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Feb. 26, 2010 APME Newsletter
APME Update
The electronic newsletter of the Associated Press Managing Editors for Feb. 26, 2010 | Become an APME Member

In this issue:

Newstrain: March 26-27, Chicagoland
Online Credibility Webinar: April 15
APME to Offer New Gannett Award for Watchdog Journalism
Watchdog Reporting: Summary of Recent Impact Reporting
AP's Beat of the Week: Mexico City's Martha Mendoza
In Memoriam: Wieghart
Industry News: What's Going on in our Industry

Dates to Note:



The Arlington Heights, Ill., Daily Herald will host a NewsTrain workshop Friday and Saturday, March 26-27. This two-day, two-track workshop will feature these courses and faculty members:

Track 1: The Nimble Leader
-Content Planning for Multiple Media and Multiple Deadlines / Jane Hirt, Chicago Tribune
-News Ethics and Values Breaking News Without Breaking Trust / Mitch Pugh, Sioux City (Iowa) Journal
-The Skeptical Editor / Kathy Schenck, Northwestern University
-Creating a Constructive Culture / Bob Zaltsberg, Bloomington (Ind.) Herald-Times

Track 2: The Evolving Journalist
-Knowing Your Audiences / Mark Briggs, Journalism 2.0
-Your Data Strategy - What info to collect and what you can do with it / Derek Willis, The New York Times
-Alternative distribution - Putting links, RSS and social networking to work / Mark Briggs, Journalism 2.0
-Covering communities in new ways / Mark Briggs, Journalism 2.0

Third Rail - Extra Jolt
-Mobile Delivery / Robb Montgomery, Visual Editors
-Intro to Video Editing / Lisa Glowinski, Rockford (Ill.) Register Star. This workshop will be held at the end of Day 1 (March 26) and is specifically designed for journalism educators - but open to other participants as well. RSVP to Bring a laptop loaded with editing software.

This NewsTrain is being produced in collaboration with the Mid-America Press Institute, our seventh joint venture. In another feature of this workshop, 20 journalism educators from colleges in the region will attend, via a grant from the McCormick Foundation.

Workshop registration:
Workshop information:

Registration is $50 per person, for one or both days, and includes lunches.


Breaking News Without Breaking Trust
With Mitch Pugh, editor of The Sioux City (Iowa) Journal and

Learning designed to help you tackle difficult online news credibility issues.
Brought to you by APME and Poynter's News University

Participants will learn more about the options available to them as they report breaking news, the pitfalls and opportunities that come with making decisions quickly, the way the public views how we report breaking news, and methods for developing policies related to online breaking news.

APME Will Offer New Gannett Award for Watchdog Journalism in 2010

The Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism will be offered for the first time this year as part of the annual APME contest.

Description: This award recognizes groundbreaking work by a journalist or a staff that creatively uses digital tools in the role of being a community's watchdog. Special consideration is given to journalism that helps a community understand and address important issues. Criteria for evaluating innovation include interactivity, creation of new tools, innovative adaptation of existing tools, and creative use of any digital medium. An entry will consist of a single story, series or package on a single subject.

Entries will be judged by APME. Two winners will be selected, with each receiving $2,500.


An Associated Press investigation found that an environmental contractor dramatically underreported the level of a cancer-causing chemical found in tap water at Camp Lejeune, then omitted it altogether as the Marine base prepared for a federal health review. The Marine Corps had been warned nearly a decade earlier about the dangerously high levels of benzene, which was traced to massive leaks from fuel tanks at the base on the North Carolina coast, according to recently disclosed studies. For years, Marines who served at Camp Lejeune have blamed their families' cancers and other ailments on tap water tainted by dry cleaning solvents, and many accuse the military of covering it up. The benzene was discovered as part of a broader, ongoing probe into that contamination.

The Associated Press learned a lifelong con man imprisoned in Madison, Wis., worked with associates outside the walls to operate a suspected diploma mill that was recruiting students for at least two years until authorities uncovered the scheme. Kenneth Shong, 44, helped to run "Carlingford University" while he was behind bars, according to interviews and documents obtained by AP through the state open records law. Prison authorities uncovered the scheme in late 2008, but Carlingford's Web site was taken down only this month after AP interviewed its designer. The school was apparently just a phony moneymaking venture, according to state regulators. Its Web site claimed Carlingford had an office in Mobile, Ala., and a "regional training center" in Green Bay, but both were merely post office boxes. Web designer Brian Truckey acknowledged in an interview that he ran Carlingford's Web site and that it contained inaccurate information he was told to post. He said Shong, an inmate at Racine Correctional Institute whose criminal career has spanned the globe, was in charge. "We don't move forward until I get instructions from him," said Truckey, president of a small business in Green Bay called Serpent Technologies. But Truckey insisted Carlingford was largely legitimate and added he was earning a graduate degree in exchange for running the site, which he said was his "thesis." Hours after the interview, the site was suspended.

The Oregonian reports state officials are investigating a Texas trucking company that received millions of dollars in green energy tax credits in recent years while providing few Oregon jobs or environmental benefits. The investigation by the state Justice Department also is targeting a Coburg nonprofit that helped the Texas company get the Oregon tax credits. Mesilla Valley Transportation, based in El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, N.M., received 752 separate tax credits worth $4.5 million to outfit its truck fleet with the latest fuel-saving technology under Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit program, records show. But an investigation by The Oregonian found that the company's long-haul rigs are running less than 1 percent of their miles on Oregon roads. Its main Oregon operation is a trailer in a truck lot in Northeast Portland.

The Ventura (Calif.) County Star reports the county's transitional homeless shelters are full and growing amid a national trend in the opposite direction. Under what's called Housing First, programs in major cities are reducing by half the time homeless families spend in transitional living centers, the 24-hour-a-day facilities where clients prepare to live independently. The trend took hold in Chicago, New York and San Francisco in the past decade and is spreading with the aid of $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money, housing officials said. But housing officials say it's impractical locally because there's so little affordable housing, long waiting lists for subsidies and virtually no year-round emergency shelters where families could stay before moving into permanent housing.

The Tulsa World and The Oklahoman, in the first of a two-part series, investigated conditions in Oklahoma's group homes for the mentally retarded, mentally ill and elderly. The newspapers found that within three years, the Oklahoma State Department of Health found more than 830 violations in at least 70 residential care homes. Violations include 30 cases of inappropriate medical care and 24 cases of client abuse or neglect, four involving the death of a resident. From late 2006 to early 2009, inspectors documented residents who were covered in feces, stolen from, threatened with knives or left to sleep on dirty mattresses. Some were supervised by felons. Others lived in buildings infested with ants, cockroaches and mice. At least two people allegedly were raped.

The Wichita Eagle reports that in Kansas today, thanks to budget cuts, no government agency is working to ensure that hotel rooms are free of bed bugs, showers are free of mildew, evacuation routes are conspicuously posted, and drinking glasses are properly prepackaged.

The Tennessean reports that a Springfield-based group selling allegedly illegal health-insurance policies has collected more than $14 million from consumers over the past two years, and now is under investigation in a number of states, including Tennessee. Insurance regulators say the total amount of premiums collected for the policies could top $100 million, and at least 12,400 people nationwide are believed to have bought the policies so far. At least 20 states' insurance regulators have issued or are working on cease-and-desist orders to try to stop the sale of the health policies, which are being marketed by two business controlled by Springfield resident Bart Posey. None of the principals or businesses involved is licensed to sell insurance, the state regulators say. The businesses are the American Trade Association, or ATA, a nonprofit corporation that lists Bart Posey and his wife, Angie, as board members; and Smart Data Solutions, or SDS, a company owned by Posey that he says employs about 50 people.

The Modesto (Calif.) Bee, looking to the school year ahead, says after three years of sizable drops in state funding, the 2010-11 school year promises to see decimated programs. The school year will most likely decrease by five days - from 180 to 175 - which means less learning and more day care costs for many families. Class sizes will balloon in most grade levels. It reports students will have less access to counselors and psychologists, the people who advise bullied children and who make sure high-schoolers are completing the required units to graduate - and apply to college. Schools will offer fewer clubs, sports teams, band programs and field trips, which often are credited with keeping students engaged and helping them more effectively compete for spots at colleges.

The Honolulu Advertiser reports on how state budget cuts are hurting specialized treatments courts that offer an alternative approach to domestic abuse, drug addiction, teen pregnancy and mental health issues. The newspaper reports that the 11 treatment courts, including those for adults with mental health issues and families with substance abuse problems, are handling fewer cases, providing less treatment and delaying more services. At least one court is at risk of running out of treatment money by the end of the fiscal year, five have wait lists for accepting new clients, and O'ahu's Adult Drug Court has reduced its treatment capacity by nearly 20 percent.

The St. Petersburg Times meets the newly pregnant girls at Gibbs High School. Teen pregnancy - a problem that seemed under control - is on the rise again. After 14 straight years of declines, teen birth rates have inched up the past few years both nationally and in Tampa Bay. The newspaper reports the number of girls taking voluntary teen parenting classes at Pinellas high schools has grown from 344 in 2005 to 573 in 2008. Hillsborough County's numbers went from 73 in 2005 to 137 in 2008.

The Maine Sunday Telegram of Portland reports that for nearly a century, Eastport area residents have dreamed of producing power from moving seawater and tapping the economic potential that could flow with it. Now they feel close, closer than at any time since the 1930s, when historic plans to impound and funnel the bay fell apart. This stretch of Maine close to the Canadian border is known worldwide for its high tides and strong ocean currents. Peak tides rush in and out of Cobscook Bay at 7 miles per hour. From a boat, it's easy to appreciate the force of the water as it piles up against a large, white buoy moored off Shackford Head. Early next month, if all goes well, that buoy will anchor the country's largest ocean energy device - an underwater turbine that turns the bay?s surging tides into electricity. Dubbed the Energy Tide 2, the turbine will be a final demonstration before a commercial-scale generating unit is launched, hopefully next year.

The Orange County Register reports on state legislators using overlapping state and federal laws to leverage their tax-free expense allowance to buy second homes, secure tax deductions and, sometimes, pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit. While experts say the practice is legal, it's a benefit that lawmakers in other states rarely see. And critics question the ethics: If a legislator actually lives in Sacramento, should he or she be collecting an allowance for being away from home during the session?

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reports state leaders are worried that elementary and middle schools across Virginia are increasingly turning to an alternative - some say easier to pass - measure of student competency to help earn accreditation. The alternative is used instead of the Standards of Learning exams. With the substitute, students are scored on a body of their work collected throughout the year rather than their performance on a multiple-choice test. Pass rates on the alternative assessment are significantly better than those on SOL tests - in some cases, nearly twice as high, according to an analysis of state testing data by The Virginian-Pilot. School officials defend their use of the SOL alternative, saying they are merely following state guidelines. But it's not always that simple.

The Houston Chronicle reports that when people accused of crimes jump bail, it's often up to 80 licensed bail bondsmen to make it right for Harris County taxpayers, for whom the massive and high-risk bond business brings $4 million to $5 million annually to the government purse. An astounding $125 million is in play on any given day for the 13,000 suspects currently released on bail in county courts alone. And when it comes to bond-related debts, the county often fails to collect. A Chronicle review shows bond companies and individuals owe taxpayers more than $26 million in uncollected default judgments. The bond business overall is loosely regulated by an 11-member Bond Board, which decides who gets and keeps licenses and which bondsmen should be disciplined for failure to pay. None have been. The board has not suspended or revoked any bondsman's license in seven years.

The Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., following an extensive review of public records, reported that in the past 10 years a special anti-corruption unit in Broward County State Attorney Mike Satz's office has filed cases against 218 defendants for alleged acts of official misconduct, bribe-taking, theft and other abuses of positions of trust. Critics for years have labeled Satz as soft on public corruption. But what does the record show? Only 13 of the accused have been sitting politicians. Most of the criminal charges have been against rank-and-file public employees or law enforcement officers, lawyers and other licensed professionals. In some cases, the alleged crimes might seem minor - stolen library DVDs, embezzled turnpike tolls.,0,5695877,full.story

The Detroit Free Press, quoting interviews and sworn documents it has reviewed, reports a contractor who pleaded guilty in an ongoing corruption probe in Detroit has told investigators that he handed as much as $100,000 in bribes to then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2002. The allegations are significant because they show, for the first time, that the government has secured the cooperation of someone who says he gave payoffs directly to Kilpatrick. The contractor, Karl Kado of West Bloomfield, also told the FBI he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mayor's father, and thousands more to a close mayoral aide, according to the records and interviews.

The Akron Beacon Journal examined internal police documents to focus on the high number of citizen complaints against the use of force by a police officer steadfastly defended by his chiefs over the years. It all comes, the chiefs have said, with being an aggressive street-gang cop in Akron.

The documents, however, do not appear to support the contentions of the Akron chiefs, past and present, the newspaper reported. In fact, no street-gang officer working alongside Donald Schismenos comes close to generating the number of citizen complaints, or resorting to force to corral a resisting suspect, according to documents released by the city's law department. The officer is facing a 45-day suspension for disobeying a sergeant and arresting a woman who refused to surrender the video she shot of him making an arrest.


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: Mexico City's Martha Mendoza

It was a major complaint in the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake - some planes carrying critical aid were not allowed to land at Port-au-Prince airport while others, sometimes with seemingly less important cargo, could land. The AP was the only news organization to ask why and detail the consequences.

Using Freedom of Information requests and convincing the U.S. Air Force to release landing logs, AP Mexico City reporter Martha Mendoza documented that in the first chaotic days washcloths arrived before water and senators before surgeons because the U.S. military took flights first come, first served. From the story:

"Church of Scientology ministers landed, as did AP reporters, CNN's Anderson Cooper and diapers from Canada. But a French portable hospital and planeloads of doctors with medical supplies were diverted to the Dominican Republic.

"Planes carrying half of a Norwegian field hospital landed in Port-au-Prince, while those carrying the other half were diverted to the Dominican Republic and had to be trucked in over the mountains, delaying the opening of one of Haiti's first post-quake field hospitals."

With Mendoza taking the lead, the story was a classic AP effort in collaboration. The idea came from Latin America enterprise editor Kathy Corcoran, who proposed getting the flight logs. Washington's Joan Lowy chased down landing totals from the FAA. Mendoza's FOIA to the Air Force - along with legal coaching from AP attorney Karen Kaiser - convinced commanders that the information was public. They let Mendoza see the logs - but not have them - giving her a 3-inch-thick pile of records and only allowing her a notebook and pen in a highly restricted area of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

NRC's Julie Reed gathered tail numbers of planes landing in Haiti from flight-tracking companies, creating a separate AP database that included contact information for pilots, whom Mendoza then interviewed to get the story behind the logs.

Pete Santilli created a graphic on numbers and types of flights and their origins. Photo editor Dario Lopez made a photo package and Arian Smedley in Social Networking interviewed Mendoza for AP's Facebook site on how the story was reported.

The exclusive was picked up by thousands of Web sites, led ProPublica's "Editorial Picks" that day and was requested for Investigative Reporters and Editors' "Extra!Extra!" feature.


Former New York Daily News editor and Central Michigan University journalism chairman James Wieghart has died in Clare, Mich. He was 76. The university says Wieghart died Feb. 21 at Clare Hospital after treatment for pneumonia. According to the university's Web site, Wieghart graduated from the University of Wisconsin and worked for The Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel. He joined the Daily News Washington bureau, where he served as a Vietnam War correspondent, and later became the paper's editor. He resigned in 1984 to write for Scripps-Howard newspapers and became Central Michigan's journalism chairman in 1989. Wieghart is survived by his wife Sharon and four daughters.


West Virginia may revise its public records law in the wake of a recent state Supreme Court ruling that blocked the release of a justice's e-mails. Legislation introduced last week would apply the Freedom of Information Act to any record prepared or received by a public office or official, if its content or context relates to the public's business. That language addresses a finding in November's ruling against The Associated Press. The AP had sought e-mails sent by Elliot "Spike" Maynard while a justice on the court to a coal company executive. A circuit judge had ordered the release of some of the e-mails before the 4-1 decision. The bill goes to the House Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, is among its 11 co-sponsors.

The New York Times nailed down the news about the capture of the Taliban's No. 2 commander in Afghanistan last week but held off publishing the information at the request of a key player in the article - the Obama administration. The cooperation with the White House added another layer of intrigue to the Times' exclusive report about the arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence forces. The newspaper broke the news on its Web site at least three days after its reporters learned about the action. After devoting the first seven paragraphs of the article to the news' significance, the Times disclosed its delay in reporting the development. The reason: White House officials contended that publicizing the information would damage their efforts to learn more from Baradar allies who didn't know yet that he had been captured.

A lawyer for Wyoming Tribune Eagle says government operates better in the open. The Wyoming attorney general counters the governor has a right to receive confidential advice from agency directors. The arguments were made last week before the Wyoming Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle against Gov. Dave Freudenthal. The court will issue a decision later.

The newspaper sued Freudenthal along with the Department of Health and the Department of Family Services last spring over the withholding of recommendations on how to trim budgets in the face of declining state revenue. The family services agency was later released from the suit. The agencies and the governor's office refused a request by the newspaper for details on the budget discussions. The governor said through the attorney general that a deliberative process privilege allowed him to keep the recommendations secret.

Two West Virginia newspapers say Gov. Joe Manchin may be breaking the open meetings law by denying reporters access to a gathering about the fate of the South Charleston Technology Park. Reporters from several news organizations were turned away from the meeting last week by a security guard. The Charleston Gazette and Daily Mail asked other participants to deliver letters outlining their objections. The letters noted the state wants to take over a large portion of the park and spend millions of dollars developing it for use by state agencies, private firms and nonprofits. The newspapers say the public's trust will only be won through transparency.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald says it is upgrading security after a loaded shotgun was found stashed in its downtown offices. Employees cleaning a break room found the gun in a cabinet at the Grand Forks Herald on Feb. 22. "No notes, no threats, no nothing - just a loaded shotgun in a case in a closet in a common area, five rounds in it," Police Lt. Grant Schiller said. The gun was described as a 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun with a pistol grip - a weapon not typically used for hunting but more commonly for self-defense or law enforcement. Schiller said the five rounds in the gun were slugs, or large solid bullets, as opposed to buckshot. The Herald's publisher and editor, Mike Jacobs, said the newspaper is reviewing security. Public access to the building is being limited to the front lobby, and an armed guard was posted at the front door that evening. "It's hard to imagine that it's entirely innocent," Jacobs said of the gun. "We don't have any cause for panic, but obviously, we're taking it very, very seriously."

Tom Kurdy, a former Sioux City Journal publisher, has announced he will retire in late spring as publisher of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Mont. Kurdy steps down after 40 years of service to the Hagadone Corp., the daily newspaper's parent company based in Coeur d'Alene, including 21 years at the Daily Inter Lake. From 1994 to 1999, he served as publisher of the Journal, which at the time was the largest newspaper owned by the Hagadone group. The Journal is now part of the Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises chain. Kurdy began his career with the Hagadone Corp. at the company headquarters in Coeur d'Alene as an accountant and auditor. However, more than half of his career was spent at the Inter Lake, beginning with a stint as business manager from 1976 to 1984. He later served as publisher in Kalispell from January 1991 to April 1994, and returned in 2000. After leaving the Journal, he spent a year on corporate duties in the Coeur d'Alene headquarters.

His first job as publisher was at Moses Lake, Wash., where he served at the Columbia Basin Herald from 1985 to 1991. Earlier in his career, he also worked briefly as business manager of the Sandpoint Daily Bee, Bonners Ferry Herald and Priest River Times in North Idaho.

Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat, are sweeping up all of the major newspaper endorsements in the race for Texas governor. The Houston Chronicle describe Hutchison, who is trying to oust Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary, as a trailblazer with a "proven record of working across party lines to benefit all." The Dallas Morning News said she would provide a "welcome change" to Perry's "bully tactics" and "strong-arm style." Perry, the GOP front-runner, broke with tradition this year and decided not to seek endorsements from newspaper editorial boards. Most of them unloaded on Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, with broad attacks on his heavy-handed governing style.


The Associated Press has developed a new app for history buffs: Today in History. Today in History uses editorial content from the news fixture of the same name. It was built for the Android platform, Google's open-source mobile handset OS. Today in History provides a daily update of important events throughout history on each day of the year. Content includes events and photos from AP's archive, featuring a "Highlight in History" screen that includes a photo and a related sliding picture puzzle game. Also included are celebrity and notable birthdays on that day. The app costs 99 cents and is available for download at the Android Market.

Newspaper publisher and TV station owner E.W. Scripps Co. said Feb. 23 that reduced restructuring costs offset sliding revenue and helped lift the company to a fourth-quarter profit. The company also said it's exploring a possible sale of all or part of its United Media licensing unit. United Media owns the rights to a host of familiar cartoon characters, including Peanuts and Dilbert. Scripps earned $12 million, or 19 cents per share, in the fourth quarter. That compares with a loss of $12.6 million, or 24 cents per share, in the prior-year period. The 2009 quarter included just $3.6 million worth of restructuring costs versus $36.9 million the year before when the company spun off Scripps Networks Interactive. The company also trimmed other expenses by 17 percent. The lower costs helped counter an 18 percent drop in revenue to $217.4 million from $264.9 million. Scripps said local and national advertising revenue for its 10 TV stations "bounced back nicely" in the fourth quarter due to higher spending by retailers, but political ad sales fell. The advertising climate at newspapers remains weak, with Scripps booking double-digit declines in all categories except for online ad revenue, which fell 5 percent.

Free newspapers could soon be able to carry public government notices under legislation being considered in Colorado. State law currently requires that only newspapers with paid circulation be used for official government advertisements. That's caused problems in mountain resort communities where free papers have become more common. Some local governments now have to post ads in outside newspapers that aren't read in their communities to follow the law. The proposal has already passed the House and cleared a committee vote in the Senate last week. It's backed by the Colorado Press Association and the Colorado Municipal League.

A shareholder activist who joined The New York Times Co.'s board of directors two years ago will relinquish his seat at the end of April. The newspaper disclosed Scott Galloway's intention to leave the board in a regulatory filing. Another board member, Daniel Cohen, had previously announced his plans to step down when the Times Co. holds its annual shareholders meeting April 27. The Times Co. has also taken a step toward adding a new director by nominating Carolyn Greenspon to the board. The exit of Galloway and Cohen and the addition of Greenspon would reduce the size of the Times Co.'s board to 13 directors from its current 14. Like Cohen, Greenspon is a member of the family that owns a special class of stock giving the clan control over the company that owns The New York Times, The Boston Globe and 16 other newspapers. Galloway joined the board two years ago as part of a compromise that resolved a standoff with a major shareholder, Harbinger Capital. Harbinger and Galloway had been pressuring the Times Co. to shed its holdings outside the newspaper business and focus on expanding its online operations. The publisher has since sold television and radio stations and has been looking for a buyer for its 17.8 percent stake in a joint venture that includes the Boston Red Sox.

A federal judge in Augusta, Ga., cleared the way last week for newspaper owner Morris Publishing Group to emerge from bankruptcy protection less than a month after it filed under Chapter 11. Morris Publishing, owner of 13 daily newspapers, including the Amarillo Globe-News and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, sped through the court after a year spent formulating a plan to shed $288.5 million in debt - or about 70 percent of its total of $415 million - and winning approval from the vast majority of its creditors. Judge John S. Dalis took less than 20 minutes to approve Morris' prepackaged debt restructuring proposal after hearing no objections from creditors. The plan lets Morris' owners keep control of the privately held company, with creditors receiving no equity. Top-tier lenders will be repaid in full, while holders of $278.5 million in unsecured bonds will recoup 36 cents on the dollar. Mark Berkoff, the company's attorney, said Morris Publishing hopes to emerge from bankruptcy protection by March 1.

Lee Enterprises Inc., publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other newspapers, said last week its revenue in January fell 9.2 percent from the prior year. The company said the decline is the first single-digit percentage drop since 2008. And it said advertising trends have improved for the fifth month in a row. Newspaper publishers have been struggling with a severe slump in print advertising revenue - typically their main source of income. The drop has been exacerbated by the sluggish economy and the availability of inexpensive alternatives online. Lee said ad revenue for January fell 10.5 percent from the prior year. Classified ads decreased by 12.1 percent, with job and real estate ads falling the most. In contrast, total ad revenue fell 16.4 percent in the final three months of 2009, and 23.8 percent in prior quarter. Lee said improvements in ad revenue seem likely to continue into February and March. In January, online ad revenue rose 5.7 percent. For the company's second fiscal quarter, which ends in March, Lee said it expects operating costs to fall 9 percent. For fiscal year 2010, these costs should decline 8 percent. Lee previously expected costs to fall 7 percent for the quarter and year.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, owns 49 daily newspapers, has joint interest in four others and operates online sites and 300 specialty publications in 23 states.

The publisher of the Harlan (Ky.) Daily Enterprise in eastern Kentucky has been put in charge of two other papers. The Harlan Daily Enterprise reports that Heartland Publications has named Pat Lay as group publisher of the Middlesboro Daily News and Harlan Daily Enterprise as well as the Claiborne Progress in Tazewell, Tenn. Along with Lay's promotion, Harlan Daily Enterprise managing editor John Henson will assume the title of general manager of that paper. Lay and Henson are community newspaper veterans, having worked in Harlan for 13 and 25 years, respectively.

The owner of the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin says it fired its publisher following an internal investigation that began after an employee complained about him. In a statement last week, the daily newspaper says Paul Mahony was terminated on Feb. 10 after more than three years as publisher. The newspaper said several Bulletin employees have filed complaints related to Mahony's actions with Manteca police, but did not disclose the nature of those complaints. The publication plans to cooperate with the ongoing police investigation. Charles Hill Morris, regional manager with Morris Multimedia, which owns the Bulletin, says, "We took the action in the interest of our employees."

Freedom Communications asked a bankruptcy judge in Mesa, Ariz., last week to approve the sale of the East Valley Tribune and several other Phoenix-area publications for about $2 million. Irvine, Calif.-based Freedom Communications Holdings Inc. put the Tribune up for sale shortly after it filed for bankruptcy protection in September. The company said it planned to close the paper Dec. 31 if no buyer emerged and estimated that shutting it down would cost $1.5 million. Thirteenth Street Media, a Boulder, Colo.-based company owned by Randy Miller, made an offer for the Tribune in November. Miller expanded his bid in January to include the Daily News-Sun in Sun City, the Ahwatukee Foothills News, Glendale/Peoria Today, Surprise Today, and the Clipper direct-mail coupon magazine. Because Freedom is under bankruptcy protection, a judge must approve the sale, which is contingent on no better offers being made. The motion filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware said Freedom would accept offers until March 5. Freedom will continue to publish the papers pending court approval of the sale. Freedom will remain the owner of its other paper in Arizona, The Sun in Yuma. Freedom has said the deal would result in a "substantial" number of employees keeping their jobs. After the sale is completed, employees will be given offer letters from the new owner; those who do not receive letters will be eligible for severance.

Freedom Communications operates 33 daily and 77 weekly newspapers, including The Orange County (Calif.) Register. Thirteenth Street Media publishes the Explorer, a weekly in suburban Tucson, and the Telluride (Colo.) Daily Planet. Both are free-distribution newspapers, as is the Tribune.

The New York Times Co. said last week it is launching a bilingual Arabic-English version of "T: The New York Times Style Magazine" in Qatar. The lifestyle and luxury magazine will be published every two months this year and every month in 2011. It will have local and regional features, photographs and commentary. The magazine will be published by Oryx Advertising Co., one of Qatar's largest publishers.

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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