On Oct. 25 the annual convention of the North American Mature Publishers Association (NAMPA) will be held at the Guest House at Graceland Hotel here in Memphis.

We are excited to host this very important meeting. As a suggestions that week, Memphians should definitely be on our best behavior since there will be about 50 publishers visiting our city. And most of them will write about their experience while visiting.

When I purchased The Best Times several years ago, I made it a priority to attend the annual meetings. The entire purpose of our convention is to meet with the key members of other senior publications from around the country and learn from them. It is a very positive meeting and we hear what other publishers are doing to better serve their reading public.

One key session is an “idea exchange,” where persons from other publications tell us what they are doing to improve and we then get to question them and determine if this is something we can incorporate.

Another key portion of the meeting is to attend an awards banquet where publications are recognized for journalism excellence. We submit our publication to NAMPA and they have the University of Missouri Journalism school make professional judgments about each publication.

At the very first convention we attended, I was embarrassed to attend the awards banquet and watched other great publications receive outstanding awards. Finally, at that first meeting, we won a third-place award and it was like winning a Pulitzer Prize.

But what was really important was meeting with the journalism team and receiving a critique about The Best Times and how we could make it even better. Every year we get the same critique and we do things every year a little better than before.

At every convention we came home with several new ideas on how to make us even better. This past year we received six top Journalism awards. This would not have been possible without the scrutiny of Journalism professionals making suggestions for improvement.

On a different subject, I had the pleasure recently to speak to the monthly senior luncheon meeting at the Bartlett First Methodist Church. This was a very interesting group and after the meeting we had a great lunch. If you are a senior citizen and live in the Bartlett area, you should consider being a part of this meeting.

I have received many positive comments regarding my article last month suggesting that we begin promoting ourselves at the “Medical Center of the South.” As you know, we are blessed with many great medical professionals and facilities. People come for all over the country and many foreign countries for medical treatment and the label fits us perfectly.

Mention it to your elected leaders and Chamber professionals.

James K. Grubbs is publisher of The Best Times

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