The alternative newsmedia world will descend on Nashville for AAN’s 37th Annual Convention hosted by Nashville Scene, which will be the largest AAN gathering of the year. If you’re joining us, here’s your cheat sheet:
- Ground Transportation: Make your way downtown to the Sheraton via taxi (flat rate of $25 to the downtown area), shuttle or rental car.
- Get around Nashville with a special rate from Uber. Enter code SPARKLETWAANG for a free ride up to $20. (Code is for new users only.)
- The Music City Circuit is a FREE downtown bus service which stops just three blocks away from the Sheraton. Full details and a route map are here.
- View the latest session times, speaker bios, and exhibitor info on your mobile device with the AAN Convention web app, which was built by the web developer Joshua Curry.
- The conference hashtag is #AAN2014. Tweet early and often. We are not liable for any injuries incurred while using this hashtag.
- This year’s program is the result of member feedback, focusing on many new ideas and original voices. We heard you when you said you come to the convention to learn from colleagues across the alt-weekly world, so we’ve made sure that AAN members have a strong presence on the panels. The annual Editorial Standards Survey also helps to tackle this in a macro way, and there are several roundtable discussions on the agenda as well. We also know from your feedback that you are interested in nuts and bolts learnings that can be immediately implemented.
- The hands-on sessions kick us off today and highlight another important thing you said you wanted: sales training that can be put to work right away. We start with Mastering Sales Fundamentals Workshop, a highly interactive session that will provide tools to further develop as sales professionals and successful business teams.
- The program puts partnerships and monetization possibilities front and center, with more than 10 sessions devoted to helping you grow your business. Weâ€™re especially excited for you to attend the AAN Digital Agency Consortium Training, where industry veterans will work with you on the process, products, support and training you will need when spinning up a digital team.
- The event will include a vibrant trade show for the full three days. You can connect here with vendors and partners in a relaxed atmosphere where you can make some deals. These are the people who make this conference possible, so make sure to stop by and say hello. Ready to make a deal? This is your sweet spot.
- The other good news? We have not forgotten the journalism. In fact, we have a roster of heavy hitters, including Voxâ€™s Melissa Bell, Laura Amico of Homicide Watch, and Nieman Labâ€™s Justin Ellis. Plus thereâ€™s a whoâ€™s who of the alternative world from media outlets across the country, sharing stories that will inspire all of us to do more amazing work.
- The program also aims to look around the corner, to provide members tools in planning for the future. We look at mobile and meeting the audience there. We examine how design and presentation (Cover Design Cage Match, anyone?) play such a crucial role in how people experience stories. And we branch out into the real world with the latest buzz on events and sponsorships.
- The event also features terrific sessions you will not want to miss that can help you plan for whatâ€™s next. On Friday, Penny Muse Abernathy will look at the Path to Profitably and how important that is for community journalism (sheâ€™ll give practical advice, donâ€™t worry). On Saturday, we will hear from Pew Researchâ€™s Paul Taylor on The America of Tomorrow, essential information on planning for the audience you need to thrive in the years ahead. Both Paul and Penny will have books to sign – discounted for AAN members at only $10 per book.
- During the Saturday afternoon session Community is King, we’ll hear about the The Listening Post Project in New Orleans, an innovative yet low-tech community radio project that helps people lend their voices to issues that matter most to them. Through a hybrid use of traditional radio broadcasts, SMS outreach, functional recording sculptures (yes â€“ art that listens!), and social media, The Listening Post reaches into the community, puts microphones where people live, and creates a strong news product born of everyday experiences. Read more here.
- The event also would not be THE EVENT without the infamous parties. On Thursday night, all roads lead to Robert’s Western World, where you’ll learn what that sparkle and twang is all about. Located in the heart of honky tonk row on Lower Broad, we locals love Robert’s for the excellent live music (they only play real country here , folks), the friendly staff, the packed dance floor, the boot-lined walls and the famous fried bologna sandwich, which perfectly complements an ice-cold beer. On Friday night, we puts you in good company among the true legends of country music at the Country Music Hall of FameÂ® and Museum. Take the Demonbreun entrance for a cocktail reception hosted by two of Nashville’s finest, the inimitable Doyle & Debbie. Enjoy drinks and light appetizers while Doyle and Debbie entertain you with their tribute to Music City, tongues firmly planted in cheeks. After the show, the Hall of Fame welcomes AAN attendees into The Bakersfield Sound exhibit, which celebrates the California country popularized by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. We’ll also tour the new home of iconic letterpress shop, Hatch Show Print.
- And for the grand finale, we’ll honor the best alternative journalism during the AAN Awards Celebration hosted by Santa Fe Reporter deputy editor Enrique LimÃ³n. What better way to close than a party to celebrate by stories, photographs and artwork from the best damn journalists around?
We’re looking forward to seeing you. If you couldn’t make it to Nashville, come join us over here. Now get ready for three days and nights of sparkle and twAANg in the Music City. The Grand Ole AAN Convention of 2014 is about to begin.