Nineteen newspapers have applied this year for membership in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, a total that is almost twice the size of last year’s applicant pool and the most since 22 papers petitioned to join the organization in 2001.
The Membership Committee is currently evaluating the applications and will determine their recommendations during a meeting that will be held the day before this year’s convention in Portland. In addition to the 19 applying papers, the committee has already reviewed the status of the six Village Voice Media papers that were absorbed by New Times in January 2006, to determine whether the membership of those papers should be affirmed.
The six VVM papers under review are City Pages, L.A. Weekly, the Nashville Scene, OC Weekly, Seattle Weekly and the Village Voice. (The eleven remaining papers owned by VVM aren’t subject to an “affirmation” process, since their ownership has not changed.)
The committee’s recommendations regarding the applying papers and the six VVM weeklies will be distributed to AAN members as the convention begins on June 14. Members will then vote on each paper at the association’s annual meeting, which will be held two days later on the final day of the convention.
The committee members have already read and analyzed three issues of each applying paper to evaluate their suitability for membership in the association; in the case of the VVM papers, committee members reviewed three pre-merger and three post-merger issues to assess how the papers have changed since the new owners assumed control.
In a new twist this year, the Membership Committee directed the AAN staff to produce a report that provides background information on the companies and individuals who hold ownership stakes in each paper. The need for such a report grows out of the 2004 change in AAN’s bylaws that eliminated the so-called daily-paper clause, which prevented papers owned by a daily newspaper publishing company or its affiliate from applying for AAN membership. As an alternative to this blanket approach, the amended bylaws require a case-by-case examination of each applying paper’s ownership to determine whether it “reflect(s) and advance(s) the values of the association.” The report produced this year by AAN is designed to help members answer that question.
The applying papers originate from 14 different U.S. states and Canada — both Georgia and Tennessee are home to two applying papers, while all three Canadian applicants are based in the province of Alberta.
Here’s a list of all 19 papers:
- The 11th Hour (Macon, Ga.)
- Cascadia Weekly (Bellingham, Wash.)
- Chattanooga Pulse (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
- City Pulse (Lansing, Mich.)
- Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
- Hawai’i Island Journal (Volcano, Hawaii)
- High Plains Reader (Fargo, N.D.)
- Independent News (Pensacola, Fla.)
- The Knoxville Voice (Knoxville, Tenn.)
- Livingston Weekly (Livingston, Mont.)
- Metro Spirit (Augusta, Ga.)
- North Coast Journal (Arcata, Calif.)
- The Paper of South Texas (Edinburg, Texas)
- See Magazine (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
- Urban Tulsa Weekly (Tulsa, Okla.)
- Volume One (Eau Claire, Wisc.)
- Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
- W Weekly (Lexington, Ky.)
- Yes! Weekly (Greensboro, N.C.)
As always, there are some familiar names and faces in the bunch. The High Plains Reader and Independent News are applying for the fourth time, Chattanooga Pulse, City Pulse and Urban Tulsa Weekly hope the third time is the charm, and it’s the second stab at AAN membership for Yes! Weekly.
Several of the first-time applicants have pre-existing connections to AAN. Cascadia Weekly was launched by Tim Johnson after his Bellingham Weekly, a one-time AAN member, went into an indefinite hibernation in January 2006. The Hawai’i Island Journal, which has been publishing since 1999, was bought in May 2005 by Honolulu Weekly owner and publisher Laurie Carlson. Augusta, Georgia’s Metro Spirit, which has been around since 1989, was bought in April 2005 by Portico Publications, which also publishes AAN members C-Ville Weekly and the Columbia Free Times. And Montana’s Livingston Weekly is an AAN family affair: It was launched by Reilly Neill in June 2005; a few months later her father Kenneth Neill, AAN president and publisher of The Memphis Flyer, joined her as a 25 percent equity partner.