Should AAN Allow Online-Only Publications to Become Members?

At a town hall meeting during AAN’s Toronto Convention, members will discuss the possibility of allowing online-only publications to apply for AAN membership and give them a chance to prove they can pass the same rigorous screening that print publication applicants go through.

Such a change would require only a minor tweak in the organization’s bylaws, but it would nevertheless be a dramatic move for AAN.

“The alternative press is evolving and it’s clear that there are some web publications that have essentially the same goals, ideals and practices as we all do,” said San Francisco Bay Guardian editor Tim Redmond, who is on the board of directors and was part of the long-range planning process that led to this initiative. “If a publication serves a local community with news, arts and entertainment, features original content (not just blog posts but real reporting and critical writing) and offers a credible alternative to the mainstream media, why should the fact that the publication isn’t on newsprint prevent it from joining AAN?”

A survey of AAN members was done in January. Sixty-eight percent of respondents expressed openness to allowing online-only publications to apply for membership. But the survey also found vocal sentiment among some members that AAN is fundamentally a print association and that the addition of online publications would betray the association’s core mission. (Click here to download the survey results)

In addition to online-only publications, the association is also looking into the possibility of allowing niche publications (LGBT, ethnic, etc.), English-language international publications, and Spanish language publications provided they meet AAN’s editorial and business principles.

Any change in admittance policies will require a bylaws change and will go before both the board and the full membership. Redmond added, “Obviously, this is a big change, and we don’t want to move any further without plenty of input and discussion.”

All members are welcome, and strongly encouraged, to attend this meeting. We hope you plan to join us in Toronto, but if you are unable to attend, please feel free to share your thoughts on this matter with Tim Redmond at tr (at) or 415-255-3100.