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April 22, 2010 APME Newsletter
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APME Update
The electronic newsletter of the Associated Press Managing Editors for April 22, 2010 | Become an APME Member

In this issue:

APME’s New Web Site:
2009 APME Journalism Excellence Awards: Deadline Monday, July 12
April 27, Social Media: Best Practices conference
APME/NewsU Webinars on Credibility: June 2, July 21
NewsTrain: Sept. 23-24 in Nashville, Tenn.
We Want Your Great Ideas
APME Update Needs Your Help
Stimulus Spending: Summary of Recent Reporting
Watchdog Reporting: Summary of Recent Impact Reporting
AP's Beat of the Week: Interactives Team
Editors in the News
Industry News
Business of News
AP Corporate Archives Offers Booklet for State Meetings on War Risks
Great Ideas CD Also Good Giveaway
And Finally….

Dates to Note:

April 27, Social Media: Best Practices conference
June 2, APME/NewsU Webinar on Social Media
July 12, APME Contest Deadline
July 21, APME/NewsU Webinar on ‘Unpublishing’
Sept. 23-24, NewsTrain in Nashville, Tenn.



The Associated Press Managing Editors has launched on a new platform, hosted by It offers greater interactivity, membership management and an easy-to-use content management system.

New features include embedded video training libraries, wiki-type articles for editors to add to the discussion, an online payment processor and user profiles. There are easy links to APME's twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. The calendar function makes it simple to see what training opportunities are ahead and to check on upcoming award and conference deadlines.

We welcome your thoughts and suggestions on the new site at ymlink=206786&finalurl=http% 3A%2F%2Ftinyurl%2Ecom% 2Fapmefeedback


2009 APME Journalism Excellence Awards: Deadline Monday, July 12, 2010

The 2009 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.

All Awards are presented for journalism published or launched between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010.

The deadline for entry is Monday, July 12, 2010.

The Awards will be presented at the APME annual training conference at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., Oct. 20-22 and linked on the APME Web site.

The Awards include the Annual Innovator of the Year Award, Public Service Awards, First Amendment Award and Citations, Online Convergence Awards and International Perspective Awards. The Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism will be offered for the first time this year.

Nominations are received online only. Details will be provided shortly about the contest site and instructions on submitting entries.



Tuesday, April 27, at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, New York. Registration required.

9:30-10 a.m., Registration and refreshments
10 a.m.-10:15 a.m., Welcome by AP Chief of Bureau Howard Goldberg
Session 1: 10:15 a.m.-noon

"Why Newspapers Should Use the World’s Largest Mass Medium.” Vin Crosbie, professor of visual and interactive communications at the Newhouse School. More people with online access (or the newest mobile phones) use social media sites daily than read newspapers daily in print or online. It is the major source of news to people under age 30. It’s also becoming a way for newsrooms to find stories. Crosbie will tell you when, why and how daily newspapers must use Facebook, Twitter, Digg and other forms of social media for distributing and researching news.

Noon-1:15 p.m.: Lunch
Session 2: 1:30-2:45 p.m.

"Engaging the Community through an Alternate Reality Game.” Traci Bauer, managing editor/content and digital platforms at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, discusses "Picture the Impossible,” an alternate reality game developed with the Rochester Institute of Technology. The game tested new tools of engagement and encouraged collaboration to solve problems and generate resources for three local charities. About 2,500 players/teams signed up for the game and raised $17,000 in cash for the charities.

Session 3: 3-4 p.m.

"What News Organizations Should Be Doing Online in This Election Year.” Panel discussion including Charlotte Grimes, Knight chair in political reporting at the Newhouse School, and Jimmy Vielkind, political reporter for the Times Union of Albany. They’ll explore ways of using the Web for civic engagement in politics and public policy, and for keeping pace with key state and local elections this fall. To register: Please e-mail names of those planning to attend with their title, phone number and e-mail address to Debi Foland at Please indicate if they will stay for lunch. Deadline is Friday, April 23. After April 23, please contact Debi Foland at 518-458-7821 or 800-424-4500.

For more information, contact AP Chief of Bureau Howard Goldberg at or at 212-621-7932.


SAVE THE DATES for these APME / NewsU Webinars

APME and NewsU will team up for two more webinars on journalism credibility topics. A code will allow APME members to sign up for $9.95.

Mark your calendar now for these dates:

June 2, 2 p.m., Credible Use of Social Media / Dave Olson, editor, The Salem News in Massachusetts

July 21, 2 p.m., Archived Content and "Unpublishing" Requests / Kathy English, public editor, Toronto Star


Journalism educators and college media advisers: Apply for a McCormick Award to attend NewsTrain in Nashville

Journalism educators and college media advisers may apply for awards to attend the Nashville NewsTrain, Sept. 23-24, 2010.

Click here for more information or to apply for a McCormick Award for the Nashville NewsTrain.

APME and Freedom Forum will host this NewsTrain at the John Seigenthaler Center, Freedom Forum, Nashville. Attend both days, or pick a day/pick a track. Registration costs $50 for one or both days.


Program highlights:


Track 1: The Nimble Leader

  • Helping Reporters to Develop Their Beats / Jacqui Banaszynski
  • The Skeptical Editor / Jacqui Banaszynski
  • Covering the New America / Bobbi Bowman
  • Creating a Constructive Culture / Ronnie Agnew

Track 2: The Evolving Journalist

  • Coaching Writers and Planning Content for Multiple Media / Michael Roberts
  • Great Ways to Tell Stories With Data / Patrick Beeson
  • Ethical Decision-Making – Social Media and Breaking News / Banaszynski and Roberts

Third Rail / Extra Jolt

  • Coaching Narrative Storytelling / Jacqui Banaszynski
  • A course for educators: Journalism Class Exercises that Work


We are accepting submissions for APME's 2010 "Great Ideas” book. What's a great idea?

It can be a new concept for print or online, or a major improvement to something we do every day. This is a chance for your newspaper to show off great work and to help fellow editors by providing ideas that might work in their markets. APME is again focusing on watchdog stories — big and small — because of the difference they can make in the community.

Our "Great Ideas” Web site allows you to quickly submit entries (150-word limit) and upload a picture (.jpg, .pdf) that accompanies the Great Idea. When the Great Ideas page opens, click on the "Submit Your Great Idea!” link and input the entry. The process is simple, quick and painless.

If you have questions, contact Kurt Franck, executive editor of The (Toledo) Blade or Terry Orme, managing editor news/business at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Kurt: 419-724-6163,
Terry: 801-257-8727,


Please send links to your best impact reporting — whether of the watchdog variety or a look at stimulus spending — or to any other subject you would like to share with other editors. Please e-mail the link to


The Associated Press reported that when Congress included $7.2 billion for broadband in last year's stimulus bill, its goal was to bring high-speed Internet connections and information-age jobs to parts of the country desperate for both things. Now as the government awards the money, some phone and cable companies complain that not all of it is being used to bring broadband to places that lack it. Instead, these companies say, much of the money will fund new networks in places where they already offer service. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Great Plains, these companies fear they will have to compete with government-subsidized broadband systems, paid for largely with stimulus dollars. If the taxpayer-funded networks siphon off customers with lower prices, private companies warn that they could be less likely to upgrade their own lines, endangering jobs and undermining the goals of the stimulus plan. Yet government officials handing out the awards and the backers of the projects being funded insist the money is being well spent. They contend that the stimulus dollars should be used to expand high-speed Internet access not only to places where it is totally unavailable, but also in regions where what is available is not good enough. article/20100411/BUSINESS/ 4110340/Stimulus-to-bring- faster-broadband-to-outlying- areas


The Associated Press, reporting from Rio de Janeiro, tracked down the priest who had raped Joe Callander in Massachusetts five decades earlier. The photo in the Roman Catholic newsletter showed him with a smile across his wrinkled face, near-naked Amazon Indian children in his arms and at his feet. The Rev. Mario Pezzotti was working with children and supervising other priests in Brazil. It was not an isolated example. In an investigation spanning 21 countries across six continents, The Associated Press found 30 cases of priests accused of abuse who were transferred or moved abroad. Some escaped police investigations. Many had access to children in another country, and some abused again. A priest who admitted to abuse in Los Angeles went to the Philippines, where U.S. church officials mailed him checks and advised him not to reveal their source. A priest in Canada was convicted of sexual abuse and then moved to France, where he was convicted of abuse again in 2005. Another priest was moved back and forth between Ireland and England, despite being diagnosed as a pederast, a man who commits sodomy with boys. news/regional/view/ 20100414predator_priests_ shuffled_around_globe/

The Associated Press
reported the company that runs the West Virginia mine where an explosion killed at least 25 workers frequently sidesteps hefty fines by aggressively contesting safety violations, including recent problems with the ventilation system that clears away combustible methane gas. Bombarding federal regulators with appeals is an increasingly common industry tactic since the 2006 Sago mine disaster that killed 12 led to stiffer fines and new enforcement to punish the worst offenders, according to an Associated Press review of records from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. While the new rules aimed to make the nation's mines safer, companies responded with challenges that have backlogged MSHA with claims that go unpaid and unresolved for years. Agency officials say the maneuvers block their ability to punish repeat violators, and worker advocates fear more tragedies. aponline/2010/04/07/us/AP-US- Mine-Explosion-Enforcement. html?pagewanted=all

The Associated Press
reported from Vatican City that as the Vatican reels from a swirling clerical sex abuse crisis, the Holy See has turned to an unusual advocate: a tennis-loving, Saab-driving solo practitioner from Berkeley, Calif., whose obscure interest in sovereign immunity law and fluency in Italian landed him the job of the pope's U.S. lawyer. Jeffrey Lena's studied yet creative approach to defending the Vatican in U.S. abuse lawsuits has influenced the Vatican's new public message as he is increasingly called on to act as Rome's unofficial U.S. spokesman and strategist. In an exclusive interview last week with The Associated Press, Lena conceded he never thought he'd be the Vatican's lawyer, much less it's very public messenger. "Two weeks ago I was a lawyer minding my own cases. That's not what's happening now," Lena said. world/91270709.html?elr=KArks: DCiUBcy7hUiacyKUzyaP37D_MDua_ eyD5PcOiUr

The Oregonian
reported that when investment officers from the Oregon State Treasury travel out of state and overseas to monitor the state's $67 billion investment portfolio, free meals are standard fare, often paid for by investment firms and held at celebrated restaurants. Yet those same officers routinely seek reimbursement from state coffers for those meals, The Oregonian found in its ongoing investigation of Treasury travel practices. The agency also regularly paid for lodging at costs exceeding state limits. The meal claim practice is commonly called double dipping. Other state agencies in Oregon don't allow it. At Treasury, it's standard procedure, the Oregonian reported. business/index.ssf/2010/04/ oregon_treasury_officers_ repai.html

The Ventura County (Calif.) Star says Christina Egan was ready to pay $100 for a traffic violation she wasn't convinced she had committed, but then she got the bill from Ventura County Superior Court: $446. It took her several phone calls and a visit to the county's traffic division to find out that more than a dozen fees and penalties were tacked onto the original fine. Many motorists are unaware that according to county records, about $28 in penalty assessments are added to every $10 of a base traffic fine in Ventura County — a 180 percent markup to the original ticket. A $100 citation, with mandated penalties, can run as high as $446. A $20 cell phone ticket actually adds up to $97 and often can reach up to $143. A $35 ticket for driving up to 15 mph over the speed limit will end up costing $217, including traffic school. As cash-strapped governments look to traffic tickets to help pay for services and programs — some that have little to do with traffic safety — drivers shouldn't expect to see relief anytime soon. Critics argue that the tacked-on fees are actually another way to tax people. 2010/apr/17/more-fees-tacked- on-tickets-traffic-citations/? print=1

The Tulsa World
reported Oklahoma's Department of Human Services has spent about $2.4 million since April 2008 on attorneys to defend it in a federal class-action lawsuit alleging abusive conditions in the state foster-care system. According to records reviewed by the Tulsa World, the suit, filed in February 2008 in federal court in Tulsa, accuses the state of placing foster children in harm's way because of deficiencies in the system, such as too many cases per worker, not enough home visits, multiple placements and not enough training for foster parents. Meanwhile, the Commission for Human Services, which oversees DHS, will consider on April 27 a plan to furlough employees four hours a week for 46 weeks beginning in July as a way to cut $30 million from the budget for the next fiscal year. The plan would shift employees to a four-day workweek. DHS Director Howard Hendrick said the agency recognizes the budget crisis, but there is no choice but to defend the lawsuit. "The services we deliver to children in out-of-home care do not violate the constitutional rights of the children for whom we care," Hendrick said in an e-mail statement from the public information office. news/article.aspx?subjectid= 11&articleid=20100418_11_A1_ TesaeD750643

The Wichita Eagle reported that a fatal fall last month at an inflatable amusement facility has raised questions about a Wichita law intended to regulate inflatable rides and safeguard children. Owners of several inflatable ride companies say that the city ordinance, passed in 2005, is rarely enforced; that ride inspections aren't verified; and that city officials routinely ignore reports about people who operate rides without proper licenses or inspections. City officials say they have responded to complaints about unlicensed inflatables in past years, though they couldn't cite numbers. Kurt Schroeder, Wichita's superintendent of central inspection, said city attorneys and inspectors are reviewing the ordinance and enforcement procedures and will report their findings to the city manager. But several industry experts say serious injuries or deaths may be prevented by stricter regulations and oversight. 2010/04/18/1885983/rules- governing-inflatable-rides. html

The Sacramento Bee,
in part of an ongoing series examining the factors driving up health costs, reports sharp jumps in hospital costs are a big part of the story. A Bee analysis of financial data from 300 hospitals statewide shows they collected $25 billion from insurance companies between September 2008 and October 2009 – an increase of more than a third since 2005. Hospitals are charging insurance companies, and by extension their customers, billions of dollars for expenses not directly related to care. These include new hospital wings, new technology and services for the uninsured. Some providers, including Sutter Health in Sacramento, have negotiated reimbursement rates with "markups" more than double what it costs them to provide services. "It's become en vogue to crucify the insurance companies. … It's the hospitals that hold insurance companies hostage," said Will Fox, a principal and consulting actuary for Milliman, a Seattle-based firm that has extensive experience studying hospital finances in California. Hospitals say their charges to insurers are justified and necessary. But their byzantine pricing policies make it difficult to understand why costs are rising so quickly. 18/2686758/californias-higher- hospital-costs.html

The Press of Atlantic City
reports a review of home sales data it compiled shows that median home prices in most of New Jersey's coastal communities fell in 2009 from the previous year, just as sales continued to slip in the majority of those municipalities. Prices, however, still held their value last year compared to five and even 10 years earlier. With inventory sitting on the market longer, sellers are having to negotiate downward — to the benefit of buyers, real estate agents say. Higher-priced homes in the shore market have been slow to attract buyers following the recession, said Mark Carrier, president of Carrier Sotheby's International Realty in Brigantine. Instead, he said, homes at about $400,000 and under are in demand — sales volume at his realty agency was up 10 percent in 2009 for such homes.

http://www. business/article_eec05970- 4a92-11df-83d8-001cc4c002e0. html

The Idaho Statesman
looks back 40 years to when one U.S. senator from Wisconsin and a core of young organizers turned April 22, 1970, into the day the environmental movement began. That day, 20 million Americans in 2,000 communities and 10,000 schools planted trees, cleaned up parks, buried cars in mock graves, marched, listened to speeches and protested how humans were messing up their world. Earth Day was the brainchild of Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., who came up with the idea of a national teach-in on the environment after 3 million gallons of oil spilled across the beaches of Santa Barbara, Calif., and killed 10,000 seabirds in January 1969. Nelson's idea gave birth to a green movement and a green generation that would be as powerful as the industrial revolution in shaping the future of civilization. 2010/04/18/v-print/1158278/1- man-1-moment.html

The Columbus Dispatch
reports on a different sort of adoption, corporate adoption, aimed at helping those too old for foster care, yet too young and poor to make it on their own. These young people with little or no family support are among the nation's most under-served and vulnerable populations, it reports. Take Robert Payne, who liked to picture himself an athlete at a small college, catching touchdown passes and earning good grades. "I had to quit football. I got behind on my rent, and I needed to work more. I didn't have the money for me to eat or anything," says Payne. The teenager's words hang in the air while the assembled adults try to figure out how to respond. They are gathered in the Dublin suites of Direct Energy, a gas and electricity supplier. Robert and three other central Ohio young people are linked to the company because of a different dream. It imagines a kind of corporate adoption, one in which employees sponsor the four during the course of a year to help keep them from becoming homeless again. The newspaper says this effort aims to be realistic. It probably won't solve problems, but it could help a lot. content/local_news/stories/ 2010/04/18/a-different-kind- of-adoption.html?sid=101

The Burlington Free Press
wants you to meet Terry Carter, an affable man in grease-stained blue work clothes, a struggling businessman, recycler, host of last resort for your broken-down Subaru, your over-the-hill refrigerator, that old RV you can't sell. Or is he Terry Carter, unlicensed junkyard operator, scofflaw, headache for town government and threat to the environment? He is both, the correct answer runs — and that is the challenge state government faces as it begins its first comprehensive effort to regulate junkyards and reduce the environmental risks they pose. Small mountains of used tires rim the compound of his home and frame a graveyard of old appliances, bicycles, water tanks, rusty campers, capsized Dodges, wounded Fords, amputated auto parts. But Carter has neither the Agency of Transportation junkyard license formerly required of his operation, nor its replacement, a certificate of registration from the Agency of Natural Resources. His junkyard is on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list of hazardous-waste generators. And that may be only the start of his troubles.

http://www. pbcs.dll/article?AID= 2010100417015

The Buffalo (N.Y.) News
reported that Carl Paladino's extensive dealings with government — coupled with at least $452,000 in political contributions in recent years to scores of politicians — are in sharp contrast to the rhetoric of his campaign for governor of New York. He has railed against government spending and portrayed himself as an outsider dedicated to taking on the ruling elite. Yet Paladino is also state government's biggest landlord in Western New York, holding half of the 52 leases the state has taken out on offices in Erie and Niagara counties, a Buffalo News analysis shows. Albany's rent payments to Paladino this year will total $5.1 million. His companies will collect another $5 million in rent from the federal and local governments, including his two most lucrative leases that net him $1.7 million for an office that houses some operations of the Erie County Department of Social Services and $1.5 million for FBI offices behind City Hall. Paladino's business transactions with government don't end with leasing office space, a Buffalo News investigation found. He owns an estimated 20 properties that have received tax breaks — including property and sales taxes — that amounted to at least $12 million since 2003, The News calculated. 2010/04/17/1022645/candidate- paladino-is-biting-the.html

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
reported that, suddenly, the Great Lakes are awash in plans for offshore wind farms. The New York Power Authority wants developers to place electricity-generating turbines a few miles off the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. In five years, officials say, the waters off Rochester or Wayne County could be home to dozens of turbines. Two similar projects are proposed on the Canadian side of the lake, a sprawling 500-turbine project in western Lake Erie has been announced, and twin wind farms are being promoted in Lake Michigan. All these proposals, and more, stem from the same reality: The five inland lakes, along with near-shore waters of the Atlantic, are the most productive wind regions east of the Mississippi River.

http://www. article/20100418/NEWS01/ 4180366/1002/NEWS/Offshore- turbines-on-the-horizon

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that by working more than 1,600 overtime hours in his last year on the job, a Rochester firefighter retired in late 2007 with an annual pension of $103,952 — despite a base salary of $60,121. That is the largest pension paid out last year to any city government retiree, and second in New York's Monroe County only to the retired regional director of the state Department of Transportation, an analysis of state and local pension records shows. This firefighter's 40-plus years in the Fire Department would, itself, have insured a substantial pension. But he was able to maximize the benefit through a system critics say is built to be exploited and has been by governments and workers alike.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is seeking payroll and other data from the city and area fire districts, among 64 jurisdictions statewide, looking for cases of "pension padding" — where employee wages have been markedly inflated just before retirement.

http://www. article/20100418/NEWS01/ 4180367/High-pension-payouts- prompt-greater-scrutiny

The Orange County (Calif.) Register reported that six years ago the state Legislature approved a new program that would send more than $880 million to 1,100 California nursing homes that treat Medi-Cal patients. The law was intended to boost staffing and care levels for these patients. But the Legislature included few safeguards to ensure funds were spent as intended. Many nursing homes did add staff. But an analysis by the nonprofit newsroom California Watch indicated that 232 homes across the state slashed staff and let nursing ratios fall below the state minimum after receiving the additional money. A dozen homes run by the Aliso Viejo-based Covenant Care chain were among those that stood out. California Watch found that they accepted $15 million in additional compensation from the state but still cut employees. Now the chain has been sued by the families of three patients who allege that poor care at one of those homes, St. Edna of Santa Ana, resulted in injuries or deaths. articles/homes-70730-ocprint- state-care.html

The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser
, in a "print exclusive" unavailable online, reports most politicians need financial contributions to be re-elected, but in Alabama there is an obstacle to finding out who is being funded by whom. Current Alabama law is described as a "shell game" by one legislator because it allows money to be continually transferred from one political action committee to another and is designed to keep voters from following the money politicians receive. Lobbyists for businesses, unions, gambling and other interests can donate to a PAC and then repeatedly transfer the money between committees until the source of the funds becomes almost impossible to trace before it lands in the candidate's account, the newspaper reported.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel notes if you dropped out of college, you're still qualified to be a Florida governor, or a state senator, deciding how to spend billions in tax dollars, or the state's chief financial officer, responsible for the accounting and auditing of the state's books. But without a college degree, some legislators say you're not qualified to help set utility rates paid by millions of Floridians. Rep. Joe Gibbons, D- Hallandale Beach, is one of 34 lawmakers who has voted for a bill that would require those appointed to the state Public Services Commission to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Some observers see another reason for the college-degree provision: oust commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano. "She is fighting for consumers, and the utilities don't like it," said Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. "Utilities are among the largest contributors to the Legislature, so it is no surprise that they are doing the utilities' bidding." business/fl-psc-college-laws- 20100416-33,0,6001704.story

The Record reported police officers are among New Jersey's best-paid public employees — particularly in Bergen and Passaic counties — earning far more than schoolteachers, a focus of Governor Christie's attempt to slash government spending. Unlike teachers, Christie has said, law enforcement officials risk their lives each day. While teachers statewide have been asked for wage freezes and to contribute more to health benefits and pensions, similar demands have not been made of police unions. Statewide, the average municipal and county police officer earned a base salary of $82,691 in 2009 — $15,000 to $20,000 more than the average public school employee, according to an analysis of salary data by The Record. About one in five earned at least $100,000. In a separate article ( news/91330749_Tallying_the_ costs_for_one_city.html), the newspaper found roughly 15 percent of Englewood's police force earned more than $175,000 last year, including three officers who eclipsed the $200,000 mark -- thanks to six figure base salaries, overtime and extra shifts standing guard as utility companies made repairs throughout the city. news/bergen/91330469_Christie_ asks_police_for_few_pay_ sacrifices.html

The Arizona Daily Star
reported Tucson has been paying its bills by borrowing from funds that are legally restricted for specific uses. Municipalities commonly pool their money for better investment returns, and often borrow from one fund when another is in the red. That's fine, as long as there is enough unrestricted cash in the pool for the city or town to meet its financial obligations. But an Arizona Daily Star analysis shows Tucson has been short on unrestricted cash repeatedly over the past two years, forcing officials to tap their legally restricted cash. City officials contend what they're doing is fine because money borrowed from restricted funds is returned. But four experts, including the Arizona Auditor General's Office, said the practice is improper - and depending on the restrictions on each of the city's 80 legally restricted funds, it may be illegal. local/govt-and-politics/ article_c895c849-3015-5d7c- 86d7-8a657b7a92f6.html

The Chicago Tribune
reported a dramatic spike in disability claims during the last seven years has overwhelmed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and nearly doubled the cost of compensating wounded veterans. Its analysis concludes the bulk of the increases didn't come from veterans of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans from the Vietnam and Persian Gulf eras accounted for roughly 84 percent of the rise in spending, which hit $34.3 billion last year. The surge from past eras comes even as more soldiers than expected are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan in need of care. With hundreds of thousands of troops still deployed, the VA already provides disability payments to nearly 200,000 veterans from the current conflicts, a number that is expected to balloon during the next 30 years. health/ct-met-disabled- veterans-cost-20100409,0, 5841974.story


Three major breaking stories, three comprehensive, competitive, compelling interactives. Not a small feat considering the complexity of each story: China Earthquake, Iceland Volcano and Priest Transfers.

These were the latest in new style storytelling, thanks to the Interactive Department.

Anew template for interactives, created by artist Fielding Cage,made them more flexible, so that the main presentation could be completely changed as new material -- stirring images or significant information – became available. That meant viewers would get the most up-to-date information – and often a new look – each time they clicked on the interactive.

The old system for producing an interactive was laborious and rigid. The front was rarely changed, with new material added mainly as tabs. With the new template, the cover could be changed to feature more photos or graphics, better maps or new detail – sort of a visual counterpart to stories that are recast with new information or stronger writing.

The news on the China quake broke on April 14 shortly after 1:30 a.m. By 8 a.m., at the height of morning Web traffic, the AP was the first news organization with an interactive showing a map, a photo gallery and an earthquake explainer, and MSNBC immediately linked to it. The initial cover was a simple locator map, but that was soon subbed out for a photo gallery. Throughout that day, additional tabs were added, among them an entry showing a more vivid map of the devastation, plus a tab with a recount of deadly quakes in the last 100 years and an animation of what triggers earthquakes.

As search and recovery efforts continued in China, a volcano erupted under a glacier in Iceland, sending an ash cloud over Europe that brought air traffic to a standstill and stranded hundreds of thousands of travelers around the world. The multimedia team produced a multifaceted interactive showing air travel disruptions by country, a motion graphic explaining how volcanic ash affects planes, an infographic explaining stratovolcanoes and a gallery showing the repercussions of the disaster. As the story lingered, an additional panel was created to show past disasters wreaking havoc in the skies, and another tab was added showing the effects of the Icelandic volcano on global economies.

Sandwiched between these two disasters was the continuing aggressive reporting on priest abuse cases. In collaboration with International, the interactive team worked diligentlyto turn around a complex and time-consuming interactive that tracked the paths ofpriests shuffled from post to post around the world. The interface allowed users to visualize the scale of the problem that has confronted the Roman Catholic Church for decades.

Leading the effort for the Interactive Department were Cage, artists Siobhan Dooley, Phil Holm and Merrill Sherman, and multimedia producer Pete Santilli. Additional support was provided by multimedia producers Jane Bell, David Clark and Jake O'Connell, and artists Chris Kaeser, Dien Magno, Sean McDade, Carrie Osgood and Mike Sudal.



South Florida Sun Sentinel Editor Earl Maucker is stepping down. Maucker says he announced his retirement to staff after about a year of discussions with Sun Sentinel publisher Howard Greenberg. Tribune Co. spokesman Gary Weitman said there's no word on a successor. Maucker's retirement date wasn't immediately set. He worked at the newspaper nearly 30 years. Maucker says he plans to stay involved in journalism and take on other roles in the community. Maucker is a U.S. Air Force veteran and graduate of Southern Illinois University


Attorney General Eric Holder says he's going to find out why the administration has often used a legal loophole to keep information secret even though President Barack Obama ordered more openness. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week he found statistics on Freedom of Information Act denials analyzed by The Associated Press "troubling." The AP has reported that one year into its promise of greater transparency, the administration was more often citing FOIA "exceptions" to withhold records, even as requests for information decreased. In response to questions from Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Holder said that he doesn't know why the use of exceptions increased, but will find out.

Conservative columnist William Safire was not quite a B student in college before dropping out and beginning a career that would take him to the White House and earn him a Pulitzer Prize, according to details released in his FBI file. The FBI this month released nearly 350 pages of documents related to Safire, who died in September at the age of 79. The documents became public after Safire's death and date from 1965 to 1994. Many of the documents are biographical, including some 125 pages from a background investigation conducted when he became a speech writer for President Richard Nixon in 1969. A former employer, one of more than 30 people interviewed, told FBI investigators that Safire was able to work "long hours under enormous pressure and that he had demonstrated extreme stability in such situations." nid=19&sid=308915

Legislation to speed the government's response to open records requests is a step closer to becoming law. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the Faster FOIA Act of 2010 to the full Senate. The measure would create a commission to investigate government delays in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests and recommend ways to get information out faster. The legislation's lead sponsors, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, say FOIA delays are a long-standing problem. They have been seeking a FOIA commission for years. "It would be a great benefit to the American people, who deserve to be treated as valued customers when they seek answers from their government," said Cornyn, a Judiciary Committee member. The panel would also examine why government use of FOIA loopholes to withhold information rose in the last fiscal year. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sought that inquiry in response to an Associated Press analysis that found agencies were more often citing FOIA exemptions to withhold records, even as requests decreased and President Barack Obama ordered more transparency. politics/national/congress/ 90946304.html?elr= KArks8c7PaP3E77K_3c:: D3aDhUMEaPc:E7_ ec7PaP3iUiacyKUUr

A growing number of conservative groups are bankrolling startup news organizations around the country, aggressively covering government and politics at a time when newspapers are cutting back their statehouse bureaus. The phenomenon troubles some longtime journalists and media watchdogs, who worry about political biases and hidden agendas. The news outlets have sprouted in larger numbers in recent months to fill a void created by the downsizing of traditional statehouse coverage and to win over readers, including those from the tea party movement who don't trust the local paper or the TV news. "Our state Capitol used to be bustling with the media," said Matthew Brouillette, president of the Harrisburg, Pa.-based Commonwealth Foundation, whose news outlet, the Pennsylvania Independent, went live in January. "Now, you can swing a dead cat and not hit anybody in the state Capitol newsroom." The news outlets usually receive their money from right-leaning, free-market organizations., for example, is funded by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a think tank that has barraged local governments with public records requests since last year in an effort to expose waste. 2010/04/14/1152165/ conservative-groups-go-after- news.html


One of Philadelphia's two daily newspapers has announced plans to launch a new weekend edition starting in October. Publisher Brian Tierney says ThePhiladelphia Daily News weekend edition will be aimed at people who are not core readers of The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sunday edition but who enjoy the entertainment, sports, gossip and political coverage of the Daily News. Officials say it will especially target people in their 20s and 30s. Tierney made the announcement at the Newspaper Advertising Association's mediaXchange conference in Orlando, Fla. Daily News Editor Michael Days says it will have one longer-form article and many quick-read features, and it will be designed "so people can read it all week." Officials say it will be published Saturday but will be distinct from the current Daily News Saturday edition, which will continue.

Credit rating firm Moody's Investors Service said its outlook on the U.S. newspapers industry has changed from "negative" to "stable" as ad spending recovers, even though newspapers' share will keep shrinking. Moody's expects newspaper advertising revenue to decline 5 percent to 10 percent this year. But ad spending at newspapers could stabilize next year, driven by a declining unemployment rate and rising consumer spending, Moody's said. Moody's said its outlook on newspapers likely will return to "negative," however, once advertising spending overall has returned to more normal levels. Fitch Ratings assigned a stable outlook to the media and entertainment industries in general in December, saying the worst of the advertising downturn was over.

Gannett Co. offered more evidence that 2010 will not be quite as painful for newspapers as 2009, when the recession compounded the industry's problems. Cost-cutting and a less severe drop in advertising revenue boosted first-quarter results for the company, which owns USA Today and more than 80 other daily newspapers along with TV stations. Gannett's net income jumped 51 percent despite a 4 percent decline in revenue. Gannett did not issue formal earnings guidance for the current quarter or the rest of the year, and CEO Craig Dubow declined to give specifics on how ad revenue is shaping up in April. But he told analysts on a conference call that the year was "off to a great start." He added: "The momentum that we had at the end of the year continued through the first quarter."

Newspaper publisher A.H. Belo Corp. reported final fourth-quarter and full-year results, having reported in February that it expected steep cost cuts to boost its profit for the three months that ended Dec. 31. The publisher of The Dallas Morning News and other newspapers said that it earned $5.6 million, or 27 cents per share, for the period, as it expected. That compares with a loss of $33.1 million, or $1.62 per share, a year earlier.

The company's revenue was $135.5 million, down 15 percent from a year earlier, also as it said in February that it expected to report. The profit includes charges of $3.7 million related to writing off a Web content management system, $1.2 million related to investment write-offs and $400,000 for severance pay. For the full year, A.H. Belo posted a loss of $107.9 million, or $5.25 per share. It said in February that it expected to report a loss of $110.3 million, or $5.37 per share. A.H. Belo restated its financial statements to correct an accounting error related to its pension plan. It delayed filing its 2009 annual report to complete the accounting of its pension obligations.

The Lea County Tribune and the Hobbs News-Sun have merged. The merger was announced by the American Press in Lake Charles, La., the owner of the News-Sun.

Lea County Tribune owner Judy Hanna is the publisher of the merged newspapers, whose staffs will work together at the News-Sun offices. News-Sun publisher Tom Shearman III says the merger gives readers a wider variety of local news and advertising, means better communications with communities in the county and improves newspaper involvement in community activities. Hanna has been owner-publisher of the Tribune since 2006. She has written more than 4,000 articles for newspapers and radio and television stations and has won numerous local and state awards.


The AP Corporate Archives is producing a 70-page booklet entitled "The Costs of War:AP Journalists in Beirut, Kabul, and Baghdad, 1975-2010.” The booklet highlights the complex risks taken by AP journalists and local staff in covering the Lebanon civil war and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It features photographs and documents drawn from the Beirut and Cairo bureau records, the text archive, and the photo library, with commentary by Corporate Archives Director Valerie Komor.

The booklet is accompanied by a DVD featuring a selection of oral history interviews conducted last year with AP reporters and photographers in the Middle East.

The Archives is making the booklets available for state AP meetings. For more information, contact Valerie Komor at or at 212-621-1731.


The Texas APME convention is using APME's Great Ideas CD as a giveaway at the conference. The CD has terrific ideas that editors can use throughout the year. It might work for your conference too.


News business is changing, not dying

By Gene Policinski

Vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, Washington, D.C.

Headlines – " ironically, given this subject” – have proclaimed for some time that newspapers in the United States are dying, have documented bankruptcy filings by companies that own large news groups and have noted thousands of lost newsroom jobs.

All of this is good reason for all of us to be concerned, not so much about the survival of any one newspaper or even a news group, but rather about the collective damage to the notion of a "free press,” a private industry, largely producing news printed on paper, that is charged with the unique civic roles of holding government accountable and providing the information needed in a representative democracy.

And yet, there's also this undeniable fact: We now have access to more news, in more ways, more quickly and in more detail, than ever before.

Granted, there's the problem that much of this news is there for people to take without paying. And, for more than decade, journalism as we knew it has been battered by a loss of income, as advertising has fled online to places like Craigslist, and by a loss of readers to new media, ranging from Google-Yahoo!-like news aggregators to Huffington Post-like bloggers.

For some, this transition "or tragedy” was marked in history by the cancellation of the 2009 annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. But to paraphrase humorist Mark Twain, the rumors of newspapers' demise are exaggerated. From the just-concluded 2010 meeting of American Society of News Editors (note the change to "News,” also made in 2009) come signs of challenged-yet-robust journalism:

• From iPad to iPod, from home computers to "smart phones,” we now have access to news when we want it: blogs and Twitter feeds from friends and strangers, giant new pools of data, and yes, authoritative and professional news reports that tell us about our community and our nation.

• New technology is more than just new ways to get information. Yahoo gave ASNE attendees a test look at an upcoming application that will blend mobile news with very local information, all pegged to where we are on the map. As described in a blog from the ASNE NewsNow Summit 2010, Yahoo will provide a "'News Around the Corner' section that can scan dozens of local blogs for content relevant to an area within a few blocks of a user's location. Localized public information like health/safety inspections and crime reports will also be offered.”

• "Watchdog journalism” on public officials will get a boost from something called a "Politiwidget,” which can provide an individualized report on campaign contributions, voting records and other data "all updated automatically.”

• New methods of gathering news come with new ways of presenting it, from gathering information and seeking comments via Twitter and Facebook to video reports to "talking bar charts” that provide supplementary images and commentary as readers click on data in an online report.

To be sure, there was no mistaking the painful present at the summit. There were repeated reminders that nearly 40,000 journalism jobs have disappeared nationwide. A panel discussed whether the government should step in to bail out failing news companies or to "save journalism,” if not the corporate owners "a once-unthinkable subject.”

Still, even a reduced number of attending editors included a good number of news innovators, from startup operators to veteran journalists, building on the best practices of the past to construct the news operations of the future. A major signal of that blend of old and new journalism during the ASNE gathering: a Pulitzer Prize awarded jointly to the most-traditional of the traditional news media, The New York Times, and to journalism newbie ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative-journalism operation, for collaborative reporting on the decisions doctors made at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina.

Other encouraging signs: News job losses are slowing; financial balance sheets are balancing. Most newspapers remain profitable, though less so than in their glory years. Good journalism continues in places like Bristol, Va., where the Herald Courier won a Pulitzer for public service for its reports on mismanagement of natural-gas royalties, and Milwaukee, where a Journal Sentinel reporter won a Pulitzer for stories about problems in a state-funded child-care subsidy program.

Amid the most wrenching change in the news industry in more than a century, creativity abounds. There is dogged determination to protect and develop investigative and accountability journalism that examines, challenges and reports on our public institutions.

All of that is worth a few headlines, too.


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 APME%20update%20question/ commentor call Sally at (212) 621-7007.
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