Guild, AP discuss training

The Associated Press outlined its training priorities for staff during a bargaining session Thursday with the News Media Guild.

 The News Media Guild had asked the AP to provide its top three training priorities because the bargainers know that training equals job security. In no particular order, the AP said its priorities in 2010 for editorial unit staff were: beat reporting, training for breaking news staffers and still photo training for reporters/video training.

 For the technicians, the AP listed ELVIS, virtual help desk and Macintosh.

 “We wish we could train everybody,” said Kristin Gazlay, who oversees training for the editorial unit. “Times are tough. Training money is not endless.”

 In the past three years, the company has spent more than $1 million on training for staffers in both units.

 Gazlay said despite budget constraints, training remains a priority for the AP. She said that while the company would love to train everyone, it must offer those opportunities based on strategic considerations. For example, video training is offered in areas where the company doesn’t have good affiliate help. But it might also be offered to a reporter who showed talent at still photography.

 She said the company has trained about 100 print and photo staffers in video in 29 states. In addition, 44 writers have been trained on the basics of news photography, she said. Most of those are in states with no photographer or work in remote locations.

 AP is moving to high-definition for video and will purchase 10 low-end professional cameras in the Panasonic format, costing about $12,000 to $13,000 each.

 On beat reporting, Gazlay said the top beating reporting areas were political and law enforcement.

 Approximately 60 BNSers in the company have been trained or are scheduled to be trained by year’s end.

 In information provided later to the Guild, the company said it trained about 40 employees in entertainment reporting workshops in 2008; and 17 in political reporting and eight people as military reporters. In 2009, AP said it trained 15 staffers in cops and courts. In 2010, the company trained about 30 in political reporting and 16 in cops and courts.

 AP’s director of global labor relations, Michelle Ehrlich, said AP wants to provide training in video and the Apple Macintosh platform but said no specifics are available on video.

 “We are pleased to hear that the AP wants the techs more involved in video,” said John Braunreiter, Guild bargaining team member and a technician from Milwaukee, Wis. “Techs want to get their certifications in video, but want to know that those certs will be useful in their jobs.”

 The two sides return to the bargaining table Monday.

 In addition to Braunreiter, those representing the Guild at the table were: Martha Waggoner, Vin Cherwoo and Kevin Keane. In addition to Gazlay and Ehrlich, those representing the AP were: Carole Feldman, Alison Quan and attorney Steve Macri.