Thursday, March 30, 2006

You would smile, too

McClatchy Co. President and Chief Executive Gary B. Pruitt got a $1 million salary last year, up from the $950,000 salary he received for 2004, the newspaper publisher said.

Pruitt also received a $950,000 bonus for the year, down from his 2004 bonus of $1.1 million, according to the Sacramento, Calif.-based company's proxy filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additionally, the CEO received 40,000 restricted shares, which will vest in January 2009, subject to certain performance criteria, according to the proxy.

Pruitt also received $657,000 under a long-term incentive plan, compared with $108,600 in 2004. Additionally, he received stock appreciation rights based on the value of 75,000 shares of McClatchy stock.

The passing scene in Akron

Many–if not most–of our viewers are former or retired BJ types from out of town in distant places like Atlanta, Washington, L.A., Colorado, New York, Paris or New Zealand. They read the blog because they don’t see the Beacon daily and may yearn to hear about friends they once met daily while in Akron.

Often our posts are obituaries of BJ types they knew. Lately, it has been much grousing about the passing of Knight Ridder. A column by David Giffels today in the BJ prompts this post about the passing of three business firms you may recall. Do you remember Albrecht’s Lighting, Ahern’s Florist and Varca’s Hardware? Their obits all appeared this month.

Ahern’s, once the largest retail florist in Akron, closed abruptly March 23. First Internet sales, toll-free floral sales and big box stores cut into business at Ahern's Florist. Then, a venture to start a second location in Hudson sustained flood damage, which helped deliver the devastating blows to the 92-year-old, family-run business, Mary Ellen Ahern said.

Albright’s, an 84-year-old Akron business went dark for the last time March 17. Albright's, an accessories and lighting store in West Akron, was a victim of Internet shopping, big-box competition and a lackluster economy, the owner said. Albright's was founded in 1922 by Harry Albright.

Varca’s Hardware will close in May. Four generations of Varcas have worked at the hardware store since Frank and Teresa Varca started the business in 1948. Because of competition from chain hardware stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot, Varca Hardware has been losing money since about 2000, its owners said. It will be replaced by a McDonald’s.

The stories are told in headlines Click on the links in the headlines to read them:

We've lost that sense of identity by David Lee Giffels
[BJ March 30, 2006]

Burdens swamp Aherns by Betty Lin-Fisher
[BJ March 30, 2006]

Varca Hardware will close in May by Mike Rasor
[BJ March 26, 2006]

It's Lights Out for Albright by Mary Ethridge
[BJ March 18, 2006]

Unfortunately, the Albright story, published on Saturday, March 18, 2006, already has passed on to the archives so you will have to pay to read it. Send a request to if you really want to read about it and I will attach it to an e-mail.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A JSK quote from 1978

A 1978 quote from John S. Knight:

“I’d rather be known as the man who had a god-damned good newspaper –readable, lively, well-illustrated, up to date –than the guy who had the paper about which they said, ’He’s the fellow who makes the most money.’”

Taken from a story by Dan Neuharth who worked for the Miami Herald in the 1970s and interviewed Knight in 1978 three years before his death at the age of 86. The story was published on the Commentary page of the Beacon Journal on Wednesday, March 29, under a headline which questioned, “Can journalism
survive Wall St.?

Click on the headline above to read the commentary.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Save The Beacon Rally

A large crowd gathered along High Street for the Save the Beacon Rally sponsored by the Akron Newspaper Guild Tuesday night.

Speakers include John Wagner, secretary-treasurer of the Tri-County Labor Council, Akron City Council President Marco Sommerville; Summit County Council members Tom Teo
dosio and Tim Crawford; John Logue, director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University; former Congressman Tom Sawyer who is running for the 13th District Congress seat; Bernard Lunzer, secretary-treasurer of the Newspaper Guild, CWA; and Mayor Don Plusquellic.

Teodosio announced the unanimous passage of a resolution of support by the County Council. Mayor Plusquellic said City Council will take similar action next Tuesday. Plusquellic also announced that the presidents of the Chamber of Commerce and the University of Akron will join him in sending a message to McClatchy urging sale of the
newspaper to a community responsible entity.

Lunzer announced that a bid was submitted Tuesday by the Guild-endorsed “worker friendly” Yucaipa Cos. for the purchase of the 12 newspapers that are to be sold after the Knight Ridder purchase by McClatchy.

Sawyer told a story of meeting Mary Ridder in Washington and telling her he w
as not happy with the newspaper tactics of Tony Ridder and she told him that Tony was not her son but her damn nephew–indicating she also was not pleased.

Local Guild officers Andale Gross, Kathy Antionetti and Kymberli Hagelberg were on stage to introduce the speakers and plead for continued support of their cause.

Beacon Journal artists Dennis Balogh and Kathy Hagedorn carried a huge Save The Beacon sign which they had lettered. Others carried small signs printed with slogans in red such as “Keep His Legacy Alive” with a silhouette of John S. Knight and “Keep our Quality Newspaper.”

There were a number of retirees along with current BJ employes in the crowd. Among the faces recognized were former editor Dale Allen and Stuart Warner.

Allen did not speak at the rally but reporter Candace Goforth got a nice quote from him.

“If the people interested in purchasing (the Beacon Journal) are only interested in greed, like the shareholder in Florida who sold out Knight Ridder for a lousy $2 a share, (efforts like) this rally will not be much help," Allen said. “But if the bidder has some concern about this newspaper and this community, it will.”

The story by Goforth and a one-column photo showing Plusquellic with the crowd in the background was published on the Business front along with a nice story by Gloria Irwin on bids made Tuesday for the newspapers.

Click here to read Goforth’s story.

Click here to read Irwin’s story.

More photos at Rally

There was a variety of signs urging support at the Save The Beacon Rally on Tuesday night on the High Street side of the Beacon Journal.

Clapping his hands at left in the crowd photo is BJ artist retiree Art Krummel who was among a number of retirees at the rally,

Having a conversation are Mayor Don Plusquellic and Guild sector representative Darren Carroll who answered questions for 75 minutes at a session Monday night at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Another session is scheduled there at noon today to explain the Guild-backed bid for the 12 newspapers by the “worker friendly” Yucaipa Cos.

Pete Geiger is in Mongolia ... again

Pete and Sandy Geiger are in Mongolia, doing mission work. The Geigers had been in Mongolia some years ago, too. Pete checks in on this blog, so send him a "Hey!" at

They are in Zuunmod, Mongolia, to be exact. They've been working for their church denomination. When their contract ends in April, Pete and Sandy will remain as volunteers.

Pete also reports:

"We're teaching college English and doing such stuff as raising support for college scholarships, for annual drought-disaster relief in the Northern Gobi Desert (now in its fifth year of drought), and for a local Kindergarten for orphans and poor kids. You'd enjoy visiting Zuunmod, a provincial capital city of 20,000."

They just have KR and Social Security send their checks to Mongolia.

Pete, as older BJ folks remember, once was the BJ religion writer. Just like Terry Pluto, only Pete had more hair.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The 3 big possibilities

Not all of the 524 full-time BJ employees attended a meeting at the Akron Summit-County Public Library on Monday evening to learn more about a Guild-backed proposal to buy the 12 left out newspapers in the Knight Ridder sale.

But Darren Carroll, a sector representative of the Guild, answered questions for 75 minutes about the proposal which has been discussed in previous blog posts. Carroll admitted he did not have all the answers.

The question he answered with stark reality was what will happen when a new owner takes over one of the newspapers. There are three possibilies, he said.

1. The new owner announces he will accept and abide by the bargaining agreement in force.

2. The new owner says he will not accept the contract, but is willing to negotiate a new one.

3. The new owner tells all current employees they must re-apply for the jobs they hold and agree to certain pay and benefits.

Retirees face a somewhat better prospect. The government apparently will guarantee pensions, but health benefits will be up to the new owner.

John Logue, director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University who attended the session, said that the plan by Ron Burkle's "worker friendly" Yucaipa Cos. to offer employees a chance to invest in the new company were not unique. He said Ohio has 435 empoyee-owned companies. Among newspapers at least partially owned by employees is the Milwaukee (WI) Journal-Sentinel.

Firms in addition to Yucapia expected to submit bids today include MediaNews Group, Gannett and Lee Enterprises.

County Council member Tom Teodosio announced during the meeting that the Summit County Council had met in special session and unanimously approved the resolution posted below. Council member Tim Crawford was also at the session as was Tom Sawyer who is in a race of 8 Republicans and 9 Democrats for the 13th Congressional District seat.

There will be another session at noon on Tuesday at the library and there also will be a Save the Beacon rally on the High Street side of the Beacon Journal at 6 that evening. The rally is being billed as a community event and not sponsored by the Guild. The Beacon Journal printed a staff report on the council resolution on page B5 on Tuesday, but did not mention the meeting at the library.

County Council backs Guild proposal

This resolution, approved unanimously by the Summit County Council on Monday, March 27, was sponsored by Tim Crawford, Calir Dickinson, Paul Gallagher and Tom Teodosio.

A Resolution of support for the Knight-Ridder Council of The Newspaper Guild-CWA for a "Worker Friendly" buyout of the Knight-Ridder Newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal, and the creation of a ground-breaking employee-owned media company offering the chance to create a place where employees want to work and invest and thereby protecting the legacy of John S. Knight in Akron, for the County Council, and declaring an emergency.

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2006 McClatchy Co., a Sacramento, Califronia based company, announced it will acquire Knight-Ridder, Inc., the parent company of the Akron Beacon Journal (Beacon), for $6.5 billion in cash and stock; and

WHEREAS, McClatchy Co. has indicated that it plans to sell twelve of the thirty-two Knight-Ridder daily newspapers, including the Beacon; and

WHEREAS, the Beacon currently has 524 full-time and 191 part-time employees and has a long and important history in Summit County and Northeast Ohio; and

WHEREAS, the Beacon was founded in 1839 as the Summit Beacon, taking its current name in 1897 when the Summit Beacon merged with the Akron Journal; and

WHEREAS, Charles Landon Knight purchased the Beacon in 1903 and his son John S. Knight inherited the paper from his father and expanded into a journalistic dynasty founding. Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Inc. which by 1981 employed 15,000 workers and had a circulation of 3.6 million daily; and

WHEREAS, John S. Knight also was instrumental in Akron's growth and development, and "observing and contributing to Akron's metamorphosis from a canal town to a heavy industrial center, to finally a post-industrial city"; and

WHEREAS, since December 2005 the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America has been working to create a "Worker Friendly" buyout of the Knight-Ridder Newspapers, including the Beacon; and

WHEREAS, in an attempt to protect the legacy of John S. Knight and quality the consumers of Knight-Ridder papers have come to expect and rely on over the decades, the Knight-Ridder Council of the Newspaper Guild-CWA is currently working in partnership with the Yucaipa Companies of Los Angeles, to create a worker-friendly and customer-friendly company to buy and improve Knight-Ridder newspapers and online services; and

WHEREAS, the Knight-Ridder Council of The Newspaper Guild-CWA has endorsed this innovative plan to create worker-friendly media company that will focus on serving customers and their communities;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the County of Summit, State of Ohio that:

The Council of the County of Summit, State of Ohio supports the efforts of the Knight-Ridder Council of The Newspaper Guild-CWA for a "Worker Friendly" buyout of the Knight-Ridder Newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal, and the creation of a ground-breaking employee-owned media company offering the chance to create a place where employees want to work and invest and thereby protecting the legacy of John. S. Knight in Akron.

This Resolution is declared an emergency in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the County of Summit, and for the further reason to indicate this Council's support to McClatchy Co. of efforts by the Knight-Ridder Council of The Newspaper Guild CWA for a "Worker Friendly" buyout of the Knight-Ridder Newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal.

Provided this Resolution received the affirmative vote of eight members it shall take effect immediately upon its adoption and approval by the Executive; otherwise, it shall take effect and be in force at the earliest time provided by law.

It is found and determined that all formal actions of this Council concerning and relating to the adoption of the Resolution were adopted in an open meeting of this Council, and that all deliberations of this Council and of any of its committees that resulted in such formal action, were in meetings open to the public, in compliance with all legal requirements, including Section 121.22 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Heads, quotes and pix

The sale of Knight Ridder and the aftermath has engendered lots of copy. Here’s a smattering of headlines, quotes and a photo googled up today.

The Monterey (CA) Weekly on March 23, 2006 printed this photo which might become an archive classic along with a reprint of a long summary from the American Journalism Review. The headline on the article used the words we first came up with for an earlier post.

Sherman’s March
How Naples, Florida money manager Bruce S. Sherman muscled Knight Ridder—the nation’s second-largest newspaper company—into putting itself up for sale.

Click here to see the full reprint or go to the AJR site.

There also was a great illustration in the New York Times recently which showed a folded newspaper obituary page with the words “RIDDER KNIGHT’ printed atop the column to mark the end of the newspaper chain.

The best quote comes from a piece by Austin, Texas, columnist Molly Ivins who occasionally sneaks onto the BJ commentary page. Here’s the quote:

AUSTIN, Texas—I don’t so much mind that newspapers are dying—it’s watching them commit suicide that pisses me off.

And Molly continues:
“Let’s use this as a handy exercise in journalism. What is the unexamined assumption here? That the newspaper business is dying. Is it? In 2005, publicly traded U.S. newspaper publishers reported operating profit margins of 19.2%, down from 21% in 2004, according to The Wall Street Journal. That ain’t chopped liver—it’s more than double the average operating profit margin of the Fortune 500.

“So who thinks newspapers are dying? Newspaper analysts on Wall Street. In fact, the fine folks on Wall Street just forced the sale of Knight Ridder Inc. to McClatchy Co., a chain one-third KR’s size. McClatchy’s CEO, Gary Pruitt, pointed out in an Op-Ed piece that investors are so chicken that his company picked up KR for a song. (Actually, he said no such thing—he was far more dignified. But that’s what it comes down to.) So if newspapers are so ridiculously profitable, how come there’s panic on Wall Street about them? Because we’re losing circulation—2% in 2004, and down 13% from a 1985 peak, says the Newspaper Association of America. “

To read all of Molly’s article which appears on a blog called TruthDig, click here.

And, finally, the headline from the New York Daily News:

Lots of lettuce on line in grocer's split
Billionaire supermarket magnate Ron Burkle's divorce battle with his wife, Janet, has exposed his staggering wealth as well as her close relationship with an ex-con, the story says..

Last year, the 51-year-old entrepreneur pumped $100 million into the Sean John clothing empire run by his pal Sean (P. Diddy) Combs. A Democratic stalwart, Burkle loaned two of his six houses to Sen. John Kerry last spring for star-packed fund-raisers, and Bill Clinton sits on the board of Burkle's Yucaipa Co. Among his other buddies are Michael Jackson, Jesse Jackson and Bono.

"During the last 20 years of our 28-year marriage, my husband and I lived among the most lavish of American lifestyles," Janet says in papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Their monthly spending, she estimates, was $1.4 million.

Crying poor, Janet Burkle has told friends she might have to work the checkout counter of one of Ron's supermarkets.

But according to Ron Burkle, "She has more than anyone needs to live on in Beverly Hills."

Meanwhile, the Burkles have been tussling over their 12-year-old son.

Ron Burkle wants the boy kept away from Charles Allen, a personal trainer Ron says Janet has been dating. His court papers allege that Allen pled guilty to attempted murder as part of a drug deal.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Dave Hess suffers stroke

Dave Hess, the BJ’s long-time man in Washington, suffered a stroke last Thursday in the pressroom of the Capitol. Hess works three days a week part time for the National Journal.

He thought perhaps he was getting the flu and even drove himself home. He was really fortunate because the part of the brain affected, the right rear lobe, is what helps the body maintain balance.

Dave experienced trouble with his eyes which cleared up nicely, but is still having a little trouble with a little dizziness and maintaining his balance and must be careful he does not fall. His sister came from Columbus to Arlington to be with Dave until he is completely recovered which doctors say may be two or three months.

Send a note to:

David Hess
5411 Easton Dr.
Arlington, VA 22151

Meeting to discuss Yucaipa bid

All Beacon Journal employees have been invited to a meeting to learn about a bid being submitted by Yucaipa Companies to buy the Beacon Journal and 11 other newspapers being let go by McClatchy. We'll also learn about Yucaipa's intention to begin an ESOP plan (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) at the papers, and how that would work. Yucaipa's proposal is backed by The Newspaper Guild, which sought the private investor out after learning Knight Ridder was offering itself up for sale.

The meetings are Monday, March 27 at 6 p.m., and Tuesday, March 28 at noon at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 S. High St. in downtown Akron.

Retirees are welcome to attend.

Save the Beacon Rally!

When: Tuesday, March 28, 6 p.m.,

Where: On High Street. The police will block off the parking meter lane.

Who: Invocation by the Rev. Bob Denton, followed by a slate of local community leaders

Why: To encourage McClatchy to sell us to a new owner who will give priority to the interests of Akron, the Beacon, and its loyal readers.

Questions: Kathy Antoniotti and Kymberli Hagelberg are organizing this effort for us. Thank them for their hard work and quick action in putting this together. We will have signs to distribute. This is NOT a union rally, but a rally for all employees who take pride in this paper and are concerned about its future.

{Note attached to the Guild notice: This event is brought to you by newsroom employees who are willing to risk sounding like the "ridiculous, short-sighted, self-obsessed, arrogant, self-pitying" journalists who are trying to uphold a John S. Knight heritage that is purely "imaginary," as our public editor helpfully explained to our readers on Sunday.}

Burkle plans to bid for all 12

The investment firm controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle is planning to bid for all 12 of the Knight Ridder Inc. newspapers that were put on the auction block last week after the San Jose-based chain agreed to be acquired by McClatchy Co.

Robert Hall, hired by Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. to advise on the bid, said Wednesday that the firm planned to give formal notice of its intention to bid for the papers, which include the Beacon Journal.

Hall, a former publisher of the Inquirer and Daily News, wouldn't put a dollar amount on Tuesday's anticipated bid for the papers, which analysts have valued at $1.4 billion to $2 billion. He said Yucaipa was talking to other potential investors and was hammering out an operating strategy for the papers.

Several newspaper companies, including MediaNews Group Inc. and Gannett Co., could make bids for at least some of the papers, which Sacramento-based McClatchy is selling to help finance its $4.5-billion purchase of Knight Ridder. McClatchy declined to comment Wednesday.

Yucaipa already had teamed with the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America to explore a bid.. Burkle, a major Democratic fundraiser known for buying and selling West Coast grocery chains such as Ralphs, has a history of working with organized labor, and the guild represents workers at eight of the 12 papers McClatchy is selling.

If the Burkle-union bid succeeds, the guild plans to invite employees to invest some of their 401(k) savings in the new company. The union has said that employee ownership would provide tax advantages for a joint bid with Yucaipa.

McClatchy hopes to close the sales of the 12 papers at the same time it completes its acquisition of Knight Ridder, which is expected this summer. McClatchy has said it would prefer a buyer with a commitment to quality journalism, a position that Yucaipa spokesman Frank Quintero said Wednesday should help the union bid.

Click on the headline to read the full story in the Los Angeles Times..

He's Forbes' #112

He only has a high school diploma, but Ron Burkle ranks No. 112 of the 400 richest guys in the U.S., according to Forbes Magazine. Here’s his Forbes profile:

Net Worth: $2.3 billion

Source: Investments, supermarkets, investments
Self made
Age: 52
Marital Status: Divorced, 3 children, 1 divorce
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High School, Diploma

Former bag boy founded investment company Yucaipa 1986; made fortune with leveraged buyouts of supermarket chains Fred Meyer, Jurgensen's, Ralph's. Dealmaking ever since. Recent transactions: invested $100 million in Sean (P. Diddy) Combs' Sean John clothing line; sold majority stake in food supplier Golden State Foods to Wetterau Associates, of St. Louis, for $110 million. Last year merged Alliance Entertainment with publicly traded Source Interlink. Also big stake in Pathmark grocery stores. Longtime Democratic fundraiser a close friend of Bill Clinton; former President calls Burkle's 757 private jet "Ron Air."

Pressroom hands still needed

County resolution supports newspaper

The Summit County Council plans a special meeting for 5 p.m. Monday to vote on a resolution to support a worker-friendly buyout of the Akron Beacon Journal and 11 other Knight Ridder Inc. newspapers, and the creation of an employee-owned media firm.

The resolution supports such a buyout as a way to ``create a place where employees want to work and invest and thereby protect the legacy of John S. Knight,'' the Beacon Journal's longtime editor who built the Knight newspaper chain.

Council President Clair Dickinson, D-at large, said the futures of Akron and the Beacon Journal are inseparable. ``The Beacon is part of our identity. I cannot imagine the city without it,'' he said.

Dickinson, County Councilman Tom Teodosio, D-2, and Akron City Council President Marco Sommerville will be among the speakers at a rally outside the Beacon Journal scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday. The gathering was organized by newsroom staffers to rally public support for the paper's continued role in the community.

[Source: Akron Beacon JourAL business section, Friday, Mar 24, 2006]

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

BJ's Evans, Leach plan web site

From Crain's Cleveland Business March 22, 2006

Beacon Journal columnist, former editor plan web site

A longtime Akron Beacon Journal columnist, a former Beacon Journal editor and other journalists and investors, spurred by the sale of the paper’s parent company, Knight Ridder, plan to unveil an independent news web site by the end of the year.

Diane Evans, who has been at the paper since 1974, and former editor Jan Leach are among the group behind the as-yet-unnamed project, which Ms. Evans says “is truly a new concept for delivering information over the web.”

It will be privately funded and not affiliated with, the Beacon's web site.

“What we’re really trying to do is combine the old-fashioned journalism with new approaches,” Ms. Evans said Wednesday in a telephone interview with Crain’s Cleveland Business. “So that what we’re delivering is credible, it’s reliable … yet really embracing the full capabilities of the Internet.”

The Beacon Journal’s future has been clouded since Knight Ridder’s decision last fall to sell itself, and since last week’s announcement of its purchase by Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy Co., which plans to sell the Akron paper and 11 other Knight Ridder publications.

Click Here!
Ms. Evans said while that uncertainty revved up her plans to make the project a reality, it “has never been conceived as a competing thing to the Beacon Journal,” and she hopes to continue working at the paper.

“It has been conceived as a complement to the Beacon’s site from the beginning,” she said. “And not only to the Beacon’s web site, but to other papers’ web sites. We are hoping that McClatchy would talk to us about a future relationship.”

Ms. Leach, a professional-in-residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism, said the project is nationwide in scope and will consist largely of its own generated content, though it will be far more than a traditional news site.

“We are trying to develop a web site that is a web experience,” she said. “It uses journalism as a jumping-off point for content, but it is not news. There will be news, and we will be using reporters and photographers, but also videographers and others.”

Other partners in the project include Ms. Evans’ brother, Joseph Paparone, former director of operations at Knight Ridder’s Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, attorney Debra Sinopoli, and businessman Michael Gallucci. A Knight Ridder executive also is a partner, though Ms. Evans said that person’s name cannot be disclosed.

The project is working closely with Montrose-based Trio Design and Communications.

Ms. Evans said the site is expected to go live by the end of the year, and sample pages are being prepared to share with prospective advertisers.

Financing is in place, Ms. Evans said, though more investors are being courted. She declined to disclose specifics of the financing plan.

Just call it creative destruction

A story by Richard Siklos in the New York Times on March 19, 2006 is the best summary I have seen so far on the Knight Ridder sale. You can click on the headline above to see the piece, but you will have to register (for free) to read the full story.

The headline said:

Media Frenzy
Before Its Time, the Death of a Newspaper Chain

Salient points in the story:

Distressed Tony Ridder: "He wasn't a good operator,"

The newspaper industry: Under a cloud because readers and advertisers are migrating to the Internet, where news is largely free

Stock value: $67.25 when the deal was announced. Today $62.74 and McClatchy $48.20

Bruce Sherman: in the end may eke out a small profit.
"When the world thinks you may have struck out, it's not bad when you hit a single," he said after the deal was announced.

Another Ghost: What would have happened if Knight Ridder had made a bold declaration that the sky was not falling on newspapers? It might have said that other media company stocks have suffered just as much in the last year and thanked McClatchy for its kind offer, but decided it could do better as a going concern. Apparently, this latter bit was just too depressing for Mr. Ridder to contemplate, but was what Mr. Pruitt of McClatchy had in mind all along. It's called creative destruction.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A note about pensions

Here’s a note on pensions from Gloria Irwin:

A knowledgeable source at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. says it's unlikely that KR or BJ pensions will be shifted to the government agency. The new buyer will have to assume the responsibility for continuing payments to retirees and for contributing funds for current employees. The KR pension plan appears to be sound, and the funds for BJ personnel will be transferred to the new owner.

A new owner, though, can freeze the pension fund and not allow current employees to accumulate more credit.

Iraq's high toll: 84 reporters killed

More journalists and media staffers have been killed during the Iraq war than during any conflict since World War II, Reporters Without Borders said Monday, the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

A total of 84 reporters and media staffers have been killed in the Iraq war ù including eight this year ù according to a report by the Paris-based media advocacy group. That was more than the 63 journalists killed during 22 years of conflict in Vietnam, the statement said.

The Iraq war death toll also has exceeded the number of journalists and staffers killed during conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Algeria, the statement said. The group said it was difficult to calculate a comparable number for World War II, partly because tallies at the time did not include staff members such as translators or drivers.

More than half the journalists killed in Iraq have been deliberately targeted, Reporters Without Borders said, adding that "the rate was much higher than in previous wars" where indiscriminate attacks and stray bullets were the main causes of death.

Of those killed, 77 percent were Iraqis, many while working for foreign media in the country, the report said.

Source: The Associated Press via Yahoo! News and Society for Professional Journalists Press Notes

Monday, March 20, 2006

Late for the funeral?

There were two items about the sale of Knight Ridder in Sunday’s Beacon Journal, both containing–in my opinion–little substance or logic.

Mayor Don Puluquellis in an article on the business front says he plans to make a plea to McClatchy to make a good choice in reselling the Beacon Journal. But the mayor then admits, “This is not like we’re doing God’s business of journalism. It is about a down and dirty, simple-greed business decision... to describe it differently is unfair.”

Public Editor Mike Needs in his regular column space on A2 seems to think some journalists “who have immersed themselves in self-pity” just don’t understand. “In what’s described as ‘the world’s longest funeral’ they mourn their plight, the passing of some imaginary heritage,” Needs wrote.

Unlike Mikey, we did not imagine John Knight’s heritage. We knew the man.

Both Needs and the mayor seem a little late in responding to it all. The sale was last Monday. They are kind of late for the funeral.

To read Plusquellic, click here
To read Needs, click here

Saturday, March 18, 2006

New Address for Maxine, Ted:

Maxine Johnson Lozier and husband Ted are moving again Here’s an e-mail from her with their new address:

We have been very busy packing. It has only been one and a half years since we moved to Calusa Harbor - amazing what you can accumulate in that short time. This is a very hard thing for me to do but time marches on and it's best that we do this while Ted is still able to make the move. The movers will load their van on the twenty-seventh of March. We leave the following morning (boohoo) for our new home in Kentucky. I have to be honest and tell you that I am looking forward to our new adventure. As Ted is telling everyone, that will listen, we are getting out of the four H's--Heat, Humidity, High rises and last but most important HURRICANES. The truth is, we are really doing this to be closer to our five children (Ted's three and my two) but after twenty-one years together they are all mine and I dearly love them all. Good heavens, even when I send emails, I can't keep it short. The gist of the whole thing is to give you our new address and phone number. Please if you get near give us a call and a visit. Love you all and I will miss you very, very much (Ted says, me too).

153 Edgewood Way
The Forum at Brookside(not really necessary)
Louisville, KY 40245
PHONE: 502--254-1942

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Grandma

Is blog an Irish term? Perhaps not, but I hope you will excuse the blarney while I wish a "Happy Birthday" to my great-great grandmother Eliza Cotter who would be 180 years old this St. Patrick's Day. She was born on a March 17 near Newry in County Armagh. She had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth "Mollie" (my great-grandmother), who like my granddaughter Anna was born on Christmas Day. And, of course, my other granddaughter is named Erin. Myself, more like an ordinary three-leaf clover, was born on the third day of the third month of 1930. That makes me age 76. That's the spirit.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

There's a new web site by employees of the San Jose Mercury News. Click on the headline to go there. Here's their intro:

Recent days have brought dizzying change to the San Jose Mercury News. In quick succession, the Mercury's owner, Knight Ridder, was sold to the McClatchy Co. which has announced it intends to sell the Mercury News.

The pending resale puts the paper's ability to cover the community at risk.
An owner more interested in increasing profits than in fulfilling the paper's responsibility to the community likely would impose severe cutbacks in news coverage.

Please join the employees of the Mercury News and voice your support for preserving this vital civic institution.


We — the writers, editors, photographers, advertising sales staff and other employees of the Mercury News — are worried about the future of our newspaper.

Several large shareholders forced Knight Ridder Inc. to sell its 32 newspapers. In announcing its purchase on March 13, the new owner, the McClatchy Company, said that it does not intend to buy the Mercury News. It and 11 other former Knight Ridder papers are still for sale. Their fate remains very much in doubt.

We are apprehensive that a buyer who does not understand our community and value the journalism that we provide will adopt what one Wall Street analyst termed a "scorched earth" policy. Under this scenario, substantial cost-cutting and smaller staffs would follow a sale. The impact on our community of readers and advertisers would be severe.

[The site also has news story links and other information.]

Newspapers may have an angel

Or at least that is the headline of a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Billionaire Burkle emerges as possible buyer, union says

He's a billionaire supermarket magnate who started at age 13 bagging groceries at the Stater Bros. food market his dad managed. He backed P. Diddy's clothing company, fe
uded with Michael Ovitz, advised Michael Jackson on selling the Beatles catalog and ponied up for Al Gore's cable TV network. He's a longtime Friend of Bill (Clinton) and big-time Democratic donor and fundraiser who also gave generously to Republican Govs. Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now Ron Burkle, 53, has emerged as a suitor for the dozen newspapers McClatchy Co. is unloading in the wake of its $4.5 billion purchase of Knight Ridder Inc.

The union representing workers at many of the papers tapped Burkle, head of closely held investment firm Yucaipa Cos. of Los Angeles, as a deep-pocketed investor to bid on the papers. By some estimates, the dozen papers on the block, which include the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and St. Paul Pioneer Press, could sell for $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

If Burkle's bid were accepted, the papers would be run by a new company called ValuePlus Media that would offer employees a chance to buy ownership stakes. Workers who chose to invest in the company would roll over part of their 401(k) funds to acquire ValuePlus shares, an arrangement called an employee stock ownership plan, taking on the benefits and risks of equity ownership. If enough participated, the new company would enjoy significant tax savings.

Comments from the blogger:

The guessing game is raging this week on what will happen to the dozen newspapers dropped out of the Knight Ridder sale.

Here’s a point rarely discussed:

There were nine newspapers in the Knight Ridder chain with Guild (union) contracts and all but the Lexington, KY, Herald-Leader are in the group of 12 newspapers cut out of the sale of Knight Ridder.

Lexington is apparently a big enough profit maker that it missed the cut. You might recall that Lexigton recently decided (after the retirement of Larry Froelich) that they don’t even need a news editor.

So it is great to say that if the damn papers weren’t union this would not have happened. It is of course, quid pro quo, that the reason they might not make as much profit as others in the chain is that they are required to pay decent wages.

The other four non-union papers were the Fort Wayne (IN) News Sentinel,. The Contra Costra (CA) Times, the Wilkes Barre (PA)Times Leader and the Aberdeen (SD) American-News. These were all in slow-growing, not profitable areas.

Bruce Sherman, CEO of Private Capital Management, the largest owner of Knight Ridder Inc. stock, had high hopes that selling the newspaper company would provide a big pop in the stock price.What he got was more of a fizzle.

Private Capital Management owns 12.1 million shares of Knight Ridder at an average cost of $65.50 a share, just shy of the cash-and-stock price of $67 a share that California-based McClatchy Co. agreed Monday to pay for Knight Ridder."It was not a raging success," said Peter Tanous, a Washington-based investment fund adviser and author who has profiled Sherman and done business with him.

Tony Ridder Sends 'Thank You'

After a wrenching few months, culminating in an agreement to sell the company he has led for so long, Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder sent a letter to employees on Blue Monday, along with a detailed FAQ.

Here is his letter, in part, and a large section of the FAQ courtesy of E&P:

Click on the headline to see it in E&P or just wait patiently by your mailbox..

"It has been a privilege to lead this company, as the CEO for the past 11 years, and as president for six years before that. I think all of us feel that Knight Ridder is special. Its heritage, its ethics, its values and its people command our affection and respect. We have believed in strong journalism and also in fairness and opportunity for all our employees, in service to our communities, readers and advertisers.

"The result has been newspapers and other print and online products in which we take great pride and about which our communities have felt good, created by people who are passionate in their mission. That is a very precious legacy. By your unstinting effort, we have made a vital contribution to our society. For that support, I want to thank you again.

"As we transition to new ownership, I am counting on all of you to give your work, and your relationships, that same investment of care and energy that have always characterized both. And I will do the same. Our newspapers remain central to the lives of their communities. Our Web sites and targeted publications will continue to grow rapidly, so long as they receive the same attention they have up until now. Your commitment now will guarantee the best possible outcome.

"After a thorough and thoughtful review of the strategic alternatives available, including much consultation with Knight Ridder's senior management, the Board has approved the proposed sale.

"The McClatchy sale is expected to close some time this summer. The closing will be subject to customary conditions, including shareholder approval. Until then, it will remain business as usual, with our longstanding emphasis on reader satisfaction and customer service. As the transition progresses, we will make every effort to keep you up to date.

"Recognizing that this announcement will create anxiety and curiosity about what happens next, we have prepared a list of questions and answers for you, which is attached.

"Let me take this opportunity to thank all of you once again, for your dedication, support and willingness to stay focused during what I know has been a challenging time. It is that commitment that has made Knight Ridder a great company.


Q: How long will McClatchy's divestiture process take?
A: While there can be no certainty in matters like this, our best estimate is that the acquisition of Knight Ridder will close some time this summer, and the divestiture process will run concurrently. But it just isn't clear at this time how long that process will take.

Q: What will happen to me during this transition?
A: This newspaper's most valuable asset is our employees. We must stay focused on producing our newspapers, Web sites, community and other publications at the high standards for which we are known. We need to provide readers with superior editorial content; we need to provide readers and advertisers with superb customer service.

Q: What will be the impact of the transaction on staffing? Will there be any layoffs?
A: Unfortunately, now, as always, there are no guarantees. And, just as in the past, staffing decisions will be very much driven by the performance of this business, regardless of any change in ownership.

Q: Will there be changes in the way our local company operates?
A: During this period of transition, we will continue business as usual.

Q: When will I know specifically how I will be affected?
A: As we have said, we expect business as usual during the transition. While we don't have all the answers to all questions at this point, we will keep employees informed in as timely a fashion as we can.

Q: I am a member of a union; how is my contract affected?
A: We cannot address what will happen with any further transaction between McClatchy and another company.

Q: Will there be lay offs?
A: It is our understanding McClatchy is not planning across the board layoffs. Of course, we can not speak to decisions that may be made by a future acquirer.

Q: What happens to my health and welfare benefits after the transaction is complete?
A: We do not yet know how McClatchy intends to transition the health & welfare plans. However, we understand that McClatchy offers a comprehensive health plan for eligible employees and dependents. We can not predict what will happen after any sale by McClatchy.

Q: Does Knight Ridder stock continue to trade during the transition period.
A: Yes.

Q: Can I continue to participate in Knight Ridder's employee stock purchase plan?
A: Yes, during the transition period. However at the time of the close, the employee stock purchase plan will terminate. In connections with such termination, the final purchase period will end seven days prior to the close. You will be receiving information on this process in the coming days.

Q: Will I lose my vested pension benefit due to this transaction and the planned sale?
A: No. Any earned and vested pension benefit, by law, may not be taken away. You earn a benefit each year of service granted. The assets of Knight Ridder's pension are held in trust and will continue to be protected by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation after this transaction. To find out more about your pension benefit, visit and follow the retirement links. You can review the plan and complete a benefit calculation.

Q: Will I continue to earn a pension benefit under the Knight Ridder Plan?
A: During the transition you will continue to earn benefits under the Knight Ridder Pension Plan. For those employees who transition to McClatchy, they also offer a defined benefit plan and we expect that they will continue to do so for all of the eligible employees. We can not predict what will happen after any sale by McClatchy.

401k Plan Benefits

Q: What happens to my 401k?

A: During the transition your 401k will continue as before and you are 100% vested in the amount you have contributed. After the transaction is complete, for those employees continuing with McClatchy, they also offer a 401(k) plan and we expect that they will continue to do so for all of the eligible employees. We can not predict what will happen after any sale by McClatchy.

Q: What happens to the Knight Ridder stock in my 401k account?

A: The Knight Ridder stock held in your 401(k) account will be exchanged for cash and stock at the time of the close like any other Knight Ridder share in the transaction. You will be receiving information on this process in coming days.

Warner proposal to Knight Foundation

Proposal of Stuart Warner to the Knight Foundation urging purchase of Beacon Journal:
[Warner cc his proposal to many via e-mail urging them to pass it along]]

Alberto Ibargnen
President and CEO
The Knight Foundation
Miami, FL

Mr. Ibargnen:

The Knight name must not disappear from daily journalism. I spent 29 years in Knight-Ridder, 19 in Akron, where I was fortunate enough to work on two Pulitzer-winning projects. I also learned to revere the name and what it stood for - outstanding journalism. Now, with the sale of Knight-Ridder, the Knight Foundation has the opportunity at least to save one proud vestige of the Knight family's former newspaper empire.

The foundation can buy the family's original paper, the Akron Beacon Journal, and turn it into the model for journalism in the 21st century the way the Knights once made it a model for journalism in the 20th century.
I admire the Knight Foundation's work in promoting journalism, but this is a chance to do so much more than award fellowships and chairs, fund research and academic study and facilitate other good work within the communities you serve.

This is an opportunity to create a living journalism laboratory much as the Poynter Foundation has done in St. Petersburg. And even go beyond that. The Knights were as smart on the business side as they were on the news side. A Knight Foundation operation in Akron could explore new methods of distribution, alternative advertising structures, combine print, online, and other multi-media resources, etc..

I understand that Akron has been written off as a no-growth market by the McClatchy organization, though I doubt its leaders spent much time there. It has a vibrant downtown that sits in the middle of a soon-to-be-completed, 112-mile national historic corridor that can bring thousands of visitors through the city daily. It has prosperous suburbs - though I no longer work at the paper, I still live just outside the city. And most of all, it has an audience that was raised on the solid values of Knight journalism and appreciates the kind of strong media voice the Knight Foundation could
produce there.

I realize this is a longshot, but I hope you will consider preserving the Knight tradition in Akron.

I was fortunate enough to meet the brothers, and I'm certain that they, more than anybody, gladly would have spent their money that way.

Stuart Warner
Writing Coach/Enterprise Editor
The Plain Dealer
Cleveland, OH

cc: James Crutchfield


Dear Mr. Warner,

Thanks for your heartfelt message, which I think I understand very well.

Your proposal has been made by others - and as to other Knight papers, as well. There would be many obstacles, but I will certainly share your message with others at Knight Foundation.

Thank you.

Alberto Ibargnen

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Reflections on Blue Monday

Here are reflections on the sale of Knight Ridder and the still uncertain fate of 12 newspapers dropped out of the sale. The thoughts were expressed in e-mails we have received. I hope no one will object to their display on the blog for others to see. If you have reflections of your own, please add a comment to this post or send e-mail to

Here they are:

From Douglas Balz in Washington, DC:
Wondered the same thing that you put so well, when I heard the news. How can they do that to John Knight's paper? How can they do that to the paper I learned so much from? It was a Blue Monday in Akron, and it was a blue day here, too. I felt like a piece of me had died. I have such fond memories of my time in Akron.
I'm glad Pat [Englehart] wasn't alive to hear the news.

From Bob Batz at Dayton Daily News:
So sad. Such a neat place from 1966 to 1970. So many fond memories.

From Charles Buffum in New York City:
Thanks for covering the story. Give Paul Tople a New York Kudo for us. Painful photos to experience, but they sure tell the story. The irony is that Jack Knight went public to protect his heirs and they pretty much preceded him in death. How much money does a body need, anyway? On the other hand, newspapers are fighting a desperate battle to stay relevant and I'm not sure they can win it. I'm glad we were there when we thought what we were doing was important to our community and society. Damn

From Tim Farkas of Berkshire (MA) Eagle:

I was only a sports part-timer at the Beacon (1979-84), but I too felt like a piece of me died on Monday. My hometown paper -- the one I grew up reading, the one my mother always proudly referred to as "a Knight-Ridder" -- was an orphan with an uncertain future. And on the day of the bad news, the Beacon still carried itself with dignity on A1. "Turning the page" said it all.

From Marilyn Geewax of Cox Washington Bureau:
Thanks so much for keeping us ex-BJ folks up to date. My heart is
just broken about this terrible situation. Paul's photos literally made me
cry. Your efforts to hold the community together during this tough time are really appreciated. mg

From Dennis Haas in St. Petersburg, FL:
It's really sad and really a shame that the Knights ever got paired up with the Ridders.

From Gloria Irwin of BJ staff:
I think the days ahead are the most uncertain of all for us here at the BJ. For what it's worth, what little we know is that we won't lose the pension credits we've accumulated so far (guaranteed by the PBGC at the very least) so that makes me believe your checks are safe, too. I certainly hope so.
Hope you're all enjoying your retirements -- I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to join you some day.

From retired printer Bob Sisley:
Funny they tell about shareholders, etc. What about medical and pensions, plus pensions for the wives if the employee took a less amount of pension so you wife would be taken care of. These are the important points that no one has talked about for the retirees. I feel that the pensions will be protected by he federal government, but I would not bet on it. Thanks for the info, I read the paper and will have to wait and see

From Cathy Strong in New Zealand:
I agree that Paul Tople tells it best, and fancy him doing it for the ABJ for all these years. Kind regards to current staffers, I'm glad I'm not in your shoes at the moment.

From Ted Walls, retired BJ photographer:
Reading BJ the last several days, has left me with a heavy heart and at times with a few tears. I guess we new that some day this would happen, yet always hoping it would never come. Yet I find this hard to believe, if we lose the BJ altogether, does this mean that the Canton Rep. would be #1 in this area? That is worse than death. Hey let’s see what the next six months tells us.

Walls is great-grandpa again

Retired BJ photographer Ted Walls has become a great-grandfather for the fourth time. Here he is with Kelab Gottschick, born December 29, 2005, the son of Kim and Kyle Gottschick. Kim is Ted’s granddaughter.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

When words cannot explain

Sometimes words alone are not enough to tell a gripping story. The story, of course, is about a "Blue Monday at the BJ" so we are going to let an album of photos by Paul Tople tell you how it was in the newsroom of the Beacon Journal on Monday, March 13, 2006 when Publisher Jim Crxutchfield explained as much as he could the sale of the Knight Ridder empire and the still uncertain fate of the John S. Knight flagship Beacon Journal. The photo above shows the staff listening to him. Click on the headline above to go to the photo album of Tople's photos. Click on photos to enlarge them and use the arrow keys to move around the album.

It's funny that just a short while ago we posted on this blog some photos Paul shot at a BJ Christmas party in 1971. And 35 years later, Paul is stilll telling the story better than our words.

How do you say Good Knight?

Is it not strange that the Akron Beacon Journal, the flagship of John S. Knight newspapers, and the San Jose Mercury News, the Ridder flagship, were left rudderless by the sale of the Knight Ridder empire?
~Harry Liggett, March 1995 BJ retiree

Count your stock. Multiply it by $40 and that is the amount of cash you will receive from the sale of Knight Ridder plus a 0.5118 Class A McClatchy share for each of your shares.

Sorry. No word on what happens to pensions and health benefits.

Read and Especially recommended is a piece by Mary Ethridge, a branch of the Knight family tree, which appeared on page A1

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sorry about that, says Tony

The Akron Beacon Journal and 11 other newspapers were left “still wondering” today after the sale of the Knight Ridder empire to McClatchy Co. for $4.5 billion.

Here’s the news from San Jose:


McClatchy Co. announced today that it will acquire Knight-Ridder in a deal valued at approximately $4.5 billion, and plans to sell 12 of the San Jose newspaper company's 32 papers, including the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times.

Tony Ridder, chairman and chief executive of Knight Ridder, called the deal a good outcome for shareholders. He said he is glad the period of uncertainty that began when a dissident shareholder forced Knight Ridder to offer itself for sale is over for many of the company's employees.

``For the 12 newspapers that will be sold, the uncertainty is not over and I regret that very much,'' Ridder said.

In addition to the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times, those include the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Akron Beacon Journal. The Wilkes Barre Times Leader, the Aberdeen American News, the Grand Forks Herald, the Ft. Wayne News-Sentinal, the Monterey Herald, and the Duluth News and Tribune.

The deal was valued at $67.25 a share -- $40 of that in cash and the rest in McClatchy shares. That totals $4.5 billion, and the Sacramento-based company is also assuming $2 billion in Knight Ridder debt.

McClatchy chief executive Gary Pruitt called the deal ``a vote of confidence in the newspaper industry.''

Click on the headline to read about the whole sorry mess

Fred Gerlich dies

Fred Gerlich Jr., former member of the Beacon Journal copy desk and sports editor at the Roswell (NM) Daily Record, died Saturday.

From the Roswell (NM) Daily Record:

Gerlich, Record�s sports desk "pro," dies
The Daily Record has lost its sports editor.

Fred Gerlich, 54, sports editor for the Daily Record since October, died Saturday after a brief illness.

Before coming to the Daily Record, Gerlich had spent his career in news and sports reporting and editing at newspapers in Ohio and Iowa. Sports always was his forte, his wife, June, said.

"He always wanted to be sports editor," she said.

Gerlich had just recently gotten back into the newspaper business after being out for several years, his wife said.

"He liked his job, he liked it here," she said. "He just wanted to move here, start fresh with everything, and retire here."

Gerlich was an unusual person, June said.

"His way of thinking was the principle of things," she said. "He was very giving. ... He was very friendly to people. He would talk to anybody, practically."

Gerlich also was a good provider for his wife and daughter, Chynna Santiago, 17, June said.

"He was supportive of anything I wanted to do," she added.

Gerlich liked to cook and was a good cook, June said. He also liked the family dog, Mimi, an American Eskimo dog.

"She was always around him," she added. "At nighttime she would wait for him" to get home after working late.

He loved sports, especially professional wrestling, his wife said. He followed the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns and, although an Ohio University graduate, he supported the Ohio State University Buckeyes.

Record News Editor Rob Moore said Gerlich�s death was a loss for the newspaper.
"He was a real pro," Moore said.

Record Editor Mike Bush agreed.

"He knew his stuff," Bush said. "He had developed a good rapport with local coaches and was doing an outstanding job at a difficult position, covering sports at all the high schools in the area. We will miss him greatly."

Record Publisher Cory Beck said Gerlich was "a great guy."

"I am saddened," Beck added. "He was turning around the Sports Department. He was doing a great job. I am heartbroken."

Bush noted Gerlich's death also presents the Record with a challenge, as the position of sports reporter is vacant, leaving no one else in the Sports Department.

"We have procedures in place to try to keep up while we search for a new sports editor, and we will do the best we can to give full coverage to area sports," he added.

"We may miss some things and may not be able to cover everything we would like to cover," Bush said. "We ask coaches and our readers to be understanding and to help us keep up with local sports activities while we find a replacement for Fred."

The classified obit on page B7, col. 1, Monday, March 13, 2006:

Frederick T. Gerlich, Jr., age 54 of Roswell, New Mexico, formerly of Cleveland and Massillon, Ohio, passed away March 4, 2006.

Beloved husband of June Santiago; dear son of the late Frederick T. Sr. and Rita (nee Sullivan) Gerlich; dear father of Melissa Gerlich; stepfather of Chynna Santiago; dear brother of John (Laura Fenton), Dennis (JoAnn Mason), Mary and Gregory (Joyce Marks) Gerlich; dear uncle of Shannon, Ryan, Jacob, Meghan, and Matthew Gerlich; former husband of Judy Glazer.

Memorial service Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 7:30 P.M. at The Schuster-Straker-O'Connor Funeral Home, 5904 Ridge Rd., Parma, where friends may call from 6:30 P.M. until time of service. For directions visit

McClatchy to buy Knight-Ridder for $4.5 billion

NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - McClatchy Co. on Monday said it would acquire fellow newspaper publisher Knight-Ridder Inc. for $4.5 billion in cash and stock.

McClatchy will offer $40 cash and 0.5118 Class A shares for each Knight-Ridder share. The deal values Knight-Ridder at $67.25 per share, above its closing price of $65 on Friday.

The combined company will operate 32 daily newspapers and 50 nondailies after the sale of 12 Knight-Ridder papers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News.

It will rank as the second-largest U.S. newspaper publisher based on a daily circulation of about 3.2 million people. McClatchy said it expected the deal to close within three to four months.

McClatchy said it would have had 2005 revenue of $2.83 billion and earnings of $754 million before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization if it had owned all the Knight-Ridder papers it planned to retain.

The company said it would assume about $2 billion in Knight-Ridder debt at closing.

McClatchy said it expected the deal to reduce earnings per share in the mid-single-digit percentage range in the first year after closing, then add to profit by 2008.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Everyone is waiting for Monday

Everybody’s waiting for Monday. Pete Carey and Chris O’Brien wrote today under a San Jose Mecury News headline which said:

Knight Ridder's fate may be sealed Sunday

Knight Ridder's board is meeting Sunday in New York to discuss bids from McClatchy, the Sacramento-based owner of the Sacramento Bee and 11 other dailies; a consortium of private equity companies; and possibly MediaNews, the Denver company that owns 40 daily newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune.

Several sources said an announcement may be made early Monday morning in New York. McClatchy reportedly bid above $65 a share, or more than $4.7 billion, for Knight Ridder.

Buried half way down in the story is this graph:

“Gannett told all employees to be at their computers Monday morning for a Webcast by President and Chief Executive Craig Dubow, but there was no indication of what it would be about.”

MediaNews, McClatchy and the private equity companies had no comment, and neither did Knight Ridder spokesman Polk Laffoon. Nor the guy who started it all, Bruce Sherman of Private Capital Investmetn

MediaNews had been trying to woo the nation's largest newspaper company, Gannett, into a joint bid, according to sources.

McClatchy might have more newspapers than it wants. If so, MediaNews and possibly Gannett might be interested in buying some of those papers. The Newspaper Guild has secured California investor Ron Burkle's Yucaipa group to attempt to buy up to nine union-represented Knight Ridder newspapers from whoever buys the company.

Knight Ridder has said that a sale is only one option. But a number of sources close to the process said the company would be compelled to sell at $65 or more. On Friday, Knight Ridder's stock closed at exactly $65, up from Thursday's close of $62.66.

Click on the headline to read all about it.

A 1983 BJ style model

The headline in the May /June 1983 issue of Tower Topics read: “Be A Real Stylish BJ’er.” Modeling an official BJ cap and shirt was Karen (Chuparkoff) Hoiles–now BJ attorney Karen Lefton. There was information on how to order the hats, shirts and jackets from the Customer Service Desk. No prices were mentioned.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Desrosiers named sports editor

TO: Beacon Journal newsroom
FR: Mizell Stewart III
RE: New sports editor
DA: March 9, 2006

Rich Desrosiers, who has held a series of positions of increasing responsibility in the Beacon Journal newsroom since joining the newspaper in 1994, will be our next Sports Editor. He will begin the transition immediately and move to sports full-time on Monday, March 27.

I am also thrilled to announce that Larry Pantages will remain in the Sports Department as Deputy Sports Editor, supervising our outstanding coverage of professional sports. Patrick McManamon, Sheldon Ocker, Terry Pluto, Tom Reed, Marla Ridenour and Brian Windhorst will report to Pantages. Gary Estwick, Tom Gaffney, David Lee Morgan and Stephanie Storm will report to

At the same time, we are working on combining the firepower of the news and sports copy desks under the leadership of Copy Desk Chief Kathy Fraze. It will be a "universally managed" copy desk, where individual copy editors specialize in news and sports. I believe the result will improve the
quality of life for all of our copy editors, ensure consistent editing across all sections of the newspaper and free up resources to meet new challenges, notably increasing our news and sports presence on

Kathy is currently leading a "working group" of news and sports copy editors to work out the details of that transition. More information will follow as those details are worked out over the next several weeks. Rich and Larry will oversee sports copy editing and design until the transition is complete.

Rich, a resident of Stark County since the mid-1980s, joined the BJ in July 1994 as assistant national editor. He moved to the News Desk as a deputy news editor in April 1995. He was promoted to news editor in October 1996 and executive news editor in January 1998. Two years later, he left the News Desk to lead the Stark County Bureau.

In that role, Rich also served as editor for political and state news and education news. In late 2003, Rich returned to the main newsroom to lead those efforts as well as serve as the Beacon Journal's "liaison" to He has teamed with reporters to lead several major reporting efforts, including the 2002 series "Ohio, Look at the State We're In," the 2003 series "Home Schooling: Whose Business Is It?" and 2004 projects on racial balance in the Akron schools and the anniversary of the landmark Brown v Board of Education ruling.

Rich's wife, Anne, is a substitute teacher and high school volleyball coach. Their three children, Andrew, Maggie and John, attend the North Canton schools. In his copious free time, Rich is a coach with the Canton Akron Penguins youth hockey association.

Mizell Stewart III
Managing Editor

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We could have made it 16

Attendance at the Beacn Journal retirees lunch for past few months seems to be stuck on a dozen or unlucky 13. Thirteen was the number on Wednesday, Mar 9, at Papa Joe’s in the valley. Tom Moore, John Olesky and Harry Liggett failed to show or the attendance could have swelled to 16. Next month we could hit a new high.

The photos above also are missing five faces. Carl Nelson, Al Hunsicker and Bill Canterbury were in another photo, but Carl had his eyes shut. And a photo of Ed and Norma Hanzel was a little fuzzy. Oh, well. Maybe next month.

Do you recognize her?

Do you recognize this sweet young woman?

Well, here’s the spiel from the July/August 1985 issue of the Sidebar where the photo appeared:

“Joining the copy desk is Gloria Irwin. Gloria comes to the Beacon Journal from the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barer, PA, where she served as copy desk chief. She previously worked as a reporter and Sunday editor for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. Gloria received her B.S. in journalism from Ohio University. She enjoys reading, tennis, needlepoint, interior decorating and bicycling. She is single and lives in Cuyahoga Falls.”

Don’t know if Gloria reads the blog. If so, perhaps she will leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Suchan remembers 1971 yule party

Tom Suchan remembers the 1971 yule party. See also the comment from Janis Froelich on the earlier post. Tom writes:

Yes, I remember the party. A lot of fun.

Here's an update on the kids:

Matt, our oldest, turns 40 next year. And that means I'm older than dirt. Professionally he helps keep the computers running smoothly at Cessna Aircraft here in Wichita. He and his wife, Dorothy, have four children, including a wonderful young lady, Juaquina, who they "adopted" when she was 18. (She's 28 now and still calls me Grandpa.) Dorothy teaches English at Andale High School, a suburb west of Wichita.

Matt's great love is soccer. After years of playing in AYSO and at Newman College, he now takes his weary bones on the road weekends to referee high school and college games.

Jeff is a project architect for Law-Kingdon, a Wichita firm. His specialty has been designing nursing homes for Alzheimer's patients. Currently he's getting into hospital additions and shopping malls all over the country. He is married to Diahann, and they have two children. She is a counselor and most recently has been working with ex-cons who have sexuality issues. (And there are a lot of them.) He is a graduate of Kansas State University, and it still throws me when I see KSU in a headline. I think it refers to Kent State.

I'll give you info about our other two .... after you publish a picture of them.

KR stock rises after backout

Knight Ridder (KRI) rose $1.07, or 2%, to $62.27 after the Los Angeles Times reported March 4 that two private investment firms are backing away from serious bidding for the company, which put itself on the block last November. It was $62.30 about noon today.

A consortium that includes Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners is "unlikely" to offer much more than Knight Ridder's current share price, the Times said. The same iss true of another group made up of Bain Capital, Hellman & Friedman, Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners, the newspaper reported.

Apparently, the combination of Gannett Co. (GCI) and privately held MediaNews Group remains interested, the Times said. McClatchy Co. (MNI) is also a suitor, the report said.

The next round of bids for Knight Ridder is due Thursday, according to the Times report.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A late yule party in 1971

It was March, 1971, but the procrastinating Akron Press Club decided to throw a Christmas party.

The photos here were
published in the April/May 1971 issue of Tower Topics, the employee publication of that era.

Dick McBane is holding his sailor-uniformed son, Roderick. Yes that is the same Roderick who was featured in a BJ Retirees blog post on Sep 18, 2005 which showed a photo of Roderick and his bride, Cindy.

Tom Suchan is shown with sons Matt and Jeff. Suchan is retired from the Wichita Eagle, but still living in Wichita.

Janis Froelich and Joyce Lagios are with Santa Dan Gooding. Janis still works at the Tampa Tribune covering growth and development in the downtown area.

The photos were taken by Paul Tople–still hard at work as a BJ photographer 35 years later. Anyone know what happened to Joyce Lagios and Dan Gooding?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Honored in 1991

Nearly 300 retrees, guests and honorees attended the annual Beacon Journal Service Awards Banquet at the Tangier Restaurant on Thursday, Nov.14, 1991. Those honored with 25 years of service were (pictured above) the late Donn F. Gaynor, Joan Rice, the late Joseph Amoroso, Sanford Levenson, Michael L. Porter, John Tobias, James Barber, Donald Reppart, Martha Lipford, Robert Leland, Nicholas Milazzo, Michsael Jewell and Richard L. McBane. Also honored were Cheryl S. Sheinen and Ronald Hine. The photos were published in the Sidebar of December 1991.

Why we need the press

A nice column by Eric Newton of the Cincinnati Post:

Perhaps surprisingly in this day of write-it-yourself Web sites, there dwell in America some 125,000 human beings known as "general news journalists."

Hardly anyone likes them. The bloggers call them "mainstream media." Liberals call them "corporate media." Conservatives call them "liberal media." Everyone else just dismisses them as "THE MEDIA."

Truth is, it's easy to bash journalists. Hollywood paints them as a yammering, amoral horde. That's entertaining, but wrong. The boring reality is that most professional journalists actually have ethics. They're good people. They try to dig out facts and stick to them. They hope to keep their corner of the world a little more honest. We watch or read or listen to their work because we need news -- especially bad news -- to properly run our countries and our lives.

... Why should you know that journalists do honest work? Because journalists need you. When you read about a guy whose idea of public service is to hold down three tax-supported jobs at once (or about a $1 million helicopter bought with tax money to battle a gypsy moth problem that doesn't exist, or about 10-hour waits in emergency rooms), journalists need you. They need you to think about what you've learned, and, if warranted, to direct your elected representatives to fix it.

So journalists need you. But you need them, too. If journalists don't tell you about this stuff, who will? The system won't tell you, not even in America. That's why all successful democracies have had a free and independent media.

To learn more about the value of journalists, click on the headline to read the full column.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Best blogging newspapers in U.S.

Fifteen undergraduates in journalism, two grad students, and one professor set out to determine the top blogging newspapers in the U.S. among major dailies. Jay Rosen and his Blue Plate Special team at New York University found six standouts, two honorable mentions and some wacky blogs. Number One, in their opinion, was the Houston Chronicle.

Here are their top six
1. Houston Chronicle (128 points)
2. Washington Post (69 points)
3. USA Today (38 points, 1 honorable mention)
4. St. Petersburg Times (29 points, 2 honorable mention)
5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution (23 points)
6. San Antonio Express-News (22 points, 1 honorable mention)

Blogs that scored the most points were easy to find, user friendly, current, with quality of writing and good linking. The Houston Chronicle even has blogs written by the newspaper’s readers

Click on the headline above to read more about how they were chosen.

To see a list of the top 100 (listed by circulation) and their blogs, click here.

According to the list, the Beacon Journal has six blogs. I had real difficulty finding them, however, because they are not on the site map and unlike other newspapers, has no main blog listing [url]. There is one blog on for Diane Evans with no post on it since September. There also is a bad link on the BJ menu page. If you click on Discussion Boards, you go nowhere. The url apparently was at one time to Geocities, a site that has discussion boards. The BJ is now more into podcasts which are mp3 (sound) files you can download.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bids in the works for Knight Ridder

As a deadline nears for submitting bids for Knight Ridder, MediaNews and Gannett are working on a joint bid, according to a source familiar with the process.

Sources said the Sacramento-based McClatchy newspaper chain also is preparing a bid.

Knight Ridder has set March 9 as the deadline for potential buyers to submit bids, according to several sources. The San Jose company, which is the nation's second-largest newspaper company and owner of the Mercury News, put itself up for sale under pressure from shareholders. It is expected to announce a decision about whether to sell in mid-March.

Making a play for Knight Ridder is more complicated for the two teams of private equity firms who have entered the bidding process. These companies have less ability to cut costs than a media buyer. For instance, a media company could eliminate Knight Ridder's corporate staff and rely on its own staff while a private equity firm would need to retain or replace such operations.

Texas Pacific, Thomas H. Lee and Hellman & Friedman are “still evaluating” a bid but are expected to make an offer for Knight Ridder, according to industry sources. The Blackstone Group, Providence Equity Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have not made a decision about whether to bid, according to industry sources.

Click on headline to read full story by Pete Carey, The San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From inside the clock tower


TO: Beacon Journal newsroom
FR: Mizell Stewart III
RE: Sports Department news
DA: February 28, 2006

After nearly eight years at the helm of The Beacon Journal's award-winning sports department, Larry Pantages is stepping down.

Larry was appointed Deputy Sports Editor in 1991 and promoted to Sports Editor in April 1998. During his tenure, the sports staff has been recognized both statewide and nationally for outstanding enterprise reporting, game coverage, feature writing and commentary. The accolades include an Honorable Mention from the Associated Press Sports Editors for best Sunday sports section in the country in 2003 and four Top 10 APSE awards for enterprise reporting.

When it comes to important sports stories that are vital to our readers, The Beacon Journal sports staff has consistently outpaced the competition. From the return of the Cleveland Browns to the rise of LeBron James, Larry's perspective as a lifelong Akron resident and his background as a reporter and editor in the sports and business departments helped us bring those stories home like no one else.

He demonstrates outstanding planning and organizational skills. Even better, Larry has a keen eye for finding stories that others might miss, regardless of what section they eventually appear in.

Larry has worn many hats over more than 30 years at The Beacon Journal, including stints as a professional and high school sports reporter, a business reporter and columnist, deputy business editor and deputy sports editor. In every assignment, Larry has carried a positive attitude and the determination to serve readers to the best of his ability.

It is my hope that Larry will continue to be a vital part of our sports operation, and we are discussing what form that new role will take. We will be filling the position of sports editor internally. If you are interested in taking on that role, please contact me or Debra Adams Simmons by the end of the day on Thursday, March 2.

Blog passes 10,000 mark

Sometime in the last day or so, this blog passed the 10,000 mark in the number of visits. In the last seven days there were 153 or an average of 22 a day.