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31 things I learned at the alt-weeklies industries conference in Tucson

by Jordan Green

31 things I learned at the alt-weeklies industries conference in Tucson

1. A saguaro cactus doesn’t begin to grow its first arm until after it turns 70.

2. YES! Weekly publisher Charles Womack was inspired to launch this publication after stumbling across a copy of the Memphis Flyer during a blues-fueled tear on Beale Street. 3. Geo-coding and databases are the future of practical, locally focused journalism.

4. Eighty-three people have died so far this year crossing the Mexican-US border at the Tucson sector, a vast area of desert characterized by scorching heat, prickly cacti, barren ground strewn with stones and bone-dry riverbeds. 5. Columbia J-school grads are targeting alt-weeklies as prospective employers now that the dailies are shedding jobs like crazy. 6. A muscle-bound egomaniac who favors tight shorts and who calls himself God gives midnight tours at the Meet Rack, a dive bar he owns in Tucson. 7. If you forget to file a claim with Delta Air Lines for missing luggage, you’ll be lucky to get it back before you catch your return flight. 8. The meltdown of daily newspapers offers alt-weeklies unprecedented opportunities to expand coverage and market share, but we have vast room to improve in covering all segments of our community thoroughly and effectively tapping into minority and gay business networks. 9. The internet and affordable technology have wiped out the efficiencies that media chains once enjoyed in content production, design, advertising and accounting. 10. Many dailies and alt-weeklies have made themselves irrelevant by chasing affluent, highly educated demographics to the exclusion of the vital cross-section of low- and median-income readers, including the rapidly growing Hispanic population. 11. Investigative reporters have to consider shifting from a competitive to a collaborative paradigm, but that raises difficult questions about maintaining trust, devising an equitable division of labor and giving fair credit.

12. The Colorado River, which supplies water to the city of Las Vegas, Nev., dries up before it reaches the Gulf of California in Mexico. 13. Michael Jackson is dead.

14. The Boston Herald ran the headline “Fade to Blacko” on June 27.

15. Dan Savage, nationally syndicated sex columnist and editorial director of The Stranger in Seattle, once told his writers they would be fired if they didn’t start blogging. 16. It’s not enough for reporters to blog at this point; I needed to set up a Twitter account yesterday.

17. The web is not the place where you post the content of your print edition. The web is where you develop stories and facilitate strands of civic discourse. The print edition is a download of the web newspaper. 18. The truth and reconciliation commission in Mississippi, a state with a reputation for troubled race relations, has been received with little controversy. In comparison, the truth and reconciliation commission in Greensboro, a city with a

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