Tag Archives: AWN

Missoula Indy Shuttered Abruptly by Lee

By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director

Missoula Independent has become the latest publishing casualty in the alt media world.

This one seemed more surprising, not just in the preventative action itself from corporate owner Lee Enterprises, but in the world of alternative print media, smaller markets appeared to have evaded some of the financial woes that leveled newspapers in the large metro markets this decade.  The closure of this long-time Montana independent voice certainly gives us pause as supporters of alternative media as a whole.   More importantly, it reminds how much has changed from simply needing alternative voices as a counterweight to mainstream media to the current state where journalism itself is being diluted and under attack.

The story broke in Montana and elsewhere across the U.S. yesterday (September 11) LA Times coverage here.

Our relationship with Missoula Independent goes back to 1994, a few years after Eric Johnson and Erik Cushman founded the paper.   They had just switched to free distribution (15,000 copies) and may have had no idea how many more years the publication would be serving readers in Montana.   Both Erik Cushman and Eric Johnson have crossed our paths several times throughout the ensuing years.   We’ve worked closely with Matt Gibson (owner from 1998 until 18 months ago), and his staff to bring revenue to a market that is often not included in national advertising media plans.

Having the largest weekly newspaper and the only true alternative voice in Montana be a member our network for the past 24 years has been a privilege.


Love of Research Reveals a New Career for Alt Veteran Sarah Billingsley

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

I’m not sure what constitutes a veteran in the alternative newsmedia business, but I’m guessing Sarah Billingsley’s initiation at The San Francisco Bay Guardian in the 90’s qualifies. After 15 years of service to the alt industry including the last four years with AWN, Sarah announced her departure to pursue an opportunity with a Sacramento-based consumer research company.   The field of research was something she’s been working toward for some time.

When Sarah joined our company in February 2008, she had recently returned to college to finish her B.A., and then began work on her Master’s in Communication, all while chasing advertisers, orders, artwork and revenue for AWN publications.


Sarah warming up for another AWN day

For those of you who have shared a cocktail with her at AAN conferences, responded to her numerous email inquiries, or chatted with her on the phone, you may already know she is a great communicator.   Now in her absence, you’ll have the pleasure of communicating with our equally helpful support team (Lidia Stoian and Sheila Malone) or myself.

Sarah was an important player during a period of change for our company.   In 2010, we moved in with the Sacramento News & Review on Del Paso Boulevard and revamped our sales approach. Armed with a background in ad sales management, she enthusiastically took over the primary sales communications role for AWN.  Our list of active advertisers was still fairly sizable at that time, so Sarah recommended and we hired Cody Brill, our part-time Ad Coordinator. Last month, Cody also made a major career move as he landed a full-time ad coordinator post with a local business magazine.    The two of them made for a wonderful one-two punch in managing the sales process.

Sarah, who was an early adopter and devotee of social media also wrote many of our sales and media blogs over the past few years.    She also became our resident research expert for national alternative media data from The Media Audit that we managed on behalf of AWN.

So, if you’re looking for either one of them on the outside (not that working for AWN was a prison term folks), you’ll be sure to find Sarah or Cody easily on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the web.     In the meantime, we’ll simply remember how much we enjoyed their company while they were here with us, wish them well, and we’ll continue to look for new opportunities to market our brand.

Sarah’s alternative media timeline:

San Francisco Bay Guardian (1997-2001)

Independent Weekly (2001-2002)

Sacramento News & Review (2003-2008)

Alternative Weekly Network (2008-2012)