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Monday, February 06, 2006

AAN picks up on alt. weeklies/Craigslist conversation

If anyone's still interested in the ongoing alt.weeklies vs. Craigslist conversation, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies has issued a press release of sorts. It pointed me to this great post by Anil Dash, VP at SixApart (which owns Typepad). If you're interested in this topic, it's worth reading. Much more so, in my opinion, than Jarvis at Buzzflash. An excerpt:

My advice? If you have a newspaper, publish something that's unique to your community; Write something that nobody running a website on the other side of the country would have enough knowledge or information to create. Find a business model that makes your work seem valuable instead of worthless. Free the smart, creative people on your editorial staff to express themselves, especially online, without having to obey seniority rules or arbitrary limits. And realize that the reason Craig is eating your lunch is not merely because his information is better, or because he cares about being online and you don't, but because he's given people a place to connect with each other, instead of just being preached to by people too arrogant to stay curious.

Hard to argue with that. I should also point out that Seven Days is a real anomaly in the alt. weekly market. We don't do much national coverage — none, actually, if you don't include a couple columns. Almost everything we do is local. So some of his criticisms don't really apply to us. Good advice, though.

UPDATE: I got a phone call last night from Roxanne Cooper, of Rox Populi, and also the marketing director of AAN. She kindly schooled me on a couple things related to the Dash post.

First, she points out that unlike the Village Voice or the Bay Guardian, most alt. weeklies are, in fact, "hyper local." There are just a few in big cities that run anti-Bush cover stories. Fair enough. I still say Seven Days is an anomaly because of our market. We're one of the few papers in a predominently rural state, and we're one of the few to cover an entire state. I also think our stories, and our tone, tend to differ from most alt. weeklies. But maybe Roxanne is in a better position to judge, since she's actually familiar with all the papers. I dunno. I like to think that we're different.

Also, Roxanne points out that most alt. weeklies have blogs, and interactive online features. Again, she probably knows more than I do about this. But as someone who has actively tried to figure out what alt. weeklies are doing online, I'm frustrated because right now, it's really hard to figure out what other papers are doing unless you visit each and every one of their websites. It'd be great to have a comprehensive list somewhere of all the blogs at all the alt. weeklies. She says AAN is working on setting that up. Thanks for the call, Roxanne. 

February 6, 2006 at 11:50 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink


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