The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies has launched an individual mentorship program to further the exchange of knowledge among its member publications.
AAN Diversity Chair and Tucson Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle said the project was conceived after a series of Diversity Committee discussions revealed that a mentorship program could aid the professional development of young staffers at AAN’s papers.
“The idea of having a mentorship program for individuals has been batted around for some time within AAN,” explained Boegle. “After all, a lot of papers are small operations at which individuals get promoted into a position where, all of a sudden, they’re the boss — and there’s nobody in their office to help them grow and learn.”
Boegle said that the program could also help further the association’s diversity efforts.
“This program will allow, say, a promising young African-American staffer — who may be the only African-American at his/her office — potentially pair up with an African-American at another paper,” he pointed out.
The program can also help publications reach out to specific communities of readers, such as the LGBT community or ethnic minorities.
“I talk to newer editors at conventions all the time who say they’re having problems reaching out to various sections of their communities,” Boegle said. “This program will allow these editors to be paired up with a more-seasoned editor who has had success reaching out. Same deal on the sales side.”
After individuals are paired up, AAN will follow up periodically to measure the program’s success and evaluate ways to make improvements.