Thursday, December 29, 2011

Michigan newspaper wins APME monthly award

A Michigan newspaper's innovative method to track election results has won The Innovative Great Idea of the Month for November from the Associated Press Media Editors.

The Daily Telegram of Adrian, Mich., won the monthly national award for its usage of Google Docs as a spreadsheet to allow multiple users in its newsroom to input results.

Special Projects Editor Erik Gable wrote that the usage allowed The Daily Telegram staff members to feed “the data directly from the spreadsheet into a widget on our homepage.”

“The innovation contributed to a nice bump in election night traffic — especially with time on site, which increased roughly 25 percent per visit,” Gable wrote.

One of the judges, Laura Sellers-Earl, director of digital development for the East Oregonian Publishing Co., wrote the Daily Telegram provided “a great example of using technology to make our jobs easier while still providing quality coverage.”

APME combined its monthly Innovator of the Month and Great Idea of the Month for November because of the holiday season. Finalists for the monthly honor were the Centre Daily Times of State College, Penn., for its Twitter coverage in the case of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky and the Register Mail of Galesburg, Ill., for its community outreach of capturing children's photos during Treat Street on Halloween.

Other judges for November's entries were Jon K. Broadbrooks, executive editor, The State Journal Register in Springfield, Ill; and Kathy Best, managing editor, The Seattle Times. David Arkin, vice president of content/audience, GateHouse Media Inc., and Joe Hight, director of information and development, The Oklahoman/, coordinate the contest.

If your newspaper or media company, small or large, has launched an outstanding innovation or produced a great idea, let APME know about it. You can submit your innovation at and your great idea at

Read more about The Daily Telegram's project, including a Q&A and a how-to guide at

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wishing Broadbooks well in his career change and welcoming Graham to the APME board

Jon Broadbooks

Jon Broadbooks, who has been a champion for APME and a super board member, is turning the page and leaving the newspaper business.

Broadbooks, executive editor of the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., is moving to a new office in town to work for the Illinois Association of Realtors as communications director.

We wish him well and thank him for his great work, which included serving as program chair for APME St. Louis, a great conference in 2009.
Gary Graham
Taking Broadbooks' seat on the board will be Gary Graham, editor of The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash.

As is our practice, we asked the next top vote-getter in the most recent election to fill a vacancy. Graham finished in that spot in the Denver voting.

Welcome Gary. His addition gives the Northwest even more clout. The contingent now includes Laura Sellers-Earl, Bill Church, Jim Simon and Graham — all from Oregon and Washington.

See everyone in New York.

-- Bob Heisse

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our holiday membership offer: There's still time

Last-minute shopper?
Join the crowd. And maybe this year it can include an APME membership for yourself.
We have a December offer -- a payment plan. Here are the basic details:
If you pay $75 this month, you can pay $75 in the first quarter of 2012. We'll send you a reminder at the end of January.
Send your $75 by the end of December to Associated Press Media Editors Association, c/o Sally Jacobsen, The Associated Press, 450 West 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001. 
A great last-minute deal, maybe for your expenses. Hope you can join us. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

APME magazine coming your way

Our fall APME magazine is on its way to you.
For a sneak preview: 
Enjoy this issue, edited by Michael Days and his committee. Thanks to all who contributed to make it great.
-- Bob Heisse

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tweet for the First Amendment

A reminder to tweet for the First Amendment Thursday.
Here's the request and details. It's the thing to do, for all ages, because it matters so much. Let's make this a great national effort.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Free to Tweet - Bill of Rights Day 2011

This is important. We know you’ve been swamped with end-of-the-year planning and budgets, but there’s something we need to take care of.

Three years ago, America’s newspaper and online editors and broadcast news managers helped found the "1 for All” campaign to raise public awareness about freedom of the press and the importance of our role in a democracy.

Momentum has been building. We are on the brink of what will be the biggest public celebration of the First Amendment in history. But ultimate success depends on reaching the American people, particularly the young, in a 24-hour period this Thursday.

In recent weeks, we’ve reached out for news industry help to promote "Free to Tweet” on Dec. 15. Some have responded with free ads; others have published news of the promotion in their papers and websites. Thank you for that.

Candidly, though, there are hundreds more newsroom leaders who have not yet played a role and we need you to generate as much visibility as possible this week – especially on Thursday.

In a nutshell, we want all Americans on Dec. 15 to tweet their support for First Amendment freedoms. To encourage younger citizens to join in, we’re giving away $110,000 in college scholarships ($5,000 each, funded by the Knight Foundation) to the students with the most creative tweets about why the First Amendment matters. You’ll find details at Our immediate challenge is to raise as much awareness about this online event as possible and drive as many tweets as we can on Dec. 15.

Here are three easy things you can do to make a difference:

1.Tweet something right now, and whenever you can between now and Dec. 15th. It can be something as simple as "Tweet for freedom. $110K in scholarships on Dec. 15 #FreeToTweet”… or "Easiest scholarship competition ever! $110K available for tweets about First Amendment on Dec. 15. #FreeToTweet.”

2.Share this message with your most creative social media staffers. Encourage them to spread the word through your social media network and their own personal tweets.

3.Consider writing about the 220thanniversary of the First Amendment (and the Bill of Rights) on Dec. 15, and include a link to We also have op-eds available at

Please take a few minutes to help us build momentum, and thanks for your ongoing support for a free press and the First Amendment.

— Ken Paulson, president of ASNE and one of the founders of the "1 for All” campaign.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making it easy to become a member

Here's our APME membership letter, including our December payment plan deal. Hope you can join us as a member, and this month you pay only $75 to get started. 
Dear editor/news leader,

Last fall, I had the opportunity to work with a number of Associated Press bureau chiefs in planning the start of the AP-APME Broken Budgets reporting initiative.

Our goal in this first joint national reporting effort was to tell the stories of fiscal challenges in statehouses and local governments across the country, and to involve AP members in the coverage. Our hope was to spark major statewide projects involving members and the AP, while breaking news regularly on the budget woes that would impact taxpayers.

We soon generated consistent, strong stories from coast to coast, some of which perhaps ran on your front pages or were featured in your broadcast reports. And major projects in Pennsylvania, Illinois and other states shined as members worked with state bureaus, producing dramatic results.

Broken Budgets, which continues today, has raised the bar in APME's national reporting efforts and is just one example of how we're delivering for you and your newsrooms.

We're now the Associated Press Media Editors, expanding to welcome AP broadcast news leaders, college educators, and student media editors. Our new logo reflects our name change and bolstered mission.

I'm honored to serve as president of this organization as it moves into its 79th year. We're well positioned to lead in journalism for years to come, and I hope you decide to join us.

We're making it easier than ever to become a member. The cost is only $150, and during December you can pay $75 now and pay the other $75 in the first quarter of 2012. A few editors have asked us to set up a payment plan, reasoning that they could expense a smaller amount two times; we're pleased to offer this over the holiday season. Just visit to sign up.

A membership will lead to savings in many ways. For example:

• Our signature training program, NewsTrain, now led by Michael Roberts, is strong as it enters its ninth year with plans for four major on-site stops around the country. New are NewsTrain webinars, which began in November with a session on mobile reporting. We'll offer these throughout 2012, with major discounts for APME members.

• Our prestigious APME Journalism Excellence Awards will expand in 2012 to include broadcast and college categories. The contest committee is working on details, but the goal is to honor more work from across the U.S. and Canada. As in the past, APME members will receive a significant discount when submitting entries in the spring.

• We'll meet again at the beautiful John Seigenthaler Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University for APME Nashville 2012. Mark your calendar for Sept. 19-21, 2012, and remember that APME membership brings you a large registration discount.

These are just some of our initiatives; just visit our website and join us on Facebook to find out about more.

We've all been through some rocky years and many challenges remain for journalism. We'll stay strong together. Consider joining us now, and help us achieve our goals of expanding in 2012.

Bob Heisse, APME president

Click here to join APME or renew your membership.

Monday, December 5, 2011

We've raised more than $1,400 in our first-ever online holiday auction. Thanks to the donors and bidders. These were great items and surpassed our exceptions for an infusion of cash to the nonprofit APME organization. Great work, such as NewsTrain and other practical tools or newsroom editors can continue because of our generous donors and bidders. There are still two items in play: a pro-hockey ticket package and two tickets for the Professional Bull Riders Iron Cowboy event in Dallas. Bid now for a wonderful deal on these two events at

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday bargain on membershp

We have a Black Friday special on APME membership. That's what it looks like, as our first holiday online auction is coming down the home stretch.
A few items already have sold, and most other items are carrying bids. One annual membership is included in the latter category, and it sports a bid of $90 right now.
That's a Black Friday deal if we've seen one. The going rate for membership is $150, and it pays for itself over and above when you count up the benefits.
Are you looking for a membership bargain? Bid now. And check out the other items. 
Hope you're enjoying the holiday weekend. Safe travels. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Budget now for you $150 annual membership to the Associated Press Media Editors organization. With more than 1,600 participants and 200 supporting members, APME continues to be the practical voice for news leaders. With your membership, the benefits well outweigh the cost of membership: 

In addition to substantial discounts for the annual conference, APME journalism contests and APME webinars: 
• APME brings together news leaders from all sizes of publications and broadcast stations.
• The APME board of directors has dedicated seats for small newspapers, online and broadcast.
• Myriad programs, such as Sounding Board, help keep the lines of communication open with AP.
• Tap into AP resources on national projects, such as Broken Budgets and Aging America
• Training that comes to you through NewsTrain and state APME organizations.
• Credibility Roundtables offer research and insight to online issues nationwide.
• Advice from the trenches
• Discounts on the annual conference and APME awards which more than make up the $150 membership cost.
• Great Ideas program and the Innovator of the Month contest help to keep the ideas rolling all year long.
• For educators: Access to the newsroom and broadcast leaders who do the hiring.
• Weekly APME Update with news from around the industry and the Associated Press.
• APME News quarterly magazine.
• Conference is jointly held with Associated Press Photo Editors.
• Include other newsroom leaders from your organization, all are welcome.
• APME is leading the First Amendment charge through its active committee work and with the help and resources of the Associated Press.
• APME and APPM are at the forefront of the sports credentialing question.
• Trade ideas and ask for advice from your peers at

As an added incentive, during the holiday season you can choose to pay $75 now and the other $75 during the first quarter next year. This offer will only be available now though December 2011.

Sign up now for 2012 at:

Innovation, Great Idea of the month.

Innovation and Great Ideas -- we'll now have monthly winners, thanks to the work of Joe Hight and David Arkin, co-chairs, and their committee.
Congratulations to the first winners: Andy Hyland of the Lawrence Journal-World for the October Great Idea, and the Atlantic City Press for the October Innovation.
Read about them: 
Are you proud of innovative work taking place or a great idea in your newsroom? Be sure to enter. Find information on how with these stories.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

APME has a new logo!

We're retooling many things for the coming year. One of which is a new logo to reflect slight name change – from MANAGING editors to MEDIA editors – and to bring in our broadcast partners and journalism educators and students. Thanks to APME VP Brad Dennison and the folks at Gatehouse Media for the design. Stay tuned for more great ideas, training and journalism as we kick off our best year yet. Visit us at or

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday auction might have the perfect gift

Bids have been coming in for our first APME holiday auction, but there's still time for you to find that perfect gift.
March Madness anyone? You'd enjoy it in Phoenix in March. A Final Four team will emerge from play that weekend.
We have two tickets, just for you. 
That's just one of the items. Take a look, and know that all proceeds go to APME programs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First NewsTrain webinar popular

Our first NewsTrain webinar drew 69 participants, a great start for
the new webinar series.

Thanks to Mandy Jenkins, our leader on mobile reporting, and all attendees.

We'll post the session online next week. And we'll let you know about
the next one.

-- Bob Heisse

Sent from my iPhone

New story in Aging America series for Sunday

The next installment of the Aging America project focuses on how some older people are joining “villages” in which volunteers help them with everyday tasks, such as doctor visits and minor home repairs.

The approach is seen as an alternative to moving into nursing homes. The story slugged “Aging America-Villages” and photos moved Tuesday in advance for use this Sunday, Nov. 13.

Aging America is a joint project by the AP and APME to examine the effects on society – positive and negative – as Baby Boomers age. While the AP staff has produced most of the stories to date, the goal is to involve reporters from member news organizations across the country.

As with the Broken Budgets series, another joint national reporting project by AP and APME, the Aging America series will be on-going. Please look for stories from the series on the wire, but also look for ways that you can plug in. You can write local sidebars to wire stories. You could offer a reporter to contribute to a national story. Or propose a story or project.

Find background on the project here:

For more information, contact your local AP bureau chief or Terry Spencer, AP news editor in Miami,; or Alan Miller, managing editor / news for The Columbus Dispatch and an APME board member,


Friday, November 4, 2011

Justice Department pulls back on FOIA changes

The Justice Department has dropped its proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act, which is good news.
APME had sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday, asking him to drop these proposals that essentially would allow federal agencies to deny even the existence of federal documents.
Other groups opposed the changes, and the Justice Department shared its decision in a letter to key senators.
Here's coverage of the development by Pete Yost of The Associated Press.

Our first NewsTrain webinar comes next week

On the heels of our very successful NewsTrain, which drew 100 participants for high energy sessions in Salt Lake City, we present our first NewsTrain webinar.
Here's a reminder that Mandy Jenkins, social news editor of The Huffington Post, will lead a session Thursday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. eastern on mobile reporting and free desktop publishing tools.

You can register for the webinar here:  Call-in information and a link to the webinar will be sent a few days before the event.

Jenkins previously was the social media editor for Washington, D.C., local news startup TBD and the Cincinnati Enquirer. She has also worked in online news at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and as a newsroom producer for WKSU, an NPR affiliate in Northeast Ohio.

The webinar costs $9.99 for APME members and $19.99 for non-APME members.

Consider becoming an APME member now to save on these webinars, contest fees and conference registration. Here's the link:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday night out in Nashville

Just another look-ahead to APME Nashville 2012. Mark your calendar for
Sept. 19-21.

Our Thursday night social will be held downtown at Margaritaville, one
of the new venues in Nashville.

The program will be determined, but it promises to be special.

Our first holiday auction might include that perfect present

Our first-ever APME holiday auction is now open for bidding.
Will you find that perfect present in there? You won't know until you take a look.
Among the items are sports tickets, books, tours, prints and more. You also can find a reduced rate -- possibly -- for APME membership.
We'll highlight some of the special items in coming posts. For now, take a look and bid, if you see something great.
Thanks to board member Laura Sellers Earl for putting this together and overseeing the bidding.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

APME sends letter to AG protesting proposed FOI changes

The Associated Press Media Editors has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder registering its concerns over proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act.
The letter, signed by APME president Bob Heisse, calls on Holder to drop revisions to the FOIA that would essentially allow federal agencies to deny even the existence of certain federal documents.
There is no need for any change, the letter notes, and APME said it views this action as a step toward making government unaccountable.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
"The Associated Press Media Editors is strongly opposed to the Justice Department's proposed change to Freedom Of Information Act regulations (OAG Docket No. 140). A modification to the FOIA that would allow federal agencies to essentially deny even the existence of certain federal documents would make a travesty of the United States' claim to have an open and fair government.
"If implemented, the rule change would gut the intent of the FOIA and make any claims of transparency by any government agency or official a complete sham.
You work for and should answer to citizens.
"The FOIA was conceived as a way for average citizens — as well as media — to gain information from and about their government. When you propose a change that would allow any government agency to deny the existence of official documents, you are intentionally misleading those citizens.
"There is no need for this revision. The courts already assess whether documents qualify for FOIA exclusions.
"APME views this action as a step toward making government unaccountable. It is  bad policy, and we urge you in the strongest possible terms to drop this change to the Freedom of Information Act."


NewsTrain begins in Utah; follow it on Facebook and Twitter

Turnout is fantastic for our NewsTrain event in Salt Lake City, which kicks off today and runs through Thursday.
In all 100 journalists, educators and students are in place for two great days of sessions led by Michael Roberts.
You can follow these by joining NewsTrain on Facebook and Twitter. We want you aboard. 
Thanks to Roberts and all who've helped plan this NewsTrain in Utah. 
-- Bob Heisse

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

APME board member honored with Mimi Award

APME board member Carole Tarrant, editor of the Roanoke Times, has been named winner of the 5th annual Mimi Award.
The honor, presented by the Dart Society, recognizes editors who support and encourage excellence in the coverage of tragedy and trauma.
Tarrant led the Roanoke Times in its coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.
Here are the details of the award. Congratulations to Tarrant.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Want to host a NewsTrain in 2012?

NewsTrain Salt Lake City, coming this week, will be our final NewsTrain of 2011.
We'll have more on this in coming days. 
Meanwhile, planning is under way for NewsTrain workshops around the country in 2012.
Check the APME web page ( on what it takes to have a NewsTrain in your area.
If you're interested, please contact NewsTrain project director Michael Roberts with your thoughts: mroberts.newstrain@gmail.comNewsTrain
Workshops are changing to better meet specific needs in each location. Planning now includes a local needs assessment to identify where and how training can have a significant impact.
Work with  Roberts on training for print, online and broadcast journalists, from frontline staff to department heads and senior managers.
Locations for 2012 will be selected soon to begin the planning process. Please consider your needs and how a NewsTrain workshop might help.  

Looking for lead editors in a few states

A few states -- just a few -- are not yet covered in our APME50 effort that will start in November.
APME50 is our new state reachout designed to keep APME in touch with active editors on state boards across the country.
We're looking for lead editors in New York, Nevada, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.
 If you can help please contact our co-chairs, Laura Kessel at or Jon Broadbooks at
-- Bob Heisse

Monday, October 24, 2011

Send us your ideas for Nashville

Planning is in full swing for our next annual conference Sept. 19-21,
2012, at the beautiful John Seigenthaler Center on the Vanderbilt
Campus in Nashville.

Is there a program you'd like to see in Nashville? Send us your ideas
via Twitter @APMEsings2012

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New APME committee seeks more visibility to media innovations and ideas

The combination of APME's "Innovator" and "Great Ideas" projects
will allow a new committee to become more proactive in pushing the
concepts to its members and the industry.
APME President Bob Heisse recently announced the new committee and
appointed David Arkin and Joe Hight as its co-chairs.
The new committee will seek to:
-- Bring more visibility to the concept that media should be
consistently sharing ideas and innovations that will spur future growth
in the industry.
-- Highlight media that submit their great ideas, as well as
consider them for the Innovator of the Month award.
"Awarding not only a monthly innovator, but also recognizing great
ideas, will not be great news for the newsrooms that are recognized, but
it's an outstanding tool for newsrooms that are hungry to test out new
ideas," Arkin said. "Taking APME's popular Great Ideas program and
making it a monthly recognition program, in addition to the production
of the annual book, was a no brainer. In our constantly changing
industry, our colleagues are constantly searching for the brightest and
best ideas and innovations."
-- Use social media as well as the APME website to interact more
with the industry about its ideas and innovations. It will also promote
through state AP bureaus and other areas.
-- Ask monthly innovation winners to participate in a Q&A and
provide other interactive elements to help explain how they created and
introduced the concepts.
-- Simplify the process to submit innovations and ideas to the
-- Pursue quarterly chat sessions on innovations and great ideas.
Besides the monthly innovations and ideas, the committee will
continue to award and highlight the Innovator of the Year and the Great
Ideas book at the annual APME conference. Part of the book will devoted
to a new "hall of fame" for the past and monthly winners.
Arkin is executive director for Gatehouse Media's News & Interactive
Division and Hight is director of information and development for The
Oklahoman/ Committee members are Kathy Best, managing editor
of the Seattle Times; Bill Church, executive editor, the Statesman
Journal Media in Salem, Ore.; and Kurt Franck, executive editor, The
Blade in Toledo, Ohio.
Heisse, executive editor of The Centre Daily Times in State College,
Pa., had previously chaired the Innovations Committee. Franck and Terry
Orme, managing editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, had chaired "Great
"This has become such a great tradition for APME that I and others
look forward to each year at the annual conference," Hight said. "We
hope that this new approach will not only simplify the process and make
it more visible, but also build upon these valuable APME creations."

Partners host NewsTrain in Salt Lake City

We have great hosts for our next NewsTrain, Nov. 2 and 3 in Salt Lake City.
It will be held at Brigham Young University's Salt Lake City Center and will focus on investigative reporting, social media, digital media, managing change and more.
Our hosts are The Salt Lake City Tribune, The Deseret News, The Standard-Examiner (Ogden), Brigham Young University, the University of Utah and the Associated Press Bureau for the region.
The region covered by this AP bureau, based in Denver, includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. We appreciated their help at the recent conference in Denver, and now at a great NewsTrain event.
NewsTrain Salt Lake City promises to be super. If you're in the region and can make time, you'll benefit big time.
Here's the link to register. Hope to see you in Utah.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Broadcast committee seeks members

Our APME committees are up and running except one. That's because it's still a committee of one.
Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming at WTOP all-news radio in Washington, D.C., is our new broadcast board member and he heads the new broadcast committee.
We're reaching out now for members to help us expand APME to include broadcast leaders in training, our contest, our webinars and more.
This committee will blaze a trail in making this happen, and Farley's eager to get started. If you're interested in working on this committee, send Farley a note a
If you know an AP broadcast news leader who might join this effort, forward this post.
Thanks for your help as we build a new and important committee in APME.
-- Bob Heisse

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A first stop in Nashville

The next APME conference will take place in Nashville on Sept. 19-21, 2012.
Sounds far off? It still is, but that doesn't mean it isn't taking shape.
It's looking good actually, when it comes to venues. They're all lined up and we'll introduce them in posts right here.
Our first stop is the site of the annual auction and opening night reception. In Nashville we'll gather at the beautiful Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
Here's a preview:
The Nashville Tennessean is just down the street from the center, and APME attendees might take tours of the paper's new design center before the auction and reception.
It promises to be a great first night at APME Nashille. We hope to see you there.
Our conference page is already started online. Check it for updates when you visit.
-- Bob Heisse

Monday, October 17, 2011

Follow us on Twitter

Are you following APME on Twitter yet?
Well what are you waiting for. We're there and have a modest 507 followers to date.
How about you. It's pretty simple -- we're @APME.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Holiday auction coming soon

We've held two online auctions this year, and we're planning another one just in time for the holiday shopping season.
These auctions benefit APME programs, and any donations are tax deductible. We've featured some neat things, including sports tickets, books and regional gifts in the two previous auctions.
Well, we know you need help finding the right items on your holiday shopping list, and we're hoping the online auction might give you some great ideas.
This holiday auction, our first, will debut in early November and run for about three weeks. There will be plenty of time to receive an item that you won to give it as a gift.
Do you have an item to donate? Just let Laura Sellers Earl or me know. Laura can be reached at or send me a note at Thanks in advance.
We'll alert you when the auction debuts. If you really really like something you can "buy it now."
-- Bob Heisse

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Circulation is like the sun"

There are places in the world where newspaper circulation is increasing nicely. Many places.
In fact newspapers reach more people than the Internet, according to the annual update of world press trends by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
Of course the west is where circulation is declining, but there are great signs in other parts of the world.
Here's the full report: 

'Deadbeat Illinois' series to raise the bar

They call it "Deadbeat Illinois," and it's an impressive set of stories ready to run in Illinois newspapers starting Sunday as an offshoot of the AP-APME Broken Budgets initiative.
I'llinois simply hasn't been paying its bills, and the state's newspapers and AP have documented the delinquency.
The stories will raise eyebrows nationally, and should pound away at a pathetic situation in Illinois government. Here's the budget item for the lead story, which will be sent for use nationally:
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. _ Plagued by budget deficits, the state of Illinois has made it the norm to dump its problems on thousands of businesses, charities and local governments by refusing to pay its bills for weeks or even months at a time. An Associated Press analysis of state records shows Illinois had nearly $1.5 billion in bills that had been sitting around for at least two months as of Sept. 8 because state government lacked the money to pay for office supplies, temp services, drug abuse treatment and even funerals for the indigent. The practice is unusual even among states with equally dire budget situations, disguising the depth of Illinois' financial problems and turning groups into unwilling lenders, without any permanent solution in sight. By Associated Press reporter Christopher Wills.
We'll highlight this story on next week and link to packages from the papers. 
Congratuations to the Illinois AP and member papers for raising the bar in Broken Budgets reporting. .
-- Bob Heisse

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Webinar set on mobile reporting

Mandy Jenkins
Mandy Jenkins, social news editor of The Huffington Post, will lead a NewsTrain webinar in November on mobile reporting and free desktop publishing tools.

The webinar is part of a new NewsTrain webinar series. NewsTrain, APME's successful training program, has offered training to more than 5,000 journalists over its 10-year history.

The webinar will be held on Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. Central/2 p.m. Eastern. You can register here:

Call-in information and a link to the webinar will be sent a few days before the event.
Jenkins' session will delve into how journalists can use their phones to report news and what free web tools are out there for stories you're writing from your desktop.

Jenkins has a wealth of experience in mobile reporting. Prior to her role with The Huffington Post, she was the social media editor for Washington, D.C., local news startup TBD and the Cincinnati Enquirer. She has also worked in online news at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and as a newsroom producer for WKSU, an NPR affiliate in Northeast Ohio. 

The webinar costs $9.99 for APME members and $19.99 for non-APME members.
Consider becoming an APME member now to save on these webinars, contest fees and conference registration. Here's the link:

Happenings in New Jersey

With its governor, Chris Christie, often in the headlines, New Jersey is in the spotlight a lot these days.
It's in the middle of APME activities, too, and we're all looking forward to NewsTrain Thursday and Friday at Rampano College.
Registration continues today. Can you send a journalist for the best low-cost training over two days? It's a great opportunity.
Join NewsTrain on Facebook for updates if you can't attend. You'll get a great sense of what takes place, and perhaps you can attend it in Salt Lake City or another location next year.
New Jersey also will be the site for an AP editors meeting Oct. 26 in Princeton. The state used to have an active APME group but that went by the wayside in favor of this annual meeting. It will be a great opportunity for editors to connect with the Associated Press and with APME.
If your state is having an APME or AP editors meeting, let us know. We'll let everyone know through APME Update.
Just contact me at
-- Bob Heisse

Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering Linda Stowell

Monday has been an incredibly tough day for anyone who knew or worked with Linda Stowell, an Associated Press executive who was based in Philadelphia.
She fought long and hard against cancer and touched so many lives. As Philadelphia bureau chief she brought members together with the AP and built a relationship that stands today and is evident in joint Pennsylvania reporting projects that raise the bar.
In later years she became regional vice president in charge of AP's newspaper member relationships in the eastern half of the United States. 
She was remembered by AP CEO Tom Curley as "a tireless and powerful voice for newspapers and the U.S. news industry."
A celebration of Stowell's life will be held later. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Lankenau Medical Center Foundation, Medical Office Building East, Suite 5050, 100 East Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood, PA 19096.

Aging America joins Broken Budgets

Baby Boomers are aging in a big way, and our AP-APME national repoting project is out to tell that story from coast to coast.
You've already read and published a few of these stories, but many more will come in the reporting initiative called Aging America. They promise to be timely and informative pieces, perfect for you to localize.
We've set up an Aging America page on the website and invite you to visit and certainly to look for advisories announcing stories in this initiative.
If you have an idea for an angle or project, contact your state bureau chief.
Broken Budgets is still going strong, and Aging America joins it as a themed reporting effort that will enrich papers and broadcast outlets in the coming months and well into 2012.
-- Bob Heisse

Friday, October 7, 2011

Previewing the next APME magazine

Stories are coming in for the next APME magazine, which we hope to have to you in November under the leadership of Michael Days of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
We'll wrap up the Denver conference in this issue, along with presenting stories on some APME initiatives such as APME50 and a revamping and merging of the monthly innovation contest with Great Ideas.
We'll feature updates from the May through September innovation winners, and stories from winners of the Gannett Foundation Award for Digital Innovation in Watchdog Journalism.
The magazine also will include a new feature -- an AP Stylebook quiz. A quiz segment was quite popular in Denver, and we'll now include one in magazines going forward.
We'll tell you more as the magzine is put together. 
-- Bob Heisse

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Northwest gets third member of board

The APME board had an opening when J. Todd Foster resigned, so we went back to the election results from Denver and found our new board member.
We're welcoming Jim Simon of The Seattle Times, giving us three Northwest members.
Here's our entire board, a hard working group from all over the country.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

AP to recognize 'Best of the States'

The Associated Press has begun a "Best of the States" contest to recognize top state news produced by staffers each week.
This expands the "Beat of the Week" contest, as explained by Kristin Gazlay, who oversees state news at AP.
With the AP-APME Broken Budgets initiative producing great stories around the country, including some massive projects, this appears to be a great move and will set up a healthy competition at the state level.
In another great move, AP also will recognize a breaking news staffer of the month, as the release notes. No doubt newspapers and broadcast outlets -- all depending on breaking news -- will join in applauding this staffer's work.   

Monday, October 3, 2011

Check off your gift list and help journalism leaders, too!

Staring Nov. 1, the first ever Associated Press Media Editors online holiday auction takes a bow. A great way to give gifts that help journalism, APME and even help you at tax time, since donations to APME are tax deductible. 

First step: Find groovy items to donate. They could be sporting tickets, vacation getaways, beverage packages, gift certificates, books, editorial cartoons, fan packages, jewelry, news-related items, framed news photos, music, movies, books, almost anything goes.

To donate, send a photo of your item(s), a brief description, value and contact information. We'll take it from there and let you know where to ship it Dec. 2.

And then, you should come and bid on the other items, too. It's fun, it's fast and can fill your wish list.

Your donation or your winning bid goes directly to help this volunteer organization advance the cause of professional journalism for AP-member publications and broadcasters in practical, meaningful ways. The three other 2011 online auctions produced almost $1,800 that went directly to supporting professional journalism leaders. APME and its foundation are nonprofit organizations and your donations are tax-deductible.

Online bidding ends 5 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 1.

Winners will be notified by after the auction has ended and will receive their certificates or items after payment is received.

Thank you to our auction donors and to all our bidders!

For more information, contact APME President Bob Heisse, Auction Co-Chairs Dennis Anderson and Laura Sellers or APME Executive Director Sally Jacobsen

Quad-City Times wins Innovator of the Month for Friday Night Tweets

The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, is the September winner of APME's Innovator of the Month contest. The paper is honored for its innovative digital work in covering high school football.

APME's Innovator of the Year, now in its fifth year, has expanded in 2011 by naming an innovation of the month.

Here's how the entry submitted by Jan Touney, executive editor, described the newspaper's work:

"Friday Night Tweets is a way for our sports staff to provide immediate information and to interact with high school football fans across a two-state area (Iowa and Illinois) every Friday. Reporters from our paper give frequent updates on the games they are covering via Twitter, reporting any scoring plays and also providing statistics and analysis through the evening.

"We also tap into Twitter updates given by reporters from other papers with all of it being funneled into a Coveritlive blog on our website. An editor in the office monitors the blog, approving comments from readers, updating a scoreboard and occasionally posing poll questions for readers.

"The blog generally begins around 7 p.m., right when most games are starting and extends late into the evening, usually linking to a video panel discussion called "Late Hits,’’ in which our reporters discuss the highlights of the evening.”

For more contact Touney at or sports editor Don Doxsie at

More on the entry can be found at

"Lots of newspapers are struggling with how to cover preps when their staff and newshole are shrinking. The Quad-City Times has found a way to provide coverage and reach the target audience through the mediums they are most likely to be reading: Twitter and live chats, said APME judge Kathy Best, managing editor of The Seattle Times.

Applications for the APME monthly innovation recognition are being accepted at

Don't miss NewsTrain New Jersey

Where can you get two days of cutting edge training for only $50?
There's only one place, and that's at APME's signature training program, NewsTrain. It's making a stop in northern New Jersey next week and journalists in the area shouldn't miss it.
Digital media training will be front and center at this NewsTrain.
Register this week and get the most training for your money.
Our next NewsTrain will be held in Salt Lake City in early November.

Friday, September 30, 2011

State boards hear about APME activities

In recent days state AP boards have met in at least three states and in each case have heard about national APME activities.
The Indiana APME heard from Mark Baldwin, our conference chair for Nashville 2012.
The Illinois AP Editors Association heard from Jon Broadbooks, one of the co-chairs of APME50, our state reachout effort that should get into full swing in November and share news of note with active editors.
I spoke briefly to the Pennsylvania APME board, but they heard about APME throughout from state president Cate Barron, our NewsTrain committee chair.
We won't be able to meet with every state board in APME50, but we should be able to connect with them in a new way in late 2011 and 2012.
Thanks to all who are involved in APME50. If you'd like to get involved send a note to our co-chairs.
-- Bob Heisse

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Illinois Broken Budgets project in home stretch

Our AP-APME Broken Budgets national reporting initiative is continuing, even as we've formed an Aging America initiative.
You'll hear much more about Aging America in coming weeks. You've heard a lot about Broken Budgets, and to date the biggest statewide project has been completed in Pennsylvania examining legislative staffing.
About three dozen papers worked with the Pennsylvania AP on that project, published in April, and of course it led to awards for AP staffers and an APME Innovator of the Year finalist spot for the newspapers.
Moving into October, however, a project being finalized in Illinois -- by papers and the Illinois AP -- looks to rival Pennsylvana's project.
Stay tuned for details of a series that will come to Illinois media by mid-October. It will be a shining light for Broken Budgets and offer important information for residents of the state.
Broken Budgets is examining the fiscal crisis in state and local governments across the country. That crisis continues, and there's no slowing of the AP-APME reporting initiative.
To offer an idea for a story or project in this initiative, contact your state AP bureau chief. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Proud of your innovative work?

We're coming down to the wire to accept entries for the September APME innovator of the month. 
Is your newsroom doing innovative work? Be sure to enter it for recognition.
It's easy and free to enter. Congrats again to the Winnipeg Free Press, our August winner.
This story about Winnipeg will take you to the entry platform. Good luck.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Calling NewsTrain alumni

We're looking for NewsTrain alumni. Does that mean you?
Thousands have participated in NewsTrain to date, and we're about to enter its ninth year. Our goal for 2012 will be to reconnect with alumni. We want you to know about how NewsTrain is changing, under the leadership of Michael Roberts, and how it is drawing great crowds.
Keep in touch by becoming a NewsTrain fan on Facebook. Hope to see you there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pew Research findings offer a mixed bag

The latest Pew Research Center findings offer a mixed bag but some good news for newspapers and broadcast outlets. 
For example,

69% say they have a lot or some trust in information they get from local news organizations, while 59% say they trust information from national news organizations.

Here's the link to it all.

Welcome to APME Update

We've changed our name to the Associated Press Media Editors, we've expanded membership to broadcast new leaders, educators and student media editors, and we've started a few initiatives.
We have a lot to talk about heading toward 2012, so we've started this new blog to share our news.
Called APME Update, it will connect with the APME Update that is emailed to 3,000 editors once a week.
We hope you follow out headlines in both the blog and the email, and visit this website often. You won't miss a thing if you do that AND you follow us on Facebook. We're glad to have you on board. 
-- Bob Heisse

Friday, September 16, 2011

Motivation and Morale: Keys to a Successful News Room

By Christine Larsen

Upon entering the room, with a big smile on her face, Jill Geisler shouts: "Who
went to the ball game last night?" When more than half of the room raised their
hands, she responded: "Great! I'm in a room of people who ate brats and drank
beer last night!"

Geisler, Leadership and Management Group Leader at the Poynter Institute, came
to motivate and teach on the most effective way to get morale up in the news
room. However, it seemed she did more than that while engaging the AP editors
in the audience and helping them reflect on some significant morale-boosting
moments in their own careers.

What's the big deal about Feedback?

"Feedback really is like nutrition," she said. "I think of it as the threshold test.
Every day, we walk through the threshold in the place we work."

She added that people are constantly seeking approval and positive
reinforcement, regardless of how high up the totem pole one is. Although
admitting she cannot put more hours in the day, she said she can help improve
the quality of what is already given.

Feedback Defined: Information with Intent to Influence

"What can we influence?" she asked the room, to responses of: "behavior,"
"performance," and "attitude."

Key intrinsic motivators, according to Geisler, include: competence, autonomy,
sense of purpose, and growth. Confidence and insecurity in attempting
something tend to actually hold people back.

"Confidence as a motivator is one of the reasons why people resist change," she

According to her, most people view feedback as one of two things: praise or

Positive Feedback

Information: Good News or Updates
Don't praise, reinforce. Don't declare victory, acknowledge work. "Say things like
'I see what you're doing..."

Appreciation: "This does not have to be the world's most significant praise," she
said. "This is the word of thanks." We struggle with self-doubt and sometimes
just need a quiet word of encouragement.
Praise: "'Who's awesome? You're awesome.' That is not good enough-- the
question needs to be answered: 'Why?'" Say things like "I loved your story
Effective praise is sincere, specific, and timely.

Celebration: "It doesn't need to be popping champagne corks, just to show
they're doing a good job and it's recognized," she said. "These days, people
should be celebrating big wins and small wins."

Negative Feedback

Information: No News or Bad News

Clarification: "This is a surprise negative," she said. "In the days of email, the
simple act of asking for information can strike someone as a criticism, as
negative feedback."

The first line of every email sent sets the tone for the rest of it; one line can
make a big difference. "The law of proportionality says that a long email of
multiple questions with a one-word answer of "fine" makes recipient question
what that one word's underlying meanings are.

Concern: "By your very tone, people know its going to be a 'concern

Intervention: Advice for Tough Talks:
Go into a difficult conversation knowing your goal. What do you really want to
Know yourself. Are you quick to conflict? Love to debate? What makes you
Start strong
Don't pile on
Focus on behaviors
Expect emotion: yours and theirs
Avoid hyperboles
Listen: Dare to inspire with your feedback.
Stay on track.
Stay calm
End smart.

Want to hear more great tips? Check out:
"What Great Bosses Know"- a free Ipod cast that has had more than 6 million
downloads and Geisler's book: Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know.

International Coverage with Local and Global Appeal

By Christine Larsen

Jammed phone lines. No communication. No new information. Missing
correspondence is only part of the challenge international journalists face when
reporting natural disasters.

Haiti correspondent for the Miami Herald, Jacqueline Charles, discussed today
the localization of a globalizing world during a break out session of the last day
at the APME conference: "Bringing International Stories Home."

Miami provides an example of how international stories are able to resonate
deeply to a local audience, according to Charles. The city is home to a Haitian-
American population that demographically represents the top non-speaking
minority for the area, posing certain issues in terms of accurate and sensitive

Many Haitian-Americans take pride in their country and think they know
everything there is to know about it, Charles said. One issue to grapple is
overcoming this boundary and providing them with more information focused
on a global reach.

"When Haiti sneezes, Miami catches a cold," she said.

Charles also added to her discussion that sources are key. In a country that
works off of rumors, it is vital to discern where that information is coming from.

"Haiti is emerging from a dictatorship," she said. "In a country like Haiti, strength
is in sourcing."

Eric Talmadge, AP Tokyo News Editor, discussed the privilege and unique
opportunity in writing for a globalized audience. One of the goals of AP Tokyo
that he illustrated was in finding issues and stories that highlight the human

Talmadge, who has spent his entire career reporting in Asia, said it can be
challenging to capture elements of humanity in international reporting.

"It's happening to people," he said. "How do we illustrate that? We need to put a
human face to what is going on in the world." However, finding humanity and
personalizing devastation and destruction often brings emotion to the reporter.

"Being a reporter on the ground is very frustrating. When you see suffering, you
don't want it to continue," he said. "There are many issues to delve more deeply
into and the perspective of the AP is to focus on breaking news, but we also
need a local focus to say as much as it needs to."

An advantage he had in covering the 6.6-magnitude undersea quake in Tokyo
included having pre-existing resources. These included a collection of bilingual
reporters already knowledgable about the area and accustomed to covering
breaking news.

"We are there for the long haul," he said. "Other media outlets did not have so
much of a luxury." He later added, "I could go right to the story knowing what
the local media was saying."

The global audience was captive and engaged for about a month, in which time
the agency was able to produce a lot of further developments.

However, a stifling handicap in reporting international coverage is that incredible
resources are required, which cost a lot.

"We don't have those types of resources at our disposal," Talmadge said.

This is where John Schidlovsky, founding director of the International Reporting
Project, comes in. The project is the first non-profit news foundation support
agency in the country, according to the panel.

The International Reporting Project send around 400 U.S. journalists to 101
different countries to report on in-depth investigative and enterprising stories in
their local papers in a two-prong approach.

"With individual fellowships, there are 10 reporters sent to 10 different
countries," Schidlovsky said. "They will then come back and do their stories. The
focus is on stories not covered by the US media."

The next mission through the project will send reporters to Saudi Arabia in the
spring with the goal of editors gaining deeper perspective of what is going on in
the world with a direct staff and the opportunity to build contacts. The trip will
be at no cost to them or their home news agencies.

"We pay for everything," Schidlovsky said. "We want to bring international news
home and work closer with editors to fashion a project that is of interest to
people in the local community. No matter how small an area is, there is always a
strong international community."

Collaboration is Key

By Janice Bates


Collaboration for the greater good was the theme this morning as the final day of the 2011 APME conference continued. Speakers Mark Katches, Stephen Engelberg, and Matt Moore all discussed why they feel collaboration with other news/media groups is important, and also gave examples of what they've done that has been successful.


Katches was first up, the Editorial Director for the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch. He went into detail about what they have been doing recently, especially when it comes to collaborating with other newspapers. Currently, they have the largest investigative reporting team in California, with a total of 12 reporters who look for various stories all over the state. Their goal, as he put it, is to "get great stories!" They work hard to help other news organizations in the state of California, who can no longer do their own investigative reporting due to monetary cutbacks. They do this through their very own distribution model, which in itself has several different approaches.


Their main goals are to create custom drafts for their partners, create different versions of each story, as well as to get the broadest distribution possible for the stories they cover. The first approach they take under this model is what he calls the "Full Service Operational" approach. Here, the Center for Investigative Reporting's goal is to produce all aspects of the story, and then sell it to newspapers in California. The only thing that these papers have to worry about is when to publish the story. Another approach is the "95% Solution" model, in which again they produce all aspects of the story, except they leave a little room for the newspapers to add their own local spin on it. Also, Katches will work with other groups to get the word out about something. An example he gave was how they were able to create a coloring book that was published in five different languages and help teach kids about how to prepare for an earthquake.


He concluded by saying that the newspapers they sell their articles/stories to are not recipients of their work, but rather a part of the effort to bring everyone together to collaborate and get these stories out to a wider audience.


Stephen Engelberg was up next, Managing Editor of ProPublica. Their goal is to "do reporting that brings about change," and "shine a light on something that creates change and affects a lot of people." Their collaboration comes in many forms. They provide exclusives to newspapers, make arrangements with other partners, and have also created and used databases. One of their main databases is called 'Dollars for Docs.' This database pulls together information including the names and records of every doctor that has made their records available to the public. Since they have launched this database, versions of it can now be seen everywhere. 'Dollars for Docs' is just one way they can collaborate with many other different news/media groups.


Matt Moore, AP's Pennsylvania News Editor, concluded the lecture with a brief summary of his take on collaboration. "Collaboration is a wonderful thing," he feels, and he likes how using collaboration can get the story out everywhere. His goal is to put the story out to the people it affects the most, i.e. through local newspapers. Using web feeds was one of the ways he suggested, and he also briefly discussed how they try to focus on state issues like the current gas drilling going on in Pennsylvania.


Overall, it's important to collaborate with other newspapers, non-profits, and any other media source available. This gets the word out, so that more people can know what is going on. All three speakers today relayed this message, and hopefully there will continue to be more involvement in collaborations in the future.


2011 McGruder Diversity Award recipients: Gregory Moore, Sherrie Marshall

Gregory Moore, editor of The Denver Post, and Sherrie Marshall, editor of The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, are the recipients of the 10th annual Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership, sponsored by the Associated Press Media Editors.

The awards are given annually to individuals, newsrooms or teams of journalists who embody the spirit of McGruder, a former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, former managing editor of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and a graduate of Kent State University. McGruder died of cancer in April 2002. A past president of APME and former member of ASNE's Board of Directors, McGruder was a relentless diversity champion.

This year, the 10th annual awards were sponsored by the Free Press, The Plain Dealer, Kent State University and the Freedom Forum.

The winners were recognized Thursday at the annual APME conference in Denver. The honorees each received $2,500 and a leadership trophy.

Moore and Marshall were honored for their longstanding commitment to diversity in newspaper content and in newsroom recruiting and staff development.

"Both of our winners reflect the legacy of Bob McGruder," said Hollis Towns, outgoing APME president and executive editor of the Asbury Park Press and New Jersey Press Media. "They have embraced diversity in their newsrooms in spite of the challenges the industry has had to endure and they have elevated the attention to diversity in their newspapers."

In the nominating letter for Marshall, nominators Jean Fox Alston, vice president/foundation for the Newspaper Association of America, and Reginald Stuart, corporate recruiter for the McClatchy Co., wrote: "Regardless of the economic times, Sherrie has made it her business to keep diversity in news coverage and staffing atop her agenda. On the recruiting front, she made it her business to participate in journalism events and to network with aspiring and early career prospects as well as peer colleagues. She gladly took on students for paid internships, knowing those early experiences are priceless.

"She breathes it, as Bob did. She lives it, as Bob did! Through three publishers, two owners, flush and lean times, Sherrie Marshall has remained consistent in her dedication to diversity."

George McCanless, president and publisher of the Telegraph, said of Marshall, "Macon is a unique place, a town full of historical significance and simmering racial discord. As editor of The Telegraph, Sherrie plays a pivotal role in our efforts to try to mitigate the racial animosity in our community in order to help foster a more collaborative and constructive dialog among our residents. Internally, Sherrie maintains her focus on our diversity objectives despite our industry's ongoing economic challenges, and serves as both a role model and mentor to our journalists of color."

Marshall joined The Telegraph in February 2001, after working for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 22 years, her last position being deputy managing editor.

The nomination for Moore pointed to his career-long commitment to diversity in each of the newsrooms he has worked in.

"I've known Greg for more than two decades and in every market he's worked in as a reporter and editor – Dayton, Cleveland, Boston and Denver – he's left visible signs of his diversity leadership. He leads through words, actions and personal examples," said Mark Russell, editor of the Orlando Sentinel, who worked for Moore at the Globe.

Moore was named editor of The Denver Post in June 2002.

"And he quickly put a stamp on the largest newsroom in Colorado," Russell said. "Call it the Moore effect: He promised to shake things up, and promptly set about doing that. And, all the while, he kept diversity front and center as a way to improve the journalism and connect with the increasingly diverse Denver area. When Greg arrived, the Post staff was about 16 percent minority. He quickly set out to improve the staff and he's made diversity a cornerstone of his hires."

Moore's work in Denver represents a commitment to diversity that has been a hallmark of his career. Before joining The Post, Moore had been the managing editor of the Boston Globe for nearly eight years. He began his career in 1976 at the Journal Herald in Dayton, Ohio. Before becoming editor, he worked as a reporter covering crime, education, politics and government.

A native of Cleveland, Moore joined the Globe in April 1986 after six years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. It was his hometown paper that began his editing career, first as state political editor in 1982 and later as day city editor.

Adrian Walker, a featured Globe metro columnist who was Moore's second hire as Metro editor in 1989, recalls that when he was hired the Globe suffered both from a lack of diversity and from Boston's image as a place that professionals of color would do well to avoid. "Not only did he substantially increase the diversity of the metro staff, he did more than anyone to reverse the image of the Globe as unwelcoming to people of color," Walker said.

The 2011 judges included representatives of the Freedom Forum, Detroit Free Press, The Plain Dealer, Kent State University and the American Society of News Editors. Jurors assessed the nominees based on their significant contribution during a given year or over a number of years to furthering the cause of diversity in content and in recruiting, developing and retaining journalists of color.

APME announces legacy program

The Associated Press Media Editors has unveiled an APME Ambassadors program for editors who include the organization in their estate planning.

The goal, according to APME President Bob Heisse, is to attract at least 80 ambassadors by 2013, which is APME's 80th year. The program, he said, will expand the organization's fundraising and help ensure APME's future.

"What we're doing grows in importance each year for editors who work with fewer and fewer resources," said Heisse, executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa. "We have to stay strong to offer leading training through NewsTrain, AP-APME national reporting initiatives, First Amendment support and much more."

Making an estate donation is as easy as including APME in your will when it is written or revised, or adding a bequest through a codicil, or amendment to an existing will.

Further details will be provided in the fall APME magazine. For more information, contact Sally Jacobsen at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to Make Comments Engaging

By Weston Gentry

If you aren't convinced that world peace is unachievable, read the online comment's section of a newspaper sometime.


Digital news has advanced the journalism profession in some ways, but constructive dialogue isn't one of them.  Anonymous verbal brawling is commonplace.  Some news agencies have even chosen to suspend comments rather than making an attempt at moderation. (see: Greeley Tribune & Portland Press-Herald)


Jack Lail, Director of News Innovation for the Knoxville News Sentinel moderated an afternoon session Wednesday that discussed what media organizations are doing to remedy the incivility and even leverage comments to their benefit.


The first panelist to speak was David Arkin, Executive Director of the News and Interactive Division for GateHouse Media. In January of 2011, GateHouse launched a real-name registration comment system for its 90 dailies, 289 weeklies and many more locally focused websites.


"Editors were frustrated with the ugliness and time management issues concerning their comments," he said.


The GateHouse model varies in specificity from paper to paper, but functions under the assumption that users are less likely to make inflammatory comments if they are forced to use their actual identities.  The strictest version of the policy requires a phone number, address, city, state, zip code, birthday and gender in order to post a comment.


This idea is not a new one, but new to the online product.


Arkin compared the verification system to a traditional letter to the editor. Most newspapers still continue the practice of authenticating a contributor's identity by phone before printing their letter, but that thoroughness seems to have been compromised in the digital age.


Less than a year into its existence, Arkin deemed the model a success even though he admitted that comments have dropped by an average 10 to 20 percent. On the positive end, he said the registration hasn't affected site traffic.


The second panelist, Bobby Burton, President of 24/7 Sports based in Brentwood, Tenn. said comments are essential to his business model.


"Comments are baked into our DNA," he said. "I look at comments a lot differently than some newspaper people have traditionally."


Burton left, a subscription based, Yahoo-owned sports recruiting website a year ago to form 24/7 Sports. His company now manages conversation-heavy, "affinity sites" for 34 college teams and one pro football team.


Like, 24/7 relies on interactive message boards.


"The forums are actually where people hang-out when we're not publishing news," he said. "They are spending time on our website while our writers aren't actually writing anything."


Burton believes that 24/7 improves on the model he used at Rivals.  In its first year, 24/7 generated some 50 percent more user-generated content than he expected. Also, his workforce is more streamlined because he requires writers to moderate their own content.


"It's a rule in our company that a reporter is responsible for his own discussion," he said.  "It's not a manager's job to edit the comments it's a reporter's job."


To conclude the panel, Director of the Engagement for the Journal Record Co. and social media guru, Steve Buttry offered a defense of user anonymity.


"Right or wrong anonymity is the culture of the Web.  But it is also the culture of journalism," he said. "For crying out loud, 'Deep Throat' went 25 or 30 years without being identified."


Buttry argued that identity verification would preclude some government officials, members of the military and others from participating.


"Anonymity frequently results in more lively discussions," he said.  "There are things beyond wanting be an anonymous asshole that restrain people from wanting to talk."