AAN Hires Web-Publishing Experts to Help Organize Fall Conference

AAN recently hired a San Francisco-based consulting firm to help organize programming for its fall Web-publishing conference, which was announced earlier this month. The firm’s principals, Michael Gold and Susan West, will also present two seminars at this year’s annual convention in Little Rock.

In addition to the consulting work they undertake for their private clients, West Gold Editorial help to organize the programming for “Publishing on the Web,” an annual three-day workshop for publishing professionals hosted by Stanford Publishing Courses, a division of the Libraries/Academic Information Services at Stanford University. They also participate in the conference by giving some of the key presentations.

AAN board members Jim Rizzi and Alan Leveritt have spoken in glowing terms about the quality of the Stanford workshop, which they both attended last year.

“The Stanford conference was very enlightening and comprehensive,” says Rizzi, the publisher of Salt Lake City Weekly and AAN’s marketing chair. “It covered all aspects of Web development and the organizers approached the process from a print person’s point of view, so they understand the challenges and hesitation we all have being newspaper publishers.”

“The Stanford course itself was great in that the speakers were a who’s who of Web publishing,” adds Leveritt, Arkansas Times publisher and this year’s convention chair. “But what made it even more valuable was the personal attention Mike Gold and the other faculty gave us and our Web sites.”

While Stanford has several years of experience hosting a Web-publishing workshop, the stand-alone fall conference focusing on electronic publishing will be a first for AAN. The association’s board of directors set the ball in motion at its January meeting, when it unanimously approved the concept and assigned it to an ad hoc committee to work out the details.

In a conference call following the meeting, the committee decided that the meeting should be held on a fall weekend in the San Francisco area, and that attendance should be limited to AAN members. They also decided that the programming should be designed for publishers, editors and electronic publishing personnel (aka “alt-weekly Web geeks,” memorably described by AAN President Ken Neill as publishers’ “seeing-eye dogs” on Internet matters).

Although work on the programming for the conference has yet to begin, the general topics that will be covered include:

  • Business models
  • Back-office management
  • Editorial issues
  • Site design and usability
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Legal issues
  • Web traffic analytics

There are still many questions to be answered about the fall conference, including the date, the site, and registration rates. To help answer some of these questions, AAN will conduct a survey next week of member publishers. According to AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel, the association hopes to nail down all of the details by the time of the annual convention in Little Rock.

In the meantime, West and Gold will present two seminars at the annual convention — “Goof-Proof Your Web Site: Avoiding Critical Mistakes” and “The 10-Minute Web Site Remake.” During the latter they will conduct public critiques and “instant make-overs” of several AAN-member Web sites. If you would like to volunteer to have your site critiqued, please contact Richard Karpel at rkarpel-at-aan.org.