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APME Update for Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
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APME Update
APME Update for Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
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• Feb. 26, Deadline for Applying for Community Journalism Grant
• March 1,
March Madness Online Auction Begins
• March 22-23,
NewsTrain, Phoenix
• May 1,
Deadline for APME Journalism Excellence Awards
• May 1,
2-for-1 Membership Offer Ends
• May 18-19,
NewsTrain, Miami
• Sept. 13-14,
NewsTrain, Toronto
Sept. 19-21, 2012 - APME Conference, John Seigenthaler Center, Nashville, Tenn.


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ABOUT US: APME Update is published regularly by the Associated Press Media Editors Association. APME Update is edited by Sally Jacobsen. Send submissions by e-mail or call Sally at (212) 621-7007.

To receive APME Update by e-mail notify APME is an AP-member group of newspaper, broadcast and college education leaders 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 Media 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 and news directors, news managers or other senior positions at AP broadcast outlets in the United States and Canadian Press publications in Canada. It is also open to administrators, professors, instructors, leaders or advisers of journalism studies programs at recognized colleges and universities and to editors or leaders at newspapers, radio stations, websites or other news outlets at recognized universities and colleges.

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If you're with a small-media company, then you should apply for the Community Journalism Public Service Initiative from the Associated Press Media Editors.

Media companies in metropolitan areas (MSA) of 100,000 or fewer people are encouraged to apply for the first-ever grant. The recipient will receive $1,000 to jump-start the initiative and a trip to the annual APME conference to present the project.

"APME is proud to roll out this new opportunity for smaller media outlets," said Bob Heisse, APME president and executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College, PA. "We look forward to hearing about and sharing what the winner accomplishes."

It's easy to enter: Just draft a proposal of 500 words or less and include examples of how you would approach the project. It should be multiplatform, include social media and address a long-standing community issue.

To apply, go to and fill out the online form. The deadline for applications is Feb. 26. The grant will be awarded in March.

Here are more details:

The Grant: A $1,000 grant will be given to a small-media company for a public service project that addresses a long-standing community issue. If results are shown, a representative also would receive an expenses-paid trip (up to $1,000) to the APME conference in September in Nashville,Tenn.

Eligibility: The media company must have a website and serve a metropolitan area (MSA) of 100,000 or fewer people. Preference will be given to Associated Press members.

Expectations: The project should use print and digital platforms and include social media and/or a mobile strategy. It should be considered entrepreneurial and should have the potential to be used elsewhere, including by a larger media company. Even though the project can be an ongoing series and continue after the APME conference, there will an expectation that a part of the project will be published before Aug. 1. The Innovator/Great Ideas Committee will contact the grant recipient in early August to determine progress on the initiative.

To apply: Go to to submit your proposal of 500 words or less, including examples of how you would tackle the project. The form will also prompt you to give your company’s newsroom staffing, website page views per month and your newspaper’s circulation or audience size.

Deadline: Feb. 26. The winner will be notified in March.

For more information, contact Joe Hight at



By J.B. Bittner

APME's NewsTrain is at full throttle in 2012. We asked Project Director Michael Roberts what NewsTrain is about this year, where it's heading and how he became involved.

Tell us a bit about your history with NewsTrain.

APME was considering the NewsTrain program back in 2002-2003. I was asked to design and present one of several test prototype programs. I presented that program in the spring of 2003 in Columbus, Ohio, and it became the basis for NewsTrain's workshop design. We presented the first NewsTrain workshop that fall in San Diego. I've been a speaker for NewsTrain ever since. I took on the role of project director in the middle of 2011.

What is the philosophy driving the NewsTrain program?

One goal is to bring high-quality training at an affordable price to journalists around the country. Another is to design programs – no matter the topic – that provide practical skills people can apply back on their jobs. To that end, the planning process begins with a needs assessment to determine what problems, new skills, or specific outcomes a NewsTrain workshop can help people address in each location we visit.

Who does NewsTrain serve – your core audience?

Back in 2003, our target audience was frontline editors. In recent years, as jobs have changed and everyone has gone to multiple platforms, our audience spans the entire print-digital newsroom. Again, we try to tailor each workshop to the specific location. In general, our target skill level for any topic is mid- to high-level skill sets. We work in that zone where people have built a foundation and want to take a step or two up to the next level, no matter the topic or job category.

Four NewsTrains are already on the calendar for 2012. Tell us what you have planned for each and where and when they are scheduled.

In 2012, we will hold workshops in Phoenix (March 22-23), Miami (May 18-19), Toronto (Sept.13-14), and Chapel Hill, N.C. (October). Topics for Phoenix include watchdog journalism, multimedia storytelling, mobile journalism tools, how to shoot short video, how to develop community content, how to frame next-day stories for print that extend what appears online, and how to manage the constant change newsrooms face these days. Once we start the needs assessment discussion with the other sites, their workshop content will fall into place. I expect interest in social media, watchdog journalism, data visualization, and a range of management skills. I also hear more requests for writing and editing skills.

What should those who have never attended a NewsTrain expect to take away from the training?

NewsTrain workshops provide practical skills and tools people can take back and immediately apply on their jobs. I work closely with each NewsTrain speaker to build programs that help people do a better job. That may mean how to do something faster, easier, more effectively. Or it could mean how to do something new. There are so many pressing needs in newsrooms today. There are also many ambitious plans and initiatives people are trying to pull off. NewsTrain workshops are designed to help people solve problems, improve results, and achieve goals in the real work they do every day.

What should those who have attended previous NewsTrains expect that is different this year?

There are many new topics. That is a function of the needs assessment process where we start the planning process by focusing on local needs. When we started this approach last fall, about three-quarters of the modules for our fall workshops were brand-new topics. Training programs and workshops, to be of value, have to change and adapt as quickly as the needs change in newsrooms.

How much does participants' feedback shape future NewsTrains?

We take participants' feedback very seriously. Each workshop concludes with a feedback form on the content and quality of presentations for each speaker. We study the feedback, share it with speakers, and make adjustments to increase the value and satisfaction people feel for a NewsTrain workshop.

How do you measure NewsTrain's success?

We track attendance levels and collate the numerical ratings and comments people share in the feedback forms. So we have some data. Our numbers are trending up. We also spend time in each workshop asking what people have heard over the two days they want to take back and try on their jobs. Those discussions provide a visceral feel for how well a program has served the needs of people in the audience.

Personally, after almost nine years with NewsTrain, I think comments in those discussions are some of the best measures of a program's success. It is always humbling to hear from people who have taken the time and effort to attend a workshop, people who face a variety of problems and challenges back on the job. They've extended themselves to come to NewsTrain. So when they find something we presented will make a difference in their work, that's success. Times are tough all over the industry. Training should be practical and strategic. That's what makes a program engaging. It's a privilege to offer programs that help people with tough jobs solve problems or achieve new things.

What else do journalists need to know about the NewsTrain program?

A NewsTrain workshop is a lot of fun. Along with designing programs that provide practical skills, we also make sure there is time in each program for discussion, exercises, and interaction. NewsTrain is not about lectures. NewsTrain workshops draw bright, talented people. We would be foolish not to build in time and opportunities for people to relish each other's company. The energy between our speakers and the participants is very high. NewsTrain workshops are a wonderful chance to meet people, share ideas, and actively learn together.

More about Contact Roberts at

J.B. Bittner is the editor of the Stillwater (Okla.) NewsPress. She can be reached at



NewsTrain will be in Phoenix on March 22-23 for a two-day workshop on watchdog journalism, developing enterprise off a beat, multimedia storytelling, how to cultivate community content, mobile tools and tactics, managing change, and more.

NewsTrain is sponsored by APME and this workshop is hosted by The Arizona Republic, Arizona Newspaper Association, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University, Arizona Daily Star, Arizona Daily Sun, Colorado Press Association, Nevada Press Association, Utah Press Association, and the Associated Press.

Cost: $50.

Location: ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

Registration: Deadline is March 16, at

Workshop sessions

Unleash Your Watchdog – This is a program for reporters and editors on how to identify and pursue powerful watchdog stories from everyday records. Includes investigative techniques and strategies that lift high-impact enterprise from daily beats, and enable reporters and editors to create authoritative work on multiple platforms. The goal is not to wait for news, but to make it happen, whether you’re a reporter in the trenches or editor at the helm.

Digging for Data – Once a potential watchdog story is identified, how to use timesaving techniques to drill through mountains of information – from paper files to computer databases – and extract critical information that turns routine stories into must-read enterprise. Includes simple methods and innovative reporting tools to systematically mold raw data into hard-hitting leads and nut graphs.

Multimedia Storytelling: The latest in tools, formats, techniques and strategies for telling stories in multimedia. These techniques may be used for daily news coverage, short-term enterprise, and larger packages.

Community Content: News organizations are searching for ways to include more local content on their web sites. This session explores what kind of content is out there, how to reach out and develop relationships with those who are or can produce content, and the many ways that content can be brought into your web site. Includes examples, tools, and copyright or contractual issues that may occur.

Accountability Coverage: How to generate a consistent flow of watchdog coverage off a beat. Between the news scoop and a major project there are a variety of ways to build short and mid-range watchdog stories. This session offers seven different measures of accountability reporters and editors can use on a beat to produce a strong body of watchdog work around a public agency or issue.

Tools for Mobile Journalists: A program on many basic (and free) tools reporters and other mobile journalists can use to capture and post news and images from the field. Includes smart phones, simple cameras, apps, free software, reference materials, and easy-to-use web platforms. Bring your smart phones for demos and practice.

How to Shoot Great Short Video: Demand for short, timely video is high on all news web sites. This program covers how to shoot three of the most common types of short video with a smart phone or simple point-and-shoot camera. The focus here is on 30-60 second video that requires no or very minimal editing and can be posted quickly. Skills include framing, light conditions, sequences of shots, and more.

Impact Stories: In the constant stream of instant news, readers still want stories that explain the impact of the news on them. Increasingly, impact stories are the primary role of the daily newspaper. This program for reporters and editors examines the difference between a breaking news story and an impact story, how to frame an impact story, then report, write, and edit so "impact” is the primary focus, even across different types of stories.

Managing & Surviving Change: The news business and daily life in any newsroom is engulfed in constant change. This program offers a simple eight-step approach to managing change, for supervisors and staff, a model that can be used by small groups or entire newsrooms to navigate change effectively and keep the focus on strong results.

NewsTrain Idea Swap: The workshop will conclude with a lively session in which everyone is invited to share one good idea, best practice, tip, time-saving trick, or other nugget that can help others do a better job. In this session, people will have two minutes to quickly share their idea. Ideas will be collected in advance to produce a full collection that will be posted online.


Michael J. Berens is a reporter on the investigative team at The Seattle Times. He previously worked on the investigative team at the Chicago Tribune and began his career at the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio). Previous projects include the unchecked sexual misconduct among hundreds of health-care practitioners; a comprehensive analysis of hospital infections and the MRSA epidemic; FDA failures to thwart fraudulent medical devices; a military blunder with a vaccine that led to unnecessary deaths. Berens’ work has been recognized through many dozens of national and regional awards. He has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (beat and investigative reporting categories). First place honors in 2011, for his "Seniors for Sale" project on abuses in adult family homes, include Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE); the White House Correspondents Association; the National Press Club; Gerald Loeb Award; Association of Health Care Journalists; Society of American Business Editors and Writers; and Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting at Harvard University. His latest project in December revealed how the state of Washington promotes the use of methadone as a low-cost pain killer through state-subsidized health care among the poor, a group with higher than average death rates from methadone use.

Mandy Jenkins has just accepted a new position with Digital First Media. She was most recently the Washington D.C. Social News Editor for the Huffington Post. Prior to that, Mandy was Social Media Editor for the startup; Digital Content Editor / Social Media & Projects at the Cincinnati Enquirer; Social Media Editor and Online Special Projects Editor, Cincinnati Enquirer; and an online news producer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She also writes the Zombie Journalism blog on digital media.

Jane Stevens is the editor of ACES Too High, where she is working to develop a national network of local health sites. She also writes the blog ReJourno, on remaking journalism on the web. In 2011, as director of media strategies at The World Company in Lawrence, Kansas, her community heath site, WellCommons, won an EPPY award from Editor & Publisher for "Best Community Service on a Media-Affiliated Website” under 250,000 unique monthly visitors. Prior to that, she was editorial director of Oceans Now, associate faculty at UC Berkeley’s Knight Digital Media Center, taught multimedia reporting at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and consulted with news organizations making the transition to digital media. In 1996, she was part of the first group of videojournalists at New York Times Television, and did multimedia reporting for the New York Times, Discovery Channel, and She’s worked for the Boston Globe and San Francisco Examiner as copy editor, assistant foreign/national editor, Sunday magazine writer, and science/technology reporter and columnist.

Michael Roberts is a newsroom trainer and consultant and Project Director for NewsTrain. Previously, Michael was Deputy Managing Editor Staff Development at The Arizona Republic (2003-2010), responsible for all newsroom training, served as writing coach, and edited major projects. Outside his own newsrooms, Roberts helped create and launch NewsTrain, designed and taught the American Press Institute’s first online seminar for copy editors, and has presented programs for the Poynter Institute, American Press Institute, the Maynard Institute, Freedom Forum, and various National Writers Workshops. Before the Republic, Roberts was Features Editor, AME/Features-Business, and then for 10 years the Training Editor/Writing Coach at The Cincinnati Enquirer. He also worked as a writer and editor at the Midland (MI) Daily News, the Detroit Free Press, and as a senior editor at two magazines.

Retha Hill is Executive Director of the Digital Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University. Previously she was vice president for content for Black Entertainment Television Interactive, an executive producer for special projects at, and an editor for local news, arts and entertainment at the Washington Post. She was also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and has presented programs for the Poynter Institute, the Online News Association, the American Press Institute, the Freedom Forum, and the National Press Club.

Rob Schumacher is a photographer / videographer with the Arizona Republic / He designed and led the photo training for Republic mobile journalists and the entire reporting staff.

For more information, contact Michael Roberts, NewsTrain Project Director,



Join APME now at our $150 rate and bring on another editor, educator or broadcast news leader free. Our 2-for-1 offer will last until May 1.

This is a great time to join, for reasons outlined below. But membership has more value than ever after the APME board reduced the price of entering our prestigious Journalism Excellence Awards from $75 to $50 per entry for members. Non-members will still pay $100 per entry.

Contest details will come out soon, but consider the savings you and the person you bring along will have. Reach out to a broadcast leader or journalism educator in your market, perhaps, or bring in another newsroom editor.

We'll also soon roll out three social media credibility webinars that will be offered to APME members at a reduced rate.

With more than 1,600 participants and 200 supporting members, the Associated Press Media Editors remains the practical voice for news leaders.

For the $150 cost of membership, you'll receive substantial discounts for the annual conference, APME journalism contests and APME webinars.

But there’s more:

• APME brings together news leaders from all sizes of publications and broadcast stations.

• The APME board of directors has dedicated seats for small newspapers, online and broadcast.

• Myriad programs, such as Sounding Board, help keep the lines of communication open with AP.

• News leaders can tap into AP resources on national projects, such as Broken Budgets and Aging America.

• Your newsroom can benefit from training that comes to you through NewsTrain and state APME organizations.

• APME is leading the First Amendment charge through its active committee work and with the help and resources of the AP.

• APME and APPM are at the forefront of the sports credentialing questions.

• Your organization can gain from Credibility Roundtables that offer research and insight into online issues nationwide.

• You can get great advice from the trenches.

• Great Ideas program and the Innovator of the Month contest help to keep the ideas rolling all year long.

• For educators: Access to the newsroom and broadcast leaders who do the hiring.

• Weekly APME Update with news from around the industry and the AP.

• APME News, the magazine that offers industry insight and guidance.

• The annual conference is held with Associated Press Photo Editors.

• Trade ideas and ask for advice from your peers at

Join today!



Starting March 1, APME will host its fourth online auction, featuring vacation rentals, sporting events, iconic photos, books, tours and more to benefit our organization and programs.

Already pledged are: A condo near the beach in Avalon, N.J., framed AP images, a Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket, autographed books, a collection from the Masters, APME memberships, AP Stylebook T-shirt, signed Sports Illustrated cover, tickets to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and dinner, an APME Nashville conference registration.

Send your item description, value, suggested starting bid and a photo or photo suggestion to We'll run the auction and then you can ship or fulfill the item once the bidding closes. We try to make it easy, and we know it's fun.

And, please check through March to see what you can bid on. Share the auction with your friends and peers. We had our best online auction ever in November and hope to improve on that.



• AP: Coming soon to a pump near you: $4 gasoline
• Houston Chronicle: U.S. oil output rising, some see energy independence ahead
• Detroit Free Press: Some transplant patients settle for imperfect organs
• Denver Post: Consultants earning millions in effort to turn weakest schools around
• Miami Herald: Florida bill would steer construction funds to charter schools
• Sun Sentinel: Chiefs get tough with speeding cops after investigation
• St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Disability pensions for firefighters costly in St. Louis

Read about these and more by clicking here


BEAT OF THE WEEK: National Security Writer Robert Burns

It had long been public knowledge that the Obama administration would undertake a review of U.S. nuclear weapons requirements in advance of new arms talks with Russia. But only AP national security writer Robert Burns, who has followed the subject for years, recognized that the highly secret work was almost finished.

He sent shock waves across the capital with an exclusive report that the administration was considering cutting the deployed nuclear arsenal by up to 80 percent.

The story was more than four months in the making.

Burns first got wind of the cuts last November when he saw a transcript of congressional testimony by James Miller, the Pentagon’s point man for nuclear weapons issues. In unusually explicit terms, he described a nuclear review process so fundamental that Burns was led to believe significant weapons cuts might be involved.

Burns asked to interview Miller but the Pentagon repeatedly turned him down. So he turned to his stable of experts, insiders and former government officials who are part of the nuclear weapons network.

Finally, in early February two people told Burns they had learned key details of the review, including three options for cuts. The most drastic would take the country back to levels not seen since 1950, slashing the number of deployed nuclear weapons from 1,550 now to 300. To ensure the sourcing met AP standards, Burns held out for – and soon received – additional confirmation of the numbers being considered.

A congressional hearing on the Pentagon budget was overshadowed by sharp questions to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey about the AP's story.



Brian Tolley will take over as executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger, of Jackson, Miss., on March 12. The announcement was made by Leslie Hurst, president and publisher of the Jackson newspaper and its affiliated media operations ( ). Tolley is currently executive editor of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La. He will become executive editor/director of audience engagement and growth for The Clarion-Ledger Media Group. Before his tenure in Lafayette — his first for Gannett Co. — Tolley was editor of The Fayetteville Observer in Fayetteville, N.C. He also has worked in journalism in Daytona Beach and West Palm Beach, Fla., and in Columbia, S.C.

The Clarion-Ledger has been without an executive editor since August 2011, when Ronnie Agnew resigned to become executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

MaineToday Media says Cliff Schechtman has been promoted to executive editor of its three daily newspapers and associated websites. MaineToday Media owns The Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Schechtman was hired in October as managing editor. He replaces Scott Wasser, who had been executive editor since June 2009.

Schechtman came to Maine from Newsday, based on Long Island, N.Y., where he was associate editor. He has also served as editor of the Cape Cod Times and managing editor of The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat has named Clay Morgan, a longtime community newspaper editor, as the daily newspaper's managing editor. Morgan also will serve as director of content and audience development for the Lebanon Publishing Company, which also owns the weekly papers the Mount Juliet News and the Hartsville Vidette.

In addition to running the Democrat's day-to-day operations, Morgan will direct the expansion of the company's footprint in digital content development, social media and mobile content delivery. Publisher Joseph H. Adams says Morgan will provide the journalism leadership needed to develop content across the multiple platforms, including digital, mobile and print. Morgan served as editor of weekly papers in Tennessee and daily newspapers in Mississippi. He also was publisher at newspapers in Texas, and most recently was editor and publisher of the Macon County Times



• AP reporting on NYPD is among Polk Award winners
• Philly reporters urge newspaper owners to protect integrity
• Drug company Mylan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette settle lawsuits
• State official meets privately with county school board in Tennessee
• Georgia newspaper company scales back print editions
• Sandusky (OH) Register names Tandem exec new publisher
• McAllen, Tx., publisher resigns after 10 years
• Arizona panel rejects online choice for public notices

Read about these items and more by clicking here



New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner whose dispatches captured untold stories from Baghdad under "shock and awe" bombing to Libya wracked by civil war, died last week of an apparent asthma attack in Syria while reporting on the uprising against its president.

Shadid, who survived a gunshot wound in the West Bank in 2002 and was captured for six days in Libya last year, was returning with smugglers from Syria to Turkey when he collapsed, the Times said.

Times photographer Tyler Hicks told the newspaper that Shadid, who was 43, had suffered one bout of asthma the first night, followed by a more severe attack a week later on the way out of the country.

"I stood next to him and asked if he was OK, and then he collapsed," Hicks told the Times.

Hicks said that Shadid was unconscious and that his breathing was "very faint" and "very shallow." After a few minutes, he said, he could see that Shadid "was no longer breathing."

Hicks said he administered CPR for 30 minutes but couldn't revive Shadid. Hicks carried Shadid's body to Turkey, the newspaper said.

"Anthony was one of our generation's finest reporters," Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger said in a statement. "He was also an exceptionally kind and generous human being. He brought to his readers an up-close look at the globe's many war-torn regions, often at great personal risk. We were fortunate to have Anthony as a colleague, and we mourn his death."

White House press secretary Jay Carney addressed Shadid's death while on Air Force One en route from San Francisco to Everett, Wash., on Friday.

"All of us, the president on down, were greatly saddened by the news that Anthony Shadid had died while reporting (in) Syria," he said. "Anthony Shadid was one of the best, perhaps the finest, foreign correspondent working today, in my opinion."

Carney said it was because of some of the risks taken by Shadid, who had been gathering information on the resistance to the Syrian government and calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, that "readers around the world were aware of things that were happening and changes that were taking place in the region."

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati wrote on his Twitter account: "Sincere condolences to journalist Anthony Shadid's (RIP) family, friends & New York Times colleagues. I've known and admired him personally. N.M."

Shadid's father, Buddy Shadid, told The Associated Press on Thursday his son had asthma all his life and had medication with him.

"(But) he was walking to the border because it was too dangerous to ride in the car," the father said. "He was walking behind some horses — he's more allergic to those than anything else — and he had an asthma attack."

Shadid, an American of Lebanese descent, had a wife, Nada Bakri, and a son and a daughter. He had worked previously for the AP, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. He won Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting in 2004 and 2010 when he was with the Post.

In 2004, the Pulitzer Board praised "his extraordinary ability to capture, at personal peril, the voices and emotions of Iraqis as their country was invaded, their leader toppled and their way of life upended."

Shadid also was the author of three books, including "House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East," in which he wrote about restoring his family's home in Lebanon, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Shadid, a native of Oklahoma City, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the AP in Milwaukee in 1990, worked on the International Desk in New York and served as the AP's news editor in Los Angeles. He was transferred to Cairo in 1995, covering stories in several countries.

AP Senior Managing Editor John Daniszewski, who worked with Shadid in Baghdad during the U.S. invasion in 2003, called him "a brilliant colleague who stood out both for his elegant writing and for his deep and nuanced understanding of the region."

"He was calm under fire and quietly daring, the most admired of his generation of foreign correspondents," Daniszewski said.

She was instantly recognizable for the eye patch that hid a shrapnel injury – a testament to Marie Colvin's courage, which took her behind the front lines of the world's deadliest conflicts to write about the suffering of individuals trapped in war.

After more than two decades of chronicling conflict, Colvin became a victim of it Wednesday, killed by shelling in the besieged Syrian city of Homs. Colvin, 56, from East Norwich, New York, had been a foreign correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times for more than 25 years, making a specialty of reporting from the world's most dangerous places. The newspaper posted her final dispatch outside the website's paywall, so anyone could read her account from a cellar offering refuge for women and children. The report chronicled the horrors that eventually took her own life.

"It is a city of the cold and hungry, echoing to exploding shells and bursts of gunfire," Colvin wrote. "There are no telephones and the electricity has been cut off. ... Freezing rain fills potholes and snow drifts in through windows empty of glass. No shops are open, so families are sharing what they have with relatives and neighbors. Many of the dead and injured are those who risked foraging for food.

"Fearing the snipers' merciless eyes, families resorted last week to throwing bread across rooftops, or breaking through communal walls to pass unseen."

Colvin often focused on the plight of women and children in wartime, and Syria was no different. She gave interviews to major British broadcasters on the eve of her death, appealing for the world to notice the slaughter taking place.

In the 1990s, Colvin worked in the Balkans, where she went on patrol with the Kosovo Liberation Army as it engaged Serb military forces. She worked in Chechnya, where she came under fire from Russian jets while reporting on Chechen rebels seeking independence for their region. She also covered the conflict in East Timor after its people voted for independence in Southeast Asia.

She was one of the few reporters to interview ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in his final days before his death in October. Her mother, Rosemarie Colvin, of East Norwich, N.Y., told The Associated Press that her daughter knew Gadhafi well, and described her daughter as a passionate about her work, even when it got very hard.

"She was supposed to leave (Syria) today," Rosemarie Colvin said, adding that her daughter had spoken yesterday with her editor who ordered her to leave because it was so dangerous. "She had to stay. She wanted to finish one more story."

The eldest of five children, Colvin is survived by her mother, two sisters and two brothers.

A graduate of Yale University, Colvin had never planned to be a journalist. She had studied anthropology, later taking the rigorous study of people and places and putting it to good use writing about individuals caught up in suffering to relay the horror of war.

Richard J. Blood, a former city editor at the New York Daily News who nurtured a generation of young journalists while teaching for more than two decades at the Columbia University School of Journalism and New York University, has died. He was 83.

Blood died of respiratory failure in Manhattan, according to his eldest son, Associated Press political writer Michael Blood. "I never knew anyone to get more excited about a good story," Michael said of his father, who taught until he was 79.

Blood was born in the Boston suburb of Lynn, Mass., on Nov. 12, 1928. He joined the Navy as a teenager and later served in the Merchant Marine before attending Boston University and, later, Columbia's journalism school, where he graduated with a master's degree in 1958.

He began his career at newspapers in New Hampshire, Vermont and New Jersey before joining the now-defunct Newark (N.J.) Evening News and, later, the Daily News in New York in 1970.

"Dick was one hell of a newsman," said Mike Oreskes, AP's senior managing editor who reported for the Daily News from 1975 to 1981. "He cared passionately about the story, whatever the story was, and he loved nothing more than when one of his reporters came back with a scoop," Oreskes said.

"I was proud and lucky to have been one of those reporters. He never let any of us settle for less than the best in getting the story," said Oreskes, who added that he still hears his voice every day, "still urging us to get out there."

Blood also put his stamp on a slew of notable journalism students, including New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, who recalled lacking confidence in his journalism before taking the professor's rigorous course at Columbia University in 1988.

"The main lesson I learned from him is if you have some ability and are willing to work really hard to cultivate that ability to its greatest potential, you will have some success," said Bruni, who has worked in some of the most desired jobs in journalism, ranging from the Times' Washington correspondent covering national politics to the paper's restaurant critic.

Blood, known to wield a red pen like a sword aimed at sloppy writing, thoughtless reporting and cliche, was not lavish in his praise, but his praise was deeply felt.

"In a world that is way, way too seldom a meritocracy, I think Dick Blood was the ultimate -- if it's a word -- meritocrat," Bruni said.

"I don't think there's a student he had that wasn't bettered by him, and I doubt there was a single professor whose students felt more loyalty to and adoration of him."

One of Blood's classroom sayings was to always "eat the meal," a reference to a time when a student came back to his classroom from covering a soup kitchen's Thanksgiving meal without having tasted it.

The lesson was learned as a metaphor for future students: Always try to get as close as possible to a subject, to understand their story and soak in every detail.

Former student Annia Ciezadlo, who studied with Blood at NYU, said her memoir "Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War" was inspired in part by that lesson.

"For me the way I translated that into the experience of covering war was that you have to understand what civilians are going through," said Ciezadlo, who worked as a war correspondent in Iraq for The Christian Science Monitor and a reporter in the Middle East.

"You can't understand what people are going through unless you experience it yourself, if you're covering a shooting you count each bullet hole, you have to pay those things attention, you have to soak up every possible detail," she said.

Another lesson Ciezadlo recalled was the importance of spelling names right — students were given automatic "F''s when they didn't.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Carol Joyce Blood of Manhattan and New Lebanon, N.Y., two sons, Michael R. Blood of Los Angeles, and a former City Hall Bureau Chief for the News, Christopher R. Blood of Denville, N.J., a daughter Kathleen Blood Stokas of Tucson, Ariz., and four grandchildren.

Nathaniel Blumberg, the legendary former dean of the University of Montana School of Journalism, died at a Kalispell hospital six days after suffering a stroke at his home in Bigfork. He was 89.

Blumberg, a demanding teacher who influenced a generation of journalists, wrote his own obituary, saying about his students that he "took great pride in their professional success, their contributions to journalism in Montana and the nation, and their strong sense of public service in their chosen careers."

He began the Dean Stone lectures more than 50 years ago, bringing in top journalists from across the country to speak to students. Blumberg started the Montana Journalism Review, the nation's first such publication, several years before Columbia University debuted a similar magazine. KUFM Radio, the Montana Newspaper Hall of Fame and UM's radio and television department all were begun while Blumberg was dean from 1956-68.

Blumberg, a Rhodes Scholar as a student, continued teaching at UM for another 23 years.

"He was a very demanding teacher," said Carol Van Valkenburg, professor emerita at the School of Journalism. "He just got after you. He wasn't worried about hurting your feelings, he was worried about your being the best you could be."

"He had us all terrified," said Printer Bowler, a journalism school student from 1959-64 and now a visiting lecturer. "I remember when I was editor of (the student newspaper) the Kaimin we had a bad typo on the front page — I think we misspelled somebody's name — and we could hear him stomping down the hall as soon as the paper came out.

"He came in the Kaimin office and ripped us all up one side and down the other. I was so shook up I went home, drank half a bottle of wine and never went back to school until the next day," Bowler said.

But, he added: "We never had another front-page typo again while I was there."

Peggy Kuhr, a former student of Blumberg and current dean of the school, called Blumberg "a force" who was "incredibly demanding and incredibly smart and dynamic."

Former Missoulian reporter Ginny Merriam said the criticism would continue after graduation, but praise and encouragement were added for stories Blumberg and colleague Robert McGiffert felt were well-reported and well-written.

Kuhr said, "we all continued to get notes and letters after we left. I'll bet he wrote hundreds of thousands of notes in his lifetime."

In retirement, Blumberg published "Treasure State Review: A Montana Periodical of Journalism and Justice" for several years. He also founded WoodFIREAshes Press to publish the books he hoped to write.

The one he did publish, "The Afternoon of March 30," hurt Blumberg's reputation with some people.

The novel centered on his belief that Neil Bush — son of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush — and his wife Sharon were co-conspirators in John Hinckley's attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Blumberg based his belief in part on reports that Hinckley's brother, Scott, knew Neil Bush and that they were scheduled to have dinner together the night after the assassination attempt — and that the media covered it up.

"He got on a conspiracy kick," Van Valkenburg said. "He was very proud of the book, and I think he was hurt that it wasn't well-received. He became someone people took less seriously, and I think that hurt him terribly. But the truth was it was not up to the standards he would have expected of other people."

Blumberg was born in Denver, educated at the University of Colorado and Oxford and served in World War II. He taught journalism at the University of Nebraska and Michigan State University before being named dean at UM when he was 34.

He had three daughters with his first wife Lynne and married Barbara Farquhar in 1973. Barbara died in 2007.


AND FINALLY … Have comments gone too far? New Haven newspaper says 'yes'

By James Clements
Star Exponent
Culpeper, Va.

If you think recent online comments on the Star-Exponent website and Facebook page are approaching the brink, you may be interested in the story of the New Haven (Conn.) Independent.

Earlier this month, the Independent suspended comments indefinitely after one particularly egregious post made it through the staff-monitored filter. In explaining the decision, founder Paul Bass laid out a case that could easily apply to our own local forums:

"Is this the long-awaited new dawn of democracy and accountability we thought we were helping to help spark ... [or] are we contributing to the reflexively cynical, hate-filled discourse that has polluted American civic life? Are we reviving the civic square? Or managing a sewer with toxic streams that demoralize anyone who dares to take part in government or citizen activism?

"Instead of sparking people to get involved and consider new ideas and talk to each other across boundaries, the discussion has too often devolved into a yell fest. Or a continual put-down party. It has discouraged people from taking part. And that was after we removed a good chunk of the submitted comments!"

Bass indicated his staffers limited time may be better used reporting the news rather than policing comment boards: "As a low-budget news site dedicated to the high-quality reporting, maybe we need to focus our resources on what we do best: reporting and writing and illustrating stories."

But he also acknowledged the contributions made by the sites regular, respectful, contributors:

"To the majority of readers who comment every day, we say: Thank you! You inspire us. ... I've always taken pride in how much more thoughtful, diverse, intelligent, and fun our comments section overall has been compared to those on most other news sites. ... But without civility, without respect, a free forum turns into a soul-destroying free-for-all. A few people can foul that forum."

I empathize with Bass, who created an independent newspaper to build and serve his community and then watched as others with no vested interest sought to destroy it. I'd compare it to an artist painting a mural in a park only to watch others show up with spray paint to leave their marks all over it.

Suspending comments hasn't ended opinion, of course; in fact, it's inspired it. Matt DeRienzo, editor of the New Haven Register, encouraged his rival to bring back comments, but acknowledged the difficulty in policing a moderated system:

"Here's the hypothetical progression that we struggle with, and why so much is a gray area:

"Commenter 1: The mayor's budget proposal is stupid.

"Commenter 2: Yes, you'd have to be a real moron to propose it.

"Commenter 3: Yah! The mayor is a moron!

"Commenter 4: No, you're a moron!

"If you don't know when the line is crossed in the above (and often, we struggle with that), pretty soon you have a toxic environment, even with a moderated comments system in place."

DeRienzo's example is a good one and shows even professional journalists struggle with knowing when to cut off the commentary. As we've seen locally over the past few weeks, those decisions are even harder when the heat behind a story goes up and the level of discourse goes down.

Unlike the Star-Exponent, which must serve corporate masters, Bass's decision to suspend comments was easy because he owns the paper. But one unintended consequence of the blackout may be of interest to our local editors:

Bass reportedly told media commentator Dan Kennedy, "'Those of us who wrestled with posting comments and some really abusive and relentless people all day and night are feeling much happier since the comments stopped. ... Our moods have brightened. We are nicer people to be around.'"

Clement's column runs every Monday. He lives in downtown Culpeper. Email


ABOUT US: APME Update is published regularly by the Associated Press Media Editors Association. APME Update is edited by Sally Jacobsen. Send submissions by e-mail or call Sally at (212) 621-7007.
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