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Jan. 20, 2010 APME Newsletter
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APME Update
The electronic newsletter of the Associated Press Managing Editors for Jan 20, 2010
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In this issue:

Online Credibility Webinar: Jan. 28

Newstrain: Feb. 3-4, Tacoma; March 26-27, Chicagoland
Watchdog Reporting: Summary of recent impact reporting
Industry News: What¡¦s going on in our industry
APME Update needs your input

Dates to note:

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How much do your Web readers trust news articles? User comments? Tweets? Photos? Find out in the latest Webinar from Poynter's NewsU: News Site Credibility: Whom Do Readers Trust?

Join Chris Cobler, editor of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate, for this one-hour Webinar on Jan. 28. He will share what his newsroom learned during an APME Online Journalism Credibility Project on Web site credibility. You'll hear what readers say about the credibility of news sites, how his newsroom handled the results and how you can put those strategies to work for you.

You'll learn:

  • How much readers trust news and opinion content
  • The level of trust readers assign to user-generated content
  • What content online readers find more credible
  • Whether the credibility of the print brand transfers to the Web site

Whether you're an editor, producer or someone who creates or manages online user-generated content, you'll learn how to manage your site better by understanding your online audience.

Sign up today for News Site Credibility: Whom Do Readers Trust? The cost of this one-hour Webinar, at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, Jan. 28, is $27.95. APME members can sign up for just $9.95. An access code will be mailed out to members.

This Webinar is part of the Online Journalism Credibility Series, developed by Poynter's NewsU and Associated Press Managing Editors (APME). The Webinars are the outcomes of projects by six newsrooms as part of APME¡¦s Online Credibility Project and funded by grants from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and APME Foundation. The series is also developed with the support of the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA). Questions? E-mail us at

Editors: Sign up today for our next two NewsTrain workshops.

Tacoma, Wash., Wednesday-Thursday, Feb. 3-4:
Workshop information:
Workshop registration:

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

To apply for a college journalism educator award:

The 2010 award will be given for work published between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009. Eligible are individual reporters working at newspapers, wire services and online news sources in the United States who regularly cover police and crime. Entries may be a single story or a body of work, not to exceed six stories. An individual's entry may include one or two double bylined stories. Entrants may submit online reporting of breaking news along with a final published story. There is no application form, but entries must be accompanied by a letter describing any special circumstances affecting the work, such as deadline pressures, and why the individual's work is outstanding. The letter may be written by the reporter or his or her editor. Entries need not be elaborate but must include the letter and should be presented in a way that makes them easy for the judges to handle. For example: original tear sheets or photo copies of tear sheets mounted and bound together in some fashion, with the letter attached. Entry fee is $50 per person. Checks should be made out to University of Colorado Al Nakkula Award. Judging will be done by an independent panel. All entries become the property of the award committee and cannot be returned. Prize: $2,000. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 1, 2010.

Send to:
Al Nakkula Award Committee
c/o The University of Colorado
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
478 UCB
1511 University Avenue
Boulder, Colorado 80309-0478
Contact: Beth Gaeddert 303-492-0460


CU School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Denver Press Club.

Take a moment to appreciate colleagues who are giving readers important news they simply won't get elsewhere. We welcome your contributions. E-mail a description of the story and a link to

The Wichita Eagle reports that if history is a guide, Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson's proposal to raise the cigarette tax may not help the state with its budget woes as much as predicted. The last time the state raised the tax, when the Legislature more than tripled it in 2002, receipts fell slightly short of projections the first year and far short the second year. And budget analysts did not account for one of the governor's other big initiatives: a statewide public smoking ban. Ohio, the first Midwestern state to pass such a ban in 2006, has seen substantial declines in its cigarette-tax income since.

The Sacramento Bee launches the first in an ongoing series of stories in partnership with Capital Public Radio that reveal the industries, companies and people likely to pull the region from recession and provide new jobs. "We're looking extensively at the green-tech sector as being the next new thing, the thing that's going to goose the economy," the paper quotes Jock O'Connell, a Sacramento economic consultant, as saying. "It's not going to happen overnight." That suggests that once the recovery begins, real estate development will once again dominate much of the economic landscape.

The Press of Atlantic City looks at the falling membership of service and civic groups, such as Rotary, and the threat that poses to charities the groups support, with both volunteer hours and donations. Service groups are fighting a variety of challenges. Their members are growing old and few young people are signing up to take their place. The groups also are having a hard time getting the public to understand just what it is they do. Rotary is the oldest service organization in the country. It has a national membership of about 370,000 today, compared with 427,000 at its height in 1995. Other service and fraternal groups are seeing similar declines in membership nationwide. Many started admitting women as members only in the 1980s or ¡¦90s, without whom numbers would have fallen even more drastically.

The (WA) News Tribune reports a new Washington state Department of Health Web site makes infection rates at local hospitals public for the first time. But when you visit the site, don't expect a simple ranking, like batting averages in baseball. The site, launched Jan. 6, is sprawling and complex, requiring careful study and many mouse clicks to make sense of it. That's in part because high infection rates can be a public relations bombshell for hospitals. Hospital infections are among the leading causes of death nationwide, and drawing public attention to them was the intent of state legislators when they required the public reporting in 2007.

The Modesto Bee offered readers an in-depth study of the use of Tasers in California's Stanislaus County, where almost every sheriff's deputy and Modesto police officer carries a Taser. Sheriff's patrol deputies used Tasers 43 times in 2007 and 74 times in 2009. Modesto police officers used the devices 65 times in 2007 and 146 times in 2009. Industry reports suggest about 11,500 law enforcement agencies in the country have acquired about 260,000 "conducted energy devices" such as Tasers, according to a 2008 report by the National Institute of Justice. Last year, three men died in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail after law enforcement officers used Tasers and other force to subdue them. In one of the three deaths, the Stanislaus County district attorney's office found no wrongdoing. The investigations into the two other deaths are pending.

The Detroit Free Press reports most restitution hearings are speedy affairs but then most don't involve former Detroit mayors with million-dollar restitution tabs and mini-mansions in swanky suburbs. A Free Press analysis of Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner's orders, public records and Kwame Kilpatrick's testimony indicates that Kilpatrick clearly complied with only two of a dozen criteria Groner established. In the remaining 10 categories, Kilpatrick failed to comply with several requirements or provided explanations that are open to debate. The newspaper found that while Kilpatrick did make required restitution payments, he did not disclose the finances of his wife, Carlita, or provide copies of leases on the two homes his family has rented since their move to Southlake, Texas.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of horses go through Kentucky auction rings, but most fail to generate a penny in sales tax for a state beset by recurring budget shortfalls. Since 2003, according to state estimates, almost $3.7 billion in exempt sales of horses have cost the state more than $220 million in tax revenue. It quotes economists as saying that eliminating special exemptions such as the sales tax break for horses could mean a lower overall tax rate for everyone. Advocates for social services, which have been hit hard by the state's repeated budget shortfalls, have urged a re-examination of the state's tax code, including an evaluation of tax breaks.

The Mobile Press-Register reports Alabama is gaining a reputation as a prime dumping ground for the nation's garbage. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has issued permits allowing nearly 19 million tons of garbage to be deposited in the state each year, about 7.5 percent of the garbage generated nationwide, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures. Meanwhile, Alabama is home to but 1.5 percent of the nation's population and produces 1.6 percent of the nation's trash, or about 4 million tons of garbage a year, according to Press-Register calculations based on an EPA formula. While Alabama has long been home to the nation's largest hazardous waste landfill, located in Emelle, the state has recently seen a growing number of super-sized garbage dumps, with one facility permitted to accept up to 15,000 tons of waste per day - or about 11 billion pounds annually.

A Reno-Gazette-Journal investigation found at least nine of the 113 people convicted of killing or seriously injuring someone while driving drunk in Reno, Nevada, since 2000 received new driver's licenses, despite a 1997 law prohibiting them from driving for three years after being released from prison. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles blamed the courts for some of the mix-ups, saying they failed to notify the DMV about the convictions so officials had no legal reason to restrict the licenses. At other times, DMV personnel improperly entered information into the computer system, spokesman Tom Jacobs said.

Nonprofit groups that specialize in investigative reporting have had some big scoops, cracking the newspaper front pages and forcing officials out of their jobs. Now the question is whether these organizations can stay afloat on donations. As financially strapped newspapers have scaled back, charitable foundations have poured tens of millions of dollars into nonprofit watchdogs in hopes of keeping politicians and businesses in check. These groups figure to do a bigger share of the investigative legwork in the coming years. But philanthropy probably can't maintain all of these groups forever. And some are still struggling to come up with a financially sustainable plan - just as old-school media are.

The Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a request from a western Kansas newspaper reporter to temporarily stay an order requiring her to testify about a confidential source. Dodge City Globe reporter Claire O'Brien was scheduled to appear before an inquisition in Ford County on Wednesday. Prosecutors are trying to force her to reveal the name of a confidential source and information from her unpublished notes. But the state Supreme Court granted the newspaper's request for a temporary emergency stay of enforcement of the inquisition subpoena. The court's order said parties in the case have until 5 p.m. Monday to respond to the order. Ford County Attorney Terry Malone subpoenaed O'Brien to testify about her interview with Samuel Bonilla, who is charged with second-degree murder in the Labor Day shooting death of Steven Holt and the attempted murder of Tanner Brunson. Bonilla has said he acted in self-defense. The newspaper has challenged the subpoena on the grounds that forcing O'Brien to testify would violate her First Amendment rights and hurt her ability to gather news. She also has said she already told Malone what Bonilla said to her during the jailhouse interview when she called the prosecutor for comment.

The holding company for MediaNews Group Inc. newspapers, including The Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News, says it plans to file for bankruptcy protection. Affiliated Media Inc. said last week it would file a "prepackaged" plan already approved by lenders, which should allow it to emerge from bankruptcy more quickly. It would be at least the 13th bankruptcy filing by a U.S. newspaper publisher in the past 13 months. The owners of dozens of newspapers have been pushed into bankruptcy protection as the recession and competition from the Internet have sapped advertising revenue.

Steven Lovelady, 66, a former Philadelphia Inquirer managing editor whose sharp prose shaped Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, died of cancer Jan. 15 in Key West, Fla. Lovelady died under hospice care. He and his wife, Ann Kolson, had driven from their New York City home last week so that he could spend his final days at his beloved vacation home in the Keys. Lovelady worked closely with Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, The Inquirer's legendary investigative team. The pair credit him with shaping their two Pulitzer Prize-winning series on the inequities of the tax system, as well as two National Magazine Awards that the pair later won at Time, where Lovelady was also their editor.

Michael T. Kaufman, a former foreign correspondent, reporter and columnist for The New York Times who chronicled despotic regimes in Europe and Africa, the fall of communism and the changing American scene for four decades, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 71.
His death, at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, was caused by pancreatic cancer, his wife, Rebecca, said. Kaufman lived in Manhattan. A versatile, imaginative writer of seven books and thousands of articles, Kaufman covered wars, revolutions, politics and America's turbulent 1960s. But he also explored the foibles of raising children in a violent world, his father's years as a political prisoner in Poland and his family's escape from invading Nazis in World War II.

Newspapers in Gillette, Buffalo and Casper, Wyoming, captured top honors last week at the Wyoming Press Association's annual awards banquet. The Gillette News-Record won the "general excellence" award for daily newspapers, while the award went to the Buffalo Bulletin for large weeklies and to the Casper Journal for small weeklies. Members of the Nevada Press Association judged Wyoming's newspapers based on editions for the year that ended Oct. 31. The general excellence category recognizes the papers for consistent good work in the areas of news reporting, feature writing, page design, photography, advertisement design and typography.

Fitch Ratings upgraded News Corp. on Tuesday, saying the media conglomerate's cable channel business should offset continuing declines at its newspapers. The agency hiked News Corp.'s rating to "BBB+" from "BBB," moving it higher into investment-grade territory. News Corp. publishes The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and other newspapers which have seen ad revenue fall during the recession and a rise in competition from Internet-based companies. But growing profits at the Fox News Channel and other cable properties have helped News Corp. weather the downturn. Successful films such as "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" have also boosted profits.

Online reporting on the Editor & Publisher Web site and blogs resumed immediately after the sale to Duncan McIntosh Co. Inc., two weeks after the Nielsen Co. shut down both the Internet and monthly print editions. The media trade magazine, which has covered the newspaper industry for over 100 years, did not provide any details on the terms of the transaction. The company produces boat shows in California and publishes Boating World, Sea Magazine, The Log Newspaper and FishRap.

Six months after a scandal that tarnished The Washington Post's reputation, the newspaper said last week that its journalists will not participate in company-sponsored events with newsmakers unless the proceedings are on the record. "It's important because we don't want to be perceived as doing things in secret for money," said Senior Editor Milton Coleman, who headed the review of the paper's practices with company attorney Eric Lieberman.

Morris Publishing Group, which operates 13 daily newspapers, including the Athens Banner-Herald, filed a plan in bankruptcy court Jan. 18 to complete the restructuring of its debt. Morris has asked the court to approve a plan that will reduce bondholder debt through the issuance of $100 million of new second lien secured notes due in 2014 in exchange for the cancellation of approximately $278.5 million principal amount of outstanding notes due in 2013. Holders of approximately 93 percent of the existing notes voted to support the filing. ''This filing is the final step in the financial restructuring we announced last fall," said William S. Morris III, chairman of Morris Publishing Group. "We are pleased that so many of our noteholders agreed to support this move to get Morris Publishing on more solid financial ground."

Lee Enterprises Inc., which publishes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other newspapers, posted its second consecutive quarterly profit Tuesday, helped by falling costs and a smaller drop in ad revenue. Like other publishers, Lee has been trimming expenses to deal with a prolonged slump that has reduced ad revenue by as much as a third at some newspapers. Lee said ad trends improved throughout its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 27. That improvement "appears to be continuing into January and February," CEO Mary Junck said in a statement.
Among Nebraska daily newspapers, Lee owns the Lincoln Journal Star, the Columbus Telegram, the Fremont Tribune and the Beatrice Daily Sun.

Please send links to your finest impact reporting, whether of the watchdog variety, a look at stimulus spending in your territory or any other subject you would be proud to share with other editors. We'll select the cream of the crop for inclusion in future news letters. Just email the link to Sally Jacobsen at

Mark Katches, editorial director of California Watch, asks in a recent blog which investigative stories blew you away in 2009? He asked that question several weeks ago of some of the top investigative journalists in the country. You can read the results here:

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) 621-1838.
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. APME Supporting Memberships are $100 a year. Mailing address: Associated Press Managing Editors Association, The Associated Press, c/o Sally Jacobsen, 450 W 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001. Phone: (212) 621-1838. Fax: (212) 506-6102. E-mail: Web:
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