by Eric Ginsburg
1. Stamp of approval
Ever since we launched Triad City Beat, we’ve wanted to join the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. But it isn’t as simple as asking — the membership body needs to vote you in, and papers as fresh as this are usually considered too young to join the fold. But with a 7-0 endorsement from the membership committee — an incredibly rare unanimous show of support — the AAN offered Triad City Beat a spot on the team at its annual convention. Editor-in-Chief Brian Clarey and Publisher Allen Broach flew out to Salt Lake City to represent us, but I’ll be damned if I’m left manning the ship next year.
2. The criticism, and praise
We take the feedback — positive and negative — from the membership committee seriously. These are people who know exactly what we’re going through — and trying to become — much better than the average reader. So when they tell us that our design is “bi-polar” and that the photography needs real photographers instead of journalists taking the shots, we take it to heart. Our news writing, they said, needs more imagination and spark, and the hard stuff is often too long and too dull. But their praise also made us melt with joy: “Even committee members who don’t know North Carolina picked up a sense of the dynamics of life in the Triad’s three cities,” they wrote. And they called us “edgy, outsider-ish” and said we have a “critical capacity in arts coverage” as well as being “thoroughly local.” We’re feeling like rapper Maino wrote his song “Million Bucks” about us right now.
The AAN is the organization for edgy alts like ours — it includes publications like the Pulitzer-winning Willamette Week and other heavyweights including the Miami New Times, Long Island Press, Austin Chronicle and the pioneers at the Village Voice. But also, these are our friends — our editors all used to be part of another AAN newspaper, and it feels like home to be back with the people we know at Isthmus in Madison, Wis., Memphis Flyer, Charleston City Paper, Gambit in New Orleans and Coachella Valley Independent, among others. You get the idea. These people are the type to fall over in their chair laughing, the badass journalists that we dream about being when we grow up.
4. The resources
The AAN offers so much to its members, including resources, connections and ideas. You, dear reader, don’t really care about the mechanics of sales ideas or the editorial concepts brought back from the conference, but we’re lit up with excitement about our increased capacity. Look for some bangin’ new components of TCB in the coming months, many of them stemming from the AAN’s annual conference and year-round support.