Associated Press Promises Improvements; Wire Service's Executive Editor Says Better Writing, Special Statehouse Reporting Will Be among the Priorities in 1993

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THE 1993 ASSOCIATED Press news report will emphasize more "hard-edged journalism and improved writing, editing and graphics," its executives promised newspaper editors.

Special attention will be paid to statehouse reporting, AP vice president and executive editor William Ahearn said at the annual convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors association in Honolulu.

Speaking on a "Report From the Associated Press" panel, Ahearn said that Marty Thompson, newly appointed editor of state news reports, will work on-site with state bureau chiefs to beef up what Ahearn called "the backbone of the AP."

In addition, Ahearn sad, the wire service's writing expert, Jack Capon, and its first training director, Barbara King, wilt go a "step beyond" to get staffers to put more context into stories and will offer newspapers a series of materials to help improve reporters' writing.

There also will be a drive for greater creativity in coverage "from Washington to the statehouse," Ahearn said. New beats, he went on, are already being established.

In Washington, as an example, a correspondent has been assigned to cover government gridlock, and in Albany a staffer is investigating waste in government, Ahearn said.

"We want to find out why government is not working, and when we find that it is working, we'll report that too."

New beats

Other new beats planned include science, health care and even the Wal-Mart store chain, Ahearn reported. Another innovation will be an arrangement with colleges for correspondents to study subjects with which they will be involved, according to the speaker. In return, AP will offer staff members as lecturers.

At the same time, Ahearn asserted that 1992 was an "exceptionally good year for AP," particularly in its coverage of the Olympics, the political campaigns and conventions, famine in Africa, and the hurricanes.

"By and large, we think we have provided you with the best election coverage we have ever done," Ahearn said. He credited APME members with aiding the process by instant analyses and "good suggestions on what you wanted" on the wire.

Photography

On the photography side, Harold G. Buell, assistant to AP president Louis D. Boccardi for electronic darkrooms and PhotoStream, said that 1993 will see the development and installation of an electronic archive to house pictures at AP headquarters in New York. Members, he said, can dial into the archive and retrieve photos of the type now ordered and delivered either by mail or special transmission. …