APME/APPM 2009

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All the news from the conference in St. Louis

2:45 Breakout session: Losing a day

By Andrew DeWitt

Cutting days

Lori Kilchermann, John Tucker and Steve Wade turn to discuss cutting days of newspaper content. Photo by Lauren Foreman

In this breakout session are the following people talking about how to adapt to losing a day of newspaper delivery.

Lori Kilchermann, John Tucker and Steve Wade are here in the room to share their experiences.

John Tucker says that generally what they tried to tell people in the Lake of the Ozarks was that we were going to deliver more news and more importantly more local news. Had some difficultly in changing over from older

Steve Wade went through his transition 13 months ago. After the KC Star pulled back away from his publication’s coverage area, he was able to use that an example for what was going to come. His smaller paper feared the community outrage after a failed attempt back in 1992. They were concerned about cutting the Monday edition and gave two weeks notice.  Also told readers that they were not going to get less news and even more.

Lori said that they chose to cut Monday based on advertising day. Also, there was no competition would move into the Monday day. Monday just worked well for her competition. Another challenge her paper faced was deciding where to move a special feature section, specifically health, away from Monday into a Tuesday.

Steve said that the numbers decided to also cut Monday. He said that readers missed starting off the work week with a newspaper and that the routine was disrupted.

John said that he thought that killing the Monday paper hurt the work flow of going. Looking back, he would have killed the Saturday paper even though that would have meant killing the high school football Saturday newspapers.

All three editors said they struggled with readers being upset about the Comics missing for one day. Lori said that her paper has doubled up on games and comics on Tuesday to make readers happy.

Steve Wade said that they took a customer friendly approach dealing with subscriptions. They extended each subscription a day longer for each Monday they missed. Looking back, he said that approach probably cost them some money and could have dealt with unhappy customers on an individual basis.

Lori said her publisher took a hard-stance and said they weren’t going to issue refunds for canceling the Monday paper. She said a couple of subscribers decided to cancel but they loved the paper so much that they came back anyways.

Steve said they made a mistake in that the Sunday reporter relaxed and they didn’t manage those expectations correctly.

Lori said they have a photographer who publishes things on the Web on Sundays so that if readers check the Web site Monday morning there is something fresh there.

John said that his paper was bluntly honest with readers how much his paper was struggling. He also made a promise to readers that they would get more stories and his paper has delivered on that promise.

Steve and Lori said they tightened their Tuesday paper to have more bulk so neither publication added more pages.

Steve said the most positive thing has been that the cut has served as a rallying point for the community to support the newspaper. People in Steve’s coverage area are afraid of losing their paper after losing delivery of the KC Star so they have supported the paper better than ever.

John suggested a little PR by putting in-house ads into the newspaper that explain how the newspaper is changing and how it is going to make things better.

Lori and Steve both said that they were both considering cutting more days if that’s what it comes to.

John says you really start to be a different product completely when you cut more than just one day. The paper becomes more feature based and less about being timely.

Steve believes that the day of the Internet being the main money maker is coming sooner than later.

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Filed under: Economic issues, Management principles, ,

10:05 session: Reporting on the Stimulus plan

By Andrew DeWitt
Photo by Kyle Spradley

EXAMPLES OF REPORTING ON THE STIMULUS PLAN AND THE POWERPOINT OF THIS PRESENTATION WILL BE UP ON OUR APME WEB SITE IN ABOUT 30 MINUTES.

This session is on how to report about the stimulus plan and how newspapers should report on how tax payer money is being used.

On the panel will be David Ledford, executive editor for the The News Journal; Matt Apuzzo with The Associated Press; and Bill Allison, who is with the Sunlight Foundation.

“Most stimulus packages are doing local work improving local things. This can be community journalism at its best. The Sunlight foundation is going to provide Webinars so that staffs can easily understand the information.

Where has the money gone so far?

  • $16 billion in federal contracts — data already released
  • $280 billion given to state and local governments — data available on Oct. 30.
  • Who can determine if this money is spent wisely?

Stimulus money funds projects in your communities

  • Only local papers can cover these projects
  • They know their communities
  • They know the priorities

This is community journalism at its finest.

“If local papers don’t cover these stimulus projects, no one will,” Apuzzo said. “It’s going to force people to pick up the newspaper.”

APME, AP and Sunlight will help

  • AP will provide Recovery data and its expertise
  • Sunlight Foundation can do a Newstrain, Webinars

APME will collect the stimulus stories so you can follow stories your colleagues have published.

Story examples can be found on journalgazette.net that can give your staff ideas about what can be covered in your own backyard.

One of the key issues is discovering how money is being spent at the local-local-local level.

What projects are being approved? Another example is what the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel found.

Should the government spend $426,000 to replace a bridge that only 10 cars a day use in Arena, Wisconsin?  All of the money was paid with stimulus dollars.

“This bridge was practically a bridge to 3 or 4 private farms in the middle of no where,” said George Stanley, managing editor of the Journal-Sentinel said.

How many jobs were created or saved?

“We must be really skeptical about these numbers are being released about saved jobs,”  Matt Apuzzzo said.

  • Major purpose of Stimulus
  • Hard to count a saved job
  • Can we really trust those numbers?
  • Who will check them?

We’ve only just begun to cover this….

Low traffic border crossings get upgrades worth $420 million…

$272 million in stimulus grants from FAA to low priority projects

“The politics of this is what makes it really interesting stories,” David Ledford said.

Getting started isn’t hard

  • Some very detailed descriptions
  • AP cleans it up.  Data from AP comes ready to use. AP makes it available to member papers quickly.
  • Find all the bridges getting stimulus funds in your readership area. “More often than not, they’re repaving good bridges instead of fixing bad bridges because that’s easier to do,” Matt Apuzzo said.

What can you do with the data? Investigate what companies are receiving settlement funds.

“Red flags jump out all the time,” Apuzzo said.

Sunlight puts data on your iPhone App showing what people and companies have received stimulus money.

Only your papers can tell us…

  • Is the stimulus working?
  • How is money working?

Filed under: Discussions, Economic issues, , , ,

Losing focus: Diversity in newsrooms, news coverage

Diversity

Troy Turner, right, editor of the Farmington Daily Times, describes his paper's coverage of the Navajo community in Farmington, Ariz.

By Sarah D. Wire
Photo by Jim Buell


Diversity cannot be forgotten just because money is tight, panelists for the Losing Focus session said.

This means what we cover, who we represent and how we create our staffs.

Newspapers need to take stock now of how they’ll cover the 2010 census and immigration reform. Gilbert Bailon, editorial page editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said he thinks the country will address immigration reform within the next year.

“These two things need to be looked at now,” he said. “We have to get past this shift that my market isn’t going to be touched by immigration.”

By 2042 the country will be “majority minority,” Bailon said. One in five children in the U.S. is Hispanic. “It’s something we as newspaper editors need to be aware of,” he said.

Newsrooms can’t ignore internal diversity either, Wanda Lloyd, executive editor of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser said.

Lloyd said when the money crisis started the diversity conversation ended. The number of minorities in the newsroom is half of the national average.

“We’re not getting close at all,” she said.

Lloyd said papers should think about whether they are prepared to have conversations about race and we can’t rely only on minorities to have that conversation.

Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle outlined what her paper has done to increase diversity.

A group of reporters made sure the initiative were actually implemented, she said.

Their focus was on recruitment, retention and honest reporting of the community.

Outside of an initial reader panel, she suggests continuous outreach such as a social media workshop for young, black leaders in the community.

“I can’t emphasize how important it is to have a group of people to help the executive editor execute,” she said. “It doesn’t cost anything to start out with a diversity committee of passionate people.”

For retention, it’s about giving people opportunity and putting together a pathway of professional development, Magnuson said.

The diversity committee at the Democrat and Chronicle created a multimedia academy for high school students in the inner-city.

Troy Turner, editor of the Farmington Daily Times said being aware of the actual diversity of your coverage area, including religious and cultural diversity, is important.

His suggestions include: be comfortable and proud of who you are, you’ve got to get out into the community, know the cultural and racial issues in your community, understand the value of earned respect, hire good journalists first and foremost, grow your own diverse staff through interns and high school students, recruit minorities based on staff success stories.

The panel only got to one question which is: My staff is shrinking, my people of color are leaving… what strategy do you recommend to build a diverse staff?

Lloyd suggested bringing the community into the conversation and having them help with story ideas and writing.

Magnuson said cultivate your staff to believing in the mission of diversity.

“It’s really all about genuinely conversing with people.. about the core value you hold dear and eventually they believe your sincerity,” she said.

Filed under: Economic issues, , , , , ,

Q&A with Gerry Kern and Paul Anger

By Sarah D. Wire

Don’t forget you can watch this live at Ustream.

Key information from the Q&A

Kern: “We’ve got to get more products out there that meet consumer needs in ways we haven’t before.”

Anger: The content has to connect with the community despite the platform, not because of it. “We’re getting better” at the different platforms “but it’s really the information.”

On how he sold the newsroom on making watchdog journalism the main focus.

Kern “People in the newsroom like. It wasn’t a hard sell. It was trying to explain how you look at the world. You’re here to look out for everyone’s interest. The thing they needed to see that I was behind it and I was willing to back them up. Not being afraid to shake some things up and make people mad.

“We then had some successes. It’s then taken off like wildfire.”

On how readers reacted to your aggressive editorial stance which included publishing editorials on the front page?

Kern “Readers loved it. People in Illinois were damn mad and fed up. There was a vacuum of leadership missing and we stepped into it. We felt like we needed to go on a moral high ground. The response was positive.”

“We said we were going to stand up and lead opinion and that’s what we did.”

What tensions did you encounter from inner-city customers as you made changes?

Anger: Freep didn’t see much tension from a particular group. “People that liked the crinkle of the paper with their coffee, that was the common thread.” He said they didn’t see people feeling disenfranchised based on where they live.

Kern: The Trib is focusing on not forgetting the inner-city.

How do you balance being a watchdog and deliver the bread-and-butter kind of news?

Kern: The Tribune is such a large paper that it currently might not be the best place for information on a local council meeting. “For too long we stood on the sidelines and just put the story out there… there was no sense of us being in the game because we had a stake in the community.”

Anger: It amounts to a matter of time. The Free Press publishes a list of ‘decisions to be made that week’ that outlines issues in the individual communities. “You don’t adandon” but you look for what you can do.

Filed under: Discussions, Economic issues, , , , , , ,

Coming back from the day that changed Chicago Tribune history

By Sarah D. Wire
Dec. 9, 2008 is the day that changed Tribune history. That’s when the Tribune filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“A city without a strong vigilant paper dedicated to its welfare was unthinkable,” Chicago Tribune editor Gerry Kern said. “We will not be intimidated and we will fight. We’re resolute in that.”

Kern said after the company filed for bankruptcy protection, he made sure everyone knew the responsibility of making sure the paper survived was up to the editors “no matter who owns us.”

The economic reality is that the staff had out grown the revenue. He said there could be no good journalism without a business that could support it.

But, Kern said, while the public saw layoffs “inside we were remaking ourselves.”

They set new goals.

The Tribune wanted to be a watchdog, represent the Chicago experience and connect with people on an emotional and intellectual level. The paper wants to help people navigate their daily lives and drive communication.

Kern said the paper wants to be the “guard of Chicago.” They created government and consumer watchdog teams and expanded the editorial board. They began running editorials on the page for the first time in 30 years.

He said “pressure works and you can hold people accountable.”

The paper tries to release a watchdog report every day.

So, what did the paper learn in a year?

They’re in the black, and hope to emerge from chapter 11 in the first half of 2010. They’ve launched a Trib-to-go addition and have launched Chicago Now, a blog network.

“One size does not fit all and the only way to gain mass is through multiple channels,” Kern said.

He said print circulation is down but readership is up. And total audience, both print and online, continues to grow.

“We are here to stay,” Kern said.

Filed under: Economic issues, , , , , , , ,

Paul Anger presents The Detroit Plan

By Sarah D. Wire

“The headline in Detroit is so far so good,” Paul Anger, editor of the Detroit Free Press, says.

He outlined the goals of The Detroit Plan, which are:

  • Keep the newsroom strong
  • Retain two independent newspapers
  • Make digital delivery of the news the priority
  • Retain our print revenue

“Our plan has shifted us further away from print and freed us up to do things that are exciting,” Anger said.

An e-edition available to subscribers lets people see the paper online just as if it was printed. Anger said it has been a surprise hit.

Anger said people like the three day delivery.

The Free Press print a compact version of the paper of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. This paper isn’t home delivered. It is geared toward being an impulse buy and is “colorful, fast reading.”

The Thursday and Friday papers have more advertising and separate sections.
The Sunday edition has more room for enterprise and investigative pieces.

The number of unique Web visitors is up 14 percent in 2009. Traffic spikes on the e-edition on days when the paper isn’t delivered.

Anger said people like the three day delivery.

Anger said the Free Press still gets 80 percent of its revenue from print. He said despite the shift, their decrease in ad dollars isn’t any more than other metros.

“This is a new era, people will find good journalism on our Web site,” Anger said.

Filed under: Discussions, Economic issues, , , , , , ,

New directions for news

Gerry Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune, and Paul Anger, editor of the Detroit Free Press, share their papers approaches and talk about what they see coming for their markets and how that might apply to other markets.

Follow the live stream on UStream

Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

Filed under: Discussions, Economic issues

Flickr Photos

Twitter

  • That's the conference, folks! :) Won't you join @APME Oct. 20-22, 2010, at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.? (#apme10, anyone?)| 7 years ago
  • Congratulations to our coverage team members Emily Stewart & Kristin DiFate, winners of $500 scholarships for their work this week #apme09| 7 years ago
  • Magnuson: challenging all newsroom/newspaper leaders to rebuild with leadership & diversity in mind #apme09| 7 years ago
  • Magnuson: sharing award with the D&C newsroom; "commitment to diversity must come very clearly from the top" #apme09| 7 years ago
  • Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership: honoree #2: Karen Magnuson, Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle #apme09| 7 years ago

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