OCNA board votes to change membership rules

In a move that could change the membership fabric of the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA), the Ontario Community Newspapers Association (OCNA) has proposed changing its membership criteria, opening the doors to ethnic and other non-traditional papers as full members.

OCNAÔÇÖs board of directors recommended modifications to its membership criteria at a Jan. 31, 2002 meeting. The board will put forward the changes at OCNAÔÇÖs April, 2002 annual general meeting where the changes will be voted on by the membership.

The changes boil down to three modifications to OCNAÔÇÖs existing bylaws, covering full-membership criteria, as well as associate-membership criteria. The board proposes to:

* add the words ÔÇ£print publicationsÔÇØ and ÔÇ£in OntarioÔÇØ to its membership criteria governing active members,
* remove the language criteria that currently limits membership to English-, French- and Aboriginal-language papers and
* add criteria stating that community newspapers ÔÇ£shall be available to the general public.ÔÇØ

These changes would allow non-traditional papers into OCNA as full members, including ethnic papers and possibly papers that cover communities of interest, such as gay and lesbian publications.

ÔÇ£They can make an application and if they meet the criteria, their applications would be reviewed by an impartial committee,ÔÇØ said OCNA President and CCNA 1st Vice President Jim Cumming.

Cumming said OCNA is currently putting together that impartial committee, which may consist of former OCNA presidents.

But how will OCNAÔÇÖs new membership criteria affect CCNA?

CCNA bylaws state that ÔÇ£any individual, partnership, or corporation who is and continues to be a member in good standing of the Weekly Newspapers Associations of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia or any other association organized with objects similar to those of the Association which becomes affiliated with the Association as hereinafter referred to as ÔÇÿaffiliated associationsÔÇÖ shall be, ipso facto, a General Member of the Association.ÔÇØ Currently, CCNA has no ethnic papers as members.

ÔÇ£If you are a regional member, you are automatically a member of CCNA,ÔÇØ said Cumming. ÔÇ£Those members in Ontario that meet this criteria will automatically become a member of CCNA. ÔÇ£

Becoming full members of CCNA would give the new OCNA members access to all CCNA services and benefits, including the right to vote, access to verified circulation, ComBase and possibly the Better Newspapers Competition.

More on this story can be found in the March issue of the Publisher.