AAN Board Candidates Step Forward

With Ten Days Left Until the Election, Still No Contenders For Advertising Chair.

At least nine posts on AAN’s Board of Directors are up for grabs later this month. The election will be held during the organization’s annual meeting, which is set for Saturday, May 29 at the AAN convention in Memphis.

In addition to a new President and Vice-President, AAN members will elect six new committee chairs and an at-large member. All of the posts carry two-year terms, except the Convention chair, which is a one-year seat, and the Marketing/Publicity chair, which has one-year remaining on a two-year term vacated last year by Laura Markham, formerly of Alternative Media, Inc.

Ten days before the convention was set to begin, nobody had stepped forward yet to run for the Advertising chair. However, contenders had emerged for all of the other posts. Here’s a rundown:

Patty Calhoun, Editor, Westword

Calhoun, AAN’s current vice president, has been the Denver alternative’s heart-and-soul for so long she didn’t even know she was publishing an alternative newspaper when she first started. “It’s because of AAN that I actually learned what I was doing 20-plus years ago,” she says. “[Former AAN President and Chicago Reader co-founder] Bob Roth came through Denver in 1978, and told us we were publishing an alternative paper. Until then, I just thought I was avoiding real-world employment….

“As to why I’m a good candidate … I can use [Riverfront Times founder] Ray Hartmann’s old slogan, which I believe was, ‘He’s better than nothing.'”

Russ Martineau, VP of Sales and Marketing, Willamette Week

Martineau was Ad chair from 1995-97 and presently serves on the Board in an at-large capacity. Now he’s running for VP, traditionally a stepping-stone to the AAN presidency.

Martineau says he’s excited about the future of the alternative newspaper business. “In my 27-year career in sales and marketing I have rarely felt so energized about the viability of the products I sell. At the same time, I’ve never been more challenged to find innovative ways to compete, build revenue and try to make a difference.”

Martineau says he has enjoyed serving on the Board, and believes he can “continue to make a positive contribution.”

Scott Spear, Executive Vice President, New Times, Inc.

After a two-year respite, Spear returns to the Board as co-host of the first AAN convention of the new millenium. “New Times Inc. and the Phoenix New Times are very excited to be the hosts for the Y2K AAN convention,” says the former president of the association, who promises that “the Sonoran desert is one of the most beautiful and unique environments in the world.”

Spear says that he will be jointly responsible for hosting the convention with Phoenix New Times Publisher Michele Laven. “We plan to put on a convention that will be fun and exciting as well as informative and useful for AAN members. We are looking forward to seeing everyone in Phoenix next year.”

David Carr, Editor, Washington City Paper

Carr has toiled as City Paper editor since 1995. He was previously employed by the now extinct Twin Cities Reader, where he served both as a writer and editor. So, why should people vote for him?

“I’m interested in continuing [Riverfront Times Editor and present Editorial Chairman Safir Ahmed’s] work with the minority fellowship, reporter development and tweaking the awards,” Carr says. ” … I don’t pretend to have cracked the code of developing good writers into great ones. They seem to blossom of their own accord, but there has to be a way that our papers can figure out how to at least stay out of the way, or maybe even enable great work.

“AAN needs to make sure that the convention and the workshops they sponsor yield the kind of practical tools that will leave people feeling like the time spent was worthwhile. A lot of good people have put time and thought into increasing the heft of AAN’s editorial efforts, and I’d like to think I would be an appropriate steward for those continued efforts.”

First Amendment
Craig Hitchcock, Chairman and CEO, Yesse! Communications, Inc.

In the last 20 years, Hitchcock has worked as an editor, an investigative journalist, a lawyer specializing in newspaper mergers and acquisitions, and since 1995, as head of Yesse!, a four-paper chain of alternatives, including AAN members Bloomington Independent, Icon and Illinois Times.

“The First Amendment, to me, is the core of our business,” says Hitchcock. “Protection of our First Amendment rights is crucial to all of us, whether it be placement of [newsracks] or the kinds of stories in our papers.”

“My background — as both a journalist and an attorney — may be particularly unique qualifications for someone serving in the First Amendment chair.”

Art Howe, President and Publisher, Montgomery Newspapers

Howe’s background is impressive: MBA from the Wharton School of Business, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, business executive at the Philadelphia Inquirer. His suburban Philadelphia-based Montgomery Newspapers owns 16 community papers, several niche publications, a few magazines and AAN member Philadelphia City Paper, which it bought in 1996.

“I think alternative papers have a unique opportunity in publishing to dominate and to continue their fantastic growth,” he says. “… I come from a background involved in the marketing of dailies. I know how the dailies are marketed. We have a better story to tell and as Marketing chair, I’d be sure that we tell it.”

Sarah Goldblatt, Associate Publisher, Columbus Alive
Andy Newman, Editor, Pittsburgh City Paper

It’s been several years since the Columbus alternative had a representative on the AAN Board, says Goldblatt, who adds that 1999 is a good time “to become involved again.”

“I know that I’m well suited to [be Organization/Bylaws chair] due to my eight years experience in publishing. During the five years I’ve been with Columbus Alive, a lot of changes have taken place within the ‘Alternative’ newspaper market. I feel that it is crucial to maintain the alternative integrity of AAN.”

Goldblatt will be running against Andy Newman, who joined Pittsburgh City Paper after serving as an editor of Boise Weekly, In Pittsburgh Newsweekly and Casco Bay Weekly.

“What I bring to the AAN Board is the experience of having banged my head against the radiator at both small and large papers,” says Newman. “I think I also have experience and a sensibility about our industry’s volatility: most of the papers where I’ve worked have sold while I was on board. Having made those transitions at AAN papers — well, having sometimes made those transitions — I see both opportunities for the AAN Board to maintain the integrity of our papers, and landmines to avoid stepping on while promulgating rules to do so. That’s the challenge of being in the Organization/Bylaws chair, and it’s a challenge for which I’m well-suited.”

Newman also says he’ll “have something to contribute to the board outside of the narrow focus of [the Organization/Bylaws] position. I have opinions about everything and on those rare occasions when I’m well-rested and properly medicated, those opinions actually are lucid.”

At-Large Seat
Larry Ragan, Publisher, Boise Weekly

Ragan says “There are countless reasons that a fine, outstanding publisher like myself should be elected to represent and toil for the many who work in this organization.”

To be specific, Ragan uses a sports analogy. “I believe strongly in keeping the independent journalism that these many papers grew from as sacred as baseball in the park,” he says. “To allow the chains and dailies to infiltrate our bullpens and to actually own any of us, is the dreaded end to our high flying flags. I will fight to keep all papers, no matter what circulation or annual revenue, to be fully represented and considered. And besides … we need some humor on that starchy and pressed Board of bores.”

Other members who are interested in running for a Board seat can announce their candidacy in the first convention daily issue of AAN News by contacting the AAN office (202/822-1955) before May 24.

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