After a two-year hiatus, the "How I Got That Story" series today returns to AAN.org to help shed light on the processes employed by first-place AltWeekly Award winners. This year, 19 winners were interviewed by Academy for Alternative Journalism fellows, and each week, two new interviews will be published on AAN.org. These interviews will also appear in the book Best AltWeekly Writing and Design 2008, which will be available soon. To read the first installment of the series, Rich Knight's interview with Washington City Paper art critic Jeffry Cudlin, click here.
A total of 400 people descended on the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown two weeks ago for the 2008 AAN Convention. The three-day event featured the usual mix of presentations and panels, food and booze, and business talk and gossip between alt-weekly staffers and industry types from across North America. AAN committees and staff mostly took care of the first item, while host paper Philadelphia City Paper had the second one covered, and attendees proved themselves more than capable of handling the third on their own.
Saying that the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter tasked with turning in a "breezy" report about last weekend's AAN Convention "must have drawn the short straw," Bruce Schimmel writes that "it must have been challenging for [Suzette] Parmley to do something chipper about industry upstarts who are eating her lunch." But she rose to that challenge, filing what Schimmel calls a "flattering portrait" of alt-weeklies. He goes on to draw distinctions between the cultures of dailies and alt-weeklies, ultimately concluding that "the daily is dying." He adds: "And while that might mean a temporary measure of good fortune for weeklies, even the most eccentric of independents dread the daily's demise. A functional democracy needs the good reporting that comes with these dinosaurs."
The daily paper stopped by this weekend's AAN Convention, and found "a shared belief that alternative weeklies will do just fine in the age of cyberspace and newsroom downsizing." Baltimore City Paper managing editor Erin Sullivan says that as the economy tanks, the paper is reallocating resources, concentrating "on investigative reporting and increasing our criticism. ... Things that the dailies can't or won't do with the same level of depth." Philadelphia City Paper founder Bruce Schimmel tells the Inquirer that competition from blogs and other media has pushed alt-weeklies to be even more aggressive. "Everyone has access to your morgue," he says, "so you better get it right."
Programming at the 31st Annual AAN Convention gets underway this afternoon at 2:30 pm. If you can't make it to the City of Brotherly Love to join us, be sure check the Convention Blog during the next few days for updates and coverage.
All of the members who have announced their candidacies are thus far running unopposed. However, AAN bylaws do not require individuals to declare their intention to run in advance. Any regular members who are interested in seeking a seat on the board can be nominated from the floor at the annual meeting, which will be held on Saturday, June 7, during the association's annual meeting in Philadelphia. Read here to find out who has announced they are running, why they want to serve on the board, and what they view as the important issues facing AAN and its members.
The convention's still a week away, but today AAN is unveiling this year's community blog, Philadelphia2008.aan.org. This marks the second year AAN is running a community blog for the convention. We'll be using the blog to share updates on the convention as well as recommend places to go in Philly, but the blog is also yours, and we welcome anyone attending the convention to join us and blog -- click here to register.
The Association's Annual Meeting will be held Saturday, June 7, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. A PDF copy of the notice and agenda for the meeting, along with a proxy form, is available here. During the meeting, AAN members will consider new member applications and the five current members up for review, elect 10 members of the Board of Directors, discuss and approve fiscal year 2009's budget, and consider and vote upon a proposal to amend the Association's bylaws.
After months of planning and preparation, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies today debuted the second iteration of AltWeeklies.com, the association's story-sharing and content-portal website. The new site incorporates many new types of content and organizes it all in a way that makes it much easier for users to find what they are looking for. Read here to learn more about the changes.
Ten fellows have been chosen from a field of about 330 hopefuls to attend the Academy for Alternative Journalism summer residency program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, to be held June 22 to August 15. The academy trains young journalists in long-form feature writing with the aim of recruiting them into the alternative press. "This class has a lot of career-changers, including a flight attendant, a former truck driver and an elementary school teacher," says program director and Northwestern journalism professor Charles Whitaker. "It's one of the most diverse classes we've had in several years."