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About the organization
APME is an association of editors at news media organizations in the United States and Canada. It works closely with The Associated Press to foster journalism excellence and to support a national network for the training and development of editors who will run multimedia newsrooms in the 21st century. The association has held a multi-day conference every year since 1933 in various cities around the U.S. and Canada. Our elected officers serve as national leaders in speaking out on journalism issues. APME also provides feedback to the worldwide cooperative directly and through the Sounding Board. APME is a nonprofit, tax-exempt association under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. Any person who is the editor, executive editor or managing editor, or holds any other title that provides for senior responsibilities for the news, online or editorial staffs of a member organization, is eligible for membership. APME is on the front line in setting ethical and journalistic standards for newspapers and in the battle for freedom of information and the First Amendment.
APME is born in a bar
By Bob Haiman
It began in 1930, over a drink in a convention hotel bar.
Managing Editors Roy Roberts of the Kansas City Star and Oliver Owen Kuhn of the Washington Star were attending the annual meeting in New York that was then called Newspaper Week.
Publishers gathered then mostly to talk about ad sales and circulation, and to complain about newsprint prices and labor costs.
Some of them attended The Associated Press board meetings, which focused mostly on memberships, territories and AP assessments.
Almost nothing was said about journalism or the content of newspapers or of the AP wire. Managing editors like Kuhn and Roberts who attended with their publishers got to enjoy some nice cocktail parties and dinners but found it almost impossible to discuss news coverage or to vent their complaints about AP's news performance.
"I asked Oliver,” Roberts said of the discussion over that drink, "why in the world didn't the managing editors have an informal conference with AP heads and get their gripes out of their systems?” The AP president (Kuhn's boss) and the AP general manager, Kent Cooper, agreed and the first meeting was set to take place the next year, during Newspaper Week 1931.
About 30 editors came, along with virtually all of the AP's news managers.
It did not go particularly well.
There was no formal agenda. After some introductory pleasantries, the editors starting unloading, firing critical questions - most were sharply barbed, derogatory criticisms and some were more like personal attacks - at the AP executives. It was not a civil discourse. Kuhn later said, "… A certain gentleman from the Southland and a certain esteemed AP editor almost came to blows.”
There was some question that a second meeting could even be held because so many AP managers felt as if they had taken so much unjustified abuse. In effect, what was to eventually become APME almost died for lack of a second.
But tempers cooled and it was decided to hold another meeting in New York in 1932. To avoid a repeat of the hostilities, AP editors and the managing editors began to sketch out a plan: They would meet separately from the publishers and the AP board. Instead of editors just standing up and letting loose, there would be committees of editors looking at the wire report — domestic news, foreign, Washington, state, business, features and photos, writing quality, etc. - during the year.
These committees would prepare written reports and present them at the annual meeting. The goal would be to create a useful, professional scrutiny - cleansed of personal whim, bias and vitriol — to which the AP could react and thus improve its service to member papers.
It was time to hold the first true convention.
1931: Editors and AP managers meet for first time, but not successfully.
1932: Similar meeting goes better, at first.
1933: First convention meets in French Lick, Ind.
1941: AP editors criticize newspaper editors, for a change.
1942: Wartime travel restraints mean no convention.
1944-45: War makes travel too difficult for editors to meet.
1946-47: Continuing Studies Committees are started.
1948: APME is incorporated.
1948: Red Book, a report of convention doings, makes debut.
1949: APME receives Distinguished Service Award from Sigma Delta Chi (now Society of
Professional Journalists) for "outstanding accomplishment” in journalism research.
1952: 125 editors serve on 14 study committees.
1958: 25th anniversary: APME returns to site of its founding in French Lick, Ind.
1964: APME News debuts, as a newsletter to appear between conventions.
1966: President Johnson signs U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
1967: Personnel Committee for first time has subcommittee titled Negroes in Journalism.
1968: Kerner Commission report issued in wake of urban unrest faults news media
for ignoring black communities and news.
1969: Black News Committee is created as part of Continuing Studies.
1971: APME at Philadelphia convention presents its first Freedom of Information Award
and its first Public Service Award.
1971: APME Regents is organized.
1972: 374 members, the most ever, sign up for 14 study committees.
1972-82: FOI Committee fights First Amendment battles against courts, legislatures and Congress.
1973: Dorothy Jurney wins election to board of directors at Orlando, Fla.,convention,
becoming first woman to sit on the governing board.
1978: Protester in Portland, Ore., hits speaker Howard Jarvis in the face with a pie and runs off.
1979: APME conducts its first major content research study, about sports agate.
1981: APME meets in Toronto for only convention outside United States.
1982: Special ambassador from Mexico falls off speakers' platform but recovers
and wows editors at San Diego convention.
1983: APME board approves study of requirements for, appropriateness of a foundation.
1983: 50th anniversary convention in Louisville, Ky., includes fitness lecture from actress Jane Fonda.
1983: Book "Fifty and Feisty” chronicles the first 50 years.
1983: Editors learn that for the first time, AMs' circulation exceeds that of PMs.
1984: Editors meeting in Miami learn Louis D. Boccardi will be the next president of The Associated Press.
1986: Editors at Cincinnati convention hear warning that classifieds, the ad foundation of newspaper
revenue, are vulnerable to electronic competition.
1988: Former APME president warns colleagues that being covered by the press "can be hell.”
1988: Attendance in Boston tops 650, the last time APME will see such numbers.
1988: Membership in Boston approves creation of a foundation.
1989: APME Foundation receives 501(c)(3) status.
1989: APME presents its first Meritorious Service Award to its longtime FOI champion, Hu Blonk.
1989: Editors learn in Des Moines, Iowa, that newspaper share of local ad dollars has shrunk
from 75-80 percent to roughly 50.
1989: APME Gazette is created to cover the conventions and is staffed by area journalism students.
1989: Last Red Book is published as full account of annual convention.
1990: Electronic issues - access to public records and photo ethics - occupy Dallas convention.
1992: Sue Reisinger, first woman president, presides at convention in Honolulu.
1993: APME is warned during Minneapolis convention that the press's "careless and biased” coverage
of Arabs and the Middle East could have serious repercussions.
1993-94: How to stop decline in convention attendance occupies leadership.
1994: Mall of Ideas appears at Philadelphia convention.
1994: APME adopts current Statement of Ethical Principles after two-year effort.
1995: Bob McGruder takes gavel as APME's first black president at end of Indianapolis convention.
1998: Area journalism students (besides Gazette staff) and their professors are invited to convention
at Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif., as APME creates program to encourage next generation.
1999: APME joins with American Society of Newspaper Editors to create and promote "Time
Out for Diversity and Accuracy.”
1999-2000: APME grapples with whether to seek merger with ASNE.
2000: Credibility Roundtables get under way.
2000-01: Online editors are welcomed to conventions.
2001: Associated Press Photo Managers is incorporated.
2001: Planners of Milwaukee conference scheduled for Oct. 10 start over after 9/11 attacks.
2001: Membership votes to designate board seats for online editors.
2002: First online editor is elected to governing board during Baltimore conference.
2002: Robert G. McGruder Diversity Awards presented for first time.
2002: NewsTrain, a national professional development effort, kicks off.
2003: Boccardi retires and his successor, Tom Curley, outlines goals to create digital information powerhouse.
2003: APME hires its first projects director.
2003: International Project offers help on covering local effects of world news.
2003: APME and foundation get first full-time executive director
2004: "Embedded readers,” editors often differ during Louisville convention.
2006: APME meets in New Orleans a year after Hurricane Katrina and honors two top local editors.
2006: Best ideas from Credibility Roundtables published in book, "Building Trust in the News; 101+ Good Ideas for Editors from Editors.”
2007: APME holds first conference in Washington, D.C.
2007: APME presents first Innovator of the Year Award.
2008: APME partners with University of Missouri J School for major survey about credibility of online journalism.
2008: APME partners with Taxpayers for Common Sense, leads national reporting effort on earmarks.
2010-11: Partnered with The Associated Press to launch the Broken Budgets reporting initiative, exploring the fiscal crises in state and local governments. Led to AP-APME projects in Pennsylvania, Illinois and other states.
2011: The organization's name changed to Associated Press Media Editors and the board approved expanding its ranks to include AP-broadcast news leaders, college journalism educators and college student editors.
2011-12: Partnered with The Associated Press to launch the Aging America reporting initiative.
2012: NewsTrain, fully funded early in its ninth year, attracted sellout crowds in Phoenix, Miami and Toronto.
2012: APME expanded its annual journalism contest to include innovation awards for radio and television and college media.
2012: APME began a community journalism initiative, offering $1,000 for a small paper to produce a project. The winner presented at the annual conference.
2012: APME held its annual conference for the first time at the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University. During it Seigenthaler was presented with an APME President's Award.
2013: The annual conference was held at the Indiana State Museum and J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.
2014: APME joined forces with the American Society of News Editors for the first time to hold a joint annual conference in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency. The theme was ASNE/APME/APPM 2014: Fast Forward
2015: The second joint ASNE/APME/APPM conference was held in Palo Alto, Calif., on the Stanford University campus. The theme was 3-D: Digital, Diversity, Disruption.
2016: Continuing their conference collaboration, ASNE/APME/APPM met in Philadelphia for the News Leadership Conference.
2017: Washington, D.C., was the site for the ASNE/APME/APPM News Leadership Conference.
2018: During the ASNE/APME News Leadership Conference in Austin, Texas, the memberships officially voted to merge the two news leaders organizations in 2019. The new organization will be called the News Leaders Association. The foundations will remain separate, for now.
Sources: APME Archives, Robert Giles, Robert Haiman, David Ledford, Mark Mittelstadt, Carol Nunnelley and past APME presidents.