Shaking up The Associated Press

I received my proxy ballot for The Associated Press’s annual meeting yesterday.

About five years ago, the AP moved from a normal election process for its board of directors (multiple candidates running for a certain number of seats, the person with the most votes wins) to a Soviet Russia-type system in which a preferred slate of candidates was chosen (by the existing board, apparently?) and members could either vote “For” or “Against.”
An insular culture moves to guarantee that it will remain that way.
They did, however, leave space on the ballot for write-ins. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but it’s there.
So this year, in recognition of the tremendous changes that need to occur in the industry, and the Associated Press’s part in holding up that change, I voted “Against” every member of the preferred slate.
They are Michael Golden of the New York Times, R. Jack Fishman of Lakeway Publishers in Morristown, Tenn., (representing smaller newspaper publishers), Mary Junck of Lee Enterprises, Steven Newhouse of Advance Publications, Charles Pittman of Schurz Communications in South Bend, Ind., and the only newcomer to the board, Katharine Weymouth of the Washington Post.
For the fun of it, I wrote in one name, Jeff Jarvis, who recently argued that The Associated Press should disband.
You have to be an AP member to qualify for nomination to the board, but I figure that since Journal Register Company has 19 daily newspapers who have been members for decades, and that Jarvis recently agreed to join a special advisory board to JRC, that qualifies him.
It’s a nice fantasy to think that the AP would be that open to criticism and thinking about how it might change. But they’re not even open to allowing their members to vote on being open to it.

About mattderienzo

Matt DeRienzo has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter, editor, publisher and corporate editorial director and has been recognized nationally for leading newsroom innovation. He teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University, writes a monthly column for Editor & Publisher magazine, and serves as interim executive director of LION Publishers, a national network of local independent online news site publishers. Previously, he served as group editor of Digital First Media's publications in Connecticut, including the New Haven Register, Middletown Press, Register Citizen and Connecticut Magazine, and Northeast regional editor for Digital First Media. He also served as publisher of The Register Citizen, Middletown Press and a group of weeklies in Northwest Connecticut, and before that was corporate director of news for small dailies and non-daily publications for the former Journal Register Company. In early 2011, The Register Citizen was named one of Editor & Publisher magazine's "10 Newspapers That Do It Right," and DeRienzo was named to its annual "25 Under 35" list of leaders in the newspaper industry. In the fall of 2011, The Register Citizen was awarded the Associated Press Managing Editors Innovator of the Year Award in recognition of The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe, an "open newsroom" launched in Torrington, Connecticut, in December 2010. He led a team of more than 100 journalists in covering the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012 and 2013, and has been honored for his editorial writing and leadership of public service and investigative reporting. In 2014, his efforts at the New Haven Register were recognized with the APME's and ASNE's Robert C. McGruder Award for Leadership in Newsroom Diversity. DeRienzo is a former longtime board member of the United Way of Northwest Connecticut, and served as co-chairman of the United Way's annual fundraising campaign in 2009 and again in 2011. In 2011, he received the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award.
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