June 22, 2012

Word’s “Grammar” check says there are a lot of fragmented sentences in this. So we’ll just call it “A Bunch of Fragmented Thoughts and Comments”

Friday Update to KPA Members

FROM:  David T. Thompson (dthompson@kypress.com)



February, 2010, is the Kentucky Press Service’s all-time monthly record at $2.425 million. That figure could be approached in July, 2012. Already in-house for placement in July is $1.777 million. And July is still a week away. Go staff!!

Stay tuned!


I feel for my colleagues in Alabama, Louisiana and Michigan. Maybe there are some other states where this has happened but those three are most recent to have this.

Newspapers in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile, in New Orleans, and in Detroit have changed frequency of publication. I’m not talking about a weekly going to twice a week; or a tri-weekly cutting back to one or two times per week.

I’m talking about major dailies, such as the largest in Louisiana, the Times Picayune, cutting not one or two, or even three days off its publication schedule. I’m talking cutting FOUR days from its weekly schedule. So then the Times Picayune becomes a tri-weekly. The Detroit Free Press did it last year. And just a month or so ago, Newhouse announced some of its dailies were becoming tri-weeklies.

So I asked my counterparts in those states about their contest definition. Typically, state press associations define a weekly as being UP TO three times a week; a daily being one with FOUR or more publication days. Don’t ask me where that came from, we just all inherited that when we took these jobs.

But think about it. It does pose a dilemma. The Times Picayune has the largest circulation in Louisiana and probably the largest staff in the state. Would it be fair for a tri-weekly that has less than double-digit employees and maybe 7000 circulation to compete against a newspaper with triple-digit newsroom employees and a circulation that might be 20 times as much? (The Times-Picayune circulation as of March, 2011, was 141,092.)

So will the criteria/qualifications have to change? Instead of frequency of publication is there something else the states will use to determine what newspapers compete against each other? Stay tuned. Nothing’s been decided yet though I think all three are examining the options.


July 14 will mark the 20-year anniversary of the second generation of Open Meetings and Open Records. The laws as we currently know them were passed by the 1992 General Assembly and became law 90 days after the session ended.

To mark the anniversary, Kentucky Educational Television and host Bill Goodman will air a One-on-One interview with Jon Fleischaker and John Nelson. The program will air on KET on Sunday, July 22 at 1 p.m./12 noon Central and will repeat Tuesday, July 24, at 7 p.m./6 Central on KET2.

Jon Fleischaker, general counsel for KPA, authored the first generation in 1974/1976 and then helped rewrite the language that is now the second generation. John Nelson was president of KPA when the organization undertook a statewide audit for public agencies to see if they were complying with the Open Records laws. Both have been awarded the James Madison Award by the First Amendment Center at UK for their strong support and work for open government in Kentucky.


Those of you in the KPNS know that we’ve started adding editorials into the mix, separate in a sense from the News Service but still under that umbrella. David G. and I talked about it before we added it and thought maybe we’d be sharing one or two a day. Well that one or two a day is really three or four a day. It could potentially be more but what David’s finding out is that many weeklies don’t have an “editorial” as such. The editorial page might consist of some local columns but not “editorial” in the true sense.

We got the first comment on it this week, from Chip Hutcheson, and selfishly pass it along to you:

“Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate the editorials feature being added to the News Service. This is a major benefit. I just received the AP’s editorial roundup, which as you know contains three editorials from across the state, delivered once a week, and often those have no relevance to us. Having this service from you has provided many more options and editorials that are more suitable for us.

“Thanks for the vision as well as the service.”



It would be a byproduct of the editorial part of KPNS but David G. and I are giving serious thoughts to some KPNS-generated editorials as well. David’s already doing that, writing stories for KPNS and there are some situations where we might supply some “general” editorial matter for consideration. These won’t be political in nature but perhaps like the one above about motorcycle deaths and what can be done to prevent it.


Wednesday, June 13, was a busy day for David Greer, the Kentucky Press News Service director, administrator and chief scraper.

He posted a total of 50 stories and editorials (41 stories, 9 editorials), starting at 8 a.m. and finishing the afternoon budget at 3:25. And yes he did take lunch!

And that brought KPNS’ total number of postings to an even 16,000 since we began the service October 1, 2009.


The commission had another meeting Tuesday night in Bowling Green, leaving ones in Louisville, Highland Heights, Lexington and Prestonsburg to finish off the public meetings.

We have lined up support from numerous advertising groups around the state and some will help us in monitoring these meetings in their areas. But rather than stick our necks out and bring up the service/ad tax discussion, we’ve decided to let the discussions run their course and then wait until the commission gives its report to the governor.

There’s some rumors around Frankfort that the governor will call a special session after the November elections just to address the tax issues. Just what Kentucky needs – another special session at $60,000 a day. So much for annual sessions meaning no more special sessions. That was just a bill of goods the legislature sold the public about 10 years ago.

Anyway, we have a coalition formed, ready to take action if advertising is one of the services mentioned for the service tax.


Several news sources took advantage of a release and photo from the Kentucky State Police about the new KSP cruisers, and the switch from Ford’s Crown Victorias to Chevrolet Caprices.

If only they’d paid attention to David Greer’s story and a picture those sources would have had that news back in February. David G. found out about the switch back then, and did a story on KPNS. David also found some information on Commissioner Rodney Brewer’s blog about the new cruisers and used that as well.

David’s story was on February 23. The state police release went out June 13. David will admit the photo with the Capitol in the background that KSP used last week was better than the one he made available.


From KPA’s resident digital scanner guru, David Greer

At KPA, we continue getting phone calls from journalists all around the state with questions about the nationwide conversion from conventional analog public safety communications (police, fire, EMS, etc.) to the more modern digital public safety systems. The conversion, which is at different stages from city to city across Kentucky, can be confusing, to say the least. We all know that listening to the scanner is a valuable tool for news gathering but these days that tool is changing, or in some cases, going silent — at least for a time.

In one city recently, local police, fire and EMS were converting to digital but when the local newspaper asked for the frequencies it should begin monitoring, authorities refused to divulge them. An open records request was made and the information finally handed over.

But such information is already public record at the federal level. All police, fire, EMS and other public safety radio systems in use all across the U.S. are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. As such, the FCC website has a large database showing all public safety radio frequencies in use nationwide on its fcc.gov website. However, the FCC’s website is not very user friendly and finding that info can be difficult.

Many Kentucky editors and publishers are already familiar with and are using instead an Internet website called Radio Reference. Its URL is www.radioreference.com. Click on this link http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?stid=21 and it will take you to the Kentucky page of the nationwide database. Each town and city in the state is shown in a drop down box. Or you can click on your individual county and it displays the public safety frequencies in use in your county. Also available are frequencies used by various state agencies, the military and so on.

But with the conversion from analog FM transmissions to digital transmissions, just knowing a particular police department’s radio frequencies won’t guarantee you that you can decode their transmissions if they are digital. There are now several different types of digital public safety transmission modes in use in the state and while some of them can be received (like those from KSP), others cannot for now–  but probably will in the future. (The mode of transmission and the frequency of that transmission are two different things. If you have the correct frequency, you will pick up signals on it but you might not be able to understand them. If digital, they may sound garbled or just be a burst of noise. You can buy police scanners now that decode KSP’s digital transmissions. They are part of the Motorola system. But now newer communications companies have entered the public safety market. They have names like Kenwood, Harris and Icom, to name a few. At present, their digital equipment produces voice transmissions that cannot be decoded by any scanners. That will likely change as the scanner manufacturers catch up to the marketplace but that could take a while. Months? Years? No one is certain just yet.

While we are at it, if your public safety people locally convert to digital, don’t toss your analog scanner yet. They are still good for picking other users of two-radio communications — security guards at local industries, school buses, game wardens, any business using two-way radios, etc. And monitoring these communications is legal and always been. But the caveat is if you listen in, you are not supposed to divulge what you heard. That’s why it’s important to always verify what you hear on a scanner from other sources and not just take info heard from a scanner and automatically insert it into a story or put on the web, etc. When I was editor in Elizabethtown and Bardstown, we monitored local school bus radio transmissions and got some good story info when accidents occurred, etc. We heard about attempted break-ins at Bardstown distilleries from the distillery security guards, etc. Other potential news sources use two-way radios — it’s not just cops, fire and EMS.

Also worth mentioning is that on the Kentucky page on radioreference.com is a list of state agencies that use two-way radio and that you can monitor — everything from the Dept. of Corrections to the Transportation Cabinet and everything in-between. For example, if I had a state prison in my town, I would want to monitor their radio frequencies. It could come in real handy sometime.

Also shown are military frequencies and a host of others. Too many to mention.

As an alternative to listening to a police scanner, some editors and their staffs are using a free app from iTunes called 5-0 Radio. You can install it on your iPhone or iPad and monitor police. I checked recently and found public safety listings from more than 70 Kentucky counties in the app’s database. While I have played with the app a bit, I haven’t used it much. I suspect it’s very dependent on scanner radio hobbyists to feed the audio from public safety transmissions in their communities to some central location. As such, it’s hard to know how reliable this method might be although the price is certainly right — free. And I don’t know if there is an Android version of this app for other smartphones.

If your local public safety people convert to digital and it’s a system that you cannot receive on a scanner, you might try asking them for an audio feed via the Internet or if they will loan or lease you a radio receiver that can receive their transmissions. They might or might not be receptive but I have heard of some newspapers trying this approach.


Also worth mentioning is that on the Kentucky page on radioreference.com is a list of state agencies that use two-way radio and that you can monitor — everything from the Dept. of Corrections to the Transportation Cabinet and everything in-between. For example, if I had a state prison in my town, I would want to monitor their radio frequencies. Could come in real handy sometime.

Also shown on military frequencies and a host of others. Too many to mention.

When David G. first told me about the scanner for the iPhone, I downloaded the app and began listening. Sometimes it might be emergency services in Georgetown, sometimes in Lexington. But when it gets really boring, I go to the international option available and have listened to law enforcement agencies in Germany and England.


More than 100 Kentucky newspapers are now uploading to the Public Notice Website launched early this year as the brainchild of 2011 KPA President Jamie Sizemore.

As of Wednesday, 106 newspapers were on the list.


If you’ve used the Woody chapter series stories over the years, or if you haven’t but you know author Leigh Anne Florence, I hope you’ll take a second and send her a note that you’re thinking of her. Leigh Anne has MS. She’s a trooper and to see her enthusiasm at the teacher professional development seminar a couple of weeks ago in Lexington, you’d not know anything was wrong. Her husband, Ron, told me that those kind of things, and taking Woody and Chloe to public libraries across the state to meet their fan club members is what really keeps her going.

Monday, I received this note from Kriss Johnson. So I hope you’ll take a second and email Leigh Anne a note at ronandleighanne@insightbb.com  According to Kriss’ note, Leigh Anne should was released from the hospital Wednesday and back home now.

“Say a prayer for Leigh Anne today. She’s going into the hospital, Norton’s Brownsboro in Louisville, to have surgery to put a line all the way up her spine.   She should get out Thursday.

“Then in two weeks she goes back into the hospital to have a pump inserted into her abdomen to connect to this line. The internal pump and line are used to deliver continuous pain medication for MS.  The pump and line will put the pain drug directly into the spine and brain and will help save her liver and give her better pain relief.”


A nice note would make Leigh Anne feel better as she goes through this but you taking the time now to sign up for the Fall Chapter Series would really be the prescription to get her up and going soon. So sign up today and show her your support for a decade of providing quality story series for your use.

More about the story, what’s available to you as a participating newspaper, and a signup form are available at www.kypress.com/nie.
The series begins the week of September 9


KPA and the University of Kentucky Libraries Newspaper Archiving office have had a good, long relationship. KPA has supported at the state and national levels archiving of newspapers — first, the microfilm process and more recently the digitization of newspapers. The UK Digital Archive office is committed to preserving newspapers, the true source for recording Kentucky history.

The new public notice website venture with GeoTel offers the opportunity to make digitization of Kentucky’s history through newspapers much easier. With newspapers uploading their issues to GeoTel, we are then able to make those files available to UK. There are some things to work out and you will be receiving a letter. We want your newspaper to be accessible, as we know you do, and we understand there might be concerns about how quickly those newspaper issues are available. Working with UK, we’re discussing a three-month to six-month embargo access, meaning potentially that your June issues won’t be available to the public for research until perhaps no earlier than September, possibly even into December.

Personally I think three to six months is sufficient. Those who access are NOT wanting to read your entire issue from back in June. All they’re going to be doing is looking for something genealogical, or perhaps a story but no where near the “Gosh I’m going to go online so I can read The Kentucky Press issue from six months ago.

I can’t imagine someone walking the streets, laying on the couch or killing time for more than three to six months before accessing this week’s issue of your newspaper. It’s not like it’s going to ruin your paywall policy, giving people access to this week’s issue much later. Ninety-nine point nine percent of these will be for research only. But in working with UK, we’re willing to do as you wish, even to give you the option to “opt out” of having your newspaper not included in this process.

The KPA Board will discuss at its July meeting and give UK direction. I hope we can make the embargo realistic.

All that’s said to tell you I received the following from Mary Molinaro, associate UK dean for Library Technologies. Mary’s on some national advisory groups and preaches to her colleagues across the country about the Kentucky newspaper project and how successful it has been. It’s an exemplary relationship and a project that’s being watched across the U.S.

Here’s Mary’s email:

“Yesterday I received a request from the Educopia folks asking if I would consider teaching in a program they are proposing to the National Endowment for the Humanities on newspaper preservation and advocacy.  I enthusiastically agreed to participate if they receive the funding for the program.  Matt and Katherine mentioned that they were going to ask you to serve on the Advisory Board for the program.  They are very impressed with the relationship we have developed here in Kentucky around this issue.  I hope you consider agreeing to participate.  I am on another advisory group for them and I can tell you they make it very easy and it is not a burden at all.

“I think our project is going well.  Eric has an update for you on what he discovered with the load we have done from Geotel.  I gave him a letter to give you to send to the publishers letting them know how much we appreciate their participation (and who to contact to opt out!).

“Thanks, David – we have good things going here in KY for newspaper preservation and access! “

Have a good day!



It’s not too often we report on newspapers closing their doors. In fact, I couldn’t tell you the last time it happened. But sadly this week there are two closings to report. David Greer talked with Anita Bugg at the Ballard Weekly while I was out-of-state and got the information on that newspaper.

The News Standard — The name might not be too familiar since it was one of Kentucky’s newer newspapers but The News Standard in Brandenburg closed its doors last week. The publication was an Associate Member Newspaper, then got its Periodicals Class Mailing Permit, then gave that up to go back to free circulation before making the decision to lock the doors.

The News Standard won numerous KPA contest awards while it was in business.

Ballard Weekly, from David Greer — Anita Bugg, the publisher, just spoke with me and said she had made the decision today to stop publishing the paper. This is due to her recent health problems and the loss of 3 key advertisers in the past week. Anita said she suffered a small stroke 3 weeks ago and that made it difficult to continue. Plus her husband has been very insistent lately that she slow down because of her health.

She plans, she said, to continue posting local news items and photos on the paper’s Facebook page and she will do some free-lance writing and photography for other area papers.


This is my soapbox time, not really related to the newspaper industry but it has been constant news from the Kentucky State Police that piqued my interest. First and foremost, I am not a motorcyclist. Have only been on one twice in my life. So I’m not approaching this as one of those cyclist-enthusiasts.

Much was written about seatbelts saving lives. And much was written about child car seats as a way to prevent serious injury, even deaths of children riding in vehicles.

So wouldn’t the same be logical as to requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets? Drivers and passengers have a choice to buckle up or not. But if you don’t and you get caught, you’ll be fined. The same goes for children of the required age or height in being placed in car seats. If you don’t do that, and you’re caught you’ll be fined.

But motorcyclists are not required to wear a helmet in Kentucky. They were once but apparently they were successful in arguing that it took away a freedom and they didn’t want to wear them. So shouldn’t drivers and passengers in motor vehicles be afforded the same – the freedom to wear or not wear a seatbelt?

I don’t get the “freedom” argument. Apply safety standards to some – motor vehicles – but don’t apply it to motorcyclists.

This year, and as of the last weekly report from KSP, 32 motorcyclists have lost their lives; 23 of those since the traffic fatality report issued in early April. Those 32 deaths come from nearly 900 wrecks involving motorcycles that also resulted in 597 injuries. Compare that to just last year and there’s a steep increase in the number of motorcycle crashes and deaths from those accidents.

And the number of deaths from motorcyclists not wearing a helmet will increase in next week’s KSP report. A motorcyclist was killed late yesterday (Thursday) afternoon in a Scott County accident.

The legislature needs no other reason to mandate helmets than this statement:  “Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that motorcyclists are 34 times more likely to die in traffic crashes than passenger car occupants.” Hmm, wonder if that’s because passenger car occupants are taking more safety provisions?

Coincidentally, Thursday afternoon the Kentucky State Police announced a Motorcycle Safety Event for today at KSP headquarters on Versailles Road to address the “spike” in motorcycle deaths. It includes a press conference at 1 p.m. but without legislation requiring helmets, there’s little else that can ensure safety for the cyclists.


Make plans to attend the annual AP Media Editors conference in Nashville Sept. 19 to 21.

The conference will include a Pulitzer winner panel, a performance by Freedom Sings, and sessions on watchdog reporting, covering the presidential race, and navigating the sports credential challenges.  There will be takeaways offered for every size newsroom.

We’ll vote on the Innovator of the Year, and we’ll hear from the small newspaper that won an APME grant earlier this year to conduct a project. The conference will conclude with a day-long focus on social media, with top speakers and great ideas presented.

It’s Music City, so there will be plenty of time for fun as well. A night and the APME auction at the Frist Art Museum, and a country music night at Margaritaville in downtown Nashville.

And it’s affordable. APME has a $139 nightly rate at the Embassy Suites Nashville, on Music Row within walking distance of the conference site at the John Seigenthaler Center on the Vanderbilt University campus.

With a $250 registration rate for members, and within driving distance for many, this is one that will go easy on expenses.

Perhaps plan a weekend in Nashville after the conference sessions. See the Country Music Hall of Fame, take in the Opry, and perhaps see the Tennessee Titans in action on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. What better place to relax before heading back to the office.

Register now for APME Nashville 2012: http://www.apme.com/?page=2012Conference


I did not know until the middle part of the week that former Middlesboro Daily News publisher and KPA Board of Directors member Earl Burchfield passed away on May 21. Earl was on the Board in the mid-1990s and was long-time publisher of the Daily News and spent some 40 years in the newspaper industry.

This one’s quite lengthy and I don’t apologize for that. But having been out of the office last Friday, I had two weeks of this, that and the other to mention to you.

Call or email if you have questions, comments, concerns, issues, additions, deletions, corrections or clarifications. Otherwise, thanx for your involvement and interest in your state press association!

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