Dysfunction and Hilarity at AAN

june 27, 2002  11:28 am
I would like to respond to some recent remarks made by Mr. Karpel and Mr. Garboden on the AAN web site in regards to the admissions process.

Mr. Karpel writes how he enjoys the drama surrounding the process of becoming a member of AAN or being rejected. He throws out words like care, covet and crave in describing applying papers' desire to be admitted which indicates "peer approval and critical acceptance" from the membership.

That is laying it on a bit thick. How about simply wanting to be in because it's more fun hanging out at the club as a member, not a visitor.

But sometimes it is healthy to live with delusions. I concur about the drama though, for which there seems to be plenty at each convention. Remember the whole "independent" thing in 1999? Or how about in Memphis with Mr. Zankowski nearly sobbing as he begged the membership not to boot out his paper? His performance worked as the Hartford Advocate stayed in and I think Mr. Zankowski was soon promoted afterward. Now that was some drama...

Mr. Karpel goes on to say how one can tell admissions committee members "read the (applying) papers thoroughly and seriously struggle with the issues they're forced to deal with." Really? I'd say, judging by many of the inane comments, the committee members gave little thought to what they were saying. We cracked up about the remark how we are "overall a less professional paper than it was when it was mostly about skiing." Perhaps they were thinking about the Mountain Times weekly. Remember them? They were the skiing paper (admitted the first time) that looked like it was printed on a press that came to Utah via covered wagon. I guess they folded despite the mothership in Salt Lake and the upcoming Olympics.

I'm not sure what "extensive comments" Mr. Karpel is referring to since for fours years the feedback we've seen has been mostly boorish missives. Funny how an applying paper pays extra money for this critical review and only ends up with a few blurbs of feedback in the "always-entertaining" report. I guess that's the mentoring angle someone mentioned a few years ago.

Mr. Garboden writes how an applying paper can be rejected for not covering issues that "fit with the alternative sensibility." Now that is truly hilarious! I guess we should run some severed body parts photos or a television column. And for his bit about how "the line between editorial and advertising is something AAN takes quite seriously" was classic. I guess that doesn't include those profitable "Best Of" issues.

It seems the basic parameter for admission is a blanket editorial standard that doesn't regard the particularities of the readership market and is set at a height which many current membership papers rarely uphold in consistency.

Anyway, thanks for letting us non-members come to the conventions. We manage to find some useful information after filtering out about 85 percent of the crap.

And thanks for letting us benefit by default from the AAN "marketing, PR and government relations."

We would have never made it this far without you!