Alt Conference Takeaways 

Here's what we got out of the AAN annual conference

While independent, alternative weeklies like Boise Weekly might seem like one-off outgrowths of individual communities, most of us are actually connected through a trade organization called the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. Each year, we travel from near and far for a multi-day conference where we compare notes, talk about industry developments, do a fair amount of complaining and drink entirely too much booze.

This year's AAN conference took place in Salt Lake City and, given its proximity to Boise, we were able to pretty much shut down BWHQ and hit the road as a staff. Between the whining and drinking, we came home with a few interesting takeaways.

First, we do a lot of things right in Boise that other weeklies struggle with. This year's conference was heavy on presentations about longform journalism—those big stories that really delve into a topic. As we're often told readers would rather get their news 140 characters at a time, it was heartening to hear from heavy hitters like famed magazine writer Stephen Fried that longform is what sets papers like BW apart and will (hopefully) save us from the leveling power of the Internet.

While many papers have a hard time making space or finding time to work those big stories, we've redoubled our commitment to investigative journalism through the BW Watchdogs program.

We've also be kind of spying on you and according to data pulled from, we know that in addition to longform reporting, you also really like to visit our website. We have one of the most robust online audiences among papers of our size, so rest assured, we'll keep working to improve

Second, the prognosis for our industry isn't as grim as the "print-is-dead" prophets would have us believe. As long as we keep pursuing hard-hitting local news stories; big investigations; and keeping tabs on food, drink, arts, music and rec, we'll stay vital.

Mostly, we learned that we have a lot of loyal readers and, damn it, we want to thank you. As always, we want to hear from you, so if you have anything you want to get off your chest regarding our content or website, email me at

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