AMERICAN MENSA MEMORANDUM
Date: February 13, 1978
Copies to: AMC, Rita Levine, Margot Seitelman, Jan Williams
SUBJECT: REPORT OF SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDITORS' AWARDS
This subcommittee was formed to examine the procedure for determining the winners of Editors' Awards in an attempt to answer criticisms of the current method. Most of the criticisms can be included in four broad categories.
I am not attempting to suggest a definitive Editors' Awards procedure with this report. Rather, because of the way suggested solutions have fallen into two general categories, I will describe the two categories, attempt to outline their benefits and shortcomings, and suggest that either the one method or the other be selected and refined for detail.
A panel method of selecting Editors' Awards winners has been suggested by several editors and given form by Hans Frommer. In function, a panel of five to seven qualified people would "adjudicate" the newsletters according to a specified set of criteria. The panel would meet the criticisms of the current system as follows.
The biggest problem with the panel method is assembling the panel. Hans's proposal suggests that the editors elect a panel made up of ex-editors or others who had had exposure to the newsletters: Beth Pos, Jill Kerekes, Sander Rubin, Gordon Andersen, Nancy Berk, and Karl Ross were some of the names mentioned. I think it's awfully presumptuous of one group of people to elect another group to do a lot of work for them, and I think it would be wrong to establish a system where the participation of qualified panel members could not be guaranteed (I know that lots of these people are quite busy these days).
To add a panel of five or seven to the Special Distribution list would push it over its currently stated maximum of 40 (it's now at 39). The subsidy for the Special Mailing is set at $10.00 per mailing, or $0.25 per issue if the list is fullhigher than the regular subsidy to encourage participation. I feel that if the list goes over 40, the subsidy should be increased to maintain it at $0.25 per issue mailed. The addition of five to seven names to the list would cost $816 to $1224 per year in additional subsidies (68 newsletters now participating).
If one of the complaints about the current system is that too few editors are participating, it boggles me that putting the editors out of the picture entirelyor at least at one more removecould be proposed as a solution.
Finally, I would like to remind all concerned that the reason the editors began voting among themselves in 1974 is because they were dissatisfied with the panel method that had been used previously.
OTHER METHODTHE EDITORS CONTINUE TO VOTE
This, in essence, means that everything stays the same, except that a few refinements have been suggested. Examples of refinements include a good deal more publicity to encourage more participation; a two-pass system (along the lines of nominations and then voting); weighted voting; having editors vote only for newsletters not in their categories.
Adoption of (or staying with) this method and whatever refinements might be selected could answer three of the criticisms cited, but would not help with one of the major onesthat all editors wouldn't be voting from the same slate.
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Now, if I sound a little cranky about all this, it's because I am. The grousing about the Editors' Awards has been going on for two years now, and about all it's produced is sniping. Only one personHans Frommercame up with a definite alternative suggestion, and I do not believe that system to be workable or in the best interests of the society. I think all of us are going to have to swallow a few hard facts.
There is enough emotional heat behind the Editors' Awards at this point that I'm not about to make a one-man pronouncement about it. I do, however, seek AMC concurrence on two points: