Changes — Big and Small — Afoot at

About a year ago, AAN made the first of many changes to, when we debuted a slimmed down “public” site that features content selected by an editor with the general user in mind. AAN members who are logged into the site still see everything that gets posted.

In December, a meeting was held at AAN’s offices in Washington, D.C., to map out the evolution of Armed with results of a member survey on how editors are using the site, AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel, Jimmy Boegle (Tucson Weekly), Patricia Calhoun (Westword), Ken Edelstein (Creative Loafing Atlanta), Dave Nuttycombe (Washington City Paper) and I discussed the future of the site. We came up with a rough plan, incorporating short-term and long-term changes.

The short-term changes, which have all been implemented already, were as follows:

  • Eliminating the Health & Science section, moving these stories into two sub-sections under News (Health & Science and Environment)
  • Eliminating the Politics section and moving all Politics stories into a sub-section under News
  • Creating “e-mail this” and permalink functions for each post on the site
  • Creating drop-down menus so each sub-section is visible and accesible from the front page

    In the long-term, we are undertaking a redesign of the entire site. The project will be managed by new Web Director/Editor Laura Fries. The changes we plan include reorganizing the site by content rather than chronology; adding “most e-mailed” and “most-viewed” functions; and incorporating members’ blog posts, podcasts and vlogs.

    Our goal is to improve the usefulness of the site for both the general-interest reader and AAN members. AAN editors repeatedly noted in the survey that is a great place to catch up on other members’ work, but it was not the first place to turn in a pinch for a story. We hope to change that by having more content, and also by creating an easier process for editors to search for, buy, and sell that content.

    In addition, we think the site could use a visual refresher, and will be working with graphic designers to have the site reflect the spirit of our papers while remaining easy to read and navigate.

    We welcome any comments on the redesign process or ideas for the new site; e-mail jwhiten at