Convention Program Set

One free registration for every AAN paper

From the Farmers and Beer opening cocktail party overlooking Lake Monona to door prizes for those who attend the AANual Report box luncheon, the 25th Annual AAN Convention in Madison is shaping up to be a blast.

The convention, hosted by Madison’s own alt-weekly, Isthmus, opens Wednesday night, May 29, with “Farmers on the Rooftop.” The bash features vendors from the famous Dane County Farmers’ Market with samples of Midwestern specialties such as smoked trout and venison jerky, washed down with the ubiquitous local suds.

Thursday night the festivities turn to Alternative Reality Night at the historic Orpheum Theatre, where conventioneers can feast on eclectic goodies, with more local beer (and wine), while Madison’s hottest musicians entertain.

Friday night it’s the perfect fish fry at Olin Park on the shores of Lake Monona, where those who have not had too much fish, bratwurst and squeaky cheese curds and, you guessed it, a sampling of local beers, can play softball – all to the rollicking dance tunes of accordionist Steve Meisner and his polka band. The evening will close out with Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans, a blues combo to cleanse the musical palate.

Lowell Bergman, the former “60 Minutes” producer whose investigation of the tobacco industry inspired the Academy Award-nominated film The Insider, is keynote speaker at Thursday’s First Amendment Lunch.

On Friday, the 2002 Alternative Newsweekly Award winners will be announced. Michael Feldman, Madison’s own king of radio, will warm up the nervous finalists with his free-flowing, off-the-cuff banter, which made him, in his words, “a 20-year overnight sensation.”

In between these beer-drinking events, the business of the convention promises to be rewarding and enlightening for publishers, ad directors and sales reps, designers, writers and editors.

The business stream features new sessions on market research, employment law, adult services advertising, motivational leadership and roundtable discussions on revenue-generating and cost-saving ideas that work. (The business roundtable will be structured differently this year, in a town-hall format.)

For classified salespeople, sessions on real estate sections, adult and personal ads combine with nuts-and-bolts workshops on technology and sales tools, design critiques and mentorship opportunities for a comprehensive track.

For display staff, a new two-part seminar on selling against and working with radio will be offered on Thursday, along with mentoring programs where neophyte display staff team up with more experienced colleagues to get to know the ropes. The display stream this year also offers sessions on using technology, getting auto dealers’ advertising and the ins and outs of readership studies.

For design and production folks, famed magazine designer Roger Black offers a session on taking the pain out of a redesign, and Warren Watson of the American Press Institute talks about collaboration for visual journalists and how to manage and motivate creative people.

On the editorial side, Stanley Kutler, author of such books as Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes, talks about how to gain access to sources and his own current legal challenge to President Bush’s order closing President Reagan’s presidential records. Chip Scanlan from The Poynter Institute talks about coaching writers and musician and writer Ben Sidran talks about how to avoid trivializing arts coverage.

As a result of the surplus generated last year by the association’s AAN CAN classified network, every AAN-member paper will receive one free registration to the convention.

For more information on the AAN 2002 Convention, see the Web site or call AAN Director of Operations Debra Silvestrin at (202) 822-1955 or e-mail her at Registration materials were mailed this week.

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