A look forward: Mentoring, resources focus in 2016

By Rachel Podnar
Ball State University

Q: What is something you want APME to continue to do well with or focus on in the upcoming year?

A: I do think Alan has done a great job ramping up the national reporting. And NewsTrain has really been going strong. The freedom of information committee is very active in advocating and speaking out when there are stops to the flow of information going out. In the next year, we would like to make that even more of an integral part of our mission.

Another thing we like to do is to be a resource for editors. That’s what I have found is the biggest asset. If you hit some block or you don’t have the answers or you don’t know which way to go, you reach out to the group and somebody’s probably been in those shoes and that is really important to stay sane in this environment. When I first joined APME, there weren’t that many women editors at the conferences. They had a womens editors reception and not only did I meet some really strong, wonderful women, but there were some who were in the Northwest region and we became really close. I was a managing editor at that point and facing many things I had never seen. I don’t think I would have lasted or it would have been harder if it hadn’t been for people helping to guide me. I’m from a very small newspaper group and seeing the bigger media companies and what they are dealing with, getting that perspective, it helps me to appreciate what I’m dealing with sometimes.

Q: One of the themes of the conference is disruption, so what is a disruption that either your media company or the media in general is handling well?

A: Something that was hard for a lot of us when it was happened was the move to a simple, centralized design desk. Our company a couple of years ago made that shift. The thought is not only the efficiencies of having a group of people that can work on multiple publications, but the quality of the design might go up. It’s been a long road and really bumpy at times but I do think in the end what we wound up with was some really compelling ways to tell the story through visual tools. I’d say that’s a disruption because it’s a cost-savings measure. It disrupts the way we ran business but there was a silver lining in that some of the goals were accomplished, it just changes.

Q: What’s a disruption that isn’t handled as well?

A: A disruption that particularly plagues us, it’s still learning how to shift the focus to other ways of storytelling of digital and multimedia. Maybe this is a bigger problem at a smaller location than a larger one. You’re really requiring reporters and editors to have all those skill sets. Editing the video or making sure everybody is tweeting in the right way, that continues to be a challenge in our company and others. We are always seeking tools to help us be more efficient and have better conversations in the social realm and online.

Q: What are you excited to learn about at the conference and take back to your newsroom?

A: Conferences really have just been chock-full for me. My favorite parts of these conferences is getting the great ideas books. They used to be books, now they are a thumb drive, which are just ideas from newspaper media and broadcasters and people around the country. Like projects they took on. You can take those back and a lot of them can translate to things you can do in your community. One of the best things about the conference in addition to speakers and learning new ideas is just getting to talk to your peer groups and other editors you don’t see often. That’s where you build up your group you can go to when you have a question.

Laura Sellers-Earl is Editor of The Daily Astorian. She begins her presidency of APME at the conclusion of this convention.

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