Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's resolution from Mark Twain

New Year’s Day–Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
~ Mark Twain

Any BJ types among top political reporters?

Chris Cillizza of the Politics Blog lists the top poltical reporters nominated in answer to his request.

Thirty-three states are covered. Columnists at the PD, Cincy Enquirer and Columbus Dispatch and two from the Sacramento Bee, the McClatchy flagship, made the list.

From California were Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Weintraub, Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Phil Matier and Andrew Ross, and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

From Ohio were Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Tom Suddes, Columbus Dispatch senior editor Joe Hallett, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Howard Wilkinson

Click the headline to see if you notice any BJ types in the list.

Incidentally, Maria Ravera of the Sacramento Bee has been recognized by Presstime magazine as among "the best and brightest young professionals in the newspaper business." Each year since 1993, the glossy monthly magazine of the Newspaper Association of America has profiled 20 up and coming young newspaper professionals in its December issue. She is the Bee’s home delivery sales manager and regional circulation manager.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

To read or not? Real cause for concern

Why are newspapers in trouble? Ever since the demise of Knight Ridder there has been great concern about the future of newspapers–the printed word.

Larry Froelich, former BJ copy desk chief who is still working part time in Lexington, KY, called our attention to a Los Angeles Times column which quoted a young high school journalist:

“My grandparents subscribe to a lot of newspapers. If I want to read a newspaper, I go online, but I wouldn't pay for it. Our generation doesn't pay for things on the Internet."

The question everyone asks is how are you going to survive if you put your content online and let everyone read it for free.

The problem, though, is not money. The problem is that nobody reads anymore. A report published in November by the National Endowment for the Arts is titled “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence.”

Perhaps you will read our commentary about all this on our website. Click on the headline.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Our Katie is still a winner, it seems

This sketch by nine-year-old Katie Downing was a first place winner in ages 9-10 in a drawing and coloring contest called Visions sponsored by Sidebar, the Beacon Journal employee publication. Children of employees were asked to submit a drawing and statement of what they thought their parents did at the Beacon Journal.

Winners were announced in the July/August 1981 issue of Sidebar and Katie’s was on the cover with her statement:

“My dad rights stories for the Beacon Journal. When he’s told to do something he does it. My dad’s a good reporter”

She probably was correct because Bob is a good reporter who not only “writes” stories but also makes sure they are “right.”

Caitlin M. Downing is now 26 years old. .She attended St. Vincent/St. Mary for three years and graduated
as a valedictorian from Firestone High School. She played soccer at both schools.. Caitlin graduated from New York University in 2004.and from Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law in 2007. She is just starting a job with a big law firm in New York City.

Her older brother, Andy, is a freelance rock music writer in Chicago. He writes regularly for the Chicago Tribune where he has a
weekly column on local bands. He also writes for Absolute Sound magazine. He really wants to get into this business. Andy went to Ohio U and graduated from the University of Akron. He did a stint at Spin magazine in New York where he hung out frequently with former BJ staffer Chuck Klosterman.

Katie's older sister, Maureen, graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor's degree in biology. She went to Berkeley to study marine biology and ended up with a master's in forensics at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She Is doing DNA research at the University of Chicago while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her degrees.

Miami Herald will outsource to India

The Miami Herald is outsourcing some of its advertising production work to India, the newspaper's editor said Thursday.

Starting in January, copyediting and design in a weekly section of Broward County community news and other special advertising sections will be outsourced to Mindworks, based in New Delhi.

The project is still in the testing phase, so it was not clear if or how employment in South Florida will be affected, Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal said.

Mindworks will also monitor reader comments posted to online stories, he said.

Earlier this month, The Sacramento Bee, also owned by the McClatchy Co., announced it would outsource some of its advertising production work to India.

In May, news Web site,, was widely criticized after editors hired two reporters in India to cover the Los Angeles suburb.

Information from: The Miami Herald,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gary Pruitt makes front page of Wall St. Journal

McClatchy Newspapers CEO Gary Pruitt rated more than 50 graphs beginning on page A1 today in the Wall Street Journal. Included is the traditional WSJ-style mug shot. The headlines on the story by Steve Stecklow say:

Despite Woes, McClatchy Banks on Newspapers
Family-Controlled Chain Faces Internet Challenge;

Mr. Pruitt Keeps Faith

Here’s Stecklow’s lead:

SACRAMENTO -- In the beleaguered newspaper industry, one chief executive has long stood out as the golden boy: Gary Pruitt. He skillfully managed the McClatchy Co. chain and last year engineered the $4.6 billion takeover of Knight Ridder Inc., one of the largest in the history of the business.

But since the beginning of 2006, Mr. Pruitt's company has lost $1.46 billion and seen its stock price plunge 78%, exceeding the carnage at most newspaper companies. Still, when members of the board and the controlling family privately discussed Mr. Pruitt's future last month, they unanimously supported the man who brought McClatchy to this juncture.

"We have the best person in place to get us through some of these turbulent times," says Kevin McClatchy, a descendant of the company's founder. Board member Larry Jinks says the entire board expects Mr. Pruitt "to be the CEO into the future."

[Gary Pruitt]

"I plan on sticking around," says the 50-year-old Mr. Pruitt, a one-time First Amendment lawyer who has led McClatchy for nearly a dozen years. "I hope to and expect to."

Mr. Pruitt is one of the last true believers in the financial power of the press. He says he expects McClatchy to recover from its slump, with the help of a new deal with Yahoo Inc. aimed at driving visitors and ads to his newspapers' Web sites. He plans to sell off some nonnewspaper operations and to continue a cost-control strategy that has so far spared reporters' jobs, a McClatchy hallmark.

With McClatchy now the nation's third-largest newspaper publisher -- and one of the last of the large, family-controlled chains -- his success or failure at making the transition into the Internet age will be a crucial indicator of the future of local print journalism in the U.S.

Click on the headline to read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, December 24, 2007

News Corp to sell 8 TV stations

From Bloomberg News

News Corp., the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, will sell eight of its Fox network-affiliated television stations in the U.S. to Oak Hill Capital Partners for about $1.1 billion in cash.

Oak Hill will get WJW in Cleveland; KDVR in Denver; KTVI in St. Louis; WDAF in Kansas City, Missouri; WITI in Milwaukee; KSTU in Salt Lake City, Utah; WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama; and WGHP in Greensboro, North Carolina, according to the News Corp. statement confirmed by Teri Everett, a spokeswoman.

The sale in small markets will leave News Corp. with 27 stations in major markets including New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

The media conglomerate, which owns the New York Post, a controlling stake in BSkyB satellite TV service, and 20th Century Fox movie studio, recently closed a $5.6 billion deal to buy the Wall Street Journal publisher, Dow Jones.

The sale will probably be completed in the third quarter, News Corp. said in a statement Saturday. The purchase will help Oak Hill, the buyout firm founded two years ago by Robert Bass, a Texas oil billionaire, create a broader U.S. network. In May it paid $575 million to acquire stations in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Arkansas from The New York Times Co.

"It is part of News Corp.'s strategic decision to shed low-growth, noncore assets," said Richard Dorfman, managing director of the investment firm Richard Alan.

For Oak Hill, the purchase is "a classic private equity play," Dorfman said. "Ad dollars are migrating to the Web, but it's a government-licensed franchise that can throw off good cash flow and reliably service debt."

Oak Hill has expanded into leveraged buyouts, high-yield debt and hedge funds, raising more than $4.6 billion from investors, including Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.

News Corp. hired the New York investment banking firm Allen & Co. to advise it on the sale of the TV stations in June. Two months later, it agreed to buy Dow Jones, publisher of Dow Jones Newswires, Barron's and The Wall Street Journal, after months of negotiations with the controlling Bancroft family.

Murdoch plans to use the Wall Street Journal brand to attract viewers to its television networks and Internet users to Web sites.

"News Corp.'s focus today is much more on Internet properties, such as MySpace, and cable," said Dorfman. The sale of the stations "will help News Corp. raise capital. News Corp. is not walking away from the healthy broadcast world."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas
from Helen and Harry Liggett in Akron, Ohio

May you know all the joys we have known through the years

Copy editor Joe Kiefer goes to Dispatch

BJ copy editor Joe Kiefer will begin work on the Columbus Dispatch copy desk on December 31. His last day at the BJ was Thursday. Copy Desk chief Kathy Fraze said in her note that the Dispatch copy desk "is being improved expotentially." One staffer said Kiefer was "one of the best copy editors in the history of the Beacon Journal and his unexpected leaving is a tremendous loss."

Kiefer and his wife, Debby (Stock), are moving to Columbus so she can be nearer her ailing parents. The main reason Debby volunteered to leave during the infamous layoffs of 2006 was to care for her
parents. It has been difficult while living 110 miles away

Kiefer came to the BJ 12 years ago from the Canton Repository along with others including Mark Price, Mary Kay Quinn and Rich Desrosiers.

Kiefer is not being replaced immediately. Word is it would be at the beginning of a new budget year in April or more likely at the beginning of vacation time in June.

Debby wrote her final godobye column on October 18, 2006 after 28 years of service

An answer for Virginia O'Hanlon

Outside the Nativity story, there is no better sentiment on Christmas than the answer Francis Pharcellus Church wrote in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897 in answer to the question from 8-year old reader Virginia O’Hanlon.

Click on the headline above to see Church’s answer on our web site:

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.

A copy of the Sun nameplate, the original letter from Virginia and a photo of Church are included.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Random observations: Opinion and fluff

Probably less than 1 per cent of our viewers check the section called "Random Observations" on our web site. I just counted and there have been only a dozen items posted for the entire year. The posts are usually brief, but it's a place to put things which have opinions expressed or are just fluff.. Arbitrary decisions are made about what is factual and what is just opinion or fluff. An item added today is about coverage of the trial of former Canton police officer Bobby Cutts Jr. who is charged in the death of his pregnant girlfriend.

Click on the headline to see Random Observations

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top 10 newspaper industry stories of 2007

Click on the headline to read Ronald Strupp’s top 10 newspaper industry stories on the Editor& Publisher website.

Letterman company to meet with writers

NEW YORK (AP) — Leaders of striking television writers plan to meet Friday with David Letterman's production company in an attempt to reach a separate deal that could make the Late Show the only late-night TV program on the air with a writing staff.

The union's announcement last week that it would negotiate separately with production companies was seen as an indication that writers would work out something with Worldwide Pants, the Letterman-owned company that produces his show and Craig Ferguson's CBS talker.

It hasn't worked out that way, a sign that some in the Writer's Guild may be having second thoughts. Meanwhile, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel have all said they would resume their programs on Jan. 2 without their writing staffs.

Letterman is also aiming for a Jan. 2 return.

"With the WGA now embracing a strategy of offering interim agreements to individual companies, it is inconceivable to us that there is any producing entity more deserving than Worldwide Pants, which has been and continues to be a staunch supporter of the Writer's Guild and its positions," said Rob Burnett, the company's president, in a statement announcing Friday's meeting.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Black Keys to play sold-out Civic

The Black Keys, who will play to a sold-out house at Akron Civic Theatre on Saturday, rated an Enjoy double truck spread in Enjoy in Thursday’s Beacon with this neat graphic by BJ artist Kathy Hagedorn.

Malcolm X Abram’s review used this quote:

''I was kind of worried, I didn't know how big that place really was,'' Dan Auerbach, guitarist/singer of the West Akron duo the Black Keys, said of the Akron Civic Theatre. The theater seats 2,585 people.

His drumming partner, Patrick Carney, added: ''I haven't been in there in a long time. My dad used to take me to see Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, but I haven't been in the Civic in at least 10 years.''

Carney is the son of Akron Beacon Journal reporter Jim Carney.

For the first time, Akron's most famous blues/rock duo will perform at the Civic on Saturday night for a sold-out show in front of friends, family and fans not afraid of a little snow, wind and freezing rain.

Both Carney, 27, and Auerbach, 28, got married in 2007. Auerbach and his wife, Stephanie, also welcomed their first child, Sadie, into the world in October.

Click on the headline to read the full review by Abram.

About anonymouos comments

We received the following from Bill O'Connor, retired Beacon Journal reporter. This blog, since it was opened in July, 2004, has allowed anonymous comments. O'Connor questions whether they should be allowed. As administrator I have no opinion at present, but.Blogspot does allow us to moderate comments. Should we eliminate them? Please read this post thoughtlfully and then add your comments. ~~Harry Liggett

I don't mean this as a criticism, for I really enjoy the blog. I am offering a suggestion. I read some comments after stories you posted, and I was disappointed. This is a blog by and for journalists, so I don't think there should be either anonymous comments posted or those by people using pseudonyms, which, I guess, is the same thing. We byline our stories when we can. If a journalist offers an opinion, he or she stands behind it. The other thing is that I often see comments after stories on the net, news stories. (AOL does this all the time.) The comments, again anonymous, are nasty, just plain mean spirited. That serves no purpose. If we want to enter into dialogue with each other, even heated dialogue, let's do it in an honorable and respectful way. The public discourse is becoming more and more acrimonious, and I would like to see us avoid that. On that level, the debate is just shrill and combative, a kind of "my opinion is better than yours," rather than a listening to each other and responding.

Mary Christmas - no, really

This story is from the Provo (Utah) Daily Herald:

By Barbara Christiansen - NORTH COUNTY STAFF

She seems to get attention wherever she goes, especially during the holidays. There are songs repeating her name, and her name (correctly spelled) was the title of a 2002 movie starring and directed by John Schneider.

Nine months ago, American Fork resident Mary Young married Brian Christmas. "I kind of felt like with his last name, it was meant to be," she said. "God has a sense of humor. What are the chances that it would ever happen?"

Since her name change, no one has come right out and asked her if she is kidding when she tells them her name. There have been other circumstances, however, in which she has felt the need to explain.

"I changed my name in my work (computer) system," she said. "The head guy changed it back because he thought it was a joke.

"When I make an appointment somewhere, it is kind of awkward," she said. "I just tell them this isn't a prank call."

Christmas has been working at for three years. Through her work in that company, she has found that there are between 20 and 100 other Mary Christmases in the United States.

The last name of Christmas has its origins in Wales, she said.

"It was given to people that were born on Christmas Day," she said. "Somewhere back there someone of my husband's ancestors was born on Christmas. It is not a super common name."

Yet she is not the first in the family to have an interesting combination of first and last names.

She said her husband's grandmother was named Joy Christmas, and one time when she was shopping at JCPenney in Provo, she was held at the counter because the store clerk thought her name was phony.

Christmas has a positive attitude about the reaction to her name.

"I think it is an opportunity for me to have a better sense of humor," she said. "More than anything it has been fun. It has been a lot of other things, too. For many people, it seems to make them happy. 'You are my favorite,' they tell me. 'I think of your name and it makes me happy.' "

Her husband, Brian, says the best part of her name is that he has Mary Christmas all year long, not just during the holidays.

And yes, when she greets others she still tells them "merry Christmas."

Blogger Note: Click on the headline for proof it is a legitimate story. It ciomes straight from the newsaper website which is called--get this--hark the Oh, by the way, the place where she works,, is an organization which is devoted to family history research.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Phone call from Art Cullison

We received a phone call today from former BJ copy editor Art Cullison who left Akron some months ago and is now living in Erlanger, Kenton County, KY

Art, who is 89, said he has given up driving. His wife, Helen Louise, has Alzheimer's but is in the same building with Art and he spends a couple of hours a day at least with her. His son and a granddaughter are only 5 or 10 minutes away. Art says "hello" to all the gang.

Art's address is

Ardent L. Cullison
3000 Riggs Ave.
Erlanger, KY 41018
Tel: 859-342-4018

His email address (verified) is

How press has covered Iraq on the ground

Wednesday, Dec. 19—Americans received a grim picture of the war in Iraq in the first 10 months of 2007. Daily violence accounted for 47% of the stories studied. And of the stories that offered an assessment of the direction of the war, most were pessimistic, according to a new study of press coverage from Iraq from January to October.

In what Defense Department statistics show to be the deadliest year so far for U.S. forces in Iraq , journalists responded to the challenge of covering the ongoing violence in Iraq by limiting their interpretation of these violent events and keeping their reports short.

However, as time passed, narrative accounts of events on the ground seemed to brighten. Late summer and fall saw a decline of reports about daily attacks, as well as a decrease in the amount of coverage from the war-torn country overall. That shift in coverage also coincided with a general sense by the American public that the military efforts in Iraq were going “very” or “fairly” well.

This study suggests that a bigger issue is not how the media interprets events, but what kinds of events actually get covered. This question is especially important when examined in relation to extreme dangers and restrictions facing the war correspondents in Iraq . These reporters believe that they adequately covered the military’s actions, but that they could have improved coverage on the lives of Iraqis. The results of the content analysis add validity to their assessments.

These are some of the findings of a study of more than 1,100 stories from January through October from 40 different news outlets conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research institute that examines the press.

Read the full report.

Among the report’s major findings:

* Any suggestion that the coverage is anti-Bush or anti-military is not supported by the findings. The coverage of U.S. policy was decidedly balanced. It was coverage of the Iraqi government and the country’s future stability that were more pessimistic.

* Daily accounts of violence made up 47% of all stories studied, but because many of these stories were short, that represented a 27% of the time and space—or newshole—of the coverage studied.

* The coverage overall was U.S. centric in subject matter. About half of all the coverage from Iraq was about American military and U.S. officials. Roughly another 10% was about private contractors, mostly Blackwater.

* Coverage of Iraqi civilians, by contrast, made up far less, 3% of stories and 5% of overall newshole.

* Despite enormous difficulty in getting access to sources, Americans did get a wide range of perspectives. Fully 40% of stories (representing 61% of the newshole) carried the views of multiple of types of stakeholders.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Followup to post below

Wow: Things happen fast in cyberspace. Here’s the executive edtitor’s note on the promotion of his staffer who wrote the post just below this one:

To the staff:

Please join me in congratulating Veronica Van Dress and Scott Brown on their promotions to assistant managing editor. Their promotions put the newsroom’s senior leadership team in place.

Veronica is AME/content. She will work with reporters and their editors in the collection and creation of content for print and online. She has the skills and the professional background to help us realize our “Å“news now” goals at She has shown an ability to innovate and to lead. Veronica will continue to spend most of her time working in news ” about 80 percent” but also will work with Living Editor Gary Brown and our sports editor to fulfill our Project Cyber Fiber goals and to develop strong enterprise for Page A1.

Scott is AME/content delivery. Scott brings extraordinary design talent to his new role. He has a unique ability to craft designs that convey real information and meaning, a gift he will use in helping us strengthen our Page A1 presentation. He also brings an intimate knowledge of our desk operations to this new job, knowledge he’ll use in implementing our Project Cyber Fiber goals of delivering “news now” to while continuing to make a quality daily newspaper. Graphics Editor Michael Weiss and Chief Photographer Stan Myers will report to Scott.

Scott will work over the next month to develop a structure for the Universal Desk. Look soon for more information about where he’s headed with that, including postings for newly cast jobs.


Jeff Gauger
Executive Editor
The Repository/
500 Market Ave. S.
Canton, OH 44702-2193

Web-first publishing comes to Canton

This post is provided by the BG News Aliumni blog started recently by former BJ staffer Beth Hertz for alumni of Bowling Green State University,.. This article from a member of the class of 98 hits close to home–Canton. Click on the headline to see this post and then check out other stuff so far on the BG blog.

From Scott Brown, Class of '98
We have a new editor in Canton. Good guy, very sharp.

He also says "Internet" or "Web" once every 15 seconds. To most of us in the office -- at least, those of us who haven't had our heads in the sand for, oh, the last 10 years -- it's no surprise. Web-first publishing is hitting everywhere. My paper, The Repository will be Web-first with all content by Jan.1 -- despite the grumbles of some. (By Web-first, I mean all content will be available on the Web site up to several days before it appears in print.) What I can't understand is why some of my colleagues are so resistant to it all.

The Internet is an opportunity for newspapers to stay relevant in a digital age. And it can be a lot of fun. I hardly write any more, but a couple weeks ago when Stark County hosted the state football championships, I wrote a couple of stories. I wrote a preview story for one game that published in a special section on Thursday, but we posted the story online Wednesday morning. I think it was the first time we had ever published something that wasn't breaking news to the Web site first, and that was pretty neat.

Then, I covered a title game that started at 11 a.m. on Friday. In the past, I would watch the game, go to the office and write one 18-inch story. This time, I wrote a pregame story "State finals begin under sunny skies" that I posted straight to the Web site via wireless with a laptop. Then I posted updates after the first quarter, at halftime and after the third quarter. I filed a quick game summary just as the final seconds ticked off, then rewrote an 18-inch story with quotes to post about 90 minutes after. Thatstory also appeared in the paper the next day.

Each of my quarterly updates received between 50-100 hits on our Web site, which we deemed a modest success considering they were only posted about 30-40 minutes at a time featuring a game not involving a local team. Was it more work? Sure. And I don't think it's practical to post such updates constantly from every event we cover.

It was also fun. I just wish more people would embrace that, and stop wishing for that print-only past that is quickly becoming a distant memory.

Chicago Tribune hikes newstand price to 75c

Starting Monday, Dec. 31, the newsstand price of the Chicago Tribune for the Monday through Saturday Chicagoland editions will increase from 50 cents to 75 cents.

This will be the newspaper's first daily newsstand price increase in more than 15 years and will help offset cost escalations over this extended period.

There are no plans to change the newsstand price of the Chicago Tribune's Sunday edition, which continues to be priced at $1.79.

[Source: Chicago Tribune]

Sky is not falling, says Gary Pruitt

Despite the dizzying turbulence, McClathchy Newspapers CEO Gary Pruitt said he remains bullish on his company and the newspaper industry.

"No, I don't think the sky is falling,'' Pruitt, 50, said in a phone interview. "Certainly newspaper stocks are out of favor on Wall Street. That's happened before, and that will happen again. But we're not going to go away."

At least one Wall Street observer shares his optimism. Credit Suisse's Klim initiated coverage of McClatchy last week at a "neutral" rating, arguing that while the company still faces short-term challenges from depressed real estate markets in California and Florida, its shares "could represent the most compelling deep value play within the newspaper sector."

Klim credited the company with making significant progress in integrating its Knight Ridder properties and paying down debt and said it has improved its newspaper Web sites to generate more online ad revenue. Klim also voiced confidence in McClatchy's management team, which he said "is widely considered to be one of the top operating teams in the business."

Click on the headline to read the full headline interview McClatchy's Fall From Grace by Louis Hau

Monday, December 17, 2007

Letterman Seeks Deal With Writers’ Union

In what may be the first break in the entertainment writers’ strike, David Letterman is pursuing a deal with the Writers Guild of America that would allow his late-night show on CBS to return to the air in early January with the usual complement of material from his writers, even if the strike is still continuing.

Executives from Mr. Letterman’s production company said Saturday that they were hopeful they would have an interim agreement in place with the guild as early as this week. That could potentially put Mr. Letterman at an enormous advantage over most of his late-night colleagues.

Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central has also been urging an interim agreement and would begin working toward getting one in place on Monday morning, according to a representative. But Mr. Letterman is in a stronger position because, unlike Mr. Stewart, his show is not owned by the network but by Mr. Letterman’s independent production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. (So is the show that follows it on CBS, “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” which would return with writers under the proposed interim agreement.)

The news of Mr. Letterman’s potential deal came at the same time the WGA took a new tack that could potentially throw the negotiations into procedural chaos. The writers’ representatives said they planned on Monday to exercise a legal right to insist that the major studios and network production companies bargain with the guild individually rather than as a group.

In a letter sent to members on Saturday, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West said: “Each signatory employer is required to bargain with us individually if we make a legal demand that it do so. We will make this demand on Monday.”

The writers’ move was aimed at breaking what has been, at least in public, a united front by a small number of media conglomerates — General Electric, News Corporation, Sony, Time Warner, The Walt Disney Company, Viacom and CBS — whose entertainment units dominate the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, an industry bargaining group.

Click on the headline to read the full story.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A shared star by shared authors?

Both the Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer ar giving big promotion to the new book, “The Franchise: LeBron James and the Remaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

That’s because the authors are Terry Pluto of the PD and Biran Windhorst of the BJ. Pluto, of course, was also with the Beacon until recently.

The subject, LeBron, is from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary but it often sounds like he was spawned in Cleveland.

So here’s the PD promo on

WHEN THE CAVALIERS drew the top pick in the 2003 NBA draft, an entire city buzzed with excitement.


How often does a LeBron James come along? Especially for Cleveland, a city without a sports championship in fifty years. Especially for the Cavaliers, a team that had never reached the NBA finals.

Now, everyone has a stake in LeBron, from billionaire team owner Dan Gilbert to the popcorn vendors in the stands of Quicken Loans arena and servers waiting restaurant tables in a downtown that now bustles ev
ery game night.

In a new book, award-winning sports journalists Terry Pluto and Brian Windhorst take an in-depth look at how the franchise is being rebuilt around superstar LeBron James. Read exclusive excerpts from the book in The Plain Dealer and at Ohio. com

The PD is running
excerprts. The BJ meanwhile published the first in a series of five planned excerpts today.

Here’s the BJ promo:

In the new book, The Franchise, Brian Windhorst writes about how the Cavaliers have been rebuilt around LeBron James. This exclusive excerpt, the first in a series of five, looks at James' first real national publicity as a high school player in 2002. Adapted from the book The Franchise: LeBron James and the Remaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers (c) 2007 by Brian Windhorst and Terry Pluto. Reprinted with permission of Gray & Co., publishers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Would Ben Franklin be a blogger?

Would Ben Franklin be a blogger? It's a serious question pondered by news "gatekeeper" Walter Isaacson, once the managing editor at Time magazine and the chief executive officer at CNN.

Isaacson shared some startling insights about technology and media, both past and present, at a symposium last year at the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center (whi
ch studies "invention and innovation.") Isaacson told the audience that Ben Franklin was influenced by both the mechanics of 18th-century printing presses and a fickle American public. But as an afterthought, Isaacson noted that today the internet creates lots of publishers. "It's turned us back to the days when technology allowed low barriers of entry into the information transmission market."

So are we all Ben Franklin? Or, to put it another way — if Ben Franklin were alive today, would he be one of us? The National Archivist of the United States, Allan Weinste
in, had suddenly asked the question.

Isaacson, who'd written a 608-page biography of Franklin, insisted that the answer was no — "not a blogger." The distinction was that Franklin "polished every word." But the question was too provocative to leave without more discussion. Ben Franklin would have a web site, Isaacson speculated. "It would be carefully crafted. It would be more like Andrew Sullivan than your normal blogger in pajamas."

"And he would charge!" added archivist Weinstein.

Click on the headline to read more.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cincy Post shutting in 3 weeks

By Joe Strupp
Editor & Publisher
With less than three weeks to go before it shuts its doors for good, life at The Cincinnati Post is not all doom and gloom.

After three years to think about the pending closure, which also includes the sister Kentucky Post, most staffers accepted the prospect of lost jobs a while ago. Many have already lined up other employment and a fair amount of veterans are able to take the severance package and enjoy some time off.

Still, as the countdown to the final edition on Dec. 31 ticks along, the remaining 50-plus newsroom employees say the "Dead Man Walking" feel about the place is somewhat surreal.

"We are working in a newsroom where any minute they could be hauling furniture away," says Tom O'Neill, an education reporter with three years at the afternoon daily. "It is also sort of jarring to get information about jobs and be pitted against each other."

The paper's demise has been known for more than three years, since Gannett Co. Inc., owners of the rival Cincinnati Enquirer, announced plans to pull out of its joint operating agreement with E.W. Scripps, the Post's owner.

Click on the headline to read the full E&P story by Joe Strupp

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas notes from Beth & David Hertz family

Merrv Christmas, Happv (Belated) Hanukkah and Happv 2008 from the Hertz Familv

We hope everyone has had a fabulous 2007 and will have an even-better 2008. Our kids are growing up and having a ball all the while - good role models for enjoying life!

Our big news of the year is that Beth quit her job at the Cleveland Clinic after 6 years to become a full-time freelance writer. She misses her old friends but definitely does
not miss the commute, and is really enjoying the challenge of doing a wider variety of work. She especially enjoys the fact that this gives her more time with Alyssa and Joshua, the biggest bonus of all.

David continues to do well in his new job at the public relations firm Dix & Eaton. He is learning a lot and has had some great successes for his clients.

Alyssa started third grade this year, and is attending public school now. S
he made the transition very well and has found many friends already. With Mom home now, Alyssa gets to ride the bus for the first time in her life, something she finds quite fun.
She has also started piano lessons.

Joshua is in his last year of preschool and has decided he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. His favorite thing at school this year was a "Bob the Builder" type class he took, in which he made a firetruck and picture frame.

We took a few fun trips this year. The most notable was a week spent at Oak Cove Resort in Michigan. It's a great little place that David found on the Internet that features old-fashioned cabins and a lodge where they serve yummy breakfasts and dinners every day. The kids got to line up to "ring the bell" at meal times. It was a great relaxing place to spend a week and we highly recommend it to all families! Fishing, swimming, games and NO TV!

We also took our somewhat-annual trip to Idlewild amusement park in Pennsylvania, where they were having a Christmas in July festival, hence the photo here of our kids visiting Santa while wearing shorts and T-shirts. A trip to Dallas for Thanksgiving to see Beth's sister and mother and their families was a nice way to start the holidays.

Those are the highlights of our year. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season with much peace, happiness and health.

-David, Beth, Alyssa and Joshua Hertz

Tribune to sell Chicago Cubs

By Sarah Rabil
New York Post
Tribune Co., the newspaper owner being taken private by billionaire Sam Zell, plans to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team and Wrigley Field in the next six months to cut debt.

The sale may fetch more than $1 billion, according to John Puchalla, an analyst at Moody's Investors Service. Providing a timeframe on the Cubs' sale, announced in April, may ease investors' concerns that Tribune will have too much debt after the $8.2 billion buyout closes. There's "substantial interest" in owning the Cubs and their stadium, said Puchalla.

Tribune rose 33 cents to close at $31.87.

Tribune also plans to sell real estate assets related to the Cubs and its 25 percent stake in Comcast's regional sports television network, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, in the first half of 2008.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, said in July he had sent Major League Baseball an application to buy the Cubs.

In November 2006, Crain's Chicago Business reported that industrialist Thomas Begel and William Marovitz were interested in the Cubs. Other potential buyers included private-equity investor Bruce Rauner, William Wrigley Jr. and the Chicago Wolves hockey team owner Don Levin.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tower Topics 23 years ago

Here’s a story published in the the May, 1984 Tower Topics
from the new ediitor--Sarah Vradenburg

Welcome to the re-premiere of Tower Topics.

While we're on the subject of welcomes, I want to thank everyone here for the warm welcome extended me when I started in March. It was clear that more of you knew about me than I knew about you, and you seemed genuinely glad I had arrived.

The Beacon Journal's reputation for hospitality is well-deserved.

I want to te
ll you a little about myself. It's only fair that you know something about the woman whose job it is to tell you about the Beacon Journal.

I came here from a weekly newspaper in Fairlawn where for two years I was a general assignment reporter. I have been a stringer for the Beacon Journal and before that covered the southern suburbs for another weekly newspaper.

I took graduate journalism courses at Kent State University and currently exist in that state of academic limbo called All But Thesis.

I am a native Northern Ohioan. I lived briefly in California but, among other things, found that a rain-soaked childhood makes one intolerant of drought. I also found that it is people who really constitute an environment, and that the people here are as good as people anywhere, often better.

Which gets us to the subject of people-in this case, the people who work at the Akron Beacon Journal. You are the reason I am here.

The last issu
e of Tower Topics was published in November. It is my job to revive the magazine so that all 754 of us know what other Beacon Journal employees are doing, what is new with Knight-Ridder Corporation and, from time to time, what is going in on in the newspaper industry.

In the short time I have been here I have learned some valuable lessons:

(1) Mine is not a desk job, which translates to a need to invest in a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

(2) The people here are more than their jobs. In this issue alone sa you will read of pressmen who are artists and editors and reporters who teach.

(3) The commitment to quality is obvious. For those whose awards are detailed elsewhere, their high standards
are apparent and have been recognized. For others, excellence simply is a part of the job. As in all human endeavors, absolute perfection can be elusive, but it is a pleasure to work with professionals.

The total adds up to a multifaceted gathering of newspaper professionals and craftsmen all working to put out a good newspaper, day after day after day. When I realize that 128 of you have been doing that for at least 25 years, (one of you has been here for 50 years), and that this newspaper has been published for 145 years, things fall into perspective.

This publication will change in appearance, content and focus over the next few months. It will showcase our talents and interests, provide information about ourselves and about the industry of which we are a part.

And it will be done with a sense of humor.

After all, people who spend their working lives publishing an award winning daily newspaper deserve the same quality publication of their own with a chuckle now and then.

So here's looking at you, kids.

Email update from Sue Murphy

Here's an email update from Sue Murphy of Hilton Head Island, SC:

I've been slow catching up with BJ blog news. Just finished chemo treatment for breast cancer...all
went well--am awaiting start of radiation. Just wanted to thank you for keeping us up to date on obits.
I missed the one for Tony Agnello and really appreciated the news. Tony was a great, great guy and
I so enjoyed working with him. We're enjoying great Hilton Head weather. As you know our paper
is a McClatchy--how I long for an old BJ. Am I the only stupid one to still be holding McClatchy stock?
Hope to catch a lunch next time we're north.

What happened to all the business people? Sue Murphy

Retirees lunch at Papa Joe's

Here's tjhe Beacon Journal Retirees luncheon group on Wednesday at Papa Joe's in the Valley.
Last month we posted only a story with no photos. This month it looks like four photos and no story.
The photos were sent to the blog by Tom Moore. Looks like attendance has improved though. Last month there was a quintet and this month we can count eight

Clay named New Phila publisher

New Philadelphia native Jac A. Clay has been promoted to publisher of The New Philadelphia.

Clay, 41, was named publisher Tuesday by Kevin Kampman, publisher of The Repository, The T-R’s sister newspaper at Canton, and president of GateHouse Ohio Newspapers.

most recently served as the paper’s advertising director. He succeeds Michael B. Starn, who resigned Nov. 2.

Click on the headline to read tthe full story in the Times-Reporter

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BJ pension fund report filed

If you receive a Beacon Journal pension you should have received in the mail a summary annual report on the pension fund for the year ending December 2006.

Here is the basic information:

Benefits under the plan are provided through a trust fund. Plan expenses were $3,274,993. These expenses included $220,733 in administrative expenses and $3,054,260 in benefits paid to participants and beneficiaries. A total of 835 persons were participants in or beneficiaries of the plan at the end of the plan year, although not all of these persons had yet earned the right to receive benefits.

The value of plan assets, after subtracting liabilities of the plan, was $57,50 1,411 as of December 31, 2006, compared to $53,348,524 as of January 1,2006. During the plan year the plan experienced an increase in its net assets of $4, 152,887. This increase includes unrealized appreciation and depreciation in the value of plan assets; that is, the difference between the value of the plan's assets at the end of the year and the value of the assets at the beginning of the year or the cost of assets acquired during the year. The plan had total income of $7,427 ,880.

Get the file in pdf format
of the original in small font.

Get the file in html format
for larger type font and easier reading

Commentary: Gary among CEOs who should go

Gary Pruitt of McClatchy Newspapers is listed among 10 CEO's That Need To Leave in 2008 by a blog called 24/7 Wall St.

The article is posted in the commentary section of our website or just click on the headline to read it.

Here is part of the blog article:

Pruitt led the Knight-Ridder buyout that was completed in June 2006 and this company performance has been utterly dismal ever since. At least Knight-Ridder shareholders received $40.00 cash, but they also received 0.5118 shares of McClatchy stock as well. McClatchy shares sat above $40.00 back then, and the Knight-Ridder holders that held on probably cry themselves to sleep each night wishing they had sold out entirely in cash.

The company's corporate governance section does show "an annual CEO review" and we would suggest the company get on this. It may be unfair to single out only one newspaper-related CEO and we cannot blame the entire newspaper malaise on him alone. Even a good and solid CEO can't keep the raw number of newspaper readers in the U.S. from disappearing faster than smokers.

But if you look at the share prices, you'll see how this one is performing extra poorly. Mr. Pruitt has been Chief Executive Officer since 1996 and President since 1995, and he became Chairman of the Board in 2001. What we think the board needs to do if they want to keep him in charge is to make him the non-executive Chairman and they need to bring in a new President & CEO that has more of a digital thrust in mind. The problems will likely continue under a new head, but this company looks ripe for new blood to lead the day to day operations.

If you back out goodwill at $2.5 Billion and other intangibles at $1.07 Billion, we look at its balance sheet being severely inverted. That isn't really unusual for the newspaper operators, but the company is going to need to sell of more of its dailies and it's going to have to make more severe cuts.

The last two years have been the darkest period since the late 80's to early 1990's. Just two years ago the stock sat at $60+, now shares are trading with a $13 handle. To add insult to injury, the company is expected to post lower revenues in 2008 versus 2007, and "earnings" are expected to decline as well if you evaluate the First Call earnings projections. The company recently gave a projected rise in earnings for 2008, but there is some disbelief from Wall Street. We've noted how Wall Street doesn't trust the numbers.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lexington (KY) publisher writes to readers

Tthe Lexington (KY) Herald-:Leader has published a “:Letter to our Readers” from Tim Kelly, president and publisher.

The letter complains that the Newspaper Guild’s media ads and rally over contract negotiations were unfair and said the union appears bent on trying to damage the image of the Herald-Leader and McClatchy in the community.

The Herald-Leader and Guild have been in negotiations for months over a new contract to replace the five-year contract that expired at the end of last year.

Click on the headeline to read Kelly’s letter which is posted in the Commentary section of our website.

Former KR veep named J-school dean

Jerry Ceppos, former vice president of news for Knight Ridder, has been named the new journalism dean for the University of Nevada, Reno, a campus spokeswoman announced Friday.

Ceppos was the only remaining candidate after Thomas Hodson, director of the E. W. Scripps School of
Journalism at Ohio University, and another unidentified candidate withdrew their names within the last two months from the list of finalists chosen after a national search.

Ceppos is scheduled to take over as head of UNR's Reynolds School of Journalism sometime in January, Jane Tors, the university's communications director, said Friday. He will ea
rn an annual salary of $175,000, Tors said. Other terms of his contract weren't immediately available.

Ceppos replaces the school's previous dean, Cole Campbell, who died in an automobile accident last January.

Ceppos is an adjunct professor at San Jose State University and a consultant for Leading Edge Associates.

From 1995 until 1999, he was executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to that, he had spent 23 years in various news positions at The Miami Herald and the Mercury News.

Click on the headline to read the full story by
Lenita Powers in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pruitt says job, newsprint cuts loom in 2008

Several U.S. newspaper publishers said on Wednesday they will bank on cost-cutting to salvage earnings next year, with McClatchy Co and E.W. Scripps Co forecasting drops in newspaper revenue.

"As we look to 2008, many of the economic challenges remain, particularly in our California and Florida markets," McClatchy Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in a statement.

"We do expect to see some improvement in revenue as the year progresses, but it will likely still be down in the mid-single-digit range for all of 2008," he said.

Cost-cutting through job losses and newsprint reductions is one of the main ways the industry is trying to combat the weakening circulation and advertising sales that have resulted from readers turning to the Internet and other media for their news. The slowing economy is yet another problem.

McClatchy, the publisher of the Sacramento Bee and Miami Herald, said it expects earnings to be stronger next year, largely due to lower interest expenses as the company has repaid debt. It did not give a specific earnings forecast.

Wall Street was looking for McClatchy's 2008 revenue to fall 5.4 percent to $2.13 billion, with earnings per share excluding special items dipping to $1.30 next year from a projected $1.44 this year, according to Reuters Estimates.

Pruitt said his company would focus on cost controls, and forecast 2008 cash expenses to be down in the mid-single-digit percentage range. He said McClatchy's debt at the end of 2008 would be about $2 billion.

Shares of McClatchy slipped 20 cents or 1.5 percent to $13.24, New York Times shares fell 40 cents or 2.4 percent to $16.55 and Gannett shares fell 5 cents or 0.1 percent to $35.70 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Click on the headline to read the full Reuters story by Paul Tomasch

Friday, December 07, 2007

Par Ridder resigns from Star Tribune

By Matt McKinney
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Par Ridder resigned from the Star Tribune on Friday, nine months after taking over as publisher.

The resignation was announced by company spokeswoman Sally Nelson and coincided with the settlement of a la
wsuit filed against the Star Tribune over Ridder's hire.

The events bring to an end Ridder's turbulent tenure as head of the paper, one that inspired a lawsuit by his previous employer, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, just weeks after he began.

The suit accused Ridder of breaking a noncompete agreement, hiring St. Paul executives away from the paper in violation of other agreements, and taking a laptop computer containing confidential St. Paul data.

Ridder, after a June temporary injunction hearing, had been barred from the newspaper's offices by a court o
rder since Sept. 18.

District Court Judge David Higgs dismissed the lawsuit Friday afternoon, keeping in place the injunction that prevents Ridder from working at the Star Tribune. The Minneapolis paper was also ordered to pay legal fees incurred by the Pioneer Press.

The order allows advertising executive Jennifer Parratt to start work at the Star Tribune on Jan. 1.

Parratt, a former executive at the Pioneer Press, had been ordered to stay at home after Ridder hired her away from St. Paul.

"We are happy to report that this litigation has been fully resolved," Chris Harte, publisher and chairman of the Star Tribune Co., said in a statement.

Par Ridder fights removal as Star Trib publisher

By Brian Bakst, Associated Press
About two months after being banished from the Star Tribune, former publisher Par Ridder is fighting the court order that bars him from working at the newspaper.

The Star Tribune and Ridder filed papers with the Minnesota Court of Appeals in recent days seeking to overturn a decision preventing him from leading the state’s largest newspaper until September 2008.

Ramsey County District Court Judge David Higgs ruled this September that Ridder caused “irreparable harm” when he defected from the rival St. Paul Pioneer Press. His old newspaper accused him of taking trade secrets with him.

Another executive who sought to follow Ridder to the Star Tribune, advertising manager Jennifer Parratt, also filed an appeal of Higg’s ruling barring her from joining the Minneapolis paper until a non-compete clause in her Pioneer Press contract expires.

Notice of the appeals were filed last Friday and this Monday. The appeals also challenge a ruling that the Star Tribune must pay the Pioneer Press’ attorney fees and expert costs in the case.

Ben Taylor, a spokesman for the Star Tribune declined to comment.

In its filing, the Star Tribune disputes that Ridder’s leap to the crosstown paper in March harmed his old employer.

The evidence showed that Mr. Ridder had never accessed any information that could be used to injure the Pioneer Press, and that all of the information Mr. Ridder had taken had since been quarantined and was no longer accessible to Mr. Ridder or to anyone at the Star Tribune,” Robert Weinstine, a lawyer for the Star Tribune’s parent company, wrote in court papers filed Monday.

Ridder’s own appeal, filed by attorney David Turner, argued that Ridder shouldn’t have been removed until after a full trial was held.
No date was set for an Appeals Court hearing.

Sacramtento Bee sends ad work to India

The Sacranento Bee is outsourcing some of its advertising production work to India, the newspaper announced Wednesday.

The move, scheduled to be completed next summer, will affect 13 out of 24 artists' jobs in The Bee's ad department. Those 13 workers, who represent less than 1 percent of the paper's total work force, will be eligible for severance pay and other benefits, said Ed Canale, the paper's vice president of business development.

The work is being transferred to Express KCS, a San Jose company whose production offices are in Gurgaon and New Delhi, India.

Other U.S. corporations have outsourced work in recent years to save money; newspapers, under pressure from declining revenue and profits, are no exception.

But Bee officials said they're making the move because Express KCS will give better service to the paper's advertisers.

"It's about improving our service to our customers," Canale said. "We are sort of following the lead of some other papers that have done this successfully."

In particular, he said, The Bee has studied the work Express KCS has done for the Fresno Bee, which, like this paper, is owned by The McClatchy Co. of Sacramento.

In August, McClatchy outsourced its circulation customer service to an Illinois company that operates from sites in the United States and the Philippines.

Guild Claims Bad-Faith Bargaining in Dayton

By Joe Strupp
Editor & Publisher
Exactly one year after launching a formal campaign to negotiate its first contract with the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, the local Newspaper Guild has filed an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

The complaint accuses the Daily News of a string of unfair labor actions, including lying to staffers Thursday about a guild contract rejection.

"In fact, we told the company’s negotiators we were going to evaluate all of our options and they said they would wait to hear from us," Guild officials said in a statement. "Within minutes, the company broadcast its false claims."

Cox Ohio Publishing, a division of Cox Newspapers that publishes the paper, said management had offered a contract that included bonuses and raises and accused the union of not allowing members to vote on it.

"The company will continue to fulfill its duty to meet and bargain in good faith as soon as there is legitimate reason to resume negotiations," management said in a statement Friday. "Negotiations between COP and The Newspaper Guild have been ongoing since December 2006 when the Guild initiated talks after cooperatively working without a contract since 1989."

Click on the headline to read the full story by Strupp in E&P

Frank Pullo dies at 97

Frank Pullo (affectionately known as "the Chief") was born January 23, 1910 in Marion, Ohio and died December 5, 2007 at the age of 97, following a brief illness.

Preceded in death by his wife, Mary Sansonetti Pullo in 1983 and his brother, Michael Pullo in 2006, h
e is survived by his daughters, Jacqueline (John) Rambacher and Nancy (Patrick) Wack; eight grandchildren, Mary (Tom) Gaston, John (Lillian) Rambacher, Janet (Ken) Schalmo, Kathy Mansfield, Nancy (Kevin) Blinkhorn, Patrick (Laura) Wack, David (Bettina) Wack, Michael Wack; and 21 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Pullo served in the United States Navy during World War II. He worked his entire life from the time he sold newspapers on Akron street corners as a boy until his retirement in 1975 at the Beacon Journal. Many will remember him from the Castel di Sangro Club on North Hill, where he worked evenings as a bartender and was a member of the Italian American Business Men Association. In his youth, he played semi-professional football for Akron-Canton area teams. And then as a young father, to earn extra money for his family, he would wrestle at the Akron Armory. His "claim to fame" was wrestling a bear. The bear won!

Until just a few days before his death, he would read the newspaper every day, every page, tracking each line with his giant magnifying glass. He loved to watch old movies, especially Westerns and to listen to Indians games on the radio. He was a big sports fan, following professional teams as well as local teams, especially St. Vincent and Tallmadge. He liked to "predict" . . . weather, political races, and sporting events. By "hedging" on the outcome of games, he somehow always managed to convince us that his predictions were right. He was always "up" for a game of euchre, carefully picking a partner who would insure his success.

He lived on his own, in his own home until just a month before his death. That he almost made his goal to reach 100 is a tribute to his strong heart, strong will, one banana and at least two cigars every day. He was blessed to live so long, so independently and to be surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who adored him. His life has also been a blessing to those who survive him. For us, he is only a wonderful treasured memory away.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, December 8, 2007 at the DONOVAN FUNERAL HOME, 17 SOUTHWEST AVE. (On the Historic Tallmadge Circle), with Father Mike Matusz officiating. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery. Friends may call 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association, Ohio Valley Affiliate, P.O. Box 634445, Cincinnati 45263 or Tallmadge Foundation, P.O. Box 62, Tallmadge 44278.
[The Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Thursday, December 6, 2007, page B9, col. 3]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Medicare note from Bob Abbott

OK Gang:

Here we go again...

This is ONLY for those that were "forced" to sign up with Medicare part D by the BJ. That means you must be old enough for Medicare. What I
need to know if that affected your part A and B of Medicare and if so...was it resolved and if so, how? This would be probably in conjunction
with an "Advantage" program. What did Medicare say about it? What did the BJ benefits department say or do about it?

I know there are/were some people being hit by this. Usually in the form of being informed that they no longer could be carried in any
"Advantage" program since we had to sign up for the BJ group plan of Medicare part D. Apparently Medicare will not split the Medicare checks to sub
contractors in two different program providers.

It's a real mess...I know because I have been affected and have been fighting this (along with our original problems) since April...when I was
informed by Aetna Advantage program that I was being dropped retroactively (back to Jan. 31 if you can believe that!) from part A & B
coverages. And any medical bills in that period of time would not be paid by them. Despite the fact that I had a valid medical card from Aetna that
said I was covered during that time!!

I have been in contact with numerous providers and nobody can seem to give me a straight answer as I twist in the wind. So it's back to
square one with more info this time to see if I can get some answers. Counsel wants to see exactly what the parties are saying (both Medicare and
the BJ) about the situation. There's a chance some leverage could be gained by us in regard to the situation.

So, I'll be calling Karen to see if she has any answers. Last Spring she didn't have any in regard to this situation. And have you tried to
talk to somebody in Medicare lately? Last time was a 65 minute hold. And this is now the open enrollment period for providers so it'll
probably be even worse. And then to get somebody that actually knows anything! My patience is getting pretty worn...

Anyway...I'm bringing this up because those of you that aren't at the Medicare age yet...take note...the train is coming down the tracks.

Things are in flux as far as Medicare and "Advantage" and even "Supplement" programs are concerned. And they're throwing in the part D in the
mix just to keep us totally confused. But I see some alternatives...none of them being what I signed up for at the time of my separation
from the BJ...but maybe things I might have to do in my personal situation. And hopefully some alternatives I can live with. I will of course
keep you informed...

I also will be filling you in on exactly the approach counsel has used and any new directions from the latest information I have given him.
He showed interest in many of the latest items but some of the best Couldn't be used because the people concerned haven't been directly
affected yet. I hope to get some of these clarifying e-mails out in the next week or two.

As far as what is immediately happening...if you (or anyone you know) has had some insurance problems (being cancelled by carriers) as a
result of the BJ's actions please let me know as soon as possible.

It will be undoubtedly into Jan. before any of this is sorted out. At this point we have a little money left. Probably enough to get him to
sort through this latest development. But that means I probably won't get the accounting from our slush fund to you until Feb. If we're
lucky we might have to make a choice at that time of either adding to the fund for some further action or let it go and split up any monies left.

thanks for your patience

bob abbott

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

An old letter from a Beacon Journal fan

Bill O’Connor found the following item on “Poynter Forums: Letters sent to Jim Romenesko” It is an old letter (posted on August 23, 2006) but it is a good one. Don’t know why some of us did not notice it earlier.

From JEFF BORDEN: I thought I'd become inured to massive cutbacks in the newsrooms of America, but word the new owners of the Akron Beacon Journal plan to eliminate one-quarter of the newsroom jobs hurts.

The Beacon Journal was my newspaper when growing up in Medina, Ohio. The plain-spoken eloquence of publisher John S. Knight, the passionate and provocative leadership of editor Ben Maidenburg, the hilarious columns by Mickey Porter, the acerbic television reviews of Dick Shippy. . .it was a newspaper with real snap and pop. It's not an exaggeration to say it led me to love the newspaper business and fueled my desire to pursue a career in journalism.

Given its relatively meager resources and its location in a smaller city coping with a post-industrial economy, the Beacon has maintained a surprisingly high level of quality over the years. Now, that commitment to excellence seems likely to vanish with the elimination of so many jobs.

I'm angry at Knight Ridder for capitulating to calls for a sale and even angrier at McClatchy, for washing its hands of papers in more troublesome markets after acquiring KR. But the anger isn't felt as deeply as the sadness and disappointment that John S. Knight's legacy has indeed been sacrificed on the "altar of the countinghouse."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gary Pruitt makes the list

Gary Pruitt made the list of CEOs who need to return to business school on a blog called

Here’s the graph on Pruitt

The list would not be complete without Gary Pruitt of newspaper company McClatchy (MNI). He can't be blamed for the problems in the industry, but he is responsible for doubling down his bet that newspapers would do well by buying Knight-Ridder. His company now sits on over $3 billion in long-term debt. MNI shares are down close to 70% this year compared to peer Gannett (GCI), which is off about 40%.

[Blogger Note: We are being accused of jumping on McClatchy with a vengenance which is probably true since the company dismembered our Knight-Ridder–but items on Pruitt keep cropping up. We keep hoping for more bad stuff on bad guy Sherman who started the whole thing and now has dumped his newspaper stock.]

Click on the headline to read about others.

What it takes to make a columnist
The essential Seattle newspaper columnist

The prominence of the big city newspaper personality has diminished, but the job remains important. Danny Westneat is the best of the lot in Seattle.

O. Casey Corr writes the Mudville blog for Crosscut. He is a Seattle-based writer and consultant who previously worked for The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He also worked as a senior advisor to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and ran for Seattle City Council in 2005.

In a column on columnists, Casey lists these necessary skills for the metro columnist: :
* Have something to say. This sounds rudimentary, but there are many opinion writers who assemble facts that lack a point. Call that "analysis," and yes, time will tell, government must look seriously at this issue, blah, blah, etc., etc., but don't call it a readable column.

* Show courage. It's easy to criticize a politician. It takes real guts to call b.s. on conventional wisdom. Westneat does that.

* Have a brain. The best columnists see things the rest of us miss. Or ask questions that cut to the issue.

* Get out of the office. It's amazing how few columnists actually leave the newsroom. Westneat recently traveled to Portland to ride that city's rail system.

* Have a voice that wears well. Scolds get tiresome. (I know, I've failed that standard.)

* Show range. The worst columnists get stuck on a few subjects. Tom Wolfe once warned columnists never to quote their kids or their spouses. A good columnist can move from cops to sports to the arts, from Roxbury to Northgate, and make them all interesting to a broad audience. From that we get a true sense of place.

* Do it in 750 words or less. Not all good writers succeed in both the short and long form. One successful example is Terry McDermott, who wrote a fine column for The Seattle Times before moving to Los Angeles.

Click on the headline to read Casey’s essay or you can e-mail him at

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ted Walls in hospital after fall

Ted Walls is in Akron City Hospital Room 376 after taking a fall on the stairway in his basement two days before thanksgiving. He has been there since and will be in the hospital for at least another week. He fractured the bone in his neck where the skull sits on top of the spine and has been immobilized since the accident. He is doing better and the damage was much less than what they first suspected after the accident.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lexington Guild warns of McClatchy grab

The Lexington Newspaper Guild, CWA Local 33229, the union that represents more than 80 journalists at the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, is kicking off an educational media campaign on Nov. 26 to alert the public to The McClatchy Co.’s grab at employee sick leave and health benefits.

A 60-second radio advertisement has begun running on several Lexington-area radio stations. It urges listeners to visit, where the public can sign a community petition asking Herald-Leader management to withdraw its mean-spirited, ill-considered contract proposals with the Guild.

At 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, a Guild rally in Thoroughbred Park will feature the international president of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America, Linda K. Foley, and Lexington labor activists. The Guild is a sector of CWA. Foley is a former Herald-Leader copy editor and was the president of the Lexington local before going to work for TNG.

McClatchy, based in Sacramento, Calif., purchased the Lexington Herald-Leader from Knight Ridder in June 2006. Among its first acts was paying former Knight Ridder executives nearly $60 million.

Yet, in contact talks with the Guild, McClatchy has demanded the right to slash or eliminate health care for part-time workers and cut sick leave for all workers. These stances contradict the Herald-Leader editorial board’s long-standing support for universal health care and economic justice.

The Herald-Leader’s contract with its newsroom workers expired on Jan. 1, 2007, but remains in effect via an evergreen clause. The health care and sick leave issues are the two biggest obstacles remaining in negotiations.

For more information, contact Brandon Ortiz, Lexington Newspaper Guild president, at, or visit

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

True love getting more expensive

OK, so it has nothing to do with Beacon Journal retirees (or does it?), but we could not resist bringing you the annual story on the cost of the "12 Days of Christmas.” As the AP points out, true love is getting more expensive–up this year by 4 per cent to $78,100.

The lead on the AP story follows, but you really need to click on the headline for the fun report.

By DAN NEPHIN, Associated Press Writer
PITTSBURGH – While the origins of the Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” may be a mystery, one thing is certain: It’s getting more costly to buy your true love all the items mentioned.

It would cost $78,100 to buy the 364 items, from a single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, repeatedly on each day as the song suggests, according to the annual PNC Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management. The cost is up 4 percent from $75,122 last year.

Buying each item in the song just once would cost $19,507, up 3.1 percent from last year’s $18,921. And shopping online would be costlier, with the total for the 364 items costing $128,886, up 2.5 percent from last year’s $125,767. You would spend $31,249 online for each item just once this year.

Though a humorous look, PNC said the index mirrors actual economic trends. PNC has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984.

Helping push the cost up this year is the minimum wage hike, which bumped the cost of eight maids a-milking from about $41 to nearly $47.

“They have not had an increase since 1997,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investment for PNC Wealth Management. “The good news is, if you’re a maids a-milking, they will also see an increase in 2008 and 2009.”

Higher food costs pushed the six geese a-laying from $300 to $360. And reflecting higher gold prices, those five gold rings will cost $395, up 21.5 percent from last year’s $325.

“The cost of the gold rings in this year’s Christmas Price Index reflects the general trend of increasing commodity prices in the Consumer Price Index, including gold,” Dunigan said. “In addition, increased fears about inflation and the value of the dollar may have led investors to turn to gold as a safer place to invest their money.”

Not everything is more costly. The price of a partridge ($15), two turtle doves ($40) and three French hens ($45) remained the same, as did seven swans a-swimming, at $4,200, and nine ladies dancing, at $4,759.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ott Gangl photo exhibit at library

The Akron-Summit County Library has mounted a web exhibition of 180 pictures from the Ott Gangl Special Collection. I had no input as to which pictures were chosen but I think they chose the shots pertaining to Akron/Summit county, not surprising.

I am less than happy with the scanning of the pictures but I had no say so but they own the stuff now, nevertheless it is interesting. There are some pictures that are not mine, namely the newspaper ads toward the end of the exhibit.

Click on the headline to see link.


Medicare helps you compare drug plans

Medicare will help you compare drug plans and their costs for your specific medications.

Just click on the headline to go to the Medicare site.

You have about six weeks to make up your mind for 2008.

The drug plans are specific to your zip code.

I ran mine through and found this out:

1. The cheapest drug cost for the prescriptions I use for a full year is


Remember, that includes the premiums that you would pay. So far, under the BJ-encouraged Aetna Medicare Advantage plan, we pay NO premiums. So far. If we have to start paying premiums, then other plans might be less expensive for us.

2. My true out of pocket costs under the Aetna Medicare Advantage plan for 11 months is

$ 1,722.56

Pro-rated for 12 months, the Aetna plan total would be

$ 1,879.16

3. Unless I'm missing something, the Aetna plan, as long as the premiums are paid by the BJ and not by me, would be this much cheaper than the cheapest plan on the Medicare site (and, remember, this is only for drugs; the Aetna plan also pays through Medicare for other medical care)

$ 232

All of us will come up with different answers, depending on which drugs we use. My Celebrex, for example, because there is no generic, would be $101.52 a month under the Medicare site's cheapest plan. And my Urotral, for the same reason, would be $74.42 a month under the Medicare site's cheapest plan. The others are generics so there's little cost involved, even after I hit the donut hole.

But click on the headline and check it out. You have nothing to lose by looking.

Maybe Tom Moore can give some details on his costs, since Tom has the Summa plan, and pays premiums for it, so his savings have to offset his premium costs to be cheaper than through the BJ/Aetna plan. Or maybe Tom would run his prescriptions through the plans on the Medicare web site, to see if he can do it cheaper there or with Aetna.

We're all in this together and the more accurate information we can give each other the better off we'll all be.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

FTM blaring headline tells sad story

FTM (Follow the Media) website shows this blaring head;line for its latest assessment of McCaltchy

Here’s A US Newspaper Horror Story – Since The Day McClatchy Announced Its Knight-Ridder Purchase Its Shares Are Down 69% Whereas The Dow Jones Averages Gained 17%

Click on the headline to read for yourself.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

McClatchy revenue falls 10 percent, shares tumble

The McClatchy Co.'s advertising and total revenue dropped almost 10 percent last month, as the nation's third-largest newspaper chain continues to fall victim to dismal housing markets in California and Florida.

The downbeat revenue report disappointed investors in trading Tuesday as shares of McClatchy plummeted 51 cents -- or almost 3.3 percent -- to $14.74, a 52-week low. The company's stock has tumbled 66 percent from its 52-week high, and 77 percent from two years ago.

The Sacramento-based company's October advertising revenue -- everything from automotive classified ads to national retailers -- declined to $214.2 million, a 9.9 percent drop compared to $237.6 million for the same month last year. Advertising in its California and Florida newspapers, which accounted for almost 30 percent of overall revenue last month, fell 18.8 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively.

Classified advertising has been the hardest hit, falling 23 percent -- including a 30 percent decline in real estate-related advertising.

The $214.2 million also includes circulation revenue, about 12 percent of the overall revenue.

Online advertising, considered the all-important and the fastest-growing revenue source for the newspaper industry, fell 4.1 percent in October from a year ago.

For the year, McClatchy's advertising revenue declined 8.5 percent to $1.6 billion, while total revenue including circulation, was off 7.8 percent to $1.9 billion.

"We have seen continued declines in advertising revenues," McClatchy chairman and chief executive officer Gary Pruitt said in a news release. "We are working hard to control costs and expect cash expense to be down in the mid-single digits in the fourth quarter."
[Source: Sacramento Business Journal]

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tony Agnello dies at 81

Anthony J. (Tony) Agnello, 81, passed away Sunday, November 18, 2007 at Sumner on Ridgewood.

He was born in Akron and was the production director with the Akron Beacon Journal for 35 years. He wa
s a veteran of the United States Navy serving during World War II and was a member of Firestone V.F.W. Post 3383.

He was preceded in death by wife, Judith C. in 2000; and is survived by his children, Barbara Jean Agnello of Akron, David Paul (Pamela) Agnello of Kentucky, Susan Marie Petron of Stow, Steven Anthony Agnello of Cuyahoga Falls a
nd Kara Lynn (David) Downing of Bedford; and grandchildren, Melisa Bishop of Cuyahoga Falls and Christy (C.J.) Hamby of Akron.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, 1 p.m. at the Kucko-Anthony-Kertesz Funeral Home, PLEASE NOTE NEW ADDRESS: 1990 S. MAIN ST. in Akron. Entombment at Holy Cross Cemetery. Friends may call Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the funeral home. (Kucko-Anthony-Kertesz 330-724-1281,
[The Beacon Journal,, Akron, OH, Monday, November 19, 2007, page B4, col. 4].

Larrick obituary in Philadelphia Inquirer

By Martha Woodall
Inquirer Staff Writer

Bruce Larrick, a Philadelphia Inquirer editor fondly described by a colleague as "the crusty old rock on the national desk for 20 years," died Saturday night of an apparent heart attack shortly after he and his wife
had a quiet dinner in their Fairmount home to celebrate his 59th birthday.

Although the cause of death has not been determined, Lynn Larrick said her husband, who had had heart disease for many years, had a new cardiac pacemaker and defibrillator implanted a few weeks ago.

Mr. Larrick was hospitalized last weekend for what doctors said was an anxiety attack, but he was given
a clean bill of health Nov. 12. He worked his usual Thursday and Friday shifts at the paper, and was off Saturday for his birthday.

After a dinner of pizza and pinot noir - the wine was a gift from the national desk - Mr. Larrick's defibrillator pacemaker began going off repeatedly, and his wife called 911.

"He said, 'Don't touch me. I don't want you to get shocked,' " Lynn Larrick said.

She summoned help from neighbors who are health-care professionals. Members of the rescue squad worked on Mr. Larrick as well, but he was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at St. Joseph's Hospital.

"He was happy and talking to me, and then he was gone," Lynn Larrick said yesterday. "I told him I loved him, because I did. He was really my soul mate."

When so many marriages are unhappy, Lynn Larrick said she was not sure why their 20 years together were so good.

"There was never a bad day except with his health issues," she said. "We never had a fight; never had an argument. It was just a wonderful, wonderful marriage."

Thomas P. Steacy, interim editor of The Inquirer's national-foreign desk, said of Mr. Larrick: "He epitomized in its finest sense the crusty old newsman. In his corner of the newsroom, he liked the serious, issues story. And he was one to not shy from speaking his mind. Every few months he dashed off a note to a top editor to register his disagreement over something they said."

William K. Marimow, The Inquirer's executive editor, was among those who often heard from Mr. Larrick.

"I thought he was a terrific editor who really cared passionately about the newspaper," Marimow said yesterday. "Over the last 11 months, I got as much constructive criticism from him as from anyone on the staff."

Mr. Larrick, who joined The Inquirer in September 1986, was an avid reader who enjoyed traveling and loved playing games of all kinds, including chess. He also was a baseball fan who kept baseball statistics. Lynn Larrick said the couple became satellite TV subscribers so Mr. Larrick could get a 24-hour baseball channel.

A native of Canton, Ohio, Mr. Larrick was hired by the Akron Beacon Journal in 1970 and was a cub reporter when that paper won a Pulitzer prize for its coverage of the 1970 Kent State shootings during a protest of the Vietnam War.

During a decade at the Beacon Journal, Mr. Larrick covered the environment and became city editor. He taught journalism at Kent State from 1982 until 1986.

Mr. Larrick had a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University and a master's in political science from the University of Akron.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Larrick is survived by a son, Bryan, of New York City; and his former wife, Kathy Fraze.

A memorial service is planned at The Inquirer.

[:Philadelphia Inqurer. Monday, November 19, 2007, page B9]]