Admission Committee’s Goals Now Clearly (Maybe) Stated

Marty Levine’s snapshot of last year’s admission committees critique and the subsequent debate (or alleged debate according to Mr. Garboden) was spot on, except that what most of the applying papers really want, according to conversations I’ve had with individuals from rejected papers, is for the admission committees considerations to be above and beyond the often-mentioned, and has-been-proven-before-to-be-extremely-bendable, bylaws, such as market considerations and demographics.

I’m not sure when they were last amended, mind you, but it wasn’t when certain members were gobbled up by dailies and/or their respective companies, which according to the application requirements would render an APPLYING paper up the creek without an AAN paddle. However that’s NOT the case for CURRENT members. To beat a dead horse, it seems that what made an alternative weekly an alternative weekly way-back-when, does not necessarily make it one today, and when times change, so should bylaws.

However, it seems that there is also an under-current driving some of the decisions for admission, as Matt Gibson seems to have shed light on when he states, “One of the things Clif Garboden had a clear handle on: The major markets in North America are occupied by alt-weeklies who are already members. If we’re going to gain, most of the new members will come from smaller markets.” This seems to be echoed in Mr. Garboden’s lengthy response to Levine’s lengthy commentary, which for all its pageantry, misses the mark a bit as well, given the fact that there were also helpless comments directed at the not so not-so-serious applicants (“For the second year in a row, the Omaha Weekly handily takes the Ugliest Newspaper on Earth Award.”) Thanks for the help, admissions committee. You folks are zany!

Well, I guess I better buy me some paddles too because I’m in the number six D.M.A. – and according to these folks, that’s hardly what AAN is looking for in the name of growth for the organization. I guess I’ve got to find me a small market .

New committee chair Ken Neill also fogs up the organization’s windows a bit when he says, “Until we change the definition of what we are, we are newsweeklies, not entertainment weeklies, not sports weeklies.” That’s all fine and dandy, Ken, but I’d be happy to point out a few life-long members who run with slogans like “The Arts and Entertainment Authority.”

My point is, don’t pretend the members aren’t doing one thing as you so directly ask/demand they do another, in order to become members. We, the applying papers, for the most part, have looked toward those that are well-established and perennial members, for guidance and wisdom, in becoming a better alternative weekly ourselves – and someday members.

So, despite having women as a majority of my writers but still subjected to admission committee comments like, “Boys, beer, and boobs remain the thrust of this arts-heavy weekly,” or having amazing investigative cover-story news features that never get seen because of the admissions policy of specific dates requested for copies of the applying papers, I’m proud to be attending another convention, perhaps my last as an applying paper, and look forward to contributing to the organization once I am a member.

In the meantime, there’s not a bitter seed in this here fruit. I truly feel honored to be among, and learn from, the member papers, even if I don’t agree with everything they do or say.

Jeff Lawrence, Publisher, Boston ‘s Weekly Dig
“Best Little Paper in Boston “