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APME Update for Thursday, July 5, 2012
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APME Update
APME Update for Thursday, July 5, 2012

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• Month of July, SPECIAL Registration Offer for APME Conference, Sept. 19-21, Nashville
July 15, Deadline for Donations for APME’s Online Auction
• July 16-17, Community Journalists Symposium
• July 31,
Deadline for Submitting Great Ideas
• Aug. 12, Deadline for Booking Conference Hotel Rooms at Embassy Suites Nashville at Vanderbilt
• Aug. 31, Deadline for Donations for Silent/Live Auctions at APME Conference, Nashville
• Sept. 1, Deadline for Registering for APME Conference, Sept. 19-21, Nashville
• Sept. 13-14, NewsTrain, Toronto
Sept. 19-21, 2012 - APME Conference, John Seigenthaler Center, Nashville, Tenn.


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Your media organization has until July 31 to submit its work for APME’s 2012 "Great Ideas” book.

What's a great idea? It can be a new concept for print, broadcast or digital, or a major improvement to something we do every day. This is a chance for your media organization to show off your work in the U.S. and Canada and help fellow managers 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, but other ideas will be accepted as well.

It’s easy to submit and takes only a few minutes for you to do it.

Our "Great Ideas" form allows you to submit entries and upload images that accompanies the "Great Idea.”

If you have questions, contact David Arkin, GateHouse Media vice president of content & audience, at

Work already submitted to the monthly "Great Ideas" and "Innovator" awards will be considered for the book.


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.

Mailing address: Associated Press Media Editors Association, c/o Sally Jacobsen, The Associated Press, 450 West 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001. Phone: (212) 621-7007.



Please help us keep your contact information up-to-date. To change your profile, please click here.

Register in July and Get a FREE Conference T-Shirt
Join Us on Social Media Friday to Learn More Effective

How can we make our social media campaigns effective? And how can we measure success?

Register in July and receive a FREE conference T-shirt.
Those are just two questions of many that you might have on how to best use social media in your newsroom. At APME Nashville 2012, you’ll get answers.

We meet again from Sept. 19-21 at the John Seigenthaler Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University. After a strong and varied program over the first two days, Social Media Friday will help you navigate the ever-changing media landscape.

The Associated Press Media Editors, along with the AP Photo Managers, have been working on the conference agenda for months. It promises to offer many takeaways for editors who break away to Music City.

Our home in Nashville is one of journalism’s finest facilities. Just walking around the Seigenthaler Center will recharge you. Just attending and participating in the sessions will make your visit worthwhile.

APME Nashville 2012 will have a strong First Amendment focus, with special presentations including a performance from Freedom Sings,

It will include the annual AP and APME awards, and the Innovator of the Year session in which the audience chooses the winner from three finalists.

Get insight on the presidential race as it’s shaping up from our guest panelists. And learn the pros and cons about collaborations to expand our coverage.

It’s all affordable, with a low conference registration rate and a great hotel rate at the nearby Embassy Suites Nashville at Vanderbilt on Music Row.

Register in July and receive a FREE conference T-shirt.

See you in Nashville.



The Associated Press Media Editors Foundation needs your help to make our auctions successful.

The silent and live auctions will be held at the opening night reception at the annual conference in Nashville. We'll party at the Frist Center for Visual Arts on Wednesday, Sept. 19. As always, auction proceeds will go to support the APME Foundation and valuable programs, such as NewsTrain.

In August, we will feature some of the great items on the slate in September and allow folks to place an opening bid. We'll also have some online-only items, such as tickets to activities in Nashville, as well as an APME memberships conference registrations. This is a great way to give tickets to events or travel either before or after the conference

Right now we need donors – editors and friends of APME who can contribute items for the online, silent and live auctions. We're looking for anything newspaper or Web-related such as award-winning photos, umbrellas, signed comics and autographed books. Jewelry, art, wine and other libations are always popular sellers. Sports tickets and trips are big-ticket items that bring in the cash. A round of golf at a great course or a weekend stay at a resort hotel would be wonderful donations.

You can indicate the auction to which you wish to donate – maybe you will choose both – on the pledge form. We’ll need donations for the online auction by July 15, and for the silent and live auctions at the conference by Aug. 31.

Follow this link to the pledge form, which should be sent to Kim Meader of the Arizona Republic, NM19, 200 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85004 or e-mail

Once you've made a pledge, we will coordinate with you about where to mail the donation.

Your donation is tax-deductible and much appreciated by APME and its foundation.

Please be creative and generous.

Thank you, Hollis Towns, APME Foundation president.



Your media organization has until July 31 to submit its work for APME’s 2012 "Great Ideas” book.

What's a great idea? It can be a new concept for print, broadcast or digital, or a major improvement to something we do every day. This is a chance for your media organization to show off your work in the U.S. and Canada and help fellow managers 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, but other ideas will be accepted as well.

It’s easy to submit and takes only a few minutes for you to do it.

Our "Great Ideas" form allows you to submit entries and upload images that accompanies the "Great Idea.”

If you have questions, contact David Arkin, GateHouse Media vice president of content & audience, at

Work already submitted to the monthly "Great Ideas" and "Innovator" awards will be considered for the book.



Atlanta Journal Constitution: Location may sway tax appeals
Austin American-Statesman: Austin property taxes jump 38% over past decade
Chicago Tribune: Dietary supplements’ troubles widespread, FDA inspections show
Sun Sentinel: Rapid rise in boomer addicts reported
Indianapolis Star: Waivers allow graduation for nearly 27% in IPS who failed state tests
Columbus Dispatch: Insurer's cost-controls rile hospitals
Philadelphia Inquirer: Advocates say don't rush into toughening laws on child sex abuse
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: Rochester rehiring many retirees
Salt Lake Tribune: Utah law enforcement scanning license plates

Read about these and more by clicking here


BEAT OF THE WEEK: Supreme Court's Mark Sherman

Many in the media were caught off guard when the Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's health care overhaul – including the requirement that nearly everyone have insurance or pay a penalty – not under the Constitution's commerce clause, but under the power to tax.

Neither the ruling nor the reasoning was a surprise to the AP, though, thanks to court reporter Mark Sherman.

After weeks of preparation, with the decision due in two days, Sherman alerted his editor, Mike Sniffen, of exactly that possibility. He even said Chief Justice John Roberts might write the historic decision.

When the day arrived, Sniffen, Sherman and Sherman’s courthouse teammate, reporter Jesse Holland, were ready. They had prepared a Flash for five possible rulings, ranging from upholding the law in its entirety to striking it all down.

Whatever the decision, it was going to be complex, and Sherman took extra care to avoid the kind of embarrassing mistake made by CNN and Fox News Channel. He and Holland, who would keep an open phone line to desk supervisor Merrill Hartson in the Washington bureau, had rehearsed what words Sherman would say and Holland would repeat into the phone to Hartson to make sure the right Flash was sent.

Still, it would come down to tearing through an opinion to find the magic words.

As if there wasn't enough pressure, Sherman awoke the morning of the decision to read a quote from SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein in The Washington Post vowing to beat AP.

Supreme Court opinions are handed out to reporters in the press office, adjacent to the room where each news organization has a cubicle. By tradition, the wire services line up at one desk nearest the exit, joined by the networks. As soon as the chief justice announces that he or one of his colleagues is about to read a decision inside the courtroom, press aides hand out copies of that opinion. The justice is piped into the press office as he reads a summary, but reporters don't wait for that. They take the opinion and run.

The typical opinion may run 20-25 pages, and comes in a bound 5x7 booklet. The summary alone on health care was 5 1/2 pages, and the opinions ran 187 pages on stapled 8x11 paper.

Handed two copies, Sherman ran to the AP cubicle and practically threw one at Holland.

The saving grace of complicated opinions is the summary, which is not part of the decision but is cleared in advance by the authoring justice.

On Page 2, the health care summary said the individual mandate that was the heart of Obama's Affordable Care Act was not valid under the commerce clause.

It was tempting to stop there and report that the mandate was struck down. That's what CNN and Fox did, but not Sherman. He had prepared for the tax option, and sure enough, on Page 4, the magic words appeared: "mandate may be upheld as within Congress' power under the Taxing Clause."

That was enough to go with, but there remained the issue of whether the whole law was upheld or just the mandate. Sherman quickly found that the court clearly seemed to have a problem with the Medicaid expansion part of the law, although it was hard to say precisely at that point what the problem was.

So he shouted to Holland: "Mandate upheld."

Holland repeated: "Mandate upheld?"

Yes, Sherman replied.

Holland told Hartson, and in a Flash, the world knew:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court upholds Obama law's requirement that most Americans have health insurance.

Sherman stayed away from the prepared Flash that said the entire law was upheld, though that was the headline that Bloomberg used in its alert that moved almost simultaneously with the AP Flash at 10:07 a.m.

Sherman then filed the two-sentence bulletin NewsNow that had been prepared in case the individual mandate was upheld but some other portion of the law was not.

As Hartson readied that for transmission, CNN and Fox came on the television monitors at the Washington General Desk reporting that the mandate had been struck down.

Sniffen took the phone and asked Holland again, just to be sure: "Mandate upheld?" He replied: "Mandate upheld," the words agreed upon for an opinion with the heart of the law upheld but some other section voided.

"Trust our reporters," Sniffen said. "File the bulletin as is."

Washington, of course, wasn't the only bureau making preparations. Every state was on alert to gather reaction and gauge the effect of the decision.

Jefferson City, Mo., Correspondent David A. Lieb surveyed statehouses around the nation and reported the next day that Republican leaders in at least four states want to take advantage of the health care ruling and abandon Medicaid expansion. More than a dozen other states, he found, were considering it.

In Chicago, newsperson Carla Johnson helped put average American faces on the ruling. Two days beforehand, a key legislator told her that, Supreme Court approval notwithstanding, even Obama's home state had dawdled so much that it would miss the deadline for setting up its own health care exchange.


BEST OF THE STATES: Medical Writer Crala K. Johnson

As she helped the AP put average American faces on last week’s historic Supreme Court health care ruling, AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson never stopped breaking news on her unique beat in Illinois – the overlap between health care and state politics.

Two days before the Supreme Court ruled, Johnson found a key legislator to tell her that even President Barack Obama’s home state had dawdled so much that it would miss the deadline for setting up its own health care exchange if the Affordable Care Act were approved by the court.

It was the latest in a string of APNewsBreaks over the past year for Johnson, who revealed how legislation about Medicaid, charity care and other health care issues was proposed, implemented and maneuvered through Illinois’ General Assembly.

Johnson’s state health care’s scoops ran prominently on member websites and front pages for months, including a "winners and losers” medical bill analysis that many newspapers bannered on their front pages the weekend after the spring legislative session ended. It got to the point that state officials would call the AP office looking for Johnson to give her news, and a statehouse reporter for the competing Chicago Sun-Times marveled at how far out ahead she was on the Medicaid issue.

Johnson developed the sources to master her competitive beat without falling off on her many more general contributions to the national and Illinois report. For weeks, she worked with Washington to help prepare the AP’s real-people package once the Supreme Court ruled. She also covered the Bride Dead saga (with a scoop to boot), wrote an obit on the co-inventor of the remote control, prepped for NATO summit protests and finished off a video package on heart monitors in chimpanzees at Lincoln Park zoo.



AP names Barrow to Southeast politics post

Bill Barrow, a veteran journalist who has covered politics in Alabama and Louisiana, has been named to the new position of Southeast political writer for The Associated Press.

Barrow, 34, comes to the AP from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, La., where he has covered Louisiana politics since 2006, along with health care business and policy since 2009. He previously covered politics in Alabama, where he worked for the Press-Register in Mobile.

In this new position, he will be based in Atlanta, tracking political trends in Georgia and across the Southeast.

The appointment was announced by Lisa Marie Pane, the cooperative's regional editor for the South.

During his tenure at The Times-Picayune and the Press-Register, Barrow wrote about the partisan shift that continues to redefine politics across the region. He also has covered the federal corruption trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, the administration of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu's re-election campaign.

Barrow is a native of Bay Minette, Ala., and a 2000 graduate of Auburn University.

Meldrum appointed AP's assistant Africa editor

Andrew Meldrum, a longtime editor and foreign correspondent with extensive experience in Africa, has been appointed assistant Africa editor for The Associated Press.

Andrew Selsky, the AP's Africa editor, announced the job. The 60-year-old Meldrum will be based at AP's Africa regional headquarters in Johannesburg, where he will oversee desk operations and report to Selsky in helping direct news coverage of sub-Saharan Africa.

"Meldrum brings a lot to this role: rich experience in editing and reporting stories from many countries in Africa, historical knowledge and vision on how to emphasize key developments in a dynamic region encompassing 45 countries," Selsky said.

Meldrum was most recently deputy managing editor of GlobalPost, a U.S.-based online news site, where he commissioned and edited articles and special projects on Africa. Before becoming a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2007, Meldrum was the southern Africa correspondent for The Guardian newspaper of London. Earlier, he was the Zimbabwe correspondent for The Economist and a deputy bureau chief for Agence France-Presse, responsible for coverage of southern Africa.

A native of Hudson, Ohio, Meldrum holds a master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree from Middlebury College.

He succeeds Krista Larson, who earlier this year became a correspondent for AP in Dakar, Senegal, covering West Africa.

Fetter now managing editor of Athens Banner-Herald

The Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald has a new managing editor.

The newspaper reports that Donnie Fetter joined its staff. He previously worked as the Columbia County bureau chief for The Augusta Chronicle and news editor for the Columbia County News-Times. He has covered government and the school system, as well as writing and editing other news and feature stories.

Andrea Griffith, vice president of audience for and the Athens Banner-Herald, said Fetter has both a strong print journalism background and social media savvy.

Fetter graduated from Augusta State University in 1993 and is a lifelong Georgian. He says he's known since he was a teenager that he wanted to be a journalist.

He's visited Athens often and says he looks forward to living there and becoming part of the community.

McGill named Daily Mail sports editor

Chuck McGill has been named the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail's sports editor, Editor and Publisher Nanya Friend has announced.

McGill, 31, is a Charleston native who has worked as a sportswriter at the newspaper since 2009.

He is a 1999 graduate of DuPont High School who holds both bachelor's and master's degrees from West Virginia University.

McGill plans to build on the department's strengths to enhance local and state coverage.

"As a kid I used to spend my after-school hours as a paperboy pulling a wagon full of Daily Mail newspapers around my West Side neighborhood," he said.

McGill has covered Marshall football and men's basketball and the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team over the last three years. On those beats, he embraced engaging with readers through various social media platforms, and he plans to continue that as sports editor.

McGill began working in newspapers in 2002 as a sportswriter for the Daily Athenaeum, WVU's student-run newspaper. He spent three years as the assistant sports editor and sports editor before graduating.

Prior to arriving at the Daily Mail in 2009, McGill spent three years as the sports editor of the Northern Virginia Daily.

McGill was voted the 2011 West Virginia Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. The award is voted on by state members of the national group.

He also collected a pair of writing honors from the West Virginia Press Association in 2011. He won first place for Best Sports Feature Writing and second place for Best Sports Columnist.

After 76 years of newspaper writing, Bangor Daily News contributing editor says farewell

Richard Dudman was tired of reporting about U.S. forces trying to find well-armed communist supporters in Cambodia. As a correspondent with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covering the Vietnam war, he had taken several helicopter rides into the country with the military, and they never found the weapons or Viet Cong units they were looking for.

So Dudman, with journalists Michael Morrow and Elizabeth Pond, decided to explore on their own and drove in the direction of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. It was May 1970, a few months after a coup in the country.

They knew the blockade in the road was an ambush. But when they turned their vehicle around, Vietnamese men with guns stepped out from behind the trees. The guerrillas took their passports, cameras, typewriters and marched them into the woods.

Dudman has spent his life finding and writing good stories. He has been the Bangor (Maine) Daily News’ senior contributing editor for the last 12 years, writing more than 1,000 editorials. Friday, June 29, was his last day.

Recently he talked about his experiences as a lifetime newspaperman. He survived the 40-day capture in Cambodia — even developing a rapport with the communist captors.

He wrote an account for the Post-Dispatch and later expanded it into a book, "40 Days with the Enemy.” In 1978 he survived another ordeal in Cambodia when he was fired on after he and two colleagues interviewed Pol Pot, the extremist Khmer Rouge leader.

He kept returning to the Far East over his lifetime. In 1993, he traveled to a remote village in Vietnam to interview the retired general who had captured and later released him in Cambodia.

Dudman had an extensive, and impressive, list of assignments in Washington, D.C., and many other countries. In his 31 years with the Post-Dispatch, he covered Fidel Castro’s insurgency in Cuba, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, the Watergate scandal, the Iran-Contra scandal and wars and revolutions in Latin America and the Middle East, in addition to the Far East.

On his last day of work as the paper’s Washington bureau chief in 1981, he remembers running up Connecticut Avenue to cover the shooting of President Ronald Reagan.

He moved to Maine after his retirement but still worked for the Post-Dispatch on special assignments. In 1986 the Chinese government allowed him to write an exclusive on the earthquake that had killed 242,000 people in 1976. The government had kept reporters out until the city of Tangshan was rebuilt.

Among many other awards and fellowships, he won the George Polk career award in 1993.

Newspaper writing ran in Dudman’s family. His uncle, Dan Beebe — often called Dynamo Dan — was editor and publisher of the Oreville Mercury Register in California, and Dudman worked there in the summers during college. During the school year he wrote and took photographs for Stanford University’s newspaper. He majored in journalism and economics there, graduating in 1940.

He served as a merchant marine during World War II, traveling on ships in the north Atlantic and dodging German submarines. He volunteered for the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1942 and served four years, becoming executive officer of his ship.

He later worked at the Denver Post for four years where he wrote many stories about displaced European Jews seeking an Israeli state. He transmitted articles via a telegraph.

But Denver was too small for him, he said, and a visit to St. Louis told him he wanted to work for the Post-Dispatch. The paper had no openings, though, so he kept in touch with an editor there for a year and a half and continuously sent him letters and articles he wrote. It translated into a job in 1949.

Dudman started work at the Post-Dispatch in the winter, and there was a big snowstorm. His editor couldn’t get to work, so Dudman drove his war surplus Jeep over lawns, in order to avoid snow drifts, to bring his boss to the office. He remembers him as a small, chubby man, hanging onto the handle in the vehicle as they bounced through the snow.

Dudman said he credits that trip with making his boss think he was resourceful and intrepid. The truth, of course, is that he was.



• Knox mayor subpoenas newspaper visitor records
• Lawsuit vs. Gallup Independent goes to jurors
• New publisher named for
• Reporter-News launching changes to classifieds, advertising procedures
• Halifax completes purchases of publications
• Former Courier-Journal executive sues over job

Read about these items and more by clicking here



Armando Montano, AP intern, dies in Mexico City

Armando Montano, an aspiring journalist who was working this summer as a news intern for The Associated Press in the Mexican capital, was found dead last week. He was 22 years old.

Montano's body was found in the elevator shaft of an apartment building near where he was living in the capital's Condesa neighborhood. The circumstances of his death were being investigated by Mexican authorities.

The Colorado Springs, Colo., resident arrived in Mexico City in early June after graduating from Grinnell College with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and a concentration in Latin American studies.

During his time in the bureau, Montano covered stories including the saga of nine young elephants from Namibia who wound up on an animal reserve in Mexico's Puebla state, and the shooting of three federal policemen at the Mexico City airport.

He was not on assignment at the time of his death. The U.S. embassy is monitoring the course of the investigation.

Montano had planned to attend a master's degree program in journalism at the University of Barcelona in the fall.

With his high energy and broad smile, Montano made scores of friends within weeks after his arrival in the Mexican capital.

"Armando was a smart, joyful, hardworking and talented young man," said Marjorie Miller, AP's Latin America editor based in Mexico City.

"He absolutely loved journalism and was soaking up everything he could," said Miller. "In his short time with the AP, he won his way into everyone's hearts with his hard work, his effervescence and his love of the profession."

In December and January, Montano covered the Iowa presidential caucuses as a news intern for The New York Times, and last year worked for several months as an intern covering policy and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, D.C.

"Mando was a standout young journalist, with a rare passion and exuberance for life and for people," said Richard Berke, an assistant managing editor at The New York Times. "He accomplished so much and touched so many in a short time, and his potential was truly limitless."

Berke said that he arranged to have Montano help cover the caucuses because he was so impressed with the young reporter when they met earlier at the New York Times Student Journalism Institute in Tucson, Arizona.

Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, said, "The loss of this vibrant young journalist is a shock to his colleagues and the long list of people who called Armando friend."

Montano had also been a multimedia and reporting intern at The Colorado Independent, an online news service; and a reporting and investigative intern at The Seattle Times.

At the Scarlet & Black, Grinnell College's student newspaper in Grinnell, Iowa, he worked as an editor and writer.

Montano was the recipient of an Ellen Masin Persina Scholarship from the National Press Club in 2008; a Newhouse Scholar with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 2008; and a Chips Quinn Scholar from the Freedom Forum for Diversity in 2011. He belonged to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Born in Massachusetts, Montano was a fluent Spanish speaker who grew up in Colorado but lived for two years as a child in Costa Rica and spent time in Argentina and on the U.S.-Mexico border with his family.

He is survived by his parents, Diane Alters and Mario Montano, of Colorado Springs, who both teach at Colorado College.


AND FINALLY … Mass. business crafts handbags out of newspapers

The Daily Item

LYNN, Mass. (AP) — Five years ago, Swampscott resident Connie Carman was disconcerted seeing so many guests at the Boston hotel she worked at throw out their newspapers. Now, she has made a business out of collecting those discarded papers and transforming them into handbags that thousands of women across the East Coast wear on their arms.

"Newspaper, primarily the fashion section, it lends itself very nicely to a women's handbag," Carman said. " ... It kind of just was a natural evolution."

She founded Couture Planet four years ago. The Lynn-based business is also run by fellow Swampscott resident Kathy Cormier and Marblehead resident Michelle Kane, primarily out of a back-room warehouse in the Lydia Pinkham Building.

Plastic bins filled with regional papers are stacked to eye level in the warehouse, creating makeshift walls between their office and other local artists who rents space there.

Cormier and Kane sort through papers looking for ads and articles that fit a theme, while Carman works during the day as a retail buyer at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.

"We try to have the bags tell the story," Cormier said.

Kane explained that they create "newspaper fabric" by layering eight pages on top of each other and treating each side with a cool-press laminate.

A contractor in Worcester sews the bags together, and the owner of Lynn's F&J Leather applies the straps, resulting in an entirely made-in-Massachusetts product.

"We're very proud of that, and we're going to stay made in America," Cormier said.

The company has reason to dream big.

They have doubled sales every year — their bags are sold in 25 retailers in Massachusetts and New York — without spending a penny on marketing.

They recently received a $50,000 loan from Lynn's Economic Development and Industrial Corp. to help Couture Planet launch a full-fledged company with investors, the women said.

"We're ready. We're really kind of standing at the threshold," Kane said.

But no matter how much Couture Planet grows, its owners say two of its most important pillars won't change: staying environmentally sustainable and having a connection to Lynn.

On the former, the ladies look for a green aspect to everything they do.

The Lydia Pinkham building doesn't have recycling, so they haul theirs to a recycling center, where they're in talks to turn their waste into packaging materials.

They're considering an idea to direct customers online for care instructions instead of slipping a paper card in each inside pocket. And they're also interested in creating a biodegradable laminate for the bags, the women said.

"It's part of our mission to keep a small footprint," Cormier said. "It's part of our green mission to use all natural resources."

That includes human resources.

Couture Planet partners with several job programs in Lynn and the North Shore to hire summer interns, and one of their goals is to bring some of the company's manufacturing back to Lynn.

Cormier said it feels like Couture Planet has hit on several trends at once: sustainable businesses, unique fashion and finding a community that's changing for the better.

"I think there's a lot of growing in Lynn, so it feels like, let's grow with them," she said.

Carman, the company's founder, said Couture Planet orbits around a different idea of success.

"The definition of a successful company is something that affects change for the good in the world," she said.

Her colleagues agreed.

"Five years from now, we would like to still be in Lynn, but would love to be an international company and just keep spreading the message," Kane said.


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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