Chess Journalists of America

Following is the complete text of the President's Message, as published in the December 1999 issue of The Chess Journalist.

President's Message
CJA President Pete Tamburro

In 1884 the eminent jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "It is now the moment to recall what our country has done for each of us and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return."

If JFK could paraphrase this in his first presidential message, then so can I. And I will give the citation!

One does not become president of the CJA to reap fame or fortune - or love, for that matter. You do not campaign for it. You just let people know that you're available if you're needed.

Why be available? Why does any volunteer become available? You do it because it's time not to ask what chess has done or is doing for you, rather to ask what you can do for chess and chess journalism. At some point you have to give back.

Why give back to chess journalism? What's the point? Well, considering the quantitative explosion of chess writing, the average chess enthusiast is in need of watchdogs to sift through the mess and give some direction. Considering the current state of politics in US and local chess, people need to be informed about what's going on. Considering the technological revolution in computers and the internet, every state editor should want to know how to put out a better product. The CJA needs to be the medium for all that.

Sometimes the CJA goals are simple things. In this past year as vice-president and then president I wanted some simple achievements that had eluded us in recent years: judging to take place with as few problems as possible; The Chess Journalist to come out on time; the certificates to be mailed while the year still had a "1" at the beginning; and, that we initiated a fully functioning web site.

As of December 1, 1999, all of this has been accomplished. A very important lesson we learn from history is that the best leaders surround themselves with talented, energetic, principled people with a sense of duty to the ideals of the organization. We have success so soon because Randy Hough has been a workhorse for the organization; because Selby Anderson has taken initiatives in several areas already as vice-president and as a USCF committee chairman; because Helen Warren consented to our pleas to be chief judge; because Franklin Campbell agreed to set up our web site; because John Hillery is one fine editor; because many CJA members volunteered to judge. And as I facetiously asked Helen in an e-mail, "Do we have to do this again?"

But it is not enough to just do these things, because we lose sight of why we exist. My primary professional responsibility is being a teacher of Advanced Placement US History and also honors Cultural Anthropology; however, it has been my good fortune to coach high school and college basketball. Years ago, as a novice coach, I bought a book by John Wooden, immortal UCLA basketball coach. I remember skipping the first chapter, which was about his philosophy of sport ("Who needs that?") and went right to the plays and drills.

After one season, I realized that I had skipped the most important chapter of the book-that first chapter. You cannot do anything truly successful without a guiding philosophy of excellence.

The Chess Journalists of America need one. If anyone knows of one previously put forth, let us know. In the meantime, here is what I see as our statement of purpose:

The Chess Journalists of America are committed to:

  1. Promoting the honest reporting of chess activities in the U.S. and the world.
  2. Providing a medium for the exchange of ideas that will improve the quality of chess journalism.
  3. Recognizing those journalists who have achieved excellence in our field.
  4. Defining a code of ethics for chess journalists that addresses key issues that journalist face on a regular basis.
  5. Making the organization relevant in terms of what is happening in the chess world and making it useful to its members.
  6. Making a concerted effort to discover the facts of events and issues as our primary mission while recognizing that we see a place for opinion and promotion as legitimate journalistic activities. Anything not objective should be clearly presented as such. We understand that objectivity and neutrality in disseminating information is our major concern.
  7. Preserving chess history as a valuable resource from which to learn.
  8. Covering areas of the chess culture other than playing; eg, art, literature, collecting, education, to name a few.

We welcome comment on this first attempt. We have much to do. What we do is important. There is a good deal that needs to be addressed -with reason and facts and without rancor.

In the past I have often been severely disappointed by debates on the pages of this journal and others because they have usually shed more heat than light. I have gone away from these debates not being any more sure of anything than at the beginning. We need more information. Without objective information there can be no informed opinion.

We need people to write, to judge, to volunteer, to participate for the good of a great game.

"I'm too busy!" is something I do not want to hear. I teach full time and grade literally thousands of pages of work from September to June. I have three adolescent sons. I coach high school cross country and basketball from August to March. I coach my youngest son's recreation team and referee as well. I'm an assistant scoutmaster and merit badge counsellor. I have been president of my teachers' association for five years. I write 104 chess columns every year - 52 for the USCF syndicated column and 52 for my daily paper's Sunday edition. I have been asked to go back to editing the Atlantic Chess News after a 25 year absence. I am a political consultant for local and state elected officials in NJ. I'M TOO BUSY! I make the time. It's about time you did, too. Ask what you can do for your game. I'll be in touch.....

Pete Tamburro
Chess Journalists of America

This Page Last Updated on 2 January 2000
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