Saturday night wrapped up the 2007 Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' annual convention, held here in PDX and hosted by WW.
Over the course of three days, staffs from over 100 alt-weeklies across North America attended a lineup of guest speakers, seminars and panels that handled everything from podcasts to First Amendment ethics to restaurant reviews.
Throughout the weekend, the events looked at what we do well as alt-weeklies across the country, and where we're missing the boat. Sure enough, that strange thing called blogging found itself at the center of discussion more than once, and several of the events in particular have spurred up quite a good buzz in the blogosphere.
So for the media wonks out there, here's a rundown of some of the blog discussions going on—both in town and in other papers' hometowns—as everyone mulls over ideas from the weekend, recovers from the hangovers, and thinks about the future of the news. Post away if you've come across other sites mentioning the convention...
AAN's official convention community blog
"Covering Elections" - moderated by WW's editor Mark Zusman, featuring: Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post; Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for Rolling Stone; Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com
Kevin Allman, local freelance writer and WW contributor
: "One thing all three agreed on: It's not just the electoral process that's broken; it's the way elections are covered that's equally screwed-up."
Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake.com:
"As Arianna [Huffington] pointed out, the blogosphere and the alternative weeklies across the country come from the same DNA and are facing many of the same challenges."
"Chew on This" restaurant review panel, moderated by WW's arts & culture editor Kelly Clarke, featuring (newly Pulitzer Prize-winning) Jonathan Gold of the L.A. Weekly, Margaret Downing of The Houston Press, Jennifer Strom of The Independent Weekly, and Erik Wemple of The Washington City Paper
Cuisine Bonne Femme, PortlandFoodandDrink.com:
"While Kelly tried to steer the conversation towards broader important issues going on in print media, the views presented by most of the panelists were so incredibly myopic on the role of food writing and especially the role of bloggers in gaining readerships, that we now completely understand why the panel was presented as, “Across the country, newspapers are dropping their restaurant reviews….”
Matt Davis, The Portland Mercury:
"It was a little jarring to see Gold share the stage with people from alternative papers around the country, since obviously, not every alt-weekly can afford the kind of criticism he's doing."
"As newspapers continue to fire veteran reporters and editors, more and more of them are going to turn to blogging, and the quality of newsblogs is going to improve exponentially."
First Amendment Lunch with former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias
Shea Anderson of Boise Weekly:
"I got to ask Iglesias about his amazing statement, which played prominently in all the local news outlets, and eventually, beyond. Blame The Hobbit
, he said. 'I'd just finished reading the Lord of the Rings
trilogy,' Iglesias told me. 'That was very much a Bilbo Baggins sort of statement.'"
David Rolland of the San Diego Citybeat:
"In his opening remarks, Iglesias had invoked Duke Cunningham
—the former congressman who's now sitting in a puddle of his own tears while doing time in the federal pen—suggesting that Iglesias truly believes Lam was fired because of her prosecution of Cunningham, and not because of Lam's performance in fighting gun and immigration crimes."
[Image of Arianna Huffington: David Reamer, dlreamer.com]