MARY JUNCK 2013 ANNUAL MEETING REMARKS
Chairman, Associated Press Board of Directors
AP Annual Meeting
April 15, 2013
Welcome to the AP Annual Meeting here in sunny Orlando. We have an exciting program lined up for you today, both at the meeting now, and at the lunch we are hosting afterwards with NAA.
We have two courageous young women who are going to talk to you about what it’s like to report out of West Africa, covering coups, deadly conflict, mass rapes and al-Qaida’s new stronghold in Mali.
We’ll also hear about the prospects for progress on our national budget from Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff and co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
It’s fitting to be hearing reports from West Africa to the halls of Congress, demonstrating AP’s scope day in and day out, making sure all of us have the news we need and can trust for our own customers.
Before we begin, I’d like to thank two directors who are leaving the AP board after nine years of service.
Jack Fishman and Steve Newhouse have served loyally and always put AP’s interests first in their time on the board. They have been strong and staunch supporters of AP. So much so, that at one point, I recall Jack telling the Board they should RAISE member rates to assure AP’s continued success.
Jack is president of Lakeway Publishers and publisher and editor of the Citizen Tribute, in Morristown, Tennessee. Steve is chairman of Advance.Net.
We will miss them both and are grateful for their service. Steve is not here today – but, Jack, will you please stand while we thank you for your nine years of service to AP?
Several new directors are joining the board, and several others have been re-elected. The elections inspectors have certified that we had a quorum by the election deadline. Through the votes and proxies we have re-elected five directors and elected three new ones.
The re-elected directors are:
- Michael Golden, vice chairman of The New York Times Company
- William O. Nutting, vice president of Ogden Newspapers Inc.
- Charles V. Pittman, senior vice president of publishing at Schurz Communications Inc.
- Katharine Weymouth, chief executive officer of Washington Post Media
- And, myself: Mary Junck, CEO of Lee Enterprises.
Will the re-elected directors please stand? Thank you!
The new directors elected to three-year terms are:
- Robert Brown, president and chief operating officer of Swift Communications
- Terry J. Kroeger, president and chief executive officer of BH Media Group
- And, Gracia C. Martore, president and chief executive officer of Gannett Co., Inc.
- Will the new directors please stand? Welcome to the AP board!
I want to talk briefly about AP’s finances this past year.
We are very happy to report that we strengthened our financial health in 2012, growing operating cash flow for the first time in five years. Our bank debt peaked in August, and we ended the year with debt at half the peak -- $19 million at year end. We expect that our bank borrowings will be fully repaid by early next year.
Although revenue declined in 2012, the AP team reduced expenses much more.
We have tackled costs the same way you have – with a sharp pencil and an ongoing process of transforming the way we do business, including dramatically reduced rates for members.
The impact of freezing our pension plan last year is already helping, although contributions to the plan in the future remain significant.
At the same time, AP is working harder to provide you with a stronger, more relevant news report, including in-depth coverage of significant issues, such as our extensive examination of the Affordable Care Act.
I urge you to take a close look at AP’s annual report, where you can find highlights of an outstanding year. Also, AP has issued its first interactive annual report. There is a postcard on your chair with the URL.
This is Gary Pruitt’s first annual meeting as CEO, and I think he’s off to a great start.
He has made it a priority to see and experience the AP world, from Asia to the Middle East to Middle America -- meeting with customers, members and staff everywhere he goes so that he gets a firsthand picture of how AP operates. He has ambitious plans this year as well, with some key initiatives aimed at improving AP’s finances further. He’ll tell you about this shortly.
But before Gary speaks, I want to say a few personal words about AP – and my own sense of commitment to the cooperative.
AP is unique in the world. When you think about our competitors – be it Reuters, AFP or the various news networks – we are distinguished from them in a very important way.
Of all the global news organizations, AP is the only one whose sole mission is news. We have no agenda other than news and serving the news industry.
We have no government to answer to because of public subsidies. We are not beholden to some distant parent company, unrelated to the news business. We answer only to our members. We answer only to you.
Gary and his team also have made your feedback a priority. They have reached out extensively this past year, seeking better ways to serve your needs. For example, Kate Butler, AP’s vice president for membership, visited more than two dozen members while her staff made more than 1,000 member visits.
Please continue to share your ideas.
Gary, his team, our board members and I are eager for your comments and ideas. Together, we’ll keep making The Associated Press stronger and better.
Thank you – and, again, WELCOME!
Now, here is Gary, to talk about the importance of our unique partnership.
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