AAN Board Elections Taking Place Today

Elections for several positions on the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Board of Directors will be held today (Saturday, July 17), during the association’s annual meeting in Toronto.

There will potentially be eleven positions opening on the board. Nine of those seats will be vacated as part of the normal election cycle set forth in the association’s bylaws. Two additional At-Large seats may open as a result of bids by Margaret Downing and Sally Freeman to run for Membership Chair and Secretary, respectively. If they are successful, each of their At-Large seats will be open for a one-year term.

All of the members who have announced their candidacies are thus far running unopposed. However, AAN bylaws do not require individuals to declare their intention to run in advance. Any regular members who are interested in seeking a seat on the board can be nominated from the floor at the annual meeting.

Sally Freeman
Boise Weekly
Running for: Secretary

Why do you want to be on the AAN board?

I would like to join the AAN board and represent a smaller, independently owned paper in a smaller market. I think it is always important to keep a board diversified. I bring my corporate background and expertise as an accountant and systems analyst, both important in the business world in general, but both even more important to our industry to stay competitive and sustainable in the changing nature of our business. And every board would like to be able to say that they have a representative from Idaho.

What are the most important issues that AAN faces?

I think that is imperative that we look beyond the way things have always been done in our industry. Our vision of where we want to be in the future needs to define our priorities rather than focusing on what we have accomplished in the past 30 years. We must do more with fewer resources, stay ahead of the curve with technology and demand excellence in journalism to be competitive. The dynamics of our industry have dramatically changed and I know that I can be a contributing member of a team to ensure that alternative media companies remain positioned to continue to be the vanguard of the publishing industry.

Ellen Meany
Creative Director
Running for: Treasurer

Has it been a year already? I stepped into Fran Zankowski’s Skechers
last summer with a sincere desire to explore the numbers; curiosity
about our budget format; and derision for the design of the
financial reports we have studied at each meeting since I first joined
the board in 2006.

It started out so smoothly: Checking over account reconciliations;
asking why we invest in certain preferred stocks; helping to revise
the budget when AAN CAN revenues slowed further than expected.
Then Richard Karpel defected to the daily clique, and my honeymoon
as treasurer was over.

It’s been an important experience, for me and the entire Executive
Committee. By default, we have delved further into “the way things
are done” than we would have if Richard was still in place.

As fiscal manager, I set up the AAN books for online access;
maintained bank accounts; created invoices and paid bills;
and questioned the price of everything. I have recommended changes
in the way association accounts are organized, and I plan on handing
over a streamlined organizational set-up to the next executive director.

At the annual meeting, I will present the FY2011 budget for member approval.

So, has it been a year already? Actually it’s been more. I was
elected on June 27 of last year. So the way I do math, on July 17
I’ll be three weeks into my next term. Thank you for your vote of confidence.

Matthew Walsh
Assistant to the Publishers
City Newspaper
Running for: Design and Production Chair

Jimmy Boegle
Tucson Weekly
Running for: Diversity Chair

Jimmy Boegle is the editor of the Tucson Weekly. He previously was the news editor at Las Vegas CityLife, and before that, he was the editor of the Reno News & Review. He also once toiled for a very small daily newspaper, and a very large wire service. He serves on AAN’s Editorial Committee and its Organization and Bylaws Committee.

Why do you want to be on the AAN board?

Over the years, AAN has meant a lot to me. The programming, the seminars, the friendships, the odd conversations at various hotel bars—I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration and information out of it all. AAN is at a serious crossroads right now, in terms of leadership and direction, and I’d like to be a part of the discussion about where this wonderful yet occasionally dysfunctional organization is going to go.

What are the most important issues AAN faces?

Well, leadership and direction. We have no executive director, and we’re considering seriously altering our bylaws to allow very different types of publications into the organization. Those are two pretty huge issues right there. There’s also the question of how AAN is going to pay for all of the stuff it does for its members—at a time when AAN members can use all the help that they can get.

Diversity issues are a huge part of these leadership and direction questions. Two big diversity-related things that AAN has done in the past—the diversity grants and the Academy for Alternative Journalism—need to be re-examined, especially AAJ, seeing as it didn’t happen this year. That saddens me. We need to figure out what we’re going to do moving forward—and how AAN will fund whatever we decide to do. I think there’s still a big, honking need for AAN to take diversity efforts seriously. The morons running my state have made it very clear that this country is still struggling with race issues; if the country’s struggling with these issues, then AAN members are, too.

Jeff Lawrence
Boston’s Weekly Dig
Running for: Marketing Chair

Margaret Downing
Houston Press
Running for: Membership Chair

Margaret Downing has been editor of the Houston Press since February 1998. A member of the AAN membership committee since 2001, she was voted onto an at-large position on the AAN board in 2009. She has been a guest lecturer at AAN’s minority journalism program, teaching narrative story structure. During her time at the Press, her staff writers have received recognition from various organizations including AAN, ASCAP (the Deems Taylor Award), IRE, NABJ, National Mental Health Association, Missouri Lifestyle, Livingston and Gerald Loeb. In addition to editing and directing her staff, Downing also writes columns, features and blog items.

Why do you want to be on the AAN board?

When I ran successfully for the at-large position last year, I said after years of involvement with AAN, I wanted a chance to contribute more, especially since the annual conventions have been helpful to me. AAN can be very important to its members — it gives us a national voice as well as a chance on its website to pick up story ideas from what others are doing.

In my attempt this year to move from an at-large position to the chair of the membership committee, I would hope that my experience reviewing papers would benefit the organization and its members. If the membership approves admitting online-only publications, I certainly want to help this transition along.

What are the most important issues that AAN faces?

I believe the issues are essentially the same as last year and they all center on what AAN and its members do and become in the midst of a recession that is only now starting to turn around in fits and starts. The AAN staff has done a good job in the last year, even without an executive director (a new one has to be one of our priorities) thanks also to the work of members of the executive board. We need to see how we can accommodate our means so that we can continue to do the kind of investigative and narrative journalism that so many of the country’s dailies have abandoned. We need to figure out how to operate web sites and blogs that attract alternative readers, not tired re-runs of dailies’ blogs. AAN is going to have to figure out a way to expand the tent so that it can survive and prosper and that may involve more mentorship and help to member papers.

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