Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Comments from Larry Froelich

This comment comes from Larry Froelich who retired last year from the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader:

I was just reading about the demise of Channels and it brings to mind what they've done with my job since I've retired. The H-L decided it no longer needed a news editor. Can you imagine?! Well, in today's newspaper environment maybe you can. I like to think that the job wouldn't have been eliminated so long as I were there. But as soon as I retired, they decided to rethink the entire News Desk operation, given a hiring freeze that seems to have ushered in a new Ice Age. Perhaps doing without a news editor (one experienced in handling a nighttime news operation with special emphasis on news judgment and news packaging, especially with regard to major breaking nation/world events) is workable for routine days. But just wait until there's another 9/11 or some similar breaking story. Where's the experience to pull those stories together on the fly? In short order, it won't exist. Actually, I think that like your Channels, the paper is deferring to 24/7 cable and the Internet for such coverage ... and so fewer readers will look to their paper for the detailed, in-depth coverage they used to get. That same downward spiral of expectations that Olesky refers to [in a comment on the post below about Channels.]
Larry Froelich
(859) 227-6376

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Do you really need Channels?

Beginning April 2, the Beacon Journal’s Channels TV magazine will be available by request only. A postcard was attached as a sticky note to Sunday’s magazine for subscribers to fill out and mail in.

The notice said:

“To continue uninterrupted delivery of the Channels TV magazine with your home-delivered subscription, complete and return this postage-paid card by Monday, March 27.”

There also was a notice printed atop the magazine.

Presumably those who don’t want the TV guide could save the newspaper money in paper and printing costs.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Enjoy features Black Keys

Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist Dan Auerbach were the cover feature story in this week’s Enjoy, the Beacon Journal entertainment tab.

The story by Malcolm X Abram with photos by Lindsay Semple tells about their work on their fourth record album at a studio in a West Akron basement. They also are preparing for a sold-out concert at the Agora in Cleveland on Saturday.

Read all about these Firestone High grads and see photos on Ohio.com by clicking on the headline above.

Carney is the son of Jim Carney and stepson of Katie Byard, both Beacon Journal reporters. .

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why not?

Corpus Christi editor shoots back at critics

After a week in which her paper drew both praise for breaking the story of Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident, and backhanded insults for being some kind of small-time rag, Corpus Christi Caller-Times Editor Libby Averyt has shot back with a column in which she defended her paper's reputation and said scooping larger, nationally-known competitors should not surprise anyone.

"While the White House press corps seemed stunned that the Caller-Times broke the story on Dick Cheney's hunting accident, our local readers expected it," Averyt declared in her piece that also ran online. "And we were glad to meet their expectations. Frankly, the newsroom had some difficulty understanding what all the hubbub was about last week. As national newscasters asked repeatedly why a local newspaper first reported the story instead of the White House press, we kept asking, 'Why not?' "

The Caller-Times, a 57,591-daily circulation paper owned by E.W. Scripps Co., gained international attention on Feb. 12 when its Web site first reported that Cheney had shot his friend, attorney Harry Whittington, during a hunting accident Feb. 11 on a nearby ranch.

... "We all heard our newspaper and this community falsely described as 'Podunk' and 'small town,' clearly proving that some of the national press had failed to do their homework," Averyt wrote.

[Source: Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher]

Friday, February 17, 2006

Firm backs Guild bid for KR

The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America announced Wednesday that the investment firm of California supermarket magnate Ron Burkle will help finance its attempt to buy nine unionized Knight Ridder newspapers.

San Jose-based Knight Ridder, the nation's second-largest newspaper company and owner of the Mercury News, is exploring a sale under pressure from major shareholders unhappy with the company's performance. Knight Ridder has said it is interested only in selling the company -- which includes 32 daily newspapers -- as a whole. That would force the union to buy the nine papers from whoever acquires Knight Ridder, if a sale goes through.

Burkle's Yucaipa Companies will provide major financing for the union's efforts to buy the newspapers. The union would not say how much money Yucaipa will give. Additional financing would come from banks and other sources.

``Yucaipa can certainly put up enough money to finance the deal,'' said Guild President Linda Foley. ``There's no question now that the deal can be done.''

[Source: Pete Carey, The San Jose Mercury News]

Thursday, February 16, 2006

College editors suspended

College editors suspended for running Muhammad cartoons

Two editors at the University of Illinois student-run newspaper were suspended Tuesday for their decision to run a series of cartoons that have sparked outrage and violence around the Islamic world.

Editor-in-chief Acton H. Gorton said the Daily Illini's publisher suspended him and the newspaper's opinions sections editor, Charles Prochaska, for two weeks pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Publisher and general manager Mary Cory released a statement Tuesday night saying a student task force will "investigate the internal decision-making and communication surrounding the publishing" of the cartoons.

The paper's editorial staff told readers in Monday's editions that the decision to run the cartoons was made by Gorton and Prochaska without their knowledge. While the staff apologized to the Muslim community, it stopped short of saying it disagreed with the decision. ...

The Daily Illini, which is independent of the university, ran six of the 12 cartoons first published in September in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten. In the Daily Illini's Feb. 9 edition, it led with the cartoon that has caused the greatest furor: a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb as part of his turban.

{Source: The Associated Press via Editor & Publisher]

Guild Local 7 history sought

A Kent State University student doing a documentary on Local One is looking for an Akron guild retiree to talk about union topics and history. If you're interested, e-mail Paula Schleis (pschleis@thebeaconjournal.com) so she can make arrangements for you to speak with him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Check out 1959 news staff

This is the second post on the 1959 Beacon Journal Directory of Employes. This post covers more than 100 employes in tne News Department. In earlier times there was no telephone directory of employees printed in booklet form. This one was printed on one newspaper size broadsheet about 15 by 23 inches. This copy was revised on September 15, 1959. Our thanks to Calvin Deshong who provided the sheet to us We will try to reprint the list of employes for each department.This list begins with Ben Maidenburg and ends with Ted Walls in the photo deparment. The list is too long to post on the blog, but you can see a copy of it by clicking on the headline above.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Muslims decry Bok cartoon

Several Northeastern Ohio Muslims and community leaders met Friday in Cuyahoga Falls to express their concerns about the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have ignited outrage and violence.

At issue are the caricatures published in the European press -- work that many U.S. newspapers decided against publishing. The group also took issue with a cartoon inked by Beacon Journal editorial cartoonist Chip Bok.

Bok said he did not draw his cartoon with intentions of offending Muslims and has defended his right to free press.

But Muslims on Friday said Bok's cartoon was disrespectful and demeaning.

The level of hurt, they said, was deeper since it was in the local paper.

“The Beacon Journal has not published the Danish cartoons. However, on Feb. 5, the Akron paper published a Bok cartoon depicting a pixilated picture of Muhammad on CNN. A couple in the cartoon said, ``Well, no wonder Muslims are upset. Muhammad looks like he's on acid.''

The editorial cartoon has prompted several letters in response. Also on Friday afternoon, there was a demonstration outside of the newspaper's East Exchange Street building.

Click on the headline to read the full story.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Only 11 attend BJ lunch

There were only 11 at the monthly BJ Retirees luncheon at Papa Joe’s restaurant on Wednesday, Feb 8.

Printers were Gene Daniels, Cal Deshong, Ed Hanzel and wife Norma, Carl Nelson and Bob Pell. Newsroom types were Bill Canterbury, Art Cullison, Tim Hayes, Sandy Levenson and John OIesky.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Teaming up to acquire KR

MediaNews Group is discussing a possible alliance with Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain, to acquire Knight Ridder, which put itself up for sale under pressure from shareholders.

Sources confirmed that MediaNews, a privately held Denver-based newspaper chain, is in talks with Gannett regarding Knight Ridder, the nation's second-largest newspaper company. MediaNews, the seventh-largest newspaper publisher, needs partners to finance a bid for Knight Ridder and has already teamed up with three private equity firms. Gannett canceled two days of meetings with Knight Ridder that were to take place last week.

It was unclear whether Gannett, based in McLean, Va., was planning on a joint bid with MediaNews to buy all of Knight Ridder, or if the two would divide up Knight Ridder's 32 newspapers in the event of a successful bid.

Sources also said one private equity team -- Texas Pacific, Thomas H. Lee, and Hellman & Friedman -- is returning for another round of meetings with Knight Ridder this week.

Source: Pete Carey, The San Jose Mercury News

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Knight Ridder delays annual meeting

By Editor & Publisher

With the possible sale of all or parts of its business looming, Knight Ridder revealed Thursday that it has cancelled its annual shareholders meeting scheduled for April 18. The news came in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after the markets closed.

During a board meeting on Jan. 29, directors voted to cancel the shareholder meeting until "a future date, to be determined," said the filing. Under the company's former bylaws, the board had to set the date and time for shareholder meetings in April or May. That requirement has been removed giving the board more flexibility.

Additionally, members voted to close any loopholes that might prevent Knight Ridder executives from receiving compensation should a sale of the company occur.

An "Executive Income Security Agreement" provides benefits for senior management in the event there is a change of control and executives are terminated "without cause" or for "good reason."

The board voted on Sunday to amend the agreement "in order to resolve a potential ambiguity." That grey area involves if the executives are eligible for retirement or early retirement, which could prevent them from collecting benefits.

The board authorized the company to clarify the agreement to ensure executives are compensated regardless if they are eligible for retirement. A full copy of the text is found here http://www.knightridder.com/investor/sec_filings.html

Western Union quits sending telegrams

Because I am old enough to recall sending stringer news by telegram, I believe this qualifies as a post on this blog.

After 145 years, Western Union has quietly stopped sending telegrams.

On the company's web site, if you click on "Telegrams" in the left-side navigation bar, you're taken to a page that ends a technological era with about as little fanfare as possible:

"Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative."

The decline of telegram use goes back at least to the 1980s, when long-distance telephone service became cheap enough to offer a viable alternative in many if not most cases. Faxes didn't help. Email could be counted as the final nail in the coffin.

Western Union has not failed. It long ago refocused its main business to make money transfers for consumers and businesses. Revenues are now $3 billion annually. It's now called Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and is a subsidiary of First Data Corp.

The world's first telegram was sent on May 24, 1844 by inventor Samuel Morse. The message, "What hath God wrought," was transmitted from Washington to Baltimore. In a crude way, the telegraph was a precursor to the Internet in that it allowed rapid communication, for the first time, across great distances.

Western Union goes back to 1851 as the Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. In 1856 it became the Western Union Telegraph Company after acquisition of competing telegraph systems. By 1861, during the Civil War, it had created a coast-to-coast network of lines.

Other company highlights:

* 1866: Introduced the first stock ticker.
* 1871: Introduced money transfers.
* 1884: Became one of the original 11 stocks tracked by the Dow Jones Average.
* 1914: Introduced the first consumer charge card.
* 1964: Began using a transcontinental microwave beam to replace land lines.
* 1974: Launched Westar I, the first U.S. dedicated communications satellite.

On Jan. 26, the last day you could send a telegram, First Data announced it would spin Western Union off as an independent, publicly traded company.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Times-Picayune editor honored

Jim Amoss, editor of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is Editor & Publisher's 2006 Editor of the Year.

In an unprecedented 10-page profile for the February 2006 issue, E&P's Mark Fitzgerald reveals that Amoss is being honored for directing his newsroom in its remarkable coverage "before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina hit" the editor's hometown of New Orleans last August.

The story recalls the newspaper's extensive past reporting on the city's vulnerability, especially the "Washing Away" series by reporters John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein that predicted with eerie accuracy the horrific consequences of poor emergency preparedness planning by local, state, and federal governments. It also notes that the Times-Picayune reported on levee failures right after Katrina struck -- at a time all other news organizations were saying New Orleans had "dodged a bullet."

Times-Picayune journalists accomplished all this, E&P notes, despite being forced to evacuate their newsroom and produce a paper on the fly with help from two other Louisiana dailies, The Courier in Houma and The Advocate in Baton Rouge.