Sign of the Times: It’s -30- for APME and ASNE

From AP Connecting

NEW ORLEANS – The Associated Press Media Editors, an association of newspaper editors that has helped shape and support AP‘s news and photo reports for nearly 90 years, has come to an end.

During a joint conference in New Orleans, APME and a similar legacy group – the American Society of News Editors – Sept. 9-10, 2019,  proceeded with a merger that has been in the planning for more than two years. The new group is called the News Leaders Association.

asne logo“APME and ASNE had long and distinguished runs,” Bob Haiman, former editor of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and APME president in 1982, told current and past leaders of APME during an annual alumni dinner in New Orleans. “Those runs have come to an end.”

They will be replaced by the work of the new group whose membership will be open to a broader range of journalists, he said.

The Associated Press Managing Editors Association, later renamed Associated Press Media Editors to reflect changing titles and roles in newsrooms, was formed in 1933 to give editors their own channel to discuss news and other issues with leaders of the news cooperative, The Associated Press. The American Society of Newspaper Editors (later renamed American Society of News Editors) came about 11 years earlier.

Both groups met individually each year and focused on several of the same primary issues – the First Amendment, freedom of the press, ethics, newsroom diversity. ASNE was known for producing significant studies of various journalism issues that occupied the shelves of many newsrooms. APME put more focus on AP and improving its services and, in later years, training journalists in multimedia newsrooms.

For decades the annual gatherings of both groups attracted several hundred attendees along with spouses and big names in news, government, entertainment, sports and politics. Registration fees, sponsorships and, in the case of ASNE, dues, provided significant revenue to support their activities.

As the newspaper industry consolidated and contracted, and as newsrooms were forced to undergo significant budget cuts, attendance at the conventions and conferences shrank, along with the financial support for both groups. A merger had been quietly discussed at least once 19 years ago, but was soundly rejected by the APME board of directors. However, financial pressures and changing needs in newsrooms over the past decade brought the idea of combining the two to the fore, resulting in the birth of the new group this week in New Orleans.

APME’s fundraising arm, the Associated Press Managing Editors Association Foundation, was incorporated separately and will continue to operate. The 501(c)(3) organization will spend down its balances on projects designed to improve journalism, particularly APME’s highly popular NewsTrain.

Since 1986 Haiman has chaired the alumni group known as the APME Regents. It was created in 1971 by the late former president Don Carter at the conclusion of his convention in Philadelphia. Carter felt it was important to keep past presidents active in the organization and that a social gathering held during the annual APME conference would do just that. It kept old friendships together and helped to build support for the association.

In addition to past presidents, members of the group include the top news executives of the AP, the AP staff assigned to help the association and members of the board of directors who may not have become officers but contributed significantly to the organization’s success.

During the annual Regents dinner in New Orleans, Haiman said the group’s name would change, too. It now is called The Regents.

Haiman said the group plans to continue to hold the annual reception and dinner where and when NLA convenes. However, the new organization has yet to set a date or location. Among many decisions to be made is whether NLA will meet annually in one location or whether it will attempt to find other avenues to serve its members.

Michael Days, currently APME’s vice president, is to become NLA president for 2019-20. Days is vice president for diversity and inclusion at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Haiman said the Regents would induct incoming presidents of NLA as they take office as it always welcomed incoming APME presidents. Some ASNE past presidents who would like to join also will be invited, he said.

And the Regents will seek to maintain its long relationship with The Associated Press, he said.

Also reaching -30- at the New Orleans conference was APME News, the chronicler of accomplishments and happenings of APME for decades. A 36-page final edition highlighting much of the organization’s history was distributed at the conference.

No decision has been made on new NLA communications.