Southern Alts Convene Their Own Conference

A group of AAN member papers in the Southeast are putting together a one-day conference Saturday, March 8 in Atlanta, citing the need for cost-effective programming on a regional basis.

The conference coordinators hope to make it an annual event of seminars and networking for managers and front-line staff, including ad reps, writers and production employees.

Amy Singmaster, publisher of Columbia Free Times, says this is the fourth year that Southeastern AAN papers have gotten together for joint sales training.

“The main goal is to enlighten those junior reps and writers that you can’t afford to take to [the AAN annual convention],” Singmaster says. “I’ve found that meetings with peers can be highly motivational and educational – the morale booster of knowing that others are facing the same objections and hurdles, and finding new solutions to old problems. I’m also hoping to learn quite a bit from fellow publishers.”

In previous years, the program cost $400 to $500, but without outside speakers, the event this year is free, Singmaster says.

“Although AAN offers an excellent opportunity for us to congregate and gain invaluable knowledge, most alt-weeklies can only find room in the budget to send managers each year,” an announcement for the conference says. “It is our thought that much more can be gained by supplementing the AAN conference each year with a lower cost opportunity to bring a larger number of personnel together to share ideas and, together, try to find answers to the multitude of questions that we face in our industry.”

Since the early ’90s, the AAN West conference held every winter in San Francisco has also focused on the needs of rank-and-file staff, and like the March 8 conference, it was originally organized by AAN papers in the West.

AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel explains that AAN West is economically feasible only because the Bay-area papers make a commitment to send dozens of staffers.

“People are always asking, ‘Why don’t we do an AAN East?’ and we tell them because it’s not clear that enough people would attend,” says Karpel. “This conference will help us make that determination.”

To register, interested papers should e-mail William Stewart, advertising director, Free Times ( To reserve rooms at the Atlanta Midtown Holiday Inn contact Bobby Douglas, IMC Director of Customer Relations, at (404) 591-3810 or (404) 355-4645 fax or e-mail him at The conference rate is $65 plus tax per night, which includes two doubles and a hot breakfast buffet.