Seven New Members Admitted at Annual Meeting

New Board members elected and $1.23 million budget approved

Seven of the 22 papers that applied for membership this year were admitted to AAN during the association’s annual meeting July 14 in New Orleans.

Each of the seven new member-papers had been recommended by the Admissions Committee. The new members are: The Georgia Straight, Vancouver, British Columbia; Portland Phoenix, Portland, Maine; RipSaw News, Duluth, Minn.; Pasadena Weekly, Pasadena, Calif.; Weekly Planet, Sarasota, Fla.; Free Times, Columbia S.C.; and Local Planet, Spokane, Wash.

The Georgia Straight, founded in 1967, received perhaps the most enthusiastic endorsement in the history of AAN’s admissions process. According to the Admissions Committee comments (Word .doc, 69K) published on the eve of the vote, “The unsuspecting (committee) was awestruck. This is a classic alt paper that mixes credible news with stylish arts — a breath of fresh air in the pile.”

Three of the new members are published by AAN-affiliated companies: Portland Phoenix is owned by Phoenix Media Communications, which counts AAN members Boston Phoenix and Providence Phoenix among its properties; Pasadena Weekly was acquired last year by Ventura County Reporter; and Weekly Planet (Sarasota) is owned by the Creative Loafing chain.

Weekly Planet (Sarasota) was admitted on the second ballot after Creative Loafing executive Neil Skene spoke in support of the paper. Under AAN rules, for an applying paper to be admitted on the first ballot, two-thirds of the members voting must approve; applicants that receive less than two-thirds but more than half the vote are sent to a second ballot.

The members also voted on new Board members for the coming year. Russ Martineau, vice president of sales and marketing for Willamette Week, was elected president, and Bill Towler, publisher of City Newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., who had been treasurer, was elected vice president.

Mark Bartel, publisher of City Pages (Minneapolis), was elected treasurer to fill the remaining year of Towler’s term. Phyllis Britton, advertising director of Arkansas Times, was re-elected to a two-year term as Advertising chair, and Vince O’Hern, publisher of Isthmus, was elected Convention chair. Isthmus will host next year’s AAN Convention, set for May 29-June 2 in Madison, Wisc.

The members also amended the bylaws, eliminating the Electronic Publishing chair and replacing it with a Classified chair. In one of only two contested elections, Stuart Folb, group publisher of Houston Press, Riverfront Times and Cleveland Scene, was elected to the new seat, defeating Robby Robbins, classified advertising director of Independent Weekly. In the other contested election, Tim Redmond, executive editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, was elected First Amendment chair, out-polling Bruce Dobie, publisher of the Nashville Scene, who was unable to attend the meeting.

Don Farley, group publisher of Times Shamrock’s alternative-weekly group, who had been appointed in May to fill the vacant Marketing chair, was elected to complete the final year of that term. Advocate*Weekly CEO Fran Zankowski was elected Organization and Bylaws chair, and Andy Newman, editor of the Pittsburgh City Paper, was elected Editorial chair. Jane Levine, publisher of the Chicago Reader, was elected to the one at-large position up for a vote.

The members also unanimously approved a $1.23 million budget for FY02. The budget includes a $50,000 appropriation to the Academy for Alternative Journalism, the Medill-affiliated summer program designed to promote diversity in the alternative newspaper business. In addition, $100,000 was earmarked for new programs and services that will be developed during a series of committee meetings to be held over the course of the next few months. Finally, the success of the AAN CAN classified network enabled the association to reduce the number of donated ads in FY02 from six half-pages to two.

The new budget takes effect when the fiscal year begins on October 1.

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