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."

Continue ReadingAAN Corrects Sen. Bernie Sanders on Comments About Alt-Weeklies

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.

Continue ReadingAAN Elects New President, Fills Ten Board Seats

The Portland, Ore., alt-weekly was the latest to announce company-wide salary reductions yesterday. Effective March 16, staff pay will be reduced by 8 percent, while owners Mark Zusman and Richard Meeker will reduce their own pay by 25 percent. The move was made to keep the paper profitable for the balance of 2009. At the same meeting, Meeker, who is WW's publisher, announced that this week's paper was the largest since November and that ad sales for the spring appear ahead of budget.

Continue ReadingWillamette Week Introduces Cost-Cutting Measures

"After last week, Portland's politicians may think twice about trying to put one over" on Willamette Week's Pulitzer-winning reporter Nigel Jaquiss, according to Newsweek reporter Winston Ross. On Jan. 19, Jaquiss broke the news that Portland mayor Sam Adams had sex with an 18-year-old legislative intern and then lied about it. Newsweek notes that WW trumped other news outlets that were pursuing the story: "Jaquiss's scoop is significant not only because it represents the second huge political figure his journalism has humbled in a period of four years, but also because of whom he beat out to get the story: the much larger and much more heavily financed Oregonian."

Continue ReadingNewsweek Does Tick-Tock on Willamette Week’s Sam Adams Scoop

Editor Mark Zusman tells the Oregonian that WW is no longer involved with a Jan. 20 party the paper was slated to co-sponsor with the Democratic Party of Oregon. Zusman said earlier this week that he didn't know the paper was co-sponsoring the event with the Dems until the Oregonian brought it to his attention. The story hit Capitol Hill yesterday, with Republicans telling Roll Call that the co-sponsored party, together with WW's tough reporting on outgoing Senator Gordon Smith during this campaign season, was proof that the paper "was on a mission to oust the Senator."

Continue ReadingWillamette Week Drops Sponsorship of Inauguration Party

"Put it this way, if The Oregonian cosponsored an inaugural party celebrating any politician's victory, you can be sure Willamette Week would be all over it," writes Oregonian political correspondent Jeff Mapes. The party in question is the "Change Is Here Dance Party" at a local club, which is set to take place Jan. 20 and is cosponsored by the Democratic Party of Oregon and the Portland alt-weekly. But WW editor Mark Zusman tells the Oregonian he didn't even know about the joint-sponsored party. He says that he thought that the night was to feature two back-to-back parties, not one co-sponsored event. "For the record, I don't like what we have done," Zusman says. "At all."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Takes Heat for Co-Sponsoring Inauguration Party with Dems

In his yearly report to readers, Willamette Week publisher Richard Meeker says the Portland, Ore., newsweekly's financial situation has been "lousy." Advertising is down since July and the paper is more than ten percent below budget for the year. But the news isn't all bad. Meeker says WW's "total audience has remained steady" and its sister paper, the Santa Fe Reporter, is having a good year. Nevertheless, WW has laid off several staffers and transferred one staff writer to Santa Fe. Editor Mark Zusman tells AAN News that the paper laid off three classified sales representatives, one designer, and staff writer (and "Queer Window" columnist) Byron Beck, while Corey Pein moves to the Reporter. Although the paper will "be lucky to eke out a small profit this year," Meeker says he and Zusman are "eager to tackle the challenges we all now face, and more committed than ever to continuing -- and improving -- the quality of reporting and thinking we do." More on Beck's departure from the Portland Mercury and Just Out magazine.

Continue ReadingWillamette Week Tightens Belt, but Santa Fe Reporter is ‘Doing Well’

Willamette Week's cover story this week reports that Republican U.S. Senator Gordon Smith's frozen food processing company employs undocumented immigrants, which is a violation of federal law. The Oregonian reports that Smith has said that he has told his firm, Smith Frozen Foods, to "go the extra mile" in ensuring that its work force is legal, and he reacted harshly to WW's piece yesterday. "It is wholly compromised of unsubstantiated and ridiculous allegations from a liberal tabloid whose purpose is to advance a left-wing agenda rather than the truth," Smith said in a statement. But WW editor Mark Zusman tells Politicker OR that no such agenda exists. "There is no purpose other than to seek to tell the truth about an important story," he says. "It's not unusual for a food processing plant to hire illegal immigrants as workers. But this is unusual because Smith is a United States senator." The WW story didn't offer definitive proof, but cited several workers who said illegal immigrants worked there. "We would not have published this story had we not been comfortable with the underlying issue -- that Smith had illegal workers," Zusman says.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Reports U.S. Senator’s Company Hires Illegal Immigrants

Stephen Leon (pictured), the editor and publisher of Metroland in Albany, N.Y., was elected President on Saturday during the association's annual meeting. Willamette Week editor Mark Zusman was elected Vice President, making him the heir apparent to the presidency. Six of the nine remaining board seats were filled by incumbents running unopposed.

Continue ReadingAAN Elects 11 Board Members