SOURCE: The Association of Alternative Newsmedia

July 27, 2011 18:45 ET

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Becomes Association of Alternative Newsmedia

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Jul 27, 2011) - 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, newsgroup."

"'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 Web.

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