AAN West and Web Publishing Conferences Return This Winter

After a one-year absence, both AAN West and the Web Publishing Conference are slated to return to the Bay Area this winter.

The Web Publishing Conference will begin with a social event on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 27, and will end two days later. The San Francisco area was chosen as the site after members indicated a slight preference for it over Las Vegas and Dallas in a member survey conducted last month. AAN staff, which is organizing the conference, is currently negotiating with hotels and will announce a site by mid-November.

Programming at the Web Publishing Conference will focus on — you guessed it — web publishing and all that it entails. While the specifics are still being hammered out by AAN and the new Electronic Publishing committee, you can expect to hear about topics like social media, interface design, search engine optimization, web analytics, new online products and revenue streams, multimedia and integrating web work into your paper’s organizational structure.

“The two previous web conferences were among the highest-rated conferences in AAN history, which was partly the result of the steep learning curve for AAN members on electronic publishing issues,” says executive director Richard Karpel. “I expect this conference to be just as rewarding.”

AAN West will immediately follow the Web Publishing Conference, beginning in the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 29, with programming continuing all day on Saturday, Jan. 30. AAN West will be held in Berkeley, within close proximity to the BART mass transit system. The conference will take place campus-style, with boutique hotel accommodations and intimate meeting spaces all within a one-block radius. More information on lodging options and rates will be available in a couple of weeks.

Whereas AAN’s annual convention provides mostly management development, AAN West focuses on line-level staff, offering training and networking opportunities for sales, editorial, design and business personnel in four discrete programming streams. For management attendees, a more informal structure for exchanging ideas and best practices will also be organized.

Like the 2008 conference, AAN West will be organized by a planning committee of California-based AAN members — Deborah Redmond, Tim Redmond (no relation), Mike Naar, Bradley Zeve, Jody Colley, Judy Hodgson and Robby Robbins — with modest logistical and on-site assistance from the AAN staff.

“AAN members would be astonished if they saw how much time and effort the committee members expend in organizing the conference,” Karpel says. “Their collegiality and volunteer spirit is inspiring.”

Planning committee member Deborah Redmond says the conference is a great way to reward staff members who’ve fought through what has been a tough time for some alt-weeklies.

“Last year was a tough year for a lot of our papers, and it was the efforts and sacrifices of our staff that got us through it,” she says. “AAN West is an investment in our staff. It gives us an opportunity to meet and network with other alt-weekly staffers — we all learn from each other.”

The East Bay Express, Berkeley’s hometown alt-weekly, will have plenty of extracurricular activities lined up, including sampling its very own locally brewed EBX Lager on tap at Blake’s on the famed Telegraph Avenue.

“It wouldn’t be an AAN get-together without a lot of fun, alcohol and food too,” Redmond notes.