Due to a 2004 change in the association’s bylaws, five papers that have taken on new majority owners in the past two years will have their AAN membership reviewed in 2008.
Under Article I, Section 7 of the amended bylaws, the membership status of AAN papers that experience “a change of controlling ownership” must be reviewed between nine and 24 months after the newspaper changes hands. Called an “affirmation process,” because the membership of such papers must be affirmed by at least one-third of the members voting to remain in the association’s good graces, the process is designed to ensure that new owners maintain the kind of standards that AAN membership demands.
The five papers that will be reviewed in 2008 are The Other Paper (Columbus, Ohio), Boston’s Weekly Dig, East Bay Express (Emeryville, Calif.), Metro Pulse (Knoxville, Tenn.), and Cityview (Des Moines, Iowa). The first four changed hands in the first half of 2007; papers that were sold this year after Aug. 1 will be reviewed in 2009. At Cityview — which, like Boston’s Weekly Dig, will be reviewed for the second time in three years — publisher Shane Goodman assumed controlling interest in Aug. 2006, when one of the company’s two other investors sold his shares.
AAN will produce reports on each paper, detailing the business history and backgrounds of their current ownerships. When the reports are complete they will be posted in the members-only area of AAN.org.
The affirmation process is similar to the applying-paper process, with the Membership Committee reviewing the papers and issuing a recommendation to the general membership. However, the affirmation process requires the committee to review both pre- and post-sale issues to detect changes that have been made since the new owners took over.
The Membership Committee will meet earlier than usual next year, on May 3 in Washington, DC. During the meeting, the committee will discuss the five papers under review as well as the next batch of applying papers, and will issue its recommendations about a week before the annual convention begins. AAN members will vote on both groups of papers at the annual meeting, which is tentatively scheduled to be held in Philadelphia on June 7.