AAN’s 2010 editorial panel competition garnered 16 proposals for topics ranging from video production to nonprofit grants to transportation politics (and everything in between). AAN members now have the opportunity to vote on these proposals. The proposal with the most votes will be featured at the July 15-17 annual convention in Toronto, and its creator will receive a free registration to the convention.
The editorial panel competition was spearheaded by AAN’s editorial committee as a means of soliciting new ideas for programming in Toronto and beyond. “No matter who wins this competition, there are a lot of great ideas here, and I’m hoping some of the runner-ups will be game to bring their ideas to the convention as part of the editorial roundtable sessions,” said AAN Editorial Chair Julia Goldberg.
Members can view all the proposals here, but must vote using the link in the members-only resource library here.
Voting will close on Thursday, May 27 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 2.
The 16 proposals are:
1. PANEL DISCUSSION: HOW IS YOUR EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT ADAPTING TO THE NEW ECONOMY?:
– Paper sizes have shrunk – how do you determine the best content for your new – news hole -size.
– Ad to edit ratio – where are we now – 70/30 – higher/lower?
– Staff size: How is your staff currently structured? Have positions evolved—been eliminated—that won’t return?
– Have word counts changed for columns/ features?
– Comics, puzzles, syndicated—how has your paper dealt with this?
2. GOING DEEP FOR A BAKER’S DOZEN: 12 QUICK INVESTIGATIVE STORY IDEAS THAT WILL BRING HOME THE BACON:
Let’s face it: most AAN editors’ rely on a small team of reporters to deliver (nonstop) front and back section stories—hopefully high quality, hopefully on deadline. But in this recessionary era with smaller papers and staffs, the hard-hitting investigative pieces, long the staple of our newspapers, seem more daunting to produce, even with technology on our side. In this session, we’ll hear from three experienced editors before opening it up to the floor, with the goal of generating up to 12 ideas — hopefully 13 — to take home and get to work starting Monday. We’re looking for easy to produce, highly relevant, bureaucratic busting stories that you and your readers will find satisfying, begging for more. Who are the public employees in your city or county that make over $100,000 per year, and what would their salaries be if in the same job in the private sector? Who’s the local attorney who reaps more from city hall assigned cases? How many pounds of Round-Up® were sprayed in your favorite city park? We’re looking for some easy how-tos on FOI requests, and some clever new ideas to take home so that you and your editorial team are ready and willing. Plus, we’ll brainstorm for a bonus 13th quick investigative story idea, one that a bunch of us might undertake in the same month in the next 12 months and publish in our local markets the same week, a collective AAN project. Sharpen your pencils, charge up your ipads, we’re going deep, fast.
3. CULTIVATING THE ONLINE CULTURE:
How do editors lead their newsrooms—including those crusty old-timers—from being once-a-week producers to reporting and writing on a more daily schedule? Beyond the newsroom, how can leaders help other departments, from copy editors to designers, welcome the web, appreciate its importance, and start to shift their resources in that direction? How do you get the community, from sources to readers, to do that as well?
4. MONEY FOR NOTHING AND CLIPS FOR FREE:
Most weekly papers don’t have much of a dedicated budget to producing daily web stories, but most communities are full of people willing to submit stories about their fields of interest/expertise without being compensated. How do you bridge that gap? How do you enlist “citizen columnists” who can be reliable and compelling for not much or no pay? How do you make them see the value beyond payment? How does a vibrant internship program fit this goal? Is this strategy ethical? Is it the only choice for weeklies to compete in a 25/7 news cycle?
5. THE RULES OF READER ENGAGEMENT:
Used to be that readers responded to our stories in our Letters to the Editor section. Now they’re spouting off on our blogs, our Facebook pages, our Twitter feeds, etc. What are the rules and/or standard practices around incorporating these new forms of reader feedback in print in our newspapers? What should we do to confirm the identity of commenters before we print their comments? Can we publish tweets, blog comments Facebook messages about our content in our newspapers? How far should we go to confirm the identity of the authors?
6. SURVEY SAYS…
Online tools allow us to create and distribute surveys to our readers. So what are we asking them? And what do we do with that information? This panel will help editors think of creative and practical ways to use surveys to generate stories, and to generate some kind of action beyond the publication of the story.
7. INFORMATION TRIAGE:
Editors aren’t just correcting copy and managing staff—they’re also managing the flow of information into the company and out to the readers. We are all overloaded with information right now, so this is an incredibly important skill, and the job has changed dramatically over the past several years. Not only do editors have to decide whether something is a story—as our ability to compete with dailies, radio, TV and web media evolves, we have to decide where to put it and how to play it. Is this nugget of info something that belongs in a tweet? A blog post? A news story? A feature? A cover story? How do you make these decisions? Should you publish something on the web and let your competitors get it in print first? How do you filter information from various web channels?
8. GAME ON:
Is anyone creating video games for their readers/community?
9. WHAT I LEARNED LAST YEAR:
Come to this town-hall meeting session with examples of things you took away from last year’s Tucson convention and implemented. Bring examples of both successes and failures.
10. MISTER PUBLISHER, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!
As alt-weeklies continue to adapt to new models, what is keeping editorial from listening to the ad department more, and vice versa? Why doesn’t the ad dept take more leads from edit? In a Web 2.0 world, has the wall become lower already? Can’t we just smash through it altogether? Everyone is invited to debate and consider that maybe it’s time for parts of that wall to crumble. What’s the big deal if it does?
11. THE POWER OF PRINT (OR, FUCK, THE INTERNET):
Making print essential to urban life means taking a stand in support of more print not less. What is stopping us from doing this? Our fear of a world without paper? Is that really going to happen? In this transforming media landscape, should we be at the forefront of a revitalized print movement even with the advent of the Ipad?
12. LISTINGS ARE DEAD:
As a part of our business and editorial model, weekly show and movie listings have always been par for the course. But when was the last time you actually used your own listings? The fact is listings are an editorial time-suck and whale of a hole in the edit footprint, and no longer serve the reader the way they once did. Listings also take up valuable space where we can instead assert our opinions and be tastemakers with our content instead. (Hint: The paper in charge of this panel did away with listings).
13. PANEL DISCUSSION:
How might alt-weeklies tap into funding that’s available from foundations and grantmaking organizations? People want to support solid public-service journalism. How do alt-weeklies tap into that? Likewise, is it feasible for alt-weeklies to explore nonprofit status? Or L3C status?
14. NUTS AND BOLT VIDEO:
Technology-wise, what is needed to get the videos you shoot in front of a web audience? This session will look at the nuts and bolts of producing video stories: what kind of equipment is necessary, and how much does it cost. How do you manage to do this kind of reporting given the staff and budget squeezes that we all face? Among other things that will be explored is how to go about building an audience for these videos, what kind of training is available; partnerships with local TV stations and cable access outlets, etc. This session, combined with the storytelling aspect that McCombs will be covering should give convention attendees all they need in order to begin utilizing this dimension of the web and allow us to be competitive with the dailies.
15. TRANSPORTATION POLITICS AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO CITIES AND INDEPENDENT MEDIA:
This 40-minute slide talk and presentation, using cartoons, drawings, maps and historical and contemporary photographs, will give a brief overview of the social, economic, environmental and spatial problems posed by cars, particularly in cities. This is followed by a brief history of General Motor’s destruction of US public transit systems (1923-1957) and the history and political machinations of state highway agencies. Finally, the presentation will show the impact that transportation choices and politics have played on electoral politics and people’s access to alternative media.
16. FOOD COVERAGE BEYOND THE RESTAURANT REVIEW:
This panel would focus on discussing food-related alternatives to traditional restaurant reviews. Panelists could discuss their adventures and experiences covering topics like cooking, gardening, local farmers markets, other local food procurement options like hunting/fishing/foraging, as well as profiles of the kitchens, with chefs explaining signature recipes that many locals might like to know how prepare.
To vote for the best proposal, use the survey link in the members-only resource library here.