Leading the way in scholastic journalism & media education since 1924

A primer on email distribution lists

The JEAHELP Listserv is a virtual discussion community of more than a thousand journalism educators from around the globe. Teachers use the list to seek support and guidance as well as share resources and advice. JEAHELP is a benefit of membership in the association.

How to join the JEAHELP Listserv

To become part of the JEAHELP Listserv, make sure you are a current member of JEA, and then log in to the members area at jea.org/membersarea. On the left navigation menu, under “MEMBERSHIP Directory” is a link to “Manage Listserv Subscription.” On that form you can select to subscribe or unsubscribe, as well as choose which address you would like list emails sent to.

You can also select whether you want to receive each email that is posted, or subscribe to “digest” mode, which compiles all of the day’s postings into one email (or two emails, on very active days). Digest mode is helpful for subscribers who don’t actively post to the Listserv but still benefit from reading others’ contributions.

What is Listserv?

Listserv is a system that makes it possible to create, manage and control electronic “mailing lists.” However, not all email distribution lists are managed by Listserv software. In 1986, Eric Thomas, wrote the first version of the Listserv software. It is now a commercial product licensed exclusively to L-Soft International, Inc.

Sending messages

To send a message to all the people subscribed to the list, send mail to jeahelp-l@listserv.ksu.edu. This is called “sending mail to the list” because you send mail to a single address and Listserv makes copies for all the people who have subscribed.

Even though your message will be delivered immediately to the Listserv community — usually within five minutes — it will occasionally take longer (up to an hour) for the message to make it back into your inbox if you have elected to receive copies of your own messages.

Sending commands

One of the most powerful features of Listserv software is the ability to send email commands to the server. Advanced users looking to customize their Listserv behavior can read up on all of the different options available to subscribers in the L-Soft manual, available at http://www.lsoft.com/manuals/1.8d/user/user.html.

Several of these commands, including subscribing, unsubscribing and converting to digest mode, have been added to your Listserv subscription pane at jea.org/membersarea. For these functions, we strongly recommend that you use the Members Area section to modify your preferences so that they are current in the JEA database as well as on the Listserv server.

Archives

The JEAHELP archives are available at http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/jeahelp-l.html.

To gain access, you will need to get a password to Kansas State’s listserv server, which you can do as soon as you try to click on one of the archive hyperlinks or by going to http://listserv.ksu.edu/web?GETPW1. Please note that this login is separate from the one you use to get into the Members Area of the JEA website.

Behavior

JEAHELP is an unmoderated list, which means that subscribers are allowed to post without an editor approving their comments. As such, here are some standards we ask all subscribers to adhere to:

  • Attachments are not allowed, out of concern that Listserv participants who don’t check their mail often might see their mailbox filled too quickly if attachments are being included in emails. If members would like to share curriculum, it can be hosted at http://jea.org/category/resources-for-educators/development-and-curriculum/.
  • Remove extraneous information. Since the nature of the distribution list allows subscribers to see previous messages, consider removing the “quoted” previous emails from your reply. Keep your email signatures short.
  • Understand the audience. Your email is distributed to more than a thousand JEA members, including journalism teachers and publications advisers, media professionals, press associations, adviser organizations, libraries, publishing companies, newspapers, radio stations and departments of journalism. They, in turn, can forward your email to a limitless number of others. Assume that anything you post is available to the public.
  • Avoid commercial posts. While JEA will occasionally send out information about the organization’s conferences or events, please refrain from using the Listserv for publicizing outside services. An abundance of spam-like posts discourage users from taking part in the educational resource.
  • Avoid anti-commercial posts. While the Listserv shouldn’t be used to promote a company or a product, nor should it be used to criticize particular vendors, either. Many companies that support scholastic journalism programs are members of JEA, too, and subscribe to the Listserv.
  • Avoid “me, too” posts. If someone asks for specific information that you would also find helpful, consider emailing that person directly instead of sending the repetitive, “I would like this information also” message that clogs up others’ mailboxes. While JEAHELP by default will reply to the entire list, you can always copy and paste the email of a message’s sender into a new email.

History

The JEAHELP Listserv started in August 1998 and, in the first week, posted five messages from three members. It was launched by Candace Perkins Bowen, a past president of JEA. It was housed on servers at Kent State University until May 2012 when it was relocated to servers at Kansas State University, home of JEA’s headquarters.

This post contains information updated and modified from an article by Bradley Wilson from Communication: Journalism Education Today in 2001.

Some information obtained from L-Soft International, Inc. General User’s Guide for LISTSERV®, version 1.8c, ©1996. LISTSERV is a registered trademark licensed to L-Soft international, Inc. http://www.lsoft.com.