Friday, December 21, 2012

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma shares Newtown coverage advice

Dear APME friends,

As the details of the horrific events in Newtown, CT, emerge, many of your teams and colleagues are involved in coverage - either on site or covering local angles elsewhere.

This story is challenging both professionally and personally. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma has assembled an array of online tipsheets on covering mass shootings, child trauma and community tragedy which may be helpful – go to These include reporter-to-reporter advice on stories and news choices; editors' resources gleaned from previous incidents; and tipsheets on self-care and trauma response for news teams.

In addition, for any of your teams on site: I am pleased to report that the Yale University mental health team which is providing support for the Sandy Hook community has agreed to be available as a confidential resource for any journalist covering this very upsetting story. Journalists can call Carrie Epstein, 917-716-6546. She is an experienced and top-level trauma clinician.


Bruce Shapiro
Executive Director
Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
tel +1 212-854-8056 / cell 203 843 4390

Monday, December 17, 2012

Looking for low-cost, meaningful training for your newsroom?

NewsTrain is a national touring workshop serving journalists in their own cities. Programs are designed to provide training in the skills, knowledge, and information newsroom leaders need in a rapidly changing media setting.

For 2013, we need locations that are willing to host a NewsTrain session. This involves putting together a host committee, finding a venue and food and planning. It's a bit of work, but the payoff is great training that can be shared with your regional peers.

Our project director, Michael Roberts, will guide you along the way and help ensure your event is successful and valuable. What's not to love?

Time is tight. If you want training, such as that which is detailed at, then sign up today at

Don't let 2013 pass without providing your key newsroom people a chance to grow and learn. Stay in touch at

If you have questions, shoot them to Michael at

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Friday is the last day to bid in the APME/APPM holiday auction

There are a bunch of great gift ideas in the Associated Press Media Editors and AP Photo Editors holiday online auction at

Stunning photographs
Hostess treats
A New Jersey shore condo

The auction ends at noon EST this Friday, Dec. 14.

You help APME and APPM with your bids, so don't delay!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Just catching up: the winners of our conference sweepstakes prizes

In September, APME offered an iPad and a Kindle Fire in a sweepstakes drawing during the conference in Nashville.

The winners were: Richard Pienciak of The Associated Press won the iPad; and Darrell Christian, also of the AP, won the Kindle Fire.

Thanks to all who donated to the sweepstakes. All funds go directly to fund APME's activities throughout the year. Learn more about APME and its mission at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bid on books, prints, Hostess goodies and more in APME's online auction

APME’s online holiday auction is now open for bids on great gifts: a shore getaway, runway-to-real life shopping trip, a box of Hostess goodies and framed photos of Johnny Carter and June Carter Cash and from Myanmar and Superstorm Sandy.

Don’t miss books on Lincoln (See the movie, buy the book!) and those from AP writers: "Black Men Built the Capitol,” "Minka: My Farmhouse in Japan,” "Tough As Nails: The Life and Films of Richard Brooks,” "Two Hot dogs with Everything” and "The Seven Keys of Balabad.” And more!

The bidding ends 5 p.m. Eastern, Monday, Dec. 10. Visit to peruse the items.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Three newspaper projects garner APME quarterly awards

            Newspaper projects from Arizona, Michigan and Oklahoma have been selected for the Associated Press Media Editors' quarterly idea and innovation awards.

          Judges selected “Traditions,” the Arizona Republic's multimedia project on the state's large number of American Indians, as the winner of its “Great Idea of the Quarter.” They also selected the Detroit Free Press' “Project Prom” and The Oklahoman's “What's It Like” as winners of the “Innovation of the Quarter.”

           In the description about “Traditions,” Republic Editor Nicole Carroll wrote that the project was the “first-ever comprehensive collection of demographic, historic and traditional information about Arizona’s large and diverse community of American Indians, combined with award-winning reporting and photography.”
          “Because of the team’s creativity and sensitivity, they were able to gain access to historic traditions that few people have been able to witness, including coming-of-age ceremonies and other sacred events that have roots extending into the past for centuries.”
          One of the judges wrote about the project that can be found at “This is what we do best, and it was creative to pursue it so thoroughly.”
          As for the innovation winners, judges selected The Detroit Free Press and The Oklahoman as co-winners.
          The Detroit Free Press used its many tools, from print to online to social media, to encourage high school students to create prom dresses from newspapers. Efforts by staff members Krista Jahnke and Alexandra Bahou were so successful that participants lobbied for their dresses on Facebook, and more than 3,200 votes were cast. An interior and fashion expo also requested that the winner display the dress during the event.
          Judges thought the project that can be seen at was innovative in several different ways.
          One judge wrote: “The innovative idea of the newspaper dresses works on so many levels: engaging with a new, younger audience; two, poking fun at ourselves and other uses for our product; and three, showing that the staff and business can be playful with the readers -- we will copy the idea.”
          Nancy Andrews, managing editor for Digital Media at the Free Press, said: “The idea exceeded our fondest expectations. ... It was so successful that we’re already planning for next year — and we’ve attracted interest from a popular shopping mall.”
          The Oklahoman's innovation takes an interactive approach to questions that readers might ask about medical procedures or that they may undergo themselves in their lives.
          The idea by Assistant Local Editor Nick Trougakos spurred health writer Jaclyn Cosgrove to create a multimedia project on health procedures for the Sunday editions. 
          Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news, said the project also has revenue potential.
          “About 80 percent of the 'What's It Like?' features have been sold to a presenting sponsor, making in a double win for our group, “ she said. “It provides unique and useful content in a new way while monetizing the effort based on the topics chosen by the reporter. None of the ‘What's It Like?’ stories have been requested by a potential sponsor. They have been written, produced and scheduled before being pitched to sponsors.”
          Judges thought that the innovation is one that many newspapers and media would want to duplicate in their communities.
          “We often wonder about medical procedures, and here's a newspaper willing to give us a multimedia inside look at them,” said one judge about the project that can be found at “Great work!”
           Finalists for the quarterly awards were The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch's interactive Construction Zone Map; The (Hanover, Pa.) Evening Sun's Battle of Gettysburg 140 Characters at a Time; and the Utica, N.Y., Observer-Dispatch's Who We Are series.
           APME is now seeking entries for its next quarterly honors that will be awarded early next year. You can submit your news organization's idea or innovation at It takes only a few minutes to enter, and your submission will automatically be considered for the next “Great Ideas Book.” 
The “Innovation of the Quarter” and “Great Idea of the Quarter” are a project of the APME Awards Committee. Joe Hight, director of information and development for The Oklahoman/, and David Arkin, vice president of content & audience for GateHouse Media Inc., are co-chairs of the committee. Committee members are George Rodrigue, managing editor, The Dallas Morning News; Linda Negro, grassroots editor, Evansville Courier & Press/; Meg Downey, managing editor, The Tennessean; and Laura Kessel, managing editor, The Willoughby, Ohio News-Herald. Rodrigue, Negro, Downey and Kessel served as judges for the quarterly awards.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Deadline approaches for new journalism fellowship

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, in partnership with APME, is offering a new one-year journalism fellowship that will focus on the economics of aging and work.

This fellowship is a 12-month residential fellowship located at the headquarters of the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. Mid-career journalists working for AP or an APME news organization are eligible to apply.

More information about the fellowship including the online application process is available at Applications are due Nov. 30.

NewsTrain seeks 2013 host sites

APME's popular NewsTrain program is seeking host sites for 2013.

Our national traveling workshop will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary next year and needs enthusiastic hosts with venues that can hold 100+ attendees.

Deadline for consideration is Nov. 30.

Read more at:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

APME's 2013 conference will be held Oct. 28-30 in Indianapolis

Organization celebrates its 80th anniversary

APME is pleased to announce that the 80th APME Conference will be in Indianapolis Monday, Oct. 28, through Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. For this special anniversary gathering, we will return to Indiana, home of the very first conference in 1933.

"We are ecstatic to be going home to Indiana for our 80th anniversary," said APME President Brad Dennison. "Indianapolis is both a great city and a great convention city. We'll make sure that attendees get a real taste of it while they're in town."

The conference will have two official hotels in one complex, the J.W. Marriott and the SpringHill Suites in the downtown area. The conference venue will be the Indiana State Museum, just a short walk across the street. After-hours activities will include receptions at the Indiana Roof Ballroom on Monday evening and the NCAA Hall of Champions on Tuesday evening.

Stay tuned here or at for more information.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Conference videos are online now

It took longer than we expected, but a passel of videos from September's APME conference are available now. All the videos are at Here are the sessions:

APME 2012: Government Secrecy and the Fight for Public Information
National Press Foundation President Bob Meyers leads a critical discussion on the increase in government secrecy and the fight for public information. Panelists will discuss how the FOIA process has been slowed or outright corrupted, and other recent roadblocks the government has erected that threaten the free flow of information and the public's right to know.

APME 2012: Unleash Your Inner Watchdog
Pulitzer winner Michael Berens of the Seattle Times tells editors the best ways to identify and pursue powerful watchdog stories from everyday records using investigative techniques and strategies that lift high-impact enterprise from daily beats and help newsrooms create authoritative work on multiple platforms.

APME 2012: Lessons from Aurora, Colorado
Journalists scrambled to cover the carnage when a gunman opened fire last month in a theater in Aurora, Colo. killing 12 people. In the aftermath, however, reporters and editors found themselves dealing with the emotional fallout of the experience. Representatives of the Associated Press, Denver Post and the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma will discuss ways in which managers can support staff members grappling with aftereffects of violent news events. Moderated by Carole Tarrant, editor of the Roanoke (Va.) Times.

APME 2012: First Amendment Showdown
Test your knowledge of America's core freedoms and be eligible to win prizes spanning two centuries, including 19th century newspapers and a Kindle Touch.  Join John Seigenthaler and Ken Paulson, the founder and president of the First Amendment Center, respectively, in a engaging and irreverent look at what we don't know about the First Amendment. In the words of  former American Press Institute Associate Director Mary Glick: "For more than a decade, John and Ken's interactive, engaging and inspiring sessions on the First Amendment were the highlight of every American Press Institute seminar -- and they are always updating, changing and adding new material. No one can make the Constitution come alive the way these guys do. Really, don't miss this one."

APME 2012: How Do You Measure Success?
APME 2012 Nashville, Tennessee. Matt DeRienzo, Connecticut group editor for Journal Register Co., leads a dynamic discussion of top ways to measure your social media success. Panelists Dennis Anderson, executive editor of the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star, Knight Stivender, senior editor for community engagement at the Tennessean; and Allen Klosowski, senior director of social/mobile for Digital First Media, will draw on recent examples and practices in newsrooms of varying sizes. Video shot by Middle Tennessee State University's student run television station, MT10.

APME 2012: Is There More to Social Media Than Being Liked?
APME 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. Is There More to Social Media Than Being Liked? Why are we tweeting and hanging out on Facebook when we have a newspaper to put out -- and with fewer people than previously. Ellyn Angelotti of the Poynter Institute will moderate a panel discussion on best ways to make social media campaigns effective, how to measure our social media effectiveness, and strategies for using social media to engage more deeply audiences that might help us generate revenue. Video shot by Middle Tennessee State University's student run television station, MT10.

APME 2012: Associated Press Report
APME 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. Kathleen Carroll, The Associated Press executive editor and senior vice president, leads a briefing about the latest ongoings with the Associated Press. Carroll is joined by Gary Pruitt, president and CEO of The Associated Press, political editor Liz Sidoti, vice president and managing editor for state news Kristin Gazlay, director of photography Santiago Lyon, and senior managing editor Michael Oreskes. Video shot by Middle Tennessee State University's student run television station, MT10.

APME 2012: You First Saw This on Twitter and Facebook
APME 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. The methods companies use to get their message out has changed. Find out what they're doing and why and how well it works, and learn some techniques you might be able to use in your organization. Moderator was Jack Lail, website director for the Knoxville, Tennessee, News Sentinel. Video shot by Middle Tennessee State University's student run television station, MT10.

APME 2012:  Who's up? Who's Down? Part #1
APME 2012 "Who's up? Who's Down?" Part #2
APME 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. Who's up? Who's down? In what states will Election 2012 be won or lost? And how will social media help -- or hurt -- campaign coverage? Mindy Marques, executive editor of the Miami Herald, leads the discussion with AP's Liz Sidoti and Chuck Babington, along with Joe Vardon of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and the Herald's Sergio Bustos. Video shot by Middle Tennessee State University's student run television station, MT10.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chapel Hill NewsTrain canceled

Because of low registrations for the Chapel Hill, N.C., NewsTrain, we regret that we had to cancel this event. We encourage you to watch for our 2013 NewsTrain locations. In the meantime, your registration fees will be refunded in full.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Journalism fellowship offered on economics of aging and work

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, in partnership with APME, is offering a new one-year journalism fellowship that will focus on the economics of aging and work.
This fellowship is a 12-month residential fellowship located at the headquarters of the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago.
Mid-career journalists working for AP or an APME news organization are eligible to apply.
The topic and the work will be closely connected with the AP-APME special project "Aging America,” and the fellow selected will participate in that work.
The fellowship will include the opportunity to produce regular journalism for distribution by AP on issues related to the aging American workforce, to learn the skills of research-based enterprise reporting, to work with economists at the University of Chicago, and to participate in an original NORC survey on retirement planning issues facing the baby boom generation.
While the fellow's reporting will be targeted for a national audience, there will be opportunities to add a local or regional focus. At the end of the year, the fellow will return to the newsroom with skills and experiences designed to elevate not just their own coverage of economic issues but also to share with colleagues.
More information about the fellowship including the online application process is available at
Applications are due Nov. 30.

Friday, September 28, 2012

APME launches "NewsTrain10" giving campaign

The Associated Press Media Editors has launched a special fund-raising campaign in support of NewsTrain’s 10th anniversary year in 2013, news that was greeted at the organization’s Nashville conference with a significant donation from its partner organization, The Associated Press.

Addressing the conference attendees, new Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt announced that the AP would donate $25,000 to NewsTrain for 2013, and called the program "the best journalistic training in the country.”

"APME and NewsTrain are so fortunate to have the Associated Press as a partner,” said incoming APME President Brad Dennison, who announced the "NewsTrain10” program during his opening remarks on Tuesday. "This was an incredibly generous gesture by Mr. Pruitt and I sincerely thank him and the AP for this donation.”

The "NewsTrain10” personal giving campaign is actually aimed at garnering smaller donations of $10 or $100 from those who have attended or been involved in the program over the years, while attaching donors’ names to the program.

"Friends of NewsTrain” will be listed in APME Magazine and on the website through the 2014 conference. In addition, $10 donors will receive a special NewsTrain10 lapel pin, while $100 donors will receive the pin and a golf shirt with the NewsTrain10 logo.

NewsTrain is considered APME’s marquee program and is a national touring workshop that has reached more than 5,000 journalists since its inception. Sessions are designed to provide training in the skills, knowledge and information that newsroom leaders need in a rapidly changing media environment. NewsTrain programs can include an array of sessions, including editing a variety of content types, management and organizational development, and innovations in digital media, among others.

In 2012, under the leadership of director Michael Roberts, NewsTrain has sold out each of its three stops to date, including Phoenix, Miami and Toronto. The average number of attendees has been more than 100. In partnership with the Southern Newspaper Publishers Associations, a Fourth NewsTrain is planned for Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 19.

NewsTrain donations will be accepted through

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Multimedia coverage of Friday session on social media's impact on Election 2012

We've received some interest in our Friday session on social media's impact on coverage of 2012 presidential election.

Here's how it was billed in the program: "Who's up? Who's down? In what states will Election 2012 be won or lost? And how will social media help -- or hurt -- campaign coverage? Mindy Marques, executive editor of the Miami Herald, leads the discussion with AP's Liz Sidoti and Chuck Babington, along with Joe Vardon of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and the Herald's Sergio Bustos."

Here is the story filed by Becca Andrews, a student journalist from Middle Tennessee State University:

Video crews from MTSU's student TV station, MT10, also taped the session. Because of the session's length, it is in two parts on APME's video channel on YouTube. Here are links to our video reels of the session:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

APME Elects Brad Dennison as President; New Directors

Brad Dennison, vice president of publishing for GateHouse Media Inc., was elected president of the Associated Press Media Editors at the group's annual conference in Nashville, Tenn.

As vice president this year, Dennison oversaw APME’s committees, and led fundraising efforts for the 2012 conference and 2013 NewsTrain, the trade organization’s marquee program.

"In 2012, we have sold out every NewsTrain event to date and we sold out the conference,” Dennison said. "Clearly APME is filling a need at the most critical time in our industry’s history. I look forward to continuing our organization’s aggressive evolution and continuing to support newsrooms even as the media landscape changes faster than ever.”

Dennison also noted that APME will be celebrating two milestones in 2013. The year will mark the 80th anniversary of the annual convention, which will be held in Indianapolis next October. In addition, APME will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its national traveling workshop, NewsTrain.

APME – an association of editors at AP's member newspapers in the U.S. and newspapers served by The Canadian Press in Canada, and AP broadcast outlets in the U.S. – works closely with The Associated Press to strive for journalism excellence. APME also supports training and development of editors, as well as initiatives in diversity and online credibility.

Dennison began his career as a reporter for The (New Albany, Ind.) Tribune, near his native city of Louisville, Ky. He then served as city editor, managing editor and executive editor at various community newspapers in Indiana and Georgia, followed by editing position at the Daily Southtown on Chicago’s South Side and the Chicago Sun-Times.

From 2004 to 2006, Dennison served as vice president of news for Birmingham, Ala.-based Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., owner of more than 90 daily newspapers throughout the U.S. In October 2006, he was named vice president of news for then-newly formed GateHouse Media Inc., where he built and oversaw the News & Interactive Division for the company. In January 2012, Dennison was named vice president of publishing for GateHouse Media’s large daily newspaper division, and oversees all aspects of the business of the company’s largest properties.

Dennison will serve as APME president until the next APME conference in October 2013.

Other APME officers elected were Debra Adams-Simmons, editor of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, as vice president and Alan D. Miller, managing editor/news for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, as secretary. Adams-Simmons will helm the association in 2014 and Miller will take over for 2015. Added to the APME ladder was Teri Hayt, managing editor of the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star. She will serve as president in 2016.

Bob Heisse, executive editor of the (Springfield, Ill.) State Journal-Register, completed his term as association president and will become president of the APME Foundation. Hollis Towns, executive editor and vice president of news for the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press has completed his term as Foundation president, and will remain on the Foundation board.

Elected to at-large positions on the APME board were: Dennis Anderson, executive editor, Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star; Mark Baldwin, executive editor, Rockford (Ill.) Register Star and The Journal-Standard in Freeport, Ill.; Alan English, vice president of audience, The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle; Gary Graham, editor, The Spokesman Review in Spokane, Wash.; Monica R. Richardson, managing editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Laura Sellers, digital development director, East Oregonian Publishing Co.; and Jim Simon, assistant managing editor, The Seattle Times.

Chris Cobler, editor of The Victoria (Texas) Advocate, was elected as the small newspaper representative and Angie Muhs, executive editor/interactive of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald as the online representative.

Broadcast positions on the board went to Eric Ludgood, news director at WGCL/CBS, Atlanta News, and Elbert Tucker, director of news at WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Ohio.
Dennison appointed Andrew Oppmann, an adjunct journalism professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., as editor of APME News, the association’s quarterly magazine.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Panel on social media narrows strategies for attendees

~Written by Mark Mize

This morning’s session “Is There More to Social Media Than Being Liked?” delved into myths surrounding traditional ideas on successful social media involvement.

The panel was moderated by Ellyn Angelotti of the Poynter Institute and featured a panel, including Frank Daniels III of the Wakestone Press, Jay Small president of Informed Interactive and Steve Yelvington who works with Morris Publishing Group.

The discussion began with the panel reiterating the importance of social media in collaboration with online and print content.

“Every reporter should be all over Twitter and Facebook and building their own personal brand,” Daniels said. “Social media should be a way for us to create a social understanding.”
Yelvington lauded Facebook as the social media leader in terms of expanding your audience, referring to it as “the one.”

However, a disconnect exists between traditional metrics, such as “likes” and “follows,” and the actual reach of social media that leads to increased advertising revenue.

Yelvington explained that many of the hits media outlets receive from social media are from one-, two- or three-time users. The numbers continue to decrease until a group of readers are reached that are “addicted” to an outlet’s product. These users will provide solid numbers to show advertisers in the interest of building online revenue.

Small added that it is important to be able to show small- and medium-sized community businesses that you are willing to “up the ante” and engage in social media.

Finally, Angelotti and the panel emphasized that it is important for editors to explain to their staff how to use social media not only as a way to promote their articles and content, but also as a means to engage with their audience on a more personal level, tying social media interactions to content goals. 

Sometimes, these readers can even help writers improve their product and correct mistakes.

This exchange can prove to be mutually beneficial for both sides and may help increase online and print viewership overall.

“People want to share, and they want to converse,” said Yelvington.

#apme2012 Innovator of the Year winner: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dennison predicts 2013 will be another
accomplished year for media association

By Jane Horne

After more than two decades in the industry, Brad Dennison is prepared to take over as the incoming Associated Press Media Editors president for 2013.

Dennison was elected to the APME board of directors in 2008, and has since been actively involved in the association, but it is not just his familiarity to this organization that has prepared him for this position.

As vice president of publishing in the large daily division at GateHouse Media Inc., Dennison oversees all of the company’s largest operations. GateHouse Media’s markets reach more than 10 million people on a weekly basis, and a good portion of that is through the Internet. This division is one that Dennison used to personally run after he was brought in to create it and later took over the web development of the company.

Dennison has also served as the vice president of news for Birmingham, Ala.-based Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., and held editing positions at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Southtown on Chicago’s South Side, The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle and various others.

Dennison’s work ethic is what really makes him the right choice for the job of APME president. His advice to young journalists to work hard, work for free and stay persistent shows his dedication in his own career.

Dennison’s attitude about his presidency and his faith in his fellow board members is another factor into how APME can expect the organization to grow under his leadership.

“It would be easy to feel like the accomplishment is being the president, and I’m there, and it’s not an accomplishment,” Dennison said. “It’s an honor, but not an accomplishment. And I’m honored that my peers thought enough of me to put me in this position. The accomplishment will be what we do in the next year.”

If this year is any indication, 2013 will prove to be another accomplished year. The 2012 APME Conference is sold out, and their committees have been recently redesigned to emphasize marketing and branding.

Also in 2013, APME will mark its 80th anniversary of the annual convention and the 10th anniversary of NewsTrain, bringing a year full of celebrations for the organization.

To Dennison, the membership of APME is what makes these celebrations happen.

“APME wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the membership,” Dennison said. “For the most part, we’re just a bunch of rag-tag volunteers who donate their not-so-spare time to programs and missions and APME. We’re only as good as our board and only as active as our directors and our members.”

Seigenthaler receives APME President's Award

-Written by Becca Andrews

After the conclusion of the political panel this morning, past APME President Bob Heisse awarded First Amendment protector John Seigenthaler with a President’s Award for all that he has done in journalism and for hosting the conference at his First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

In an impromptu acceptance speech, Seigenthaler emphasized the significance of reporting the news and doing it well.

“It’s a new media, but old values are so damned important,” Seigenthaler said.

Political panel discusses coverage, social media strategy

~Written by Becca Andrews

With the 2012 APME conference winding down, there is one issue at the forefront of every newsroom this fall– the 2012 presidential election.

Addressing the coverage of the election were panelists Chuck Babington of The Associated Press, Sergio Bustos of The Miami Herald, Liz Sidoti of The Associated Press, and Joe Vardon of The Columbus Dispatch. Mindy Marques, executive editor of The Miami Herald, served as the moderator.

Remaining in the theme of Social Media Friday, the panelists debated the pros and cons of the use of social media by reporters, the candidates and their campaign teams.

The conversations happening on Twitter can control the narrative and define stories now, but reporters should be careful not to be manipulated by the candidates and their followers, as far as prioritizing coverage, Sidoti said.

“They’re talking to us, trying to influence what we write,” Sidoti said.

Varden said that Twitter is a “brilliant thing” because politicians tend to make highly-debated faux pas on the site that lead into stories, but he also cautioned attendees on the dangers of tweeting.

“Reporters are people too and can also say some dumb things,” Varden said.

The hyper-local focus that many newspapers try to keep up to serve their communities will not be as effective in the coming months with regards to the race.

“We’re such a national community, and the news media is national,” Babington said. “Social scientists have concluded it’s really the national story that persuades people.”

Panelists also talked about the effects of political advertising and how they see the election shaping up over the next couple months.

“If you’re wondering if this election is going to be close, the answer is ‘yes,’” Bustos said.

Political advertisements are also holding voters’ attention, and politicians are spending money to gain votes and influence opinions.

“They wouldn’t be spending the money if it wasn’t effective,” Bustos said. “When you talk to the real voters, they are echoing what they heard in an ad.”

The conversation eventually shifted to public opinion of the reliability of the media. A recent Gallup poll showed 60 percent of Americans have no trust in the media to report accurately and fairly, and only 39 percent are paying close attention to the upcoming election.

The panel agreed that the ultimate goal is to do our job and to do it well.

“Our main M.O., our main goal in restoring confidence is let’s go back to the basics,” Sidoti said. “Let’s go back to what made us credible in the voters’ eyes to begin with– precision, accuracy, swiftness.”

Bustos echoed Sidoti, and said the focus should remain on the constituents.

“Our editor used to say, ‘We gotta get out and talk to some voters,’” Bustos said. “If you listen well enough, you always get a story.”

#APME2012 Nashville Day Two Recap

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New AP chief stresses news, business cooperation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gary Pruitt, the new president and CEO of The Associated Press, pledged Thursday to continue close cooperation with member news organizations on news collection, open government efforts and generating online advertising revenues.

In remarks at the annual Associated Press Media Editors convention, Pruitt noted that the AP Mobile news app presents a key area where the cooperative and members can "be business partners today in a way we couldn't before."

"You can be our local partner," said Pruitt, the 13th person to head the news cooperative since its founding in 1846. "AP can supply the national news, the international news — you can supply the local news. And we'll share ad revenues."

Pruitt also announced to the gathering of top editors and news executives that the AP will contribute $25,000 to the APME's touring journalism workshops called NewsTrain as the program enters its 10th year. As newsrooms face substantial budget cutbacks, he said, training "is a very tough issue these days."

"It's not an easy year for AP to make a $25,000 contribution, but it reflects our confidence and our judgment about what a valuable program NewsTrain training is," he said.

Pruitt, who took over the AP job in July, noted what he described as a changing business relationship between the AP and the newspapers that own it. U.S. newspapers currently account for just 22 percent of revenues, while broadcasters represent an even smaller portion, he said. Meanwhile, 35 percent of revenues are generated abroad.

"That doesn't mean you're less important to AP. That doesn't lessen our commitment to you," he said. "Rather, it allows us to serve you completely and affordably by having that diverse business space and growing platform of customs.

"It's only in that way that AP can provide you the most up-to-date, the most accurate, the most complete and the just-plain best news report in the world every day."

Pruitt was a First Amendment lawyer before joining The McClatchy Co. as general counsel in 1984 and rising to the position of chairman by 2001. He recalled "lots of fights" over access to public records and court hearings, defending libel lawsuits and quashing subpoenas.

"AP's great, because there are more places to fight in that way," he said. "And we can be brothers and sisters in arms in the battle to uphold the Constitution."

Pruitt said he looked forward to continuing a strong working relationship with member organizations.

"While the business may change — and it will change, and it's changing right now — our mission doesn't," he said. "Ours doesn't and yours doesn't. And that feels pretty good in these changing times."

Top AP editors also gave an overview of political coverage in a hard-fought election year, plans for upcoming state news coverage, the latest developments in the photo report and the growing role of social media.

Political Editor Liz Sidoti said the AP and other news organizations remain committed to fact-checking the candidates, even though candidates don't appear to modify their behavior when they're caught "spewing falsehoods on a host of matters."

"The candidates every day still are twisting the facts and are outright lying," she said. "Yet we all are providing accountability journalism that's so critical to campaign coverage."

Mike Oreskes, senior managing editor for U.S. news, said the challenge is to contrast the candidates' statements with the facts without becoming "combatants in the election."

"Part of what happens in a campaign is that the candidates know that repetition is their secret and they'll repeat the same thing over and over and over," he said. "And the journalistic tendency is not to repeat anything. You say something once, it's news and it goes away."

Oreskes said the AP is working to provide online features that fact-check material in a more continuous way.

Sidoti warned that a series of new voter ID laws could complicate declaring the outcome of races on Election Day, as the candidates "have huge numbers of lawyers on standby ready to challenge the count in courts."

Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said the growing number of early and absentee ballots is changing the value of the "fiendishly expensive, very complicated process" of exit polling.

"We spend a lot of time on the forensics of where the votes are out, what our statistical patterns show and we do a lot of research before we make a call on a race," she said. "The complication of when people are voting — and more importantly when those votes are being counted, and having to try to statistically guess how many votes are still outstanding — that's going to be the real dynamic this year."

Kristin Gazlay, the AP's vice president and managing editor who oversees state news, announced that as a result of discussions with members, AP statehouse reporters will be ramping up their coverage of how President Barack Obama's health care law is being implemented.

The goal will be "cutting through the spin and homing in on the issues most pertinent to each individual state," she said.

Gazlay also addressed the growing role of social networks like Twitter and Facebook as reporting and promotional tools for AP journalists, and said those who refuse to use them as newsgathering tools are missing out on a valuable resource.

"It would be like a reporter saying, 'I don't really want to use email,'" she said. "You're choosing not to be competitive, is the message we give."

Carroll stressed, however, that the AP does not use social media as a platform to break news.

"You all pay us a chunk of change to break news to you, and so we do," she said. "And once it's broken to you, we promote it on the social networks."

More than half the world's population sees news reported by the AP on any given day. The not-for-profit cooperative, based in New York and owned by its member newspapers, has journalists in more than 300 locations worldwide, including all 50 U.S. states.

Reporters discuss issues in mental health coverage with conference goers

~Written by Alex Hubbard

The state of mental health in a small Wisconsin town grabbed headlines this summer and brought the two reporters who covered the story to this year’s APME conference to discuss their findings.

Megan Sheridon and Trista Pruett, of the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, a small newspaper just outside of Madison, were the winners of the APME’s Community Journalism and Public Service Initiative, a competition that awarded a $1,000 grant to a newspaper to cover a public service concern.

Pruett and Sheridon made their issue mental health in Dodge County, where Beaver Dam is located and where there are more cows than people, according to Pruett.

“Both Trista and I had covered some county board meetings where they talked about mental health and how the county had a mental-health initiative, and they were adding more hours and adding more staff,” Sheridon said. “I kind of kept that idea in the back of my head as a project that I wanted to work on, and this was a really great opportunity from APME for us to really flesh it out and put some kind of hard work and time into it.”

Megan Sheradin and Trista Pruett of the Daily Citizen are interviewed by Alex Hubbard. Sheradin and Pruett won the APME Community Journalism Initiative for their coverage of mental healthcare in rural communities.
~Photo by Matt Masters

Sheridon and Pruett set out to speak with government officials, private psychologists and people affected by mental health problems.

Pruett followed two children who dealt with anger disorders, and Sheridon covered a woman with manic depression.

It developed into a three-part series, which ran throughout the summer of this year, with written features as well as multimedia presentations depicting the struggles of mental health patients as they worked with what instantly appeared to be inadequate mental care options.

They discovered patients who had to wait up to six months to be seen by medical professionals, and a government that simply did not have the ability to cope.

“Dodge County is a very fiscally- and socially-conservative county,” Sheridon said. “Spending taxpayer dollars on a county program like this– that’s not going to happen.”

Still, Pruett and Sheridon said the point was not to inform government officials, but to inform the community.

”The government people who need to be working on this, they have been informed that this is a problem,” Pruett said. “I think our goal in this was to make the average citizen aware because just walking down the street, most people aren’t thinking. When they’re thinking of all the problems, they’re thinking of the economy, they’re thinking of healthcare in general. They’re not thinking of a lack of mental healthcare.”

Pruett covers the county court system and said she was relatively prepared for what the investigation discovered, but for Sheridon, who covers two small towns and grew up in the community, the experience was eye opening.

“Coming back here, you know, I’m seeing more than just what that childhood vision of what Dodge County was like,” she said. “It’s not just people working in a rural county. It’s people experiencing life and trials and tribulations.”

Berens talks ‘quantifying’ in investigative reporting

~Written by Mark Mize

Pulitzer Prize-winning Seattle Times investigative reporter Michael Berens’s session focused on how using the right process and repositories of information can be the key to successful watchdog journalism.

“The most powerful way to make stories is to find these repositories and find a way to quantify them,” Berens said.

Berens said that most of his skills were honed in his first four or five years at The Columbus Dispatch on the police beat.

He said that when deciding on which watchdog stories to pursue, journalists must look at which ones will yield the best results.

“There are lots of examples of really well-done stories, but they’re boring, or they’re  not relevant, or you see it wasn’t their story,” Berens said.

Pulitzer winning reporter Michael Berens of the Seattle Times talks about strategies and opportunities to find and report better stories from public records.
~Photo by Matt Masters 
Creating checklists may seem like a basic task. However, Berens says they can help journalists understand the elements that make for great stories if there is the tangible element of quantification.

“When you look at the award-winning stories out there, for want of a better description, and compare it to stories that don’t quite meet that bar; one of the things you’ll notice is the quantification,” Berens said.

He went on to list tools and repositories that will help quantify information for enterprise stories.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting database is available free from the federal government, and keeps records on every fatal car crash in America, such as the weight of the car, nature of the crash, and information about those injured in the crash.

“If you develop this tool in the newsroom, and a lot of newsrooms keep this updated annually, so they can use it on a flash, you can start doing watchdog stories right from a breaking news event,” Berens said.

Payroll data can be also be useful to jump start stories. Berens said payroll databases can not only create interesting stories by searching criteria, such as which city employees are the highest paid, but may also be a good way to find valuable sources.

“When I’m doing a story on any kind of city or state agency, I get the payroll database, and I look for everyone who has retired during the last six months and give them a call. They’ve just left and now they’re free to talk, and boy, they will talk,” said Berens.

Berens said in-patient hospital discharge database is the most valuable database that he has ever come across.

“It’s a roster of every patient who’s admitted to every hospital in your state. It’s a list of whether they were on Medicaid or insurance, did they come through the emergency room, did they come in through the prison, did they come in through the nursing home, what was their diagnosis code,” said Berens.

It also includes other information, including some patient demographics, what they were treated for and how much it costs, which can lead to various kinds of medical-related stories.

“It’s about the people. What we do isn’t about numbers; it isn’t about databases. It’s about telling the stories of the people,” said Berens. 

Journal Sentinel wins APME Innovator of the Year Award

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's multimedia effort for its "Empty Cradles" series about the death of children before their first birthday was selected Thursday as the winner of the Associated Press Media Editors association's sixth annual Innovator of the Year Award.

The Journal Sentinel's effort was selected by the attendees of the 2012 APME Conference in Nashville among a field of three finalists. The two other finalists were the Arizona Republic and KPNX-12, Phoenix, for the convergence of print, broadcast and online in its website, AZCentral; and The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, for innovations throughout its website.

APME is an association of editors at newspapers, broadcast outlets and journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada. It works closely with The Associated Press to foster journalism excellence.

The judges, who narrowed the field to three finalists, said the Journal Sentinel project "tackles a social issue and not only tells the story but, as an information source, is part of the solution. The project gets readers involved." 

In addition to the award, the Journal Sentinel received a $1,000 prize from GateHouse Media.

#APME2012 Nashville Day One Recap

APME conference video coverage available online

If you missed sessions in the first day of the APME conference in Nashville, you can find video coverage on the APME YouTube page...

The highlights include Pulitzer prize winners talk about what led them to their big stories and how they reported them. You'll also find interviews with key speakers at conference events.

Also check the APME website for updates...

Seigenthaler News Service debuts at APME

Middle Tennessee State University unveiled Wednesday an innovative federal judicial system reporting project that will allow students to be immersed in daily coverage on federal law enforcement operations in Nashville.

Seven students from the College of Mass Communication will spend eight hours a day, five days a week supplying coverage of the U.S. District Courts and other federal entities for publication by The Tennessean in its newspaper and website. They will operate out of The Tennessean's newsroom for the semester.

The effort will be known as the Seigenthaler News Service, named by MTSU in honor of journalism icon John Seigenthaler, who worked closely with the university, federal court officials and Tennessean executives to create the hands-on learning opportunity.

The seven Seigenthaler Scholars, all seniors, are: Emily Kubis, Amanda Haggard, Christopher Merchant, Richel Albright, Kate Prince, Kylie Kolz, and Alex Harris.

"It is fitting that this endeavor, which we believe to be the first of its kind devoted to coverage of federal courts, will bear the name of John Seigenthaler, a legendary journalist and defender of the First Amendment," said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who announced the effort at the national conference of the Associated Press Media Editors.

Seigenthaler was a reporter, editor, publisher and CEO of The Tennessean, where he remains chairman emeritus, and also served as an administrative assistant for then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. He served as founding editorial director for USA Today. In 1991, he established the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center in Nashville.

"We are honored to partner with MTSU and help lead this innovative endeavor," said Maria De Varenne, executive editor and vice president/news of The Tennessean. "It will allow us to provide more coverage of federal issues, agencies and courts for our print readers and digital audience."

In 1986, MTSU established the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, honoring the veteran journalist's lifelong commitment to free expression. The Seigenthaler Chair, housed in the College of Mass Communication, supports a variety of activities related to free speech and free press rights.

The Seigenthaler News Service will be directed by MTSU journalism professor Wendell Rawls, a 35-year journalism professional. He will be assisted by Dwight Lewis, former editor of The Tennessean's editorial page and a former federal beat reporter.

"Only a handful of journalism schools are doing anything similar — and none are reporting on the federal courts and other federal law enforcement agencies as this project is envisioned," said Rawls, who also serves as chair of MTSU's Seigenthaler Center.

Roy Moore, dean of the College of Mass Communication, said students in other disciplines throughout the university, such as political science, business and criminal justice, will be eligible to apply for future slots in the program.

Moore said the students will prepare daily coverage, in-depth articles, profiles and long-form feature articles, as well as video and audio pieces, for The Tennessean. Their work will also be provided to Gannett Tennessee operations in Ashland City, Clarksville, Dickson, Gallatin, Murfreesboro and Springfield.

The students will also cover the U.S. Attorney's office, and the bureaus of the FBI, ATF, DEA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, federal public defenders office, IRS, U.S. Marshals service, the Federal Grand Jury and the civilian defense bar.

There will be daily reporting, editing sessions, reporting instruction, source-cultivation instruction and weekly lunches with the leaders of The Tennessean, the chiefs of the various federal offices the students will cover, and well as leading defense attorneys.

Joe Haynes, chief judge of the U. S. District Court for Middle Tennessee, as well as the other federal district judges and their associates, committed to help with the project, Rawls said, offering access to the Federal Court electronic records computer system as well as to the law library.

The judges have also provided a private room for students to use for writing and filing stories and will make themselves available to court procedures, testimony and court rulings, Rawls said.

MTSU student media at APME

Today's edition (Sept. 20) of The Daily News Journal covered the news about MTSU covering the news about people who cover the news:

Mass communication students covering APME
The Daily News Journal
MURFREESBORO — MTSU students will be covering the news for the people who cover the news this week as they provide exclusive stories, photos, audio and video for the Associated Press Media Editors' national conference in Nashville. 

Andrew Oppmann
Associate Vice President and Spokesman
Marketing and Communications
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Office: 615-494-7800
Cell: 615-339-8851
Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Aurora shooting panel provides look at mental health

~Written by Alex Hubbard
Emily West contributed to this article.
For every disaster, there is a journalist who must cover it, and dealing with those after effects was the subject of a Wednesday panel.
Moderated by Carole Tarrant of the Roanoke Times, the panel featured Associated Press editors from Denver and Kansas City, a Denver Post editor and the former executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.
“We heard early today from a very inspiring Pulitzer panel about how to do journalism,” Tarrant said. “This is the flip side of that is how to take care of those people who do that.”
Entitled “Lessons from Aurora,” the three editors all helped manage coverage of the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting.

Chris Clark, Associated Press News Editor, responds to audience questions.
~Photo by Matt Masters
Though each editor viewed the event from a different vantage point, they were left with a common problem: how to manage their reporters in order to ensure quality work and maximum personal health.
Chris Clark, an AP editor from Kansas City, inherited one of the toughest tasks when he flew in to Denver to relieve Jim Anderson, the news editor in Denver, who had worked for an uninterrupted month as much of the West experienced wildfires.
Clark had commanded a newsroom in a time of disaster before, when a tornado struck Joplin, Mo., but this was something completely different.
“I was this interloper that had to do things, and so I did kind of the same thing,” Clark said. “I said, ‘Look, let me take 90 seconds of your time. I’m not Jim, but I am the news editor.’”
Clark asked the staff to remain flexible, but also to know when to take breaks while dealing with a long-term story.
It was a good tactic, said Bruce Shapiro of the Dart Center.
The panel consisted of Chris Clark, Associated Press News Editor, Jim Anderson, Associated News Editor Colorodo, Montana and Wyoming, Kevin Vaughan, Senior editor Denver Post, Bruce Shapiro, Executive Director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and moderator Carole Tarrant, Editor of the Roanoke Times.
~Photo by Matt Masters
“Good management actually really matters,” Shapiro said. “Peer support really matters. Your journalists who are most at risk will be those who become isolated from one another, who are not talking to one another or to managers.”
Shapiro and Anderson advocated creating a plan not just to deal with the disaster itself, but also to deal with how to handle those who cover the disaster.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation developed a peer-support plan to help journalists create a strong network among coworkers, Shapiro said.
Despite a focus on reporters, photographers are not exempt from emotional backlash.
“Several studies show that photographers appear to be at somewhat greater risk for PTSD while covering the same assignment,” Shapiro said. “Now we don’t know why that is.”
He recommended allowing photographers to put together photo and multimedia presentations in order to sequence the photos to invoke the psychological coping mechanism though sorting them out into a logical set of events.
However, covering tragic events can sometimes blend into journalists’ personal lives, as Kevin Vaughn, senior news editor of The Denver Post, experienced this summer during the Aurora shootings.
“My friend Tom Sullivan lost his child that day,” Vaughan said. “Sitting in the newsroom that night, realizing the picture of my friends was going to be our art just as they were realizing what was going on, I didn’t know what I thought about it. I was so emotionally drained from my personal experience that I couldn’t really think like a journalist. “
Vaughan went home that night to visit his friend and his family. For the next couple days, Vaughan used his previous experience from other incidents, such as the Columbine shootings, to help coordinate with other editors and devise a coverage plan. 
“It was a very weird thing, and I’ve never experience anything like it,” Vaughan said. “I have never covered anything like this.”