AP touts stronger state reports, investigations

KRISTEN WYATT Jan. 10, 2012
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Associated Press

 

DENVER (AP) — The Associated Press emphasized its efforts to strengthen state news reports and investigative and accountability journalism in its annual presentation to media executives Thursday.

 

AP leaders told the members of the Associated Press Media Editors that the news cooperative continues to beef up state news reports, despite staff reductions and budget pressures shared with the industry.

 

The news cooperative is continuing its "Broken Budgets" multimedia series launched this year. The joint reporting project with AP members expands statehouse coverage to explore cutbacks in state budgets. The series has examined dozens of aspects of state finances, from spending on roads and schools to the nuts-and-bolts of how states borrow and spend.

 

The AP has also changed staffing in some areas to expand early morning news.

 

"We have to take that breaking news and drive it faster than we ever had before," said Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and a senior vice president for the AP.

 

The AP also told media executives that the company has expanded state photo reports and reaffirmed its commitment to investigative journalism, highlighting an award-winning "Aging Nukes" series that detailed problems at U.S. nuclear plants.

 

AP leaders said the company has never placed a higher priority on accountability journalism, putting a greater emphasis on seeking public records and fact-checking claims by political candidates and public officials. Across the company, AP staffers filed some 1,500 requests for public documents last year, said Kristin Gazlay, AP vice president and managing editor for financial news and global training.

 

Political editor Liz Sidoti said the AP is bulking up analysis pieces to check statements by politicians, at times assigning a dozen reporters to scrutinize facts at a single presidential debate. She told news executives to expect more analysis to guide political coverage, especially as politicians step up claims about the economy.

 

Sidoti said the cooperative considers its top assignment over the coming to year to cover "the economy intersecting with the presidential campaign."

She predicted a lively year.

 

"We're all going to have a very competitive presidential race to cover next year," Sidoti said.

 

AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon told the executives that increased cooperation has meant many more photos in the U.S.

 

Lyon said domestic photo transmissions were up 9 percent in the second quarter of this year. He also said AP is better sharing photo coverage plans with members to avoid overlap.

 

"We continue to make good progress toward increasing the quality, and the volume, of the state photo reports," he said.

 

AP also presented a good-natured look at its famed AP Stylebook, created in 1953 and the definitive style guide for publishers in all formats. AP in the last year added a new guide on food and recipes to its 2011 Stylebook, and quizzed media executives on some of the year's style changes.

 

Every hand in the room went up to identify the correct style on "email." The editor of the AP Stylebook, David Minthorn, said it was the best-known style change of the year.

 

"It was the dropped hyphen heard by copy editors around the world," he said.

 

Later Thursday, nine members were elected to the governing board of the Associated Press Media Editors Association by the group's membership.

 

Bob Heisse, executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., took over as acting president.

 

Elected to at-large positions were: Michael Days, managing editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer; Kurt Franck, executive editor of The (Toledo, Ohio) Blade; Laura Kessel, managing editor of the News-Herald of Willoughby, Ohio; Aminda Marques Gonzalez, executive editor of the Miami Herald; Martin G. Reynolds, editor of The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune; and Jan Touney, executive editor of the Quad City Times in Davenport, Iowa. Elected to represent small newspapers was Bill Church, executive editor of the Salem (Ore.) Statesman-Journal. The online representative is Joe Hight of The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, and the new broadcast representative is Jim Farley, vice president for news and programming at WTOP-FM in Washington, D.C.

 

The group also gave an awards luncheon for journalism award winners named earlier this year. The group also gave Robert G. McGruder Awards for Diversity Leadership to Sherrie Marsall, editor of The (Macon, Ga.) Telegraph; and Gregory Moore, editor of The Denver Post.

 

APME, an association of senior editors at newspapers served by AP in the U.S. and by The Canadian Press, works closely with the AP to strive for journalism excellence. APME also supports training and development of editors and promotes programs in online credibility and diversity.

 

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