Program Announced for AAN-Medill Writers Workshop

The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ eighth annual Alternative Journalism Writers Workshop will be held August 11 and 12 at the Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill. Because the programming is strictly editorial, participants will experience a weekend focused solely on the craft of writing for an alt-weekly, while enjoying the environment of a college campus.

“The AAN Medill workshop was one of the highlights of 2005 for me,” says Sara Miller, listings editor at Charleston City Paper. “My favorite aspect of the workshop — outside of getting to meet and mingle with a cadre of fellow alt-weekly writers and editors — was the individual editing session. It was invaluable to hear outside opinions and feedback on work that can sometimes be rushed through the writing and editing process too fast for real scrutiny.”

Every reporter who registers for the conference by Monday, July 31, will have an opportunity to have one of their stories critiqued by at least two seasoned alt-weekly editors during a Saturday afternoon session. The critiques will be conveyed in small group settings, with several reporters and at least two editors assigned to each group.

In addition to personal instruction, attendees will benefit from seminars led by experienced journalists. A seminar on “Muckraking Innovations” will be presented by Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and a regular contributor to The Nation and other publications. Shapiro will cover investigative reporting tools and techniques, including creative approaches to in-depth reporting on tragic events.

Jackson Free Press Editor Donna Ladd will reveal the story behind her “Road to Meadville” series, which dug beneath the surface of the Civil-Rights-era murders of two young black men in Mississippi. The series won a second-place 2006 AltWeekly Award in Investigative Reporting. Following her talk, Julia Goldberg, editor of The Santa Fe Reporter, will interview Ladd about her craft.

Other seminars include “Becoming a Better Arts Writer” with Michael Tisserand, former editor of Gambit Weekly and author of AAN’s Submerged series, and “Extroversion for Introverts,” led by Laura Dell, a management consultant who received rave reviews at the AAN annual convention.

AAN members attending the workshop will also have an opportunity to meet the graduating class of the Academy for Alternative Journalism, AAN’s summer program for minority journalists. The 10 AAJ fellows are encouraged to participate in the Writers Workshop, which coincides with their last weekend at Medill.

“The workshop is perfect for new reporters who are still trying to figure out where the coffee is, but it’s also great for experienced writers and editors who need their batteries recharged,” says AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel. “It’s a focused, fun weekend in a relaxed, collegial atmosphere.”

Registration is inexpensive — only $25 for AAN members, or $150 for non-members, if received by July 31. After the early-registration deadline, the cost will be $50 for AAN members and $175 for non-members. However, registrations are limited and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

AAN has reserved a small block of rooms at the Hotel Orrington for the nights of August 10 through August 12, at the rate of $129 (single or double), not including tax. The Orrington is within walking distance of Medill’s beautiful new facility on the shores of Lake Michigan. Attendees must ask for the AAN rate when making a reservation, and the cut-off date for the special rate is July 21.

To download a complete schedule and registration materials in PDF format, click here.