AAN Does Vegas: A Recap

AAN editors, writers and designers descended upon Las Vegas this past weekend for two days of learning, schmoozing and idea-sharing.

They were joined by journalists and design experts who presented on a diverse range of topics, including:

  • Scientist George Basile and investigative reporter Russ Choma, who — in a session sponsored by the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism — stressed the importance of reporting on sustainability issues and the green economy, while sharing tips on how to track the large sums of money that are being spent as part of “green” stimulus and incentive programs.

  • Interaction designer Eamae Mirkin deconstructed the process of creating infographics and explored creative ways to tell stories through visual information.

  • First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza broke down the state-by-state patchwork that exists when it comes to anti-SLAPP protection.

  • Tucson Weekly editor and AAN Diversity Chair Jimmy Boegle shared a draft version of “Diversity Best Practices,” a document created by AAN’s Diversity Committee that aims to provide guidance on the recruitment and retention of minority staff members, as well as ensuring that news coverage accurately reflects the diversity of a paper’s community.

  • In a joint session of writers and designers, Lyl Tydings asked attendees to break into teams and tasked them with redesigning several well-known websites.

  • Boise Weekly editor Rachael Daigle and Willamette Week digital director Kendra Clune gave pointers on using social media and mobile phones to file reports from the field.

  • Las Vegas Weekly editor Sarah Feldberg made a case for integrated newsrooms and showed some examples of visually-stunning special sections in print and on the web.

  • Associated Press video producer Yvonne Leow took attendees on a field trip to learn how to use cheap flip-cams and iPhones to get top-notch video, audio and stills.

  • Using examples from across AAN, Isthmus creative director Ellen Meany discussed surface editing entry points for readers in print, and how those translate into online page views.
  • Westword reporter Alan Prendergast tackled the prison beat, sharing tips for finding stories (Tip: Prisons generate a lot of paperwork) and prison topics worth investigating. “Prison stories aren’t just about prison,” he said. “They are about what our society has become.”
  • And in a joint session to close out the workshop, designers and writers participated in a competitive story-generating session, which included a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush as a top prize. A full list of story ideas from the session can be found in the resource library.

Bonus Video: Intrepid Folio Weekly editor and AAN Editorial Chair Anne Schindler ventured across town to file a video report from the scene of AdultCon. She warns, “Don’t click if you’re offended by dongs and such.”