AAN News

Toronto Convention: Innovating in Hard Times

Costs have been cut. Page count is down. Morale could be better. How do we do more than survive? This is the focus of the annual convention in Toronto. The shakeup of the past two years has, in many ways, given alt-weeklies the chance of a lifetime -- an opportunity for rebirth and reinvention. This July, in one of the most beautiful cities in North America, industry leaders, big-picture thinkers and plenty of your smart peers will be explaining how to create a blueprint for financial success. You'll learn how to focus and rededicate your company to thrive for the next decades and longer. (FULL STORY)
AAN  |  06-14-2010  2:27 pm  |  Association News

What's Next in SEO?

By now, most publishers have come to terms with the basics of search engine optimization, but don't get too comfortable. Mike Volpe, from web marketing company HubSpot, will be in Toronto to explain the changes to the way in which search engines work. Volpe will give conventioneers tips on how to adapt and optimize your website in order to remain competitive in the future.

As an example, he says, SEO is becoming more time-sensitive and more personal. Google's new search index, Caffeine, just announced this week, will use more "real-time" results, which means that timely news and blog posts, as well as social media status updates, will become increasingly important to maintaining high search visibility. In addition, Volpe says search engines are beginning to use your physical location and search history more, and will eventually move into social search, which adds what your connections like and use to the mix. Many of these developments could bode well for alt-weeklies, which have strong content based around a locality and often have robust social communities. But that won't do you much good if you are falling on the second or third search pages. After Volpe's talk, you should be ready to make changes to your site that will prepare you for the future of SEO.
AAN  |  06-10-2010  12:37 pm  |  Association News

Who is the Audience of the Alt-Weekly These Days?

When you have a president who not only admits he inhaled but confesses to having used cocaine, it’s time to redefine "alternative," according to Henry Scott. At the Toronto Convention, the newly named publisher of Creative Loafing (Atlanta) and chief marketing officer of all six Creative Loafing papers will discuss what the company is doing to redefine the traditional "alt-weekly" and make it meaningful to an audience that would rather be well employed and raise a family than drop out of society and rebel.

Scott -- a self-professed member of the Woodstock Generation -- says he had long ago quit reading alt-weeklies because he found them irrelevant. He says market research he did at previous jobs at the New York Times and Metro New York showed him that most young people agreed. So he and his Creative Loafing team have rethought their approach, using easily available market research and staff coaching. In Toronto, he'll talk about how they are doing and he'll detail both the research and business aspects of the strategy.
AAN  |  06-08-2010  12:24 pm  |  Association News

AAN Diversity Grants Recipients Announced

Random Lengths News was approved for a grant to fund Armando Segovia to assist the paper in its investigative news reporting of the paper's large immigrant community. Potential investigations include examining the impact on this community by the area's clean trucks program, as well as various aspects of the Mexican government's "war on the drug cartels." Segovia is a previous recipient of a multimedia fellowship at The Coloradoan, and also has interned at a variety of publications, including El Paso Times, El Conquistador and Al Día.

Oklahoma Gazette also received one of the two grants for this cycle for its proposal for Rachel Bradley to serve as the paper's marketing/PR intern. Bradley, an African American student at the University of Oklahoma, will help the paper with its 2010-2011 marketing plan, writes Marketing Director Jill Brown, which "includes some initiatives targeted toward increasing minority readership and community involvement. We are currently not very knowledgeable about these emerging markets, and feel that Rachel would be an asset to the team." Bradley has received a variety of awards for scholastic achievement, and also has worked as an event intern for The CE Group in San Antonio, Texas, and and as a teacher for the First Baptist Church Kaleidoscope After School program in Norman, Oklahoma.

AAN's Diversity Grant Program awards two $1,250 grants twice annually. The program was instituted by the association in 2001 to help alternative weeklies hire and train top-quality minority journalists. The grants are administered through AAN's Diversity Committee. (FULL STORY)
AAN  |  06-07-2010  3:53 pm  |  Association News

Nine AAN Board Seats Up for Election

Nine seats on the AAN Board of Directors will be up for election this year at the association's annual meeting in Toronto. Prior to the election, The board of directors will consider adopting bylaw amendments that would reduce the board of directors (which now totals 18) to 16 by eliminating two of the four at-large positions.

The annual meeting will be held in Toronto on Saturday, July 17, during the final day of AAN's upcoming convention.

AAN  |  06-07-2010  10:56 am  |  Association News

Need Reporting Help? Get a Leg Up with Help from ProPublica

ProPublica director of communications Mike Webb will be on hand at the Toronto Convention to talk about how you can use their data and resources for your own investigative work.

The nonprofit news organization has rolled out a number of collaborative tools since its January 2008 launch, including a "reporting recipe" for how to investigate state boards that license nurses, pharmacists, mortgage brokers and other professionals. That specific tool was borne out of an investigation ProPublica did of California's nursing board that found broad breakdowns in the state's regulation of registered nurses.

Other resources the organization offers include the Stimulus Recovery Tracker and a "Reporting Matchmaker," the first of which hooked home loan modification applicants up with local journalists.

With newsrooms getting smaller, partnerships and collaboration are becoming hot topics in journalism. With a little guidance from Webb, you could well be on your way to a number of solid features that put local names and numbers on the big issues facing the nation.
AAN  |  06-03-2010  12:19 pm  |  Association News

Editorial Panel Competition Winners Have Been Chosen

AAN voters have spoken and the results are in. The winner of the 2010 Editorial Panel competition is Bradley Zeve, CEO of Monterey County Weekly. Zeve's proposal "Going Deep for a Baker's Dozen: 12 Quick Investigative Story Ideas," proposed a panel in which three experienced editors discuss how to continue producing hard-hiting investigative pieces even in this era of smaller newspaper staffs. The ultimate goal of the panel, according to the proposal, would be for the editors and attendees to generate 12 investigative pieces members can take home and implement, along with a 13th bonus project for AAN members to undertake together.

As the winner of the competition, Zeve is entitled to one free registration to the convention.

AAN also is offering a half-off registration to the second-place winner, Matt Kettmann, senior editor at Santa Barbara Independent, as well as the offer to transform his panel proposal, "Cultivating the Online Culture" into a roundtable discussion during Thursday's editorial roundtables.

Finally, third place winner Jeff Lawrence, publisher of Boston's Weekly Dig, has agreed to lead what is sure to be a lively roundtable discussion from his "Mister Publisher, Tear Down That Wall!" panel proposal that will explore whether, in this Web 2.0 world, the walls between departments, such as editorial and advertising, need to crumble a little more.

The editorial panel competition is a project of AAN's Editorial Committee to generate new ideas and programming for AAN.
AAN  |  06-02-2010  4:15 pm  |  Association News

2010 AltWeekly Awards Finalists Announced

The judging process is finally complete and the 159 finalists of the 2010 AltWeekly Awards have been established. Nashville Scene led all papers with eleven awards. In the large-circulation division, Boston Phoenix will snag ten awards and L.A. Weekly will pick up nine prizes at the awards ceremony next month.

The final rankings of the winners will be revealed at the AltWeekly Awards luncheon on July 16 in Toronto during AAN's 33rd Annual Convention. Gustavo Arellano, staff writer for OC Weekly and author of the nationally syndicated weekly column '¡Ask A Mexican!', will host the ceremony.

To see the full list of finalists click here. (FULL STORY)
AAN  |  06-01-2010  2:20 pm  |  Association News

AltWeekly Awards Finalists to be Announced June 1

After several months of heavy reading and two rounds of evaluating nearly 1,100 entries, the judges of AAN's annual journalism and design competition have rendered decisions. The finalists for the 2010 AltWeekly Awards will be announced on Tuesday, June 1--with the final rankings to be revealed at the AltWeekly Awards banquet on July 16 during AAN's Annual Convention in Toronto.

Now in its 15th year, AAN's editorial awards contest expanded in 2010 to include three new online categories: Individual Blogger, Multimedia, and Music Blog. The awards luncheon in Toronto will be hosted by Gustavo Arellano, staff writer for OC Weekly and author of the nationally syndicated weekly column '¡Ask A Mexican!'.
AAN  |  05-28-2010  3:48 pm  |  Association News

David Carr to Speak in Toronto

AAN prodigal son David Carr has been confirmed to speak at the the 2010 Annual Convention in Toronto. The former Washington City Paper editor will take time away from his prolific twittering and columnizing for the New York Times to explain how the rise of user-generated content and social media has changed the way readers, er, consumers obtain information. In a Saturday morning session, Carr will impart his wisdom on how to rise above the clutter (hint: teach your pet to play a musical instrument) and stay on top of the news feed.

Never one to shy away from new technology, Carr wrote in January that the yet to be unveiled iPad would be "an opportunity to renew the romance between printed material and consumer." So come renew the romance with AAN in Toronto and join this discussion about what new media and crowdsourcing--along with some brand-new terms that Carr will invent on the spot--mean for the future of professionally generated content.
AAN  |  05-28-2010  12:59 pm  |  Association News

Gustavo Arellano, Maher Arar Tapped as Lunch Speakers for Convention

AAN has confirmed the guest speakers for its two lunches at this year's Toronto Convention. Ask a Mexican's Gustavo Arellano will reprise his role as host of the AltWeekly Awards banquet on Friday, July 16. And at the next day's Free Speech Lunch, attendees will hear from extraordinary rendition and torture victim Maher Arar, who was arrested by American immigration officials in 2002 and later deported to Syria. Despite being cleared of all ties to terrorism by Canadian officials, Arar remains on a U.S. terrorist watchlist, so you're not likely to see him speak in America any time soon.
AAN  |  05-26-2010  1:07 pm  |  Association News

AAN Opens Voting for Editorial Panel Competition

AAN's 2010 editorial panel competition garnered 16 proposals for topics ranging from video production to nonprofit grants to transportation politics (and everything in between). AAN members now have the opportunity to vote on these proposals. The proposal with the most votes will be featured at the July 15-17 annual convention in Toronto, and its creator will receive a free registration to the convention.

The editorial panel competition was spearheaded by AAN's editorial committee as a means of soliciting new ideas for programming in Toronto and beyond. "No matter who wins this competition, there are a lot of great ideas here, and I'm hoping some of the runner-ups will be game to bring their ideas to the convention as part of the editorial roundtable sessions," said AAN Editorial Chair Julia Goldberg.

Voting will close on Thursday, May 27 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 2.

AAN  |  05-24-2010  5:45 pm  |  Association News

Asking More of Your Staff With No Budget for Additional Resources?

Sales teams are now required to sell print, web, phone and other products. Writers are stretched to capacity with added blogging and social media responsibilities. Designers must learn new skills to produce additional ads and content for web, mobile and now the tablet. How do you create and maintain an environment that continues to motivate your staffs when more is required of them each and every day?

Jan van der Hoop of HiringSmart will be in Toronto to help us tackle this issue -- one faced across all departments. With more than fifteen years of HR experience, Jan will walk convention attendees through a concrete process to understand the driving factors of performance, measure what truly matters and plan the necessary steps to help ensure your paper remains competitive through the contributions of your staff.

So join us in Toronto for this timely discussion on how to get the most out of your employees.
AAN  |  05-24-2010  10:23 am  |  Association News

The iStory: Telling Stories Across Platforms

How do you choose the right platform for your story? With the Web -- and now mobile -- you have more options than ever. At first glance they seem daunting, but these platforms offer exciting new ways to add depth to your stories and attract new readers. Award-winning multimedia veteran Regina McCombs of the Poynter Institute will be on hand in Toronto to help sort it all out in an hour-long session on July 16. McCombs' courses on video reporting, mobile news, and social media are the gold standard of the news industry, and convention attendees won't want to miss this invaluable session.

"This session is a natural extension of AAN's partnership with Poynter's NewsU to offer our members online training, particularly in the area of new media," said Editorial Chair Julia Goldberg. "Hopefully those who haven't taken advantage yet of AAN's discounts to the NewsU webinars will want to after they attend Regina's session in Toronto."
AAN  |  05-19-2010  1:41 pm  |  Association News

The Trick to Selling? It's Not Selling, According to Convention Speaker

Does your sales team, or your overall sales approach, need a shot in the arm? Sales trainer Richard Farrell of Chicago-based Tangent Knowledge Systems will be at the Toronto Convention to offer a new tool that just might help you boost sales and land new clients. On Friday, July 16, he'll walk convention attendees through his unorthodox nonselling sales process, touching on things salespeople should be focused on, like understanding the customer's needs, and what they shouldn't be, like over-communicating their sales messages.
AAN  |  05-13-2010  5:17 pm  |  Association News