Seven Days founder and co-editor Pamela Polston reports that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reached out to her last week regarding the senator's recent inaccurate statements about the alt-weekly industry. "Bernie let me know that his office sends out 'hundreds' of releases every day and that 'I don't always read them carefully,'" Polston writes, noting that Sanders was a little defensive and thought AAN was making too much of his offhand remarks, given Sanders' work on media reform issues. "It was clear Bernie wasn't going to provide a written apology to AAN, but he did offer this: 'If I have offended anyone in the alternative media, I'm sorry for that.'"
In his announcement yesterday about starting his own weekly internet TV show, the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont bemoaned media consolidation. Unfortunately, he also unfairly characterized alt-weeklies, claiming they "have been bought by a monopoly franchise and made a predictable shift to the right in their coverage of local news." In a letter responding to the Senator's claim, AAN president Mark Zusman and executive director Richard Karpel set the record straight, noting the absurdity of calling any alt-weekly a "monopoly franchise" and stating that "alternative newspapers across North America are still often among the few publications in their communities that consistently offer a progressive viewpoint on issues like poverty, racism, health-care reform and environmental sustainability."
Using the tags on your stories, the new widget, developed by DesertNet, pulls in similarly tagged stories from AltWeeklies.com, giving your website additional related links for particular movies, bands or issue areas. Click here, here or here to see it in action, and visit AltWeeklies.com for more technical information or to download the widget.
As part of the Village Voice's education supplement, the alt-weekly talks to several 2009 graduates from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism about what it feels like to enter an industry that many are proclaiming to be near death. Surprisingly, they remain upbeat about the future and feel prepared to take part in the rebirth of the news industry. "If you look at it differently, it's an exciting time in journalism," one recent grad says. "People are trying to come up with solutions to find out what the future is going to be."
The annual workshop designed for alt-weekly writers and reporters is scheduled for Aug. 14 and 15 at the Medill School of Journalism on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Ill. Writers and editors from a number of AAN member papers will lead sessions covering everything from ethics to multimedia to political reporting, all in a way designed for staffers to get valuable, hands-on experience. Early registration rates are valid until Aug. 7, and the cut-off date to obtain AAN's discounted group hotel rate is this Friday, July 31.
At the annual meeting of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies on Saturday, June 27, Willamette Week's Mark Zusman was elected the association's new president. He succeeds Metroland's Stephen Leon, who will take the advisory role of Immediate Past President. The membership voted on nine other board seats on Saturday, including two that were created just minutes earlier when AAN's bylaws were amended.
At Saturday's First Amendment Lunch in Tucson, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press executive director Lucy Dalglish expressed relief that the Bush administration was no longer in Washington, but said that challenges remain for open-government advocates.
Of the five newspapers that applied for AAN membership this year, the Membership Committee is recommending that two be voted into the association: See Magazine and Inland Empire Weekly. The committee is also recommending that six current members who've experienced ownership changes be reaffirmed. AAN members will vote on these applications, as well as other matters, at Saturday afternoon's Annual Meeting. In addition, the Membership Committee is recommending that AAN take a look at allowing only-online publications to join the association. UPDATE (3:17 PM EST): The membership committee's report as originally uploaded was incorrect when it said that See's owner, Great West Newspapers, was "the largest" media chain in Canada. It's a large company, but not the largest in the country. The document in the resource library has been updated with the correct information.
This morning's sessions have begun, and with them, the first full day of AAN's 32nd Annual Convention in Tucson is on its way. We'll have updates here at AAN.org over the next two days; for pictures of the confab, visit our Flickr page. To get short but sweet updates from various Twitterers here in Tucson, search for the hashtag #aan.
There will be up to ten board positions up for election at the annual meeting this Saturday in Tucson. So far, ten AAN members have thrown their hats into the ring for nine of the board spots; they tell us why they want to be on the board and what they think the most important issues facing the association are.