NEW YORK (AP) — Kathleen Carroll, the executive editor of The Associated Press who championed ambitious, investigative journalism and pushed the cooperative forward in a rapidly changing digital world, announced Wednesday that she will step down after 14 years leading the world’s oldest news agency.
Gary Pruitt, president and chief executive officer of the AP, praised Carroll warmly and said she will help with the leadership transition. Carroll is to leave at the end of the year, and a successor is expected to be in place in by Jan. 1.
“If AP were a sports team, we would be retiring Kathleen’s number” Pruitt said. “I respect Kathleen’s decision to move on from AP and appreciate her years of leadership and service… Her combined extraordinary editorial skill, committed engagement with staff, toughness and compassion have made AP news what it is today.”
The announcement of Carroll’s departure comes three months after the AP was awarded its first Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, for an exhaustive investigation of slavery in the Southeast Asian fishing industry. The AP won four other Pulitzers, six George Polk Awards and 15 Overseas Press Club Awards under Carroll’s tenure.
“Fourteen years is a long, long time to do this job,” Carroll said in an interview. “I’ve had a good run. The place is strong and the people are strong and they’ll take it to the next level. It feels like a good time. You don’t want to stay too long. You don’t want to be stinky cheese.”
Carroll, 60, the former Knight Ridder Washington bureau chief and a former writer and editor in four AP bureaus, was appointed in 2002. During her tenure, she helped establish bureaus in North Korea, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia, and she led the AP’s transformation from a primarily newspaper-focused agency to one that produces video, photography and text stories for all platforms.
“She has pushed the AP to take on the hardest stories and do the most ambitious work,” said Martin Baron, editor of The Washington Post. “While she was consistently attentive to AP’s clients, more importantly she was animated by its mission to serve the public… She also was unwavering in her commitment to get at the truth and have AP tell things as they really were.”
The AP, founded in 1846, is among the world’s most influential news organizations and provides content to more than 15,000 news outlets with a daily reach of 1 billion people around the globe. Its multimedia services are distributed by satellite and the Internet to more than 120 nations.
As a news service that sells its work directly to newspapers, broadcasters, websites and others, the AP’s journalists tend to be less visible than many. In a brutal time for the news industry, the AP has shrunk by hundreds of journalists under Carroll’s tenure. Yet, it has kept up its standards, said Ken Doctor, a media consultant for Newsonomics and Politico.
“It seemed like the AP might become less relevant in the increasingly digital age. What I have seen is what I think is the staying power and sustainability of the AP as one of the pillars of daily journalism,” Doctor said. There are half the number of working daily journalists in the United States as there were in 1990, increasing the importance of the AP, he said.
Ann Marie Lipinski, curator for the Nieman Foundation and editor of the Chicago Tribune for nearly eight years in the 2000s, called Carroll “a righteous and strong voice for the best journalism,” adding that “she did a really excellent job at a very difficult time.”
Carroll was an inspiration for women at a time their number is shrinking in executive suites at top news organizations, Lipinski said. In 2004, there were seven women among the top editors of the 25 biggest U.S. newspapers; 10 years later there were three.
The News Media Guild represents AP’s editorial employees in the U.S. Guild president Martha Waggoner said that “although the Guild doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with management, there was never any question about Kathleen’s commitment to the AP mission of producing extraordinary journalism in every format.”
Carroll said she’s most proud of pushing the AP beyond covering breaking news to providing coverage that’s compelling and distinctive. “Even in the middle of a breaking news story, our ethos is now to break news off of that,” she said. “We break news now. That was not part of the DNA as much when I came here, to be perfectly honest.”
She strongly backed the tough, methodical work of Esther Htusan, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza — the women who earned the AP its recent Pulitzer and whose stories freed thousands of slaves, said John Daniszewski, editor at large for standards, formerly its international editor.
Carroll has pushed to break down silos among the AP’s print, video and photo departments, he said.
“She has been very focused on adjusting the AP to the new digital world that we live in and bringing together all of the tools and talents of the AP in service of excellence,” he said.
In July 2013, Carroll became the first journalist to address the United Nations Security Council about reporter safety. She currently serves as vice-chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Carroll said that listening to customers and readers is vital at a challenging time in the industry. “A lot of smart people are trying a lot of different things and some of them will stick. That process I think is good for journalism. I also think it’s good for journalism to be challenged,” she said.
Carroll said her plans after leaving AP include taking a cooking class, some long-postponed trips with her husband and joining in family events leading up to their son’s college graduation in the spring. She said she wanted to “reclaim some life that hasn’t been within easy reach during these 14 years.”
Associated Press Writer Mark Kennedy in New York contributed to this report.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A state court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by a fired Ohio State University marching band director who claimed that negative statements surrounding his dismissal were slanderous, defamatory and an invasion of his privacy.
In a Tuesday ruling, an Ohio Court of Claims judge found Jonathan Waters became a limited-purpose public figure once an internal investigation uncovered a “sexualized culture” within the celebrated band. That gave President Michael Drake and the university’s press office more leeway in what could be said.
Judge Patrick McGrath noted Ohio State was compelled to investigate after a parent complained of inappropriate behavior inside the band. That meant the school had the right to explain its findings and Waters’ firing.
He said there was nothing recklessly untruthful in a video message in which Drake explained the report and the firing or in the university’s ensuing press releases and statements.
Because findings of the band investigation were a matter of public concern, McGrath said, it was “beyond doubt” that the university had the right to issue public comment and releases about them.
Waters contended band rituals and practices existed before his tenure and his reputation was unjustifiably harmed by misguided attacks. A message was left Wednesday on his cellphone seeking comment on the court’s decision.
In a statement, the university said it had maintained from the beginning that Ohio State acted properly in its handling of the band investigation and in its efforts to change band culture.
“We are gratified that the court has agreed with the university and has dismissed this lawsuit,” the statement said. “Ohio State continues to be focused on the future and supporting our students, and we look forward to another outstanding season by our world-class band.”
Waters has filed a separate federal civil-rights lawsuit claiming he was a victim of reverse gender discrimination and entitled to reinstatement and $1 million in damages. That action is ongoing.
CAMP NELSON, Calif. (AP) — At the foot of a giant sequoia in California’s Sierra Nevada, two arborists stepped into harnesses then inched up ropes more than 20 stories into the dizzying canopy of a tree that survived thousands of years, enduring drought, wildfire and disease.
There, the arborists clipped off tips of young branches to be hand-delivered across the country, cloned in a lab and eventually planted in a forest in some other part of the world.
The two are among a cadre of modern day Johnny Appleseeds who believe California’s giant sequoias and coastal redwoods are blessed with some of the heartiest genetics of any trees on Earth — and that propagating them will help reverse climate change, at least in a small way.
“It’s a biological miracle,” said tree climber Jim Clark, firmly back on the ground and holding a green sprig to his lips as if to kiss it. “This piece of tissue … can be rooted, and we have a miniature 3,000-year-old tree.”
The cloning expedition to Camp Nelson, a mountain community about 100 miles southeast of Fresno, was led by David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.
The Michigan-based nurseryman preaches the urgency of restoring the Earth’s decimated forests. In two decades, he says his nonprofit group has cloned 170 types of trees and planted more than 300,000 of them in seven countries with willing landowners.
“It’s really a race against time,” Milarch said. “If we start right now, we can go after climate change and reverse it before it’s too late.”
Sequoias growing in the Sierra are among the biggest and oldest trees on Earth, some nearly 300 feet tall and up to 3,000 years old.
Relying on common sense that he says is being borne out by science, Milarch, 66, believes their size and robustness make them ideal for absorbing greenhouse gases that drive climate change on the planet. He likens them to people who drink and smoke all their lives, yet thrive well into their 90s.
One skeptic is Todd Dawson, a professor of integrated biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He admires Archangel’s creative efforts but says it’s unclear whether the towering trees have superior genes or whether they were simply lucky not to meet the fate of a logger’s saw.
Chances are slim, he said, that cloning and planting a limited number of trees will cool the warming planet. He favors more sweeping approaches such as curbing the use of fossil fuels and protecting vast rainforests.
“That’s one of the things about global warming — it’s a global problem,” Dawson said. “You’re going to have to plant a lot of trees to combat global warming.”
A team of about a dozen expert tree climbers from across the country volunteered for the expedition in May to restock Archangel’s store of genetic samples. They risked their lives to climb to the ends of massive limbs, starting in the southern Sierra sequoia grove and winding up nearly 500 miles away in Northern California, where they carefully collected additional samples from coastal redwoods — a taller, thinner cousin of the giant sequoia.
Clark wrapped the clippings he gathered in damp newspaper, placed them inside ice-filled duffel bags and boarded an overnight flight to the Archangel’s lab across country in Copemish, a rural village in northwestern Michigan.
There, Clark and another propagation specialist snipped off some 2,000 shoots a few inches long and planted them in small containers of a peat-and-gel mixture.
Another 1,000 fingernail-sized bits of greenery were placed into jars containing a blend of seaweed-based gelatin and growth hormones.
The samples grow beneath purplish fluorescent lights under humidity and temperatures designed to encourage rooting. Cloning ancient trees is tricky business, lab workers say, and many samples don’t survive.
Later this year, Archangel’s team will come west to plant up to 1,000 sequoia and redwood saplings in a cool, damp region of Oregon where the trees will have the best chance to grow.
Bill Werner, a horticulture consultant based in Monterey, California, who has worked with Archangel, says that in the face of global warming, it’s easy to dismiss the efforts of a “renegade” group that relies heavily on donations and volunteer nurserymen and arborists.
“That’s not fair,” Werner said. “It may be a drop in the bucket, but at least somebody’s doing something.”
Associated Press videographer Terry Chea in Moraga and correspondent John Flesher in Copemish, Michigan, contributed to this report.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — ESPN’s X Games will be held in Minneapolis in 2017 and 2018, with many of the events being held in the Minnesota Vikings’ glittering new stadium, the network announced Wednesday.
“We’re definitely pumped,” X Games vice president Tim Reed said. He cited the “young, vibrant aspect” of Minneapolis and the support of the city and state for the bid. He called the new, $1.1 billion stadium that opens this summer “a beautiful building.”
Reed also cited the new U.S. Bank Stadium’s huge video boards and the common areas that can stage musical acts. Metallica and blink-182 have performed at previous X Games.
Competitions include skateboarding, BMX and motocross. A flat track for motocross will have to be built elsewhere in Minneapolis, and the games are working with the city to identify a location, Reed said.
It’s the first time the X Games have been held in the Upper Midwest since the games began in 1995. The event has been held in Austin, Texas, for the past three years.
Last year, the X Games drew over 100,000 fans and brought in $74 million for Austin, Reed said. Some 250 athletes compete in the four-day event, with an average age of 26 or younger, he said. Athletes are invited to compete in the games.
“These are the best of the best,” Reed said. “These guys train year round. They work at their skill.”
The X Games Minneapolis will be held July 13-16, 2017, and July 19-22, 2018.
Tattoo artist and reality show star Kat Von D has cut business ties with makeup artist Jeffree Star.
In a YouTube video , Von D says she’s ended her business relationship with Star because he refused to pay for logos designed by a mutual friend and used on Star’s products.
She said in an Instagram post that she’s also pulling the shade “Jeffree” from her makeup collection.
Von D has starred on a pair of tattoo-themed TLC reality shows, “Miami Ink” and “L.A. Ink.”
Star responded on Snapchat, saying Kat Von D’s statements were “full of some really interesting lies and some propaganda.”
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton says shots being fired at someone else missed two nearby police officers in Brooklyn.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association initially said four males drove past the officers Tuesday night and fired before fleeing.
Bratton said Wednesday that investigators reviewed video and determined that someone else was the intended target.
The department has taken extra precautions since the recent killings of police officers in Dallas and other places.