Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Buffett expert: Newspapers still valuable community assets

By Matt Holden | Ball State University

            Warren  Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Media Group has purchased 28 newspapers for $344 million in just the last two years, signaling that one of the world's richest men and his company's shareholders believe local news - the printed kind - remains a valuable community asset and can turn a profit.
            "It is an exciting time in the industry," said Terry Kroeger, president and publisher of The Omaha World-Herald, just days before making similar remarks at the 2013 Associated Press Media Editors Conference in Indianapolis. He noted he isn't the only one who shares enthusiasm for the medium, pointing to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who purchased for $250 million in early August.
            "I reached out to Jeff after I heard, and I told him I was rooting for him," Kroeger said. "We are sort of in this together in not knowing what is going to happen over the next several years."  
            The BH strategy is focused on small newspaper markets and the local franchise each represents at a time when print journalism is struggling to develop new business models that don't involve cutting pages or employees.
            "Print will still be an important part of the business, while digital will continue to have a growing market share," Kroeger said.
Earlier this year Buffett was quoted in Forbes magazine: "Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents."
            The concept of hyper-local news coverage is nothing new. Kroeger pointed out that The Omaha World-Herald still publishes seven days a week (bucking a recent trend of papers reducing frequency or even going all digital) while they offer a metered-approach online.
            What remains unknown is how advertising will evolve. Kroeger admits that making money digitally is still a challenge. "We're always trying new things in advertising, but print advertising is still very effective and very important to us," said Kroeger.
            Kroeger said uncertainty isn't a reason to stop innovating but doing the basics well is equally important.  In order to make money through advertising, newspapers have to continue to create quality content that is worth paying for, he said.  BH Media Group believes that communities want local content, and that they are willing to pay for it.
            In order to get great content, Kroeger says he wants to hire people who are energetic and talented, who have skills in all areas of journalism.
            "We aren't looking for one specific type of skill set, we want people who want to do the work and are comfortable writing stories on any platform," said Kroeger.
            This is especially true when print is leveraged as premium paid content to supplement digital news. Kroeger says that his newspaper's most active digital readers are the same ones who subscribe to the print paper, so they have to be ready to tell stories in different ways in order to give the audience a well-rounded and diverse selection of news.
            The Omaha World-Herald is starting to do this by diversifying its products, with the addition of apps for the Apple and Android devices. Apps such as the NE Prep Zone and Big Red today are sports-focused applications that provide readers with extra content exclusive to their region. While free right now, these soon will be paid apps that add another revenue stream to the OWH's media packages.
            These sorts of additions are part of Kroeger's plan to tell stories on as many platforms as possible. "If there is a technology that has public acceptance, we need to embrace that technology," said Kroeger. "I tell my staff that if it is a hologram on a table, we need to figure out how to tell a story using it."
            Whether it's a hologram on a table or a printed newspaper delivered to the driveway, the one Berkshire Hathaway constant is to produce the best possible local content for that local audience - a commodity they cannot get anywhere else.



Berkshire Hathaway newspaper chief sees long future for newspapers


By Alan Miller

Associated Press Media Editors

The leader of Warren Buffett's newspaper group told newspaper editors today that he sees a long future for newspapers, especially if they are thoughtful and creative in adjusting to changes in the media landscape.


"We will do very well in this business if we make good decisions, not just cut," said Terry Kroeger, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Media Group and publisher of the Omaha World-Herald. He spoke during the Associated Press Media Editors conference in Indianapolis.


He said recent reports that BH Media is interested in some Tribune properties is accurate and old news. While BH Media is interested, he said, he is not in any talks with anyone at Tribune about its papers.


He said Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is interested in continuing to buy papers in mid-size and small markets. A paper with a circulation of "30,000 to 100,000 is our sweet spot," he said. And he said Buffett is looking for a return on investment of about 10 percent.


He said that short-term financial difficulties at any of its properties won't lead to a sale or closure, but that the company won't buy or keep a paper that has long-term losses for which there appears no end. An example, he said, was in Manassas, Va., where the paper was losing money when BH Media acquired Media General papers.


"We sent in our best thinkers and couldn't come up with a way to save it, so we closed it," he said. "It had sustained losses we couldn't overcome."


Kroeger said his philosophy of newspapering is to develop trust between publishers and editors and allow editors to do good journalism without interference. Editors build trust, he said, by holding fast to core journalistic values of accuracy and fairness.


He said consolidated copy and design desks – including advertising design – "make him nervous" and he prefers to see those functions done locally at each newspaper to reduce the chance for errors by someone editing a story for a paper and audience that could be a state away.


"Media General papers had those when we bought them, and we have fewer of them now," Kroeger said.


Too many nuances can be lost in the miles between newspapers and consolidated desks, he said. And he said repeatedly that while BH Media editors meet occasionally to share ideas, news markets and consumers are so different that Kroeger says it is vital to allow local autonomy in decisions about coverage and display.


And local advertising is too important to turn over to someone in another state or overseas. When it comes to print versus digital advertising value, Kroeger said that "print is very critical to our business. Our advertisers will tell you that print is their most effective form of advertising."


BH Media paper websites are now using metered paywalls "or will be."


He said the newspaper industry blundered by giving away valuable content for years and now is trying to recover, and metered paywalls carry less risk than some other models of alienating readers.


"The last thing we want is for people to think we're an exclusive club they can't get into," he said. "We want them to come in and look around, and hopefully they like us and want to stay."











Q&A with APME President-Elect Debra Adams Simmons

By Devan Filchak| Ball State University


 "Critical to my career has been having mentors, people both within the newsrooms where I've worked and in other parts of the news industry, were there to support me and to help direct me," Simmons said.


Q&A with APME incoming President Debra Adams Simmons


Debra Adams Simmons joined The Plain Dealer in Cleveland as managing editor in 2007. She was named editor in 2010. Previously, she worked as the editor and vice president of news at the Akron Beacon Journal for four years. Other stops included the Detroit Free Press and The Virginian-Pilot.

Simmons earned her bachelor of arts degree from Syracuse University. She says networking and mentors have been keys to her success.


Q: What drew you to journalism?


A: Really wanting to make a difference in the world is what drove me to this profession. My original plan after college was that I was going to take a year off to travel the world and go to law school. During that year, I was offered …  a nine-month internship at the local paper in Syracuse, N.Y. I was going to do that nine-month postgraduate internship and then I was going to go to Africa and Europe. And then I was going to start school in September. Two weeks into my post-graduate internship, I was offered a full time permanent job. That was in 1986 and I'm still in the industry, all of these years later.


Q: What are some of the biggest challenges facing APME this coming year?


A: I think APME has a unique opportunity this year to innovate and collaborate. As you know, the industry is changing dramatically and APME is an organization of leaders who are trying to lead through a period of dynamic change. I think anything that we can do that helps our members develop tools to be successful as we navigate changes would be a key calling for us. Certainly, we are celebrating APME's 80th anniversary. APME was founded 80 years ago in French Lick, Ind. And I think it is important to celebrate the past 80 years and the work that has come before us, as well as to plot of course for the future.


Q: What do you believe is in the future of print?


A: Based on the readers that I hear from every day, I think print will continue to have a future. I don't think print is going away tomorrow. There are many people who continue to like words on paper. I would also say though, based on the feedback I have received as we've gone through substantial change here in Cleveland, the response is generational. Many of the readers of our content under 40 really prefer digital content. Many of those people say, 'I never pick up a paper. I read the e-edition of the paper. I read your website, but I'm not a paper person." The 40- to 70-year-old age group knows digital is where the future is moving. They don't love it, but they have kind of resigned to the fact that this is the direction we are moving in. The 70 and over crowd is angry. They want print; they want it every day, and they want it to be the way it used to be. The challenge for newspaper editors is figuring out how to navigate all of the ways our audience likes to access our information. Print continues to be a huge part of that. For most news organizations, print revenue continues to pay the bills, even as their digital audiences are expanding exponentially. So we're going to have to figure out how to do it all. But print is still alive and well and making a huge difference in communities across America. 


Q: How would you describe the importance of social media in today's media environment?


A: I think social media is critical in today's media environment. When I think about some of the biggest stories covered in my community in the past couple of years, social media was in the center both in terms of newsgathering and news dissemination. Engagement is key to the work that we do. We need new sources talking to us, so social media is a great way to access people and information. And we need to spread information on as many platforms as we can. Social media enables us to do both of those things better than we have ever been able to before. For years, our work was a one-way conversation with our audience. Social media has opened up tremendous opportunities to have a two-way conversation or a multiple way conversation with the audience.


Q: What do you believe the future of pay walls will be?


A: I think that the future of pay walls is undecided. Clearly, there are two schools of thought. One is that people should pay to access information, but we also know that young people believe that information should be free. At least in my organization, there's a hesitancy to cut information off from significant numbers of audience members who want to engage with that information. I think there is a lot of experimentation right now, and experimentation is critical for our industry. I think we will assess the results of those experiments before a decision is made about what the future of pay walls will be. I don't think we are absolutely moving toward pay walls or we're absolutely not. Several news organizations have dipped their toe in. Some have had tremendous success; others have backed away. I think pay walls are one of many experiments happening in the news industry. The verdict is still out on what the ultimate outcome will be. 





Tuesday, October 29, 2013

APME elects new leadership

The Associated Press Media Editors organization elected four members to its board of directors and installed new leadership today during its annual conference in Indianapolis.

Elected to at-large positions were Meg Downey, managing editor of The Tennessean in Nashville; and Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Autumn Agar, editor of the Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News, was elected to represent small newspapers; and David Arkin, vice president of content & audience for GateHouse Media, was elected to represent online media.

The new APME officers are president, Debra Adams Simmons, editor, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland; vice president, Alan D. Miller, managing editor/news, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch; secretary, Teri Hayt, executive editor of GateHouse Ohio Newspapers in Canton, Massillon and New Philadelphia; and journalism studies chair, Laura Sellers-Earl, digital development director for the EO Media Group in Salem, Ore. The treasurer is Dennis Anderson, editor of the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star.

APME wrapped up its annual convention Wednesday.

Its 2014 conference will be held with the American Society of News Editors in Chicago.

APME members are newsroom leaders at newspapers and broadcast outlets, journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada. APME works with The Associated Press to encourage journalism excellence and support training and development of journalists in multimedia newsrooms.

Editors vote for Innovator of the Year


Editors vote for Innovator of the Year


Devan Filchak

Ball State University


APME editors today voted on three finalists for Innovator of the Year and the winner will be announced at the awards luncheon on Wednesday.


Editors from The Arizona Republic, The Columbus Dispatch and WLRN-Miami Herald gave presentations about their latest efforts.


Meg Downey, managing editor of The Tennessean and moderator of the presentation, said this is her favorite session each year.


"The news organization has to be able to offer a new, creative and forward-thinking concept that has long lasting effects and attracts new audiences or dollars," she said.


"So it can be a product, it can be a new technique or a new structure. But it must be able to show a specific goal over a period of time, and it should have the potential to become a industry standard over a period of time."


Keira Nothaft, a deputy managing editor with The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, presented AZ, a semi-weekly newsmag for iPad.


The app focuses on presenting feature stories in a more in-depth and interactive way.


Nothaft said they found a way to do what monthly iPad magazine publications haven't done – be timely and get readers to come back multiple times a week.


Ben Marrison, editor of The Columbus Dispatch, showed how changing the newspaper's format was innovative.


The organization moved from a full broadsheet to a tabloid-style newspaper. Marrison said the newspaper is now easier and more convenient to read and carry.


The Dispatch also began placing ads in the middle of the spreads. That helps open up room for text while forcing the readers' eyes to go across ads between stories.


Kenny Malone, WLRN-Miami Herald reporter, discussed how staffers at his organization started doing something that may sound simple – just listening.


Reporters at the radio news and newspaper partnership have gone out to talk with the public about whatever is on their mind, getting the pulse of the community even when not working on a particular story.


The practice results in telling unexpected stories that truly show the voice of the Miami area, Malone said.







Five steps to managing newsrooms in times of great change


By Alan Miller
Associated Press Media Editors

Successfully managing change in newsrooms during this time of significant change hinges on five points, according to Butch Ward.


First, newsroom managers need to provide clarity to middle managers and their staffs about expectations and how they will support them, said Ward, of the Poynter Institute, during a presentation at the Associated Press Media Editors conference today in Indianapolis.


Ward said they also need to invest in the ambitions of their staff members, coach them and provide feedback on performance, provide tools and training, and take a risk with staff members when appropriate.


Providing clarity is as simple as being clear about your expectations for the staff in covering and presenting the news, said Ward, a former newspaper editor. Not everyone does that well, and the lack of clarity allows for confusion and aimlessness.


Investing in employees' goals starts with a manager asking people about their dreams. "Being asked by my boss what I want to be and do says a lot," Ward said. And it gives managers an opportunity to coach their employees and support them toward that goal.


Coaching, he said, involves feedback that will help end the need for managers to put out daily fires. "Coaches know that if I said …'if we spend 10 minutes on a problem today and never have to deal with it again,' everyone in this room would do it."


He said that coaches have their heads up as opposed to down on today's work: "They have their eyes on the arch of a person's career and know that feedback is the most important thing they have to offer," he said.


Provide tools and training, he said, because they reinforce the commitment to your staff members and their development.


And when it comes to taking a risk, Ward said, remember the boss who took a risk on you. "That boss who took a risk on you is like a hero."


When we find someone who is really good at what they do, he said, we tend to leave that person alone. But taking a risk with that person to help him or her grow toward a goal or into a bigger role often pays dividends for the individual and the news organization.


"It is an investment in your relationship with them that they will never forget," he said.


Summing up, Ward said, "Remember this: You can't do it alone; get your team involved.

You can't do it from the weeds; you need to get above the daily production. And you can't do it overnight; change and relationships take time."




Not dead yet: Print can win by listening to readers

Matt Holden

Devan Filchak


  Newspapers should strive for an emotional connection with readers to thrive in the years ahead, according to a consultant with a national research firm.

            Bill Day, executive director of Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc., spoke to editors at the annual APME conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday. He said his studies show that 40 percent of people still read newspapers and that the industry needs to leverage what is left of circulation to build for the future. Day said television news is successful because they do a better job of listening to what viewers want.

            "The most important reason people pick ABC versus NBC versus CBS isn't because they think they're very good. It's not because they need to know the weather. Yet why do viewers still watch their local television news? It's because they have a strong, visceral relationship with the product."

            If newspapers did more of what readers wanted, sales would go up. On his list of things to do:

·      Provide even more depth to its news stories

·      More about local activities and things to do

·      More local coverage in the main section

·      Give them opinions they want to read


"You know who people think is doing a really good job?" asked Day. "Judge Judy. What job are consumers hiring her to do? To look in on others amazingly train-wrecked lives and say my life's not that bad." Judge Judy delivers on expectation, Day said, and the show makes $78 million annually.

            Day says his company's studies find similar responses across markets.

"We do this same study in market after market, and the results are amazingly consistent," he said.

            He called on newspapers to make "data-driven" choices about what goes into the paper. He said newspapers often make the mistake of using data derived from a small percentage of readers; those who are the most vocal.

            Day claimed his goal was to not only look at those who felt strongly one way or the other about how a newspaper was doing, he also wanted to look at the all of the people who were undecided in order to get a real sense of what the entire market looked like.

            "We don't want find people who are excited, we want to find everyone else," said Day.

            The theme of the session was to focus primarily on the print product and how to extend its life, because Magid's research showed that 40 percent of all demographics are still reading the paper.


            The consistent example used throughout was that of the soda industry. "When people like the soda you make, you need to tell them you have it and keep making it," said Day.

            This was especially true when it came to small-market papers, where readers in his study said that they wanted more local content, such as high school and collegiate sports as well as local lifestyle.       Small-market papers have an advantage because of the lack of options available. Sixty-one percent of people polled in small markets said that it would be a huge loss if the paper in their area were to disappear.

            Justin Rumbach, managing editor of the Dubois County Herald in Jasper, is also seeing this at his paper. "I think that we don't see the decline nearly as rapidly as the big metro papers because we still reach a huge portion of our community with our print product," said Rumbach.

            Day also looked at other media industries, such as television news, and their approach to marketing.

            "Television news shows have a relentless goal of moving the needle (of viewers) to evaluate success," said Day.

            Using this example, he said newspapers should consider evaluating reporters based on how much traffic their stories get, and using this information to guide budget meetings that take place in newsrooms every day.

            Local research could help newspapers better understand reader interests.

"We need to use predictive metrics that will help us understand how our readers feel about stories" we might cover, said Day. "Just because you think it's important doesn't mean that it is."

            Besides editorial decision making, analytics could also be used to help with design, distribution and advertising.

            Layout analytics can be used to guide front-page design, for example.

                "People don't read the newspaper, they scan it," said Day. "Stories must be presented visually."

            Identifying new audiences is important, but newspapers should especially target those who have recently stopped subscribing within the last couple of years, he said.

            "You need to know about people who are no longer engaging with your paper and why."

           The plight of the media is an important story, but Day said newspapers may have gone too far in covering their own troubles.

            "Television never tells people that their numbers are down from the previous year," he said.

            Rumbach agreed.

            "My pitch is always that [some] papers love to report how poorly they are doing, which I think is a terribly stupid thing to do, for one," said Rumbach. "And two, that is not true in our area."






Top 10 Tips to Strengthen Your Newsroom

Anna Ortiz 
Ball State University

Some of the best advice comes from the ones who do it every day. Take a look at what the nation's top editors, attending this year's national APME conference, say are ways to improve your newsroom.

1. Enhancing the story through multimedia. Danny Gawlowski, photo/video editor of The Seattle Times, says text and visuals should not compete but enhance each other. Gawlowski pointed to how his newspaper covered ocean acidification in the Pacific Ocean using a web page to tie in several story elements. His advice: Tell good stories with good tools. Consider how you can make the experience immersive. Combine multimedia elements for a single experience. 

2. Work with what you've got. Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said his newsroom has lost about half of its staff in the last six years. Despite downsizing, the newspaper has won three Pulitzer prizes in that time. Pick what you do well and let go of what you don't provide exclusively, he says. Everyone has limited resources. Pick your shots.

3. Have leaders who think ahead. Kay Coyte, The Washington Post managing editor, said having an owner who has deep pockets and out-of-the-box thinking doesn't hurt. But even big newsrooms need to learn how to move more nimbly to keep up with technology and not be distracted by fads. Be ready to use all platforms, even if you don't know what that platform is yet.

4. Be an investigative newsroom that digs deep. Good, old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting resonates with readers. Boil down the story and offer up strong analysis, advised Coyte. Dig into complex issues that are important to everyone.

5. Embrace social media. Jeni O'Malley, Associated Press Indiana news editor, said she sees social media setting media companies apart in breaking news. There's a lag time between when a reporter leaves the scene and the news is posted. Don't wait. Post early and often.

6. Be the source of breaking news in your community. Linda Negro, Evansville Courier & Press managing editor, says be indispensible. Break news and present it in different ways so readers have a choice how they consumer the information. 

7. Keep up with the community. Listen to what readers want, advises Negro. She said the Evansville Courier & Press is striving to be a community source for what's going on in local education, events and other community news. A newsroom can't just break news, she says. They have to be the pulse of the community.

8. Make news easy to understand. Make the news as digestible by analyzing complex topics. The reader should not have to read 16 inches into the story to know what the story is about, Coyte said. Make it easily understandable to the reader.

9. Keep coaching. Virginia Black, senior writer and writing instructor of the South Bend Tribune, says many newsrooms have cut training across the board. When the level of work rises in one work group, it will in others. 

10) Encourage adaptability. Jeff Knox, director of photography at the Daily Herald, a newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., says cross training is essential in today's newsroom. He says writers should be trained in photography and photographers trained in writing. 



Butch Ward: Elements on what makes a great leader in the newsroom [VIDEO]

The APME student team spoke with Butch Ward from the Poynter Institute on what makes a great leader in the newsroom.


Gary Ross Q&A

Gary Ross, special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and author of "Who Watches the Watchmen: The Conflict between National Security and Freedom of the Press." Ross said these opinions are his own and not reflective of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Q:Is Edward Snowden a traitor or a patriot? 

A: Edward Snowden signed a non-disclosure agreement as a federal contractor. Having a security clearance is a privilege and not a right. In the non-disclosure agreement there are certain additional requirements including not disclosing classified information to people who are not authorized to receive it, including members of the media. So certainly he violated the nondisclosure agreement and he certainly violated the law. 

Q: If Snowden hadn't leaked that information, what wouldn't we know now?

A: This is an important distinction that needs to be made: In a democracy there needs to be some oversight of what the intelligence community is doing. There's this concept called "proxy monitoring" where there is certain sensitive information that the United States needs to keep secret in the interest of national security.  In this case, that whole process was skewed and Snowden went directly to a member of the media, which in turn got the information to the public. There have certainly been cases where people have brought information to inspector generals' offices and followed the proper processes under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act. I think President Obama mentioned that even though what Snowden did was undesirable it has led to a discussion in the public that maybe needed to occur. It goes back to that Pew (Research) poll which talks about what he did was a violation of law, but it has led to some needed discussion about what the intelligence community is doing on behalf of the public. 

Q: What is a reasonable expectation for privacy for the public these days?

A: It seems like the general public now are voluntarily giving up more of their privacy. People are on Facebook and Twitter talking about what they had for lunch or what music they like. There's a term called the "digital wake" now compared to five or 10 years ago people's digital wakes have grown immensely. On the other side with National Security it becomes a balancing act between what is reasonable for the government to help protect against in terms of national security versus what would be considered unreasonable. A great example of this is the Boston bombing. There have been some discussions about cameras and the public being watched here in the United States, while over in Great Britain this is already the case. I think the Boston bombing is a good example of how this can be used because these cameras were in place and there was a lack of privacy. This is all part of a public debate that's going on right now between the cost and the benefit. You have to be able to look at the benefit and then weigh it against the cost, but certainly there is some perceived cost involved by having this lack of privacy.

Q: National Security has changed since 9/11, but has continued to evolve. What is the future of it?

A: Back during World War II, the type of enemy we had was an enemy that was very easy to find, but very hard to kill. Now the paradigm has certainly changed where we have enemies that are very easy to kill, but very hard to find. So the government has become a lot more reliant on intelligence and the intelligence community whose job it is to provide information to the policy makers and decision makers to help them make informed decisions on behalf of the public. There's going to be a greater requirement for the intelligence community to collect more information, so there's a greater quantity. With increases in technology there's probably an increased quality of information as well. It's going to require the intelligence community to improve their capability to support the decision makers and the policy makers by collecting the information so they can make the correct decision, whether it's treaties, drone strikes, or new policy and strategy. We have to do more with less and become more agile. In order to be more agile, you need better intelligence so you can make better decisions and put your assets where they need to be. 

Q: How do you see the availability of information changing in the future?

A: As technology improves, I don't see it decreasing. It's only going to continue on the same path it's on now. My estimation is there is only going to be more information available not just for intelligence but for the general public. Then the question becomes if that information is out there, is that something that law enforcement and the intelligence community should be looking at or if they have the authority to be looking at it. I think what's important is to realize the people in the intelligence community that work for all the 16 agencies, when they get up in the morning their job is to protect the country and protect the public. After 9/11 we learned that there were things we could have been doing that we haven't been doing… and a lack of information sharing. We want to go right up to that line in order to prevent the next terrorist attack. If we go short of that line, people might say, 'Well why didn't the intelligence community do enough to prevent x, y or z from happening.' But then the opposite side of the coin is if we go past that line, then the public says, 'What is the intelligence community and the government doing?' For the intelligence community we have to rely on our general councils and rely on our general attorneys to tell us what we have the authority to do and what we don't have the authority to do. I think employees don't want to have it happen - that we weren't able to prevent something because we weren't able to do enough. Certainly people on the other side may say we'd rather be a little less safe but have the intelligence community doing less and this is the discussion that's going on in the public right now. I don't know the answer, and people through all branches of government are trying to determine where that line should be. 



Matt Holden
Ball State University

Newspapers can win if they ask what readers want

By Alan Miller
Associated Press Media Editors

The bad news about newspaper readership today is that circulation continues to decline. Worse news is that newspaper editors can do something to change that and they aren't doing it.

That was the message from Bill Day of the Frank N. Magid Associates media research firm in a presentation at the Associated Press Media Editors conference today in Indianapolis.

The good news is that newspaper editors and executives can address some key issues that Day says will move the needle in selling papers.

"Our wild and crazy idea is that if you build a product people like and tell them you have it, you will sell more papers," said Day, executive director of advertising effectiveness practice for Magid.

The dirty little secret, he said, is that 40 percent of Americans still read newspapers every day. And young people, particularly in smaller newspaper markets, have an affinity for the local paper and want to read it. But they often think it doesn't do a good job.

In one small market, Magid found that 61 percent of young readers say it would be a huge loss to the area if the newspaper were gone, and 47 percent said it's uniquely important to life in their community.

So to attract them and others not reading the newspaper, Day said, newspaper editors need to ask consumers what they want and how they want it.

"Just because you think it's important doesn't mean anyone else will," he said.

"We've defined our business as the bottom line and lost sight of the top. The top is when someone wakes up in the morning and decides to pick my product," he said.

Once you do market research, you should use it to build your paper, he said.

Readers want investigative reporting and in-depth stories, for example. When you give them more of it, they will buy your paper, Day said.

Beyond news content, he said, it's important to know that readers consider local advertising as content. And they tend to think newspapers don't do a very good job of presenting local advertising.

Finally, he said, distribution is a vital aspect of the equation.

If we make content improvements, Day said, "who are the people most likely to respond and how do we get the paper to them? The circulation problem is a lack of sampling. Part of the solution is to get them to engage with the paper" by making sure that people currently not reading it are seeing it.

Stop worrying about the young generation and worry about the people you lost in the past three to six months. Ask yourself what you did wrong, fix it and win them back, Day said.

Associated Press still feels effects following DOJ probe

Devan Filchak| Ball State University


Months after private phone records of Associated Press journalists were seized in a Department of Justice investigation, some sources still are wary about talking to the respected news agency.


"It is a cliché, but it's true," said Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press. "It's a chilling effect, and people don't want to talk to us." Carroll joined a panel of AP editors at the 80th annual Associated Press Media Editors convention in Indianapolis to discuss the organization's top initiatives.


"It's not just Deep Throat sources putting flower pots on balconies. These are good civil servants who care about the job they do for the government that employs them. They worry that if their phone records show up with a call to a reporter, however benign the topic or ordinary the topic might be, it could harm their careers."


Could it happen again?


"We are unaware of it, but we were unaware of it until after the fact when it happened the first time," she said. "We learned … up to three months after the subpoena was executed. It is possible that another subpoena has been issued but we won't know about it until later."


DOJ guidelines say journalists cannot be labeled as criminal co-conspirators when the government seeks a search warrant for obtaining records, similar to the phone records gathered from the AP earlier this year.


Last May, 21 phone records of Associated Press journalists were seized. AP estimated the conversations of more than 100 reporters and editors were included in the phone records.


Carroll said the telephone companies were told to comply and not tell the news cooperative, and the records were in prosecutors' hands for weeks before the news organization knew about it.


"There were 21 phone numbers including fax machines and the locations of a bureau where one of the reporters at the center of this had not worked in many years," she said. "What does that have to do with anything?"


Carroll and AP CEO Gary Pruitt worked side by side to fight against the actions of the DOJ. Pruitt's background as a First Amendment attorney was crucial in this case, Carroll said.


"(Pruitt) believes deeply in these issues even though he is wearing a much bigger hat now," she said. "To have him as an industry leader on a global scale to be as forceful as he was, really was important for us both in the AP and for the profession at large."


Carroll said the best thing journalists can do, whether they are covering city council meetings or stories on a national or global scale, is to know their rights.


"If you don't understand those laws, you are failing," she said. "You have completely failed as a journalist, because you are completely unequipped to exercise your rights."









Gene Policinski: What Makes a Journalist

Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and senior vice president of the First Amendment Center, discusses today's definition of a journalist. He moderated a panel at the opening day of the APME national conference in Indianapolis.

APME Student Media Team


Monday, October 28, 2013

President Brad Dennison on APME theme "Content is King" [VIDEO]

The student media team spoke with APME President Brad Dennison about the conference's theme,"Content is King"


Governor Mike Pence on the Free Flow of Information Act [VIDEO]

Indiana Governor Mike Pence spoke today at the opening ceremony of the APME 2013 conference. Afterwards during an interview he commented on the Free Flow of Information act.

The Free Flow of Information act looks at providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media.


APME opening remark from Gov. Mike Pence

"The only check on government power is on us and the independent press." Mike Pence, Indiana Governor


Gov. Mike Pence addressing the opening session of the Associated Press Media Editor’s

Gov. Mike Pence addressed the opening session of the Associated Press Media Editor's Conference Monday in Indianapolis. Here is a transcript of his comments.

"As a conservative who believes in limited government, I believe the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press. And the work of the APME, now eight decades running, has been an essential part of a free and independent press in this country. 

(Before becoming governor he served in Congress for 12 years. While there, Pence wrote a federal media shield statute known as the Free Flow of Information Act.) 

"The legislation passed the House of Representatives twice during my service but never made it through the procedural hurdles of the other chamber. 

"When news broke earlier this year that the federal government seized phone records of AP reporters let me assure you that I immediately wrote the leaders in the House and Senate and urged them to take up the Free Flow of Information Act immediately, and I was pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee managed to pass that legislation in September of this year. 

"I will continue to be an advocate for a federal media shield, and you have my word on that. As I've told my colleagues in the House many times… conservatives, especially: The federal media shield bill isn't about protecting reporters. It's about protecting the public's right to know. 

"Let me just say that it's about believing in the vitality, the essential importance of the work that all of you do in the Fourth Estate.

"I want to thank all of you for the work that you do each and every day to make the theme of this conference a reality in your newspapers: 'Content is King.' And when you all are doing your job then the American people are better informed and better able to make informed choices about policies that affect their lives. 

"Because of your diligence and aggressive reporting, as we speak today policy makers in Washington DC are being forced to confront the realities of the impact of the Affordable Care Act. The truth about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act is being told coast to coast. But the implications of this policy are also being felt here in the Hoosier state…. The truth is, Obamacare is costing Indiana jobs….

"The longer I work in government the more I understand the wisdom of our founders, especially as it pertains to First Amendment freedom of the press… 

One of my favorite quotes on this topic is what Thomas Jefferson had to say: 'Our liberty cannot be guarded without freedom of the press, nor that limited without danger of losing it.'

"I want to encourage you to take this time among your peers and colleagues to sharpen your skills, to listen to the coaches who are in your presence, and to do a more effective job as a free and independent press.

"I can assure you that although those of us in public office are often associated mostly with public service, I consider all of what you do in this room and all of what happens in the Fourth Estate to be at the very heart of public service in a free society."

Editors Talk Shield Protection, Growing Newsrooms at APME Conference

Reporters need the protection of a federal media shield law, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who sponsored shield legislation while in Congress, said he renewed his call for the protection after news surfaced about government monitoring of Associated Press phone calls.

"I really do believe that media shields are not about protecting reporters - it is about protecting the public's right to know," Pence said at the opening session of the national Associated Press Media Editors conference in Indianapolis.

"The ability to keep confidential sources confidential is an essential part of the news gathering process."

Pence said he wrote to House and Senate leaders following news that phone records from 21 AP reporters were subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Pence said state shield laws already in place aren't enough.

"The First Amendment was always considered to be sufficient (previously)," he said. "I noted over the last decade a disturbing pattern of cases where reporters were being placed in a position to reveal confidential sources, and that's what motivated me to introduce the Free Flow of Information Act.

APME represents newspaper editors from across the United States and Canada. The theme of this year's conference is "Content Is King," a reference to the industry's efforts to monetize its flow of text, photos, video and other content across platforms. 

Kay Coyte, The Washington Post managing editor, said the theme "Content is King" is about newsrooms digging deeper and going beyond a Google search. 


Coyte pointed to a series The Washington Post produced about Washington D.C. homeowners losing their homes due to a faulty tax system.


The Washington Post exposed the problem through deep investigation and tracked down the homeowners. The articles drew strong responses and the mayor promised the problem would be resolved.


After the series was published, Coyte said The Washington Post did not relent on the issue, continuing to hold people accountable.


"We challenged the elected leaders in D.C.," Coyte said. "We kept at them, like terriers, at their heals."


The first session of the day dealt with a particularly thorny issue for mainstream media outlets access to sports events in the digital era.

John Cherwa, of The Los Angeles Times, said his newspaper has fought to retain access to players and coaches of the Lakers as the NBA team's owners increasingly grant greater access to the team's television media partners.

Recently, for example, the Lakers granted Time-Warner Cable greater access on a team trip to China.

" 'I can give you 5 billion reasons why we did it that way,' " Cherwa said, quoting John Black, the Lakers' vice-president of public relations. He said Black was referring to Time-Warner's $5 billion, 25-year TV contract with the team. 

Pence said the media's work is essential in preserving freedom in the country. 

"I want to thank all of you for the work that you do each and every day to make the theme of this conference a reality in your newspapers: 'Content is King.' And when you all are doing your job then the American people are better informed and better able to make informed choices about policies that affect their lives," the governor said.

Pence said local newspapers are vital to helping people make informed decisions about their communities. Like politics, he said, "All news is local."

"The news that is most important to most Hoosiers is that which bears most closely on their lives," he said. "I'm confident through changes in that marketplace, that we will continue to see local newspapers evolve and adjust. But at the end of the day, being able to flip open my computer or open a newspaper and be able to see what's going on at my community will always be enormously important."

Editors at newspapers everywhere are changing their focuses to adapt to new technology and what their audiences want.

For Danny Gawlowski, photo/video editor at The Seattle Times, it's all about content.

"If you want to become a destination people want to come to, we need to use all the media available to us," Gawlowski said. "We want a little bit 'wow,' we want engagement. We don't want to be just headlines."


Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said it's important to remember content takes many forms.


"...It's video, chats, blogs, text," Koetting said. "We have to figure out a way to maximize our content."



Mitchell Paul, Indiana University, and Anna Ortiz, Ball State University, also contributed to this report.



Sports Panel: Newspapers Face Fight for Access

Mitchell Paul

Indiana University

Newspapers increasingly have to fight for access with sports organizations that have their own agendas concerning money and control of their messaging, an APME panel said today.


John Cherwa, deputy sports editor at the Los Angeles Times, shared a story about how his reporter covering the Lakers was given less access than Time Warner Cable on the NBA team's trip to China this month.


"The reason you take these trips is to gain more access to the players," Cherwa said.


He said that when the Times wanted access to Kobe Bryant, however, the Lakers declined to make their star as available to the newspaper as they did for Time Warner Cable.


Cherwa said Lakers spokesman John Black told him, " 'I can give you five billion reasons why we did it that way,' " referring to the $5 billion, 25-year television contract between the Lakers and Time Warner Cable.


The panel, "Staying in the Game: Sports coverage and access in the digital era," was the opening session in the Associated Press Media Editors 2013 National Conference in Indianapolis on Monday.


The panel was moderated by Gerry Ahern, director of news content for USA Today Sports Media Group, and included Cherwa, David Worlock of the NCAA and Barry Arthur of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


The "five billion" reasons aside, Cherwa said teams have other motivations for controlling access besides money.


"I think now it's all about controlling the message because we've all sort of figured out that the monetization of the Web is just not that easy," Cherwa said.


Worlock, director of media coordination and statistics for the NCAA Championships and Alliances, was asked about major cuts in the number of courtside seats available to the media for the 2013 men's basketball tournament.


The NCAA said the change was necessary to improve television sightlines for the broadcasts.


Worlock admitted that although this reason was considered, there were other factors.


"We were following the lead of what we have seen in other sporting events, specifically basketball in terms of the Olympic games and the college model. Court-side seats have been used as fan seats."


The Associated Press Sports Editors complained, and Worlock said the NCAA has decided to add 168 more seats for writers on the floor level for next year's Final Four.


"We are happy to announce that we will have more writers courtside."


Panel members said the independence of newspaper newsrooms – including the willingness to write critical stories about teams - was a distinct service for readers.


"They know that if a coach needs to be fired, we'll say that," Cherwa said.  "As long as we remain that independent voice, the people will always come to us."


In July, Ahern helped form a media advisory committee to improve communication between sports editors and the NCAA.


 "We're at the stage right now of setting up those meetings with the conference commissioners and our staffs through the NCAA with the help of David (Worlock) and Erik Christianson," Ahern said.


"For the first time we are starting to make some incremental progress."



APME Scenes Day One

On Day One of APME 2013, editors attended sessions on the First Amendment, access to sporting events and a session on how journalists can become more trustworthy. Between sessions, editors looked at photographs of past conferences.

APME Student Media Team