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APME Newsletter April 28, 2011
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APME Update

The electronic newsletter of the Associated Press Managing Editors for April 28, 2011

In this issue:

2011 APME Journalism Excellence Awards: Deadline May 16
2011 McGruder Diversity Leadership Awards: Deadline May 16
Save the Date: APME's Annual Conference Sept. 14-16 in Denver
APME-AP Broken Budgets: Focusing on State Funding Crisis
Join NewsTrain on Facebook and Twitter
Monthly Innovator Award: Applications Being Accepted for April
Watchdog Reporting: Summary of Recent Impact Reporting
AP Beat of the Week: Jeff Donn
Editors in the News: Karen Testa
Business of News
Catching up on Credibility Topics: Order the Full Set
APME Forums: Discuss Good Ideas With Colleagues



Save the Date

- May 16 – Deadline for 2011 APME Journalism Excellence Awards

- May 16 – Deadline for 2011 McGruder Diversity Leadership Awards

- Sept. 14-16 – APME annual conference at the Embassy Suites in Denver




The 2011 APME Journalism Excellence Awards honor superior journalism and innovation among newspapers and online news sites across the United States and Canada. The awards seek to promote excellence by recognizing work that is well written and incisively reported and that effectively challenges the status quo.

Categories include:

  • Fifth Annual Innovator of the Year Award. The winner will be awarded $2,000.
  • Second Annual Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism. The winner in each of two circulation categories will be awarded $2,500.
  • 41st Annual Public Service Awards
  • 41st Annual First Amendment Award and Citations
  • 10th Annual Online Convergence Awards
  • 10th Annual International Perspective Awards

All awards are presented for journalism published or launched between July 1, 2010, and May 16, 2011.

The deadline for entry is Monday, May 16.

The awards will be presented at the APME annual conference Sept 14-16 in Denver and linked on the APME website.

Entry fees are $75 for APME members and $100 for non-members.

For more information:



The Associated Press Managing Editors, in partnership with the American Society of News Editors, is accepting nominations for the 10th annual Robert G. McGruder Awards for Diversity Leadership.

Two awards are given annually: one for newspapers with a circulation up to 75,000; one for newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation.

The awards go to individuals, newsrooms or teams of journalists who embody the spirit of McGruder, a former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, former managing editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, graduate of Kent State University and relentless diversity champion. McGruder died of cancer in April 2002.

This year, the awards are being sponsored by the Free Press, The Plain Dealer, Kent State University and the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute.

Jurors will be looking for nominees who have made a significant contribution during a given year or over a number of years toward furthering diversity in newspaper content and in recruiting, developing and retaining journalists of color. The deadline to make a nomination is Monday, May 16.

Announcement of the winners will be made at the annual APME conference, Sept. 14-16 in Denver. The recognized honorees each receive $2,500 and a leadership trophy.

For more information:



The APME 2011 Conference - Reaching New Heights: Embracing Tomorrow Today! - will be held Sept. 14-16 in Denver at the new Embassy Suites Denver - Downtown Convention Center.

The conference's outstanding program will help you learn how to:

_ Provide outstanding multi-platform coverage of the BIG story

_ Compete in the hyper-local marketplace

_ Lead a digital newsroom

_ Make the First Amendment deliver for your newsroom

_ Navigate the increased limitations/restrictions professional and collegiate sports are placing on news organizations

_ Rein in online comments

_ Do a better job putting a local lens on national and international stories

_ Cover the census, the Tea party and the 2012 election

Join us for the opening reception and auction on Wednesday night, Sept. 14, at The Denver Post and for a Colorado Rockies - San Francisco Giants baseball game at Coors Field on Thursday night, Sept. 15.

The Embassy Suites Denver - Downtown Convention Center is offering a special room rate of $159 a night for the conference. The special rate will be available until Aug. 15 or until the group block of 75 rooms is sold out, whichever comes first. For more information, go to



Across the country, the AP-APME Broken Budgetsinitiative is producing story after story, many receiving front-page play, on the funding crises in state and local governments.

The biggest statewide project to date ran for three weeks in Pennsylvania, where 33 member papers joined the AP in telling the story of the 3,000-strong workforce of the state legislature.

Other big projects are under discussion in states. Will yours be next?

The AP-APME reports, along with localized stories on this topic, are enriching papers from East to West. Soon, a50-state interactive willbe available to member papers.

Broken Budgets is examining the fiscal crisis facing U.S. states and cities, how state and local governments are dealing with this crisis, and how Americans' lives will change because of it.

To join in on the Broken Budgets initiative, members don't have to engage in a full-blown collaboration. When your staff does a particularly compelling story on the state's fiscal problems, point it out to your AP chief of bureau for use as a member exchange; localize an upcoming stories (and that localized version can be used on state lines as a member exchange as well). And of course, we welcome ideas for full collaborations.

Please send links of stories to Bob Heisse at or Sally Jacobsen at for posting at

Here are recent stories:


OAKLAND, Calif. - The torrent of pink slips hitting the nation's public schools has reached every classroom on this small elementary campus in the hardscrabble flats of East Oakland. All 16 teachers at Futures Elementary have been warned they could lose their jobs this year because of California's budget crisis. They're among 540 teachers in Oakland and more than 20,000 statewide who received preliminary layoff notices last month. Schools districts around the country are preparing for large-scale layoffs of teachers and other school employees as states slash education spending to plug massive holes in their budgets. But as an era of austerity moves governors and lawmakers in many states, others wonder what effects such deep cuts will have on the next generation and on America's ability to compete pace with emerging competitors around the world. By Terence Chea.


WHITMIRE, S.C. - This town of 1,600 used to live by the steady thump, whirr and whistle of the looms in its giant textile mills, churning out socks and yarn to be used by other mills in a vast region that stretched from the Appalachian foothills to the coastal plains of the Carolinas. The mills and the jobs they created led to decades of economic stability that earned Whitmire the nickname "Pearl of the Piedmont." Now the last of those plants is gone, leaving the town caught between two forces of decline: the evaporation of its job and tax base, and a recession that has hammered governments at all levels. The plunge in government tax revenue for most states and their resulting budget crises means Whitmire and other small towns across the U.S. are receiving less assistance than they might otherwise get when a major employer packs up and leaves. By Jeffrey Collins.


ALBANY, NY - A prosecutor in California collects $118,000 in unused sick days. A police officer in New York rings up $125,000 in overtime the year before retiring and "spikes" his pension payments. An Ohio school superintendent is hired for the same job from which he just retired and takes in more than $100,000 annually. The headlines feed a stereotype of fat-cat public workers with the kind of cushy benefits that most private-sector workers can only dream about. With the economy still wobbly, governors are looking hard at employee pay and benefits, and taxpayers are asking whether state and local governments can remain so generous to public workers. The issue has risen to national prominence as Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have sought not only to make public employees pay more for their benefits but also prohibit many aspects of collective bargaining for the unions that represent them. Just how accurate is the portrayal of lavish compensation and benefits for public workers? Interviews with experts and reviews of numerous reports on the topic give a mixed answer, and one that can vary greatly from state to state. By Michael Hill.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- California's governor wants to maintain temporary tax increases to keep $9 billion a year flowing to the state treasury. Low-tax Texas is considering tapping its rainy day account to soften the effects of deep spending cuts. New York's governor pushed through budget cuts while keeping a campaign pledge to avoid tax increases. And residents of Illinois and Florida are getting a very different take on taxes: Illinois passed a massive increase, while Florida proposes giving its taxpayers a big break. The five states are the nation's most populous but are taking very different approaches to solving their respective budget deficits, illustrating that the priorities of the majority party play as much a role in budgeting decisions as a state's fiscal health. If those states are a guide, there is no single model for how to close a deficit. By Brendan Farrington.


As lawmakers around the country debate their states' budgets, they're staring over the edge of a massive fiscal cliff – the point where about $100 billion in federal stimulus money for education will run out. The end of that money will compound states' severe budget woes and likely lead to thousands of layoffs and the elimination of popular school programs around the country. By Sean Cavanagh and Heather Hollingsworth

DES MOINES, Iowa _ Superintendents at some of Iowa's largest school districts predict Gov. Terry Branstad's plan to replace the state's current preschool system with a scholarship program based on financial need would cause fewer children to enroll, forcing districts to lay off teachers and other staff. By Andrew Duffelmeyer.

Member sidebars:



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. _ Eager to cut costs in their prison systems, many states are slashing programs that are intended keep inmates from returning to crime after they are released. States that cut addiction counseling, mental health treatment and other services will end up with more people committing crimes, say corrections directors, parole experts and prison reformers. That could mean more people in prison, higher costs and yet more service cuts. By Chris Wills.


ATLANTA _ As the costs to house state prisoners have soared in recent years, many conservatives are re-examining a tough-on-crime era that has led to stiffer sentences, overstuffed prisons and bloated corrections budgets. Ongoing deficits and steep drops in tax revenue in most states are forcing the issue, with law-and-order Republican governors and state legislators beginning to amend years of policies that were designed to lock up more criminals and put them away for longer periods of time. Most of the proposals circulating in at least 22 state Capitols would not affect current state inmates, but only those who have yet to be charged. By Greg Bluestein.

And some links to Broken Budgets stories:,0,7217579.story

There's room for more – much more – member involvement in this reporting initiative that is taking place in all 50 AP statehouse bureaus and sports its own logo.

Broken Budgets works like this: Advisories of major stories produced by AP staffers are sent to member papers 7 to 10 days in advance, giving time for localizing. Stories in the initiative can be jointly produced by AP, member papers and journalism organizations. If your organization has an idea for this series,a story you'd like to produce jointly, or even a statewide project you'd want to participate in, please contact your state's AP bureau chief.

A few ideas for localizing stories from Gatehouse News Service:

Look to APME Updates and for updates in this initiative.

To find Broken Budgets in AP Exchange, click on Politics and then Broken Budgets.

For further information, please contact Bob Heisse at or Sally Jacobsen at



Have you attended one of the many NewsTrain events Associated Press Managing Editors have hosted over the years? Just generally interested in good training material? Then become a fan of NewsTrain's new Facebook page and Twitter feed. You'll find relevant news about upcoming training events, best practice training tips and be able to connect with NewsTrain alumni through this social media outreach.





Innovator of the Month

The Associated Press Managing Editors' Innovator of the Year contest has expanded to highlight newspaper innovations all year long.

Associated Press-member newspapers are now invited to enter their innovative work at any time. Judges will recognize one paper per month. Entries now are being accepted for April.

Find details and the entry platform at Every entry will also be considered for APME's annual Great Ideas book.

Monthly winners will be recognized on Each monthly winner will be invited to enter the annual Innovator of the Year contest, which is open to all newspapers in the U.S. and Canada and is awarded at the APME conference Sept. 14-16 at the Embassy Suites in Denver.

"We're pleased to take another big step in recognizing innovative work in our newsrooms,” said Bob Heisse, executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., and APME vice president. "By putting a spotlight on journalism innovations monthly, we'll acknowledge top work more often and it might spark ideas at other papers.”

The Seattle Times was named APME Innovator of the Year in 2010. Previous winners are the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Oklahoman of Oklahoma City

The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. was the March winner. It was honored for Frontiers of Fat, a series on the science of obesity and an initiative that involves staffers and readers in losing weight.

You can read the innovative work at Miller can be reached at

Applications for APME monthly innovation recognition are being accepted at

Applications for APME's Innovator of the Year are accepted until May 16 at The annual award winner, as determined by editors attending the APME conference in Denver, will receive $2,000 courtesy of sponsors GateHouse Media Inc. and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.



AP IMPACT: Porn company is amassing 1-800 numbers

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Lobbyists run up big tab wining and dining capitol

Dallas Morning News: Bonuses for teachers' pension managers reaches $8.2 million

Sun-Sentinel: Tax fraud puts IRS under scrutinyfor missing key red flags

San Jose Mercury News: Taxpayers funding costly health benefits for part-time workers

Wilmington News Journal: State auditor suppressed report critical of powerful friend

Read all watchdog reports at:



When the Obama administration announced in September that it was going to require better sealing for about 3,500 idle gas and oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico, Jeff Donn of the National Investigative Team asked federal regulators for the well numbers. Two months earlier, Donn and colleague Mitch Weiss had documented the existence of 27,000 temporarily or permanently abandoned wells in the Gulf. Donn needed the numbers to determine if any of the latest wells were in addition to those reported in July.

Donn didn't figure on a six-month-plus Freedom of Information battle with an uncooperative federal agency – a battle that ultimately revealed the existence of an additional 3,200 wells, unprotected by any cement plugging usually employed on abandoned wells.

Read more:



Karen Testa, New England news editor for The Associated Press and a journalist with varied experience as a reporter and editor across the country, has been named the AP's East regional editor, overseeing the AP's news coverage from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey north to Maine. The appointment was announced by Senior Managing Editor Mike Oreskes. "Karen Testa is both a fine journalist and a skilled leader of journalism," Oreskes said. "Her determination and vision will take our coverage of these vital states to new levels." Testa has been leading coverage of the six New England states since November 2009. Prior to that, she served twice as the AP's Boston news editor, responsible for directing reporters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Testa will be based in Philadelphia at the AP's East desk, which coordinates, edits and oversees coverage across formats throughout the East. Testa, 40, joined the AP in Albany, N.Y., in 1992. She transferred to Miami the following year, and in 1996 became correspondent in Springfield, Mo. She returned to Florida in 1997 to become the AP's first correspondent in West Palm Beach. She was news editor for Massachusetts and Rhode Island from November 1999 to November 2002, when she went on leave. She returned to staff in 2003 and became day supervisor in April 2006. She returned to the position of Boston news editor in 2007.



AP has tentative labor deal after 6 months of talks

Lipinski named new curator of Nieman Foundation

Defamation suit vs Tucson, Ariz., newspaper is dismissed

New leader overhauls US broadcasts into Cuba

NY Times Co.'s 1Q earnings fall on print ad drop

USA Today posts small circulation gain

Frederick, Md., newspaper eyes new publisher

Laredo editor new Del Rio News-Herald publisher

Find these reports at:



Online Journalism Credibility webinars presented by NewsU and APME are available online. If you missed a webinar or want to watch them again, register for the Training Package, which enables you to view (and re-view) all six seminars.

Here is the link to the Training Package: APME Online Credibility Series



A great place to talk about what's working in your newsroom is our forums on Check out the forum and "good ideas" and help start a conversation on a topic.


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 call Sally at (212) 621-7007.

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To receive APME Update by e-mail notify APME is a newspaper editors association founded in 1933 to provide input on the services of The Associated Press and to help newsroom managers become better leaders. A business league under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, APME is funded through registrations and sponsorships at the annual conference, APME Supporting Memberships and in-kind support. The Associated Press Managing Editors Association Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, supports educational programming. Membership in APME is open to senior print and online editors at AP member newspapers in the United States and Canadian Press publications in Canada. Mailing address: Associated Press Managing Editors Association, c/o Sally Jacobsen, The Associated Press, 450 West 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001. Phone: (212) 621-7007. Fax: (212) 506-6102. E-mail: Web:

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