So yesterday, I left for Little Rock, Arkansas to attend the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' annual convention at the Peabody Hotel.
I made it to two workshops yesterday, one on "Best Internet Advertising Practices," and one featuring writer Ted Conover. I didn't even realize before I got here that Conover was part of the program. He's not an alt. weekly writer — he's written a few books, including Newjack, for which he worked as a guard in Sing Sing prison for 10 months. And he contributes to the NYT Sunday Magazine, the New Yorker and the Atlantic. He talked about how to find stories by talking with people outside of "officialdom." Good stuff. I've got a bunch more sessions today, including "Flash for print journalists," and an introduction to putting our content on cellphones.
Last night we went to a reception at the Clinton Presidential Center I thought it was just his library, but apparently there's more to it. I didn't walk around much — just headed for the food and the bar. It's a pretty impressive building, though , especially at night (see photos).
At the reception, I met Todd Stauffer and Donna Ladd, the publisher and editor of the Jackson Free Press (right). We talked about their numerous blogs, and about their fight with the local Gannett daily, which is heating up. Gannett has begun distributing their new free publication holders to local businesses.
From the JFP's most recent report: The Clarion-Ledger has given all free media until Monday, June 19, tovacate the premises of some 160 locations unless we agree to pay them$8 per spot to be in the big ugly box. The Jackson Free Press and othertabloid publications such as Metro Christian Living do not even fit inthe box. We are also not clear that all businesses on the list havesigned the TDN contract—some tell us they haven't.
Sounds like it's getting ugly.
This morning I got up early and watched the red orange sun rise over the Arkansas River. I walked across a bridge over the river to eyeball a decommissioned WWII submarine I spotted out there yesterday. On the way, I passed a few pedestrians and some homeless guys, and one perky middle-aged jogger wearing a t-shirt that said: "This world is passing away, but those who do God's work will live forever." Yep, I'm in Arkansas.
In 45 minutes, I'm going to hear retired general Wesley Clark.