think there need be an emphasis on attracting membership. The editor needs social media skills and be prepared to use them.
The Editor would receive a token salary, the Editorial Committee would be a volunteer one, the production team of Compositor, Printer and Distributor would be an outsourced and hired professional service.
Your are right, Elisabeth: Contrary to the guidelines the last search committee wrote up, Malcolm does all of the Quarterly page layout himself, unlike Jane McGary, the previous editor, who out sourced it.
There is an advertising manager, Wendy Sellars, to whom ads go, but Malcolm places them in the Quarterly and does the layout.
There are two voluntary proofreaders, Joyce Fingerut and myself (which I thoroughly enjoy).
I agree social media skills are needed these days. And Malcolm isn't on any media that I am aware--certainly not Facebook or Twitter. I have many "friends" whom I know in the garden world solely through social media, but never have met them face to face.
This is from Betty who does not have computer access currently:
Just on Quarterly, Julie is right, where is the finances of hiring Joe, what is his Job Description and length of trial period.
Do we have anyone else to ask.
Yes, ADCOM may approve the editor. I have given my approval to hire tentative to finance questions being answered. Zander, Mattus are on Board. Richard????
Obviously Julie has questions, so let's do this. By phone??
How many issues is Joe going to do. Do we want to make a change in the number of issues?
Do we want to entertain the SRGC proposal and tailor it. Is Julie designated with that task. She had fine comments regarding the concept.
I thought Matt asked her to do an analysis. Allen Press, etc. Whether digital copy to SRGC or hard copy. Cost of mailing.
Who is talking with David Rankin to get more information.
All of this is related.
The By-Laws say in Article VIII that the Adcom, "with the approval of the Board, shall annually appoint or contract for the editor of the Rock Garden Quarterly..." Doesn't this mean we need Board approval to replace Malcolm? Richard
That's what it reads. However, Peter did all the negotiations then ask for Board's approval by e;mail. We can do that.
I'm more interested in the part that the BOD can only approve expenditures it votes on annually. One assumes that's the budget and we should not be in deficit without their approval either.
Also, we need an actual date for the new admin to take over after election.