APME Conference Will Be Held — But Scaled Back

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By: Joe Strupp

Associated Press Managing Editors still plans to hold its annual conference set for St. Louis in October, according to organizers who recently released the detailed conference schedule that is a day shorter than past conferences.

But APME officials have cut the registration fee almost in half and re-worked an agreement with the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront hotel for a scaled-back room block commitment and a cutback in food purchase requirements.

APME Executive Director Mark Mittelstadt said the organization chose to go ahead with the conference, even in the current economic times, because “we think it is too important not to meet. We needed to go ahead and it is more important for editors to get together.”

The decision comes in the wake of other news organizations, such as the American Society of News Editors, canceling their annual conference. Several other news organizations, including the Investigative Reporters and Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and Associated Press Sports Editors, are also on track to host their conferences despite the economic situation.

APME, which has held annual conferences since 1933, has cancelled only three times, during World War II, Mittelstadt said. He notes that the 2001 conference in Milwaukee was held, even though it was less than two months after the Sept. 11 attacks. The 2006 conference in New Orleans also was not cancelled, even though the city was still rebuilding a year following Hurricane Katrina.

The APME conference schedule, released last week, includes events focused on reduced print edition frequency, best newsroom structures, and even new innovations such as Kindle and Twitter. Mittelstadt adds that APME members must discuss “what the future holds and what is the best way to get there.”

Mittelstadt said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has still agreed to be the host newspaper, but with a smaller approach: “they very much want to be involved and still have a reception there.”

Also scaled back is the APME commitment to the hotel for guaranteed room occupancy and food and beverage purchases for events.

Mittelstadt declined to provide specifics, but he said the hotel agreed to reduce the occupancy commitment by 35% and the food and beverage commitment for catered events by 40%.

APME’s registration fee is cut almost in half, from $395 per person in recent years, to $200. The hotel room rate remains the same at $139 per night.

Mittelstadt added that the convention schedule, normally a Wednesday through Saturday event, will run only from Wednesday, Oct. 28, to Friday, Oct. 30. “The whole focus is on the question of journalism: how are budget cuts affecting journalism? How do you say goodbye to good people and reorganize again and again and keep going?”

For more information, go to the APME Web site

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