Board Meets in Pittsburgh

Agrees to shorten convention

A thorough and wide-ranging discussion about the annual convention was the centerpiece of the AAN Board’s Sept. 21 meeting in Pittsburgh.

“Everything was on the table,” says President Bill Towler. “Our goal is to make sure the convention continues to serve the needs of as many members as possible.”

Consensus was reached to shorten the convention by one day. Instead of beginning Wednesday evening with a party and programming Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the board agreed to begin the convention Thursday evening with programming all day Friday and Saturday, with the annual meeting held on Sunday morning rather than Saturday afternoon.

This will help attendees cut convention expenses and shorten time away from the office and pressing business.

It is unclear whether contractual obligations will allow the association to institute these changes in time for the 2003 convention in Pittsburgh.

The group also discussed the need to provide more professional training for attendees in the various program tracks and fewer panel discussions featuring members. For the roundtable and panel discussions that are scheduled, the board directed the staff to take measures to ensure that panelists and presenters are well-prepared and that discussion sticks closely to announced topics.

As for the annual AAN West conference, the board agreed to schedule programming for all tracks for the 2003 conference, rather than the limited schedule that was organized this year. In addition, the board discussed alternating the winter conference between the East and West Coasts and is looking for an Eastern city that would be easy for all attendees to access.

Treasurer Mark Bartel reported that the association will end the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, with a $30,000 deficit, considerably better than the $133,000 loss that had been budgeted. The association budgeted for a loss when the board decided to spend FY01 surplus funds for marketing and free convention registrations, among other things. The deficit was smaller than expected because of the outstanding performance of the association’s AAN CAN classified network.

The board also approved a proposal from the AAN Marketing Committee, which met in Pittsburgh the day before the board meeting, to improve the accuracy of circulation figures published in the AAN print and Web site directories. The plan will be phased in over the next year and will require the association to publish average annual circulation figures reported by VAC and ABC instead of accepting data provided by member papers.

Houston Press Publisher Stuart Folb resigned from the board before the meeting and did not attend. A new classified chair will be appointed to replace Folb prior to the next board meeting.