By David H. Kirkwood
As AudiologyNOW! gets under way today in Anaheim, I‘d like to congratulate the American Academy of Audiology on its 25th birthday and its 25th annual convention. I’m sure the 2013 edition, like each of the previous 20 or so, will again attract the largest turnout of audiologists and audiology students anywhere in the world this year. And Audiology Solutions will display more and better hearing care products than you’ll find in any other single venue.
AudiologyNOW! is also sure to offer an unparalleled variety of outstanding educational opportunities to choose among.
All in all, the success of its annual convention provides compelling evidence that the academy has achieved the goal of the 34 audiologists who convened in Houston in 1988 to provide “a professional home of, by, and for all audiologists.” While quite a few audiologists choose another home, certainly most of those in North America see AAA as the organization that best represents their profession.
In wishing AAA and its members a happy birthday, I do so less as an outside observer than as an involved participant during most of the organization’s first 25 years. While my career path as a journalist didn’t lead me to audiology until 1990, I have attended 21 of the 22 AAA conventions held since then.
I’m not a member—the academy doesn’t admit non-audiologists—but I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many hundreds of members, including most of the founders. And some of the best times of my working life have occurred at AAA conventions—whether covering the high-powered opening sessions, manning an exhibit booth, competing (generally unsuccessfully) in the annual Audiology Trivia Bowl, or hosting dinners for valued contributors to my publication.
I was even delighted (and very surprised) to receive a President’s Award at the 2006 Convention in Minneapolis. I suspect the academy may have regretted it afterwards, for there have been times since then that as a journalist I felt compelled to be critical of AAA for certain actions or policies. But I’m not giving the award back!
IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY, TOO!
More than anything else, what gives us at HearingHealthMatters.org warm feelings toward the academy’s annual convention is that our blog was essentially born at AudiologyNOW! 2011 in Chicago. It was there that we first let the audiology community know about our concept of a blog that would be of interest and value to everyone–hearing care providers and consumers alike–who shared our belief that Hearing Health Matters.
We received a warm reception from AAA members, who were impressed by the prominent group of editors that had signed on to this project. They also liked the fact that we would be fiercely independent and beholden to no company or other organization. We also attracted early support from some advertisers who understood the ground rules.
We published the first issue of HearingHealthMatters.org in April 2011, the week after the convention. We were not an overnight sensation. In the first week, we had only 105 visitors. On the bright side, they liked what they saw enough to pay us 216 visits that week.
However, word quickly spread, as it’s wont to do on the Internet. While we were celebrating our first birthday last spring at AudiologyNOW! 2012 in Boston, our weekly readership exceeded 2000 for the first time. A year later, at age two, we have more than doubled that and are closing in on 4500 readers a week and 20,000 a month.
Unlike print journals, which only subscribers are likely to see, online publications draw a constantly changing and expanding worldwide audience, steered to them primarily by search engines. In our case, since our “birth” in April 2011, there have been more than 150,000 unique visitors to our blog. While they come from every corner of the globe, three quarters of our readers are from the United States or Canada.
ENOUGH ALREADY ON THE NUMBERS!
While it’s gratifying to watch our readership numbers grow, what my colleagues and I take the most pride in is the quality of our blog’s content. Quality isn’t quantifiable with numbers, so we’ll leave it to you to judge for yourself how we’re doing.
But one thing I can say without fear of contradiction is that our ten editors at HearingHealthMatters.org and our many contributing authors cover topics and express insights that you will find nowhere else online or in print.
A WORD FROM THE FOUNDER
This week, many of our blog’s editors are in Anaheim taking part in the American Academy of Audiology’s 25th birthday celebration. As you probably know, the person who organized and hosted the 1988 meeting in Houston where the Academy was founded and who then served as its first president was James Jerger.
That’s why last fall I invited Dr. Jerger to write a Hearing View for this blog about the Academy’s first quarter century. He kindly agreed to do so and his post was published on January 16. If you missed it, I suggest you read it now.
Just last week, I was happily surprised by something else that Jim Jerger wrote. In this case he did so, not at our request, but in response to an inquiry from Dr. Maurice Miller, another distinguished audiologist, who was asking his advice on where to submit an article about the dangers facing the audiology profession. In his reply, which he shared with our editor-in-chief, Holly Hosford-Dunn, Jim said:
“To get your message out you need to be sure that it makes contact with a large number of audiologists. And nowadays that means blogs. The best one is Hearing Health Matters.”
We couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift!