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Feb. 4, 2010 APME Newsletter
APME Update
The electronic newsletter of the Associated Press Managing Editors for Feb. 4, 2010 | Become an APME Member

In this issue:

Newstrain: March 26-27, Chicagoland
Stimulus: Tracking the Spending
Watchdog Reporting: Summary of Recent Impact Reporting
Editors in the News: Who?s Doing What, Where
Industry News: What?s Going on in our Industry

Dates to Note:


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 Akron Beacon Journal reports the city is getting help from Uncle Sam with its capital budget this year. Federal funds make up 24 percent - nearly double from last year - of the city's proposed capital budget for 2010. A third of the total $60 million in federal contributions is stimulus money for road, bridge, waterway and park projects. The boost in federal dollars comes even as Akron projects local revenue will shrink again in 2010, following a year that saw the city's first layoffs in nearly three decades.


The Arizona Daily Star, in a two-part series, asks what students and taxpayers gained - or did not gain - from the $1 billion spent on court-ordered desegregation in the Tuscon Unified School District. The newspaper reports that after 36 years of litigation and roughly $1 billion in taxpayer money spent desegregating the schools, black and Hispanic parents still have a long list of complaints, there are still distinct Anglo schools and distinct minority schools and minority students are still less likely than Anglo students to score well on tests. And district taxpayers? They're still paying extra property taxes to try to solve those problems, even though a federal judge lifted the desegregation order in December, saying the school district had met its goals and had a satisfactory plan to move forward without court oversight.

The Austin American-Statesman asked the Texas Department of Criminal Justice how many book and magazine titles it has reviewed over the years to determine if the reading material is suitable for its inmates, and it was given a precise number: 89,795. When it asked how many authors were represented on the list, the newspaper was told that too: 40,285. But when it asked how many of those books and magazines had been rejected because prison reviewers decided they contained inappropriate content, and prison officials said that information was unavailable. But after the Statesman reviewed five years' worth of publications - about 5,000 titles - whose rejections were appealed by inmates to the agency's headquarters in Huntsville and obtained through open records requests, one thing is clear: Texas prisoners are missing out on some fine reading.;jsessionid=802757F23597A29010B45262187EC288?contentguid=B5f6aHon&storycount=166&detailindex=1&pn=&ps=&full=true

The Cleveland Plain Dealer names names and asks for help from readers in exposing others in the most wide-reaching public corruption investigation Cuyahoga County has ever seen. On are short profiles of the more than 70 people who have surfaced in the probe. Some have admitted guilt, others are people from whom prosecutors have sought documents and/or information. The newspaper reports it's been 18 months since federal prosecutors began name-dropping. In subpoenas and search warrants, criminal charges and guilty pleas, they have mapped out at least some of the machinery of corrupt government in Cuyahoga County. They've listed those who admitted to jaw-dropping schemes that swindled county taxpayers and padded the pockets of public servants and businessmen. And they have implied others are involved. The newspaper tell its readers: "We've done our best to link back to the original stories we wrote as things unfolded and link together people who have ties. Readers have passed along tips about business or familial relationships between people listed in stories and court filings. We encourage readers to continue that effort. And, we will continue to add more profiles and update the current ones if and when more charges are filed or people appear in court."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on how thousands of Delphi Corp. retirees could see their monthly pension checks cut between 30 percent and 70 percent now that the government-run Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has taken over the company's retirement fund. As a result, the average Delphi salaried retiree - many of whom were forced into early retirement by Delphi's bankruptcy - stands to lose $300,000 in pension payments over his or her lifetime. It's especially upsetting given that the pensions of Delphi's hourly wage retirees, represented by the United Auto Workers, will not be reduced. That's because when General Motors spun off Delphi in 1999, it agreed to "top up" the hourly employees' pensions if their plan ever fell short of what the employees would have earned had they remained at GM. The 20,000 salaried retirees, many of them former shop-floor supervisors, engineers, salespeople and office managers, had no such agreement.

The Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle reports city police cut overtime spending by more than one-third, or $2.5 million, last year - the first significant decline in expenses that had nearly tripled over the past decade. Coupled with a decline in payouts for compensatory time, the Rochester Police Department shaved $3 million from its payroll. Mayor Robert Duffy targeted police overtime shortly after taking office, and his administration has struggled to control expenses. As the city's police chief, Duffy saw those costs rise during his tenure and then explode when he became mayor, because his administration used overtime to sustain stepped-up patrols as part of a Zero Tolerance crime initiative.

The St. Louis Sunday Post-Dispatch, mining newly available government statistics, provides a state and regional (Illinois and Missouri) snapshot of the national employment crisis and finds the picture isn't pretty. Since 1994, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has packaged the inclusive national jobs data into its monthly unemployment report. But on a state and local level, such statistics were available only once a year. Now, for the first time, policy-makers have a tool to regularly measure the depth of that economic pain at the state and regional level - a quarterly snapshot assessing underemployment and other comprehensive unemployment data on a state-by-state basis.
A bureau official said the new schedule, two years in development, fills a recession-ravaged public's need for more information about the state of the economy and job market.

The Centre Daily News of State College, Pa., reports that about three months after an electrical fire in 2008 gutted the historic Valentine House, the fire prevention task force in Bellefonte, Pa., gave council members a packet of recommendations for protecting the borough's old buildings. At that same January meeting, the council voted to disband the task force. Most of its recommendations went nowhere. Less than a year later, the Cadillac Building went up in flames, the fifth historic Bellefonte structure ravaged by fire in five years. Current Borough Council members who were seated in 2008 when the Valentine House burned say they can't really explain why almost none of the task force's recommendations were followed. They said they disbanded the task force because they felt it had done the job. They made one change: Interconnected smoke detectors were mandated in apartments. But recommendations for steps such as mandating fire safety inspections, fire alarms, education efforts and, in the long term, installing sprinklers, went nowhere. Solutions are not simple.

The Buffalo (N.Y.) News reports that nearly a year after the pilot of Continental Connection Flight 3407 tried to override the safety device that was supposed to help rescue the tumbling plane, pilots at another regional airline flying into Buffalo say they have never been trained in how that safety device works. Even though investigators revealed months ago that Capt. Marvin Renslow, Flight 3407's pilot, inappropriately pulled back on the controls after the "stick pusher" activated, two Piedmont Airlines pilots told The Buffalo News they have received no stick-pusher training.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, following a study of Ohio state records, says students wanting to pass their driving test might want to steer clear of Sharonville in Hamilton County. The Sharonville exam site failed 28.3 percent of the drivers who took the test there last year - the highest failure rate in the state, according to its analysis of BMV data. If you're looking for the site where you're most likely to pass, you'll have to drive a ways: the lowest failure rate in the state was in Napoleon, a city of about 9,000 people 45 miles southwest of Toledo in Henry County. Only one student failed there last year. The Enquirer examines why.

The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colo., tried to get a better understanding of what it means to live in a tent city of the homeless in Colorado Springs, sending a team of 10 reporters and photographers to fan out over two days to some of the more high-profile clusters near downtown and the west side. Why focus on the 300 to 500 campers when there are maybe four times as many other homeless people in Colorado Springs, many of them families who live in shelters or couch surf at friends' houses? Because this is the population making headlines for trashing creeks and public spaces, repelling people who use the urban trail system and Penrose Library, taxing public services and sparking a City Council discussion on a no-camping ordinance.

The Idaho Statesman says when Gov. Butch Otter, Sen. John McGee and other local and state dignitaries gathered at a groundbreaking ceremony for the rebuilding of the Vista Road interchange, the one-hour event cost taxpayers more than $24,000. Since June, the Idaho Transportation Department has spent almost $70,000 on seven such groundbreaking or dedication ceremonies - which Otter's office wanted to be the "governor's signature events." The spending - mostly federal stimulus dollars and cash borrowed through the Connecting Idaho road-building program - came as the Otter administration prepared to propose the first-ever midyear holdbacks for public schools and major cuts throughout state government that would leave several commissions, agencies and the Department of Parks and Recreation without any state general tax funding at all.

The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., examines who's responsible for the medical bills when prisoners need expensive medical care. The case of Phillip Damon Arnold, who drunkenly hit three Lakewood police cars during a chase that ended with two bullets in his shoulder and another in his cheek, ended with the taxpayers of Lakewood becoming the financial caretakers of Arnold's medical treatment. The city's reward for capturing him without injuring bystanders: a hospital bill of $138,000. Similar incidents have played out across Washington since the state Attorney General's Office issued a controversial opinion on jail costs in 2005. The attorney general placed the burden of inmates who need medical care before they are booked into jail on the agencies that arrest them, as long as the inmates have no insurance or otherwise cannot afford medical treatment.

The Providence (R.I.) Sunday Journal investigates how dozens of undocumented Guatemalans ended up at Gillette Stadium to clear snow four days before the New England Patriots' playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. On a day that never got above freezing, some were ill-equipped for the cold - and the rigors of the job. They shivered in sweatshirts and hoodies and frozen sneakers as they hurled the snow into giant chutes. One woman was pregnant. Seven workers were minors. The youngest was a 14-year-old boy. And now several face possible deportation

The Sacramento Bee reports California's budget crisis reached the halls of Sacramento State last week when many students returning for spring semester were turned away from classes they had hoped to get into, or strained from hallways to hear lectures in classes that had enrolled way more students than there were seats. "Less classes. Less instructors. But more money," said one student. It's a refrain California State University and the University of California students are muttering at campuses up and down the state. With fees up 32 percent compared with last year - to nearly $5,000 a year at CSU and $11,000 a year at UC - some students are bitter at the thought of staying an extra semester to get a class they were planning to take now.

The Tulsa World reports the Oklahoma Legislature, which is overseeing record cuts in state government, is itself compiling a mixed record when it comes to saving money during the economic downturn, according to a review of financial data. While agencies across the state have slashed budgets up to 10 percent, records show spending in the House and Senate has increased since July 1, the start of the current fiscal year. Also this fiscal year, the Legislature has continued to hire new employees, give raises to some staffers and pay thousands to outside attorneys.


The Associated Press named Senior Vice President Jane Seagrave its new Chief Revenue Officer.

Seagrave, who was head of global product development for AP, succeeds Tom Brettingen, effective March 1. Brettingen will be retiring at midyear.

"Jane understands the changing needs of news consumers and how to create products that help them get news where and when they want it," said Tom Curley, president and CEO. "Jane's success in creating new media products and her background as a journalist are the right fit to help AP seize today's opportunities."

It was under Seagrave three years ago that AP launched its acclaimed mobile news product for smart phones, which brings together news from AP and more than 1,000 member newspapers and broadcasters. More than 3 million people have downloaded AP Mobile to their smart phones.

Seagrave also oversaw development of AP Financial News, the elections product Campaign Plus and various online video products for international markets. As head of global product development, she has overseen the growth of AP's content verticals, in sports, entertainment and business, as well as AP's commercial images service, AP Images. Before becoming head of product development, Seagrave ran AP's digital licensing operation and led the team responsible for negotiating AP's contracts with portals and aggregators.

Seagrave first joined AP in 1980 as a journalist, with assignments in Santa Fe, N.M., Grants Pass, Ore., and Boston. She later served as a vice president for Lawyers Weekly Publications, in Boston, president and chief operating officer of Legal Communications, Ltd., a Philadelphia-based legal publisher, and chief executive officer of, a national news service reporting on business technology. She rejoined AP in 2003 after working as chief online strategy consultant for American Lawyer Media.

Seagrave holds a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and is a graduate of Bowdoin College.

Brettingen will continue to assist AP in its relationships with international news agencies on the roll-out of mobile and other digital products.

The Washington Times has appointed Sam Dealey, a journalist and fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, as its next top editor, the newspaper said Jan. 30. Dealey is a contributor at U.S. News and World Report and has served as an editorial writer for the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal and for The Washington Times. The 36-year-old also has written for Time magazine, The New York Times and Reader's Digest and has reported from Africa for CNN and PBS. The appointment comes after the newspaper slashed more than 40 percent of its staff. Dealey succeeds John Solomon, who left the newspaper when major changes were announced.


Government subsidies for the media, which are not widely known but are a long-running source of revenue for publishers, are quietly vanishing just as the industry is struggling to remain commercially viable, according to a new report released Jan. 28. The report from the USC Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism points out that postal subsidies for the publishing industry have dwindled to nearly nothing, and many government agencies are preparing to shift public notice advertisements to the Web, cutting out an important revenue stream for newspapers. The report was written by David Westphal, a senior fellow at the Annenberg School and former Washington editor for McClatchy Newspapers, and Geoffrey Cowan, Annenberg's dean emeritus and a former director of Voice of America, the federally funded broadcaster.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., has sided with the Santa Barbara News-Press in a labor dispute. The court ruled Jan. 26 that the newspaper should not be forced to immediately rehire workers who were fired for union activity. The court said that the employees' efforts to unionize were centered over a struggle over who should control editorial content of the paper. The court upheld a previous ruling by a federal judge refusing to immediately return the employees to work.The appeal was filed by the National Labor Relations Board, which claims the workers were wrongfully terminated for union activity and other reasons. "The First Amendment protects the right of a newspaper to control its content," Circuit Judge Richard R. Clifton wrote in a 2-1 majority opinion.

The state historic site featuring famed World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle's boyhood home and a collection of his memorabilia in Dana, Ind., has been closed, with officials saying it drew too few visitors. The state agency that oversees the small museum estimates the closing will save about $50,000 a year in maintenance costs and that Pyle's legacy will get more attention as part of an expanded display at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. The Pyle site has averaged 1,500 visitors a year, while the next least-visited of the dozen state historic sites draws about 10,000 people a year.


Gannett Co., the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said Feb. 1 it turned a profit in the fourth quarter, helped by a drop in one-time costs and a smaller decline in ad sales. The earnings report showed Gannett has been able to slash expenses enough to stay profitable despite steady revenue declines. Other big publishers, such as Miami Herald owner McClatchy Co., have followed a similar course in trimming staff and consolidating printing and delivery operations. "We are a leaner, stronger company as we move into 2010," Gannett CEO Craig Dubow said during a conference call with analysts.

The Associated Press has signed a licensing deal with Yahoo Inc. that gives the news cooperative a steady stream of revenue at a time less money is flowing in from newspapers and broadcasters. The announcement by both companies Feb. 1 does not disclose the financial terms of the agreement. The AP says it is still negotiating to renew its online licensing agreements with two other companies with far deeper pockets, Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Google stopped posting fresh AP content on its Web site in late December. Stung by the AP's first downturn in revenue in years, AP's management has said the cooperative needs to make more money from the online rights to its stories, photographs and video as more people flock to the Web for information and entertainment.

McClatchy Co. reported a profit for the fourth quarter on Jan. 27 and said most of its lenders agreed to give the newspaper publisher more time to repay its debts. The deal gives the company more room to maneuver through an advertising slump that has lasted for almost two years. McClatchy, which owns The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, The Kansas City Star and 27 other dailies, said revenue continued to slide in the fourth quarter, but at a slower pace than earlier in the year.


The American Press Institute, Marquette University's J. William & Mary Diederich College of Communication and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation will hold a workshop "Event Marketing: Creative Entrepreneurship" on March 5 in Milwaukee, featuring William Cone, an event marketing producer and consultant.

Find out:
  • The processes for designing the most creative events that will have the greatest appeal, and put dollars on the bottom line.
  • How events can benefit your advertisers, sponsors and your newspaper, as well as capture new audiences and enhance your brand and value proposition.
  • The keys to successfully creating and staging an event, and how to avoid the pitfalls.
  • Non-traditional ways to market events, including social media.
Date: Friday, March 5, 9 a.m.3:30 p.m.
Location: Raynor Conference Center (lower level of Raynor Memorial Library), Marquette University, 1355 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee.
Tuition: $150.
Registration deadline: Tuesday, March 2.
Information and to register:
Questions: Melanie Grachan, or (703) 715-3307.


The Herald and News of Pocatello, Idaho, offers this report on the state of news gathering from the nation's capital.

Sipping coffee in a strip mall, Joseph Farah looks like something out of a spy novel, suave, mysterious, bushy black mustache. He's surprisingly relaxed, considering he believes his life is in danger because of his occupation. He runs a must-read Web site for anyone who hates Barack Obama. Once a little-known Los Angeles newspaper editor, Farah has become a leading impresario of America's disaffected right, serving up a mix of reporting and wild speculation to an audience eager to think the worst of the president. "Minister: Obamacare kills African-American babies ... Sign at homeless camp: Welcome to Obamaville," the headlines holler at, an online tabloid that relentlessly skewers the administration and its every move.

The topic it pursues with tireless zeal, though, is the claim that Obama was born not in Honolulu but in Africa, and is therefore ineligible to be president. Farah has used his Web site to launch an electronic petition demanding proof of Obama's birthplace, a national billboard campaign and more than 400 articles suggesting America's first black president might not be a "natural born" citizen.

If Farah believes Obama is bad for the country, the president has been indisputably good for Farah's business. WorldNetDaily's unique visitors nearly doubled to 2 million a month after Obama took office, according to Nielsen's ratings. Farah says his traffic is at least twice that, citing private data from Google Analytics, a traffic-counting service. Revenues are on track to hit $10 million annually, Farah says. (That figure could not be independently verified.)

Some Republicans wish Farah would abandon the birther issue, fearing it makes the entire conservative movement seem wacky. Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, a pull-no-punches critic who once lumped Obama and Hitler in the same sentence, called the citizenship crusade "the dumbest thing I've ever heard." Farah, 55, says he is devoted to muckraking journalism no matter which party is in charge, and likes to think of himself as a lone wolf in a pack of complacent reporters. "I'm going to go where I feel I've got to go as a newsman to uncover the truth," he said.

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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