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."

Torrington, Conn., Register Citizen wins 2011 APME Innovator of Year Award

The Register Citizen of Torrington, Conn., a Journal Register newspaper, won the fifth annual APME Innovator of the Year award today in Denver.

The Register Citizen was honored for its open newsroom project, which gives readers full access to the paper's archives and its news meetings.


The Associated Press Media Editors expanded the annual contest this year and now recognizes top innovative work monthly. The Register Citizen had been honored as the January winner.


The Register Citizen will receive $2,000 from APME's sponsors of the Innovator of the Year award -- GateHouse Media and the Reynolds Institute of the University of Missouri.


"The Register Citizen's open newsroom concept impressed APME judges when we first heard about it," said incoming APME president Bob Heisse, executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa. "It was no surprise that our conference attendees voted it the winner today."


"The work in the 16-member Torrington newsroom should give ideas to editors in all size newsrooms," Heisse said.


The award was presented at APME's annual conference in Denver.

AP-APME launch new joint reporting project: Aging America

On the heels of the successful Broken Budgets national reporting project, The Associated Press and APME have launched another project that should also resonate with readers.

While Broken Budgets continues to examine how state and local governments are dealing with the nation's fiscal crisis, the new Aging America project is telling the story of aging baby boomers.


The oldest among the boomers are reaching retirement age, and there are millions to follow. The project will look at the impact – costs, strains and positive influences – that this so-called silver tsunami will have on the communities in which they live.


With the expanded resources of a joint project, we should be able to drill down to the state and local level to tell the story of what happens when the population ages. And aging it is: 10,000 people will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years or so. By 2050, 1 in 5 Americans will be seniors.


The project will examine health, business, transportation, recreational and residential issues, among others.

Aging America stories already have started moving, accompanied by a logo.


Although we anticipate that a large portion of the series will be enterprise, we will fold in spot, breaking news where appropriate.


The reaction thus far has been positive. One editor called it an "incredible series" on an important topic.


The project model employed by AP and the Associated Press Media Editors leverages the resources of the AP and news organizations across the country. Collectively, we develop ideas on these topics, and go deep and wide with the reporting. The result has been an amazing collection of front-page stories, many of which were bolstered with localized reports.


To join in, members don't have to engage in a full-blown collaboration. When your staff does a particularly compelling story on the state's fiscal problems or aging boomers, point it out to your AP bureau chief for use as a member exchange; localize one of the upcoming stories; and kick in ideas for full collaborations.


Terry Spencer, AP news editor in Miami, will be the news editor for the project. He will oversee the content, but stories will be edited on the regional desks. His email address is


Ebony Reed, AP assistant chief of bureau for New England, is taking the lead among the bureau chiefs, and Alan Miller, managing editor of The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch will be liaison with APME. Carole Feldman, AP director of news operations and finance in Washington, is the overall coordinator. Their emails are:,, and


The goal is to set up a team of reporters for the project – at AP and in member newsrooms around the country.


As with the Broken Budgets series, this will be a rolling, ongoing series with contributions from the AP and from members. In many cases, the stories will be structured in such a way that members can localize them, and we will seek to give advance notice of stories and offer advice on data or other resources to aid in localizing them.


Find details on the Aging America project here:

APME elects Bob Heisse as president and elects new directors


Bob Heisse, executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., was elected president of the Associated Press Media Editors at the group's annual conference in Denver.


As vice president this year, Heisse worked closely with the AP-APME Broken Budgets reporting initiative and oversaw the expansion of the five-year-old APME Innovator of the Year contest to award monthly recognition.


"More than ever APME is delivering for newsrooms, whether it's in top training through NewsTrain, top content through national projects, or guidance in unsteady times." Heisse said. "Thousands of editors in our newsrooms need the support and resources that APME can offer."


"I look forward to welcoming AP broadcasters, educators and student media editors to APME," he said. "We have a lot planned in coming months, including new social media projects, continuing two national reporting initiatives on Broken Budgets and Aging America, and unveiling the APME50 project to reach out to editors in a new way."

APME -- an association of editors at AP's 1,400 member newspapers in the U.S. and newspapers served by The Canadian Press in Canada, and 3,000 AP broadcast outlets in the U.S. -- works closely with the news company to strive for journalism excellence. APME also supports training and development of editors in a changing media landscape, as well as initiatives in online credibility and diversity. Its name was changed Wednesday to Associated Press Media Editors to reflect the changing makeup of the 78-year-old organization.


Heisse began his career at Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pa., and later became city editor of the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa.. A Penn State journalism graduate, he joined the Centre Daily Times, which is owned by the McClatchy Co., in 2002.


He is immediate past president of the Pennsylvania APME and is a former president of the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors.


He will serve as association president until the next APME conference, which will be held at the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 18-21, 2012.


Other APME officers elected were Brad Dennison, vice president of News & Interactive for GateHouse Media, as vice president, and Debra Adams Simmons, editor of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer as secretary. Dennison will serve as president in 2013 and Adams Simmons in 2014.


Added to the APME ladder as Journalism Today chair was Alan D. Miller, managing editor/news for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. He is in his second term on the APME board and will serve as association president in 2015.


Miller is a past president of the Associated Press Society of Ohio and a member of the professional advisory board for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.


He started at the Dispatch as a reporter in 1984 and served in various roles before becoming managing editor in 2004. He previously worked at The Repository in Canton, Ohio, and The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Ohio University.


Hollis Towns,executive editor of the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, N.J., completed his term as association president and will become president of the APME Foundation. Otis Sanford, who holds the Hardin Endowed Chair of Excellence at the University of Memphis, has completed his service to APME with a term as Foundation president.


Re-elected to terms on the board were: Michael Days, managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer; Jan Touney, executive editor of the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa; Martin G. Reynolds, editor of the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune; and Laura Kessel, managing editor of the News Herald of Willoughby, Ohio; and Kurt Franck, Executive Editor of the Toledo (Ohio) Blade.


Elected to an at-large term on the board was Aminda (Mindy) Marques Gonzalez, executive editor of The Miami Herald.


Elected to the small newspaper seat was Bill Church, executive editor of the Statesman-Journal of Salem, Ore.

Elected to the online seat was Joe Hight, director of information and development at The Oklahoman and in Oklahoma City.


Elected to the new seat for an AP broadcast member was Jim Farley, vice president for news and programming at WTOP-FM in Washington, D.C.

Reporter notes: A blessing and a curse

By Alison Noon

In the First Amendment/Public Records session at APME's 2011 Conference, the idea of concealing sources behind a veil of irrefutable public records is presented as an ideal alternative to a subpoena.

Contributing greatly to the discussion of public records in modern journalism is Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network Editor Laura Frank.

The importance of records, she says, does nothing to inhibit attempts to restrict access to them.

Post-September 11, 2001, the security of federal documents has been tightened because, in Frank's experience, some information is being withheld for the supposed conservation of the country.

Privacy laws, too, she continues, are popping up and, "seem to trump all others."

Perhaps, then, pin-needle sources cannot be concealed in a haystack of public records?

Frank's examination of this situation offers optimism for reporters who find themselves in it:

Although there is no absolute protection to keep a reporter from having to testify, she suggests that government is actually moving in the right direction for the American journalist. Among other things, information is being recorded not more accurately, but more regularly.

So, how can reporters remain protected while also safeguarding their sources? The First Amendment panel states that making all ordinary reporting within a journalistic institution a consistent practice will be a first defense again any subpoena.

Such "consistency" of note-taking varies across the board of Associated Press Media Editors, even within the panel.

Dave Tomlin believes fully in the protection of notes, majorly for the use of the actual reporter.

Frank admits that she keeps her most valuable notes under the stairs within her home. Fellow panel member Steve Zansberg half-jokingly offers that cleaning out the alcove once it reaches capacity, much like a desk drawer, could be a consistent practice.

Zansberg states that while notes may be an irreplaceable part of the storytelling and fact-proving process, cellphone recording devices and landlines (let alone their online counterparts such as Vocaroo) are not secure methods. Despite privacy laws, the details of a phone conversation, location, or data are easily compromised by government and police officials.

It appears to me, then, that truly safe and effective note-taking must be done in its earliest form: the mighty pen.

Forget the 2012 election ... here are the results of the 2011 APME election

by Mary Rochelle

Hollis R. Towns, the now-former APME president, spoke before announcing the new APME president.

"I want to thank each of you for allowing me to serve. I tried to do my very best as president of this organization and I think we did a pretty good job, said Towns. "It was a team effort --  a great effort."

"This is a symbolic changing of the gavel," said Towns, as he announced Bob Heisse as the new APME president.

Bob Heisse proceeded to introduce his fellow incoming board of director members.

They are as follows:

Incoming Board of Director members

President: Bob Heisse of the Centre Daily Times
Vice President: Brad Dennison of GateHouse  Media Inc.
Secretary: Debra Adams Simmons of The Plain Dealer
Journalism Today: Alan D. Miller of The Columbus Dispatch

Michael Days of the Philadelphia Inquirer
Kurt Franck of The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
Laura Kessel of the News-Herald Willoughby, Ohio
Aminda Marques Gonzalez of the Miami Herald
Martin G. Reynolds of The Miami Herald
Jan Touney of the Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa

Small newspapers:
Bill Church of the Salem (Ore.) Statesman-Journal

Joe Hight of The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

Jim Farley of WTOP-FM, Washington, D.C.

AP Editors Outline Initiatives for Coming Year

By Christine Larsen

According to the 2011 Associated Press Stylebook: A group of octopus is
referred to as "octopuses;" the year 2010 is pronounced "twenty-ten;" a female
third baseman in softball is referred to as just that; and a message sent via
electronic mail is an "email."

So said David Minthorn, editor of the 470-page AP Stylebook, which sets the
precedent for standardized journalistic writing and approves guidelines for news

Minthorn was among the presenters of the Associated Press News Presentation
at the APME conference held in Denver today. Others included new AP chief
political writer, Liz Sidoti, who presented commentary on her critical views of the
current political and social conditions in the United States and personal forecast
for the upcoming presidential election.

Sidoti began her discussion by listing the reasons why "most believe the country
is going the wrong direction" and how the general population's view on
President Obama is that "nobody is happy with him." She added that if the
election were held today, he would lose his chance of winning the swing states
of moderate voters.

"People do not like his policies. Not at all," she said, who included that America
is still proud of electing a black president. "But people still have hope in him and
they want him to do well."

One of the ways the AP will capture future political news coverage is through a
nation-wide political team, including AP political contributors: Steve Peoples,
Beth Fouhy, Chuck Babbington, and Tom Beaumont.

Next, Kristen Gasley provided an overview of state reports. During her
presentation, she gave an update on the joint AP-APME broken budgets, which
she said focuses on how states and local governments are dealing with fiscal
fallouts brought on by broken budgets.

AP Director of Photography, Santiago Lyon, discussed state news photographs,
including the importance of feedback. He also said that during the 2nd quarter
of the year, member contributions are up 22 percent.

"We want to provide good news that directly involves you," he said. "Through
your robust feedback, we continue to make good progress on quality and

His presentation involved a slideshow of an array of startling and heart-
wrenching photos of live shots ranging from a U.S. Marine losing a game of tic-
tac-toe to a 4-year-old and a game of ear-tugging in Alaska to a naked child
being rescued from a burning building and chaos spurred from a stage collapse
that caused gasps and laughter from a ballroom of AP members.

For the first time, the AP board invited broadcasters to join the organization,
who showcased a haunting video on Hurricane Irene with a recollection of still
shots and real-time videos and interviews.

Director of broadcasting, Kevin Roach, said they are also taking on a big issue to
do more with less but are "delighted about the new prospect to be part of this
great organization." He said he is excited to share ideas, learn from each other,
and teach each other while maintaining a competitive spirit.

APME Conference Blog

Thank you so much! This has been fantastic.

-Christine Larsen

'' no longer a threat?

By Janice Bates


Many newspapers have begun to show some concern with the growing popularity of sites like ',' which have taken business away from various newspapers and local news businesses. These hyperlocal websites attempt to cover information specific to local communities across the country, and it is suggested that they do a better job of this than local print newspapers do. However, is still a threat to the print-news business model? Or will it burn out sometime in the near future? These are just a couple of the questions that a panel of speakers at the APME Conference in Denver attempted to answer.


Brad Dennison began by giving everyone a brief background on (an AOL company), as well as each of the speakers that would follow him. Neal Simpson was next, a reporter from The Patriot Ledger out of Quincy Massachusetts, and former writer/reporter for He provided everyone with his own experience with 'Patch', which gave decent insight into what 'Patch' has looked like, and progressed to in the last year. When he was approached about writing for 'Patch', he was working for a print paper in Brookline, Mass. and was eager to work at a place where he would "be on the leading edge" of journalism, "a place on a blazing trail." However, he went on to find out that he would be working long hours, with very little help and not a lot of teamwork since he would see his regional editor maybe once a week. They also proceeded to hire people with less experience, who would come in and try to run things, which seemed to leave him frustrated. Simpson went on to say that he left 'Patch' in April 2011 after they moved to focusing on one topic each day in an attempt to create more traffic to their sites. Since then, he feels he has the best job that he's had in his short career in journalism, a reporter at the Ledger, and he loves the teamwork, and pride that everyone has in the final product. He still has to compete with 'Patch', which keeps him on his toes, trying to report as quickly as he can.


Overall it seems that he doesn't regret his experience with, however he enjoys working for print newspapers a lot more than an online company. While he didn't really directly answer the question 'Is a threat?' he gave off the notion that 'Patch' is not, and will not be a threat to newspapers and how they do business.


Up next was John Lynch, not the football player but the Director of Digital Strategies at Serengeti communications. He focused on looking at 'Patch' from a "search engine perspective" and tried to show their business model through statistics based on this perspective. He started out by giving an example of a Google search page, and asked the question, "Why is's link at the bottom of the search page, instead of at the top?" His answer to this was that search engines look for trust signals when they determine which links go where, and 'Patch' doesn't send out too many of these signals, which is why they are not featured at the top of the page. This he felt was one thing that hurts 'Patch' in the amount of revenue they take in. He went on to give numbers on 'Patch's' attempt to gain revenue through how many times people click onto their page. While he feels that 'Patch' needs to have a call to action in order to get more traffic to their sites, he ultimately felt that they are in no way a threat to print news. He gave various reasons for this, one being that he feels they don't organize their content very well, and that their site is tough to navigate through. He also gave suggestions that 'Patch' competitors could use to gain the upper hand on these hyperlocal sites, which is how he ended his lecture. He suggested that print news needs to focus on creating lasting relationships with their users/readers, and that they also need to harvest reader contact info. He also felt that if print news uses Google and Facebook to get long-term enthusiasts for their papers, they will have an advantage over hyperlocal sites like  


The final speaker was Brian Timpone, the CEO of He focused mainly on what print newspapers are currently doing wrong, and what they need to focus on to compete with hyperlocals. He feels that there is currently a production problem in print news, and that there is not enough content for the right cost. He then went on to talk about his website, which focuses on real-estate in local communities all over the U.S. 

Timpone continued by explaining some problems he sees with He feels that they take a "top down approach" to the stories they cover, and feels that they are centered around individual talent, instead of a team oriented environment. This reminded me of what Simpson was saying about his experience with working for and his feeling of a lack of teamwork in the newsroom. Timpone ended his talk by giving a very positive outlook for print newspapers. He feels that if they focus on local news, and personalizing their papers and stories more (keeping the personal touch), they will then in turn create more competition for each other which will only fuel the industry.


Overall, there were some similarities in what each speaker had to say about and print newspapers. While Lynch was the only one to firmly answer the question as to whether or not 'Patch' is still a threat to print and local news businesses, everyone seemed to feel that would not remain a threat, and is currently not a threat to print media. Although no one from 'Patch' was able to speak with this panel, Simpson's account of his experience working for them did give credible insight into how they operate and what they focus on. In addition, Timpone did somewhat explain and give ideas on what print media could do to improve themselves, and compete with hyperlocal sites like Only time will tell as to whether or not hyperlocal sites will remain threats to print newspapers, or if print newspapers will change some of their content focus and compete with and supersede these hyperlocal sites.


Sports access issue sparks lively debate during panel discussion

Media representatives and officials from two sports enterprises squared off Thursday morning at the Associated Press Media Editors conference in Denver to talk about the tension over media restrictions on access to sporting events and athletes.


Generally, the four panelists agreed that there is room for both the media and sports enterprises in delivering information to fans. They also agreed that disagreements are not rooted in First Amendment issues but in contract law, which panelist Dave Tomlin, assistant general counsel for The Associated Press, said leaves room for negotiation.


But there is strong disagreement about how much access the media should have and how important that access is to fans and other readers.


Tomlin riled panelist Bob Bowman, chief executive officer of MLB Advanced Media, when Tomlin said that independent reporting benefits sports enterprises, because it "confers credibility and respectability," and that it will help grow a fan base.


Bowman bristled, saying that it was insulting to the "125 hard-working, independent" members of his reporting staff to suggest that their work is suspect because they report for an organization connected to Major League Baseball.


"I'm not suggesting that it isn't professional; but it's owned by baseball," Tomlin said. "What I'm saying is that you don't want the only voice about baseball to be baseball's."


Bowman agreed and said he wants to own live streaming of games and video recaps, but he does not want to supplant the analysis and commentary found in most newspapers.


Mobile delivery of text and images from sporting events had been an issue in the past, but it appears that has subsided. Most of the specific flashpoints discussed by the APME panel were around photos and video.


Mike Colbrese, executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, said that high-school associations such as his are fairly collegial when it comes to working with the media or others who seek to report on or videotape sporting events.


"The tug-of-war comes in the fact that we're all looking for that dollar," he said.


He said there is little tension over still photos, but video is another matter.


"We're going to be very vigilant about things that are important to us," Colbrese said. "A lot of us have contracts with video, and we're making some money from it, and we're not going to jeopardize that because a local newspaper wants to live-stream a game."


The reality of covering college and professional sporting events today was brought home by John Leyba, a photographer for The Denver Post.


"We have to make friends with everyone you meet at the stadium," he said. "In past, you were allowed to go pretty much anywhere you wanted. Now, they limit you to certain parts of the stadium or arena. Now, I make friends with anyone I can in stadium so that I can get where I need to be."


Leyba said he has to ask permission for access to locker rooms and players, and "a lot of times, we're shot down."


He fears, he said, that one day, there will be one entity supplying photos, "and we'll have to buy them."













'Innovators' compete for annual award

By Alison Noon

The opening session of day two at the APME Journalism Conference introduced Innovator of the Year Award finalists and, after peer vote, the 2011 winner.

Three finalists were chosen from a pool of about 15 Associated Press-affiliated applicants, according to Laura Sellers-Earl, Audience Director at the Conference.

The Register Citizen of Torrington, Connecticut, The Kansas City (Mo) Star, and accumulated Pennsylvania Newspapers presented their projects.

After a manual count of the votes by fellow APME Editors, it was announced that The Register Citizen would be taking home the $2,000 grand prize.

The Open Newsroom project presented by Editor and Publisher of the Register, Matthew DeRienzo, is a small-scale representation of the transparency that journalism constantly strives for.

When it moved to a new location in the Spring of 2010, the 21-person staff of Torrington's local newspaper found themselves in a newsroom resembling a, "blank sheet of paper," according to DeRienzo.

It was from that large, empty physical space that the team's Open Newsroom concept was born.

The 16 people devoted to daily news coverage in Torrington invite any and all citizens of the 35,000-person town to share in the journalistic process by physically being at the Register's newsroom. Coffee, pastries, and leather chairs handy, the newspaper's office is designed to put the public at ease and encourage face-to-face conversation.

Cubicle walls are short, solid walls are minimal in number, and budget meetings are held publicly all, according to DeRienzo, to literally open up the journalistic process.

Citizens take advantage of these liberties not only by sitting in the air-conditioned building and using the free-Wi-Fi, but by pitching story tips directly to the writers.

The Register began their Open Newsroom project less than a year ago, but has already received widespread acknowledgement within the industry for the achievement. The community, DeRienzo understands, is catching on more slowly.

The Kansas City Star's Midwest Democracy project and the Pennsylvania newspapers' APME-AP Broken Budgets project were contenders to the transparency concept presented by the Register Citizen. All three projects revolved majorly around interaction of readers with the reporting and coverage processes of the papers.

The Innovator of the Year award is an annual update of profound journalism pursuits with sizable impact recognized by the AP community. Outside of the recognizable journalism concepts, Award applicants emphasized a shift to reader-accessible technologies.

Contact University of Colorado at Boulder student Alison Noon at

Register Citizen wins 2011 APME Innovator of Year award

The Register Citizen of Torrington, Conn., a Journal Register newspaper,
won the fifth annual APME Innovator of the Year award today in Denver.

The Register Citizen was honored for its open newsroom project, which
gives readers full access to the paper's archives and its news

The Associated Press Media Editors expanded the annual contest this
year and now recognizes top innovative work monthly. The Register
Citizen had been honored as the January winner.

The Register Citizen will receive $2,000 from APME's sponsors of the
Innovator of the Year award -- GateHouse Media and the Reynolds
Institute of the University of Missouri.

"The Register Citizen's open newsroom concept impressed APME judges
when we first heard about it," said incoming APME president Bob
Heisse, executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College,
Pa. "It was no surprise that our conference attendees voted it the
winner today."

"The work in the 16-member Torrington newsroom should give ideas to
editors in all size newsrooms," Heisse said.

The Future of News – Part Two (Kate Marymont & Tom Curley)

By Weston Gentry


Kate Marymont, Vice President/News of Gannett Co. and Tom Curley, Associated Press President and CEO, followed Dean Singleton's assessment of the past, present and future of journalism with a behind-the-curtain view of what they are emphasizing to their employees in the digital age.


Marymont's strategy at Gannett is localization through consolidation.


 "We want to be a local community's center of news and information and a local community's center of marketing and advertising services," she said.


In order to accomplish this localization of resources, consolidation has become inevitable. Marymont cited printing, distribution and front office functions as things that can be easily be consolidated.


For example, Gannett is in the midst of consolidating the newspaper design of 81 of their newspapers into 5 "design studios" in New Jersey, Nashville, Louisville, Des Moines and Phoenix. That announcement received more than a couple of grumbles from the audience, but Marymont attempted to preempt skeptics.


"They are about efficiency, but efficiency in the pursuit of quality," she said. "We know print readers want sophistication.  During the contractions of the past several years, we haven't been able to sustain that at all of our newspapers. "


"We can't do everything so we have to be very selective," she said. "Our firepower needs to go to watchdog journalism, great storytelling and tailoring high-end, high-impact, unique content."


Her strategy for creating this local, unique content has three components:


1.     Cultivating partners – Partnering with groups that can absorb time-consuming tasks.  (eg. calendar information, sports scores, business briefs, etc.)

2.     Using reporters as curators of information – Moderating community experts in addition to writing.

3.     Turning to the public – User generated content makes users feel apart of the narrative.


After Marymont concluded, Tom Curley offered three suggestions for his bureaus in the current media economy by way of alliteration: accelerate, adapt and aggregate.


"I can't tell you the bad times are going to end," he said.  "In fact, you should go back and prepare your teams for the likely event that the change process is going to accelerate—not slow down."


The Associated Press will be instituting sweeping digital initiatives in the coming months and 2012 according to Curly.  One example is a separate news-licensing group that will allow for more effective aggregation.


"Aggregation is managing complex partnerships, bringing together content from many places and about serving customers in the manner they are getting their content," he said. "It's not about us.  It's about the customers.  We have to adapt."


Despite obvious drawbacks, Curley pointed to the positives of where journalism is headed.


"Mobile is a great opportunity for the 'do-over," he said.  "In the open-web days, we made some decisions that ended up seriously disadvantaging us and our revenues. Mobile provides an opportunity to do business very differently with a lot more controls."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Future of News – Part One (Dean Singleton)

By Weston Gentry


Tempered optimism might be the best description of the three-person panel that addressed the future of news and kicked-off the annual gathering of the Associated Press Media Editors at the Embassy Suites Denver – Downtown Convention Center Wednesday afternoon.


Future being the key word.


AMPE President Hollis Towns moderated a lively discussion headlined by Dean Singleton, Chairman and CEO of the Denver-based MediaNews Group.


From the confines of a motorized scooter, Singleton assured mostly veteran newspaper professionals of the timeless nature of news.


"News is every bit as important—if not more important—to society and our communities than it has ever been," he said.  "The credibility that your newspapers have is one of your greatest assets.  It is also one of your greatest responsibilities."


At the same time, Singleton acknowledged that news transmission is changing and that the transition has been "very, very painful."


His statements come less than a week after engineering a transition within his own company.  John Paton—by all accounts a more digitally-focused leader—was named the new Chief Executive of MediaNews effective September 7.  Singleton didn't address the situation directly but gave his thoughts on the future of legacy media in broader strokes.


"We now find ourselves in a position where we must find an economic business model to operate within the new economic rules," he said.  "It's the new reality and it will continue to evolve."


While the theme of his talk was transition, Singleton was quick to guard against complete abandonment of the print product.


"That day certainly may come," he said.  "I just don't see it anytime soon.  The reader demand is still there.  The advertiser demand is still there.  Both of them are slipping, certainly.  But there is still high demand."


It is evident, however that Singleton is a realist and a businessman.


"We are going to have to have digital to keep of our viability.  As digital becomes a bigger part of our lives, more and more of our consumers are going to be looking at digital first."


"I think there is a very exciting future for our business," he said. "It's a different future."