Good Company, Comfortable Digs, Hot Topics at AAN West and AAN East

The 2004 AAN West and AAN East regional conferences will offer food for thought as well as fun and networking opportunities.

Jerry Brown, the mayor of Oakland and former presidential candidate and governor of California, will talk about crime at the Jan. 24 luncheon at AAN West. At AAN East on Feb. 7, former Georgia Republican Congressman and Creative Loafing columnist Bob Barr will speak on the topic, “How the Neo-Conservative ‘War on Terror’ is a Danger to Every American.”

At the Saturday night meals at both conferences, attendees will have a chance to Eat With Your Own Kind (EWOK). This is an opportunity for classified reps, retail reps, production and design staff, editorial staff and publishers to go off in their own groups to dine and talk trade. Cost of $30 per person doesn’t include alcoholic beverages and transportation.

The San Francisco conference returns to a former location, the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway. The hotel is four block from the Cathedral Hill Hotel, where the past several AAN West conferences have been held, in the lower Nob Hill/Pacific Heights neighborhood in the center of San Francisco.

The site of AAN East, the Hotel Washington, is across from the Treasury Department building and only a block from the White House. If the 115-year-old hotel looks familiar, it may be because scenes from “West Wing,” “Godfather 2,” “Silkwood” and other films have been shot there. Washington Post readers honored Hotel Washington with the Best Hotel Bar Award in 2003. (If Washington City Paper did a best-of issue, we’re sure it would have won that one as well.) It’s within walking distance of the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, and a Metro stop, making it easy for AAN registrants to visit other points in the nation’s capital.

Sessions will be offered in four tracks: editorial, classified, retail, and design and production. Highlights follow.

Investigative Reporters and Editors will offer an all-day Better Watchdog Workshop on Jan. 24 to reporters and editors attending AAN West. The fast-paced workshop will show journalists how to use freedom-of-information laws to obtain public documents and keep tabs on government and business.

The day before the IRE session at AAN West, the magazine and book author Adam Hochschild and Pittsburgh City Paper Editor Andy Newman will discuss profile writing, focusing on reporting and narrative techniques used by Hochschild in his collection, “Finding the Trapdoor.”

At AAN East, Jack Shafer, the senior editor of Slate, will talk to Colbert King about the process behind King’s weekly column in the Washington Post. King’s column covers such issues as the safety of jail inmates and the social consequences of white men’s lust for black women, as demonstrated by Strom Thurmond. The interview format should yield “substantive, meaty stuff about reporting techniques,” AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel says.

New York Times media reporter David Carr, formerly the editor of Washington City Paper, will speak on beat reporting, explaining how to write about friends and acquaintances without going native. In another session, Carr and Washington City Paper reporter Eddie Dean will describe how an editor and reporter can team up to cover a rapidly developing, complicated story. Other sessions at AAN East will cover legal and ethical issues.

Classified and Retail
Mike Blinder will train classified ad reps to uncover clients’ needs, create a rapport with them and close more business during the three-hour Street Fighter Workshop he’s presenting at AAN West on Jan. 24 and AAN East on Feb. 7. Blinder owns the multimedia sales training firm The Blinder Group in Florida and is a frequent panelist at newspaper conventions.

His workshop is one of the highlights of the two conferences, which offer a variety of sessions on sales.

Ad reps will learn about the ups and downs of running adult advertising, how to capitalize on the housing boom to sell real estate ads, how to break into new ad categories and more. Author, business executive and social activist Jacqueline Miller will teach classified reps time management at AAN West, and Kare Anderson, publisher of the ezine “Say It Better” and Emmy-winning television commentator, will train retail reps to be good marketing partners. At AAN East, David Fowler of Ads-UP will lead a session that gives ad reps a chance to work with artists and advertisers to produce effective print ads. To round out the many skills needed to sell ads, reps can take Austin Chronicle Advertising Director Carol Flagg’s session on how to write breakthrough proposals that will get their foot in the door and close deals more often. She’ll teach her session will on both coasts.

Design and Production
How to design ads compelling enough to make someone glancing through a paper stop and read them will be taught in the Ad-Power Workshop at AAN East on Feb. 7. David Fowler of Ads-UP will teach the three-hour joint session in which design and production staff will team with retail ad reps to develop irresistible ads.

Those late nights putting together the paper could get a little shorter with computer training offered at AAN West on Jan. 24. If your mouse is killing you, the keyboard shortcuts offered in a three-hour workshop on Photoshop should help. Design teacher Michael Ninness, who works for Adobe Systems, will lead the three-hour session, which includes instruction on digital imaging and blend modes.

In preparation for an AAN West workshop on design strategies, designers are invited to send examples of their clever solutions to visual problems, with a brief description of the challenge and how it was handled, to Debra Silvestrin, AAN’s director of meetings and special projects. Reach her by email at or by mail at AAN, 1020 Sixteenth St. NW, Fourth Floor, Washington DC 20036. Bryan Erickson of Garcia Media Group, who was art director at Time Magazine and redesigned several newspapers, will lead the three-hour session.

At AAN East, fonts expert Chuck Weger of Elara Systems will explain how to ease the transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X and manage your fonts. Both conferences will have roundtable discussions of Photoshop and the Mac OS X transition. AAN West will also offer informal critiques of design, and AAN East will have a roundtable on legal issues.

AAN West is being held Jan. 23-24 at Holiday Inn Golden Gateway in San Francisco. AAN East is at Hotel Washington in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 6-7. For details and registration information, click on AAN East or AAN West under the subject heading “Conferences” on the left side of this Web page.