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Feb. 19, 2010 APME Newsletter
APME Update
The electronic newsletter of the Associated Press Managing Editors for Feb. 19, 2010 | Become an APME Member
In this issue:Online Advertising and News Site Credibility: Feb. 24 Webinar
Newstrain: March 26-27, Chicagoland
Stimulus: Tracking the Spending
Watchdog Reporting: Summary of Recent Impact Reporting
AP's Beat of the Week: Sports Writer Steve Wilson
News People in the News: Guttenfelder, Jacobson, Warsameh and Arias gain World Press Photos honors
Editors in the News: Light
In Memoriam: Fisher
Industry News: What's Going on in our Industry
And finally... Iceland's Modern Media Initiative

Dates to Note:



APME and Poynter's NewsU present:
Online Advertising and News Site Credibility
Webinar: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010, at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

Make smarter decisions in the delicate balance between ads and news on your Web site. Learn the importance of coordinating ads - banners, hyperlinked words and displays - with relevant online news content and how it affects readers. This one-hour Webinar will help you build effective online advertising that doesn't harm the credibility of your news organization or your advertisers.

The managing editor of, Kathy Best, will discuss the results of the APME Online Credibility Project and The Seattle Times Co. study: Impact of Contextual Advertising. She'll point out the highlights of the study and how these ideas have worked at

For more information and to register:

APME members, watch for an e-mail offering a code to allow you to register for $9.95.

#NEWSTRAIN: March 26-27, Chicagoland

Editors: Sign up today for our next NewsTrain workshop.

Chicagoland, Friday-Saturday, March 26-27:
Workshop information:
Workshop registration:

To apply for a college journalism educator award:


The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel analyzed federal-stimulus-grant reports and found that in the year since President Barrack Obama signed the controversial $787 billion stimulus plan intended to pour billions of dollars into all 50 states, Florida has received $7.7 billion but by the end of 2009 had only spent 15 cents of every dollar, one of the lowest rates in the country. The money is there but the jobs are not. Targeted for everything from road projects to teachers' salaries, green-energy programs to cancer research, the money was sent with orders to spend it as quickly as possible to put people to work and help lift the economy out of the recession. Meanwhile, Florida's work force lost nearly 1.1 million jobs in 2009 - and the unemployment rate increased from 9.4 percent to 11.8 percent. The explanations for what's taking so long are many - and complicated.,0,2085129,full.story


The Beat of the Week awards the individual or team responsible for the scoop or exclusive that does the most to enhance AP's competitive position.

This week's winner: Sports Writer Steve Wilson

It was a beat measured in seconds, but those seconds sealed a global win. Though thousands of reporters were in the hunt, the AP was the first to report the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, killed during a practice run at the Vancouver Olympics. And breaking the news came down to years of smart and dedicated source-building by Sports Writer Steve Wilson. Kumaritashvili died during Friday practice when he lost control of his sled and slammed into a trackside steel pole at nearly 90 mph. The first word of the crash was a NewsNow that moved at 2:13 p.m., when Kumaritashvili was receiving chest compressions before being lifted into an ambulance. Wilson's NewsAlert reporting Kumaritashvili's death moved about an hour later, after frantic scrambling by scores upon scores of reporters to determine what happened. AFP followed with the news less than a minute later, and Reuters at least 15 minutes after that. Wilson has been covering the Olympic beat for years and is well-connected in the Olympic movement.


Associated Press photographers David Guttenfelder, Julie Jacobson, Farah Warsameh and Guillermo Arias were honored in the 2010 World Press Photos competition, the world's largest annual press photography contest. AP and France's Agence Vu took the most prizes overall. Each had three wins and an honorable mention. Guttenfelder, chief photographer for Asia, received second place in the People in the News category for his "Soldier in pink boxer shorts in Afghanistan" photo. The image captures Spc. Zachery Boyd, as he was caught in a firefight in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. It was spotlighted in the New York Times photo blog Lens, mentioned in a "Face the Nation" commentary and included in a speech by U.S. Secretary of Defense


The San Diego Union-Tribune has named Jeff Light, vice president of the Orange County Register's interactive division, as its new editor. Light will bring his experience in both print and online journalism to the job, Union-Tribune President and Publisher Ed Moss said last week. Light, 49, succeeds Karin Winner, who retired last year after 34 years at the paper. In Light's 17 years at the Register, he served as deputy editor of the paper's Web site, was a member of the staff that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 and managed investigative teams that were Pulitzer finalists in 2004 and 2005.


Margie Fisher, a Roanoke (Va.) Times reporter who led the way for decades of women journalists to cover Virginia's General Assembly, has died. She was 73. The newspaper said Fisher died Feb. 12 in Winston-Salem, N.C., after battling dementia. In the mid-1970s, Fisher and a few other female reporters crashed what had been an all-male Capitol press corps in Richmond. Today, women reporters proliferate on Capitol Square. She started work for The Times as an advertising clerk in 1955. She won prizes for her journalism through the 1960s and 1970s and became an advocate for women in the profession. In 1990 she returned to Roanoke to write editorials. She won the Virginia Society of Professional Journalists' prestigious George Mason Award in 2000, and retired in 2001.


The New York Times reports that while many regional newspapers are choosing not to spend money on lawyers - or are asking them to work pro bono - another trend has developed that paints an opposite story, according to press advocates and First Amendment lawyers. Some big companies, like Hearst and The Associated Press, have been quietly ramping up their legal efforts, by doing more of the work in-house - and saving costs by not hiring outside lawyers - and being more aggressive in states where they can recoup legal fees and at the federal level, which also allows plaintiffs in such access cases to sue for legal fees when they win. At AP, in-house lawyers say they are becoming more aggressive on a number of fronts. In 2009, the agency was party to 40 lawsuits, moderately up from four years ago, when the number of lawsuits was in the low 30s, according to Dave Tomlin, associate general counsel for the AP.

A Kansas judge has rescinded a contempt citation and fine for a newspaper reporter after the journalist testified in a closed inquisition about her jailhouse interview with the suspect in a murder investigation. Dodge City Daily Globe reporter Claire O'Brien had been fined $1,000 a day and held in contempt when she failed to appear for an inquisition Feb. 10. Ford County Attorney Terry Malone told the Associated Press that O'Brien apologized to the judge for not showing up at the earlier hearing, indicating she needed advice from another attorney. District Judge Daniel Love accepted the apology. A confidential source whose identity prosecutors had sought revealed himself to authorities Feb. 11 after O'Brien was cited for contempt, Malone said. The source provided the information authorities sought and released O'Brien from her promise of confidentiality. "He was moved by his own moral convictions - the only thing that could have evoked those was me demonstrating my moral convictions to that extent... when he saw I was willing to pay the whole price," O'Brien said. Malone said the source could have made it much easier had he simply come forward several months ago.

A local newspaper in Owensboro, Ky., and the state's community college system are awaiting a judge's ruling on whether some documents related to the removal of an Owensboro Community and Technical College president are public record. The Messenger-Inquirer of Owensboro has filed requests for records from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System through the state's Open Records Act. The state system is suing the newspaper to block the release of some documents. The records are related to the Owensboro school's May 2009 dismissal of former president Paula Gastenveld after two years on the job. KCTCS President Mike McCall transferred Gastenveld to the central office in Versailles. Gastenveld has sued the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, McCall, the Owensboro school and a philanthropist, claiming her contract was violated. McCall has declined to disclose his reasons for removing Gastenveld.

One of the suggestions to cut 5 percent from Montana's General Fund budget could temporarily stop the presses on a service that has preserved the state's history as reported by its newspapers for 146 years. The Montana Historical Society proposed to the governor that $22,680 could be saved by eliminating microfilming the state's daily and nondaily newspapers. State and federal law requires the historical society to collect historic materials, but does not specify a format such as microfilming, officials said.

An environmental group has filed an official complaint over ad features run by some newspapers in Canada's largest media chain, saying they blur the lines between journalism and advertising. The Sierra Club of Canada alleges in its complaint to Advertising Standards Canada that Canwest tried to disguise the fact that Shell Canada paid for articles on the oilsands that ran in several of the chain's major dailies. "They should be marked clearly that they are advertising," Sierra Club director John Bennett said last week. "They appear to be newspaper stories." Stories paid for by advertisers are common in newspapers and normally appear under the heading "advertising features." The Canwest series, headlined New Energy Future, was entitled "a special information feature, in partnership with Shell Canada." That phrase is in print three millimeters high.

Judges should decide whether to erase innocent people's cases from online court records, Gov. Jim Doyle said last week. Speaking at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual convention at Middleton Feb. 12, Doyle said easily accessible electronic records make life a nightmare for people who are charged but later exonerated. The governor's remarks come after an Assembly committee approved a bill that would allow the public to see online records of court cases only where there has been a conviction. The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, argues that the mere mention of people in the state's online court database carries a connotation of guilt and can ruin their reputations forever, costing them jobs and housing. Doyle, a Democrat, said Schneider's bill goes too far but "for those really innocent people... we have to figure out a way to protect them."

The publisher of the Dodge County Pioneer was elected president on Feb 12 of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association during the group's 156th annual convention. Andrew Johnson succeeds Thomas Schultz, managing editor of the Watertown Daily Times. His term will be through January 2011.

The publisher of the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis, has been appointed to the same role at the daily newspaper in Carbondale, Ill. Bob Williams has been at the Suburban Journals since 2007. He will replace Dennis DeRossett at The Southern Illinoisan. DeRossett is leaving to become executive director of the Illinois Press Association. Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises owns both the Suburban Journals and The Southern Illinois. The company announced the move last week.

Bill Hanson, former publisher of the Times-Tribune in Corbin, Ky., has been named the new publisher of The Evening News in Jeffersonville. The appointment was recently announced by Eddie Blakeley, vice president and division manager for The Evening News' parent company, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. Hanson began his newspaper career 25 years ago in Nebraska as a sports reporter and farm editor. He also has worked in advertising and as a newspaper general manager. After working in Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota, Hanson spent the last eight years as publisher of the Times-Tribune.

The Leavenworth (Kan.) Times has a new leadership team. Steve Curd, publisher of the Independence, Mo., Examiner is now the publisher of the Times, while also continuing as publisher of the Examiner. Both newspapers are owned by GateHouse Media. Dale Brendel, former general manager for the Independence Examiner, took over last week as general manager and executive editor for the Times. Brendel has 23 years of experience in the newspaper business and was executive editor at The Examiner for 10 years.


From AP's Gudjon Helgason in Reykjavik and Sylvia Hui in London on Iceland's Modern Media Initiative and Iceland's hope of becoming the world's "haven" for journalism:

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) - Hoping to make Iceland a global home for freedom of speech, lawmakers are asking the government this week to implement a journalist's dream package of legislation - promising a safe haven for reporters who want to dig deep, hit hard, and avoid being sued.

The idea has found traction with Icelanders after last year's devastating economic collapse, during which the public saw firsthand the drawbacks of a too-cosy relationship between government and media. The economic crisis itself was partly traced to corruption unearthed by reporters abroad, prompting calls for improving information access and protecting whistle-blowers.

"Being a really small country, especially after the financial crisis, we saw the world is connected - all intertwined," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, one of the lawmakers behind the measures. "Our problems do not just affect us locally, they affect us globally."

This week, Iceland's parliament is scheduled to begin considering the measures, aimed at improving the Nordic nation's own transparency while also luring Internet-based media and data centers to use it as a base for investigative journalism.

Becoming a global home for freedom of speech would be a new role for Iceland, which in its 1,000 years of human settlement has been known as a hardy North Atlantic fishing outpost, an unlikely capitalist crusader - fueled by Viking confidence and easy credit - and most recently, an economic basket-case.

Amid the 2008 economic crash, investigative Web site published internal documents on loans that had been made by Kaupthing Bank, one of several Icelandic banks that collapsed with the global crisis. The story shocked the nation of 320,000, and was among the factors leading to demands for more transparency in public institutions.

Iceland also has a long history in direct democracy, and thousands held angry protests against the pro-business government in late 2008, clattering pots and kitchen utensils in what some have called the "Saucepan Revolution." The popular anger forced the government to resign.

It was replaced after a national election by a coalition of Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir's pro-European Social Democrats and the Left Greens - both of which have lawmakers sympathetic to the media freedom project.

The project's proposals also aim to counteract challenges to media freedom from other countries - such as Britain, which has become a center for "libel tourism" with laws that heavily favor the plaintiff. British courts now play host to grievances that would likely have failed in the countries where they originated.

The proposed measures would also protect journalists against libel judgments issued in other countries - similar to U.S. legislation now being considered to shield American reporters from court judgments abroad.

"All of these good laws exist in countries like Sweden, Belgium and the United States, but no single country has implemented all of them," project spokesman Smari McCarthy said. "There are a lot of journalist organizations that are being forced to jump between jurisdictions, seeking certain sets of protections."

The set of proposals - collectively called the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative - was drafted by lawmakers across parties in Iceland with help from international experts, lobby groups and WikiLeaks. The nonprofit site claims to have posted 1.2 million leaked government and corporate documents that it says expose unethical behavior, including a 2003 operation manual for the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Project supporters say stronger protections for journalists are needed amid increasingly aggressive attempts by powerful corporations and wealthy individuals to suppress sensitive information with legal threats.

McCarthy said international publishers and news providers might benefit by registering in Iceland or gathering their news from there, while online publishers could also be protected just by hosting their servers in the country.

He acknowledged potential problems, however, particularly with competing jurisdictions.

Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard University law professor specializing in cyber law, said it was unclear how broadly the laws could be applied should they pass.

"Unless the executives behind a particular media company are themselves prepared to move to Iceland, I'm not sure how substantial the protections can be," he said. "A state can still demand that someone on its territory answer questions or turn over information on pain of fines or imprisonment."

Experts say the proposals would be most useful to small-scale, independent publishers and online whistle-blowers like WikiLeaks, but doubted whether they would offer enough protection to bring in foreign media organizations.

"I can imagine Iceland becoming a good place to run a controversial Web site," said Ethan Zuckerman, who runs a site promoting freedom of information called Global Voices and is a senior researcher of cyberspace and the media at Harvard University. "But ... Iceland may find itself forced to defend controversial speech."

Icelandic Modern Media Initiative:

ABOUT US: APME Update is published regularly by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association. APME Update is edited by Sally Jacobsen. Send submissions by e-mail to or call Sally at (212) 621-7007.
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