For the first time in its 71 years, the American Society of Newspaper Editors has lit (as in turning on a light bulb) on the sagacious idea of holding its national convention in Baltimore. Welcome!
For reasons that defy objective analysis, the directing editors of news and editorial operations of the nation's major newspapers usually assemble three out of every four years in the nation's capital, there to be confined to a hotel whose meeting rooms have been dug coal-mine deep to deny participants any hint of air, sunlight, fog or reality.
Then, on the fourth year, they forage out into the boonies, visiting provincial outposts such as Denver and Boston where national headliners seldom venture. Dare we recall the time an assistant White House press secretary couldn't be lured from the banks of the Potomac to the shores of Lake Michigan to address an ASNE convention?
Well, folks, your very own Baltimore Sun decided to bust up this arrangement by literally stealing this year's convention from Washington (which, we have to confess, was too above it all to care). Anyone who has ever traveled from Washington to Baltimore knows something phenomenal happens at some mystic point on the journey northeastward: Suddenly you are no longer "Inside the Beltway" of the federal enclave Maryland so generously gave to the country. You are back home once again in AMERICA, as personified by this wonderful, diverse, unpretentious burg on the Patapsco.
The Sun lobbied shamelessly for this convention because we wanted to show off our newspaper and its city, region and state. We argued with stunning persuasiveness that Baltimore is close enough to the corridors of power to attract those who walk its carpets but far enough away to provide relief from still another sojourn in the nation's capital. We also offered the Naval Academy, in our own state capital, as a memorable mid-convention site.
So visiting editors will be able to ogle many of the grand poobahs of the Clinton administration while still having fun in this quintessential American city. The Walters Art Museum, the B&O Museum, the National Aquarium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards will be the scene of receptions. Three dozen panels on world, national and news-industry issues are on a crowded four-day agenda.
We are pleased to have our fellow editors in town. Baltimore should not have to wait until the year 2063 to have them back.