AAN West Taking Shape

Programming Geared Primarily to Rank-and-File Staff.

Jew, gentile, Muslim or Satan-worshipper — credo matters nil. AAN West is a festival for all AAN members and ’99’s “Tools of the Trade” affair in San Francisco is only weeks away.

“Just because it’s called ‘AAN West’ does not limit the conference to western papers in any way,” says AAN Director of Operations and Special Projects Debra Silvestrin. “We want people to attend from AAN papers from around the country.”

Inside San Francisco’s Holiday Inn Golden Gateway on Jan. 29-30, there will be a day-and-a-half of seminars, roundtables and workshops “intended primarily for rank and file staff,” says Silvestrin, who notes that there will be programming for editors and managers as well.

Pacific Sun — the Mill Valley, CA-based paper that’s the second oldest alternative newsweekly in the country — is hosting this year’s conference.

“San Francisco is a pretty easy city to have a good time in,” says Pacific Sun Publisher Steve McNamara. “The conspicuous exception [of AAN West compared to the annual AAN convention] is that this is geared to be more appealing to staff members as opposed to managers, and we hope to deliver on that objective.”

A smorgasbord of instruction and discussion has been organized:

In the display and classified advertising streams, consultant Catherine Nelson’s presentation on the key characteristics of a successful salesperson will be geared to reps with less than three years experience; a Friday discussion will focus on special sections; and a final presenter will address business writing techniques.

For editorial staff, AAN has hired popular writing coach Don Fry, an independent consultant who formerly headed the writing and ethics faculties at the Poynter Institute, and edited the Institute’s Best Newspaper Writing series. In addition, LA Weekly Editor Sue Horton and Washington City Paper Editor David Carr will reprise the popular workshops they led at the recent AAN/Medill event. Horton will talk about “Writing as Storytelling,” and Carr will moderate a town hall meeting on journalistic ethics.

The design and production programming is aimed at helping staff improve their Quark and Photoshop skills. David Blatner, a Seattle-based graphics arts consultant and author will be the primary presenter in the D&P stream.

For the business folks, website legal issues and circulation matters will be addressed.

Registration materials for the conference will be mailed during the second week of December.

“It should be a great two days,” says McNamara. “It gives people the opportunity to learn how to do their jobs better, to mingle with their peers and to have some fun in one of the world’s best cities.”