Dear fellow Members
It is with some trepidation that I sit down to pen my first “Letter from the President” to you all along with some humility and hope for our future. Together, and with the help of our tireless staff, we’ve managed to complete the often tumultuous move, and are finally settling into our new premises. I played no part in this and can only look in awe upon the magnitude of the work.
With the move receding in our collective rear view mirror, we must now look forward. A new challenge lies ahead, one that may not be as obviously complicated, but could prove to be an equally tricky balancing act: Attracting new members while taking care of existing ones. In other words, bringing the club into the 21st century without losing touch with tradition.
One obvious area in sore need of improvement is our online presence. We need a far stronger voice on social media in all its many forms, as this is where both journalism and the younger generations live and breathe. We need a stronger website, to better use as a launchpad for online marketing. We need to strengthen assets such as the Number One Shimbun, both digitally and in print.
On top of that come the traditional, yet no less important activities such as our press conferences and social events. Our online platform is no substitute for these, merely a powerful way to announce their presence from the digital rooftops.
All of this, sadly, is a matter of survival. The Club’s future depends on our ability to increase our membership. In many ways, we journalists stand apart from society in our role as watchdogs, but in one sense our Club is an exaggerated version of the demographic problem haunting modern Japan: We are losing an increasing number of members due to age related issues.
Of our total membership, 64 percent is over 60 years of age. Our total membership now stands at 1,791, after a decline of 18 percent over the past 10 years a trend that is likely to continue. Every cloud has a silver lining: the good news is that we lose few members for reasons not age related. But it also means we need to work twice as hard to grow the club.
In order to increase our total membership by 100, we need at least 200 new members to compensate for the members lost to natural causes and for resignations. Quite a task! We need the collective support of the entire membership to accomplish this. I would ask everyone’s help in introducing the club to friends and acquaintances. We are prepared to give one month’s guest memberships to prospective members to allow them to experience the club before they hopefully make the decision to join. We are working on improving the quality of our professional programs and on bringing in more interesting events.
So a huge thank you to our general manager, Marcus Fishenden, for both helping us through the move and minimizing the inevitable adjustment pains of settling in. The same goes to our librarian Moriwaki-san, for her tireless work in supplying top notch research to members. And to our PAC staff, Saikawa-san and Itosan, for working hard to keep our club on the journalistic map via our press conferences.
And last, but certainly not least, a huge thank you to the many members who have volunteered their time to help me get up to speed on the many intricacies of the club. The club rests on people like you and that leaves me hopeful. Because we are quite a crowd.I wish you all a happy holiday season, and hope to see you at the Club.
– Thomas Høy Davidsen