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]]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bruce Larrick dies on 59th birthday

Former Beacon Journal reporter Bruce Larrick died of a heart attack Saturday night on his 59th birthday.

Bruce joined the Beacon Journal in 1970, fresh out of Bowling Green State University. His first assignment was for the irascible but lovable Pat Englehart, covering Stow.

This was the era of the Vietnam draft, and Bruce was an unrepentant conscientious objector. His Beacon Journal career was quickly interrupted by Uncle Sam, who required him to work for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in Columbus to fulfill his CO obligation. But he returned after a year and eventually became the Beacon Journal’s reporting voice on pollution and the environment.

Bruce left the paper in 1980 to study for his master’s degree at the University of Akron. In 1982, he began teaching journalism at Kent State University, where he lectured to such ornery young souls as Mark J. Price and Regina Brett. In 1986, he landed a job at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he had worked ever since.

He suffered his first heart attack in 1987, and his journalism career was punctuated by several more. His dream, rooted in the Cold War, was to become Moscow bureau chief. He became a feisty international wire editor at the Inquirer instead.

He was born a Canton Bulldog, and his first marriage to a closet Massillon Tiger was doomed. But we have an outstanding son, Bryan, a Web designer by day and a starving New York artist by night.
In addition to his son, Bruce leaves his wife of 20-plus years, Lynne, an elementary teacher in Philadelphia schools.

Arrangements are pending, but the music undoubtedly will be Zappa.

Brooke McMahan Memorial Swim draws 140-plus

More than 140 swimmers competed in the Brooke McMahan Memorial Invitational Swim Meet on Saturday at the Ocasek Natatorium at the University of Akron.

The swim meet, in its third year, honors the 23-year-old woman who died unexpectedly of a seizure in 2003. McMahan, who had a mild developmental disability, was the daughter of Chris and Kim Hone-McMahan, a Beacon Journal reporter.

Brooke McMahan, a 1999 graduate of Green High School, loved to swim and was always at the center of social activities with her friends. She was certified in CPR and child care, worked as an assistant swimming instructor at the YMCA and was a member of the Summit Special Olympic Athletic Club.

''Brooke had been a swimmer with us for years. When she died, it was tough on all of the athletes and their families,'' said club President Cathy Parker. ''We wanted to do this event to show the family that we care about them and to let them know that they are still a part of our swim family.''

Each of the swimmers and the more than 50 volunteers at the meet received a commemorative T-shirt and a gold star, which represented McMahan.

''Our team became the Summit Stars for Brooke,'' Parker said. ''It was the way our athletes understood that Brooke was in heaven, by relating to the stars in the sky.''

The first half of the competition featured traditional swimming strokes. The second part was framed to reflect McMahan's fun, spirited personality. The latter events included a kick-board relay, a backstroke relay and a ''talking relay,'' which required swimmers to talk the entire time they swam.

''We called her 'Babbling Brooke' because she talked a lot,'' said a chuckling Kuenzli. ''She could always make you laugh. I really miss her.''

The athletic club is an Ohio-sanctioned Special Olympic program founded by Summit County parents of people with disabilities.

Click on the headline to read the full story by staff writerColette M. Jenkins which appeared on the local secion front (page B1)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

USA Today to shed 45 jobs

Here's a staff memo from USA Today editor which was sent to Jim Romensko at Poynter Online:

To: The Newsroom Staff
From: Ken Paulson

We had a full auditorium at today's staff meeting, but I wanted to follow up with a brief note for those who were unable to join us in person or by phone.

At today's meeting, we discussed the economic realties that will require elimination of 45 newsroom positions.

It's unfortunate that we have to take these steps, particularly when our newspaper circulation is growing and has been named the top news website in the country by the Online News Association. Unfortunately, revenue has not kept pace and we're now facing the same cutbacks that so many other news organizations have already experienced.

The job eliminations will be done on a voluntary basis in the form of buyouts for staffers with 15 years or more of Gannett experience and less than five years of online experience. Departments will exclude certain key positions based on strategic needs in 2008. We hope to achieve all job reductions through voluntary buyouts, but job eliminations are possible if we don't have enough applicants.

We'll meet with every department today to provide details on eligibility for the buyouts and answer any questions you may have.

Bruce Sherman cuts newspaper holdings

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Bruce Sherman, a major investor in newspaper companies who forced a sale of the
Knight Ridder newspaper chain, reported that he sharply reduced or eliminated holdings in several major publishers.

Sherman's Private Capital Management reported no stock in Gannett Co. (GCI), Media General Inc. (MEG) or Belo Corp. (BLC), according to a quarterly disclosure of his holdings.

The firm also
reported sharply reduced stakes in New York Times Co. (NYT), McClatchy (MNI) and Lee Enterprises Inc. (LEE). The disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission reflected stock held as of Sept. 30.

Sherman has been among the newspaper industry's greatest champions, but lately he's been hacking away at his holdings as newspapers are under increasing financial pressure.

Three months earlier, Private Capital Management had held a 1.6% stake in Gannett, publisher of USA Today; 4.8% of Belo Class A stock, and a 3.9% stake in Media General.

Sherman's biggest claim to fame came in late 2005, when he pressured Knight Ridder, publisher of the Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer, over its sagging share price. His moves led to a breakup of Knight Ridder, most of which was bought by McClatchy.

Private Capital is a part of Legg Mason Inc. (LM).

[By Shira Ovide, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-5287;]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Papa Joe's gang is only a quintet

Only five showed up for the monthly gathering of BJ retirees at Papa Joe's, which is held the second Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.

Attending were retired printers Armand Lear, Al Hunsicker, Gene McClellan and Cal Deshong and newsroom retiree John Olesky.

Absentees included Bob Pell, out with gall bladder surgery, and Ed Hanzel, out with back surgery. Ed and Norma, regulars at the Papa Joe's gatherings, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary Sept. 13. Al and Lillian Hunsicker observed their 50th wedding anniversary May 27.

Tom Moore is in Florida with Tom Giffen's baseball program for older players from around the country. Tom M. is the guy who spent 10 1/2 hours in the emergency room in Florida waiting till no one had a more serious problem than him.

In case any newer BJ retirees want to join the group, just show up at 1 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month, which would be Dec. 12 next month.

The man behind the mask

Who is that man behind the mask? Why that's Tom Giffen, former BJ sports editor relaxing at his Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers, Florida. As the four-week Series winds down, Tom finds this as recreational thearpy after dealing with amateur ballpayers from 25 to 80 years of age.

[Photo and information from Tom Moore]

Monday, November 12, 2007

McClatchy takes $1.37 billion goodwill writedown

Woe to those of you who held onto McClatchy stock received from the Knight Ridder purchase.

McClatchy stock at the time of this posting was $15.39 per share.

Here’s the latest report from

The McClatchy Company continues to feel the negative impact of its 2006 Knight Ridder acquisition, announcing today that is writing down $1.37 billion—one-third attributed to the way stock was valued for that transaction, the rest to acknowledge declining values of its properties. The breakdown: $1.18 billion to goodwill, $250.4 million to the value of certain newspaper assets (newspaper titles and website domain names) and $84.6 million to investments in unconsolidated subsidiaries and other items.

McClatchy chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt explained the charge in a statement: “The challenging business environment, coupled with the drag on our stock price, has resulted in our taking an impairment charge to write down the value of goodwill, mastheads of certain newspapers, and other assets on the company’s balance sheet in the third quarter.” He stressed that the move does not affect operations or the ability to pay down debt.

Pruitt said the company has been harder hit than most by the real estate downturn, “because of our operations in California and Florida, the epicenters of the sub-prime lending practices.”

Q3 results: With the writedown, McClatchy reported after-tax losses from continuing operations of $1.35 billion; that works out to a loss of $16.40 a share. Revenues dropped 9 .2 percent to $540.3 million, from $595.1 million in Q306. Advertising revenues were down 9.8 percent to $457 million, from $506.7 million in the same quarter last year. By comparison, advertising revenues in California and Florida declined 18 percent.

-- Online national advertising was off $2.7 million while online classifieds increased $1.5 million, 4.8 percent. Online automotive grew 20 percent, while print automotive dropped by nearly as much. Online employment ads showed the smallest increase—just 1.7 percent—while print dropped 22.4 percent. Overall, online advertising was up a mere 1.4 percent, totaling $41.6 million.

The details of the writedown and the Q3 earnings can be found in the 10Q filed Thursday.

See SEC report

See Editor&Publisher story

See McClatchy news release

See Sacramento Bee story from McClatchy hometown

Friday, November 09, 2007

McClatchy takes big loss

NEW YORK, Nov 8 (Reuters) - McClatchy Co said on Thursday it swung to a third-quarter loss after taking a $1.37 billion writedown caused by a poor advertising climate and a reduction in the value of the acquisition of Knight Ridder Inc.

The U.S. newspaper publisher's net loss was $1.35 billion, or $16.42 per share, compared to a year-earlier net profit of $51.8 million, or 64 cents per share.

Last month, McClatchy reported a preliminary profit from continuing operations of $23.5 million, or 29 cents a share. Those results are not changing, the company said.

"As I said last month when we released our preliminary earnings, we recognize that newspaper revenues have declined industry-wide and that values have dropped," Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in a news release.

"We do not know when this downturn will end, and do not have visibility beyond the fourth quarter," he added. "Nonetheless, we believe that cyclical factors represent a significant portion of the current advertising downturn as evidenced by our operations in the California and Florida regions."

The write-down, equivalent to $16.68 per share, included a $1.18 billion goodwill impairment charge, of which about a third was because of the accounting treatment of common stock it issued when it bought Knight Ridder and its newspapers in 2006.

Click on the headline to read the full Reuters story.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

From Boston Harbor to Bar Harbor

By John Olesky (BJ 1969-96)

Paula and I traveled from Boston Harbor to Bar Harbor during our Oct. 28-Nov. 3 trip, thanks again to Skybus airlines’ giveaway fares.

For Halloween weekend, we went to Salem, Massachusetts, where they know something about
witches. The streets were crowded with witches, from age 2 to older than me. Every witch way we turned, there they were. The guys who burned the witches so long ago would be amazed at the gold mine they created for the survivors.

In Boston, there were so many historic sites that I thought maybe we were in Rome again. We stood on the site of the Boston Massacre (5 dead, more wounded), looked up at the balcony where the Declaration of Independence was read to the Boston citiz
ens for the first time, went to the burying grounds where rabble-rouser Samuel Adams and fellow signers of the Declaration of Independence -- John Hancock and Robert Paine -- and Paul Revere (starring in "Midnight Ride") are hanging out forever.

It was cold, uncomfortably so, but not nearly as cold as it was in China.

We went to Plymouth Rock, which split in two in 1774 when patriots tried to move it to another site. The top part re-joined its base counterpart in 1880. I tossed pennies onto the Rock 10 feet below. Those suckers bounced off like they had springs in them.

I became the first member of my family to go to Harvard. The entrance requirement was a snap -- just walk through the gates.

Paula and I also visited Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where Paula's son, Patrick, got his degree and start toward being a jazz musician in New York City.

We went to Fenway Park to see what a World Series championship banner looks like. The one in Cleveland is tattered since it’s 59 years old.

We visited Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church. We didn't see if there were one or two lanterns in the tower.

We planned to go whale-watching off Bar Harbor, Maine, but the whales took off for their Caribbean winter vacations. The town shut off the water two weeks before we arrived to avoid winter freezes. Only businesses with well water were open. Our plan to drive to the top of nearly 7,000-foot high Mount Washington was frozen out, too. Season over.

Our Bar Harbor lodging place's manager, when we asked how many guests he had, said, "You're it." We did go up to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic seaboard. It was windy and cold, like a West Virginia Mountaineers game in November.

We tried to visit the George W. Bush family in Kennebunkport, but apparently the former President wasn’t home. The compound juts out into the Atlantic.

Next: Hawaii in December, Florida in February and Tennessee in March.

If you want to see the photos of our trip, click on the headline.

McClatchy names 3 publishers

The McClatchy Co. on Wednesday named new publishers at its papers in Wichita, Kan.; Columbus, Ga.; and Rock Hill, S.C., the Sacramento Business Journal reported.

Pam Siddall will move from the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus to The Wichita Eagle. Siddall will replace Lou Heldman, who retired in September.

Taking Siddall's spot as publisher at the Ledger-Enquirer will be Valerie Canepa, who was publisher at The Herald in Rock Hill since 2003. Debbie Abels will replace Canepa in Rock Hill. Abels had been director of advertising operations and strategy at the Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, N.C.

All of the appointments are effective immediately.

Gary Pruitt, president of Sacramento-based McClatchy (NYSE: MNI), said it was gratifying to promote the publishers and president from within the newspaper chain.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Daily circulation of top 25 newspapers

Average Daily Circulation at the Top 25 U.S. Daily Newspapers-- Preliminary Figures as Filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations -- Subject to Audit

Total Paid Daily Circulation, Monday through Friday average

Listed is the newspaper, current circulation, last year and per cent of change

USA TODAY -- 2,293,137 -- 2,269,509 -- (+1.04%)
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL -- 2,011,882 -- 2,043,235 -- (-1.53%)
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- 1,037,828 -- 1,086,797 – (-4.51%)
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- 779,682 -- 775,765 -- (+0.50%)
DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK -- 681,415 -- 693,423 – (-1.73%)
NEW YORK POST -- 667,119 -- 704,011 – (-5.24%)
THE WASHINGTON POST -- 635,087 -- 656,298 – (-3.23%)
CHICAGO TRIBUNE -- 559,404 -- 576,131 –(-2.90%)
HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- 507,437 -- 508,091 – (-0.13%)
NEWSDAY -- 387,503 -- 410,578 – (-5.62%)
THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC -- 382,414 -- 397,295 – (-3.75%)
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS -- 373,586 -- 404,652 – (-7.68%)
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- 365,234 -- 373,805 -- (-2.29%)
BOSTON GLOBE -- 360,695 -- 386,417 – (-6.66%)
THE STAR-LEDGER, NEWARK, N.J. -- 353,003 -- 363,100 – (-2.78%)
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER -- 338,260 -- 330,622 -- (+2.31%)
STAR TRIBUNE, MINNEAPOLIS -- 335,443 -- 358,887 – (-6.53%)
THE PLAIN DEALER, CLEVELAND -- 334,195 -- 336,940 – (-0.81%)
DETROIT FREE PRESS -- 320,125 -- 328,719 – (-2.61%)
THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION -- 318,350 -- 350,159 – (-9.08%)
THE OREGONIAN, PORTLAND -- 309,467 -- 310,805 – (-0.43%)
ST. PETERSBURG (FLA.) TIMES -- 288,807 -- 288,679 -- 0.04%
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER -- 278,507 -- 287,204 – (-3.03%)
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE -- 278,379 -- 304,334 -- (-8.53%)
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH -- 265,111 -- 276,677 – (-4.18%)

Teamsters union sues Beacon Journal

The Teamsters union Local 473 on Tuesday filed suit in U.S. District Court in Akron against the Beacon Journal Publishing Co., saying the company failed to comply with a clause in the union's labor agreement for expedited arbitrations for a discharged employee.

At issue is a female district manager who was involved in a car accident on work time and was terminated because the company said she was uninsurable under the company policy.

The two sides disagree on whether the other complied with the contract clause that requires expedited arbitration hearing dates within 30 days of an arbitrator being chosen.

Contract negotiations are expected to begin this month between the union, which represents 173 drivers, district managers and mailers. The Teamsters contract expires on Dec. 31.

[This is the complete article as published on page C8, col. 1 of the Business section of the Beacon Journal, Wednesday, November 7, 2007]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

10 1/2 hours in limbo

By Tom Moore
Ever spend 10 and half hours in limbo?

You can do just that if you’re need medical attention and go to the
Gulf Coast Hospital with symptoms that a nurse determines is not immediately life-threating. You go to the bottom of the list. And that means those with better ailments than yours push y
ou farther down the line. And there’s no appeal. In fact, there’s a prominent sign that suggest if you get abusive—with verbs or fist, you’ll find a security person in your face.

It all started shortly after noon. I had congestion, bad cough (is there a good cough) but also a bit of blood in the old plumbing. Because of the latter, the clinic wouldn’t see me and se
nt me off to hospital ER. I signed in, answered a multitude of questions, handed over my insurance and things seem to be humming, even though there were a few people in the waiting room.

But from there on out it was wait, wait and wait some more. Finally a nurse took my vitals and had me give a sample from the plumbing for analysis. Fine. Back on track.

Wrong. So I sat there listening to other patients conversations…a real cross-section of this great country. But I’d sure prefer to hear it elsewhere. Finally I inquired about treatment. I’m third in line—barring any life-threating cases.

Of course, with my luck, those cases came.One was a fellow who had just dropped a 1300 pound trailer on his hand. He came in with that hand wrapped in a paper towel. A nurse came over and removed the towel and wrapped a bandage around the hand.
You could tell the fellow was in real pain. And I thought he was going to go into shock sitting there in the ER waiting room, so approached the admittance desk and said so.
The nurse came back to told him to hold his hand still—in the air and to breathe slowly. And so he sat there until they finally took him into the ER.

I again inquired about myself, telling them I had been there over 6 hours. I was told in no uncertain terms that if I had been there 24 hours, I couldn’t get attention as long as somebody else was determined to be in a more life-threating situation.

Of course my bad luck held. Finally, about 7:20 p.m. I’m taken back to the ER—only it’s not a room, but the hallway, where I’m giving one of those God-awful gowns and told
to lay down on a mobile bed. At least I got a blanket…that covered up the shivers I experienced in the waiting room.

A guy in blue approached. Ah, a doctor at last…He took my vitals and walked away.
About an hour later a nurse did the same thing. And then I was wheeled out of the room and into the x-ray place for chest x-rays. I was returned to the room. Then 45 minutes or so, a nurse came in for a plumbing sample. I told her I already game. She seemed surprised until she leafed through a bunch of papers and her face lit up: “Oh, yes here’s the lab report.”

Finally a doctor came. He asked me the same questions I had given earlier to a couple of people. He walked away and the “sample” nurse returned with a bunch of vials and
a big needle. She stuck that needle in my arm and proceeds to draw blood. I told her:”please leave me some.”

Another long, long wait….and a person couldn’t sleep. At least two babies screaming their heads off came in, and a deputy sheriff interviewed the fellow lying near me about his accident. I joked with the deputy and with the young EMS guy who brought the
victim in.

Finally, about 10:30 or thereabouts, the doctor came back with a prescription and diagnosis. The diagnosis was typed in English and Spanish. I have bronchitis and a plumbing infection. The Boss picked me up about 10:40 and took me back to my motel.
I found it was a very tiring day. I hit the bed without putting one bristle of the toothbrush to my mouth and fell asleep...

If I every have to go through this ordeal again, I’ll go, but screaming and hllering…maybe that’ll get their attention to give me attention.

[Blogger Note: The old caricature from Tom’s old website seemed a fitting illustration. Is the guy just getting old?]

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bianculli writes farewell to NY Daily News

Last August 1, the BJ Retirees blog got word of rumors that former BJ television guy David Bianculli might “be let go by the N.Y. Daily News, unless he agrees to take a sharp reduction in pay.”

Apparently, he has decided. His farewell column appeared in the Daily News today and at the same time he officially launched his new website “TV Worth Watching.”

You should note that we have two posts on Bianculli today.. This one on his farewell and one on the new website.

Here are the first four graphs of the final column:

“When I introduced myself to Daily News readers here 14 years ago, one thing I confessed was that watching "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee!" was a guilty pleasure.

“That same morning, Regis was on TV waving the article, asking with mock exasperation what there was for me to feel guilty about.

“Today, as I present my farewell column for The News, I should make it clear: I no longer feel guilty. Part of that is due to his co-host Kelly Ripa, who charmed me from the start, and has complemented her grumpy senior partner in all the right ways. But the rest is that Regis Philbin, like David Letterman and relative newcomer Craig Ferguson, is a rarity: one of the medium's few natural broadcasters.

“Watching them, and writing about them, over the years, has been a pleasure. Being read by you - a loyal and discerning troop of readers who have proven to be avid TV viewers - has been an even bigger one.”

And Bianculli concludes:

“Though you can no longer read me here, I'll continue to serve as TV critic and guest host for National Public Radio's "Fresh Air." And today I launch a Web site, , devoted to covering only the best, that TV has to offer. If nothing else, that should cut down on the workload.

‘’Meanwhile, thanks for reading. All these years later, quality TV still excites me - and sharing and trading opinions with those who share my love of the medium has been a wonderful way to make a living. For that, I thank my bosses, and also thank the people who work so hard to make good TV.

“And, I thank you.’

As usual, click on the headline to read another great Bianculli column.

Out to Launch: Bianculli opens website

“Out to Launch” was the headline for David Bianculli’s introduction to the launch of his new website. Here it is:

Welcome to the official launch of TV WORTH WATCHING, a website devoted to the discovery, discussion and dissemination of quality television. The fact that it comes into existence at midnight on November 5 - the very moment the writers in Hollywood threatened to strike - is pure, goofy coincidence. TV, it is the firm position of this website, is better when it's written.

Please take a minute or two to press some navigation bar buttons and roam around the site. If you care about good television - watching it, collecting it, reading or hearing about it, even discussing it - chances are you'll find something useful, entertaining, maybe even surprising.

Theodore Sturgeon once posited what he called Sturgeon's Law, which says that "90 percent of everything is crap." (In some citations, the wording is even stronger.) Certainly, that's true of television - but that remaining 10 percent still leaves a lot of room for enjoyment, education and inspiration. That's the focus of this website: Instead of TV's 90 percent problem, we'll be devoting our attentions and energies to the 10 percent solution.

Except, on occasion, in this blog, where the fight for quality TV may require attacking some of TV's most irritating practices and programs - the lack of theme songs, the encroachment of ads superimposed over the shows themselves. All will be done, though, with a sense of fairness as well as fun. Thanks for being here from the start.

[Click on the headline to go to the nicely designed website]

Friday, November 02, 2007

PD suspends political blog

The Plain Dealer today suspended a controversial politics blog called “Wide Open” that had sought to provide a different approach by using non-staff established bloggers, both conservative and liberal.

Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher reports:

But when one of the two liberal bloggers was asked this week to withhold his comments on a specific congressional race after it was revealed he had contributed to one of the candidates, he resigned. That led to an uproar among other bloggers and some readers, which ended with the second liberal blogger stepping down and the paper deciding the approach was not workable with just two conservatives.

Jean Dubal, PD Assistant Managing Editor/Online wrote:

“A car can't run on two wheels, and Wide Open can't continue with only one side of the political spectrum represented. So we're going to call an indefinite halt to the project and step back to regroup.

“We still believe that newspaper and newspaper Web sites need to engage the new media. Our first effort in that direction obviously didn't fare well, but it would have been a still greater mistake not to make the attempt.

“Over the next few days and weeks we'll be giving a lot of thought to alternative ways of accomplishing the same end.”

The suspension of the site, which first launched on Sept. 24, follows a week of ups and down, which included the two resignations and various critiques among Ohio political insiders.

"When we set this up, the idea was to find a way to engage the larger community, the Web-based community, the political blogosphere," Dubail told E&P Friday. "We wanted to create a useful, insightful dialogue."

Although the Plain Dealer already had a traditional newspaper political blog, "Openers," it was overseen by the paper's own political reporters, who were obviously limited in their opinions as journalists. "Wide Open" sought to give true bloggers that were not linked to the paper a place to create opinionated discussions.

Click on the headline to read the full article by Strupp

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Daily circulation down 2.5 percent

Editor & Publisher reported today that daily circulation for reporting papers in the six-month period ending September is down about 2.5% while Sunday is expected to fall 3.5%. Those types of declines -- in the 2% and 3% range -- have been occurring as far back as the March 2005 period.

E&P has learned that several major papers have suffered declines in daily circ of over 7%, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Miami Herald and The Dallas Morning News.

Asked for comment, publishers of these papers blamed the decreases partly on the cut back in other-paid circulation -- which includes Newspaper in Education, hotel, and third-party copies. And papers have been chopping distribution areas--it's too expensive to serve outlying communities, at least in print.

Of course, some of the decline is occurring because fewer people are reading the print version. Single-copy sales, which is a barometer of paid circulation, have tumbled in recent years. This reporting period, the category is expected to decrease around 5%.

But there are signs that publishers are cycling through circulation declines. Some major metros that are said to show either gains or slight decreases (less than 1%, which is considered an increase these days) include: the St. Petersburg Times, the San Jose Mercury News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, and The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

Other declines, though, are steep. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's circulation fell about 9% for both daily and Sunday.

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