All the news from the conference in St. Louis

One final note

For all the APPM members reading from home, here’s a link to Val Hoeppner’s blog post with links to free and cheap (and fantastic) training and management materials. I sat in on her session earlier in the day and was blown away with the amount of quality tools available.

Free and Cheap: Online Training, Blogs and More

See you next year at the Poynter Institute!



Filed under: APPM, Photojournalism,

Cool look at the the Arch

AP’s Tim Donnelly captured this video of the St. Louis arch from the Hyatt Regency, site of this year’s APME/APPM conference.

Filed under: Fun things to do in St. Louis, Misc., Photojournalism, , , , ,

Photojournalism presentation


An example of the photojournalism done at the Dubois County Herald. The brothers in the image have lived on their family farm their whole lives. Photo by Torsten Kjellstrand.

by Eric Berger

John  Rumbach of the Dubois County Herald gave an engaging presentation on the importance of the static in a drastically changing industry, the photo.

He asked everyone attending to take a moment and write down the core principles that they use as a journalist. Everyone entered into thought and a few shared theirs:

Truth and reality in a fair and unbalanced way; an unbiased approach;  to pursue truth, actively; to increase understanding of the world.

He moved to discussing  The Concerned Photographer, whose author considered himself a commentator, not just someone who captures pictures.

After  defining community photojournalism, Rumbach emphasized its importance. He talked about the need to think locally and on what the audience wants.

“If we dont think about our audience, all we have is a portfolio,” he said

He then read from a list of examples of what readers want in their newspapers:

-More ordinary people in the newspaper

=Stories that recognize the 95% of the community that commits no crimes, that don’t participate in politics.

Rumbach asked what those attending to think about what they do when not on the clock.

“Now think about how this intersects with your life as a journalist,” he said.

His presentation continued with talk about the threat to hyperlocal reporting, which he characterized as newspaper’s last  franchise, by anyone and everyone.

Examples given:

The Paperboy.com



These sites and lesser sites serve as a torrential downpour on the information marketplace.

With that in mind, he said people need journalism more then ever, and we must raise the bar.

He highlighted the NY Times “One in Eight Million” sound-slide series as a way to connect with the audience.

The Herald started a weekly “pictures as words” series with no idea about how long it would last. It has run for the last 30 years and he showed some examples.

One example was a  series run prior the 2008 election titled “Double-Edged Sword”, showing how national issues impacted local residents.

Filed under: Photojournalism

Workshop: What structure works best

by Mary Poletti

No one structure fits all, and no single best structure exists, Rockford (Ill.) Register-Star executive editor Linda Grist Cunningham said at the outset of the workshop “What structure works best.”

What matters is that a structure exists for journalists’ chaotic work — and what matters in that structure, Cunningham said, is who’s doing the work, whether they understand who’s doing the work, and whether they’re doing it well. The workshop’s three editor-panelists largely echoed that sentiment.

Tom Callinan

Callinan, the editor and vice president for content and audience development at the Cincinnati Enquirer, described his restructuring modus operandi as “all about the work” and his attitude toward restructuring as “stop playing newspaper.Most of the content is now hard news.

Through Gannett-mandated restructuring of his newsroom over the last year, Callinan said he had lost 60 reporters in his newsroom — but not a single public interest reporter, having, in fact, hired some of those. He now serves as the managing editor and editorial page manager, with the paper having targeted middle management in its downsizing: “We’ve whacked all of the middle management. They’re gone. …We don’t need it.” Gone, too, are the multiple meetings each day — replaced by one virtual meeting at 9:30 and a check-in at 4:30. Editors now spend much more time with reporters, including Callinan, whose direct reports now sit directly outside his office. “We don’t sit behind that closed door,” Callinan said.

Despite the difficult changes at the Enquirer, the paper is emerging from its funk and growing in its content. Focusing on hard news has helped.

George Stanley

“This has been the toughest year of my career, for sure,” said Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which lost a third of its staff this year. But, he said, “We haven’t lost anybody doing accountability journalism…the important stuff… That’s what drives everything we do” and distinguishes them from their competitors.

There are fewer specialists at the paper in design and editing, and assistant editors have now picked up some of those responsibilities, as well as reporting duties. There are only four people in the newsroom (including editorial assistants, librarians, etc.) who are not journalists — “because we saved the journalists.”

Lisa Strattan

Strattan’s paper, the Herald River in Fall River, Mass., is far smaller than the other papers featured in the workshop — 26 people in the newsroom, including Strattan. The most formal reorganization, a year ago, accompanied a redesign and followed a set of downsizings, and the paper lost a few others this year. However, the addition of one person has added “a layer of management” — “an uber-editor who can get everything done,” to pull together the paper’s fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality.

Strattan specifically addressed the paper’s status as a union shop. Apart from the paper’s four managers, everyone else is union — and the managers’ duties are quite separate from the guild members’. Communication between the paper and the guild, she said, is key.

Eliminating Sections & Content

Cunningham said her paper had eliminated features six days a week, replacing that section with a go/do section, and had all but stopped running AP content.

Callinan cited cincymoms.com as a cheap and very popular example of finding and working the source of features content rather than devoting space to features. He pointed to Examiner.com as a direct competitor with newspapers in this area, where the site hires cheap bloggers to directly compete with newspapers.

Stanley said the Journal Sentinel newsroom had stopped zoning their content geographically, with beat reporters now scouring the whole coverage area for the best stories.


If you had known a year ago what you know now, Cunningham asked the panel, what would you have done differently?

Stanley said he would have made reporters stretch their abilities and prove their worth to save their skins.

“Going back further than a year, I think we can all agree that we should have had a stronger evaluation process,” Callinan said, in order to preserve people’s rights beyond simply union-mandated seniority. Cutting middle management had been unavoidable, but the cuts had gone awfully deep.

Managing Stress

So how do these editors and their staff handle the stress level? By keeping purpose in mind.

“Who gets to do what we do?” Strattan said.

Stanley said, “I worry about what the next six months will be like, but if you focus on doing great work” and why you want to come to work every day — “to save the world” — it is a tremendous motivator. Make everyone, including copy editors, part of big projects from the beginning.

Callinan emphasized the desire of young journalists to work in teams and work for purposeful companies. Purpose is a big deal to millennials. “We have that common cause,” he said. He emphasized the individuality of management style as well.

Cunningham touched on delegation, letting go and letting others help. She asked the panel and the audience about restructuring task forces and allowing staff to come up with ideas. Man audience members said versions of those ideas had been effective for them, as long as boundaries were in place: “You still have to know where you’re going,” Stanley said.

Filed under: Changing times, Photojournalism, Workshops, , , , ,

Online credibility 9 a.m.


APME Panelists discuss their ongoing Online Credibility Projects

Slideshow by Lauren Foreman

Story by Eric Berger

Grappling with the vast, timeless, open and unflinching nature of  publishing online can certainly be difficult. 

Thursdays morning’s session provided evidence of this as editors discussed issues involving reader postings, the separation of news from opinion and “unpublishing”. 

Six different newsrooms participated in APME projects aimed at examining online credibility.

Elaine Kramer moderated the discussion with Ken Fleming, director of the Center for Advanced Social Research at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, Kathy English, public editor for The Toronto Star, and Chris Cobler editor of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate, participating in the panel. 

English’s project examined the issue of unpublishing. People often want news to disappear, she said, and while the print product will be yesterday’s recycling, the online content can live forever. While a complete solution to this has not been found, one of the key answers English mentioned is transparency. A person may come to the newspaper horribly upset at what has been published and the damage to their reputation it has left, and a clear policy must be conveyed as to why or why not something will be unpublished. 

Source remorse should not serve as a reason for unpublishing and decisions about whether content should be taken down should be done by a consensus, not just one person, she said. 

With regards to crimes and misdemeanors committed by minors and the lasting stigma, English said a tool to remove news from the website after six months could be a solution. 

English wrote a column on the issue and said she was surprised by reader’s understanding of why a newspaper wouldn’t take a story down.

Search engines serve as another source for unwanted stories to be found through. Even if a newspaper takes something down, that doesn’t necessarily take it off a Google News search. English responded by saying this issue needs more discussion between newspapers and news aggregate sites such as Google.

She also said lawyers have told her they believe legal precedence on unpublishing will come.

Cobbler discussed how their redesigned site effected their credibility. With Fleming’s help they conducted surveys of Advocate readers and found that their audience seemed to have the same level of trust in the online content as the print edition. That being said, only 19 percent of their readers contributed online. Almost equal numbers of people said they trusted unsigned postings by readers as much as letters to the editor.

The subject of how to deal with inappropriate commenting was also brought up. Even if a comment is taken down, readers can make assumptions about what was written. This is another issue that also remains without solid answers.

Looking to the future, Cobbler said a primary issue would be, how do we make sure online interactivity benefits the community? 

Enhanced registration, additional education steps to users and an e-ethics board of readers are components  Cobbler sees as potential answers to this question.

The APME will publish websites for the online credibility projects with space to interact and host webinars over the next year.

Filed under: Photojournalism,

Noon: AP staff award winners announced

John O'Connor

Photo by Kyle Spradley

DEADLINE REPORTING: Jet Down on the Hudson,” Associated Press staff

When the US Airways jet went down in the Hudson River, the AP staff in New York was at its best, producing insightful, compelling and comprehensive stories. From 3:51 p.m. to 11 p.m. the main news lead was changed 19 times. Sidebars included items about passengers, reconstruction of the flight and a look at the threat of birds.

Honorable mention for coverage of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

FEATURE WRITING: National Writer Sharon Cohen, “The Long Haul.”

“The Long Haul” was a compelling tale of soldiers from Minnesota going off to war and the impact on their lives and families. The reporter did an outstanding job of gathering string from many different places to weave the tale of these soldiers and their incredibly long deployment.

Honorable mention to Helen O’Neill for a profile of a brilliant young chef who faced cancer of the tongue; O’Neill for a profile of an aging racist who apologized for beating a young black activist a half-century ago; Texas Sports Editor Jaime Aron for a narrative abouat the premature birth of his twin sons and the tiny babies’ struggle to survive; and Orange County, Calif., correspondent Gillian Flaccus for a look behind the “roll call of the dead,” a reading of the names of 148,000 veterans at Riverside National Cemetery.

ENTERPRISE REPORTING: Michelle Faul of Johannesburg, South Africa, “Congo Unrest”

Her series focused on the unrest in the region, as well as the story about how girls, young children and even babies had been raped by rebel soldiers.

Honorable mention to “The Border Series” by Elliot Spagat about immigration and drug trafficking; the AP teams in Afghanistan and Pakistan for groundbreaking stories during the year; and “PharmaWater” by the AP national investigative team of Jeff Donn, Martha Mendoza and Justin Pritchard for coverage of pharmaceuticals in the nation’s drinking water supplies.

BEST USE OF VIDEO: Evan Vucci, Maya Alleruzzo, Rick Bowmer and Matt Ford, “Killer Blue: Baptized by Fire.”

They brought their stories to life for readers everywhere with “Killer Blue: Baptized by Fire,” about the unit of Fort Hood-based 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment’s 3rd Squadron, one of the last Army units to serve a 15-month combat tour in Iraq.

Honorable mentions to Julie Pace, Jason Bronis, Bonny Ghosh, Rich Matthews, Sagar Meghani and Michael Waldren of AP’s Washington Bureau for “The Inauguration of Barack Obama,” who produced eight hours of live streaming video, an interactive video, news coverage and analysis.

BEST USE OF MULTIMEDIA: Brian Carovillano, Carrie Osgood, David Scott, John Balestrieri, Mike Schneider, Troy Thibodeaux, Mike Baker, Jake O’Connell, Peter Prengaman and Allen Chen, “Economic Stress Index: Measuring Financial Strain by County.”

The AP team included staff from Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Raleigh, N.C., New York and Washington.

Honorable mention to the Washington multimedia staff for the 2008 election.

NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY: Khalil Hamra, “Israeli Incursion Into Gaza.”

Hamra was selected for his series of photographs chronicling the destruction, chaos and rage associated with the Israeli incursion into Gaza, the neighborhood where Hamra lived with his partner, pregnant with twins when the fighting began.

Honorable mention to David Guttenfelder for his Afghan embed series and Emilio Morenatti for his photos of refugees from the Swat Valley violence.

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY: Emilio Morenatti, “Portraits of Pakistani Women Burned by Acid.”

Morenatti was awarded for his dignified portraits of women horribly burned in acid attacks or set on fire, often by their husbands or family members.

Honorable mention to Rodrigo Abd for a photo of a Guatemalan transvestite; and to Ariana Cubillos for photographs of a maternity hospital in Haiti.

JOHN L. DOUGHERTY AWARD: Jae C. Hong for excellence by a young AP journalist.

Hong’s gallery of work included a portrait of Barack Obama on the campaign trail, for “The Long Haul,” which documented the 22-month deployment of soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard and others. AP director of photography Santiago Lyon, accepting the award on Hong’s behalf, said of Hong’s campaign work (some of which is featured here), “He just continued to wow us every day.” Hong is one of the first photographers to win what’s traditionally been a print-dominated award.

Honorable mention went to Katharine Houreld, correspondent in Kenya, for bringing international stories home to readers.

CHARLES ROWE AWARD: John O’Connor, for distinguished state reporting.

O’Connor’s stories ranged from the misconduct of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoyevich to wasteful spending by anonymous bureaucrats to details about the parole status of the man accused of killing members of singer Jennifer Hudson’s family.

MEMBER SHOWCASE PHOTO: Andrea Melendez, The Des Moines Register

Melendez shot a photo of a worker in Des Moines rescuing a woman caught in the rushing Des Moines River downtown.

Filed under: Photojournalism

Flickr Photos


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