By: Joe Strupp
Aretha Franklin may not be high on the list of First Amendment experts. But when members of the Freedom Forum wanted to show off elements of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., set to open in about a year, to APME attendees here, they drew on the Motown queen to make their point.
After an hour-long video presentation of the news museum Thursday evening, which showcased its planned 15 galleries, two studios, and multiple theaters, those in charge donned dark hats and sunglasses, a la ?The Blues Brothers? and let loose with a clip from the 1980 film, with Franklin singing her classic, ?Freedom.?
Even the most serious and stoic editors couldn?t help but tap their feet and clap along. Afterward, members walked to the nearby ?House of Blues? for more Freedom Forum-sponsored partying. The press freedom group even provided disposable rain ponchos for those inclined to avoid possible showers.
Once inside the Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi-inspired music house, where they dined on gumbo, jambalaya and cajun veggies, the newsroom chiefs were entertained by two Blues Brothers look-a-likes, who strutted, danced and crooned to the famed duo?s best hits.
At one point, Newseum CEO Charles Overby joined ?Jake? and ?Elwood? on stage in ?Sweet Home Chicago.? Later, nearly every major editor hit the dance floor, with USA Today Editor Ken Paulson and APME President Suki Dardarian among those letting it all hang out on ?Hey Bartender,? ?Flip, Flop and Fly,? and ?Rubber Biscuit.?
The APME Foundation raised at least $9,000 at a live auction Wednesday night, held during a reception at the Aquarium of the Americas. Live jazz music and sample items from no fewer than 14 New Orleans restaurants kept conference-goers fat and happy.
Among the auctioned items, passes to the Appleton (Wis.) Post-Crescent luxury box at Lambeau Field in Green Bay for a December Packers game and an autographed cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
As if New Orleans did not offer enough exposure to drinking, partying and late-night activities, APME announced plans to hold its 2008 conference in Las Vegas. Teaming up for the first time with the 2,500-member Society for News Design, an association of visual journalists, the managing editors group will also hold its yearly event slightly earlier that year, choosing Sept. 7-9.
While many elections directors around the country are awaiting, and in some cases bracing for, their first use of electronic voting come Nov. 7, APME?s annual board of directors elections this week also turned to the computerized ballots for the first time.
With 20 candidates seeking 10 open seats on the 25-person board, voters can for the first time cast their choice without attending this week?s New Orleans confab. Limited to one vote per AP member newspaper, the balloting is also about as democratic as it can get.
?We wanted to get broader participation, a lot of people can?t get to the convention,? explained Tom Eblen, managing editor of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and a member of the nominating committee. ?We can get much broader participation.? Asked if he is concerned about voter fraud, he said, ?I don?t think so.?