Convention Website Open for Business

This year’s AAN Convention heads back to the East Coast — Philadelphia, to be exact. The Declaration of IndependAANts, the association’s 31st annual convention, will be hosted by the Philadelphia City Paper from June 5-7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. As always, AAN has lined up a mix of special speakers, brass-tacks programming, and plenty of food, drink and revelry. The convention website — where you’ll find registration details, event schedules, and programming details — is now live and accepting registrants.

New Yorker reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh is the featured speaker at Friday’s First Amendment Lunch, while OC Weekly staffer and “Ask a Mexican!” columnist Gustavo Arellano will host Saturday’s AltWeekly Awards Lunch. Both of these events will be fully catered, and cost $40 per person. Advance registration for the lunches is required.

The AAN Display and Classified Advertising Committees made a couple of key changes in the sales programming at this year’s convention. First, instead of creating two separate programming streams for display and classified, this year’s schedule has been organized according by the experience level of attendees. In addition, the advertising stream will have plenty of print- and web-focused options throughout the conference. Anchoring the schedule will be half-day sessions led by professional speakers Stephen Pia, Dianne Ciotta and Southwest Airlines vet Rita Bailey.

Two of those half-day sessions are part of the second big change initiated by the advertising committees: The final day of the convention (Saturday, June 7) will feature regional sales training seminars for beginning- and intermediate-level sales staff that will be accessible under a separate, less-expensive registration schedule. This special programming — Rita Bailey’s “Extreme Customer Service” and Dianne Ciotta’s “Advertising Sales-Force Boot Camp” — is primarily designed for papers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region who would otherwise have sent sales staff to AAN East, which was canceled this year. The fee for the sales-training programming is $125 for AAN members and $200 for non-members (fees will increase by $50 after May 16) and includes access to the Bailey and Ciotta sessions, as well as the convention parties on Friday and Saturday. Regular convention registrants will also be allowed to attend these special sales-training seminars.

This year’s business programming will include seminars on employee benefits, Laura Dell’s “Muscling Through Tough Times,” and a circulation presentation by the publishers from the Times Shamrock group. And in a members-only session, the Jackson Free Press‘ Todd Stauffer will present the results of AAN’s first member survey on web publishing.

The editorial stream this year features a trio from the New York Times: culture editor Sam Sifton will discuss online arts journalism, reporter Ron Nixon will talk about using documents and public records, and columnist David Carr returns to AAN to guide editors through the transition from print to multimedia. The Poynter Institute’s Chip Scanlan will be on hand to lead two sessions: “Overcoming Editor’s Block” and “Making Things Happen: A Journalist’s Guide to Getting Things Done.” In addition to these seminars, there will be discussions on FOIA tips and tricks, libel, and story ideas for the upcoming election, as well as a town-hall meeting on web issues.

For Design & Production staffers and managers, there is plenty of thought-provoking programming, in addition to roundtables, critiques, and tutorials. Robert Newman will lead a joint editorial/d&p session, “Putting the ALT Back in Alt-Weekly Design,” which will look at ways editors and art directors can create bold, edgy work. Baltimore City Paper‘s Joe MacLeod will reprise his popular “Show Your Stuff” session from last year, where art directors and designers can share, critique, and walk home with a few new ideas. The remaining sessions include Laura Dell’s presentation on managing creatives, a panel on the role of the art department in creating successful events, and Alice Neff Lucan’s seminar on copyright.

The Thursday night opening reception will be held at the national historic landmark 30th Street Station, and the closing night dinner party will take place at the National Constitution Center, a on Independence Mall just two blocks from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

In between we’ll visit the up-and-coming community of Northern Liberties. More details on these parties and other events will emerge in the coming weeks — check the convention website for the latest news.

Registration is available on the website; AAN members must have an account to register online. Please check your staff directory to be sure that all potential registrants are listed. Rates for members and associate members are $295 per person if you register by May 2; after that, it increases to $345 per person. In addition, for AAN members who register three people, the fourth registration from the same paper is free. For nonmembers, the rate is $425 per person before May 2, and $475 after that.

The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is the headquarters hotel for the convention; it’s conveniently connected to the Convention Center by an elevated walkway. The AAN group rate at the hotel is $169, single or double occupancy, and will be available through May 9. However, the number of rooms is limited, and the AAN block may sell out before then. The Marriott offers easy online reservations for convention attendees on its website.