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.”

APME Nashville kicks off with all-star Pulitzer panel

~Written by Becca Andrews

In the first session of APME 2012, Pulitzer Prize winners told attendees to get creative in their reporting and in their newsrooms, and that the support of good editors is essential.

Michael Berens of The Seattle Times, Sue Snyder of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Katherine Lee of the Tuscaloosa News, Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News and Eileen Sullivan of The Associated Press spoke about their reporting processes in their recent Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, the frustrations they faced and the ever-changing pace of the industry.

These four journalists are hailed as leaders in their field, and said this has been a good year for journalism despite the uncertainty surrounding it.

Sara Ganim talks about her experiences while covering the Sandusky case.
~Photo by Matt Masters

“My friends and I would say this has been a great year,” Berens said. “There are maybe fewer people dedicated to it, but more papers dedicated to watchdog than ever before.”

Berens added that newspapers are looking for unique content, and watchdog journalism is a good way to ensure they get it.

The necessity of multimedia content also found its way into the conversation.

“[The tornado story] had to be told in video,” Lee said.

Synder and her editor referred to security videos for the school violence trend story as “the holy grail,” and the video brought the Inquirer’s website national attention.

Ganim advised that multimedia for the sake of multimedia is not a good thing.

“It’s great, but you have to know when to use it,” Gamin said, after she emphasized the importance of convergence and multimedia.

The group made it clear that a lot of time and energy were spent on their projects, their work cannot be measured by a time card.

In Lee’s newsroom at the Tuscaloosa News, she and her staff were literally living out of the newsroom to cover the devastation caused by the tornadoes. Photographers and videographers risked their lives during the tornado to capture it on film.

Ganim said she used to sleep with a police scanner next to her bed, and was “obsessed” with her beat, particularly when she began at the Centre Daily Times just out of college.

Sullivan’s work had her “drawing circles” in an attempt to find sources who would go on the record about the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism program.

Snyder was a beat reporter thrown onto an investigative team because of her expertise in her area.

Possibly the most tangible reward for their work is the positive reader response, the panel said.

Lee said one morning she received a phone call from  a woman who told her, “My house isn’t here, but my paper is.”

The work done via Twitter by The Tuscaloosa News was also followed closely by locals trying to pick up the pieces, and their Google Doc they put together as a community bulletin board helped readers find loved ones. The National Guard also used staff tweets during the state of emergency.

Berens saw social change come about from his work when the state of Washington reversed its position of the drug Methadone from a first-choice painkiller to a last resort. He also heard how the piece affected the lives of the victims’ families– particularly the  mother of victim Angeline Burrell– who came and spoke at The Seattle Times’ Pulitzer celebration.

“That’s the meaning of what we do,” he said.

Ganim’s coverage of the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State saw healing in the lives of victims of sexual assault, even from those not directly connected with the story.

The newsrooms recognized by the Pulitzer Prize generally experienced a raise in spirits that had been exhausted by the long hours, little pay and cuts that have come with the recent state of the economy.

“We really needed the lift,” Snyder said. “There’s still a lot of challenges, but I’m still hopeful.”

Effective newsroom leadership is rooted in strong values, says Poynter's Butch Ward

Newsroom leadership rooted in clear, strong values leads to good journalism.
That was the message from Butch Ward of the Poynter Institute in a discussion with editors at the Associated Press Media Editors conference Wednesday at the Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Ward said that values shape how editors lead their newsroom, so it's important for editors to reassess their values periodically and ask whether their leadership style works and what values are driving it. And are their behavior encourages a free exchange of ideas and leads to good outcomes.
He said it's important to understand what values motivate people to do good work.
Extrinsic motivators, such as pay increases, can be effective but generally have short-term effects.
Intrinsic motivators tend to be more long-lasting, and key among them are competence, choice, growth and meaning. Here's what those mean for those seeking to do good work, Ward said:
"Competence" is wanting "to do the things I'm good at." Staff members want to know they are good at their work and want to be told that they are.
"Choice" is about having a certain level of autonomy in the job – the trust of their supervisors to make good choices about how to do the work.
"Growth" is knowing that they have the opportunity to learn and grow in their work.
"Meaning" is knowing that the work being done has meaning to readers and the community – that it makes a difference in people's lives.
"These are motivators that can propel a staff," Ward said.
They also are rooted in values, and he said that the boss needs to be out front in demonstrating that values aren't just talk.

Internet down, but Twitter still up

APME 2012 is underway in Nashville, but Internet service to the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center has been down. Comcast, our provider, promises it will be back by 3:30 p.m. CST. Meanwhile, follow our reports on Twitter: #APME2012.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Note from APME president : See you in Nashville

APME Nashville guests:

It’s been a long road to Music City, but we’re ready to host a sold-out performance. Thanks for your support of the Associated Press Media Editors and we look forward to seeing you in Nashville.

Our venue – the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University – is special and I encourage you to walk around while there. Our sessions won’t be in a sprawling hotel, but in a smaller more personal space. It’s a shrine for journalism and all that we do. Enjoy it.

We begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 with a full day of activities. The sessions, starting with Pulitzer Prize winners and ending with a very special First Amendment showdown by Seigenthaler and Ken Paulson, will lead directly to our opening night reception and APME Foundation auction at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.  We hope you find something great to take home and you enjoy the Frist’s preview of Carrie Mae Weems’ photo exhibit to open soon in Nashville.

There are great sessions Thursday along with our AP/APME awards luncheon that will be held in Wyatt Hall at Vanderbilt. Enjoy a short walk on the campus and a full day of activities that end with two special musical performances – Freedom Sings at the Seigenthaler Center, and then a top lineup of singer-songwriters at Margaritaville later during APME’s night out. Don’t miss either of those.

On Friday, join us in the morning for a discussion of the presidential campaign to date, and then stay for Social Media Friday. You’ll leave with plenty of takeways for your newsroom – among them a copy of the APME Gazette. We’ve restored the tradition of having a conference newspaper, and we must thank Middle Tennessee State University students and The Tennessean.

APME will provide shuttle service from the hotel to the Seigenthaler center each day, or you might prefer a pleasant walk. Temperatures are projected in the 70s for the start of APME Nashville.

Look for conference T-shirts and Hatch prints on sale at the registration desk, and pick up a ticket to Margaritaville for $35. Want to go to the Grand Ole’ Opry Friday night? We have an APME block of tickets for $50 that includes a back stage tour and transportation from the hotel. Just sign up at the registration desk.

I want to thank the Seigenthaler Center and our many sponsors and encourage you to meet them during the conference. Also meet the students from Middle Tennessee who report on and video our sessions. You’ll find their work at, in the APME Gazette, and on the Associated Press Media Editors Facebook page. Join us now.

Thanks , everyone, and safe travels to Nashville.

Bob Heisse
APME president

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday night brights: Join us for a great time at Margaritaville!

Thursday night, Sept. 20, we'll participate in a social highlight of the conference after-hours. Journalists and guest will gather at Margaritaville, in the heart of Nashville's honky-tonk district. There, we'll enjoy music performed by a band whose members have written for Ray Charles, Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Tanya Tucker and Hootie and the Blowfish. They've performed with Ringo Starr, Cheap Trick and Poco.

It promises to be an evening to remember. Sign up by clicking here. $35 per ticket.

Sold-out APME Toronto begins

Our third NewsTrain of 2012, in Toronto, is under way today before a sold-out audience of more than 100 journalists.

Led by trainer Michael Roberts, NewsTrain has attracted full houses at each stop this year, first in Phoenix and then Miami.

You can follow it by joining NewsTrain’s Facebook page.

The final NewsTrain in 2012 will take place starting Oct. 19 in Chapel Hill, NC.

Bob Heisse

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

APME heads to Music City and a sold-out show!

The great news is the conference is sold out! The better news is that you can still benefit from many of the sessions through this site and, both in words, photos and videos.
Help us spread the word by following and sharing us on Facebook and helping us hit 1,000 Likes: Let your staff and friends know that conference coverage including video will appear on and through social media. We are at 922 Likes now, so this is a very attainable goal, with your help.
There are a few seats left for the Friday-only Social Media Day for just $35, including a box lunch. If you want to attend, send Sally Jacobsen a note.
And, you can attend the Awards Luncheon Thursday for just $35. Just let Sally know.
If you're in town Friday night, APME has secured some tickets to the Grand Ol' Opry. For $50, you get admission, back-stage tour and transportation to and from the event. If you are interested, email Sally Jacobsen.
Thanks for your support, and can't wait to see you in Nashville.

Monday, September 10, 2012

APME Gazette to print again

Students from Middle Tennessee State University will cover APME Nashville, and they’ll put out a special edition of their campus paper on Friday covering our proceedings.

It will be called APME Gazette, bringing back an APME tradition of printing a newspaper at our annual conference.

Many thanks go in advance to the students and to The Tennessean, which will print the paper.

Pick one up on Friday, Sept. 21 in Nashville.

Bob Heisse

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Update: Music City conference is nearing capacity

Here are a few APME Nashville updates …

We are just about at capacity and the agenda is jam-packed. See the sessions at:

Follow us on Facebook and help us hit 1,000 Likes: Let your staff and friends know that conference coverage including video will appear on and through social media. We are at 876 Likes now, so this is a very attainable goal, with your help.

Don’t miss the Foundation Auction Wednesday night that includes:
• A Hand-painted Silk Charmeuse Ruana (cape-like scarf) by Annette McGruder
• An AP Nashville classic portrait – Johnny Cash kissing June Carter
• A Branson Getaway
• A tour of a major AP bureau and lunch
• A case of Maker’s Mark Bourbon
• Four T-shirt Quilts, including one of Dave Barry for President shirts, signed by the writer
• A Jersey Shore Getaway
• Signed books by great authors
• A Runway to Real Life Shopping Trip and, oh, so much more!

You can preview some of the items at and even purchase conference T-shirts and our first-ever Hatch Show Prints. The auctions are a great cause and always a lot of fun.

If you're staying in town Friday night, APME has secured some tickets to the Grand Ol' Opry. For $50, you get admission, back-stage tour and transportation to and from the event. If you are interested, email Sally Jacobsen.

Thanks for your support, and can't wait to see you in Nashville.