ASNE: Recap of stories

By CAROLYN AYON LEE, UPI Chief Media Correspondent  |  April 15, 2002 at 12:40 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- Here is a recap of United Press International's coverage of the annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, which met in Washington last week.

"Media magnates: Quality plus profits,"

"9/11 as paradigm for aspiring terrorists,"

"U.S. editors' homage to slain journalists,"

and "ASNE: Reporter's Notebook."


Media magnates: Quality plus profits

By Carolyn Ayon Lee

UPI Business Correspondent

From the Business & Economics Desk

Published 4/11/2002 7:36 PM

WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- Last year was one of the toughest for the U.S. news industry. Newspapers lost 2,000 jobs, and editors found themselves scrutinizing even the most trivial of expenses, such as pens and plant-watering services.

"Editors and staff feel scared," Tim McGuire, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, said in his speech Wednesday at the group's annual convention. They are worried that the publishers' drive for profits will force papers to sacrifice quality.

But the word Thursday from two of the industry's most powerful CEOs was that the values of quality journalism can be upheld even while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

"Knight Ridder has always had top journalism," said Tony Ridder, CEO and chairman of Knight Ridder, whose newspapers include The Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News. "But I'd like us to be a top-tier financial performer as well. I don't think that's incompatible."

"We all faced the horrendous economic situation of last year and also faced the need for more and better journalism after 9/11," said John W. Madigan, chairman and CEO of the Tribune Co., whose holdings include the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. "I think we'll go back to a period of growth," he predicted, as the economy recovers from the recession. The two men spoke at the ASNE's panel discussion on the future of newspapers.

The day before, McGuire, editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, had outlined several ways for editors "to create a future in which news values and profits can co-exist in the same sentence."

"Grow or die must be the motto of both the editor and the publisher," McGuire said in his speech Wednesday.

"If the editor and publisher are (both) committed to growing readership, circulation and the entire franchise, the debate (in which the boardroom and the newsroom sometimes seem at cross purposes) would be reshaped in countless companies," McGuire said.

He added that this was a critical moment for the newspaper industry.

"We must put our whole force and our whole thought into finding ways that profits and news values can live happily together," McGuire said.

Another panelist on the future of newspapers, Sandra Mims Rowe, editor of The Oregonian in Portland, said a newspaper needs to have the resources to do in-depth stories even in times of belt-tightening.

"If we don't do that, then what we're doing is more TV(-style news) on dead trees," Rowe said.

The fourth panelist was David B. Stoeffler, a former editor who is vice president for news at newspaper chain Lee Enterprises.

"I think there's never been a better time to be a journalist," Stoeffler said.

The ASNE audience on Thursday that heard from media CEOs Ridder and Madigan included Zack Stalberg, editor of Knight Ridder's Philadelphia Daily News, and Bill Marimow, editor of the Tribune Co.'s Baltimore Sun.

In their mid-50s, both men talked with United Press International, before the session started, about what fascinates them about newspaper journalism.

"We have a tremendous amount of influence (in the community), if we choose to use it," said Stalberg. "To me, that's the most interesting part of the (newspaper) game."

"What turns me on are great stories," said Marimow. "If you look at papers that are excellent papers, every day there are stories that entertain you, inform you or make a difference for people in our communities."

The ASNE, which has some 800 members, is made up of editors from daily newspapers in the Americas. The convention site was changed Tuesday from the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington to the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel a few miles away after a water main broke at the JW Marriott, flooding two floors.

The convention, which opened Tuesday, will end Friday afternoon. The group will hold next year's annual convention in New Orleans.

The ASNE on Thursday elected five members to the board of directors from a field of 10 candidates: Susan Bischoff of the Houston Chronicle, Gerald M. Boyd of The New York Times, Frank M. Denton of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Carolina Garcia of the San Antonio Express-News and David A. Zeeck of The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.

Copyright ?2002 United Press International


9/11 as paradigm for aspiring terrorists

By Carolyn Ayon Lee

From the International Desk

Published 4/12/2002 9:12 PM

WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- The most horrifying lesson from 9/11 is that it offers an inspiration to aspiring terrorists, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs told American editors on Friday.

" 'I send two men with box cutters, and I shake the world,' and that is the message I fear as the sense of impotence expands (in the region)," said Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Telhami was among four panelists at a seminar, moderated by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, at the annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Telhami's comments were endorsed by Stephen P. Cohen, a scholar at the Israel Policy Forum who has been active in behind-the-scenes efforts to bring Israelis and Arabs together.

Cohen said suicide bombings are no longer "the actions of disgruntled, disappointed, disillusioned individuals," but rather, they have become a conscious, political tactic employed by some Palestinian leaders "who know that this has a tremendous impact on the Palestinian sense of the balance of power" in the Middle East.

"I think these individual acts of suicide bombing and the spread of suicide bombings (as a tactic employed by Palestinian militants) from Islamic Jihad to Tanzim (a militia associated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement) to al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is a recognition of the impotence of the Palestinian Authority," Cohen asserted.

Telhami, as well, told the hundreds of editors at the ASNE session on the war on terrorism and the Mideast that a sense of hopelessness and humiliation prevails in the Middle East.

"I think those are the two psychological states that lend themselves to recruitment (for Palestinian men and women to become suicide bombers) -- it is clearly not just religion and religious groups," said Telhami, who is also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

A third panelist, Raghida Dergham, senior diplomatic correspondent and New York bureau chief for Al Hayat, an Arabic-language daily newspaper, gave the editors a concise history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The first intifada (Palestinian uprising) produced the first (Middle East) peace process," she said. Now, 10 years later, with the peace process at an impasse, the people in the region have become fed up.

"If the second intifada (which began Sept. 28, 2000) doesn't produce a peace settlement," she said, "there will be continuing war, violence ... and no one is going to win this war.

"It all comes down to leadership -- American leadership," to achieving peace in the Middle East, she said.

The fourth panelist, Hafez Al-Mirazi Osman, the Washington bureau chief for Qatar-based al Jazeera Television, said al Jazeera was formed in 1996, based on the model of the British Broadcasting Corp.

Al Jazeera, which has unparalleled access to the Arab world, including videotapes of and from suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, provides the Arabic-speaking world with instant, unceasing satellite-delivered news and information.

In response to moderator Friedman's question about coverage and access in non-Arab areas, Al-Mirazi said al Jazeera had recently landed an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which fell through at the last minute.

Al Jazeera also has reporters in west and east Jerusalem, Al-Mirazi said.

Returning later in the discussion to the issue of suicide bombers, Dergham supported her fellow panelists' comments that suicide bombing is seen as an effective countering military offensive by Palestinians "in face of the sophistication of the Israelis' military might," which includes multibillion-dollars' worth of U.S.-supplied Apache attack helicopters and F-16 fighter jets.

Dergham made it clear, however, that she, personally, in her role as a journalist, tries to practice "constructive journalism," striving to offer "a voice of reason."

She stressed: "When you target civilians (whether they be Palestinian or Israeli), you cross the line. You're immoral." Such attackers upon innocent populations are therefore terrorists, she said.

The ASNE, a Reston, Va.-based organization of about 500 editors of daily newspapers from the Americas, meets annually in April, and because of the influence and power of its membership, regularly draws an impressive roster of speakers and panelists to its annual conventions.

The keynote speaker for the concluding luncheon Friday was Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had to cancel at the last minute because President George W. Bush decided to dispatch him to the Middle East to serve as a peacemaker. Powell on Friday was in Israel.

The speaker in Powell's stead was former Sen. Majority Leader George Mitchell, who headed the international commission that devised the so-called Mitchell plan for peace in the Middle East.

"Our country has an important, even critical role to play in trying to resolve the conflict, and it is in our national interest to do so," Mitchell told the editors.

"I know they (the president and secretary of state) will pursue peace with the same vigor and focus with which they have pursued the war on terror," he said.

Mitchell spoke of the mounting death toll in the Middle East. From the start of the current intifada until early this month, 1,944 people have died -- including 1,515 Palestinians; 401 Israelis; and 28 foreign nationals.

"We do not know how many hundreds more have been killed and injured this month," Mitchell said, referring to Israel's decision to close off journalists from the areas undergoing a military sweep by Israeli troops.

Israel has said it is conducting the air, land and sea military barrages against refugee camps and villages in the West Bank because they are hotbeds for Palestinian militants.

"The parties must promptly find a way back to the negotiating table," Mitchell said. "A halt to the violence, a resumption of security cooperation and steps to restore trust cannot be sustained without serious negotiations to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict."

"The reality is that two proud people share a land and a destiny," Mitchell said. "Their competing claims and religious differences have led to a grinding, demoralizing, dehumanizing conflict. They can continue in conflict or they can negotiate to find a way to live side-by-side in peace," he said.

During the question-and-answer session, Mitchell referred to his peacemaking efforts in Northern Ireland, saying that the single most important element in the cessation of widespread, major violence there was "the weariness of war that pervaded the public.

"I believe that the same thing will occur in the Middle East," he asserted.

He cautioned, however, referring to his experience in the Balkans, Northern Ireland and the Middle East: "Despite the surface similarities, every situation is unique, and there is no magic formula (for peace) that can be applied to every situation."

With that proviso, he said, he believes deeply in the importance of economic growth and job creation, and providing individuals with the chance to improve their lot in life.

"When men or women don't have a chance to become meaningful members of society ... (they may) resort to violence," he said.

He quoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as saying, "The most effective social program is a good job."

Mitchell, who has been instrumental in international efforts to bring peace to tumultuous areas of the world, said his formula for worldwide peace is this:

"Every member of society must have a chance to rise as high and as far as they want to be. That's not true in most of the countries of the world" where conflict and instability reign.

Carolyn Ayon Lee is UPI's chief media correspondent. Please contact her at

Copyright ?2002 United Press International


U.S. editors' homage to slain journalists

By Carolyn Ayon Lee

UPI Chief Media Correspondent

From the International Desk

WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- More than 200 American newspaper editors stood in silence for a moment Friday to pay their respects to the journalists worldwide who lost their lives in the line of duty this past year.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors honored, in particular, the eight journalists killed while covering the war against terror in Afghanistan, including Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and killed by his abductors in Pakistan.

The other seven were:

* Harry Burton, an Australian television cameraman for Reuters;

* Maria Grazia Cutuli, who worked for Italy's leading daily, the Milan-based Corriere della Sera;

* Julio Fuentes, Spain's El Mundo;

* Azizullah Haidari, an Afghan-born photographer for Reuters;

* Pierre Billaud, RTL (Radio Television Luxembourg) Radio;

* Johanne Sutton, Radio France Internationale; and

* Volker Handloik, a free-lance photographer for Germany's Stern magazine.

Of Pearl, "we know, sadly, so much," said Phil A. Bronstein, executive editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, a former foreign correspondent in Southeast and Central Asia, who presented the moment called "honoring valiant journalists" for his ASNE colleagues at their annual convention.

"It's a sad and tragic truth that we could be having this sad and solemn moment at any ASNE convention in any year," said Bronstein, referring to the annual toll of journalists to violence as they report the news in hot spots around the globe.

Bronstein, who has come under fire himself, asked: "Can we learn finally that the word 'kill' does not describe accurately what happens to a person who dies violently?"

He said: "It really is, for many, the ultimate danger (death) that is really just around the corner or in the next van when we expected just another interview."

A journalist is a neutral observer in battle and in other armed conflicts, "but it (this status) is no protection in a world where we are seen every bit the same as the enemy," he said.

Bronstein also recognized the 28 journalists who met death while on the job in their home territories.

They are:

* Fadila Nejma and Adel Zerrouk, killed in Algeria;

* Nahar Ali, killed in Bangladesh;

* Juan Carlos Encinas, Bolivia;

* Fung Jowshaw, China;

* Flavio Bedoya, Jorge Enrique Urbano Sanchez and Jose Duviel Vasquez, Colombia;

* Parmenio Medina Perez, Costa Rica;

* Georgy Snaya, Republic of Georgia;

* Jorge Mynor Alegria Armendariz, Guatemala;

* Brignol Lindor, Haiti;

* Moolchand Yadav, India;

* Gundars Matiss, Latvia;

* Jose Luis Ortega Mata, Mexico;

* Muhammed al-Bishawi, Palestinian territories;

* Salvador Medina Velazquez, Paraguay;

* Roland Ureta and Candelario Cayona, Philippines;

* Eduard Markevich, Russia;

* Wishayut Sangsopit and Kaset Puengpak, Thailand;

* Igor Aleksandrov, Ukraine;

* Milan Pantic, Serbia;

* Karem Lawton, Yugoslavia;

* Martin O'Hagan, Northern Ireland;

* William Biggart, World Trade Center in New York; and

* Robert Stevens, who died of anthrax inhalation in Florida.

In his closing remarks to the ASNE, Bronstein said:

"If someone like Daniel Pearl can be killed, imagine how vulnerable we all are."

Carolyn Ayon Lee is UPI's chief media correspondent. You may contact her with story ideas and tips at Her column, imMEDIAte, will appear monthly.

Copyright ?2002 United Press International


ASNE: Reporter's Notebook

By Carolyn Ayon Lee

UPI Chief Media Correspondent

From the Business & Economics Desk


The top officers of the American Society of Newspaper Editors are all precedent-making. As each one fulfills her or his one-year term, they will ascend the leadership chain toward the presidency.

The new ASNE president, Diane H. McFarlin, on Friday succeeded Tim J. McGuire, editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

McFarlin is the third woman to serve as ASNE's top officer. The late Katherine W. Fanning and Sandra Mims Rowe, editor of the Portland Oregonian, have been ASNE presidents. Fanning, who died in October 2000 of colon cancer at the age of 73, was the ASNE's first female president and was the editor of The Christian Science Monitor.

"You will note there is not a single middle-aged white man on this ladder," McGuire told the ASNE at its closing luncheon Friday.

The ASNE, made up of about 500 daily newspaper editors from the Americas, has traditionally been an organization of white, middle-aged men.

After McFarlin, publisher of the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune, completes her term, she will be followed by Peter K. Bhatia, executive editor of The Portland Oregonian. Bhatia would become the ASNE's first Asian-American president.

Karla Garrett Harshaw, editor of the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun and a senior editor of Cox Community Newspapers, would become ASNE's first African-American female president.

Rick Rodriguez, executive editor of The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, would become ASNE's first Latino president.


The ASNE's annual conventions are generally very genteel gatherings. But at a Thursday session on the future of newspapers, during the question-and-answer period, the gloves came off, briefly.

Narda C. Zacchino, assistant executive editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, posed a below-the-belt question Thursday to Tony Ridder, CEO and chairman of Knight Ridder, corporate parent of the Chronicle's main rival, the San Jose Mercury News.

Zacchino told Ridder that she has encountered several top-level Knight Ridder staffers who apparently wish to leave the company. She noted that Knight Ridder, which has a long tradition of journalistic excellence and has garnered many Pulitzer Prizes, has historically been a magnet for journalism's top talent -- not a place they want to exit.

Knight Ridder, which enacted a 10 percent companywide cutback in staff last year, was challenged by high-ranking executives at its showcase papers -- including the Mercury News and the Philadelphia Inquirer -- over the company's adherence to double-digit profit margins.

Knight Ridder has 5,000 people in its newsrooms across the country, commanding a daily circulation of 3.8 million.

Ridder, in his presentation Thursday to the packed room of editors, had called 2001 a frustrating year because profits at the Mercury News had plunged 70 percent and ad revenue had dropped by 26 percent.

"So we felt we had to do something about it," Ridder said. "We were trying to stop the bleeding."

Ridder told Zacchino that he had been associated with the Mercury News for some 35 years, and for all that time, his experience was that "we continue to feed off the Chronicle" in attracting top editors and other staffers to the San Jose paper.

Phil Bronstein, the Chronicle's executive editor, was asked by United Press International about his reaction to the question posed by Zacchino, whom he had recruited from the Los Angeles Times.

"The role of a journalist is to be fearless about asking questions," Bronstein told UPI in an interview Friday.


The San Jose Mercury News was praised Friday by the ASNE's convention newspaper, the ASNE Reporter, for the paper's trail-blazing approach to coverage of its multicultural community. The Silicon Valley is home to many ethnic groups, including substantial Asian and Latino populations.

David M. Yarnold, the Mercury News' executive editor, recently set up the Race and Demographics department. Two staffers in each section of the paper -- business, sports, features, copyediting and graphics -- will be dedicated to enhancing the paper's coverage of diversity.

"If we can't step up to a whole new level of diversity, what newspaper will?" Yarnold told the ASNE Reporter.

The Mercury News has been aggressive in building a diverse newsroom staff.

About 32 percent are minorities, Yarnold told UPI in an interview Friday. Seventeen percent are Asian-American. Those are exceptionally high figures for an American daily newspaper.

Yarnold said the paper's recruitment has been easy because staffers help bring in colleagues from other papers.

Carolyn Ayon Lee is UPI's chief media correspondent. You may contact her with story ideas and tips at Her column, imMEDIAte, will appear monthly.

Copyright ?2002 United Press International

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