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The American Press Institute is defunct.
The API, a premier training institute for journalists, closed this month.
That makes me sad.
I was lucky enough to spend about a week at one of the Reston, Va.-based API trainings about five years ago.
Even after all my years as a working journalist, the training I received there helped me — even today — make transitions that are often necessary in today’s changing news business.
I feel lucky to have been a graduate of API, whose stated goal was this “Challenge the attendees; shower them with great ideas, with best practices; send them home energized, inspired and ready to do great things.”
It was through the institute that I also got to meet Ken Paulson (see his guest opinion piece on this page), who is now a leading defender of liberty through his efforts on educating people on the First Amendment.
Understanding the First Amendment is critical these days. I often use Paulson’s First Amendment Center pieces to improve that understanding.
I also run the full text of the First Amendment on every editorial page.
But back to the fate of API; the institute was a victim of both the poor economy and the changing journalism scene.
That’s ironic, since API did so much to help journalists navigate the roiling waters of change.
But when the economy sank, advertisers cut back, and some went out of business. That, in turn, forced news companies to cut back — and some of them went out of business.
Many news companies have laid off people — or, in our case, not filled some positions that came open due to someone retiring or moving on.
Another big trend in the belt-tightening of the past few years has been cutbacks in training.
We made those, too, although this year, we have loosened that belt and are attending more training opportunities regionally. We have enjoyed, and learned from trainings put on by the Tennessee Press Association and the Institute of Newspaper Technology,
The American Press Institute was a premier training program, however, and the cost of its sessions — combined with the cost of travel to and hotels in the Beltway put it on many newspapers’ chopping block. That’s a shame.
The economy seems to be improving, but not in time for some.
RIP, API. You will be missed.