By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director
As I write this column for the final time as your Executive Director, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Serving you and RTDNA for the past six years has been one of the true highlights of my 40-year career in journalism. As I reflect on this great organization, it occurs to me that I’ve actually been associated with RTDNA and its predecessor, RTNDA, in one role or another for 30 of those 40 years!
In fact, the only relationship in my life that’s lasted longer is my 41-year marriage to the love of my life — my beautiful wife, Kay.
That, my friends, says a lot about RTDNA.
It says I believe very deeply in the importance of our organization and its ability to positively impact our industry. But it’s not always been an easy lift! Like many professional associations, RTDNA has weathered storms of all sizes—not the least of which was the post-September 11th hurricane which could have dealt a fatal blow to our organization.
But with the encouragement and assistance of a great board of directors, a tremendously talented and dedicated staff and the continued support of members like you, RTDNA not only survived but prospered in the years that followed. And I’m proud to have played some small role in that resurgence.
We returned the organization to profitability, expanded our membership base, regained our position in the electronic journalism industry and created new programs to train and support those we serve. Now, RTDNA is stronger and even better positioned to speak as one of the foremost advocates for the First Amendment and the rights of journalists.
And the time for that advocacy is now. I came to journalism during the Watergate era and, as I look back, it’s clear history can repeat itself. Our profession is under increasing assault, yet America’s need for honest, aggressive reporting has never been greater. That’s why we created the RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force this year. VFA represents one of the most significant endeavors our organization has undertaken in many years. It could not have come at a better time.
Dan Shelley, who will succeed me as Executive Director, is superbly positioned to lead this effort as he is to direct the daily operations of RTDNA. This organization could not be in better hands.
To paraphrase the legendary Walter Cronkite when he stepped away from the CBS Evening News — this is a moment for which I have long-planned, but nevertheless comes with some sadness. I take great comfort, however, in the knowledge that, with your support, RTDNA will continue to grow and prosper.
Now, Kay and I will have the opportunity to enjoy much more time together in some long-delayed pursuits at our new home in sunny Florida. But I will also continue my work with some important projects at RTDNA. These include a closer involvement with our very successful RIAS German-American Journalist Exchange and continuing to be a strong advocate for the work of our Voice of the First Amendment Task Force.
And I will be watching and cheering for this organization as it continues to blaze its trail on behalf of our members, all electronic journalists and our industry. I know the best is yet to come!
Be well, my friends! And a heartfelt thanks for allowing me the privilege of leading RTDNA these past six years. It has truly been the experience of a lifetime!