Friday, July 29, 2005

Former (K)night People in Minneapolis

Here’s Peggy Rader with her son Alex von Sternberg (left) and his friend Max. The two have been friends since age 2. The occasion for the photo was Max’s graduation from high school. Alex turned 19 this summer and just completed his freshman year at the University of Minnesota. Peggy is director of marketing and communications in the College of Education and Human Development, but she still does not get discounted tuition for Alex. Alex’s father, Bob von Sternberg, is still at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and has remarried. He and his wife adopted two children from Russia last year, ages 2 and 3. We are hoping to hear from Bob soon.

Peggy says Alex likes to write and she and Bob both think he is pretty good, but he has no desire for the newspaper business, at least right now.

Maye be has heard stories about Peggy and Bob working nights and weekends with Harry Liggett at the Beacon Journal.

You can e-mail either:

Peggy at
Bob at

From "home" to home

[Click on the headline for photos, then click on photos to enlarge and use the arrows to navigate.]

I visited Italy for the first time in my life June 25-July 13. I stopped in New York City and felt the church-like awe of Ground Zero, then took a 15-day bus tour that began and ended in Venice. The Isle of Capri and walking alongside the works of Michaelangelo and Rafael in the Sistine Chapel were among the highlights, till I headed for the birthplaces of my mother, my grandparents, my uncle and my aunt.

Mione is my grandmother's birthplace. Pellizzano is where my mother, grandfather, aunt and uncle were born. In an amazing adventure, folks who had never met me gathered in the northern Italy mountains to help me find the house where my grandmother was born, and look up relatives in 200-year-old records in the Marcena church two doors from my hotel room. And, armed with a spoon I brought from Cuyahoga Falls, I scooped up 4 rocks (for myself and my three children) and dirt from the yard of the Pellizzano church where my mother prayed as a child.

Before I left New York City, I went to Ellis Island, found my mother's name on a Nov. 1, 1920, passenger list, and walked down the same Stairway to Freedom that my mother did when she was 9 years old and on her way to my native West Virginia.

The view from Mione was awesome, with peaks of the Alps vying with each other for attention. For good measure, I went 200 feet into Austria, near the Brenner Pass, and was photographed in another country that I had never visited before.

Then I came home for a week in the Caribbean with my younger daughter's family from Brunswick. Cozumel, with hurricane damage still evident; Costa Maya, and a bus ride to the Chaccoben Mayan ruins; and a third visit to Ernest Hemmingway's house of cats in Key West.

And then on to Michigan and Grand Lake, a few miles from Lake Huron, where I visited my friend since first grade at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School in the coal mining town of Monongah, West Virginia, famous unfortunately for the 362 workers killed in the 1908 mine explosion.

Now I have to sift through nearly 1,000 photos and get them organized into something resembling order. Fortunately, I marked down the town, place and photo number as I took the pictures.

Nothing left to do now but get ready for another West Virginia University Mountaineers football season, in my usual seat with my sister and a different grandchild for each game.

Well, there is a December trip to California, with a personally escorted driving tour by someone who lived there for decades before she returned to Ohio.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Forced into PPOs

I got back from my latest trip to read my letter from KR that Guild retirees, and everyone else (except executives?), have been forced into PPOs rather than the fee-for-service that I have been under since I started at the BJ in 1968. I thought our 1996 Guild contract prohibited KR from changing our medical coverage.

Oh, we have a "choice," but if we opt to continue using the doctors we have had for decades (my doctor is not on the UHC/KR list although 4 others in his group are), and they are not in the UHC network, then we would pay up to $2,300 more a year than those in the PPO network.

Some "choice."

I have notified the Guild in Cleveland to see what, if anything, it can do for Guild retirees, including a possible class-action suit that would include KR employees across the nation.

If this is allowed to stand, then KR will continue to, in effect, reduce our pension by increasing the costs to us for medical care.

I may be tilting at windmills, but I'm tiring of Tony Ridder buying more yachts by shifting KR costs to its retirees, thereby breaking the promises made when John Knight was in charge, and was a man who kept his word.

By the way, I get this letter in July telling me that KR/UHC forced us into PPOs in January, 7 months retroactively.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

D.C. Balz reports from DC

Here’s the reply I received from my letter to Doug Balz seeking information. The complete letter is posted here despite a slight hint of “Liggett bashing.” Doug, you see, is not aware how much I have mellowed since those old days.


Yep, it's me. And I do have a web site that I'll pass on. But imagine my surprise and pleasure when I opened your letter to find that it was, indeed the feared Harry Liggett, the iron man of the desk, the one who had all of us worried about what he would say about our copy. If it got past Harry, that was good enough for me. `

And then today, what am I reading but the book compilation of the NY Times series on race, and there in one of the chapters is the story of Carl Chancellor and Bob Dyer, complete with a quote from Charlene. I tell you, between your letter and the book, I felt as if I was back in Akron. I remember it from the 70s, when the back shop was converting to cold type and we in the newsroom were learning about computers. It seems like yesterday. .

I think that what you're doing is admirable, and I hope you have great success with all the people who have passed through the Beacon newsroom. It's a great place, even if that office in the corner is no longer occupied by the man himself (so what if he paid his trainers more than his reporters). I've fiddled around with web sites, and my wife says I should get rid of AOL, that it's a waste of money and she's probably right, but I haven't done it yet, which is why my URL is

A few words about me, and where I've been since leaving Akron....
I went to Miami to work on the magazine with Lary Bloom. I later edited a big project on Castro's 25th anniversary of taking over Cuba. We had a bunch of reporters and a few outside experts, working with us. It looked at Cuba and at Miami. After that I edited the daily feature section for a couple years. Somewhere in there I divorced my first wife, fell in love with someone else (in that order, by the way), got married and, when she got a classy job with Knight Ridder, as the publisher at the Gary, Ind. paper, I went to work for the Chicago Tribune. After awhile I became the editor of the Sunday Arts section. Our music critic was none other than John von Rhein. I later worked on the magazine and was the head of the features copy desk. I retired, can you believe it? in 1998 and moved to Washington to be with my wife, who was now the head of Knight Ridder-Tribune features. Wes Albers works for her. For awhile I did nothing, then took a part time job at a bookstore, and taught beginning reporting for a year at George Washington University. I have two daughters from my first marriage. Sarah, who was born in 1975, lives in Bellingham, Wash. and works for the university there. Annie, who was born in 1978 (both were born in Akron, by the way) lives in San Francisco, works with retarded children, and is getting married in December.

Whew. That's a long graph. It would never have gotten past you. Maybe six graphs, probably seven or eight. This is a daily newspaper. Not a novel.

It was great to get your letter. I hope you're well. About Pat, what can I say? I think of him and those crummy cigars he chewed on. Rum Crooks, they were. I think of his foot on the desk, demanding copy NOW!!!! Your letter brings that all of that back.


DC Balz
2264 Cathedral Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008

[Blogger Note: The cigars were DeNobili]

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tom Suchan report from Wichita

Tom Suchan worked at the Wichita Eagle for Davis “Buzz” Merritt, author of Knightfall, the great critique on Knight Ridder. Posts on Buzz appear in the April 2005 archives of the blog on April 26 and 30. Here is a report from Suchan:

After 13 years in beautiful Akron, I left the Beacon Journal to go to work for Larry Flynt in September 1977. He was just beginning his legitimate publication, Ohio Magazine, and I was the executive editor.

My period there didn’t go real well. I started work on the day after Labor Day and left the following year on Valentine’s Day. (It was my holiday career.)

With the help of Scott Bosley, I got a job at the Wichita Eagle in May 1978. (It was quite a shock to my system since I hadn’t been further west than Chicago at that time.) I came in as Sunday editor and then moved up to assistant managing editor.

My years in Wichita were good. The editor, Buzz Merritt, was the first Knight editor to go to a Ridder paper, and he worked hard to improve the quality.

In 1989, I left the newsroom to try something completely new at the paper. I became manager of development. The aim was to find new and exciting ways to make money for the paper, and we did. We published books, directories and the like.

My professional career stopped in 1991. I stopped working (or retired) in March of that year. I was 48 at the time.

I had three main goals to accomplish after I left newspapering: to write the Great American Novel, to grow the perfect tomato and to volunteer.

Unfortunately, the novel never came to be … and I have a drawer full of rejection notices to prove it. The tomato experiment failed, too. Growing tomatoes (and corn and beans and cucumbers) on five acres just west of where we lived got to be just too much. (I’m sure everyone knows that summer temperatures in Wichita are well over the 100-degree mark.)

The volunteering bit was a great success. I found that everybody’s looking for a guy with a relatively strong back to do a variety of jobs.

And that’s where I am now. However, I am a bit surprised at the kind of tasks I’m being offered. They don’t have a thing to do with journalism. Rather it’s food.

We work at a camp for the handicapped … in the kitchen whipping up wonderful goodies. We work at a soup kitchen in downtown Wichita. And we work at a homeless shelter preparing meals.

“We,” by the way is my wife, Kay, and myself. She still continues to work outside the home at our parish school, coordinating programs for special needs children. Our four children all live in the area, and we are finding ourselves doing lots of babysitting for our 11 grandkids.

About the only writing I do anymore is for our parish monthly newspaper. I have a regular column.

We would love to hear from any and all of you in Beacon Journal-land. The particulars are:

Tom Suchan
1734 N. Westfield
Wichita, KS 67212
(316) 722-7809

Friday, July 15, 2005

Knight Ridder earnings drop 13.8 percent

The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Knight Ridder Inc., one of the nation's largest newspaper publishers, said Thursday that second-quarter earnings fell 13.8 percent from a year ago, due in part to declines in circulation revenue as well as increased severance costs.

Net income declined to $74.4 million, or $1 per share, for the three months ended June 26 from $86.3 million, or $1.08 per share, a year ago. The latest quarter includes a 3-cent gain from the favorable resolution of prior-years' tax issues, including interest, offset by a 1-cent charge for severance in Detroit.

The year-ago quarter included gains of 10 cents per share on tax issues and favorable adjustments in Detroit, primarily post-retirement benefits. Excluding one-time items, Knight Ridder said earnings would have fallen 6.9 percent year-over-year.

Total revenue edged up to $761.5 million from $760.2 million last year. Advertising revenue rose to $604.2 million from $591.7 million in the same quarter of 2004. Circulation revenue, however, fell to $132.3 million from $136.4 million last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for earnings of 99 cents per share on sales of $769.4 million.

Knight Ridder's shares fell 25 cents to $62.16 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and remain near the bottom of their 52-week range of $60.09 to $71.07.

Knight Ridder Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder said, "In a pattern that has been consistent since March, the bright spots continue to be retail, help wanted and real estate. The soft spots continue to be classified automotive and national, although national did turn positive --by one-tenth of one percent-- in June. While the June ad revenue increase of 0.9 percent was a bit lower than April and May, it is encouraging to see that July is currently running close to 3 percent, with national considerably improved."

For the quarter, Knight Ridder said costs rose 2.1 percent, with labor and employee benefits up a modest 0.4 percent and newsprint, ink and supplements up 6.2 percent. Interest expense also increased, reflecting both higher rates and higher outstanding debt. Losses from equity investments decreased, due to better results from CareerBuilder and Seattle.

And The Motley Fool reports:

There are also signs that Knight Ridder's attempt to boost its standing in digital media is working. The popular CareerBuilder job site brought in $121.3 million during Q2, a 78% increase over last year. And the Knight Ridder Digital group grew overall online ad sales by more than 52% during the quarter.

Yet even with that good news, we can't know for sure whether Knight Ridder is a budding bargain. That's because the company published neither a balance sheet nor a cash flow statement. Talk about irony: A company built around reporting on others can't seem to get it right when it comes to reporting on itself. Sheesh.

Knight Ridder isn't unique in the industry for this practice, of course. Tribune (NYSE: TRB) and Gannett (NYSE: GCI) both did the same thing over the past 24 hours. Still, it stinks. And what's the point, anyway? Shouldn't Knight Ridder want investors to have all the data they need to jump on board if the stock is indeed undervalued? You'd think so.

James Todd Kittinger obit

Sorry we missed this earlier

James Todd Kittinger Jr., who retired from the production engraving department in 1994 with 26 years of service, died June 23.

Here is the obituary published in the Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, July 7, 2005:

James Todd Kittinger, Jr., 72, died June 23, 2005.

He was the beloved husband of the late Eva; loving uncle of Kathy Gabler; and dear brother of John and the late Katherine Reed.

He served honorably in the U.S. Navy, and was an Akron Beacon Journal employee for many years.

Private Services. Malloy Memorial & Crematory.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

30 attend Midwest Intern Camp

A thank-you from Bonnie Bolden:
Some 30 interns and entry-level journalists attended the Knight Ridder Midwest Intern Camp at the Akron Beacon Journal last week, taking over the open space that once housed the third-floor newsroom library. "We had a wonderful group of young journalists who participated fully, asked excellent questions and challenged the speakers," said Bonnie Bolden, newsroom, who organized and directed the on-site camp.She thanked the following people for serving as speakers: Publisher Jim Crutchfield; newsroom staff members Kim Barth, Mike Burbach, Andale Gross, David Hertz, Darnell Mayberry, Mike Needs, Robin Tinay Sallie, Debra Adams Simmons and MarkTurner; Karen Lefton, human resources; and Rita Madick, community relations and marketing.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Donn F. Gaynor classified obit

Donn F. Gaynor

Donn F. Gaynor, of Akron, passed away on July 6, 2005 after a short battle with cancer.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, he attended Butler University. He was a veteran of the U.S. Armed Air Forces in World War II and later worked for Chicago and Southern Air Lines, Lake Central Air Lines and the Mansfield News Journal. Donn retired in 1993 from the Akron Beacon Journal after 27 years as a reporter and copy editor. He then worked part-time at the Arlington Greenhouse for seven years.

Donn was preceded in death by his wife, Paula "Joan"; daughter, Patricia Wines; son, Donn "Mike" Gaynor; and granddaughter, Cynthia Wines. He leaves his daughter, Paula Calton; grandchildren, Shana Myers, Rachel Lewis and Ricky Calton; daughter, Pamela Ruff; grandchildren, Michael and Mellissa Ruff and grandchildren, Joanne and Damon Gaynor; daughter-in-law, Jeaneatte Gaynor; grandchildren, Shawn, Jamie and Casie Gray; daughter- in-law, Diane Siess; great- grandchildren, Aubree, Alaina and Alexa Myers, Meah and Miles (Lewis) Bland and Dillon Gray.

Calling hours will be TONIGHT from 5 to 8 at Newcomer Funeral Home, 131 N. Canton Rd., where funeral services will be conducted Monday at 1 p.m., with Rev. Robin Adair officiating. Interment will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park. The family requests all contributions be made in Donn's remembrance to the American Cancer Society, 1900 W. Market St., Akron OH 44313-6927.
(Newcomer Funeral Home, 330-784-3334.)
Please sign the guest book at
[Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Sunday, July 10, 2005, page B8, col. 4]

You also can leave comments here.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Donn F. Gaynor news obit

Newsman Donn F. Gaynor dies of lung cancer at age 78

Retired journalist known for putting together accurate, well-written articles

By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer

Colleagues describe retired Akron Beacon Journal copy editor and reporter Donn F. Gaynor as soft-spoken and easygoing, but a great newspaperman.

``He was a journeyman's journeyman in the business. We won't see his caliber again,'' said copy editor Charles Montague, who worked by Mr. Gaynor's side. ``His work was well-written and well-researched and he always managed to put things in perspective for the reader.''

Mr. Gaynor died Wednesday of lung cancer. He was 78.

Born in Indianapolis, he loved the outdoors and taking day trips. His family said he would often throw his fishing gear into the car and venture out from his Firestone Park home.

Mr. Gaynor was known for putting together accurate and well-written articles in a short time.

Montague still remembers one of Mr. Gaynor's best lead paragraphs because it was concise and to the point: ``The car went three miles the wrong way on the East Expressway before the inevitable happened.''

Ironically, Mr. Gaynor was at work the day a similar story would be written about his own family.

In April 1974, Mr. Gaynor received a call from his wife telling him his 2-year-old granddaughter had fallen, so she and their daughter were taking the child to the doctor.

Then 1 ½ hours later, he received another call telling him there had been a car accident and he needed to go to Barberton Citizens Hospital. He recalled what happened next to a reporter: ``She was dead -- they were all dead when I got there.''

The crash claimed his wife, Paula, his oldest daughter, Patricia Wines, and his granddaughter, Cynthia. Mrs. Gaynor apparently lost control of her car and swerved into the path of a truck.

The accident that claimed three generations of family members was less than two miles from their home.

``It was devastating for all of us, and despite his personal suffering, Dad pulled us all through it,'' said daughter Pam Ruff of Norton. ``He was never the same after the accident. He remained faithful to Mom. He never dated and he never took off his wedding ring.''

Ruff said her father was a lovable, caring person.

``He cared for everyone else, but never wanted anyone to fuss over him,'' she said.

On July 9, 2001, he lost his only son, Donn Michael, when he suffered an apparent heart attack while riding a motorcycle.

He is survived by two daughters.

A self-taught newsman, Mr. Gaynor attended Butler University in Indianapolis.

He worked for the Mansfield News Journal for 10 years before joining the Akron Beacon Journal in 1966. He was a reporter, assistant city editor, city editor then copy editor until retiring in 1993.

An aviation buff, he was in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1945 to 1947, then worked for Lake Central Airlines and Chicago and Southern Airlines as a baggage handler and operations agent.

``We used to go out to the Akron Fulton Airport and watch the small planes take off and land,'' Ruff said. ``He also taught us all how to drive, grandchildren, too, in the airport parking lot there.''

He started out as a police and fire reporter at the Mansfield newspaper.

``He used to listen to the police scanner and hop in the car and take us with him while he chased down the story or followed fire trucks,'' Ruff said.

As a copy editor, he still listened to his police scanner and would call the news desk to report breaking news.

He was also known to crack jokes and his humor often showed through the headlines he wrote. He used to joke about how he always had to defend his double-N Donn, saying it was his only distinction.

When he learned the late Donn F. Eisele was appointed an astronaut in 1968, Mr. Gaynor wrote a piece for the newspaper.

``Being a double-N Donn is a darn nuisance,'' he wrote. ``I see that Gov. Jim Rhodes welcomed you to your hometown, Columbus, after your record-setting flight in Apollo 7, with a letter addressed to Don (one-N-only). I know how it hurts.''

He wrote that he was named with two N's either because he was born during a tornado or the result of a breeze that shook his mother's hand when she signed the birth certificate.

``Later, when I noticed that I wasn't like the other kids, namewise, I asked Mom, `How come I got two N's in my name?' '' the story went on. ``She told me she read it on the side of a boxcar in a passing freight train.

``She never offered any other explanation. I didn't, until that time, even know that Mother read boxcars. You should read my mail. Usually it is addressed to Don or Donald, seldom Donn.

``I have gotten mail addressed to Dawn, Down, Dinn, Dunn and, on at least two occasions, Damn Gaynor -- of course, those two might have been intentional.''

Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or 800-777-7232 or

Gaynor Services

Calling hours for Donn F. Gaynor will be 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Newcomer Funeral Home, 131 N. Canton Road, Akron. Services will be at 1 p.m. Monday at the funeral home, with burial in Greenlawn Cemetery. The family suggests donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

[Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Friday, July 8, 2005, page B6, col. 3]

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Donn F. Gaynor dies

Donn F. Gaynor, of Akron, passed away July 6, 2005. Funeral announcements later. (Newcomer Funeral Home, 330-784-3334.)
[Akron Beacon Journal, Thursday, July 7, 2005, page B6, col. 2]

Full obituary will be posted later.
Please see the June 18 post on "A visit with Donn," one of the greatest BJ newspapermen.

Advertising chief leaving BJ

Scott Brooks, vice president of advertising at the Akron Beacon Journal since 2003, has resigned to take a similar position with a startup newspaper in Washington, D.C.

Brooks will become vice president of advertising for the Washington Examiner, a free daily tabloid launched earlier this year.

Brooks' last day at the Beacon Journal will be July 22. Publisher James Crutchfield said he will conduct a search for a replacement.

Brooks, 44, joined the Beacon Journal in March 2003 and reorganized the newspaper's advertising department to focus more on smaller advertisers, Crutchfield said.

The Examiner is delivered free to 50,000 single-copy readers and to 210,000 households Monday through Saturday. Owned by Clarity Media Group, the paper offers lower advertising rates than competitors such as the Washington Post. Its home delivery targets high-income neighborhoods.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Beacon Journal wins journalism awards

The Beacon Journal is among the Ohio news organizations earning top honors from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.

In the Best of Show category, the Beacon Journal's David Giffels was named best columnist in Ohio.

The newspaper also captured several first-place awards, including reporter Bob Downing for best coverage of the environment for his articles on E-Check. Television critic R.D. Heldenfels won first place for best media criticism for a series of columns on Election 2004, and sportswriter Tom Reed won first place for best sports profile for ``Greece Calls Akron Man Home.''

Reporter Phil Trexler earned top honors for best use of public record for an article on license suspensions.

To read about others winning awards, click on the headline to read the full story which apppeared in the Beacon Journal on Wednesday, July 6, 2005.

Monday, July 04, 2005

We took an Erie Canal trip in our boat end of June

We, Ann and Ott Gangl took our boat on a ten day Erie Canal trip, if you would like to see the pictures and a report, please click on the headline for the link. (Thanks Harry for doing it for me).