In this week's installment: Dubious sub-prime lenders, Philly's mayoral madness, going car-free, domestic partnership's inherent inequality, carbon farming, witnessing an execution, and more.
After talking pop culture on MSNBC's Countdown from a remote location for four years, the Village Voice columnist got to meet Olbermann in the flesh last week when the TV news anchor was awarded the first annual Molly Ivins Award by AAN. "The patron saint of skeptical liberals turned out to be as appealing as he is on the tube," he says in his La Dolce Musto column.
At a midday reception in New York last Wednesday, Olbermann accepted the award from AAN president and Memphis Flyer publisher Ken Neill. Olbermann spoke of the crucial role that alt-weeklies played post-9/11 as "the way out of the maze" of suspended disbelief; of the continuing importance to think and question what those in power do and say; and of his foray into the realm of political reporting and commentary.
That's almost twice as many as last year, and the most since 2001, when 22 papers applied. This year's hopefuls are spread across 14 states and one Canadian province, and include many repeat applicants and several other papers with pre-existing connections to AAN. And in a new twist in the admissions process, AAN prepared a report that provides background information on the companies and individuals who hold ownership stakes in each paper.
An unnamed industry source tells the Weekly's Steve Volk that a group led by Richard L. Connor is among the bidders for his paper. Connor, the editor and publisher of the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., led a group of investors last year in the purchase of that paper from the McClatchy Co. "Another company frequently mentioned among industry insiders as a potential bidder is Times-Shamrock Communications," Volk says, but the company says it has "no involvement." Times-Shamrock owns AAN members Baltimore City Paper, Detroit's Metro Times, Orlando Weekly, and the San Antonio Current, among other publications. Village Voice Media and Philadelphia Media Holdings have also been named as companies interested in purchasing the Weekly.
Scott Hassenflu will leave the News & Review and the board of the Alternative Weekly Network (AWN) on May 18. In a letter sent yesterday to his AWN colleagues, Hassenflu says his "short term plans" call for "some much needed R & R" and a more active role in a home-furnishings store he co-owns. Hassenflu has served on the AWN board for the past 10 years, and has had a long career in the alternative press, including stints with the Dallas Observer and San Francisco Bay Guardian.
"Being pregnant doesn't change the fact that there are issues in Jackson that I can bring to light through this newspaper," writes 19-year-old Melishia Grayson in her introductory column for the Jackson Free Press. Grayson is one of four recipients of AAN's Diversity Internship grants for the Winter/Spring 2007 cycle. The other grant recipients this cycle are Amanda Miller at Washington City Paper, Tuyet Nguyen at Westword, and Lauren Parajon at the Oklahoma Gazette. Established in 2001, the AAN Diversity Internship program awards four annual grants of up to $2,500 to talented young journalists of color.
The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies will honor Ivins' contribution to journalism by bestowing an annual First Amendment award to a North American journalist whose work best embodies the spirit of Ivins' legacy. "She got her basic training at one of our member newspapers, and when she left she continued to speak truth to power with wit and style. Her work speaks for itself, and speaks volumes about how much difference one courageous journalist can make," says Kenneth Neill, AAN President and publisher of The Memphis Flyer.
It's been almost three years since AAN launched AltWeeklies.com as a web portal for alt-weekly content and a story-sharing site for AAN member papers. As web journalism and the news industry evolve, AltWeeklies.com is taking steps to move forward as well.