One of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ longstanding missions has been to facilitate story-sharing among member newspapers. Now, with the launch of AltWeeklies.com, member papers can do just that. During the Editorial Committee Report at the AAN convention in San Antonio, AAN Editorial Committee Chair Patricia Calhoun, along with Executive Director Richard Karpel and Editor Ruth Hammond, discussed the debut of the site and gave a “how-to” presentation of the project that has been more than 10 years in the making.
The site, created by online and print publishing solutions firm DesertNet, debuted May 19. Since then, more than a dozen papers have posted stories to the site in the hope of selling them to their counterparts in other cities. Clif Garboden, president of the AAN board of directors and senior managing editor of the Phoenix Newspaper Group, said The Boston Phoenix has already sold more than six articles through the site. “It has really worked wonderfully,” he told others at the Saturday morning session. Garboden assisted in organizing the new site.
The site is still in its infancy, and Karpel and Hammond concede that there are still some details that need to be more clearly defined. One of them is to what extent summaries and headlines of articles posted on the site will be edited. “It’s still a fair question to ask where does the editorial input [for site submissions] begin and end,” Karpel noted. Hammond says when she edits the site, she does her best to maintain the integrity of the postings but might have to revise some headlines and summaries to clarify content for readers outside a story’s original market area.
Joy Howard is a 2003 fellow of the Academy for Alternative Journalism who has written for Boston’s Weekly Dig and Cleveland Free Times. She is coordinator of professional development programs for Wheelock College and lives in Brookline, Mass.