Saturday, December 31, 2005

Looking back on 2005


The BJ Retirees blog (web log) has caught on with some of you. We are averaging 28 visitors a day or nearly 200 each week. There have been more than 8,350 visitors since the blog started in July, 2004. There were only 1,120 visits in 2004 (the first six months) and 7,180 visits this year alone. There have been 349 items posted on the blog since the beginning including 88 the first six months and 259 this year. Visitors have taken a look at more than 11,000 pages on the blog since July 2004.

Noteworthy posts in 2005 including many on the possible sale of Knight Ridder; the unveiling of the new BJ clock tower, launch of the freebie 77South paper and a fun reunion in Columbus. We also recalled some past BJ bloopers and old time photos. Charlie Buffum provided a bunch of old clippings of the bloopers and he and Tom Suchan provided copies of old Towers Topics which provided memories of the past. We recalled the old “God willing” addendum to the weather report by Ron Kuhne and located him in Indiana for his recollections..

We ran photos or scrapbook pages on three weddings this year: Rebecca Smith, Rebecca Strong and Roderick McBane and there were no doubt some not reported to us. Many received honors or retired, including Larry Froelich and Charlene Nevada.

Unless we missed one there were 20 deaths in 2005 including Jane Betz, Robert Boyles, Ronald Capretta, Phil Dietrich, Gordon Dix, Milan Dungjen, Charlotte Earll, Bud Fisher, Donn Gaynor,. Paul Grove, Robert Hollister, James Kittinger, Robert Leitch, Ted Milligan, Edna Morgan, Polly Paffilas, Donald Shook, Richard Sweet, Ruben Sweet, Curt Sutliff and Miriam Wise.

We hope to continue in 2006 with more reprints from old Tower Topics and have been promised an inteview with Browser, the BJ mascot. Hopefully we won’t hear much more from the Sherman who started the push to sell Knight Ridder almost like that other Sherman, William Tecumesh, who led a march to the sea during the Civil War.

And the names of more than 500 were mentioned on the blog, many more than once–inlcuding Tony Ridder who was mentioned 14 times. You can see an alphabetical list by clicking on the headline above. It will be available until the end of January. Please excuse any errors or omissions.

Friday, December 30, 2005

'Fear the roo' sells big


Mix together a newly successful athletic program, the holiday gift season and a fresh slogan and you have a marketing winner. ``Fear the Roo'' merchandise has been selling out since the women's cross-country team, the men's soccer team and the football team all won Mid-American Conference titles, the soccer team earned a national ranking and the football team went to the Motor City Bowl.


The school grossed $100,000 in athletics merchandise sales in December, according to Mike Waddell, associate athletic director in external relations at UA. Waddell estimated t
hat half of that came solely from Fear the Roo sales. In December 2004, the gross was about $7,000.

The bookstore inside UA's Student Union has been a hot spot for Roo items, selling out its first shipment.

Prices range from $14.98 for a youth T-shirt to $34.98 for an adult hooded sweatshirt.

The fearsome kangaroo is not the same critter as the university's bouncy, friendly mascot, university officials say..

``This is not Zippy. Zippy is the guy who will go to your birthday party and kiss your baby. Around our department, we call this guy Hoppy.''

[Excerpted from a story by Dan Kadar on the Beacon Journal Business front on Thursday, December 20.]

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Remembering Fran and Bud



Happy New Year everyone!

About six years ago I scored a box of Fran Murphey's post cards on eBay, and in it was this one sent to Fran by Bud Morris after he had retired to Alabama.

I'm guessing that maybe it was a tradition for Bud to send Fran a hand-drawn post card on special occasions.

Did Bud do this just for Fran, given her collection, or did he treat others to similar greetings?

Anyway, just a little memento of two ABJ icons I thought I'd share here along with my best wishes for 2006.

Senior Moment for Tom Moore


Tom Moore confesses a senior moment:

You never know who you'll run into. Yesterday my son-in-law and I were at Chapel Hill Plaza getting out of the car to go into Tops. A lady passed us and I immediately knew she looked familiar but I couldn't come up with a name right away (Guess I was having a senior moment). So I caught up with her and risking a slap or a kick said: "I think I know you."

She stopped and said: "What's the first name?"

That senior moment was still with me.I told her that she asked me too fast, but I was sure I worked with her at the Beacon Journal.

She replied: "First name Joan?"

I told her that was it.

She said "I'm her twin sister from New York!"

And she said she'd give my best to Joan.

That senior moment left me shortly thereafter and I remember Joan Rice was the name that eluded me. What, I worked with her for 20 or so years? It's hell when you get old.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New stamp for Wilsons

Here are excerpts and one of the photos from the Christmas letter of Elizabeth and Craig Wilson:

Craig's daughter, Andrea, and her husband, Dan Korow, adopted a 4-day-old June 4. He is Joshua Justus Korow, now a healthy 6 months old. He rolls over and wants to crawl. We hope to see him in spring at Cedaredge, Colorado. Our joyfulness led to a lighted stork and doll in our front yard.

Elizabeth created an official Joshua U.S. stamp from a snapshot. Neither daughter, Dawn nor Andrea, could be here for the final open house at Oakdale Grade School. They had many wonderful teachers. We loved all the school carnivals.

The letter included a photo of Dawn and her husband, Mitch Harper, tending their garden July 4. That night, their neighborhood celebrated with bright, noisy fireworks. Canada Geese on a nearby pond waddled fearfully northward. We took home the delicate fabric perpetual calendar that Dawn had cross-stitched back when she was in her teens. She re-stitched all of it. We put on Velcro so the months and days wouldn't rip the fabric. Elizabeth re-matted and re-framed it. Craig put it up near our kitchen table.

Elizabeth, busy secretary of the Magic City Kiwanis, nominated Grace Duncan, the Noon Kiwanis treasurer and past president, as the Outstanding Citizen of the Year. Grace was honored at the annual Barberton Community Foundation dinner at Anthe’s restaurant.

Our flower beds bloomed with the advice and energy of Sara Manka. The third Mensa Grace Harrington Wilson $600 scholarhip for a female in journalism went to a Leawood, Kan., girl. Craig and Tony, helped by Kiwanians John McAnlis, Gene McNair, Mendy Palumbo and Verne Scott, aided the Barberton Historical Society saving tons of historic roof tiles from a bank being leveled.

We worried when the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Craig Wilson was hit 30 times by opposing pitchers. And we smiled at Craig Wilson's column in U.S.A. Today about the other Craig Wilsons. What a whacky 2005! We hope 2006 will be just as much fun for all of you

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

KRI places third in Top 10 stories


“Knight Ridder for Sale” came in third in Joe Strupp’s list of Top 10 newspaper industry stories. No. 1 in Strupp’s list in Editor and Publisher was. “More Than 2,000 Newspaper Jobs Lost.”

Here’s Strupp on No. l:

“Using the bizarre premise that newspapers can bring back lost circulation and ad revenue by making their products WORSE, top executives at major chains from The New York Times Company to Tribune took a butcher knife to staffing with buyouts and layoffs that appeared almost epidemic. Although some claim to be adding jobs on the business side for the purpose of boosting revenue and circulation, the loss of hundreds of jobs at so many major newspapers -- most of which are making tidy profits -- does not bode well for the industry's future and shows the dangers of the recent corporate takeovers of the business.”

Others in the Top 10:

2. Valerie Plame Scandal/NY Times Fallout/Bob Woodward Testifies
4. Deep Throat Revealed
5. Hurricane Katrina Forces Times-Picayune to Evacuate
6. Payola Pundits: Newspapers' already damaged credibility took another hit in 2005 when four syndicated columnists were found to have been paid off for their views.
7. The Detroit Newspaper Swap
8. Lee Enterprises Buys Pulitzer Inc.
9. Los Angeles Times Loses John Carroll, Gains First Black Editor Dean Baquet
10. Pulitzer Prize Allows Online Entries

Strupp’s comment on the Knight Ridder story:

“Long known as one of the better newspaper chains, Knight Ridder had amassed a collection of some of the industry's most respected properties -- from the Philadelphia Inquirer to The Miami Herald -- during its storied past. Add to that a Washington, D.C. bureau ranked one of the best, and a piece of the highly regarded Knight Ridder Tribune news service, and you are talking a key news player.

“But, like its corporate media competitors, the San Jose-based company was seeing revenue reductions and circulation cuts that were making stockholders nervous. When is largest shareholder, Private Capital Management LP, complained that the company was being undervalued, others joined in a call to sell. Concerns about how a buyout might affect the papers' quality has already prompted two groups, a collection of Knight Ridder alum and leaders of The Newspaper Guild, to attempt to buy the dailies. Initial bidding began in late 2005 and the betting is a new owner, or owners, will be in place by the end of 2006.”

For more of Strupp’s pithy comments, check the story picked up from E&P by MediaChannel. Click on the headline.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A few kind words for 'Darth' Ridder


Joseph Menn, staff writer of the Los Angeles Times, had a few kind words for Tony (“Darth”} Ridder in a lengthy article headlined “Moment of Truth for Media Chief.”

Menn writes:

The day after Hurricane Katrina wrecked the Gulf Coast, Tony Ridder headed for Mississippi, where one of his newspapers was confronting the biggest story in its history without power, telephones or running water.

The chairman and chief executive of San Jose-based Knight Ridder Inc. reached the scene before most of the staff of the Biloxi Sun Herald had made it back to the newsroom. He brought in logistics specialists, emergency supplies and the promise to provide whatever the paper needed to tell the tale and take care of its employees and their families.

"It had a fairly electric feeling, to look up and see the chairman of your company," said Sun Herald Executive Editor Stan Tiner. "You would be amazed at the extreme goodwill that has been engendered for the company by this."

Three and a half months later, the 65-year-old Ridder is dealing with a storm of a different sort.

Pressure from unhappy shareholders has forced him to put Knight Ridder on the auction block. Depending on the buyer, the company that traces its roots back to Ridder's great-grandfather could be broken up – or at the very least lose the family-style stewardship displayed by the CEO's emergency trip to Biloxi.

The likely sale of Knight Ridder and its 32 daily papers has sent shock waves through an industry in which subscribers and advertisers are defecting to the Internet and stock prices are languishing. How Tony Ridder and his company fare in the coming weeks may show his peers what the future holds for them.

It also may serve as a referendum on Ridder himself. Perhaps more than that of any other media chieftain, his career has been marked by the tug of war between the cost of producing quality newspapers and Wall Street's demands for profit.

Menn goes on in the Christmas spirit for a bit, but also discusses criticism of Ridder’s methods. Read it all, if you choose, by clicking on the headline above.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Paula and John in California



Paula and I spent a December week in northern California. It was a homecoming for Paula, who worked and lived there for two decades. We rode a cable car in San Francisco, went to Japan Town (multi-level shopping center with only Japanese stores and restaurants), drove up some mighty steep streets (even for a West Virginia native), visited Oakland & Berkeley, the redwoods of Muir Woods and more places than I can remember. It rained regularly.

Our trip from Cleveland Hopkins Airport was an adventure. Our flight was canceled because of winds in Chicago (Isn't that why they call it The Windy City?), then combined with another canceled flight hours after the original takeoff time. That meant we missed our connection in Chicago for Oakland, so we hustled onto a flight to San Francisco, which meant a $70 drive from San Francisco to Oakland to get our rental car and our luggage (which, it turned out, remained in Chicago). Bottom line: We arrived at our Wyndham Hotel in Pleasanton 16 hours after our originally scheduled flight from Cleveland. The trip home was uneventful, on time all the way.

Friday, December 23, 2005

More KRI headlines


More headlines on the possibility of a sale of Knight Ridder:

From Editor & Publisher:

New Twist: Guild Leads Effort To Buy 8 Knight Ridder Papers

By Joe Strupp
NEW YORK Leaders of The Newspaper Guild-Communication Workers of America are seeking investors to purchase the eight Knight Ridder daily newspapers that are represented by the guild, they announced Thursday. Guild President Linda Foley told E&P the effort was aimed at allowing the guild shops under Knight Ridder control to be purchased by companies more likely to avoid severe cost-cutting that has plagued the industry.

The proposal comes as Knight Ridder, which owns 32 newspapers, is on the selling block following demands from its largest shareholders that the "undervalued" company be sold.

In a statement released this afternoon, guild leaders said they had retained two advisory firms - Duff & Phelps Securities, LLC, of Chicago and Ownership Associates, Inc. of Cambridge, MA - to "work with the union to attempt a 'worker friendly' buyout of certain properties of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain."

Click on the headline above to read the E&P story.

From Bloomberg News printed on page B1 in the Beacon Journal:

Union plan to bid on Beacon, other newspapers rebuffed

Publisher Knight Ridder says it will only consider offers for all of its assets

By Greg Baumann
Bloomberg News
Knight Ridder Inc., which put itself up for sale last month, has rebuffed an initial effort by union workers to bid on the Akron Beacon Journal and several of its sister newspapers.

Knight Ridder and its investment bank, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., told the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America on Wednesday that the company will only consider bids for all of its assets, union President Linda Foley said Thursday.

Knight Ridder, which owns 32 daily newspapers and is the nation's second largest newspaper publisher based on circulation, is considering a joint buyout bid from other newspaper groups and private equity firms such as Blackstone Group LP, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Providence Equity Partners Inc. The newspaper chain put itself up for sale following pressure from institutional shareholders.

The union will keep trying to persuade San Jose, Calif.-based Knight Ridder to consider a ``worker friendly'' offer for some of its properties, Foley said.

``We've reached out to them on a number of levels, being aware they are just taking bids for the entire company,'' she said.

Polk Laffoon, a Knight Ridder spokesman, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Shares of Knight Ridder fell 4 cents Thursday to $62.75. They are down 6.3 percent this year.

Click here to read the story in the Beacon Journal

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Send us those Christmas photos


Christmas is a time when families get together. Don't forget your BJ family. Many would like to hear about what you and your family have been doing.

When you take those family photos at Christmas, please send one to us along with a little update on your family.

You can attach jpegs to e-mail with information to hliggett@ald.net or just mail them:

Harry Liggett
544 N. Firestone Blvd.
Akron, OH 44301-2254

A lot of people who read this blog would love to hear about you,

Greetings from Hertz family



A Christmas letter and card brings us up to date with David and Beth Hertz and their children, Alyssa and Joshua.

“We have had the busy year that many families with two little kids and two jobs know about,” they wrote.

Also gleaned from their letter:

Alyssa loves first grade. She has lost seven teeth and even is talking about boys. She started taking ballet this year and joined the Girl Scouts. Joshua, at 2 1/2, is talking up a storm. He scaled the side of his crib one day last spring, hitting the floor with a splat that his Mommy will never forget. He got a big bed quickly. He adores his sister (mostly), his weekly gymnastics and Daddy’s guitar.

David was asked to be “interim” business editor in May and then the deputy business editor quit in the fall so he’s running that department alone. Beth still works 20 hours a week in the Communications department of Cleveland Clinic and also does some freelance writing and editing. She contracted a virus similar to mononucleosis and was in bed four weeks–one of them in the hospital. One new thing for her is being a leader for Alyssa’s Girl Scout troop. She also is now president of the BG News (college newsaper) alumni society.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Burbach explains skimpy BJ

Beacon Journal Managing Editor Mike Burbach took center stage again Wednesday to explain why the newspaper is skimpier. Well, it wasn’t exactly center stage. His remarks were printed on Page A2 because the regular Commentary Page was missing. Here’s the message.


Newspaper looks different


Answers to questions about recent changes

Q: Some pages that we're used to seeing the Beacon Journal are missing this week. What's going on?

A: Most newspaper revenue comes from advertising. When the local economy slows down, there's less advertising. Less advertising means a smaller paper. That's been the case this year in Akron This year is almost over.

Q: So the "tighter" paper is the function of a tight budget?

A: Yes.

Q: Is the Beacon Journal losing money?

A: No. The Beacon is a profitable, strong business. We've hit a few bumps this year, and we'll get over them.

Q: If you have to cut expenses, why cut pages and not some other expense?

A: We have cut others, mostly in ways that are invisible to our customers. But a newspaper really has two big categones of expense: Paper and people. We opted to save on paper.

Q: Is the Beacon journal going to be thinner permanehtly?

A: No. The Commentary page, which includes opinion columnists and usually appears on Page B2, will return next week. So will the features sections, such as Health and Food, which have been inside Local sections this week.

Q: Are there more changes coming in the future?

A: Yes. The news and advertising world has become much more competitive, and newspapers have to adapt.

- Mike Burbach managing editor

On another front (actually B13): Movie reviewer George Thomas says “Watching Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is the equivalent of being locked in a car with three squabbling kids under 10 on a cross-country trip." Son Matthew, however, says it is “an outrageously funny movie” and believes it is “perfect for families.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ronald Capretta dies at 55


Ronald C. Capretta

Ronald C. Capretta, 55, of Canfield, Ohio, passed away Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005, after a strong fight with liver cancer.

Ron was a beloved husband, proud father, and a loving son, brother, and uncle. He was born June 25 in Akron, graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High School, and was a member of the Ohio National Guard. He spent all of his life in the newspaper business, most recently as the director of marketing and advertising for the Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio. He also put in many years of service at other newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal, the Lorain Morning Journal, the Lansing State Journal, the Fort Myers News Press, and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Ron was an avid golfer and a member of the Salem Golf Club.

He is survived by his wife, Donna (Paulini) Capretta of Canfield, Ohio; parents, Alfred and Pauline (Jacoby) Capretta of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; daughter, Amy Capretta of Cincinnati, Ohio; sons, Ryan Capretta and Adam Capretta of Canfield, Ohio, and Michael Miller of Mogadore, Ohio. He was the brother to Laura (Charles) Marino of Stow; uncle to Matthew Marino and Allison Marino of Stow.

Friends may call on Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Fox Funeral Home, 4700 Market St., Boardman, Ohio. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Christine Church, 3165 S. Schenley Ave., Youngstown.
(Fox Funeral Home, 330-788-5044.)
[Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH Tuesday, December 20, 200, page B5. col. 3]

Sunday, December 18, 2005

BJ tackles KRI sale confusion


Managing Editor Mike Burbach with a Dear Readers: column on page A1 on Sunday and Dave Giffels in his column on page B1 tackle the confusion over possible sale of Knight-Ridder. Since he's the boss we will post Burbach out front. You can click on the headline to read Giffels who is a little more interesting--talking about getting a case of notebooks in response to rumors of hard times at the BJ. Here's Mike:


Paper's future unclear, but work goes on

By Mike Burbach, managing editor

The Beacon Journal has been thinner lately. What's going on?

Most newspaper revenue comes from advertising. When the local economy slows down, there's less advertising. Less advertising means a smaller paper. That's been the case this year in Akron.

Q: Is the Beacon Journal going to be thinner permanently?

A: No. But our business is changing, and we have to adapt. The paper will change in the months to come to emphasize the news, information and advertising that have the most value to our customers. We know that we can't be everything to everybody.

Q: Is the Beacon Journal up for sale?

A: Yes, indirectly. The Beacon Journal is owned by Knight Ridder, which is a publicly traded company.

Earlier this fall, Knight Ridder's largest shareholder, an investment company based in Naples, Fla., demanded that Knight Ridder put itself up for sale. The company has done that and is considering bids.

What's going to happen to Knight Ridder?

A: We don't know. Another media company might buy it. Some other kind of company might buy it. It might ``go private,'' meaning an investor or group of investors buys all the stock and takes the company off publicly traded exchanges. Knight Ridder might remain independent, and continue to operate. Or there could be some other result.

Q: What does this mean to the Beacon Journal?

A: Long term, we don't know. The Beacon could remain part of Knight Ridder or a company that buys Knight Ridder. The paper could be bought by one company and sold to another, or it could be bought by an individual or group of individuals.

Short term, it means more pressure to deliver the financial results that are expected of us. And that means we must keep tight control of expenses AND pursue new business and revenue.

Neither Knight Ridder nor the Beacon Journal is losing money. Both are profitable.

The big investors who own Knight Ridder say the company should be more profitable, as some other newspaper companies are.

Q: So, you're in limbo right now?

A: Yes and no. Yes, in that we don't know what will happen with Knight Ridder. No, in that every day we aim to deliver news and advertising to you to the best of our ability.

Our commitment to greater Akron and to the principles of good journalism and good business is not in limbo. It remains.

We're determined to do the best we can with the resources we have. We're determined to do everything we can to manage through this transition -- whatever it turns out to be -- constructively.

It's a difficult time in the newspaper business. We're straddling media -- print and the Internet, particularly -- and generations. Older people grew up getting much of their news from newspapers, and younger people have grown up getting much of their information on the Internet.

One of our challenges is to make sure our business is strong so we can continue to serve the community with compelling journalism. We intend to do so.

Reach Mike Burbach at 330-996-3507 or mburbach@thebeaconjournal.com.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sorry about the broken link


A few who tried to click on the headline to read Murrary Powers Memories of 1982 have reported difficulty. The problem was with my Internet provider who had some difficulties this week. Hopefully, you can get there now.

~~The Blog Guy

Letter from Tony and Mary Jean


[Blog Guy’s Note: The letter sent to me and reprinted here did not include a signature. I hope that is not ominous. A previous post has a link to a 10-page analysis in PDF format by Morgan Stanley ] .


KNIGHT BIDDER
BENEFITS RESOURCE CENTER

Dear Knight Ridder Retiree:
The recent news that our Board of Directors has chosen to explore strategic alternatives including a possible sale of the company has - understandably - raised questions for many of you. In an effort to respond, we have anticipated some of those questions and provided answers to them right here. If you feel you need further clarification on these, or on something else entirely, please contact the Knight Ridder Benefits Resource -Center (KR>BRC) at (800-232-7272 .

General

Q: What does it mean that the Knight Ridder Board of Directors is "exploring strategic alternatives"? Does this mean the company is being sold?

A: No, that is not the only possible outcome. There is a wide range of possible outcomes, which include the sale of Knight Ridder, restructuring the company or engaging in some other form of transaction or maintaining the company in its current form.

Q: How long will this process take?

A: We can't predict an exact timetable. It depends on what decisions are made.

Q: What is the process Knight Ridder's Board of Directors will follow?

A: The company is working with Goldman Sachs, its longtime investment banker, and with Morgan Stanley, to advise it. When the Board makes a decision on a specific transaction, there will be a public announcement.

Benefits

Pension Plan Benefits under the Knight Ridder qualified plan and non-qualified plan

Q: Will I lose my qualified pension benefit and/or non-qualified pension benefit as a result of a change of control in the future?

A: No. The obligation to pay pension benefits is not affected by a change in control. That obligation will continue, whether the pension plan continues to be sponsored by Knight Ridder or will become sponsored by a new organizati
on. The plan cannot be amended to reduce a benefit to which you are already entitled.

401k Plan Benefits

Q: Will my 401(k) Plan benefit be affected?

A: No, the money ih your 401k account remains fully funded and under your control. Please visit www.krem.com and follow the retirement links for more information on the Plan.

Q: What should I do with the Knight Ridder stock in my 401k account?

A: Knight Ridder may not provide investment advice. You should seek advice from a financial counselor if you are concerned about your Knight Ridder investment. In 2003 the Plan was amended to allow you to decrease or increase your investment in the Knight Ridder common stock fund at any time.

Q: May I transfer my 401k balance to an IRA?

A: Yes. You will need to contact Vanguard directly to start this process. (800) 523-1188.

Health Benefits

Q: Will my Knight Ridder Retiree Medical plan change?


A: No changes are planned for the 2006 plan year. However, it is important to remember that we have made changes to the Plan in the past and Knight Ridder always reserves the right (and any potential acquirer will have the right) to amend or cancel the Plan.

Note: The questions and answers above are not meant to suggest that Knight Ridder's plans will remain static in the future, any more than they have in the past. Knight Ridder always reserves the right to make changes in its plans. In the event of a discrepancy between this Q&A and the terms of an applicable plan, the terms of the applicable plan will govern. No planned design changes are currently contemplated.

Please know that we greatly regret the concerns that this news has caused. We hope that the answers given here will offer some reassurance. Many of you have written us notes and e-mails offering empathy and support in recent weeks; we appreciate them greatly, and, in return, we thank you for the many contributions each of you made to Knight Ridder during your years of active service. Clearly, one of the many things that make this company special is the loyalty it engenders among those who have spent large parts, or all, of their careers with Knight Ridder. Your communications now are testament to that bond.

Looking ahead, it is not possible to speculate on how this process of exploring strategic options will unfold. What is possible is tdo assure you that as we go forward, the values that always have defined Knight Ridder - quality journalism, fairness to our employees, service to our communities and diversity in all that we do - will continue to be uppermost in our minds. As we know they are in yours.

With best wishes for a very happy holiday season,

Tony Ridder Mary Jean Connors


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bud Fisher dies at 83


Former reporter, sports publicist `Bud' Fisher dies
Hall of Famer credited with idea for the annual Acme-Zip football game

By E.A. ``Bud'' Fisher

INDIANAPOLIS - Editor's note: Elder Ayres ``Bud'' Fisher, a former Beacon Journal reporter who served as a publicist for the Professional Bowlers Association for 30 years, died Friday in Indianapolis at age 83.

Mary Fisher, his wife of 29 years, sent the Beacon Journal an obituary that Fisher himself first wrote in 2000. Fisher had given an earlier version to the Beacon Journal that was placed in the newspaper's library.

Explaining his reasons for writing his own death notice, Fisher said: ``Hello, Guys. I was bored, so I decided to write my own obit. When you receive it from my wife, you can be sure I'm dead. You can chop it up any way you want, but I thought I would have some fun doing it. It's been a great life!

``Have a good one

``Fisher''

The following is the updated version of Fisher's obituary:

Former Beacon Journal sports and police reporter turned sports publicist and sponsor, E.A. ``Bud'' Fisher, died Friday at the age of 83 after a lengthy illness. Fisher retired in 1990 after serving as the Akron-based Professional Bowlers Association public relations director, winding up 30 years on the job.

Fisher went to work for the Beacon Journal when he was a high school senior at North in 1940. After service in World War II, he returned to Akron, where he rejoined the Beacon Journal sports department while attending Kent State University. In the next two decades, he worked on auto racing at the Rubber Bowl, horse racing at Ascot Park, Thistledown, Randall and Cranwood, hockey in Akron, publicity for the National Industrial Basketball League, hydroplane racing, and as publicist and sponsor for the Cleveland Browns' annual preseason game at the Rubber Bowl from 1946 to 1960.

He then joined the fledgling PBA being organized by the late Akron businessman Eddie Elias.

Fisher was ring announcer for Akron Boxing, for the Gold Gloves and professional boxing and wrestling, and once manned the public address system for the Akron and International Soap Box Derby events, and was wrestling commissioner.

One of Fisher's contributions was coming up with the idea for the Acme-Zip football game. He passed the idea along to the late Red Cochrane, who turned the game into an annual spectacle.

Fisher had a colorful career as a Beacon Journal police reporter. In 1951, he walked in on a holdup at the notorious Duffy's gambling club in the Portage Lakes area. Cleveland hoodlums made off with thousands of dollars but the sheriff's office never charged anyone. Fisher also engaged in a futile struggle to prevent a man from jumping off the old high-level bridge between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls. He also was shot at on East Market Street.

He was a member of the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame, the Akron Radio Hall of Fame and the PBA Hall of Fame, and received the Bowling Writers Association of America Mort Luby Lifetime Service Award. He was one of three Americans to win the World Bowling Writers' Golden Quill Award.

He is survived by wife, Mary Fisher; daughters Lise Russell of Kent and Laura Marco of Mogadore; and grandchildren, Bill Russell and Dan Russell. Also surviving is sister Betty Pivar of Akron.

Mary Fisher said Monday that her husband was cremated and interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery. Memorials can be made to the Bowling Writers Association of America Scholarship Fund, c/o Steve James, 8501 N. Manor Lane, Fox Point, WI 53217, or St. Vincent Hospice, 8450 Payne Road, Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN 46268.
[Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Wednesday, December 14, 2005, page B5, col.. 3]

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Our gift of Ten Wishes


MERRY CHRISTMAS


Harry and Helen Liggett
in Akron, OH





Our Christmas gift to you, from an unknown author, are these
Ten Wishes for you for the New Year:


1. Enough happiness to keep you happy.

2. Enough trials to keep you strong.
3. Enough sorrow to keep you human.

4. Enough hope to keep you thoughtful.

5. Enough failure to keep you humble.

6. Enough success to keep you eager.
7. Enough friends to give you comfort.

8. Enough faith and courage in yourself to banish depression.

9. Enough wealth to meet your daily needs.
10. Enough determination to make each day a better day than yesterday.

Murray Powers recalls Old Timers

Some retirees who read this blog consider themselves real old-timers. Below , however, is a list of real old timers. They were key personalities at the Beacon Journal before 1982. If you would like to know more about any of them them, click on the headline above and read Memories written in 1982 by the late Murray Powers who was probably the greatest manager editor who ever served the Beacon Journal.

Do you know any of these personalities who were remembered by Powers?:

Mynne Andrews , Joe Aylward Sr., the younger Joe Aylward , Ford Barker, Marie Beatty, Joe Costello, Jim Curry, Tom Haney, Russ Harris, Jack Harris , Lynne Holcomb, Betty Jaycox , Jack Knight, Ruth McKenney, Maurice McMeen , Kenneth Milburn, Bill Murty , Frankie Pullo, Jim Rosemond , Jim Schlemmer, Oscar Smith, Bob Stopher ,Tony Weitzel, Earl Wilson and Earl Woodard,

Click on the headline to read Powers Memories

Former Knight Ridder Exec Isn't Selling


This letter was written to Editor and Publisher by a former Knight Ridder executive:

I sincerely hope that the recent pressure on Knight Ridder to sell itself, restructure, or whatever it is that critics want, accomplishes nothing. Knight Ridder has a positive, if not spectacular, record as an investment, and in the current atmosphere of corporate misconduct and mistrust, it is a company with a long, proud record of integrity.

While I understand the need for profit growth, I also know that there is more to business, especially the newspaper business, than simple dollars and cents.

Those who follow the newspaper industry, and every journalist, know that in this business, there is a dual responsibility. We need to make profits which reward our shareholders, but we also have a powerful obligation to inform our readers, to be a strong influence for good in our communities, and to be the kind of watchdog for the public interest that only a good newspaper can be.

It's difficult to balance the two responsibilities. Nobody is perfect; everyone would like high profit margins and Pulitzer prizes at the same time. Despite the obstacles, I think Tony Ridder has done a first rate job of steering the company to the kind of balance that's required.

For shareholders who cannot tolerate the vagaries of the newspaper business and have maximum profit as their only goal, I say, "Sell, if you must, and invest in some cash register company without a soul."

I retired in 1995 as senior vice president, operations, Knight Ridder, so I am biased. But from experience I know what kind of company it is. Under current circumstances, I'm not interested in selling my stock.

Gus Harwell
Port Orange, Fla.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Congratulations for service


Akron Beacon Journal staff members were congratulated in the Dec 9 issue of HotType for service anniversaries.

Among those celebrating 35 years were Charles Montague and Ted Schneider, newsroom, and Chester Knight, production..

Celebrating 30 years were Doug Oplinger, newsroom, and Phillip White, advertising

Marking 25 years were Karen Lefton, human resources; Mike Bookwalter, Leroy Dilbeck, Anthony DiMauro, and Hershel Haines, production; and Dawn Bonfiglio, John Vicars and Terrance Yancer, information technology

Marking 20 years were Dennis Balogh, Gloria Irwin, Diane Leeders, Terry Pluto and Olga Reswow, newsroom

Marking 15 years were Elaine Guregian, Carol Biliczky Levandoski, and Robin Sallie, newsroom

Knight Ridder draws suitors


The world will get a glimpse of how desirable, or not, newspapers are, as preliminary bidding begins for Knight Ridder.

The Beacon Journal in a report by KRI reporters Chris O’Brien and Pete Carey on the business front on Saturday said two major newspaper companies–Gannett and McClatchy–and a handful of private equity firms have expressed interest in buying Knight Ridder “raising the chances that the Akron Beacon Journal’s corporate parent could be sold sometime next year.”

A source familiar with the bidding process for the nation's second-largest newspaper group also confirmed that MediaNews, a Denver newspaper company, was said to be interested in joining a bidding coalition, but had not yet submitted its own bid.

On the private equity side, as expected, Knight Ridder received a joint bid from a trio of prominent firms -- Blackstone, Providence Equity and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Also expected to submit preliminary bids were Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners and Spectrum Equity Partners. It was unclear Friday whether each of these firms was bidding separately or as part of some coalition.

Knight Ridder is now expected to move to a second round by inviting some or all of the bidders to examine its internal finances and visit with management and its newspapers.

If the next round doesn't produce bids well above the current stock price, it could open the door for Knight Ridder Chief Executive Tony Ridder to present an alternative plan to shareholders that keeps the company intact and ends pressure for a sale.

``I think you could argue that if there is a way to keep most of the properties together under the Knight Ridder banner, that would be his preference,'' said Barry Lucas, an analyst at Gabelli & Co., whose affiliate, GAMCO, owns about 1 percent of Knight Ridder's stock. ``And if there's a lack of vigorous interest, it could play into that scenario.''

Wall Street remained skeptical that a sale would occur. Knight Ridder's stock fell 23 cents to $61.25 on Friday as only about half the number of shares that typically sell changed hands. Analysts said a company's stock usually gets a substantial boost if it's for sale. While Knight Ridder's stock rose early last month, it has hovered around $60 since.

The current bidding process was triggered Nov. 1 when Knight Ridder's largest shareholder, Private Capital Management, demanded the company put itself up for sale, citing a lagging stock price. Within a week, the second- and third-largest shareholders had made similar demands, leaving Knight Ridder facing a shareholder revolt by firms that control 37 percent of its stock.

Click on the headline to read the full story in the BJ

As investment bankers review initial expressions of interest from possible buyers, community leaders where Knight Ridder publishes are weighing what a sale could mean to their region. The Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the subject in a story you can find at:

http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/business/13364151.htm

The newspaper industry is on the defensive, with circulation stagnant, advertising dollars migrating to the Internet and newsrooms reducing their work forces to save costs.

Given all that, it may be hard to believe that newspapers are actually profitable, but they are. And Knight Ridder is among the most profitable.

You can find a 10-page analysis report in an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file at the site of Morgan Stanley. The url is:

http://www.poynterextra.org/KR/Research.pdf

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

No laughing matter

It's probably a mistake, but below is a Pearl Harbor Day diatribe by Cleveland Scene. You might want to let them know that is it not a laughing matter for BJ retirees who worry not only about pensions and health benefits, but also about JSK turning over in his grave, the future look of all communications in a society that gets news by sound bites--and yes--even about the Cleveland Scene.

Save the pencils!

The Akron Beacon Journal, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning paper now operating as a 'zine for the geriatric set, is getting squeezed to comedic proportions by San Jose's Knight Ridder, its parent company.

Knight Ridder is under a dual assault by investors, who are demanding 30 percent profit margins, and the company's own leadership, namely CEO Tony Ridder, the heir-in-charge who's proved strikingly adept at running Knight Ridder into the ground.

Executives recently asked employees to share pens and notepads with other departments, since no more office supplies will be purchased this year. The problem is that some departments have already run dry, including the photo department, which ran out of batteries and paper. "They did make an exception and ordered the photographers new batteries," says reporter Paula Schleis.

"It's been a tough year," concedes managing editor Mike Burbach. "The budget has been very tight and we're saving where we can, but I don't think it's gotten to the point where reporters are without pens and notepads. At least I certainly hope not."

Plain Dealer reporters were prepared to launch an emergency relief effort by shipping office supplies to Akron, but they were told not to bother. "Frankly, with all this talk about the Knight Ridder sale, we don't want them wasting their goodwill on notebooks," Schleis says. "We'd rather they wait and use it to help the people who are going to lose their jobs."

In the meantime, if the Beacon is soon printed on piles of stolen bar napkins, you'll know why.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Wheelers thankful for fourth family member

This item and photo on Beacon Journal reporter Tracy Wheeler and his family is from the November 21 issue of HotType. It is a little late because of an e-mail glitch.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, Tracy Wheeler and his wife, Kim, came home from their second trip to Thailand with their second son, 14-month-old Max. Big brother Terry Pitak, 6, went along, too. His parents made the same trip to adopt him in February 2000, working through Holt International Children’s Services, the Oregon-based nonprofit agency that helped them find Max. The journey home with Max, who was fairly quiet on the 27-hour trip, was easier than the journey home with Terry Pitak, said Tracy Wheeler. Terry cried for two days straight in Thailand, then worried his new parents to distraction by spiking a 104-degree fever on the flight home.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Former Times Press editor, poet dies

By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer

Akron-area poet and author Miriam Wise Andrews grew up with an interest in literature.

She was a former editor at an Akron newspaper and a national magazine.

``She always had a book in her hand growing up. I remember her teaching me about poetry and literature when she was only 11,'' said sister Esther Wise Crooks of Mogadore.

``She always made it so interesting,'' said sister Ardath Wise of Mogadore. ``I think she did a lot to cause us to enjoy poetry to this day.''

Mrs. Andrews, author of two books, died Wednesday at Altercare of Hartville. She was 96.

Mrs. Andrews was born in Bath, but grew up in Mogadore. She was the oldest of eight children (five girls and three boys). She graduated from Mogadore High School and att
ended Oberlin College and the University of Akron.

Mrs. Andrews was the editor of a reader participation poetry column called the Silver Braid at the Akron Times Press, which was a predecessor of the Akron Beacon Journal.

During the 1970s, she was executive editor of Poet Lore, a national poetry quarterly. She also wrote her own poetry, which mostly appeared in magazines such as the Saturday Review.

She left the area in the 1940s. She first moved to New York City and, as she wrote, she also managed an Akron singer. She moved to Washington, D.C., and wrote to promote the Children's Federation. It was there that she met her husband, John Andrews, an attorney who was also a writer. The couple moved to Vermont, where they both wrote and conducted poetry seminars.

She published two books with her poetry collections: Fifty Poems and Mary Shiminski I Love You.

Her first book was dedicated to her mother; the last, to her husband. They were married 25 years. They had no children.

After his death, she moved back to the Akron area in 2000. She built a home on the family property in Mogadore, not far from the home she grew up in.

Ardath Wise said her sister was inspired to write her second book by a young man who wrote ``Mary Shiminski I Love You'' on a bridge on the highway. ``She stopped to talk to the young man as he was writing it, then wrote a poem of the man's undying love for the woman.'' The book bears the picture of the graffiti on its cover.

On the back of the book, critics termed her poetry as ``A festival of life. It is an art form that celebrates all experiences -- even the most tragic, meaningful and hopeful. It takes us into the magical.''

Crooks said her sister was multitalented. ```She was very good at playing the violin and playing chess, but people were her hobby. She was a wonderful conversationalist, and really good with people.''

[Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Saturday, December 3, 2005, pag B6, col. 1]

Friday, December 02, 2005

Congratulations to the Zips


Congratulations to the University of Akron Zips who won the Mid-American Conference championship Thursday night at Ford Field in Detroit.

Junior quarterback Luke "Cool Hand" Getsky hit senior receiver Domenik Hixon on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left to play. Senior place-kicker Jason Swiger then made the extra point to give the Zips a 31-30 win over Northern Illinois.

Fear the Roo.

Latest talk on KRI sale


The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that three private equity firms are considering purchasing Knight Ridder. The Blackstone Group, Providence Equity Partners, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have banded together in a possible bid for the newspaper company.

The potential deal, if it pans out at all, is still in the early stages; the trio might balk at the price tag -- Knight Ridder's market capitalization is $4 billion. However, the paper reported that some financial buyers say that Knight Ridder could be attractive under new management. Other private equity firms are sniffing around as well. The first rounds of bids are due Dec. 9, according to the Journal.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley analyst Douglas Arthur issued a report on Tuesday that considered the implications of a possible sale of the company. Morgan Stanley, which was hired by Knight Ridder as a second advisor to Goldman Sachs, examines several different scenarios that involve potential buyers.

Or, the sale of Knight Ridder could fall through based on some of these premises:

* Knight Ridder's board rejects Private Capital Management's "aggressive approach," forcing PCM to dump its 19% of the company's shares.

* The industry slump continues and investors lose confidence.

* A potential buyer could run into regulatory issues.

* There are a limited number of interested parties to place bids.

* Knight Ridder could buy PCM's shares.

* Knight Ridder unions could fight any attempt to merge it with another company.

Click on the headline for a report in Editor & Publisher.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Date changed for Guild holiday party


Note from Paula Schleis:
Due to a date conflict at the Printer's Club, the Guild Holiday Party has been moved to Wednesday, Dec. 21. Same great food and entertainment, though, so we hope retirees will come out and join us!

Interesting

According to the story in today's Beacon Journal by Knight-Ridder Newspapers reporters Chris O'Brien and Pete Carey, the chain's worst-performing newspapers are the two Philadelphia papers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and -- the interesting part -- the San Jose Mercury News. Maybe San Jose, KR's flagship paper after John Knight's Miami Herald was pushed aside, can't afford to absorb any more Tony Ridder yachts?

Typically, business analysts figure the way to more profits is to lay off enough people to hit the dollar increase you want. Which makes today's newspapers, unfortunately, no different than a widget-making company.

Sad. And scary. The media as another widget hardly does much to create an informed citizenry.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Robert Boyles dies

[Boyles worked in the BJ composing room]

Robert E. Boyles

Robert E. Boyles, 78, passed away Nov. 26, 2005, at Akron General Hospital.

Born Oct. 18, 1927, to the late John and Sarah Boyles of Morgantown, W. Va., he retired from the Akron Beacon Journal in 1992 with 28 years of service. He was a World War II Army veteran.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by son, Paul E. Boyles, and sisters, Doris and Shirley Boyles.

Robert is survived by his wife of 27 years, Willadean Boyles. Other survivors include his children, Linda (Michael) Hickey of Killeen, Texas, Sharon (Richard) Frecka of North Canton, Donna Kinney and Robert Boyles, both of Akron, Doyle, Darrell, Mark, Dennis, Paul Coontz, Sue Creekmore, and Tim Howard; two sisters, Kathy Haun and Janice Keener; two brothers, Harold and Raymond Boyles; grandchildren, Cathy Puente, Kim and Steve Frecka, Michael, Tony and Brandi Kinney; 13 grandchildren by marriage, and 14 great-grandchildren.

Calling hours will be Tuesday, 4 to 8 p.m., with a service on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Visitation one hour prior to the service. Online condolences may be sent to www.newcomerfamily .com. (NEWCOMER FUNERAL HOME, 330-784-3334.)
or sign the Guest Book at www.ohio.com/obituaries

[Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Tuesday, November 29, 2005, page B6, col. 3]


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Where did the Buffalo News Go?

You won’t read about it in the Buffalo News, but here’s an online piece by Bruce Jackson. You can find his complete story by clicking on the headline.

By Bruce Jackson
Buffalo, NY - In the next few months, the Buffalo News will announce that it is planning to kill its evening editions and terminate as many as 370 full-time employees, plus the jobs of all the kids who deliver those evening newspapers on their bikes and the older guys who deliver them from cars. People around the News know what's about to happen and they're miserable about it, but you knew nothing about it because the News's editors decided to permit nothing about that major unemployment story to appear in its pages.

The News is also about to shut down two of its three suburban bureaus: Northtowns and Southtowns. Only the Niagara Falls office will remain open. Those bureaus provide reporters and area residents quick and easy access to one another. When the bureau reporters are shifted to jobs at what they call "One Snooze Plaza," that access will be lost. That major change in coverage hasn't been noted in the newspaper's pages either.

Neither has the News permitted coverage of its own long-term labor dispute: the Buffalo News's Guild members have been working without a contract since last July 31. The News wants Guild members to give up significant portions of their health benefits. Guild members are resisting, saying they've sat still for 2 percent pay raises for years in exchange for the promise of exactly those health benefits the publisher now wants to peel away.
(You can get the latest on this at the Guild website: http://buffalonewspaperguild.com).

Friday, November 25, 2005

Old and wacky photos from 1977


And our pick is the one of Lew

The
se photos were published in the Jan-Feb 1977 issue of Tower Topics with a headline that read "Oldies but goodies." They supposedly were reprinted from previous issues of Tower Topics. Winner of the blog vote is the one of Lew Henderson with a "chaw" of Beech-Nut.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Comforting announcement from Tony?

This graph was in a November 15 MSNBC news story on the possible sale or KRI:

Tony Ridder, Knight Ridder's CEO, sent a memo to the company's staff Monday with questions and answers about the announcement, including assurances that employees would not lose their vested pension benefits if there is a change in control.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Anybody want to buy a paper?


By Floyd Norris
International Herald Tribune

There is a venerable Wall Street joke featuring an investor who, having accumulated a large position in an illiquid stock, decides it is time to get out. ''Yes, sir,'' replies the broker when he is told to sell. ''To whom?''

The current situation of Knight Ridder, the owner of such newspapers as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Miami Herald, brings back that joke, albeit painfully.

The investor is a hitherto successful money manager named Bruce Sherman, whose Private Capital Management invests money for wealthy individuals and institutions.

Starting in 2000, he saw value in newspaper stocks, and at last report his clients owned $4.2 billion worth of shares in nine newspaper companies. That is about one-tenth of the total stock issued by those companies and 15 percent of the $30 billion Sherman manages.

He is the largest owner of seven of those companies, with 15 percent of The New York Times Co., publisher of this newspaper; 26 percent of Belo, publisher of The Dallas Morning News and The Providence Journal, and 38 percent of McClatchy, whose papers include The Sacramento Bee and The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Founding families control those companies through super-voting stock.

But Knight Ridder, where his stake is 19 percent, has no such stock. After Sherman warned he might support a bid to replace directors, Knight Ridder's board agreed to put the company up for sale.

Sherman's problem is one known by many an investor who looks for cheap stocks: Where he sees value, others see problems. The consensus Wall Street view of newspapers now is that they are a dying breed, destined to wither under relentless competition from the likes of Google.

Profits may be good now, but they will not last, as circulation declines and advertisers seek newer media. An index of newspaper stocks is down 22 percent in 2005.

Money managers are required to file quarterly reports of holdings, but not of purchases and sales. I estimate, based on those filings and assuming trades were made at average prices for each quarter, that in the four years through the end of 2003, Sherman's clients made about $600 million in newspaper stocks.

Unfortunately for them, he kept buying after the shares peaked, and since then they have lost about $1.2 billion, for a net loss of $600 million.

Newspaper stocks are not the only place where he is now bucking conventional wisdom. Last week he reported owning 10 percent of Eastman Kodak, the photo giant struggling to adjust to a digital world. He has accumulated those shares since late 2003, and so far his investors are down about $100 million in that stock.

Over the last decade, his investors did twice as well as those who bought the stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500, but in the last year they have lagged behind the index. It is now managing about four times as much money as it was in 2001, when Legg Mason bought it and began marketing it to customers. A strategy of owning about 150 stocks, many of them relatively small, worked when he was managing a few billion dollars but now leaves him in positions that are hard to get out of if he changes his mind.

Sherman did not agree to be interviewed for this column, and the company did not comment on my estimates. But it is clear that he cannot get out of his newspaper investments unless others come to see value where he does.

And that is where the auction process comes into play. Perhaps private equity companies will see an opportunity to buy and break up Knight Ridder. Perhaps other media companies will bid. The quality of news provided to millions of Americans may depend on who buys, and on how they manage, the papers.

Knight Ridder's plight also reflects the fact that Wall Street is not always nice to those who do what the Street demands. Analysts called for aggressive cost cuts and increased share repurchases, and Knight Ridder complied, in some cases angering employees and creating public controversies over whether news coverage would suffer. Investors showed their lack of gratitude by sending the stock to a three-year low last month.

Anyone want to buy a newspaper? Sherman certainly hopes so.

[November 18, 2005]

Friday, November 18, 2005

More gloom and doom

Andrew Breitbart - for many years the West Coast arm of The Drudge Report - has recently been inundated by questions from the media concerning a new website he is developing for Arianna Huffington. Here's a statement from Andrew:

The New York Times got it right -- I am amicably leaving the Drudge Report after a long and close working relationship with Matt Drudge, a man who will rightfully take his place in the history books as an Internet news pioneer. I am also excited to be a partner in an inspired new endeavor, the Huffington Post. As for my politics, I am, quite literally, an open book.. I have lived on L.A.'s liberal Westside for all of my life. I went to the liberal Brentwood School. Most of my friends and extended family lean left and will all attest that at gatherings I gleefully disagree with them. Yet I still love them, and refuse to give up on getting them to see things my way.

With that said, here is his latest effort:

A future of empty doorsteps?
Dark days for US newspapers

Dark days are ahead for American newspapers, as sales tumble, a warp-speed news culture leaves lumbering dailies behind and scandals over flawed reporting taint heavyweight titles.
US papers are battling an explosion in online information, a news agenda powered by bloggers and 24-hour cable news, and they can't seem to connect with young readers.

Credibility questions hang over several papers and journalists are under more scrutiny than ever in the highly polarised US political climate. Doomsayers say changes in modern lifestyles mean the days when American homeowners open their front door every morning and haul in a thick multi-section paper may be numbered.

Latest figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations found a 2.6 percent drop in circulation for 786 newspapers across the country in the six months to September -- meaning that 1.2 million people deserted their paper. Several US newspaper giants suffered heavy circulation drops -- figures which mirror the declining readership across the globe.

The San Francisco Chronicle saw circulation fall 17 percent for its Wednesday to Saturday editions, while another big beast of the newspaper jungle, the Boston Globe, slumped 8.2 percent to a weekday average of 414,225.

Bucking the trend, two papers -- USA Today and the New York Times, the closest to national dailies in the United States -- gained readership of just under one percent.

The Columbia Journalism Review, in a recent editorial titled "The American Newspaper at a Crossroads," outlined a vicious circle, where falling circulation figures prompt further cost cutting.

"This can work for a while, but at some point it has to erode the quality of the product, which further erodes readership, because who needs a paper when the reporters producing it are too rushed to get beneath the surface," CJR said.

Some big-budget papers like the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun and the Boston Globe have cut jobs in the newsroom or the advertising department.
Meanwhile, a generation gap is widening, and unless younger Americans quickly get into the habit of reading a daily paper, circulation figures seem sure to dip even lower.
In a survey last year, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found only 23 percent of people under 30 read a daily newspaper, compared with 60 percent of older people.

The number of people going online for news, or getting their fix from cable television, was growing, the survey found, a trend that was also hitting traditional television network news.

Executives at a World Association of Newspapers meeting in Madrid on Thursday were told that the traditional newspaper has no future without online editions.
With that in mind, many US papers are trying new ways to chase fast-moving readers, expanding online content and offering portable "commuter" papers.

Some are also experimenting with design and considering a tabloid rather than a broadsheet format, in a tactic tried by several top papers in Britain.
That has been a sea change in an industry where great papers are typically dryer, more traditional and wordy and less irreverent than counterparts, for instance, in Britain or Australia -- more Neue Zurcher Zeitung or Le Monde than the London Times or the Sydney Morning Herald.

But predictions of doom are "completely premature," said Randy Bennett, vice president of the Association of American Newspapers.

"I think some people have a very narrow view and look at decline in circulation numbers and see the end is near," he said. "But it is a very incomplete story if you are not looking at how newspapers reach people across a variety of media platforms."
Some readers already get their newspaper exclusively online, in an easy commuter version, or even have favourite sections e-mailed to them.

Though there is much talk of bloggers and websites superseding "mainstream media," most offer links to established sources with the resources to chase down the news.
"People point to the success of Yahoo News and Google News. If you look at the stories they are pointing to, they are from local newspapers which still have the greatest editorial capacity (of) any other media," said Bennett.

KR alumni take stand for excellence

Knight Ridder Alumni, in Open Letter, Take Stand for 'Excellent
Journalism,' Say They Will Name Candidates for Board


In an extraordinary "Open Letter from Knight Ridder Alumni" circulated to the media this morning, a long list of journalists declared, "We have watched mostly in silent dismay as short-term profit demands have diminished long-term capacity of newsrooms in Knight Ridder and other public media companies. We are silent no more. We will support and counsel only corporate leadership that restores to Knight Ridder newspapers the resources to do excellent journalism. We are prepared collectively to nominate candidates for the Knight Ridder board. We wish to reassert John Knight's creed."

The letter was mailed to the media by Jim Naughton, former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer and former president of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Naughton told E&P today he had organized the effort just this week and they hoped to nominate a "slate" of candidates for the Knight Ridder board that would include journalists at the next annual meeting. The company is currently the focus of an investor-led move to pressure a sale or break-up of the company, or other moves.

The blog is proud to list some familiar faces who were among the signers, including Dale Allen, Doug Clifton, David Cooper, Albert Fitzpatrick, Glenn Guzzo, Marvin Katz, Jan Leach, David Meeker, Phillip Meyer, Gene Roberts, Timothy D. Smith, William Vance, Debbie VanTassel and Abe Zaidan.

[Published: November 18, 2005 in E&P on line]

Click on the headline for complete text and list of signers.

Guild holiday party is Dec 9

The Guild Holiday Party will be Friday, Dec. 9 at the Printer's Club. Buffet will open at 6:30 and skits will begin at 7 so the nightsiders can slip away to see some of the entertainment.

Thanks much!

Paula Schleis


Monday, November 14, 2005

Here's KRI press release

Knight Ridder Announces Exploration of Strategic Alternatives

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Knight Ridder (NYSE: KRI) announced today that its Board of Directors has decided to explore strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value, including a possible sale of the company. The company is working with Goldman, Sachs & Co., its long-time financial advisor, in this process.

In making the announcement, the company stated that there can be no assurance that the exploration of strategic alternatives will result in any transaction. The company does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the exploration of strategic alternatives unless and until its Board of Directors has approved a specific transaction.

The Board of Directors has also amended the company's by-laws to provide that shareholders may submit proposals for consideration at Knight Ridder's 2006 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and/or submit nominations for directors to be elected at Knight Ridder's 2006 Annual Meeting of Shareholders by delivering written notice that complies with the requirements set forth in the amended by-laws no earlier than 60 days nor later than 45 days prior to the date of the 2006 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. The 2006 Annual Meeting of Shareholders is currently scheduled for April 18, 2006, but may be postponed. Any postponement of the Annual Meeting of Shareholders will be publicly announced in advance of the notice period. A copy of the amended by-laws is included in the Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is available on Knight Ridder's Web site (http://www.knightridder.com).

Knight Ridder is one of the nation's leading providers of news, information and advertising, in print and online. The company publishes 32 daily newspapers in 29 U.S. markets, with a readership of 8.5 million daily and 11.0 million Sunday. It has Web sites in all of its markets and a variety of investments in Internet and technology companies. It publishes a growing portfolio of targeted publications and maintains investments in two newsprint companies. The company's Internet operation, Knight Ridder Digital, develops and manages the company's online properties. It is the founder and operator of Real Cities (www.RealCities.com), the largest national network of city and regional Web sites in more than 110 U.S. markets. Knight Ridder and Knight Ridder Digital are headquartered in San Jose, Calif.

For more information, call Vice President/Corporate Relations Polk Laffoon at 408-938-7838 (e-mail: plaffoon@knightridder.com), or Director/Corporate Communications Lee Ann Schlatter at 408-938-7839 (e-mail: lschlatter@knightridder.com), or visit Knight Ridder's Web site at www.knightridder.com.

SOURCE Knight Ridder
11/14/2005
/CONTACT: Polk Laffoon, Vice President/Corporate Relations,
+1-408-938-7838, or plaffoon@knightridder.com, or Lee Ann Schlatter,
Director/Corporate Communications, +1-408-938-7839, or
lschlatter@knightridder.com/
/Web site: http://www.knightridder.com/

Knight Ridder May Sell Company; Goldman Will Advise


Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Knight Ridder Inc., publisher of the Beacon Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald, will consider a sale of the company after its biggest shareholders demanded executives address a 20 percent drop in the stock.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will help evaluate ``strategic alternatives,'' San Jose, California-based Knight Ridder said in a statement today. Knight Ridder is valued at $4.23 billion.

Newspapers have been hurt by a 2.6 percent drop in circulation in the past six months and the defection of advertisers to the Internet. Knight Ridder's three top shareholders owning more than 36 percent of the stock pushed Chief Executive Officer Tony Ridder for action after three quarters without sales growth. Buyers may range from private equity firms to smaller newspapers teaming up with a financial backer, said Morgan Stanley analyst Doug Arthur.

``Their choices started to get limited,'' said Arthur, who is based in New York and has an ``overweight'' rating on the shares. He doesn't own any personally. ``A lot of people will take a look at it, because the papers are in very attractive markets and there are strong Internet properties.''

Shares of Knight Ridder rose $1.08, or 1.7 percent, to $63.58 at 11:46 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares had slid 20 percent this year through Oct. 31, the day before the biggest holder asked for a sale.

Knight Ridder said it won't disclose developments during the process. It also amended its bylaws to let shareholders submit proposals at its 2006 annual meeting.

``I would not be surprised if a private group ended up buying Knight-Ridder and then took their time and sold off the assets to strategic buyers,'' said Ed Atorino, managing director at New York- based research company Benchmark Co. He estimates a private equity company may bid more than $70 a share.

Knight Ridder, formed in 1974 with the merger of Knight Newspapers and Ridder Publications, has expanded into 29 markets with 32 newspapers. Ridder started in 1892 when CEO Tony Ridder's great-grandfather took over New York's German-language Staats- Zeitung. Charles Landon Knight bought the Akron Beacon Journal in 1903 and left the newspaper to his son 30 years later.

Knight Ridder and Gannett Co., the biggest U.S. newspaper publisher, are the only two U.S. newspaper companies without family ownership or dual classes of stock, according to Credit Suisse First Boston. The New York Times Co. is controlled by the Sulzberger family and Dow Jones & Co. by the Bancroft family. Some Bancrofts have pressed the company for changes this year.

The biggest newspaper deal so far this year was the June purchase of Pulitzer Inc. by Lee Enterprises Inc. for $1.46 billion. The deal valued Pulitzer, owner of the St. Louis Post- Dispatch, at about 17 times last year's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, according to calculations based on Bloomberg data.

A similar multiple would value Knight Ridder's debt and equity at about $12 billion, twice its current so-called enterprise value. The company had about $2 billion of debt at the end of September.

Knight Ridder spokesman Polk Laffoon said no timeline has been set and wouldn't comment further on today's announcement.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Anthony Massucci in New York at amassucc@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: November 14, 2005 11:49 EST

Click on the headline for more of the story.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

UHC pay ANYTHING in 2005 ?

Has United Health Care paid ANYTHING for Medicare Guild retirees for 2005 medical care? All my health care billings say that UHC will only pay what Medicare authorizes, so when Medicare pays 80% of what it authorizes, UHC sends me an Explanation of Benefits that shows that UHC pays nothing. So then I have to pay what Medicare doesn't (the 20%). UHC's (and KR's) only cost under the new system seems to be the cost of mailing me an Explanation of Benefits to tell me that UHC will pay nothing.

Am I alone? If UHC has paid for a service you had in 2005, please post it under Comment with the amount of the charge and the amount that UHC paid. We need to stack up some evidence to give to the national Guild to show that we are de facto losing medical coverage once we retire and hit Medicare age (65).

Of course, when KR is sold to some widget manufacturer even the pretense of medical coverage may disappear, and our pension with it!

Thanks.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Moving on up in 1977


Moving to new positions were these six Beacon Journal staffers in the Jan-Feb, 1977 issue of Tower Topics. Charles Montague (top left) and Paul Tople (top right) are still working. Gene Winski died October 10, 1986. In the bottom row are Bill Schlight who left when his wife, Wendy, went to the New York Times, Sol Shwartz, who died January 2, 2002; and Russ Musarra, retired but still writing. Montague and Winski became assistant metro editors. Tople was promoted to assistant chief photographer, Sclight to newly created National Desk, Shwartz to assistant national editor and Musarra to assistant Life/Style editor.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Investor turns up heat on Knight Ridder


The largest shareholder in Knight Ridder Inc. is turning up the pressure on the newspaper publisher, saying in a regulatory filing Thursday [Nov 10, 2005] that it may nominate a slate of directors at the company's annual meeting next year.

Private Capital Management LP, an investment firm based in Naples, Fla., said it was considering that and other moves to boost the value of its 19 percent stake in Knight Ridder after seeing only a "limited response" to the "serious concerns" about the company raised by PCM and other shareholders.

Knight Ridder is the second-largest publisher of newspapers in the United States, behind Gannett Co., with 32 papers including The Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury News and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The company is facing a growing shareholder revolt after failing through a number of steps to lift its long-sagging share price, including a stock buyback, raising its dividend, making several newspaper transactions and cutting jobs.

The shares of most major newspaper companies are down sharply this year on investor concerns about their future prospects for growth, the ongoing migration of advertiser dollars and news consumers online, higher newsprint prices and a continuing slump in newspaper circulation. Despite those concerns, however, newspapers remain generally profitable businesses.

Knight Ridder's shares didn't immediately react to PCM's latest salvo against the company, edging down 4 cents to $61.99 on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning. The shares had slumped 20 percent this year prior to PCM's initial threat to the company last week, but have rallied since then from a low of $53.38 the day before PCM fired its first shot.

Last week PCM urged Knight Ridder to "aggressively" pursue a sale of the company or face dire consequences including a possible shake-up of the company's management and board of directors.

Click on the headline to read the full AP story on Business Week online.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What do they talk about at lunch?


What do old retirees talk about at lunch? Well, if it is Beacon Journal retirees it is about the news, of course.

Top item was Tony Ridder and the KRI takeover or buyout talk. Could the guy who has engineered so many buyouts be forced into a buyout himself? When a new profit-driven guy takes over will we feel sorry for Tony who could well look like a spendthrift. Getting serious: If GM auto workers who have the best benefits are worried, should we be concerned.

“I would be done for without my prescription coverage,:” said one. “Yeah, what about your entire pension?” asks another.

Weather is always a good subject.. What about the adventures of Linda and Tom Gaffney in Cancun? Could we who are lost without electricity for one day survive it if lasted three or more days?

“Well, the annual leaf pickup was good?”
“ No. It was bad.”

And how do you think Cynthia George looked in the BJ photo taken during the jury choosing? Pretty good for a mother of seven and two or three lovers? “Yeah, but would you want to date her?”

There was little talk of election results. Democrats kept their grip on Akron and Mayor Don Robart of Cuyahoga Falls will be starting his 21st year in office in January.

And that’s the way it was when 11 retirees and a wife met for the monthly lunch on Wednesday at Papa Joe’s.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Roy Hobbs ball beats hurricane


By TOM MOORE
Everyone’s familiar with that old postman’s slogan: “Neither, rain, snow and all that stuff……”
Well, that applies to the avid baseball player--not those big buck boys--but the average Joe and Jill that never outgrow the game.

Case in point: That last hurricane that took a swipe at Florida and grazed the Ft. Myer area didn’t blow away the 17th Roy Hobbs World Series. A couple of days was lost, but the Hobbs organization weathered the storm. Those ball players 28 and over and 38s flew, drove and got here anyway they could. And after a bit of hustle and bustle, back to back games (double-headers do make the muscles cry) the Series was back on schedule for the first week and the remaining 3 weeks.

Former Beacon Journal Sports Editor Tom Giffen heads the Hobbs organization with a great crew that I’’d compare to the old Beacon Journal days when we were all ““family”” and it wa
s about real journalism. That’s just the way I felt in my second year of the Florida sun in November.

This old retiree (12 years) is back to the basics of 50 years ago when I started out as a young “hillbilly”” reporter in West Virginia. And, as they say, it’s just like riding a bicycle.


You stumble a bit on an interview or two--you write fast and hope you’’ll be able to read later what you’re putting in your notebook.

(Just ask those folks who have worked with me……I do have a nice, legible handwriting, right?)

For those not the in the know, Roy Hobbs Baseball is named for the fictional hero in the movie “The Natural.”

This year there are 190-plus teams that Tom and his staff look after, scheduling game, scheduling umpires, publishing a daily “newspaper” with results and features.

Ages of the players run from 28 to over 70. There’s a Women’s Division and this year, a Father-Son Division has been added.

I find it great to talk to these folks from all over the country and Puerto Rico. Not a grouch in the bunch (well, I don’’t count). They all have stories to tell about their baseball feats, their hometowns, their families.

And it’s really a small world. Ran into a fellow from Minnesota, who, it turns out, worked for my wife’s nephew for two years. Another player and his wife know a young lady in Columbus by the name of Carter Chenoweth. I was her baby-sitter at one time. Her mom, Sue, and her Dad, Doral have been our best friends for 50-plus years.

Doral is semi-retired. He’s the Grumpy Gourmet for the Columbus Dispatch. (Food editor Jane Snow knows him.) I’’’ve talked to a lot of Ohio players, many from the Akron area. Last year four teams from our area won their division title in the 16 Hobbs World Series.

But don’ look for any results in our Beacon Journal even though nobody had to leave the office to get them. Doesn’t seem to be too much interest in what local folks do, even though it’’s delivered on a platter.

(That last remark is not sanctioned by the Robb Hobbs Organization, it’s mine and only mine along……and again shows the lack of interest in local news these days.)

We’ve had an “incident” to mar our Hobbs family. I looked forward to this second year down here to renew acquaintances, especially 84-year-old Preston Liles from Nashville, Tenn.

He’s a former umpire and is a long-time fixture at Roy Hobbs (Yes, Preston, I said fixture……he’ll curse me out if he reads this). But he had a mishap that landed him in the hospital and it was found he’’s a candidate for a pacemaker which he is getting.

He groused and growled about the whole thing. I tried to cheer him up as the EMS folks were loading him into the ambulance: ““Preston, that’s sure one hell of a way to get out of work!”

He hollered out something at me as they closed the door and sped away.
When we called a couple of times and went to visit, he was sleeping. No doubt the nurses couldn’t take anymore of his jokes and decided he should sleep for a spell.

Now I was brought down to write feature stories for the daily poop sheet of results etc. But when you’’re a member of this family, other duties call: cooking and selling hotdogs, checking in manager and players, handing out their T-shirts, and stapling the poop sheet together and delivering it to the different fields.

Among the Hobbs family is Meg Giffen, Tom’s daughter, whom some of you folks might remember. She also worked for a time in telemarketing at the BJ.

So now it’s on to brave the sun and heat of Florida in November. Hard duty, but somebody’s got to do it.

Click on the headline to go to the official Roy Hobbs web site.



Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Flood of stories on KRI woes

The stories of Knight Ridder’s woes keep coming. Today they were from the American Journalism Review and the Los Angeles Times. Even Bob Giles, our old m.e.and now a curator at Harvard, weighs in.

"A big investor’s threat to Knight Ridder is bad news for the newspaper industry," writes Rem Rieder, editor of American Journalism Review.

“Greed is good, Michael Douglas (as Gordon Gekko) said famously in the movie "Wall Street." But it's not so good for the newspaper business,” write Rieder.

“The beleaguered industry took another shot across the bow last week when something called Private Capital Management, which owns 19 percent of Knight Ridder's stock, called upon the nation's second-largest newspaper company to put itself up for sale. And if that didn't happen, the big shareholder said it would support a hostile takeover.

“This was a seriously menacing development. As Doug Clifton, editor of Cleveland's Plain Dealer and before that a longtime Knight Ridder editor, told the Los Angeles Times, the ploy "has the feeling of a momentous event."

“Seems the 19.4 percent profit the company made last year just didn't satisfy the high-flyers at the money management firm

It's enough to make you feel bad for Tony Ridder. Here the guy is flogged relentlessly for cutting back, but to Private Capital Management he's a big spender.

Click on the headline above for all of this great piece.

And then there was the Los Angeles Times headline

As Knight Ridder Goes, So May News Industry

Investor pressure to sell the San Jose-based chain comes as papers across the country are losing circulation at an accelerating pace.

Click here to read the LA Times piece, but here is the lead:

As big shareholders of Knight Ridder Inc. pressure executives to consider selling the nation's second-largest newspaper company, an increasing number of industry veterans say the fight's outcome could write the future of print journalism.

Like other chains, Knight Ridder has responded to readers and advertisers migrating to the Internet by investing in Web versions of the print product, cutting costs and experimenting with free papers.

But as industrywide circulation figures released Monday made clear, the most traditional form of journalism is losing ground at an accelerating pace. Of the country's 20 largest daily newspapers, only two sold more copies in the six months through September than they did in the same period a year before, and the overall 2.6% drop in weekday circulation was the biggest since 1991.

"Those who are responsible for running these companies have not been able to make the kind of adaptive changes they need to in order to stay competitive," said Bob Giles, curator of Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

Although newspaper companies still are more profitable than many other industries-- operating margins of more than 20% are common -- revenue is growing slowly and corporate owners are tending to funnel earnings into other areas rather than pay them out as dividends.

Knight Ridder's situation illustrates a larger predicament for newspaper executives, who are under pressure to improve their product at the same time that they are being urged to cut expenses to increase profits.

The most recent circulation declines at the Mercury News, the Herald and the Inquirer came to a cumulative 3.7%. Among bigger papers, the Los Angeles Times' average weekday circulation fell 3.8% to 843,432 and the Washington Post's declined 4.1% to 678,779. With its national circulation strategy, the New York Times had the only significant gain in the top 20, adding 0.5% for just over 1.1 million subscribers.