Fretting Over the Future

I spent three days and change last week in San Diego, at the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' annual convention. We got lectured by various speakers who told us that, if as an industry and as individual papers, we didn't make wholesale changes--shorter stories, less-pronounced news coverage and inroads into interactive media and blogs--we were, to paraphrase, totally screwed.

Whatever. Yes, it's true: Short, catchy pieces make nice complements to a paper, and blogs/interactive online innovations are fantastic things we plan on moving into one of these days. But shorter stories, just 'cause younger folks have crappy attention spans? And less-pronounced news coverage? No, thanks.

In other news: We won some awards. You can read all about those elsewhere in this issue. And I took the opportunity to get together with all sorts of alternative newsweekly editors and bitch about how overworked, understaffed and underpaid we are. It was somewhat cathartic. And, sort of, I got to see Dan Savage attempt to dress up as a sailor.

But that's beside the point, which is: The media is changing, for sure, and alt-weeklies are no exception. Online media, craigslist, companies like Gannett coming directly after us--they're all threats to alternative newsweeklies these days, and a lot of incredibly smart people have a lot of different ideas on how to deal with this.

But we're going to keep doing what we've been doing, while constantly looking to improve and add new innovations to our newspaper, with the resources that we have. That's it; simple, eh?

Any ideas on how to improve and innovate? As always, feel free to call me or e-mail me.

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