Thursday, March 05, 2015

Deadly weather

All this snow, ice and cold is more than an inconvenience. It also is deadly.

An 85-year-old near Traverse City, Michigan was killed when he was struck by a car while crossing the road to get his mail in whiteout conditions.
Also in Michigan, a Kalkaska County man was using a snow blower in his driveway when a car slid off the road and fatally struck him.
An 18-vehicle pileup in whiteout conditions on I-80 in western Pennsylvania killed two and injured two dozen others.
One of the trucks was carrying hazardous material, but no leaks were found.
First newspaper in America lasted 4 days

You think newspapers today have it tough?

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first multi-page newspaper in America, was published Sept. 25, 1690 and was closed down four days later.

It was printed by American Richard Pierce of Boston and edited by Benjamin Harris, who had previously published a newspaper in London.

The paper contained four six by ten inch pages and filled only three of them.
The paper was shut down by the British colonial authorities because the government didn’t like what was in it.  

And authorities warned that no one could print without a license issued by the government.

America’s Founding Fathers made a free press the First Amendment to the Constitution to make sure that didn’t happen again.
Daniel Von Bargen
Inept ‘Mr. Kruger’ dies

Daniel von Bargen, 64, who played George Costanza's inept boss Mr. Kruger on "Seinfeld," died March 1.

The Cincinnati native tried to kill himself in 2012 because he was facing toes amputations over his diabetes.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Louisiana GOP blame Obama for Katrina

29% of Louisiana Republicans said President Barack Obama was to blame for the federal government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday.

Katrina struck three years before Obama took office when President George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office.

Apparently the Louisiana GOPers forgot that Bush was heavily criticized for his administration’s response to Katrina, which caused 1,833 fatalities, $81 billion in property damage and ranks among the five deadliest hurricanes in United States history.

GOP history revisionists also might as well blame President Obama for the Great Depression (1928), World War II and global warming. Oh, that’s right, the Republicans deny that global warming exists.


Happy birthday, Harry!

Today – Tuesday, March 3 – is Harry Liggett’s birthday. He would have been 84 if he hadn’t passed away Jan. 24, 2014, one of the saddest days in my life.

Harry Liggett (left), John Olesky
The no-nonsense, high-quality legend came to Akron and the BJ from Dennison in 1965.  He retired in 1995 and founded this blog, which I inherited after Harry’s death after an apprenticeship of several years with Harry making sure I kept my contributions up to his lofty standards.

He ran the BJ Alums blog the way he did his job at the BJ: Ferocious, determined, gruff but a damned good journalist. 

Today Harry is with his beloved wife Helen and looking down adoringly on his granddaughters, Erin and Anna, who ranked above anything else with Harry.

Harry’s sons are Tom in Akron and Bob in Copley.

Harry and the late Pat Engelhart, State Desk editor while Harry and I were his assistant editors, taught me more about how to be a good newspaper editor than I had learned in my previous 16 years in the profession. And I was 38 when I came to the BJ, and had worked at the Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail, the Dayton (Ohio) Daily and the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, so pretty fair newspapers, so it wasn't like I was a novice.

Reporters who tried to fake their way through a story learned to regret it. Harry would check the facts himself, then call the reporter over. Woe be the reporter who had NOT checked the facts as well as Harry did.

Pat Englehart, who died in Florida in 1995, was the whirlwind commander; Harry came along and reorganized the debris. Frances B. Murphey, in her bib overalls, completed the legendary trio. Harry joined them, and owner John S. Knight, in That Newspaper in the Sky.

It was the best of times. I ran to work because it was so much fun.

Harry was a fierce Newpaper Guild president. When he slammed the door as he stormed out of a negotiations session with management, the sound was heard all the way to Miami. Harry got his concession for his co-workers.

Harry and Helen are buried in Akron's Holy Cross Cemetery.  Together forever, as they were in life.

RIP, Harry. 

Tell Pat to quit blowing DeNobil cigar smoke in St. Peter’s face and don’t catch the Heavenly waste basket on fire with it.

I know St. Pete doesn’t like it when Fran keeps telling Heaven’s occupants to “go to Hell.” It's just not appropriate any more, particularly when she says it to Petey.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Newspapers’ $$$ loss: 
$1 billion a year

American newspapers have lost $1 billion a year in income.

Their reponse: Jettison 17,000 employees.

To read the Harvard Political Review's harrowing tale of newspapers’ freefall, which is NOT good for democracy because there are far fewer people to keep the political foxes from the taxpayers' henhouse, click on

Judge Judy Sheindlin
$150 million 
for Judge Judy

CBS Television Distribution has extended “Judge Judy” Sheindlin’s contract through 2020.

Daytime television’s most popular personality gets $47 million a year -- far more than anyone else on TV.

Not bad for a 72-year-old.

“Judge Judy,” in its 19th season, averages more than 10 million viewers an episode, tops in daytime television for the past five years.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Thrity thrilled after Alabama literary festival

Former BJ reporter and successful novelist Thrity Umrigar’s journey to Alabama was a rousing success.
Amy Greene (left), Thrity Umrigar

Posted Thrity:

So sad that my time in Hoover, Alabama at Southern Voices is coming to an end. I'm leaving tomorrow with many new friends, and many new books to read.”
Thrity Umrigar was one of the speakers at the Southern Voices literary festival in Birmingham, Alabama at Hoover Library.

Others participating were Wally Lamb (“We Are Water”), Karen Abbott (“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy”), Amy Greene (“Bloodroot”), James Scott (“The Kept”), Jon Sealy (“The Whiskey Baron”), Meg Wolitzer (her work was made into two movies, “This Is My Life” and “Surrender, Dorothy,” which starred Diane Keaton) and Chelsea Cain (Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers).

Thrity has been teaching creative writing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland since 2002. Her 6th novel and 7th book is “The Story Hour.”

Her previous novels are “Bombay Time” (2002), “The Space Between Us” (2007), “If Today be Sweet” (2008), “The Weight of Heaven” (2010) and “The World We Found” (2012). Her memoir is “First Darling of the Morning”  (2008).

Thrity left India at the age of 21 to attend Ohio State University.

Thrity began her reporting career with the Lorain Journal. Two years later, in 1987, she came to the BJ.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

An issue that needs a-dress-ed

I’m not sure what this says about humanity,  but I don’t think it’s good.

The Internet’s Buzzfeed posted a photo of a dress and then asked readers to tell them what colors it was. It was an exercise in self-induced illusions.

Publisher Dao Nguyen said the viral post attracted 28 million views in four hours. Buzzfeed had to increase its capacity 40% to handle the traffic.

ISIS is beheading and torching those who don’t agree to their Kool Aid beliefs. The U.S. still has military in Afghanistan and elsewhere. America's leaders act like spoiled brats in the pockets of billionaires while democracy is on the sidelines.

And a dress draws more attention from millions of people?

This is a far cry from Woodward and Bernstein bringing down a President. Have we all gone mad?

I think Lupita Nyong’o’s 6,000-pearl-studded Oscar dress that reportedly was stolen, then returned, is more in line with the kind of news we would have covered at Ol’ Blue.

I guess Internet “journalists” think differently.

The making of a President

Abraham Lincoln came to New York City on February 27, 1860 and delivered his Cooper Union address, the most important speech of his 1860 presidential campaign.

Photographer Mathew Brady was there and captured the image that re-invented Lincoln to the public.

Lincoln bowled over his audience, got the Republican nomination and won the general election.

When Lincoln, now president-elect, encountered Brady in Washington the following year, he volunteered: "Brady and Cooper Union made me president.”

Friday, February 27, 2015

Nimoy/”Spock” passes away

Leonard Nimoy, “Star Trek’s” pointy-eared, purely logical half-human, half-Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock, passed away in his Los Angeles home. He was 83.

His autobiographies were titled “I Am Not Spock” (1975) and “I Am Spock” (1995).

Leonard Nimoy
As Dr. Spock
He became Spock after “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry was impressed by his work in guest appearances on “The Lieutenant” and “Dr. Kildare” TV series.

Nimoy was born in Boston to Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union.

In 1954 he married Sandra Zober, a fellow student at the Pasadena Playhouse, and they had two children, Julie and Adam. The couple divorced, and in 1988 he married Susan Bay, a film production executive.

“Live Long and Prosper,” Spock, in the memories of your legion of fans.

Vince Doria
ESPN’s Vince Doria retires

ESPN news director Vince Doria retired Friday.

He broke in as a young sports reporter in Ashtabula in the early ‘70s. By the 1980s he was sports editor of the Boston Globe. Next came senior editor on The National.

When the national sports newspaper flamed out, Doria moved to ESPN in 1992.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ohio River No. 1 – in pollution. Blame Indiana.
The Ohio River is the most polluted body of water in the United States for the seventh year in a row.
The only solution seems to be to construct a diversion dam at the Indiana border.

73 percent of the chemicals released into the Ohio River come from AK Steel Corp. in Rockport, Indiana.

Newspapers’ freefall blow to democracy?
Newspapers are reeling over slumping ad sales, loss of classified advertising that provided 70% of their income and precipitous drops in circulation.
Newspapers have axed 20% of its journalists since 2001 in a desperate attempt to stay solvent. The BJ went from 250 in the newsroom in 1996 to about 60 today. That's a 76% reduction of staff.

Both television and the Internet bring news to the consumer faster and in a more visual style than newspapers. 
The Internet is convenient for classified advertising, which is up to 70% of many newspapers’ ad revenue. Craigslist alone cost newspapers $5.4 billion from 2000-2007.
What Rupert Murdoch once called "rivers of gold" has become a treacherous trickle.
Newspapers that folded, filed for bankruptcy, sold at rock-bottom prices, dropped the print version for an Internet replica or reduced the days of home delivery:
Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Tucson Citizen, San Diega Union-Tribune, Tribune Company, Journal Register Company, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sun-Times Media Group,  Freedom CommunicationsAlbuquerque Tribune,  Baltimore Examiner, Cincinnati Post, Halifax Daily News, Honolulu Advertiser, Kentucky Post, 
King County Journal,  San Juan Star, South Idaho Press, Union City Register-Tribune. 

Since its $6.5 billion Knight-Ridder purchase, McClatchy's stock has lost more than 98% of its value. That’s down to an astounding 2 cents on the dollar.
Ironically, founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, bought the Washington Post and smaller newspapers for $250 million. He helped kill the goose that laid the golden egg, then bought the carcass for peanuts.
To read the entire article about the horrendous decline of newspapers, which America’s Founding Fathers saw as so critical to democracy that they created the First Amendment, click on

Without newspapers investigating politicians, there’s no shotgun-toting farmer to keep the fox from destroying the hens, which in this case is a euphemism for democracy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Carney on radio again

Retired BJ reporter Jim Carney is subbing on 1590 WAKR again, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday. This is beginning to look like a second career. Jim was on radio before he came to the BJ.

Olbermann off air for week over Tweet

Keith Olbermann will not host his show for the rest of the week, ESPN said Tuesday, because of tweets critical of Penn State and its annual THON fundraiser.

ESPN didn’t say whether Olbermann would be paid during his absence. If he is, then the absence is relatively meaningless.

THON is an IFC/Panhellenic dance marathon at Penn State, which since 1977 has raised more than $127 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. The most recent marathon took place Friday to Sunday and raised $13 million.

Another example of painting the good with the bad by using a much too large brush.

Diversity advocate Dori Maynard dies

Dori Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and longtime champion of diversity in journalism and civic life, died Tuesday of lung cancer at age 56 at her West Oakland, California home.

Dori Maynard
Her father, Robert C. Maynard, was a co-founder of the Institute and publisher of the Oakland Tribune. Nancy Hicks Maynard, also an Institute co-founder, co-publisher of the Tribune, was Dori Maynard's stepmother.

Under Maynard, the Institute's training included Fault Lines, which looked at diversity through the prisms of race, class, gender, generation and geography and BrotherSpeak, a video series looking at the lives of black men through the eyes of black men, done in partnership with The Washington Post.

Maynard was on the board of the Knight Fellowships at Stanford University.

Maynard was a reporter at the Bakersfield Californian, the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts and the Detroit Free Press.

To read the entire article about an amazing life, click on

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Belly-up list

North American metro dailies that have closed since March, 2007:

Albuquerque Tribune
Baltimore Examiner
Cincinnati Post
Halifax Daily News
Honolulu Advertiser
Kentucky Post
King County Journal  
Rocky Mountain News
San Juan Star
South Idaho Press 
Tucson Citizen
Union City Register-Tribune