The finalists in the National Association of Black Journalists' 2006 Salute to Excellence Awards were announced Friday, and six of the nine nominations in the "Newspaper - Circulation Under 150,000" division are Village Voice Media newspapers. The other three finalists are not alt-weeklies. Riverfront Times is the leader with three nominations: "Newspaper - Enterprise" for Randall Roberts' "It Was Just Like Beverly Hills"; "Newspaper - Sports" for Mike Seely's "Alley Cat"; and "Newspaper - Features" for Ben Westhoff's "Rap vs. Rapture." Dallas Observer has two contenders in the "Newspaper - Sports" category: Keven McAlester for "Balls Out" and Paul Kix for "Alone No More." Finally, Chuck Strouse of Miami New Times is nominated in the "Newspaper - Commentary" category for "Free this Priest." The awards recognize exemplary coverage of people or issues in the African diaspora. Winners will be announced August 19 at the NABJ convention in Indianapolis.

Continue ReadingVillage Voice Media Papers Dominate NABJ Finalists

That was one of the questions asked last night during a panel discussion in San Francisco on "The Coming Media Monopoly: Concentration of Press Ownership and Its Effects on Democracy." It will surprise few AAN members that panelists Stephen Buel, editor of Village Voice Media's East Bay Express, and Tim Redmond, executive editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, didn't see eye-to-eye on the matter. According to the "alternative online daily" BeyondChron, Buel said the Express' sale to VVM-predecessor New Times allowed the paper to hire more staff, purchase new computers and rent more office space. "In the past year, I've seen members of an alternative newsweekly buy houses in the Bay Area, and I think that's cool,” Buel said. Redmond disagreed, arguing that conglomeration results in homogenization of content and the pricing out of any true independent press.

Continue ReadingIs ‘Corporate’ Ownership Good for Newspapers?

"Given The Voice's devotion to the New York political and cultural scene, Mr. Wemple is an unorthodox choice," writes Motoko Rich of the New York Times, who notes that the Washington City Paper editor-in-chief has spent his entire career in the capital. "(New York) is a huge place I know very little about, and it's important for me to be very upfront about that," Wemple admits. Nevertheless, he isn't shy about criticizing the work of his future employees: "There's not enough evidence that people are thinking about innovative and fun ways to craft and present journalism," he claims. "(I)t just doesn't seem like the staff has enough fun producing a newspaper." The Schenectady, N.Y. native, who is scheduled to start his new job in July, also tells the Times that he plans to bring a non-ideological approach to news coverage at the Voice.

Continue ReadingErik Wemple Named Editor of The Village Voice

The prestigious James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards were announced Monday at an awards reception in New York (which was hosted by none other than AAN's favorite speaker, Cokie Roberts) and four Village Voice Media writers were awarded first-place medallions. Jonathan Kauffman of East Bay Express, Jonathan Gold of LA Weekly, Kristen Hinman of Riverfront Times, and Dara Moskowitz of City Pages triumphed in four of the seven categories in which alt-weeklies were eligible to participate. And one of the other winners -- The Times-Picayune's Brett Anderson -- formerly did his writing in the pages of the Washington City Paper.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Reign in Food-Writing Competition

Earlier this week, the Village Voice confirmed the departure of Doug Simmons by posting a photo of a napkin on which Executive Editor Mike Lacey had scrawled, "Doug Simmons is no longer acting editor." But the story doesn't end there. The Stranger has posted on its blog a new photo of a pair of napkins, on which "Lacey" writes that he "recently discovered that many of the young ladies who advertise in the back pages of the Voice actually have PENISES. They appear to be ladies until it’s too late."

Continue ReadingThe Stranger Unearths Another ‘Lacey Napkin’

A recent survey of AAN papers revealed that the applications alt-weeklies are using to track circulation are as diverse as the newspapers themselves. A few papers rely on their in-house wiz for a custom-made program, but for the rest of the industry, a commercial package is the only sophisticated option. Alt-weekly circulation insiders describe their woes, successes, and dreams of better uses for the numbers.

Continue ReadingCirculation Software Makes Life Easier at Alt-Weeklies