Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Becomes Association of Alternative Newsmedia

Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:47pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

At the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) annual meeting on
Saturday, July 23 in New Orleans, members voted unanimously to change the
organization's name to Association of Alternative Newsmedia.

    The name change proposal was presented by AAN Marketing Chair and
Boston's Weekly Dig publisher Jeff Lawrence, who told members that by
changing the word "weeklies" to the word "media," the organization would
position itself for future growth and reach a broader audience.

    "Are we still a membership strictly made up of 'weekly' publications, or
rather are we a membership of news media organizations providing hourly,
daily, and weekly content?" he asked.

    Later in the meeting, the association admitted its first online-only
publication, The American Independent News Network, which operates news
sites in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas,
and Washington state.

    "Times change, and so does our name," said AAN President and Colorado
Springs Independent CEO Fran Zankowski. "This year, a 100% web-only news
network became a member of our association. And, with the increasing
number of apps, digital, mobile, and web platforms our companies use, it
was time to reflect those changes in our name. It doesn't change the
nature of our association. Our members still create the best editorial
content with the best journalists in the country. It's just that we now
appear in multiple media."

    The name change, while momentous, had been years in the making.

    In 2009 a newly-formed committee was tasked with exploring ways to grow
the association. At the time, committee co-chair and San Francisco Bay
Guardian editor Tim Redmond explained, "The world of media, including
alternative media, is changing, and there may be publications out there
-- online-only publications, for example -- that meet AAN's standards and
mission and would bring a lot to the association."

    At the association's annual meeting in Toronto the following year,
members were asked to amend the association's bylaws to allow online-only
publications to apply for membership. The bylaws amendment passed
overwhelmingly, setting 2011 as the first year non-print publications
would be eligible to apply.

    AAN members have been nearly unanimous in their support for the
association's evolution, though there was some debate among editors about
choosing "newsmedia" as a single, non-hyphenated word.

    "An editor I respect advised me years ago to consider precedent and
consistency in deciding when to move forward on making compounds solid,"
said Stephen Leon, the editor & publisher of Metroland in Albany and
AAN's President from 2007 to 2009. "Compounds tend to move in that
direction over time anyway. Your dictionary will show you how many 'news'
words already are solid compounds: newspaper, newsweekly, newsmagazine,
newscast, newsroom, newswire... and, to get really contemporary,

    "'Newsmedia' cannot be far behind," he added. "And we shall lead the way."

    The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) is a diverse group of
131 alt-weekly news organizations covering every major metropolitan area
and other less-populated regions of North America. AAN members have a
combined weekly circulation of over 6.5 million and a print readership of
nearly 17 million active, educated and influential adults in the U.S. and
Canada. And millions of additional adults read AAN-member content via the


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