Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Monster.com to cut 800 jobs

Workers at Monster Worldwide will now have to use all the skills they've learned at the employment Web site to find new jobs for themselves.

Monster Worldwide (nasdaq: MNST) is the parent company of Monster.com, which is featured on Ohio.com. Monster.com told traders on Monday that it was cutting 800 jobs, or 15% of its full-time staff. The company also reported that its second-quarter profit tumbled 28% as it deals with the consequences of an ongoing investigation into its stock option grants practices.

For the quarter ended June 30, the company said its net income dropped to $28.6 million, or 21 cents per share, from $39.6 million, or 30 cents per share, in the year-ago period, despite a 20% rise in revenues to $331.1 million.

Analysts had predicted earnings of 32 cents per share on $337.3 million in revenue.

Monster's profit was crimped by a 34% jump in total operating expenses to $288.8 million, partly due to legal fees and severance payments, the company said.

To cut costs, it said it will reduce its workforce by 800 employees beginning immediately and into 2008. The company said that the majority of the reductions will occur by the end of this year.

[Source: Forbes online]

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Now that I've joined Harry in the donut hole

Now that I've hit the Aetna donut hole (meaning that I'll be paying for all of my prescription costs for the rest of the year because I won't hit the $3,850 out-of-pocket limit that would get Aetna back to paying for my medication), I did some math.

Since Aetna uses two sets of books, one to count ALL the prescription charges paid by Aetna and by me to get to $2,400 and a second to count only what I pay (which makes me pay everything till I get to $3,850), it figures out this way:

$791.63 -- What I have paid so far for co-pays.
$2,010.18 -- What I will pay for the rest of the year, based on the total charges for my
$2,801.81 -- My projected total cost for 2007. (Keep in mind that this is for 11 months,
since Aetna didn't kick in till Feb. 1.; for 12 months, it pro-rates to $3,054.54.)
$198.00 -- Amount I would have paid for prescriptions under UHC.
$2,603.81 -- Increased Aetna cost compared to UHC cost
$1,750.00 -- Savings for the lower Aetna medical deductible ($250) compared to the higher
UHC deductible ($2,000).
$853.81 -- Increased Aetna prescription/medical cost compared to UHC.
Again, for 11 months; for 12 months, it would be $1,188.84.

In theory, Aetna would come back in when I hit $3,850 in true out-of-pocket costs (includes everything I will have paid for prescriptions), but I will fall about $1,000 short of that, so Aetna in effect stops paying for my prescriptions once I hit the donut hole of $2,400 in the total cost of the prescriptions, regardless of who pays for it.

If Aetna changes the medical deductible from $250 to a higher amount, then it may be time to look around for cheaper net costs. Tom Moore has the Summa plan, which requires premium payments. But if the Summa plan, including premium payments, results in a better net than the Canadian's Aetna plan, then it might be time to look around for a better deal. We hope to compare Aetna and Summa (and others) at the end of the year.

I hope this helps other BJ retirees to get a handle on the impact that the Canadian's switch from UHC to Aetna will have on them. I would welcome comments, or information on how much you have paid under Aetna for prescriptions and medical care. The more we learn about each other's situations, the better we can decide what we will do for 2008.

If you don't want to post your prescription financial information on this blog, email me at



Want to be a Beacon Journal reporter?

Want to be a Beacon Journal reporter? You can starting Monday, according to a Page A1 announcement by Linda Lyell, vice president of online operations for Ohio.com, the newspaper’s website.

In announcing plans for a new look and new features for Ohio.com, Lyell wrote:

“We also have opened a way for you to be more involved in reporting what is going on in your community. You now can share your own words, photos and videos with the online world through Ohio.com. Pull down the community menu and follow the links to submit your stories, photos and video.

“Last year, we invited you to have a dialogue regarding our news stories by offering your comments to the stories. Now we are taking it one step further by opening the door for you to submit your stories, your photos and your voice.

"We've launched a new events calendar that makes it easier to browse for fun things to do in Northeast Ohio. Searching Events.ohio.com offers information such as event details, Web links and maps. Google mapping provides event location, plus nearby restaurants, bars and parking.”

The new website design launching Monday will feature pull-down menus for each subject area so it is easier to find specific content.

“On Ohio.com's home page, you also will find tabbed ``top story'' boxes for news, sports, business, lifestyle and other topics -- giving you the latest news at your fingertips. You'll also be able to see what other people are reading in the ``most-read stories'' feature.

“Ohio.com will continue to provide local news content through the Akron Beacon Journal. This includes breaking news updates throughout the day.”

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blog visitors top 50,000 mark

Sometime earlier this week the number of vsitors to the BJ Retirees blog passed 50,000. The report on blog traffic today showed 50,327 visitors.

The blog was opened in July, 2004.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Distorted Picture: Photojournalism Credibility

Current and retired Beacon Journal photographers especially should be interested in an artricle titled "Distorted Picture" in the August/September preview of American Journalism Review

Thanks to Photoshop, the article notes, it’s awfully easy to manipulate photographs, as a number of recent scandals make painfully clear. Misuse of the technology poses a serious threat to photojournalism’s credibility.

Here are the lead graphs of the story by Sherry Ricchiardi, AJR senior contributing writer.:

If photo sleuths in Ohio hadn't noticed a pair of missing legs, Allan Detrich still would be cruising to assignments in his sleek blue truck, building his reputation as a photographer extraordinaire at the Toledo Blade. In April, the veteran shooter was forced out of the newsroom in disgrace, igniting a scandal that swept the photojournalism community. Coworkers were mystified about why a highly talented, hard worker who had garnered a slew of awards would cheat.

Detrich says that for a time, he felt like the most "reviled journalist in the country." Internet forums buzzed about his misdeeds, and photographers attacked him for sullying the profession. Some even sent hateful e-mail messages. "I wasn't the first to tamper with news photos and, unfortunately, I probably won't be the last," he says. "I screwed up. I got caught."

In his case, he says, he was seduced by software that made altering images so easy that "anyone can do it."

With new technology, faking or doctoring photographs has never been simpler, faster or more difficult to detect. Skilled operators truly are like magicians, except they use tools like Photoshop, the leading digital imaging software, to create their illusions.

Detrich, who had worked for the Blade since 1989, manipulated most of the images while alone in his truck, using a cell phone or WiFi for quick and easy transmission to the photo desk. There was little reason for him to return to the newsroom to process images. Until April 5, no one challenged the veracity of his photographs.

The photographer's downfall underscores a disturbing reality: With readily accessible, relatively inexpensive imaging tools (Photoshop sells for around $650) and a low learning curve, the axiom "seeing is believing" never has been more at risk. That has led to doomsday predictions about documentary photojournalism in this country.

"The public is losing faith in us. Without credibility, we have nothing; we cannot survive," says John Long, chairman of the ethics and standards committee of the National Press Photographers Association. Long pushes for stricter newsroom standards with missionary zeal and believes all journalists are tarnished when someone like Detrich falls from grace.

Click on the headline to read the full story.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New York, New York, It’s a Wonderful State!

Since we enjoyed meandering through Michigan so much in June, Paula and I decided to try the same thing in the state of New York.

We spent eight days taking in Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada, Watkins Glen State Park and the Finger Lakes of Seneca and Cayuga, Mark Twain’s grave in Elmira, the tall but narrow Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and gravesite and the Vanderbilt mansion, both
in Hyde Park, and Fire Island and Staten Island, the Algonquin Hotel of literary 1920s Round Table fame and a Central Park concert in New York City.

On this visit to Niagara Falls, we went onto Goat Island, which has the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls flowing on either side of the observation point, the smaller waterfall within 10 feet of us. It gave us a different perspective, rather than doin
g our usual view of the Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian side.

We got our taste of Canada in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is 12 miles from Niagara Falls. We went into the Niagara Apothecary, which was built in 1819 and is the longest operating pharmacy in Ontario, and enjoyed the quaint houses and streets.

Watkins Glen was a fascinating park. We walked through two miles of a narrow gorge that was cut 400 feet into a former ocean floor to see the 19 waterfalls and walk up more than 800 steep steps. Tiring, but well worth it.

We enjoyed lunch at the Montage Restaurant, which overlooks Seneca Lake, and watched sailboats go by. The drive to and from Auburn, which bordered the Seneca and later Cayuga (pronounced “key-you-guh” in New York) Finger Lakes, was spectacular.

While visiting Mark Twain’s grave in Elmira, which is where author Samuel Clemens lived, we also stopped by the grave of Ernie Davis, the 1961 Heisman Trophy winner from Syracuse University who died of leukemia at age 23 before he could play for the Cleveland Browns, who had drafted him.

Then there was the trip to Taughannock Falls near Utica, which at 215 feet is 33 feet higher than Niagara Falls, but less than a few feet wide when we got there. The solid rock floor is more than a hundred feet wide. The waterfall was created by centuries of cutting through shale.

The visit to FDR’s birthplace and grave was significant for me. In my childhood, as the son of a coal miner in tiny Monongah, West Virginia, Roosevelt was considered a God, a savior of the workingman. I remember my Mom crying when our only four-term president died on April 12, 1945, and wondering what would happen to America.

Up the road a few miles is the Vanderbilt mansion, built by Cornelius’ grandson Frederick. These are the same Vanderbilt heirs who ran through $200 million with extravagant parties and mansion-building.

We grabbed some eats at the large Whole Foods, which has both prepared foods and groceries, and took them to New York City’s Central Park where we took in a free concert attended by thousands of New Yorkers. I munched on ribs while listening to some excellent folksong-ish music.

Fire Island was an interesting experience for a kid from a small mining town in West Virginia. It is the land of lavender. I had never seen men holding hands and kissing each other on the mouth before. Some swimsuits were little more than G-strings. The white beach was great, although the Atlantic Ocean was too cold for more than wading near the shoreline.

The Algonquin Hotel was where such literary giants as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis, Gertrude Stein, James Thurber and Alexander Woolcott hung out, exchanging witticisms around the Round Table.

Since New York has a plethora of restaurants, this time Paula and I accompanied her son, Pat, a jazz musician who lives in Brooklyn, to a Peruvian restaurant. Great tasting food! The next night, with Pat’s girlfriend, Erin, joining us, we went to Brooklyn Fishing Camp, a restaurant where the entire fish, eyeballs and all, is cooked. It tastes better than it sounds.

Our next trip? Well, West Virginia Mountaineers football begins Sept. 1 so Morgantown will be our travel destination at least six times this season, with trips to Tampa and Cincinnati for away games. Expectations are high for WVU. Anything less than the national championship will disappoint fans who aren’t realistic.
Click on the headline if you want to see photos of our trip.

14 take buyouts at Pioneer Press

Ten newsroom employees and four others companywide have accepted buyouts at the St. Paul Pioneer Press as the newspaper cuts jobs amid declining advertising revenue.

The newspaper also laid off two part-time workers in the library and eliminated an unspecified number of open jobs.

Those taking buyouts in the newsroom include: Mary Bauer, reporter; Diana Boger, designer; Craig Borck, photographer; Beth Gauper, reporter; Sheryl Jean, reporter; Matt Peiken, reporter; Joe Rossi, photographer; Kathy Rysgaard, researcher; Jeff Sjerven, copy editor; and Ellen Tomson, reporter.

Most will leave the company at the end of the week.

[Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Would you buy a car from this man?

City Pages - the News and Arts Weekly in Minneapolis & St. Paul - has posted an extensive, must-read article with references to both Par Ridder and former BJ publisher Chris Harte who defends him.

The illustration of Par by Jay Bevenour nearly steals the show from the great story by G.R. Anderson Jr. and Paul Demoko.

See for yourself by clicking on the headline which will take you to citypages.com

Here are the sub headlines for the July 25 story:

Trials and Stribulations

Staffs gutted.
Secrets stolen.
A traitorous publisher forced to defend his actions in court.
The future has never looked bleaker for the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

The caption for the illustration asks the question:

Would you buy a car from this man?

Here are some relevant graphs pulled from the story:

“Taking the stand in Judge David Higgs's courtroom, Par Ridder couldn't have looked more like a rich boarding-school kid. The 38-year-old publishing scion was decked out in country-club navy blue with a haircut that was square in every sense of the word.

“His counterpart, MediaNews CEO William Dean Singleton, a self-made media mogul from Graham, Texas, cracked wise with reporters in the gallery outside the courtroom. Shuffling on legs hobbled by multiple sclerosis, the 55-year-old was in town just to enjoy the show—and to watch Ridder squirm.

“The ignoble occasion was a three-day hearing in late June that pitted the Pioneer Press against the Star Tribune, Minnesota's two largest daily newspapers. Ridder had raised eyebrows in March when he announced he was stepping down as publisher of the Pioneer Press to take the top job at the Star Tribune. Ridder's family had run the St. Paul daily for nearly 80 years. In that time, the two broadsheets went to war over scoops, revenues, and readers. To switch sides was the publishing equivalent of treason.

"But the real bombshell came in April, when MediaNews, parent company of the Pioneer Press, sued Ridder and the Star Tribune in Ramsey County District Court. In unseemly detail, the civil complaint laid out accusations that Ridder stole a laptop computer, sensitive financial data, and top employees when he jumped ship to the Strib.

"This theft of confidential information—and its receipt by the Star Tribune—was a clear violation of the law," one court document reads, asserting that Ridder and others used "wiping programs" to "cover their tracks."

“The last year has been a period of unprecedented turbulence for the state's two biggest daily newspapers, each of which has changed ownership.

“The Pioneer Press was first on the auction block. Under pressure from Wall Street, the Knight Ridder newspaper chain sold its 32 daily papers to the McClatchy Company in June 2006. But because McClatchy already owned the Star Tribune, it quickly announced plans to re-sell the Pioneer Press in order to avoid running afoul of antitrust regulations. Denver-based MediaNews then purchased the St. Paul paper and three California newspapers for $1 billion.

“Just six months later, McClatchy announced it was selling the Star Tribune, the flagship paper in its chain of 33 dailies. If the sale was a surprise, the price was downright astonishing. Avista Capital Partners, a private equity firm with no prior experience in the newspaper business, agreed to buy the Strib for $530 million—less than half what McClatchy had paid for the paper eight years earlier.”

Chris Harte, a consultant for Avista who serves as chairman of the Star Tribune, defends Ridder, insisting that he's been treated unfairly by the media. "I'm frankly astounded at how many journalists are jumping to conclusions on the basis of allegations of a competitor who is obviously out to gain competitive advantage," he writes.

Avista claims that it's in the newspaper business for the long haul—Harte writes that he expects Avista to own the paper for "quite a while." But fears persist that the company bought the paper to cut costs and sell out within five years for a quick profit, something for which private equity firms are notorious.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

McClatchy profits fall in second quarter

The McClatchy Co.'s latest earnings show the companhy is still feeling the impact of a one-two punch: the newspaper industry's overall advertising slump and a housing market downturn that's slammed two of McClatchy's biggest markets.

Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said Thursday that second-quarter profits fell to $40 million, or 49 cents a share, from $44.1 million, or 94 cents a share. The per-share decline is so steep because McClatchy has 35 million more shares outstanding than a year ago, reflecting the purchase of Knight Ridder Inc.

The downturn mainly reflected a significant drop in ad sales, especially at McClatchy's California and Florida papers. Nearly three-quarters of the drop in ad revenue came from those two states, which are suffering from real estate woes. Real estate advertising was down 32 percent in California and Florida, causing a spillover effect that depressed other ad categories.

"California and Florida are certainly taking a toll," Pruitt said in a conference call with investment analysts. He said he's confident the two states, which were bright spots not too long ago, will rebound. California and Florida -- led by McClatchy's two largest papers, The Bee and the Miami Herald -- generate one-third of the company's ad revenue.

On the plus side, the nation's third-largest newspaper chain squeezed out substantial cost savings and improved its operating cash flow by 4.4 percent. Cash flow is a measure of profit that leaves out certain expenses, including the hefty interest payments McClatchy is making because of last summer's takeover of Knight Ridder Inc.

In addition, the 49 cents per-share profit beat Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of 42 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial. Investors responded by driving up McClatchy stock 13 cents to $26.41 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Click on the headline to read the full story by the Sacramento Bee staff writer Dale Kasler

Monday, July 23, 2007

Debbie shuns debates on comics

Ted Diadiun, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s reader representative, tells readers of his Sunday column why newspapers tweak things and why former BJ staffer Debbie VanTassel is not always happy with too many changes.

By Ted Diadiun
Plain Dealer Columnist
A woman called awhile back to opine on the issue of "tweaking." I didn't save the voice mail, but here's an approximation:

"What's with all this tweaking you people do constantly?" she shouted into the phone. "Why can't you leave things alone? You change the comics, you change the TV listings. Every time I get used to the paper one way, you change it! Keep it the way it is. . . . I am so sick of your constant tuh-WEAKING!!"

In her colorful way, the caller put her finger on a reality of this business: the continuing need for the newspaper to remain fresh and current, which can run contrary to some readers' desire that we keep things the way they are -- on the same page, in the same order -- forever.

The daily newspaper is an evolving, almost living, entity. Obviously, the news is different every day. So editors are constantly tinkering with fresh approaches, adjusting old content, adding this and deleting that.

So comics come and go. This is distressing to some, because there isn't a comic strip ever created that isn't some reader's favorite, and there is no fury like a reader whose favorite strip has disappeared from the paper.

But if no newspaper ever experimented with its comics lineup, we would all still be carrying the Katzenjammer Kids, and you never would have heard of Charlie Brown -- let alone Garfield or Dilbert. If I had my way, we would dump a half-dozen strips a year and replace them with fresh ones. This is an opinion, I should emphasize, that is not shared by our features editor, Debbie VanTassel -- who understands the need for occasional churn but has things she wants to do with her life other than debate with readers about comics all day long.

Click on the headline to read the unsnipped version of the column

Composing retiree William Gutshall dies

FLORIDA -- William S. Gutshall, 97, of Clearwater, Fla., passed peacefully July 11, 2007.

A longtime Buckeyes fan, he is survived by his wife of 67 years, Alberta, and loving family in Akron, Ohio and Northern Virginia.

Donations to Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

[The Beacon Journal,, Akron, OH, Wednesday, July 18, 2007, page B6, col. 3 ]

Gutshall worked in the Beacon Journal Composing Room during the early 1950's through the 1970's.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weak ad sales hurt newspapers

Newspaper publishers including McClatchy Co. and Media General Inc. reported Thursday that second-quarter profit declined on slumping automotive and real estate advertising.

McClatchy, publisher of the Sacramento Bee, said net income fell 9.5% to $39.9 million, or 49 cents a share, from $44.1 million, or 94 cents, a year earlier. Profit slid 75% at Media General.

The slumping U.S. housing market is crimping real estate advertising, especially in the Southwest and Southeast. Sacramento-based McClatchy's 11% drop in June ad sales was paced by declines in California and Florida.

U.S. newspapers suffered a 4.7% drop in first-quarter ad sales, according to TNS Media Intelligence, a New York-based researcher.

"The air has come out of the home bubble and it's taking a lot of advertising along with it," said Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York. "There may be some months before we see recovery in those markets." He has a "hold" rating on McClatchy and Media General.

McClatchy's profit excluding a one-time gain was 48 cents, beating the 43-cent average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Sales more than doubled to $580 million after the purchase of Knight Ridder Inc. for $4.1 billion last year, the company said.

Nearly three-quarters of McClatchy's advertising declines are coming from California and Florida, Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said. Ad sales in those areas fell 18%.

Media General, based in Richmond, Va., said second- quarter net income decreased to $5.1 million, or 22 cents a share, from $20.2 million, or 85 cents, a year earlier. Earnings were in line with a forecast that Media General gave last month.

Sales rose 4.8% to $241.2 million after the company acquired four NBC television stations in June 2006.

[Source: Los Angeles Times business section]

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sherman's PCM dumps newspapers

Private Capital Management, once the most enthusiastic investor in newspaper stocks, has dumped more than $2.5 billion in publishing shares, or 62.5% of its holdings, according to new Wall Street research.

PCM, which held $1.5 billion in newspaper shares at the end of March, became something of a household word in the newspaper industry when Bruce S. Sherman, its chief executive, forced the liquidation of Knight Ridder in 2006.

The aggressive selling by the Florida-based investment firm in the last 2½ years is o
ne of the reasons that newspaper stocks have lost some $15 billion in value since 2004, says securities analyst Paul Ginocchio of Deutsche Bank.

“After reaching a peak position of almost $4 billion [at the beginning of 2005], PCM has been reducing its huge stake in the industry every quarter since the fourth quarter of 2005,” says Paul. While he says most of the recent decline in newspaper stocks are attributable to falling Wall Street earnings expectations “caused by weak print advertising trends and contracting margins, we think the headwind from PCM selling hasn’t helped.”

As illustrated in the table, PCM at one time owned nearly a quarter of the stock of such companies as Belo, Lee Enterprises and McClatchy Newspapers. Today, those positions have been reduced by more than half. Other major PCM holdings that have been reduced significantly are the shares of Media General, New York Times Co. and Gannett.

When PCM forced the sale of Knight Ridder, Bruce was counting on robust competition for the assets to boost the value of his extensive publishing portfolio. Quite the opposite occurred.

The only bid for the company came from McClatchy Newspapers, which made a barely respectable offer – and then added insult to injury by dumping such venerable properties as the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Beacon Journal and San Jose Mercury News.

KRI shareholders who got a combination of cash and McClatchy stock at the time the sale were in for a rude shock, too. McClatchy’s shares have fallen 33.7% since June, 2006.

Paul believes Lee’s shares may have been the most depressed by PCM, whose trading represented up to 9% of the activity in the issue in the last quarter of 2006 and the first period of 2007. “The ‘good’ news for Lee is that they are closer to the point where PCM has fully exited the stock than several of the other newspaper names,” says Paul.

Depending on the speed with which PCM disposes of the other publishing stocks in its portfolio, it may take up to a year for Bruce to get clear of Media General, McClatchy and Belo.

[Source: Reflections of a Newsosaur]

Updated Ohio Politics released

The revised and updated edition of Ohio Politics edited by Brian Usher and Alexander P. Lamis has been released by the Kent State University Press.

Former Beacon Journal staff member Brian Usher was a political writer and Statehouse correspondent for several Ohio newspapers and press secretary for former g
overnor Richard Celeste. He currently operates his own public relations firm in Columbus, Ohio.

Alexander P. Lamis is associate professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. A specialist on elections and political parties, he is the author of Southern Politics in the 1990s (1999).

When first published in 1994, Ohio Politics was defined as the first comprehensive survey of the state’s post–World War II politics. A collaborative effort by a team of journalists and political scientists, this updated edition includes coverage of the 2004 and 2006 elections; new chapters devoted to Governor George Voinovich’s second term and the era of Governor Bob Taft; and full coverage of Ohio’s school-funding cases. Also new to this edition is an overview of the era of Republican dominance that began in 1994 and ended abruptly in the Strickl
and landslide of 2006.

Contributing authors also explore the state’s recent political history and the diverse and often highly contentious political struggles in the years since 1944 and analyze in depth the state’s legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as well as their leaders. Additionally, contributors explore interest groups, elections, political parties, the news media, Ohio’s representation in Congress, and state politics in historical perspective.

In this revised edition, Ohio Politics serves as the study of Ohio’s rich and lively political history.

Some early reviews:

“Well-written and richly detailed, Ohio Politics offers interesting and informative anecdotes and a valuable study for the specialist as well as the non-specialist in search of a reference tool. . . . This fine volume will captivate readers of diverse interests and, indeed, contribute to enlightened government in the Buckeye State.”
—Northwest Ohio Quarterly

“This is the first comprehensive survey of the states’ major political events since 1944.”
—Echoes, Ohio Historical Society

“A fascinating story of executive power and party politics in the Buckeye State.” —CHOICE

Politics/Ohio History
Paper ● $32.00t ● 2007 06.28.07 (Pub. Date)
ISBN 0-87338-613-2
617 pp., 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
illustrations, notes, biblio., index

Thursday, July 19, 2007

McClatchy profit slumps on slow ad sales

Advertising revenue at The McClatchy Co. dropped 9.8 percent in the second quarter of 2007 compared to the previous year, led by a 19 percent decline in real estate advertising.

But net income for the quarter came in higher than projected and the stock rose in slightly above average trading Thursday. Investors appeared unmoved by projections that advertising would remain soft through the remainder of 2007.

The company also said it would pay down debt by as much as $700 million over the next 18 months through cash flow and sale of assets. McClatchy's stock has been pounded by investors, caught between an industry-wide revenue slump and a high debt load from last year's acquisition of Knight-Ridder Inc.

McClatchy chairman and chief executive officer Gary Pruitt said he expects advertising declines to continue.

"We expect no substantial improvement in advertising trends before the fourth quarter of 2007 and expect that revenues will likely still be negative in that quarter," Pruitt said. "Nearly three-quarters of our advertising declines are coming from California and Florida, two regions that benefited strongly from the real estate boom, ad likewise are being hurt in the subsequent real estate slowdown."

Ad revenue dropped 15 percent in California and 21 percent in Florida.

Total revenue for McClatchy declined 8.3 percent to $580 million in the second quarter of 2007 from $632 million in the previous years' quarter. Net income for the Sacramento newspaper giant was $39.9 million, or 49 cents per share, a 9.5 percent decline compared to $44.1 million, or 94 cents per share in the second quarter of 2006.

McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) said cost reduction efforts had trimmed cash expenses 12.2 percent in the quarter ended June 30.

The company has been paying down its debt since its $6 billion 2006 acquisition of Knight-Ridder, which was the second-largest newspaper chain in the country at the time. In March, McClatchy completed the sale of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis for $530 million plus $160 million in tax advantages.

At the end of the second quarter, McClatchy had $2.68 billion in debt after paying down about $79 million during the quarter, said Pat Talamantes, the company's chief financial officer, in a news release. Talamantes said the company is looking to sell real estate assets and use cash flow generated by operations to reduce the debt by another $600 million to $700 million in the next year and a half.

Shares of The McClatchy Co. dropped to $26.00 in Thursday morning trading, but climbed back to $26.41 in trading Thursday.

Sacramento Business Journal]

Star Tribune's CFO is leaving

Mike Riggs, the Star Tribune's chief financial officer, is leaving the news organization at the end of the month to become senior vice president for Des Moines-based Meredith Corp., which has publications including Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies Home Journal.

"We are happy for him and understand his decision," Star Tribune Publisher Par Ridder said in an announcement to employees Wednesday. Riggs also served as senior vice president for finance and information technology.

"It is truly a great opportunity to join a great company," said Riggs, 39. "It is an opportunity I simply could not pass up."

Riggs joined the Star Tribune in 1996 as a senior financial accountant. He became sales director in interactive media and director of planning for the sales division before becoming CFO in 2006.

Riggs is one of five Star Tribune executives named in a lawsuit brought by the St. Paul Pioneer Press alleging that Ridder brought confidential information with him when he took the publisher's position in Minneapolis and later shared it with some top managers at the Star Tribune. Ridder has acknowledged taking the information but says it was not used to harm the Pioneer Press.

[Source: David Phelps on Star Tribune Online]

McClatchy’s Fresno Bee to outsource to India

The Fresno Bee will outsource some advertising production work to India, the newspaper said Tuesday.

Seven of 31 workers in The Bee's advertising design department will lose their jobs, said Ken Hatfield, The Bee's vice president of communications and public affairs.

Workers who cannot be placed in other jobs will be offered severance pay, extended health insurance and outplacement help.

"This is a difficult decision for the newspaper to make, but The Fresno Bee needs to operate more efficiently," Hatfield said.

Beginning in September, Indian workers for San Jose-based Express KCS will take over the work of affected employees.

Express KCS will take over only some advertising production work, and most of The Bee's advertising services will not be affected by the move, Hatfield said.

The Bee's Ad Creation/Design Center will continue to produce all of the creative work for the newspaper's print and online advertisers, including spec ads, new layouts, direct marketing products and other special products, he said.

Advertising customers will continue to interact with Bee sales, marketing and design employees in Fresno, he said.

Formed in India, the company began expanding its services to U.S. and British clients in 2004, and in 2006 reformed as a Delaware-registered limited liability corporation, according to the company's Web site.

The Bee is the only McClatchy newspaper using the company's services.

But Express KCS does advertising production work for some other California newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times and ANG Newspapers, which publishes the Oakland Tribune and other daily papers in Fremont, Hayward and San Mateo.

[Source: Fresno Bee.com]

[Click on the headline to read more]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Guild asks Par Ridder to quit 108-2

By Matt McKinney, Star Tribune
The union representing the Star Tribune's newsroom called Tuesday for the resignation of Publisher Par Ridder.

Ridder is being sued by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which alleges that he took confidential information and a file of noncompete agreements, including his own, from the St. Paul paper, his former employer. Ridder has acknowledged taking the information but says it was not used to harm the Pioneer Press. He also argues that the noncompete agreements were not valid.

About 110 members of the Star Tribune's Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union, about a third of the union's 320-person membership, attended a meeting to vote on the resolution, which said Ridder has damaged the newspaper's credibility.

"People don't take us as seriously," said reporter Dan Browning, calling Ridder's actions "corrosive" to the newspaper's reputation.

Two union members voted against the resolution.

The symbolic vote was dismissed by Star Tribune Chairman Chris Harte.

"This vote is merely union posturing, and it changes nothing," he said in a statement shortly after the vote. "As I have said before, the Guild does not get to decide who is publisher of the Star Tribune. Avista has full confidence in Par Ridder."

Avista Capital Partners owns the Star Tribune.

Pioneer Press plans to cut 30 jobs

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is offering another round of buyouts to employees as advertising revenue continues to slide.

The paper is seeking a total of 30 buyouts, with 15 of those expected to come from the newsroom. Editor Thom Fladung told newsroom employees of the plan in an afternoon meeting today.

If the paper doesn't get the buyouts it's looking for, layoffs are a possibility, he said. Those who take the buyout would leave the newspaper by July 27.

"There's no way to sugarcoat this. I'm not going to try," Fladung said, noting that advertising trends need to turn a corner. "I want to avoid layoffs at all costs."

The buyout package amounts to two weeks pay for each year of service, up to one full year's pay. The Pioneer Press employs a total of about 800 people, with about 180 of those in the newsroom.

Newspapers across the country have been buffeted by advertisers taking their business to other online Web sites, classified ad revenues declining, and circulation numbers in a steady drop.

Although the Pioneer Press has reported modest growth in circulation in recent reporting periods, it's not escaped the advertising downturn. In December, the paper offered a round of buyouts that took 30 jobs out of the newspaper, including 21 in the newsroom. The largest union at the Pioneer Press also said today that four people in the newspaper's circulation department were laid off last week.

[Source: Twin Cities.com site of Pioneer Press]

Repository gets new editor

CANTON – Jeff Gauger, managing editor of the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star, has been named executive editor of The Repository.

Gauger held the position in Rockford since 2005, when he came from the Omaha World-Herald where he was assistant managing editor/news after a variety of editor positions. He succeeds David Kaminski, who resigned to pursue other interests.

“Jeff is a great addition to the team here,” said Repository Publisher Kevin Kampman. “He is going to be able to lead us into the next era at The Repository” which includes integrating online and print journalism and expanding product lines.

Gauger plans to start Aug. 6.

[Source: The Times-Reporter, New Philadelphia, OH, Wednesday, July 18, 2007]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

McClatchy Earnings Preview by Forbes

McClatchy Co. reports its second-quarter earnings on Thursday. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period.

OVERVIEW: McClatchy (nyse: MNI), the third-largest U.S. newspaper publisher and an operator of Web sites, said its May revenue declined on weak real estate ad sales. Total revenue fell 10.4 percent to $180.3 million from $201.3 million. Ad sales for the month dropped 11.5 percent to $153 million versus $172.9 million in the year-ago period, largely on declines in real estate advertising in California and Florida, where the housing market is weakening.

Last month Chief Executive Gary Pruitt told an investor conference that the company would consider selling its 15 percent stake in CareerBuilder, an online help-wanted advertising venture it co-owns with Gannett Co. (nyse: GCI) and Tribune Co. (nyse: TRB) Chris Hendricks, McClatchy's head of digital operations, said the company was "exploring other options" in the online help-wanted advertising arena, and that selling its stake in CareerBuilder was "not our first choice."

Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy, whose papers include The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, in April joined a consortium of newspaper publishers that works with Yahoo Inc. (nasdaq: YHOO) to sell advertising online.

BY THE NUMBERS: Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect a second-quarter profit of 43 cents per share on revenue of $584.8 million.

ANALYST TAKE: Craig Huber of Lehman Brothers (nyse: LEH) lowered his second-quarter earnings estimate in a June 21 client note by 2 cents to 45 cents per share on weaker-than-expected May revenue results.

Similarly, Deutsche Bank (nyse: DB) North America analyst Paul Ginocchio reduced his estimate by 2 cents to 44 cents per share.

STOCK PERFORMANCE: McClatchy's stock dropped 19 percent during the quarter and is down 31 percent for the year to date.

Reports on PD miscues from Ted Diadiun's Blog

Goren bridge

Hundreds and hundreds - and hundreds - of you called or wrote to me, Features Editor Debbie Van Tassel, Editor Susan Goldberg and anyone else you could find, to say that the newspaper had made a huge mistake. (dropping the Goren bridge column)

It's hard to get a grip on how many, because they came in so many forms to so many of us. A conservative guess is 700 and climbing. I'd tell you that I didn't realize we had so many bridge players, but several people who called said that they don't even play bridge - they just like to read the column.

In honor of your decorum (and your numbers), it is my privilege to inform you that the bridge column will be returning to your daily newspaper. It will appear in each day's Classified Advertising section.

The "S-word"

Last Saturday was a signature moment in Plain Dealer history. In a Page One story about short-tempered firefighter Terrance Hough Jr.'s lethal attack on his neighbors, we told readers that before he shot three people to death, he said, according to witnesses, "I'll bet you guys won't be doing this s- - - again."

But the story didn't put it like that. It used the full word, without softening it with hyphens.

Many readers were shocked.

"I was just appalled to see it that way," said one. "Does that mean all bars are now going to be down at The PD and we can expect to see other obscenities and vulgarities in the paper now?"

Absolutely not.

Most readers consider us a family newspaper, and that's what we try to be. You won't see casual profanity in these pages, and editors try to balance assaults on your sensibilities with the need to avoid spoon-feeding you the news.

The Plain Dealer has a stylebook that establishes guidelines in many areas, including taste. Here's a part of what it says about this issue: "Gratuitous use of vulgarities and profanities must be avoided. . . . Tragedies evoke powerful emotions that may trigger vulgar language. . . . When the use of the profanity is necessary to convey the essence of a quotation, its use may be justified but must be approved by the editor or managing editor."

Editor Goldberg, who made the decision to run the unfettered quote, said that there are times when the need to convey the intensity of a situation compels editors to re-examine the standard rules.

"I personally am extremely conservative in these matters," she said. "But this shocking act - the cold-blooded murder of three people - was one of those times. The quote, in its fullness, told you an enormous amount about the suspect's state of mind. We thought, first, that readers should see it and, second, that they could handle it. I am sorry if people were offended."

Saturday was the first time the "S" word has appeared on this newspaper's Page One, but you might be surprised to learn that it was not the first time it has seen print in these pages. Going back to 1991, which was the year we began archiving stories electronically, the word has been used in all its four-letter splendor 16 times.

As the stylebook says, profanity should be used sparingly and only for a defensible reason. Looking back at the two dozen-plus intentional uses, I could quibble with a few of those decisions.

But not last Saturday. The full, direct quote put readers at the scene in a way that using the letter "s" and a bunch of hyphens could not.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who reads newspapers?

Only 35 percent of older adults, 8 per cent of teens, and 16 percent of young adults read the newspaper every day. Newspapers are read hardly ever, or not at all, by 46 percent of teens, 45 percent of young adults and even 33 percent of older adults.

A report from Harvard University, funded by the Knight Foundation and others, examines the amount of daily news consumed by young people. The report is based on a national survey of 1800 randomly sampled teens, young adults, and older adults, The evidence shows that young Americans are estranged from the daily newspaper and rely more heavily on televisio
n than on the Internet for their news. A few decades ago, there were not large differences in the news habits and daily information levels of younger and older Americans. Today, unlike most older Americans, many young people find a bit of news here and there and do not make it a routine part of their day.

See a New York Times story on the report.

Click here to see a table from the report on readership.

Click on the headline to see the report in a PDF file from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

The research was funded by a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, for the consideration of the Carnegie-Knight Task Force on the Future of Journalism Education. The Carnegie-Knight Initiative was launched in 2005 and focuses on curriculum reform at graduate schools of journalism, an innovative student internship program called News21, research, and creating a platform for educators to speak on journalism policy and education issues. All of these efforts grew out of a partnership
involving the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and participating universities.

The cartoon, posted earlier on this blog, comes via of retiree Calvin Deshong.

Review of Akron Art Museum from NYC

This blogger definitely has no understanding or appreciation for art.

The Architecture Review in the New York Times by Nicolai Ouroussoff seems by our reading to be saying that the new Coop design is teriffic in reflecting “an exuberant spirit of invention and openness.” But says “Unfortunately, that spirit stops at the gallery doors.”

What really disturbs the reviewer is the “ugly brick-clad parking deck across the street (the new library building) This he says is “the dark side of the America recalled by Robert Venturi: a haunted Main Street U.S.A. of decrepit brick buildings, vacant windows and empty storefronts.”

For our viewers outside the Akron area we include this photo of the new museum. To read the full review which has high praise for the added architecture, click on the headline. Here are the lead paragraphs:

AKRON, Ohio, July 9 — The new addition to the Akron Museum of Art underscores how hard it can be to strike a balance between daring architecture and enjoyable spaces for viewing art.

Designed by the Vienna-based Coop Himmelb(l)au, the building’s crystalline exterior and lobby, with their cascading sheets of glass, reflect an exuberant spirit of invention and openness.

Unfortunately, that spirit stops at the gallery doors. After the initial euphoria of taking in the big public spaces, the galleries feel surprisingly drab. You’re left with the deflating impression that the client and the architect experienced a failure of nerve at the moment that mattered most.

The old museum, housed in a 19th-century Renaissance Revival building that once served as a post office, stands on a commercial strip facing an ugly brick-clad parking structure in downtown Akron. This is the dark side of the America recalled by Robert Venturi: a haunted Main Street U.S.A. of decrepit brick buildings, vacant windows and empty storefronts.

Coop Himmelb(l)au treats this history with just the right amount of respect, neither trying too hard to fit in with it nor begrudging its importance. The collection is divided into two parts, with late-19th-century and early-20th- century art housed in the old building and later-20th-century and contemporary art and photography displayed in a new one-story rectangular aluminum-clad slab just to the south.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gangl involved in festival tribute to Heinz Pol

This is posted because of the involvement of retired BJ photographer Ott Gangl.

Free Summer Dance Performances!

The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival

July 27 – August 18, 2007

Honoring the legacy of Heinz Poll, founding director of Ohio Ballet

All performances begin at 8:45 pm Friday and Saturday evenings with children’s program starting at 7:45 pm every night.

(Ballet Theatre of Ohio July 27, 28 and The Dance Institute of The University of Akron for the last 3 weekends).

Bring a blanket or lawn chair and a picnic!

July 27, 28 – Ballet Theatre of Ohio at Hardesty Park (Akron’s Arts Expo)

August 3, 4 – GroundWorks Dancetheater at Cascade Plaza

August 10, 11 – Verb Ballets at Goodyear Metro Park

August 17, 18 – Ballet Met at Firestone Park

A piece by Heinz Poll will be presented by each company each weekend

Also offered as part of the Festival:

A Tribute to Heinz Poll – Photo Collection of Ott Gangl – Main Library (July 13 – August 31) The exhibit may be seen at the Main Library on the second floor in the Garden Trio Corridor.

Panel Discussion on The Poll Legacy and Summer Festival – Francia Albrecht Studio in the new dance wing of Guzetta Hall on August 8 at 7:30 pm (Wine and hors d’ouevres)
Moderator: David Lieberth, Deputy Mayor/Chief of Staff for the City of Akron
Panelists: David Shimotakahara, Artistic Director of GroundWorks Dancetheater; Christine Meneer, Artistic Director of Ballet Theatre of Ohio; Jane Startzman, Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival Director; Lana Carroll Heylock, Head/Dance Institute of The Univ. of Akron; Dr. Margaret Carlson, Executive Director of Verb Ballets; Ott Gangl – Official photographer for Ohio Ballet

Master classes offered each Saturday beginning July 28.

For more information, call Jane Startzman, Director - (330) 990-5263

Front page ads coming to LA Times

The following is from LA Observed, an online journal about media in Los Angeles:

Publisher David Hiller just dropped a "mid-year business update" on L.A. Times staffers that has fresh bad news: "Revenue was down 10% in the second quarter, and cash flow down a whopping 27%, making it one of the worst quarters ever experienced."

Hiller acknowledges that readers are turned off by ads in inconvenient places, but one of his responses to declining revenue is going to be ads on the Times front page. Not the small discreet ads that the New York Times runs, but the inch-and-a-half strips the Wall Street Journal sells. He promises standards to ensure they don't visually shred Page

Here's his case for the ads:

* Front page ads will raise several million dollars in revenue, and make a meaningful contribution to improving current trends
* We will make sure the revenue is additive, and not just switched from other pages
* They will help pay for the content we create for readers, and for our investment in new growth opportunities
* They are common at reputable papers across the U.S. and Europe, including in the Wall Street Journal’s much admired re-design
* Space taken (1 ½” strip) and related design issues can be managed
* We will have standards to ensure the ads look good, not schlocky
* If we communicate well, reader reaction should be OK

Click on the headline to read the full story, but consider the source.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Getting It Straight about Tom Moore's whereabouts

If you read this item:

Papa Joe's crowd bottoms out in size

Only seven attended the monthly Papa Joe's gathering today. I was the only newsroom retiree there. Former printers were Cal Deshong, Ed Hanzel and wife Norma, Gene McClellan, Carl Nelson and Francis Reeves, brother of late printer "Red" Reeves. Bob Pell was seeing former high school friends in West Virginia and Tom Moore reportedly was in Florida with Tom Giffen's baseball program for older players.

Tom's email correction:

didn't go to florida. had an accident and totaled my car. just minor bruises, but car a total loss...that's why I missed the luncheon.

My apologies to Tom. And my regrets that his car got totaled. And gratitude that he didn't get totaled.

Details, Tom?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lady Bird Johnon photo flipped

An explanatrion from the Fort Worth Star Telegram for this reversed photro

An embarrassing, frustrating and disappointing thing happened on our front page today: We published a photo backwards. It wasn't intentional, but it happened. This beautiful photo of Lady Bird Johnson is what we call "flopped." We requested it from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center because it captures her spirit, her passion and perhaps her personality. And it's an iconic image that says "Texas" in no uncertain terms. The photo has also been on the center's website - that's where we first saw it and that's who sent it to us to publish. It's not comfort, but we weren't the only paper to use the photo this way. In the digital world, we don't have negatives to check as original source material. In this case, the center's webmaster, a credible source, sent it to us. Often, as in today's case, it's after an editor sees the photo published differently elsewhere that we may wonder if something's not right. There are some telltale signs in the photo, but even those can be deceiving: Mrs. Johnson has a ring on what appears to be her left hand. But a colleague called the photographer this morning and he told us she'd switched it to her right hand after her husband, Lyndon, died. When photos are intentionally manipulated - clearly not the case here - we consider it unethical and a breach in our credibility. In this case, the photo's still beautiful but it's just not right.

-- Larry Lutz

Guild may demand that Par Ridder resign

A proposal to ask Guild members to vote on a “no confidence” vote on publisher Par Ridder was called “a little soft” by Guild stewards who then voted unanimously to have members vote on demanding Ridder's resignation.

The membership vote is scheduled for 4:30 pm next Tuesday.

Reporter Chris Serres, a Strib Guild officer, says, "It became a pretty long discussion. The prevailing view was that if we believe what he has done is a violation of our code of ethics a 'no-confidence' vote is kind of soft. So then we had to work out questions of a proper statement and timing."

The Guild decision was reported by The Rake, a monthly magazine, launched in March 2002 which is distributed free throughout the Twin Cities metro area (Minneapolis and St. Paul) in restaurants and libraries, coffee shops and public buildings.

Rake columnist Brian Lambert also reports:

Sources at a recent meeting with MediaNews owner Dean Singleton confirm his statement that he has already spent $3 million on his suit against Par Ridder. While Singleton has laid out serious cash for lawyers and forensic work on the Pioneer Press computer files Ridder booted into the Star Tribune system, at least one prominent local attorney believes it is reasonable Avista has or soon will spend as much defending him.

Last time I checked $6 million was somewhere in the range of 40% of the Star Tribune's annual newsroom budget. Obviously I don't have the precise numbers. But the point is you can cover a lot of Minnetonka Sewer Commission meetings with $6 million ... and eventually the loser in this disgraceful mess will be looking to paper over their losses with another round of "right-sizing" (to quote Ridder) in their Twin Cities subsidiaries.

Click on the headline to read his column.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

McClatchy stock: Is it hot air?

McClatchy's stock price is down 31% since close of the Knight Ridder deal. An article by Jonathan Weil on Bloomberg.com says the market has rendered an early verdict on the Knight Ridder deal, but McClatchy's financial statements don't reflect it. As of April 1, McClatchy showed $3.59 billion of the intangible asset known as goodwill -- more than its shareholder equity of $3.15 billion and more than its current market capitalization of $2.2 billion.

Under the headline, These Newspaper Assets Don't Look Fit to Print, Weil writes:

Memo to executives at McClatchy Co., the newspaper chain that uses ``Truth to Power'' as its slogan: The stock market thinks your company's balance sheet belongs on the funny pages.

While Rupert Murdoch is offering crazy money for Dow Jones & Co. to get his mitts on the Wall Street Journal (where I once worked), it's a much different story for publishers of metropolitan monopoly newspapers that lack global brands, such as McClatchy, Lee Enterprises Inc. and Journal Register Co.

Either these companies are the biggest stock-market bargains the industry has seen in years, or many of the assets on their balance sheets aren't worth diddly. Meanwhile, write- offs in the hundreds of millions of dollars are beginning to look inevitable, barring a quick turnaround in the companies' stock prices or a sudden shift by advertisers from the Internet back to fish wrap.

Barely a year after Sacramento, California-based McClatchy paid $4.6 billion for Knight-Ridder Inc. and sold the parts it didn't want, the publisher of the Sacramento Bee and Kansas City Star now has a stock price that's 31 percent lower than it was the day the acquisition closed. While the market has rendered an early verdict on the Knight-Ridder deal, McClatchy's financial statements don't reflect it.

As of April 1, McClatchy showed $3.59 billion of the intangible asset known as goodwill, which companies put on their balance sheets when they buy other companies at premium prices. That was more than its shareholder equity of $3.15 billion and more than its current market capitalization of $2.2 billion. So, to believe the company's balance sheet, McClatchy's goodwill alone is worth more than the stock-market value for the entire company. To borrow a line from Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry, who now gets his paycheck from McClatchy, I'm not making this up.

Air for Sale

There's just one nagging problem: You can't sell goodwill by itself. Technically goodwill is the asset that companies record on their books to reflect the difference between the price they paid to buy another company and the fair value of the acquired company's net assets. More broadly, in lay terms, goodwill is synonymous with thin air.

It's no surprise that investors have concluded McClatchy's assets aren't worth nearly as much today as they once cost. McClatchy's revenue declined in each of the past two quarters, and newspapers have done an excellent job of chronicling their industry's troubles. For now, though, McClatchy spokeswoman Elaine Lintecum says it's premature to conclude that write-offs are coming.

All 19 presidential candidates have web sites

All 19 candidates for president have Web sites, and blogs are the least of it, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Nearly all of the sites now have pages on MySpace, the social networking Web site. Online fundraising has become standard—Barack Obama in the second quarter of 2007 alone raised $10 million on his Web site, a third of his total. Several candidates used their sites to kick off their campaigns, rather than staging an old-fashioned campaign event designed to get press coverage.

It all has raised new questions about the evolving communications of American politics and the role of the Web in particular as a way of sidestepping the scrutiny of traditional journalism.

How are candidates using their Web sites? To what extent are they trying to evade the traditional media? What images and tested keywords are they promoting, and which ones are they avoiding? To find out, the Project for Excellence in Journalism examined in detail the Web sites of the 19 announced presidential candidates, comparing them on a range of features and studying their language.[1]

What we found is that one can learn a good deal about individual candidates from these sites. Users can also interact here with the campaigns and other citizens, and even move in many cases to grassroots activity. The emphasis of candidate sites is also more on issues and biography, with little of the horse race and tactical focus that critics decry is an emphasis of traditional media. Rather than bypassing the mainstream media filter, the candidate sites try to exploit the traditional press by using their material selectively in self-serving ways. What is missing is balance, any effort to get below spin—and the ability to compare one candidate with another.

Among the key findings:

• Candidate Web sites have fully embraced politics as a two-way conversation with voters. Twelve sites also offer the opportunity for visitors to turn that dialogue into grassroots action (organizing their own events, fundraisers, etc). Add dialogue and action together and Democrats have the most interactive sites, led by Barack Obama, followed by Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Bill Richardson.

• Perhaps the most fundamental grassroots activity of all, registering people to vote, is lacking here. Only four candidates—Hillary Clinton, John Cox, John McCain and Barack Obama—offer tools or information about how to register.

• Blogs, a novelty in 2004, are now mainstream. Fifteen of the 19 sites feature their own official weblogs, and seven offer users the chance to start their own. Mitt Romney has his five sons author his campaign blog. Sam Brownback lets users contribute to his. John Edwards lets them write diaries.

• Savvy visitors may even be able to determine leading candidates from the so-called lesser ones. The top candidates—those with the most money and poll popularity—have the most technically sophisticated sites, update more often, use more video and include more news articles. They also focus on fewer issues. Edwards features the fewest issues (six). Dennis Kucinich has the most (91), and is the only candidate to talk about hemp and animal rights.

• When it comes to language, the biographies of the GOP candidates differ from those of the Democrats. The GOP bios emphasize “leadership,” “taxes,” and “values;” Democrats stress “children,” “family” and “protect.” And Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to name the party to which they belong.

• Some words are missing altogether in the biographies, including “God,” “moral,” and “progressive.” No Democrat uses the word “liberal”, and even Republican front runners shy away from using “conservative.” The only ones who do are candidate notably trailing the polls. For her part, Hillary Clinton almost entirely avoids reference to her husband at all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Papa Joe's crowd bottoms out in size

Only seven attended the monthly Papa Joe's gathering today. I was the only newsroom retiree there. Former printers were Cal Deshong, Ed Hanzel and wife Norma, Gene McClellan, Carl Nelson and Francis Reeves, brother of late printer "Red" Reeves. Bob Pell was seeing former high school friends in West Virginia and Tom Moore reportedly was in Florida with Tom Giffen's baseball program for older players.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

She broke "glass ceiling" in journalism

Charlotte Curtis, a graduate of Ohio University and reporter for the old Columbus Citizen, probably was the first woman to break the “glass ceiling” in journalism. She was both the first woman on the masthead of The New York Times and one of the last women to always be the only woman in the room in the world of big-time journalism. Curtis was mentioned in a June 14, 2007 post on this blog headlined “Ohioans play role in American journalism”.

She became an op-ed
editor for the New York Times in 1980, a position she held until shortly before her death in 1987.

Her career is chronicled in a book titled “Woman of the Times” by Marilyn S. Greenwald published in 1999 Ohio University Press.

The dust jacket says this:

“For twenty-five years, Charlotte Curtis was a society women's reporter and editor and an op-ed editor at the New York Times. As the first woman associate editor at the Times, Curtis was a pioneering journalist and one of the first nationwide to change the nature and content of the women's pages from fluffy wedding announcements and recipes to the more newsy, issue-oriented stories that characterize them today.

“Curtis grew up in Columbus, Ohio, her mother a prominent woman suffrage leader and diplomat. Well educated and well traveled, Curtis returned to Columbus after Vassar to become a reporter at the Columbus Citizen. From here she broke into the upper echelons of the male-dominated Times, but not without sacrifices.

“As Greenwald's fine, insightful narrative reveals, Curtis's successes were hard won. Intelligent, talented, and ambitious, Curtis invented her own brand of feminism in order to make her way among people of power. Her frank, take-no-prisoners writing style paved the way for journalists who followed her. And in the 1960s, '70S, and '80S, pivotal decades in American journalism, she covered some of the key stories of the era-the Robert F. Kennedy funeral train, the early days of the women's movement, and the tumultuous 1968 political conventions.”

Curtis, who died of cancer at the age of 58 in 1987, was still making news in the last decade. In 2000, a $2 million gift from the Charlotte Curtis Hunt Living Trust to the Ohio State University Foundation established the William E. Hunt, M.D. and Charlotte M. Curtis Neuroscience Endowment Fund within the university's College of Medicine and Public Health.

The gift was made in memory of the late Dr. Hunt, former head of neurosurgery at Ohio State, and his late wife, Charlotte Curtis Hunt, a former editor at the New York Times.

Author Greenwald, formerly a reporter and editor at several daily newspapers in Ohio, is now a profe
ssor of journalism at Ohio University.

An August 29, 1999 review of the book by Judith Martin was n
ot complimentary. It was headlined: “Too Much a Lady? Charlotte Curtis changed journalism but had no use for feminism.”

Curtis was probably not a crusader for women’s rights as the book alludes, but the New York Times reviewer does not point out that Curtis was able to surmount the male hierarchy of the newspaper to become a top editor.
You can go to the review for a link to the first chapter of Greenwald’s book.

You can find the book in most libraries. The copy at Akron-Summit County Library was a memorial gift “in honor of Frances Murphey.” Murphey was not a feminist, but the wearer of coveralls could put guys in their place. For some crazy reason, she did not like “Frances Murphey.” She preferred “Fran Murphy” in the diminutive or “Frances B. Murphey” with that middle initial for “Burke” in any other mention. More than one of her editors got chewed out for using it incorrectly.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gangl photos to highlight Heinz Poll tribute

Photographs from the Ott Gangl collection will be exhibited at Akron-Summit County Public Library in conjunction with
The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, sponsored by the City of Akron on four consecutive weekends.

Performances by regional dance companies will highlight the work of former Ohio
Ballet Artistic Director Heinz Poll. in a series of dance performances throughout Akron during July and August.

Gangl will be a guest at the library on Aug. 3, a couple of hours before the free ball
et outdoor performance at the Cascade Plaza across the street.

The photo exhibit of retired BJ photographer Gangl is titled “Heinz Poll: a Tribute.” The exhibit may be seen at the Main Library on the second floor in the Garden Trio Corridor.

The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival on four consecutive weekends. will feature four professional dance companies: Ballet Theatre of Ohio, GroundWorks Dancetheater, Verb Ballets, and Ballet Met. The programs will be presented July 27- August 18, and will include a nightly interactive presentation for children. The University of Akron’s Dance Institute will present the children’s program on three of the four weekends.

Performances for the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival will begin at 8:45 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings, with a children’s program starting at 7:45 pm each night:

* July 27, 28 - Ballet Theatre of Ohio at Hardesty Park. (Akron’s Art Expo)
* August 3, 4 - GroundWorks Dancetheater at Cascade Plaza
* August 10, 11 - Verb Ballets at Goodyear Metro Park
* August 17, 18 - BalletMet at Firestone Park

The German-born Heinz Poll came to Akron in 1967 and offered classes to promising students. In 1974, with lighting designer Thomas Skelton, he founded Akron’s first professional company, which eventually became Ohio Ballet. Poll died in April, 2006.

The new Akron dance festival is the result of an effort initiated last year to determine the future of the Ohio Ballet, which gave its final performance on August 6, 2006 at Goodyear Metropolitan Park. The volunteer board of trustees of Ohio Ballet was unable to muster the resources necessary to stage a 2006-2007 season.

The committee examined options for retaining the free outdoor summer performances – unique among American cities and dating back to 1975. The group recommended that a new summer dance festival utilize the talents and choreography of the region’s other professional dance companies.

"Akron’s most important link to the international world of dance has been Heinz Poll," said the mayor’s chief of staff Dave Lieberth who chaired the committee. "Poll made important contributions to Akron over a period of almost 40 years, and it is fitting that we remember his legacy - demanding the highest standards of dance."

Part of this year’s festival are Gangl’s photo exhibit and a panel discussion on August 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Francia Albrecht Studio at the University of Akron’s dance center at Guzzetta Hall. The Festival’s founding committee will discuss "The Poll Legacy." Gangl will be on the panel.

Each of the four companies have rights to perform works created by Ohio Ballet’s founder, and some of Akron’s favorite Heinz Poll works will be included in the summer 2007 repertoire.

GroundWorks Dancetheater will stage Poll’s "Tristeza." Verb will include "Wings and Aires" by Poll. Ballet Theatre of Ohio will choose from "Adagio for Two Dancers" and "Summer Night," and BalletMet expects to re-stage Poll’s "Bolero."

"Besides creating a professional dance company of national stature and taking it to New York City for five seasons, Heinz Poll created this special summer experience," says Jane Starzman, director of the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival. " Everyone told him that he was crazy, but he was accustomed to accomplishing what others thought impossible. This year’s festival is a perfect tribute to Heinz’ legacy and a wonderful gift to the community."

Plans for the exhibit were announced in the Akron-Summit County Llibrary's Past Pursuits, the publication of the special collections at the library.

Alas, poor Couric: The question of media

Alas, poor Couric

That’s the title of the lead feature in New York Magazine on Katie Couric today by Joe Hagan which runs, by our computer count, about 6,000 words for 80 graphs.

The Beacon Journal covers the essence of the story in a page one “FirstWord” wth a mug shot.

“Katie Couric says the move to CBS would have been less appealing if she had known she’d be doing the more traditional CBS Evening News broadcast that she anchors now. People are very resistant to change,” Couric said in an interview with New York magazine. “The biggerst mistake we made is we tried new things

That about sums it up. But if you click on the headline you will go to a
glitzy report illustrated with this graphic.

The Couric piece and one on the Patrick Carney/Denise Grollmus wedding on Sunday, however, help to illustrate the media problem today. The newspaper (print media) does not provide the space or design capabilites often possible in the online newspaper. Perhaps this is why younger news seekers prefer the web and have quit reading newspapers. Older readers would rather have it all presented to them in a printed publication they trust a little better to give it to them straight. The Couric experiment provides the question of trust and reliability. (Is it news I can trust or entertainment and someone’s opinion.) In either case, someone must always gather the news and write it. Now the question is how best to do this in a reliable, trustworthy fashion.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

It was a 7-7-07 wedding for drummer

The wedding of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and Denise Grollmus with two black and white photos was the lead item for Rich Heldenfels’ regular ArtsEtc feature on page A2 of Sunday’s Beacon Journal.

However a more colorful report on the wedding can be found with four color photos by Beacon Journal photographer Phil Masturzo n the Entertainment Section of Ohio.com, the newspaper’s website.

Just click on the headline to go to the album feature in the Entertainment section headlined: Wedding march plays for Black Keys drummer.

Here is Hedenfels item from page A2 of the print newspaper:

While some were pondering the wedding of Eva Longoria and Tony Parker, Akron had its own celebrity nuptials Saturday.

Pat Carney, half of the duo the Black Keys, wed journalist Denise Grollmus in the chapel at Glendale Cemetery before about 100 friends and family members, among them fellow Black Key Dan Auerbach.

Ted Mallison of the band Houseguest officiated at the six-minute ceremony, a first for him. It included considerable merriment and a toast with mead.

The bride wore a beige and white dress made by her friend Liz Gallardo. A reception at the Lime Spider was set for after the ceremony. The newlyweds will take a two-week honeymoon in Paris, Nice and Prague.

Pat Carney, by the way, is the son of Beacon Journal reporter Jim Carney. Grollmus, now with Cleveland Scene, is a former reporter for the Beacon Journal.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Black loses bid for Osprey newspapers

Black Press Ltd, owner of the Beacon Journal, has been outbid in a takeover offer for Osprey Media and David Black said he has not decided he will bid again.

The news was reported on the Business Front, Page D1, col. 6 of the BJ today. Here's the story:

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal business writer
Black Press Ltd., owner of the Akron Beacon Journal, has been outbid in the purchase of a fellow group of Canadian newspapers.

Last week, Black Press put in a takeover bid for Osprey Media Income Fund. Black's bid of $8.25 Canadian per share ($7.86 U.S.) outbid Quebecor Media Inc.'s $7.25 Canadian per share ($6.91 U.S.).

But on Wednesday, Quebecor raised its bid after a judge dismissed a lawsuit that the company was pursuing to block Black's bid.

Quebecor has offered $8.45 Canadian per share ($8.05 U.S.) Its offer expires on Aug. 3. Osprey's board, which had recommended Black's offer, has now recommended Quebecor's newest offer.

Black Press President and Chief Executive David Black said he had not yet decided whether he will bid for the newspapers again.

Osprey has 20 daily newspapers, 34 other newspapers and other publications in Canada.

Black Press owns 150 community newspapers and 15 regional Web operations in Canada, Washington, Oregon, Honolulu, Hawaii and Akron.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A report on blog visitors

Here's a mini-report on blog visitors:

The chart shows the number of visitors in each of the last 12 months. The largest number was in NOctober. The number of visitors increased after these important events:

March 13 McClatchy announced it would acquire Knight Ridder for $4.5 million, but decided to sell a dozen of the papers including the Beacon Journal.

June 7 Sale of Beacon Journal to Black Papers.

June 26 Knight Ridder shareholders approved the sale of Knight-Ridder to McClatchy.

August 1 Sale of the Beacon Journal to Black Papers closed officially and the Beacon Journal, original flagship of Knight Newspapers, thus became the flagship--or largest newspaper--of Black Papers Ltd.

August 22 The blog reported massive staff cuts at the Beacon.

In the following three months we were reporting on the departure of many key staff members.

A recent check of the last 100 visitors to the BJ Retirees blog shows they were from 15 different cities in Ohio and 21 cities from other states. Some, of course, visited more than once and some could not be identified from a specific location.

The Ohio communities were Akron, Alliance, Aurora, Barberton, Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, Cuyahoga Falls, Dayton, Hudson, Kent, Massillon, Wadsworth, Warren and Youngstown.

Cities in other states were Alexandria, VA; Columbia, SC; Grand Junction, CO; Great Falls, VA; Huston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Macomb, IL; Memphis, TN New York, NY; Oak Park, Mi; Oakland, CA; Omaha, NE; Peoria, AZ; Rosemead, CA; Seattle, WA; Venice, FL; Washington, DC; Wichita, KS; Port Dalhousie, Ontario, and Oyama and Sooke, British Columbia. We also get visitors from France, China and New Zealand.

Items of interest on our website

Some items of interest you might want to check on the BJ retirees website.
(Click on the headline or the link at left to go there)

On the Commentary Page:

Singleton to Pioneer Press: Bend Over

Commentary on St. Paul Pioneer Press contract published in Rake, a monthly magazine distributed in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota region.

In Short Takes and other stuff:

"Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web"
A memo to the staff of the Washington Post on principles that will guide the newspaper's website.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The magical date is coming Saturday

For the superstitious, Saturday could be a lucky day.

Saturday will be July 7, 2007, or 7-7-07. In numerological terms, that’s about as big as it gets for the superstitious.

People are booking gambling junkets, casinos are offering lucky 7 promotions and about three times the normal number of couples plan to get married that day,

News media across the nation have been conjuring up stories for the date and the Beacon Journal’s Kim Hone-McMahan provided a “Lucky in Love” story today on the Arts&Living section (page D1).

Nearly 100 couples will tie the knot atop roller coasters or inside revolving teacups at amusement parks at 7 that morning, a California yogi plans to achieve massive harmony through gong meditation at 7 that night, and Christians will gather in a Tennessee football stadium to pray on a day that has good biblical implications for many.

Among those getting hitched on the day are Patrick Carney of Akron’s own Black Keys and Cleveland Scene reporter Denise Grollmus. Carney is the son of Jim Carney and stepson of his wife, Katie Byard, both Beacon Journal reporters.

Experts are quick to point out that Saturday is no more or less likely to be lucky than any other day. But try telling that to Allen Windrim, a 20-something entrepreneur from Philadelphia who owns a real estate management firm, a collection agency and a construction company.

“Hopefully I can get all my vacancies filled that day, all my collection cases settled without going to court, and get seven jobs for the construction company worth $70,000 each,” he said.

If that’s not enough, click on the headline to read all of Kim’s story.

Do you remember the 1990 Jamboree?

Do you remember the Beacon Journal 1990 Jamboree on Sunday, August 5, at Clay’s Park Resort?

The family-style outing included games for all with prizes. Photos of the Jamboree
were featured in the September, 1990 issue of the Sidebar, the employee publication.

On the cover of that issue was Sally Flynn with her daughter, Bridget, in the backpack.

Flynn left the Beacon Journal in March, 2003 after 26 years in retail advertising. And Bridget, now 17 and shown here, will be a senior at Green High School next year.

You will have to excuse the reproduction of the cover which was scanned from an old Sidebar.

And, oh, by the way, the Information Systems team of Linda Torson, Rob Zonar, Bob Tigelman, Margaret Eshelman, Terry Yancer, John Vicars and Dan Ickes took top honors i
n a best of three volleyball contest. In softball, a hastily put together team from Circulation, Production and Information Systems defeated the Newsroom entry in two consecutive games.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Good newspapers with smaller staffs?

History shows good newspapers can be put out with smaller staffs, according to a feature this week in Slate, the daily magazine on the web owned by the Washington Post Company. The article by Slate editor at large Jack Shafer asks how many journalists can a newspaper jettison before its hair falls out and its ribs start showing?

Dollar-pinching publishers are now paying experienced reporters and editors to leave their jobs. Buyouts will soon reduce the Los Angeles Times to 850 journalists, about three-quarters of its peak.* The San Francisco Chronicle has announced plans to cut the newsroom from 400 to 300. The San Jose Mercury News employed 400 journalists seven years ago and will soon have only 200 crashing the keyboards. Similar stories can be told about the Dallas Morning News, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Baltimore Sun, and other newspapers. Foreign bureaus are being shuttered, and full-time arts slots at newspapers in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, and elsewhere have been eliminated or downgraded.

The connection between quality and head count would seem intuitive, but a dip into the microfilm archives of the New York Times and Washington Post shows that decent newspapers have been produced with far fewer hands.

There’s a little bit more to it than that however. Read the complete article on our website (click on the headline) and then leave your own comment here or e-mail it to hliggett@sbcglobal.net