AAN Accepts MetroBeat

Members approve budget, foundation, new board members and member-services committee

At its annual meeting Saturday, AAN accepted the membership application of MetroBEAT, formerly Creative Loafing of Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C., and approved a $1.17 million budget for Fiscal Year 2003. The members also elected eight board members and President Bill Towler agreed to form a committee to study group purchasing.

Of the 14 weeklies that applied for AAN membership, the Admissions committee recommended only MetroBEAT and the members endorsed that recommendation on the first ballot. Meanwhile, The Portland Mercury’s bid for membership fell short of the required two-thirds vote on a second ballot.

“The 2002 Admissions Committee was, to put it mildly, worse than disappointed by this year’s crop of 14 papers applying for AAN membership,” the committee’s report stated. “The economy is clearly pounding small publications, and publishers continue to trip over the line between alternative journalism and community newspapering, giving us a discouragingly spare and misguided pool of AAN wannabes.”

The members unanimously approved formation of a 501(c)(3) foundation for the purpose of promoting diversity within the alternative newsweekly industry. The foundation will allow members to make tax-deductible donations to support such AAN programs as the Academy for Alternative Journalism at the Medill School of Journalism and grants to individual papers for minority internships.

Three new board members were approved by acclamation during the meeting: Traci Schneider (Pittsburgh City Paper), Convention chair; Paul Curci (Philadelphia City Paper), Marketing chair; and Kenneth Neill (Memphis Flyer), Admissions chair.

The members re-elected included Clif Garboden (Boston Phoenix Newspaper Group), vice president, Mark Bartel, (City Pages), treasurer and Sioux Watson (Independent Weekly), secretary. Garboden had served for the last four years as Admissions chair. Paula Routly (Seven Days) was re-elected to a two-year at-large seat and Matt Gibson (Missoula Independent) was elected to the same position after being appointed to the board immediately prior to the convention.

Finally, the Independent Caucus introduced a resolution asking AAN to explore group purchasing opportunities with newsrack distributors, computer resellers and other vendors.

“A lot of us spend a lot of money on the same things,” said Sally Crane, publisher of Columbus Alive.

Towler appointed Crane, Fran Zankowski, CEO of New Mass Media Inc., John Weiss, publisher of Colorado Springs Independent, and Erik Cushman, publisher of Monterey County Coast Weekly, to an ad hoc committee to explore those opportunities and other member services.