Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Post for Gina White

I don't know if any of you have checked to see if your doctors are on this new Medicare Plan that we're being forcibly enrolled in, but in checking with the doctors and hospitals in the Sarasota/Venice area, there are no doctors or hospitals that accept this plan.

When I called Aetna's Medicare Provider services, I was advised that this was a brand new plan effective January 2007 and that there were no doctors enrolled. And then was given an 800 number for the doctors too call so that they could review the plan and enroll.

I encourage all of you to check with your doctors and/or hospital to see if they are on this Aetna plan.

Gina White

Remember the Coliseum?

Here’s the caption for this photo in the November/December 1974 Tower Topics for the opening of the Richfield Coliseum:

RESPLENDENT in rented finery, these Beacon Journal luminaries turned out for the biggest social event in Northeastern Ohio (with the possible exception of Super Desk) to hobnob with the crowd at the grand opening of Nick Mileti's Coliseum in Richfield. Or maybe this IS the gra
nd opening of Super Desk. Anyway, Tom and Kay Suchan, Mickey and Suzanne Porter, and dapper photographer Tom Marvin quickly muscled their way to the front of the drink line and pestered the photographer in hopes of making Betty Jaycox's society column. The photog, who shall remain nameless, was thoughtful enough to aim his box camera so as not to reveal Suchan's sneakers, Porter's pointy-toed cowboy boots, or Marvin's sandals. Afterwards, Frank Sinatra asked for Mickey's autograph. Porter told him to (expletive deleted) off. .

Click on the photo to enlarge.

[ The Coliseum at 2923 Streetsboro Road, Richfileld, OH, seated 20,000.. The same issue of Tower Topics had an article on the combination of the city and state desks.]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Challenging prescription changes

Retired printer Bob Abbott is hoping to challenge the change in health benefits for Beacon Journal retirees. Here's Bob's plea:

What I would like to do is find out if the other unions involved in this latest prescription card mess have agreements that are similar to the Typographical Union's. I suspect that they are but I have no way of finding out. What would be best if somebody (anybody) in the other crafts (Guild, Paperhandlers, Pressmen) would find out who is affected and if the agreements are similar.

Ultimately I'm hoping to be able to get together a slush fund of sorts to be able to have a lawyer go forward and challenge the company's position. I can't afford to do this by myself. There are at least several directions to go, according to counsel.

Without anybody making a commitment, if we can get enough people together we might be able at a cost of maybe $50 each or even less, to at least check this out. The putting together of this approach won't be easy to make sure everything is above board and transparent. But...what choice do we have other than rolling over and taking this crap.

So I guess I'm asking to send up a trial balloon to see if anybody is willing to start something like this. If there are enough people interested we can start organizing the process to proceed. While this will be time consuming initially we have to start somewhere, sometime. Feel free to give out my e-mail address and advise them to put in the subject line BJ Prescriptions so I won't dump their contact as spam.

Pleass send e-mail to Bob Abbott

Monday, January 29, 2007

Newspaper in classroom: Flunking out

Teachers are using more online sources to discuss news-related issues in the classroom, with less use of newspapers -- particularly local daily publications -- according to a new survey from the Carnegie-Knight Task Force at Harvard University.

Findings of the survey were announced in an article by Joe Strupp in Editor & Publisher.

The findings, which are drawn from surveys of both newspaper executives and classroom teachers, could have sharp implications for the many Newspapers In Education (NIE) programs sponsored by newspapers nationwide, which many of the dailies use to help boost circulation.

"In America's schools, local newspapers are losing out to the Internet," said Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center and a member of the Task Force. "We need to start rethinking how the NIE program can be most effective and how to bolster local media in the classroom."

The study notes that "teachers, as they have moved to the Internet, have switched from using hundreds of local news outlets to making use of a small number of national ones. Internet-based news in the classroom is dominated by the websites of a few top news organizations including CNN, PBS, and The New York Times. In fact, the classroom use of non-U.S. websites, such as BBC's, even exceeds the use of local TV or newspaper sites."

The survey polled 1,262 social studies, civics, and government teachers, who were asked about their use of news in the classroom, as well as 253 Newspapers-in-Education directors at daily papers.

See Strupp in E&P or

Full report : The 20-page report titled “The Internet and the Threat It Poses to Local Media” is a report: from the Carnegie-Knight Task Force on the Future of Journalism Education. It can be downloaded in PDF format.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Prison Break: the Akron connection

There always seems to be an Akron connection. The latest is revealed by Rich Heldenfels in the lead item of HeldenFiles on page A2 on the Sunday’s Beacon Journal.

The Akron connection comes in an episode of Prison Break on Fox at 8 p.m. on Monday. Karyn Usher, the writer producer, is a former Akron resident and daughter of Brian Usher, a Beacon Journal, reporter and columnist from 1975 to 1984 when he became press secretary to then-Gov. Richard Celeste. He currently operates his own public relations firm in Columbus.

His daughter was involved in film production in Cleveland before going to Hollywood.

St. Thomas Hospital is included in the episode. The hospital was a pioneer in the treatment of alcoholics thanks in Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia Gavin. The episode, however, was shot in the Dallas area.

“I don’t know how much it looks like the actual hospital,” Usher said.

Her father, incidentally was co-editor of Ohio Politics, with Alexander P. Lamis, an associate professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The book, first published in 1994 and revised in 2006, is a comprehensive survey of the state’s post–World War II politics. It is a collaborative effort by a team of journalists and political scientists,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's Proctor's newsroom

Glenn Proctor is a self-professed hard-ass, a man who makes no apologies for his tough-guy style and compares himself to the famed and infamous basketball coach Bobby Knight--he's about winning, not making anyone happy. And he was not about to conform to the genteel ways of Richmond when he marched into the Times-Dispatch newsroom and staked his claim. "This is my newsroom," he told staffers.

Proctor, a former Beacon Journal staffer, is the subject of a 4,800 word (91 graphs) article by Lori Robertson in the December/January 2007 issue of American Journalism Reviow

Robertson, a senior editor for the magazine, says an aggressive management team with a top-down approach and a penchant for reader-friendly journalism has shaken things up at the once comfortable and traditional Richmond Times-Dispatch.

She writes:

In November, a year after Glenn Proctor took the helm of the Richmond Times-Dispatch as vice president and executive editor, he didn't so much appear the part of a Marine--bright fuchsia tie; gold stud earring in his left ear; soft-spoken demeanor. But once he got to talking about the changes he has made in the newsroom--and responding to some criticism of his actions--he sure sounded like it.

Proctor, who served six years in the Marines and is apt to remind people of that fact, is not the type of guy who takes no for an answer. When asked what change he wanted to make at the Virginia paper had provoked the most resistance, he scolds: "Read the bio. Resistance? Me? What resistance?"

No smirk accompanied that comment--not a hint of one. He wasn't kidding.

Proctor, 60, spent 10 years in editing positions at Newark's Star-Ledger, lastly as associate editor, and is the first Times-Dispatch executive editor to be hired from outside since the position was created in 1968. He's also the first top African American editor at a paper whose editorial page supported massive resistance, an effort in the 1950s to block the racial integration of public schools.

Proctor says there are staffers in his newsroom who are simply change averse. "There are a lot of people here--not a lot--but there are some people here that just don't like change. Don't like change. And they hate it, and they hate it, and they hate it, and they hate it, and they hate it, and they hate it. It's going to change anyway, because the industry is changing."

Staffers interviewed for this story say the paper needs to change--the sticking point is in what ways. Bill McKelway, a reporter on the metro staff, joined the Times-Dispatch's composing room 36 years ago and bluntly describes the paper as one that rarely in its history "reached beyond the mediocre." But McKelway is worried that today business interests may outweigh journalistic goals. "I have the greatest hopes that the paper's going to be much better than it was, and I think there's that possibility," he says. "But it's money, money, money."

[graphs skipped]

One of the big stories in the Times-Dispatch in 2006 was that of Elliott Yamin, a local boy who made it big thanks to the reality show "American Idol." (Yamin didn't win; he came in third.) And it's his appearances on the front page of the paper that most dramatically show how a capital city paper, once a gray lady of officialdom, has turned more to entertainment and features. Last year, Yamin stories ran on page one 13 times, seven of those in May.

The prominent play attracted criticism, Proctor says, but "people bought the paper." Months before his success on the show, Yamin was working in a drugstore. It was a local-kid-makes-good story, just like a special section the paper ran on Denny Hamlin, NASCAR's rookie of the year, who's from nearby Chesterfield County. "I believe it is imperative for us as the major media in this area to play up our local heroes," Proctor says, "whether they're entertainers, whether they're sports kids, whether they're NASCAR drivers, so that's what we're doing. Local news, local news is our way right now."
[graphs sklipped]

Last October, Proctor announced a long-anticipated reorganization that further defines the Times-Dispatch's local focus. Always a state paper, with 10 bureaus, the paper will pull staffers in from two of those but increase its coverage of 16 counties and four cities, including Richmond.

[graphs skipped]

Unlike many other papers, the Times-Dispatch has not experienced large buyout programs or layoffs. In some ways, this paper has been lucky, and [publisher Michael A.] Silvestri and Proctor were hoping for a little more credit for staving off staff reductions.

There was some applause for that when the reorganization was announced. But one reporter asked about morale, says Michael Martz, the union president, specifically mentioning that the paper was short-staffed. Martz recalls Proctor saying that he would not consider asking for more resources until he thought everybody was giving 80 to 100 percent. Proctor recalls something slightly different: "I said, 'Don't talk to me about hiring new people until all my editors can guarantee that every single person in here is giving us 80 to 100 percent performance.'.. That sounds equitable to me."

There is much more in the article. Click on the headline.

Recognize this word play genius?

Recognize this gentleman? He was another crazy guy genius with a great facility at word play. Born on this date in 1832, he was an English author, mathematician, Anglican clergyman, and photographer. His middle name was Lutwidge.

Click on the headline and you will see what you get. Or we might just as well have said “click on the headline and you will get what you see.”

Friday, January 26, 2007

Report from Minneapolis

Here’s the latest on the Village Voice shuffle by Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Deborah Caulfield Rybak:

City Pages, the Twin Cities' largest alternative newspaper, is a weekly, but change at the top of its masthead took only days.

Editor Steve Perry left his office early last week for a meeting with an executive from Village Voice Media, the company created by last year's merger between Phoenix-based New Times and the Village Voice chain. After that, the last time staff saw him last week was removing some items from his Minneapolis office.

Late Monday afternoon, Perry announced his resignation next month after 13 years (over two terms) as editor. By noon Tuesday, Village Voice Media had announced his successor, Kevin Hoffman, now managing editor at its Cleveland Scene weekly newspaper.

The whirlwind turn of events has left the staff of the award-winning weekly shellshocked. Yet change is the new norm in the Twin Cities, which recently has seen media properties and staff flipped and discarded like a Texas Hold 'Em marathon.

[skipping a few graphs]

Andy Van De Voorde of Village Voice Media called Hoffman "a writer and editor with experience in hard news" who would help City Pages do more investigative reporting and narrative writing -- two New Times hallmarks.

The New Times/Village Voice merger created a chain of 17 alternative weeklies. City Pages, with a weekly circulation of 117,000, according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, is one of its larger properties.

New editor Hoffman first visited the Twin Cities last weekend and said he was "impressed with the nature and the people." Hoffman, 30, who joined the Cleveland paper as a writer in 2002 and was promoted to managing editor in 2005, said he was drawn to the City Pages job because he and his wife, an attorney, were looking for a place to live that wasn't too far from her family in Michigan.

Click on the headline to read more

How talk shows look at news

How do the TV talk shows look at the news? The Project for Excellence in Journalism this month began posting a weekly index of news each Tuesday. PEJ has now added a talk show index which will be posted each Friday. We have added the first ones to our PEJ Index page on the web site. The reports show which news items are getting the most coverage.

Click on the headline to see the reports.

Kerry Clawson in BJ promo ad

The Beacon Journal is keeping its best faces out front in what is apparently a new series of promotion ads titled IN PRINT ●ONLINE Informative.

Here’s one that appeared on page E4 on Monday:

“As the Beacon Journal’s Mad Shopper and retail business writer, it’s my job to keep readers informed about everything from the opening of the latest clothing store to the sale of Northeast Ohio grocery stores – happenings that affect the habits of Akron-area shoppers on a daily basis. Readers also can count on plenty of seasonal shopping coverage from me, including tips on off-the-beaten-path stores, as well as information on consumer spending habits.”
Kerry Clawson

[Click on the ad to enlarge it for a better view]

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Philip Meyer awards announced

Three major investigative reports that used social science research methods as key parts of their probes were named today as winners of the Philip Meyer Awards.

The Wall Street Journal won top honors for its story on the backdating of stock options. Gannett News Service was recognized for its analysis that rated hospitals on care for heart-attack patients, and a Philadelphia Inquirer investigation of a cheating scandal in New Jersey schools completed the winners list.

The awards are in honor of Philip Meyer, the Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of N
orth Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meyer was the Washington correspondent of the Beacon Journal 1962-1966. He is the author of Precision Journalism, the seminal 1973 book (and subsequent editions) that encouraged journalists to incorporate social science methods in the pursuit of better journalism.

Philip Meyer's work in precision journalism established a new and ongoing trend-the use by reporters of social science research techniques to increase the depth and accuracy of major stories. Meyer shows journalists and students of journalism how to use new technology to analyze data and provide more precise information in easier-to-understand forms.

The Meyer Awards are administered by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (a joint program of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Missouri School of Journalism), and the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The awards recognize the best uses of social science methods in journalism. The awards will be presented on March 9 in Cleveland at the 2007 CAR Conference, sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors. The first-place winner will receive $500; second and third will receive $300 and $200.

Precision Journalism indeed may have been spawned by an assignment Meyer and Bob Kotzbauer got from Ben Maidenburg at the BJ in the Fall of 1962. Meyer explains it all in a chapter of his book.

Click on the headline to read an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Precision Genealogy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guild e-mail to newsrooom staff

I just wanted to send a note to brief everyone on a few newsroom issues.

The matter of student and regular correspondents being used after a reduction in force is headed for arbitration. No date set.

A recent story by Gina Mace on the Falls Muni Court moving to Stow has been added to a pending grievance.

A grievance has also been filed on the matter of the features dept hiring an outside correspondent to write a wine column to replace one previously done by Tricia Colliane. The opening was not posted and I'm sure you all saw that Mike Needs is the replacement columnist.

Paperwork has also been filed in the matter of artists being forced to do page layout.

Friday, Feb 9 is the date set for the next meeting with the company over the ethics policy. Yuvonne Bruce, Phil Trexler and Jim Mackinnon will join me on the negotiating team for this issue. Grievances on the above matters will be taken up on this date as well.

Several of you have approached me concerning W-2 forms. Guild dues was not reported correctly and the company has sent letters with the correct amount. Corrected W-2 forms will not be issued. I received the following from Executive Secretary Mark Davis after questing whether the company was obligated to furnish a corrected tax form. While it is incumbent upon an employer to provide a correct W-2, the reporting of union dues paid by an employee on a W-2 is not mandatory and as such I believe it is not a material mistake which would require the Employer to send out a W-2C?(corrected version). The letter of correction should be sufficent to clear up any dispute with the IRS

Those who file the long form should keep the letter for your records.

There will be an executive board and general membership meeting 7 pm Tuesday, Feb 27 at the Printers Club.

Bob DeMay

Note from Regina White

Dave and I went to a meeting yesterday to check on a different Medicare plan than the one the Beacon is offering. And, we were informed that most doctor's offices will not accept the Medicare Advantage Plans upfront. In other words, the doctor's want payment and then we get to submit the invoices to Medicare. I just thought you all might find that interesting.

--Gina White

Connie Schultz returns to PD

Connie Schultz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, returned to her desk in The Plain Dealer's newsroom Monday from a leave of absence to devote herself to the campaign of her husband, Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s new Democratic senator.

The couple hope to be together in Ohio most weekends. They have little interest in the Washington social scene. Nonetheless, the maintenance worker's daughter from Ashtabula may someti
mes find herself having dinner with the power elite and hanging out with celebrities.

Schultz's dual roles of journalist and senator's wife have prompted some to wonder whether that automatically equals a conflict of interest.

"I doubt this would even come up if the roles were reversed," said Brown, 54.

Schultz, he said, is her own person and abides by the highest professional standards.

Doug Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer, pointed out that Schultz doesn't have a reporting beat, which would be more cause for concern. Nor does her work appear on the Forum page. He does not plan to police the content of her columns. The two have already agreed that it would be inappropriate for her to cover topics when her husband is debating them on the floor or voting on relevant legislation. Beyond that, it's business as usual.

Her first column will appear Friday. She has no idea what the subject will be. No doubt, whatever story she tells, it will please her fans and provoke her critics.

Her return strangely was announced in Monday’s PD as a “Special to the Plain Dealer” by Laura Taxel, a freelance writer in Cleveland Hieghts.

Cleveland Scene editor off to Twin Cities

Kevin Hoffman will be the new editor-in-chief of Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages, Village Voice Media announced today.

Hoffman, presently the managing editor of VVM's Cleveland Scene, will take over from departing City Pages editor Steve Perry early next month. Perry announced yesterday that he is leaving the paper to pursue other opportunities.

A 1998 graduate of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, Hoffman worked for the Associated Press and the daily Wilkes-Barre Times Leader before receiving his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in May 2001. He briefly worked at the weekly Cleveland Free Times before being hired as a staff writer at Scene in January 2002. He was promoted to the managing editor position at Scene three years later.

Hoffman, 30, will be in Minneapolis next week to meet City Pages staff. He is married to Erin Hoffman, an attorney specializing in constitutional law.

[Source: Village Voice Media press release]

Needs wine column makes debut

Mike Needs made his debut today as the Beacon Journal’s new wine columnist in the last column of page E1 just above the QUICK & EASY recipe for wasabi-crusted salmon.

The headline for his first column:

New columnist,
a familiar face,
sips cheap wine

Denies being a snob;
drinks vino with a sub

Needs chose Crane Lake Shiraz, $3.99 at Acme, for his first treatise. He admits he knows nothing about wine, is not a connoisseur and asks readers to join him in learning more.

Needs resigned as design editor voluntarily during the layoff debacle at the BJ. He was public editor before that.

Click on the headline to read the full column and then leave your comment below.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Goodbye Gutenberg: News in digital age

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University has published Goodbye Gutenberg, an issue of Nieman Reports devoted to newspapers and journalism in the digital age.

Among the articles is one by William Dietrich who writes about “Vanishing Jobs at Newspapers.”

Dietrich, a 1988 Nieman Fellow, an author and Sunday magazine writer with The Seattle Times, writes:

Employment news at newspapers is bad, but just how bad depends on who's counting. Between 1992 and 2002, the number of full-time editorial employees at U.S. dailies fell 8,438, or almost 13 percent, by the estimate of Indiana University professor David H. Weaver, a coauthor of "The American Journalist in the 21st Century." The Project for Excellence in Journalism cites a smaller total of newsgathering and editing jobs—a peak of 56,400 in 2000—that had fallen to 52,000 by 2006, with most of the losses at the bigger papers. The American Society of Newspaper Editors has newsroom employment nationally rising from about 42,000 in 1977 to today's 52,000, a 19 percent increase in 29 years, even after the recent cuts (compared to a 36 percent increase in U.S. population in the same time frame).

Editorial layoffs are making news: 45 jobs at The New York Times, 75 at The Philadelphia Inquirer, and 85 at the Los Angeles Times in 2005; and this year, 50 at the San Jose Mercury News, 111 at The Dallas Morning News, and 80 at The Washington Post, to cite some examples.

Another piece by Dietrich is titled “Are Journalists the 21st Century's Buggy Whip Makers?”

He writes that newspapers might vanish, too, if they continue to “dream of past dominance while taking their product and trying to fit it into their competitor's terrain.”

Summarizing Dietrich:

When anyone can record and post information—the commodity for which reporters, editors, producers and photographers are paid—journalists are in danger of becoming a luxury society no longer can afford.

The direct cause of shrinking news staffs is a loss of advertising and circulation to new digital competition. But my questions—and they are still only questions—are whether recent layoffs because of loss of revenue are only part of the technological earthquake. Will the ubiquity of information make traditional journalism less valuable or even obsolete?

People used to pay newspapers to gather information that was often expensive or tedious to find. But with the Internet, we have lost our monopoly on information. Yes, newspapers have numerous advantages, but so did horses. They were quieter than cars, less likely to get stuck, could be fueled in a field, and didn't depreciate as quickly. But have you commuted by horseback lately?

But the on-the-ground newspaper reporter—whose purpose is to fulfill an essential function of our democracy not just by disseminating information but also by analyzing it, detecting patterns, spotting trends, and increasing societal understanding—is being starved of resources. Lifetime security is long gone. Travel budgets are disappearing. Overseas bureaus are closed. The most veteran and knowledgeable reporters—expensive to keep on board—are being encouraged to leave through buyouts and cutbacks.

Despite this depletion of resources, the need to "make sense" will not go away. Those who are adept at being incisive and eloquent

Newspaper journalism has a strong case to make. At its best, it offers a combination of perspective, authority, penetration, accuracy, comprehensiveness, brevity and ease of use that other media can't match. And newspapers offer something the Web can never really duplicate—the serendipitous discovery of an intriguing article or a remarkable picture, an eye-opening cartoon or an explanatory graphic, all in the process of just turning the page.

Click on the headline to see other articles in “Goodbye Gutenberg”

Monday, January 22, 2007

Black to the rescue in Seattle?

Could David Black save the Seattle Post-Intelligencer?

With a decision looming in four months that might spell the beginning of the end for the smaller of Seattle's two daily newspapers, some speculate Black could ride to the Post-Intelligencer's rescue.

He kept an endangered daily alive before under similar circumstances, they note, in Honolulu.

Liz Brown, administrative officer for the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, said she mentioned the possibility to Don Kendall, who heads Black Press' new King County operations, at a meeting last month.

"I told him, 'You could save the day again,' " said Brown, whose union represents workers at both Seattle papers.

But Kendall said he's never discussed buying or printing the P-I with Black. What's more, he added, Seattle isn't Honolulu.

Publishing the P-I would require a huge investment on Black's part, not just in equipment but in people, said John Morton, a leading national newspaper analyst.

"It would be a very daunting prospect," he said.

Click on the headlne to read the Seattle Times story by Eric Pryne

Bob Pell Sr., Jr. and III

Crying out for an update is this baby photo in the January / February 1982 issue of Tower Topics announcing the birth on January 15 of Robert R. Pell III, son of Robert Pell II.

Robert III was 25 years old on January 15 this year. He graduated from Wadsworth High School in 2000 and attended the University of Akron Wayne County Branch. He is now with the Bob Evans Restaurant.

The trio of Bob Pells is Bob Pell Sr. born December 7, 1928, Bob Pell Jr. born May 27, 1952 and Bob Pell III born January 15, 1982. All three live in Wadsworth.

Grandmother, Peggy, is now in a nursing home and is on antibiotics for recently developed pneumonia. I am sure your prayers would be appreciated.

Click on the photos to enlarge them for a better view.

Note from Craig Wilson

Dear Friends and Family,

I welcome the opportunity to be back home to enter a new phase of medical care. I know I will be a lot more comfortable with the love and attention of Elizabeth, Dawn and Andrea and the opportunity to visit with friends and neighbors.

We are doing this with the guidance of the Visiting Nurse Hospice program of Summit County. I will remain home as long as possible. The care will be designed to keep me as free of pain as possible, however curative efforts will be discontinued. There is no point in laying around the hospital for a long time on efforts that cannot succeed anyway.

We would welcome visitors any day 1-5 PM but please call first so we can have one or two visitors at most at a time. If those times do not work into your schedule please call and we can make other arrangements.

Please do not bring flowers or gifts, we have an overabundance. I cannot see greeting cards but welcome letters from you the family can read to me. Your visit or phone call is much more important to me than anything else. I tire easily and may have to cut visits short. I hope to spend days in the living room and have comfortable chairs for guests. If you have interesting nostalgia about the Beacon Journal, the city of Barberton, etc. I would love to discuss it with you.

I have had a very exciting life with my job and contacts, I have no regrets and a lot of good memories.

Craig Wilson

Friday, January 19, 2007

Time cuts 289 jobs

The bloodbath at Time Inc. turned out to be worse than many had anticipated, with the final number of staff cuts swelling to 289 workers and Time, People and Sports Illustrated taking the heaviest hits.

Most of the cutbacks are coming from the editorial side, where the headcount is slated to drop by 172 people, evenly split between 86 voluntary departures and 86 forced layoffs. The business side is losing 117 people.

"It's like a funeral," said one editorial insider, who is mulling whether or not to take a buyout package. "I think everyone is too scared to be ticked off or to show they are angry.

"They've decimated what was once a respected source of news and other information," said Newspaper Guild President Barry Lipton, who had just begun negotiations on a new contract with Time Inc. "It's like Humpty Dumpty, [it] will never be put back together again."

Click on the headline to read the full story by Keith J. Kelly in the New York Post

Enjoy some Bob Batz columns

If you get tired of reading this blog, click on the headline to read some columns by Bob Battz on the North Star Writers website.

Batz, a Flint, Mich. native and former BJ staffer, has been writing for daily newspapers for 46 years, the last 36 years at The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. He has been teaching writing classes at the University of Dayton for 21 years and recently marked his 30th year as a volunteer
firefighter/EMT with the Brookville Fire Department. Bob and his wife Sally — also a fire department EMT — have four children, six grandchildren, a 150-year-old house and a three-legged dog named Madonna. In 1981, Batz was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper series on Alzheimer’s Disease, which he later turned into a play called Long Goodbyes that was staged twice by a local theater group. His favorite things include October, Saturday mornings, fishing and Ernest Hemingway stories. His namesake, Bob Batz Jr., also is an award winning newspaper columnist in Piottsburgh:

Here are some teasers from Bob's columns:

December 25, 2006 You Know You’re Getting Older . . .
With all due respect to comedian Jeff Foxworthy, whose “You know you’re a redneck” one-liners have made his name a household word, here’s my take on ways you can tell you are getting older: You know you are getting older if . . .
January 1, 2007 E-Mail: The Worst of the Worst
I have a new hobby. I save the most useless e-mail messages I receive each day and I’m planning to write a book called “I Save the Most Useless E-Mail Messages I Receive Each Day.” If you spend any time at all on a computer, you know the messages I’m talking about. They arrive at all times of the day and night, they come from all over the world and they hype everything from Viagra to Christmas toys.
January 8, 2007 ‘Lordy, Flo, Don’t He Look Like Junior’
It was late in the afternoon and I stopped into a cozy little bar I‘d never visited before to wet my whistle, as they say. The place was quiet, except for an un-listened-to jukebox pumping out a 1980s country music song that included mentions of trains, pick-up trucks, mothers and jilted lovers. I ordered a beer, and the barmaid - a big woman with a friendly face - smiled sweetly as she set it in front of me. That’s when the guy sitting two stools to my left said, “Lordy, Flo, don’t he look like Junior, though?”
January 15, 2007 Get Your ‘Snug as a Bug in a Rug’ Home Now!
Sometimes, just for the fun of it, I check out the “Homes For Sale” ads in my favorite daily newspaper. I’m not looking for a place to buy because my wife Sally and I recently down-sized from the two-story, 150-year-old house where we lived for 32 years and I wouldn’t go through the process of moving again for all the money in the world. The reason I read the ads in the paper is I enjoy a good shot of humor now and then and some of them are funny as all get out. Like the one I saw the other day that began “Restful - Don’t get run over trying to keep up with the Joneses. You’ve paid your dues and now you can enjoy your retirement years in something more than just a bungalow.”

Reminiscing by Craig Wilson

I spent the first 18 months of my career as a reporter in the Ravenna office- what seemed like a retired chicken coup- dressed informally.

When I came to Akron I moved into the YMCA. Saturday was to be my day off. I had never worked in a big city newspaper before so I went in that first Saturday in spring of 1953 to work gratis and introduce myself to Frances Murphey and Betty Long on the state desk rim. (Dressed casually) I wasn't there 15 minutes when I was informed Mr. Maidenburg required a tie on all men reporters. I was embarassed like a kid sent home from school. I returned to the YMCA to get a tie. Later, for using a speed graphic, I bought a clip on bow tie and started using it every day.

One day I had to make a picture of a lady at her home. She seemed apprehensive but finally let me in and I got my picture. Then at a pit stop, I saw that one half of my bow tie had come undone and was hanging down and the other half was intact. I threw that tie out and from then on used a conventional regular tie.

~~By Craig Wilson

Plain Dealer's Clifton to retire in June

Douglas C. Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer for nearly eight years and the man credited with elevating its news coverage, ended months of speculation this morning by announcing his retirement. He will leave the paper June 1.

“I’ve decided to let the cat out of the bag now,” he told about 130 staff members who gathered in the newsroom for the 10 a.m. announcement, “I can’t tolerate this telling of little white lies.”

Clifton went on to say that his decision had nothing to do with recent buyouts, which left the paper with 64 fewer newsroom employees; the state of the business; or the hiring of Publisher Terrance C.Z. Egger, who came to the Plain Dealer in May.

“This publisher is as good as it gets,” he said. “We lucked out.”

The business, he also said, is at an exhilarating turning point.

But as he approaches his 64th birthday, he’s ready to start a new chapter of his life, spending more time with his children and grandchildren, learning Spanish and renovating a Vermont home that he and his wife, Peg Clifton, own.

Clifton, 63, has served as the Plain Dealer’s top editor since June 1, 1999. In 2003, he was named Editor of the Year by Editor & Publisher magazine. Two years later, Connie Schultz won the paper’s first Pulitzer Prize in more than 50 years.

See PD story by Diane Suchetka

See update of an earlier article in Cleveland Magazine titled The New Dealer

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Diversity report for BJ in June 2005

Nancy Yockey Bonar calls our attention to a newsroom diversity report for the Akron Beacon Journal. The report was done for the Knight Foundation by Bill Dedman and Stephen K. Doig in June 2005

The study shows 20.8 per cent of non-whites in tne newsroom in 2005. The high for the period from 1990-2005 was 21.6 per cent in 1997. This compares with 12 per cent non-whites in the newspaper's circulation area.

Click on the headline to see the report with some nice graphics.

Ted Walls: Then & Now in woodworking

Retired BJ photographer Ted Walls who was featured in an article printed in the January /.February 1982 Tower Topics is still busy with woodworkiing. The article included these black and white photos of a rolltop desk and a grandfather clock.

Asked to provide an update if he was still interested in woodworking, Walls provided three new color photos of projects for his home.

Click on the headline to see the update and the original Tower Topics article by Vonda Reckner.

Time to cut more than 200

Time Inc.'s widely anticipated wave of job cuts is expected to take place today - and insiders are predicting the bloodbath could involve as many as 250 people.

"It is safe to say it will be more than 200, it could go as high as 250, but it certainly won't be 300," said one insider.

Time magazine could lose 35 to 40 percent, or around 70 employees, from its editorial staff. People is also bracing for deep cuts.

Even in the 200- to 250-person range, the cuts amount to more than 2 percent of the company's worldwide work force - now about 11,000 after 13 months of downsizing, cutbacks and asset sales.

Click on headline to read the full story by Keith J. Kelly in the New York Post

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Photo from Todd & Jenny in Paris

Just received via e-mail from Paris is this photo of Todd and Jenny Burkes with their kids (from left) Benjamin, 13, Madalyn, 14 (15 on Feb. 17) and Olivia, 11.

Todd writes:

Madalyn is currently passing tests to get into French lycée (high school) next year. This is a complicated process that involves choosing a school somewhere in the city and applying for admittance like a university in the States. You are not assigned a school by where you live like in the States.You choose a school based on your grades, the subject matter you plan to focus on, etc.

We think we have found a good school that has a bilingual section that will allow her to work on her degree on both English and French, which will be an advantage for her if she chooses to go to university in the States.

“Oh man, I'm getting old!” Todd writes, ‘I’m still in Paris. Working with an international church here now and my kids are growing into wonder young people. Jenny is now working for a language school teaching English and French to business people, and also working in sales for the company.

If everyone wasn’t being shipped out at the BJ, maybe I’d be ready to come back to the copy desk!”

Todd Burkes
46, rue Pajol
75018 Paris

tel: +
cell: +

Craig Wilson coming home from hospital

Craig Wilson will be coming home this afternoon, Wenesday 1/17/07, and will begin "home hospice" care.

He loves chatting a few minutes with friends and loves to have stories and anecdotes read to him.

If friends want to call, I suggest starting tomorrow (Thursday 1/18/06) at the house 330-745-3358. I expect the rest of today will be a flurry of activity getting him discharged from Barberton Citizens Hospital and set up here at home.

Dawn Wilson (elder daughter)

FCC approves 'Star Trib' deal

Avista Capital Partners will officially get the keys to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis after the federal government approved the $530 million deal, Editor& Publisher reported. . The McClatchy Co. agreed to sell its largest paper to the private equity firm based in New York and Houston on Dec. 26.

The deal sailed by regulators with the Federal Trade Commission today.

McClatchy will realize $160 million in tax benefits from the sale. Executives said they plan to use the proceeds to pay down debt -- about $3.3 billion -- on the money borrowed to finance the Knight Ridder acquisition.

McClatchy bought the Star Tribune in 1998 for $1.2 billion from the Cowles Media Co

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A special goodbye

The January/February 1982 issue of Tower Topics contained a nice tribute from a BJ son to his retiring BJ father. It was titled “A special goodbye from Paul Jr. to Paul Sr.” Here’s the story:

By Paul Grna Jr.
The Akron Beacon Journal lost another long-time employee to retirement in January. It was probably no big deal to most of the folks still here. But it was special to me.
My father, Paul Grna Sr., called it a career after 35 years as a mailer.

I am now the last of three generations of Grna's to draw a paycheck from the Beacon Journal. And I guess there are not many of us left from the days when the Beacon Journal was really a family newspaper - families making up a good number of its work force. But, in many ways, I'm proud to be a part of that unique heritage.

Grandpa Joe Grna Sr., began here in 1922, officially. But prior to that he had been a "bulk delivery man" for several years. Even before that he had worked for the old Akron Times shortly after coming to America from Yugosl
avia. He became a truck driver for the Beacon Journal back when drivers provided their own transportation. In his case it was a Model-T Touring car and an open-cab Ford truck. By the time the BJ began providing trucks for its men, Grandpa Joe had two other men working for him helping to get the papers to the suburban counties.

I can remember Grandpa telling me how John S. Knight had, on several wintery occasions, climbed on Joe's truck to help him get the "Night Finals" to the newsstands in West Akron. Grandpa Joe drove between 90 and 100 miles a day to get the papers out and he was proud to call himself a BJ man.

Before he retired in 1955, his two sons had long decided that if this place was good enough for their dad it was good enough for them. Joe Jr. (my uncle), and Paul Sr.
(my dad) were mailing room employees a number of years before they saw their father park his BJ truck for the last time and move to sunny California.

My Uncle Joe chose to retire in 1972 after 42 years service as a mailer. His service interrupted only during World War II.

So, for the second time, my dad saw a part of his family leave the BJ's "nest." But now I know some of the thoughts my father must have been thinking as he watched them go. My feelings are mixed, now that Paul Sr. is enjoying the good life. I'm happy for him, but I feel a little sad for myself and the BJ, too.

It's like a little bit of Akron's history has been pulled from this old institution. The good years of a "boom town," the not so good years of a town in a state of change, the men and businesses that came and went as the Beacon Journal and Akron grew, the news and events of a lifetime - those guys took a part of all that out the door with them. But at the same time Grandpa Grna's family grew with the town and the newspaper and I'm proud and thankful for that.

As I was going home from my Dad's retirement party, a single thought went through my mind several times. Grandpa Grna, in one of his last conversations with me, talked about his days at the Beacon Journal. One of the last things he said was, "Paul David, stay with the Beacon Journal they were good to me and they will take care of you. It's a good company."

Well Dad, you're out now, and I'm still here. The Beacon Journal was good to the first two generations - hopefully, I'll make it three. Still, I'm gonna' miss you around here.

Paul Grna Sr. died February 2, 1987

School Superintendent for a day!


Click twice on the photo so you can see the caption clearly.

BJ, honor Akron's war dead

The Akron Beacon Journal and today launched a special onlline project on those from the area who gave their lives in the U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistation.

There is a biography of each of the fallen soldiers and Marines and a gallery of photos about each of the casualties. I counted 14 for the Akron area with links to Beacon Journal obituaries on each.

Also included are past articles about the parents, brothers and sisters of those who died along with links to other sites providing information.

Beacon Journal staff writer Jim Carney explains in a video what it has been like to cover the story for the past five years.

The project, titled Akron’s war dead, is promoted with white type in a black box at the top of page A1.

Go to or click on the headline to see the project.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The first 'Human Resources' manager

He died on Christmas Day.

He created the “Blue Room.”

And he had great fun with a practical joke that involved carrying a phone in his pocket long before the first cell phone.

That was Ben James. Here’s a brief glimpse of him from a “Retriree Notes” column written by Craig Wilaon in the June 1992 Sidebar Magazine:

Let me tell you about "Benny."

I was hired June 14, 1951 by a gruff state editor built like a rumpled refrigerator. H
is name was Ben James. He delighted in mangling my first name. He made "Craig" sound like "Craigggeee...."

Any time I goofed up at the Ravenna bureau, I could expect his booming bas
s voice vibrating over my telephone.

But he could make mistakes too. Once I sent in a story about the low-down Portage County Sheriff, with a background memo about a lot of his crooked activity which I couldn't prove. Ben threw out the story and printed the memo.

After stints as city editor and assistant managing editor, "Mr. James" became the BJ's first personnel manager - from 1964 to 1969. He found space for the first coffee and snacks machines.

The Beacon Journal had just hired a consultant who assured management that future journalistic prosperity depended upon painting everything blue - the walls, the furniture, the air vents, the trucks, everything.

If you snoozed at your desk, you might wake up blue.

The new "cafeteria" was sloshed with baby blue enamel. If it was too cold or rainy to cross Exchange Street and eat at the Western DriveIn, you could enjoy total blue ambiance in Benny's Blue Room.

After Ben James died Dec. 25, 1980, Russ Musarra told of Ben's best practical joke:

He would carry a telephone in his coat pocket, plus a buzzer. On a crowded elevator, Ben would push the buzzer, pull out the phone, answer it, then hand it to a stranger saying "It's for you!"

Ben's wife Bette, died June, 30, 1982.

Please add your comments at the end of this post. Or if you have a story or memory of Ben James, send it to to share with other viewers.

See Ben James Memories on our web site.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Craig Wilson in hospital for sixth time

Craig Wilson is in Barberton Hospital for the sixth time in the last year.
Plans are when he is discharged he will move into the Hospice Program for
home and eventually residential care.

He cannot read any more but greatly appreciates having material read to him.
If anyone has stories about life at the Good Ole BJ, anecdotes from there,
etc please consider emailing them to me so we can read them for him. Right from the start of the BLOG we have told him about them and he enjoys hearing
the material very much. His phone for the moment is 330-745-1611, room 459 bed one and at home 330-745-3358. I don't have any information yet about phoning the Hospice place. Thank you. Boredom is his biggest problem right now.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

McClatchy replaced as Pirates owner

Pittsburgh Pirates board chairman Robert Nutting will replace Kevin McClatchy as controlling owner of the team.

McClatchy, who headed the group that bought the team before the 1996 season, will remain chief executive officer and in control of the club's day-to-day operations. He will report to Nutting, the pair said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

The change must be approved by major league owners, who are scheduled to meet Jan. 17-18 in Phoenix.

Nutting is the son of Wheeling, W.Va., newspaper owner G. Ogden Nutting, whose family has been one of the Pirates' primary investors under McClatchy.

Nutting revealed Friday that his family now owns more than 50 percent - a "majority share'' - of the team, although he didn't say how long that has been the case. The front office shuffle wasn't prompted by how much of the team the family owns, however, but because of speculation about McClatchy's role and job description.

"There's been historical confusion,'' Nutting said. "What's Kevin's role? What's his relation to the Nuttings?''

Nutting said Friday's moves should signal to fans that the owners support McClatchy and general manager Dave Littlefield and their plan.

Click on the headline to read the story on Sports

Hunter explains photo, Maidenburg memo

Here's a note from retired BJ chief photographer Bill Hunter:

An explanation about the Maidenburg note. It was response to a picture I sent him from one of the Bud Morris picnics, a group shot of the then current and former BJ newsroom types. I had tried to get him to attend. I think he really wanted to, but he was a proud man, and didn't want people seeing him with the canes.

[See the Jan 10 post about the BJ retirees luncheon which shows a newsroom photo from the mid-1950s and has a link to Maidenburg's memo.]

We had two of those picnics, first one in [August] 1982. It was so successful that everybody clamored for another one, which we did in 1985. It was for people that had worked there prior to 1970. It was Polly, Murphey, Bud and I that put them together, both held at Bud's place on Medina Line Rd. People came from all over the country. I think pictures from both picnics have already appeared in the blog, along with idents supplied by Craig Wilson. It was one of those
pictures that I had sent to Ben.

[There are posts about the 1983 picnic in the February 2005 archives on Feb 12, 18 and 23]

The group shot in the newsroom was taken sometime in the early to mid 1950's. That's Carl Dangel on the extreme left in the photo, I think he started at the BJ about the same time that I did, which would make it sometime shortly after 1952. There are 43 people in the picture, and I am able to name all but about four or five. Some have their faces blocked, have no idea who they are. A couple are very recognizable, but I have no idea who they are.

I'm hoping Art Cullison may be able to help. That one young girl in the white blouse is somebody I dated for a while, but I'm damned if I can remember her name. It may come to me. I'll try to get together with Art, and maybe between the two of us, we'll be able to get idents for everybody.

I've got phone directories from lates 60's through 93-94, when I retired. I also have copies of Guild contracts from the same times. Sort of interesting to see what pay scales were.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Reporters often do not ask tough questions, says Giles

Reporters often are not asking the tough questions, Bob Giles notes in a piece on the CBS News Public Eye website.

Each week the web site ask guests to weigh in with their thoughts about CBS News and the media at large.
Giles, curator of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and former Beacon Journal managing editor and executive editor, this week discusses the harm in U.S. news outlets' lack of tough questions

Here is an excerpt of what Giles said:

“Not long
ago, I was with a group of journalists looking at videotapes of a BBC reporter interviewing British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The reporter was clearly well informed and was aggressively pressing Blair when the prime minister’s answers seemed less than forthcoming. It was wonderful journalistic combat and highly informative for the audience.”

“These interviews represent a striking contrast with the U.S. television, where there is an absence of spirited inquiry. Public officials are treated with courtesy, which is appropriate, but on balance are accorded far too many opportunities to respond to reporters’ queries without challenge. When the reporter fails to probe more deeply, he or she becomes simply an electronic stenographer providing the elected official or official spokesperson a video platform for getting out the message.

“A recent CBS News Investigative Unit story offers a case in point. The story reported that billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War may have been lost to contractor waste, fraud and abuse. The story was based on a whistleblower lawsuit that had been obtained by CBS News.

“In the segment, forthright and detailed comments were made during on-camera interviews with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who as new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to investigate how taxpayer dollars have been spent in Iraq, and Alan Grayson, a lawyer who has filed dozens of lawsuits against contractors.

“The government response came from a “senior Justice Department official” who was not shown on camera and who was quoted indirectly as saying that it takes two to three years to investigate civil fraud cases and, even then, only about one in five meet the standards necessary for prosecution.

“If the reporter challenged the official to respond more directly to the allegations, this was not shared with viewers, leaving the impression that the Justice Department got away with a non-response.”

Click on the headline to read the full story.

Boston Globe, T&G look to cut 125 spots

The New England Media Group said yesterday it will offer voluntary buyout packages to employees at The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, as it aims to cut 125 jobs from the two papers, including 19 in the Globe newsroom and editorial pages.

Fifty-five jobs to be cut in the buyout will be outsourced to outside contractors, said Alfred S. Larkin Jr., the Globe spokesman, primarily in finance operations.

"Our expectation is we will be able to accomplish our goal without resorting to layoffs," Larkin said.

The buyouts, the second round since the fall of 2005, come as the newspapers struggle with falling circulation and advertising revenue against the backdrop of similar declines in the industry. The New York Times Co., parent of the Globe and Telegram & Gazette, recently said that ad revenue at its New England group fell 11 percent in November from the same period a year ago.

In the six months ended in September, the most recent figures available, the Globe's average daily circulation declined 7 percent to about 386,000 from 414,000 a year earlier. The Telegram & Gazette reported an 11 percent decline in average daily circulation in that period, to 89,000.

Dan Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, denounced the outsourcing initiative as "corporate greed at its worst."

Read the full story
by Robert Gavin of the Globe Staff

Read memos
from publisher Steve Ainsley and editor Martin Baron

Thursday, January 11, 2007

John Olesky and Paula visit China

John Olesky and Paula didn’t take an easy access up to the Great Wall during their visit to China December 25 to January 2. Their tour guide, Tiger, took them to the Juyong Pass. That meant they had to climb 396 rock steps, which vary from two inches to about two feet, with each step a different height than the one below and above. To read about their trip, click on the headline above for John’s account on the BJ Retirees web site. There you will find a link to an album of photos. There are other photos of the Great Wall, which is 4,400 miles long, plus Tiananmen Square and a photo of John and Buddha.

Community News is mostly crime

Today was the third day running for the new Community News page on page B3 in the Beacon Journal. Ads appeared for the first time. There were 34 column inches of advertising or about 27 per cent of the 129 column inches on the page. All ads were from advertisters in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton– none from outlying areas.

There was only one news item concerning local government. Three graphs were given to a plan by Medina school board to seek a sales tax increase. Another brief was about a Summit County elections board employee who will remain off the job while the sheriff investigates allegations he rented a truck without authorization. The other 10 items were about crimes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

14 attend retirees lunch

There were 14 at Papa Joe's for the BJ retirees' lunch today. Attending were Tom Moore, Cal Deshong, Bill Canterbury, Art Cullison, William Byrd, Gene McClellan, Watson Blanton and wife Rosetta, Ed Hanzel and wife Norma, Al Hunsicker, Bill Hunter, Carl Nelson and John Olesky.

Former chief photographer Bill Hunter brought old photos of newsroom personnel and Guild contracts, to show the paltry pay scales by today's standards.

The photo here is of the newsroom staff in the mid-1950s.

[Click on the photo to enlarge it for a better view]

Hunter also showed a memo he received from the late publisher Ben Maidenburg to thank him for sending him a photo of the staff at a 1980s picnic at the farm of Bud Morris. The photos sparked memories and laughter and maybe a bit of wistfulness.

Olesky, former TV editor, talked about his trip to China. Click here to read the Maidenburg memo. Click on the headline above to see an album of lunch photos.

TV personality Alice Weston dies

Alice Weston, who started her broadcasting career with a cooking show on WEWS Channel 5 in 1948 and retired as a seniors reporter for WKYC Channel 3 in 1996, died Tuesday at her home in Sheffield Lake.

She was 95.

When she became the host of one of Cleveland's first television shows for women, her name was not Weston - and she hated to cook.

"When I was beginning, there was only one path available for women in the new medium, and that was the discussion of food," Weston told an interviewer in 1978. "We've come a long way since 1948."

WEWS executives didn't like the real name of their newly hired happy homemaker - Alice Schowalter. They chose "Weston" as her small-screen surname, because its ring was similar to that of the station's call letters.

In 1968, she went to WUAB Channel 43 to help the fledgling station get started. What was supposed to be a six-month project stretched into a 26-year career. She served as public service director for Lorain and hosted such shows as "Lorain Conversation." In the 1970s and '80s, she co-hosted "43 A.M." with Linn Sheldon, better known to many as the elfin star of the children's show "Barnaby."

In 1994, Weston left WUAB for WKYC Channel 3 to do news segments about senior citizens.

She was born Alice Boter in Holland, Mich., to parents who emigrated from the Netherlands. Her father, a merchant, helped found the city's famous Tulip Time Festival.

Alice Weston 1911-2007

Survivors: Daughters, Susan Ruffing of Sheffield Lake and Sara Walters of Chicago; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Services: Pending.

Arrangements: Bauer-Laubenthal Funeral Home, Elyria.

Click on the headline to read the full story by Alice Baranick in the Plain Dealer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The BJ's local news surge

As advertised, the Beacon Journal kicked off its big local news surge today with a full page of briefs on page B3 and a large (4 col. X 12 inch) Paul Tople photo layout on a crew installing a sound wall on I-77 at 13th Avenue in Canton.

Three of the 18 briefs were from Akron, two from Barberton and one each from Bath, Boston Heights, Canal Fulton, Cuyahoga Falls, green, Medina, Norton, Revere schools, Stow, Wadsworth and Norteast Ohio (about a bald eagle count). There were none from Portage or Wayne counties-- the other two counties in the old five-county area once served by seven different editions.

Biggest brief was Revere Schools electing board officers--9 graphs. Credit at the bottom of briefs was given to five correspodents: Gina Mace 3, George W.. Davis and Jody Miller 2 each and Kimberly Sirk and Beau Dusz, 1 each.
You also might be interested in Random Observations on our web site, One asks if there is a smoking gun in the sale of the Minneaplios Tribune by McClatchy, another is on a new editor in Lexington, KY, a third from a disgrunted OSU alumnus, and finally one on the PD headline on Gerald Ford. . Click on the headline above to read them.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Prescription math

[Posted for John Olesky]

Prescription math

I applied the math from my 2006 prescriptions to the 2007 changes decreed by the Canadian, even though the Guild contract for those who retired in 1996 and earlier and my retirement letter both say that I have the $2 co-pay and medical coverage for life.

As I understand the changes, and I'd be happy to recalculate if anyone, including management, finds an error in my figures, it would cost me up to $1,949.41 more a year in 2007 if I get the same monthly prescriptions that I did in 2006. I think I'm about average, since I'm in pretty good health.

Here's how I arrived at the up to $1,949.41 total of EXTRA prescription costs for 2007:

$643.41 in co-pays for the 5.4 months that it will take me to reach the $2,400 limit.

$1,450 for the donut hole, between $2,400 and $3,850, where the retiree pays everything on the prescriptions. Only what I pay is applied to go from $2,400 to $3,850, and I had NO generic prescriptions in 2006, so it's murky how much I would pay to get the same non-generic prescriptions.

$2,093.41 is the total amount that I can pay before I hit the $3,850 limit, if I ever do. As I understand it, and I'm open to correction, then the Canadian's plan would pay 100% of my prescription costs for the rest of the year, but the Canadian's plan seems to all but assure that no Guild retiree will hit the $3,850 limit.

$144.00 is the amount that I pay under the current plan, at $2 per prescription.

$1,949.41 is the difference between what I pay under the current plan and what I would pay under the Canadian's plan for the same prescriptions if I hit the $3,850 limit.

Editorials moved back to A section

Editorial and op-ed pages were moved back to the last two pages of the A section today and the nameplate of the Local & Opinion section has changed to read simply 'Local."

Managing editor Mizell Stewart announced the changes in an A3 column on Sunday thusly:

"Starting Tuesday, the pages formerly occupied by the editorial and commentary pages will be devoted to local news, anchored by t ne Community News page on B3.

"The Community News page will provide a quick read on local news and events, with short items from communities throughout our area. It will be the place to turn to find out what happened at last night's council, school boatrd or township trustee meetings.

"In additon, you'll find a visual glimpse of daily life in the region as captured by our award winning photo staff."

Blogger Note: Can't wait.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Blog headlines and photos in 2006

There were 424 items posted on the Beacon Journal retirees blog in 2006. We have pulled out 195 of them to make it easier for you to review the tumultuous year at the Beacon Journal.

Just click on the headline to go to the Blog Review of 2006

There you will find a link to the 195 headlines and also a link to an album of blog photos showing the top events of 2006 at the BJ

The review also lists the names of 22 who died during the year.

Because of the sale of Knight Ridder, subsequent sale of the Beacon Journal and the turmoil over layoffs, the visits to the blog increased from 8,883 at the beginning of the year to 32,245 on our December report. The average number of visits increased from 36 a day at the beginning of the year to 73 the week ending December 27. There were 129 the week ending November 8.

In the 29 months since the blog was established in July, 2004, there have been 824 articles posted or an average of more than 28 a month. The number probably will top 1,000 in the next couple of months.

A web site was opened September 18, 2006 to allow use of articles too long for the blog and for storage of information files such as our list of postal addresses of retirees. A Commentary section also was added.

Avista comments on Star Tribune

A report in the Wall Street Journal says few of the headline-grabbing buyouts have been as gutsy as the $530 million planned purchase by Avista Capital Partners of McClatchy Co.'s Minneapolis Star

The deal for the nation's 15th-largest newspaper by circulation comes amid a slump in the business. The Star Tribune has been the worst-performing paper in terms of revenue for McClatchy, which paid $1.2 billion for the paper in 1998. The Star Tribune's ad revenue dropped about 6% last year on a circulation decline of about 4%.

Avista mightn't be a household name, but its founders, Thompson Dean and Steven Webster, have been well known in the buyout community for more than a decade.

So what do they see with the Star Tribune deal that others in the buyout world missed? A very cheap price -- 6.5 times the paper's cash flow -- a respected brand and an industry that may be bottoming out and poised for a rebound.

"We got a premium paper in a healthy market, and we paid a very attractive price," says Dean. "There is meaningful franchise value for top-20 papers. The risk is that readership continues its steady decline."

"Newspapers are poised to stabilize their revenue base, and advertising rates are stabilizing," Dean says. "People will continue to read newspapers."

Dean wouldn't address whether Avista will slash costs or lay off employees. "Newspapers have to recognize that they are operating in a different environment, with different pressures, declining readership and advertising pressures," he says. "We have to get additional revenue growth and do things more efficiently, but that may not be about staff cuts."

While public investors penalize newspaper companies for their lack of growth, private-equity investors generally are more concerned with steady cash flows. And newspapers usually don't have steep capital expenditures that soak up cash.

So if the Star Tribune's circulation stops declining and Avista can generate some growth for the paper's Web site, the firm might avoid significant cost cutting.

"To generate an acceptable return, we only need modest growth because of [the paper's] impressive high free-cash flow," and the low purchase price that Avista paid, Mr. Dean says.

Although Avista hasn't made previous newspaper acquisitions, it placed Chris Harte, a former Knight Ridder executive whose family is among the owners of San Antonio-based direct-marketing firm and publisher Harte-Hanks Inc., as the chairman of Star Tribune's holding company.

Click on the headline to read the full Wall Street Journal story by Gregory Zuckerman.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wadsworth Banner to close after 142 years

The Sun News is closing three of its 25 newspapers on Jan. 25, including the Wadsworth Sun Banner that has been serving Wadsworth for 142 years

The Banner, the Sun Scoop Journal (in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland) and The West Summit Sun (serving west central Summit County) are ``underperforming,'' said Sun News president and CEO John Urbancich.

``We're retrenching and shifting resources away from unprofitable areas to revenue-generating areas,'' Urbancich said, citing dwindling circulation and declining ad revenue in those communities.

`Sun News is ``likely'' to have The Plain Dealer in Cleveland print all of its editions starting in April, removing that work from American Color Graphics in Medina. Urbancich said the move will save money. (Sun News is a division of Advance Publications Inc., which also owns The Plain Dealer.)

The location of the Medina bureau will close when the lease ends in July. No decision has been made whether to move that staff to another office or find another place in or near Medina.

``I don't want anyone to think we're pulling out of Medina County, because we're not,'' Urbancich said, noting that two other local papers, the Brunswick Sun Times and The Medina Sun, will still publish.

Click on the headline to read the full story by Paula Schleis on the business front (page D1) of Saturday’s Beacon Journal. Schleis quotes BJ owner David Black as stating it would have no effect on the BJ.

Briefs on news media layoffs

Time may cut 150 jobs
Time Inc. may decide in the next two weeks to cut 150 jobs, and Time magazine could be particularly hard hit, the New York Post reported on Friday, citing sources. The cuts at Time Inc., a unit of Time Warner Inc. , could happen across the board, and include other top magazines such as People and Sports Illustrated, the Post reported. [Copyright Reuters]

Guild members may take the Strib's money and run
The abrupt sale of the Minneapolis Star Tribune to Avista Capital Partners the day after Christmas left many of the paper's employees wondering how soon they'd be shown the door. But a little-known clause in the paper's contract with union journalists suggests that its employees might have good reason to look for the door--possibly in droves.

Article VIII of the Star Tribune's contract with the Minnesota Newspaper Guild and Typograhical Union ensures all employees represented by the union the right to exercise a buyout should the paper be sold to an outside buyer. Within five days of a sale, employees must express their interest in the option; in return, they'll receive two weeks of pay for every year worked, with a 40-week maximum. The purchase by Avista is expected to be completed in "early 2007." While the Guild represents employees at the St. Paul Pioneer Press as well, the stipulation is specific to Star Tribune's Guild members.

The Star Tribune's management representative was unavailable for comment.

Click here to read the full story

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Lonely Newspaper Reader

Charlie Buffum, BJ retiree in New York City who still reads newspapers, calls our attention to a column in the Times by David Carr who muses about the sale of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and about how his children now rush off to the digital world while he sits alone with four papers at the kitchen table.

You will want to click on the headline to read the full story, but if you are like Carr’s family and only need a quick fix, here are the salient graphs:

The paper, around in one version or another since 1867, may not have knocked down a lot of Pulitzers, but with its vigorous political reporting and thoughtful cultural coverage, it has served as a center for civic life in Minneapolis and beyond. The Star Tribune was not a great paper, but then my first car, a very used ’64 Ford Falcon, wasn’t great either. I still have a great deal of affection for both.

There are two ways to look at the sale: the second-biggest newspaper operator in the country, with its stock dropping in the wake of the Knight Ridder deal, dumped a paper with near 20 percent profit margins in what looked like a fire sale because big papers are doomed. Or, more brightly, a private equity firm saw an opportunity for a savvy investor who could operate the property without the quarter-to-quarter franticness that comes with making Wall Street happy.

It is a cliché of the media business that the assets go up and down the elevator every day. In Minneapolis, many of those assets are pals from my days of working as a reporter and editor at a weekly there, so I wondered: Who would be controlling their professional destinies, bottom feeders or benefactors?

Private equity owners are often viewed with suspicion, in part because they have limited investment horizons and tend to milk properties for cash flow, clean up the balance sheet and then flip the property to what is technically known as a “greater fool.” The sale of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News by McClatchy to a local group of investors has resulted, after a sharp downturn this summer, in a great deal of strife and talks of significant layoffs.

I talked to OhSang Kwon, one of the partners in Avista Capital Partners. “We don’t want to rule out anything, but the idea that we bought this paper with a quick exit in mind or that we were going to cut our way to profitability is not correct,” he said. “I don’t have the hubris to say that we have the answers — we are new to the newspaper business — but the old way was not working. Maybe it is time for a different approach.”

As I sat at the kitchen table, I marveled at the low price of a newspaper that had once preoccupied the conversation around my dinner table. Then I looked at the four papers on the table and the empty chairs that surrounded them. Before my second cup of coffee, the rest of my household had already started the day in a way that had nothing to do with the paper artifacts in front of me. Maybe I was the greater fool.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Retirees seek answers on change in benefits

[The blog is not responsible for accuracy of any of this information. See the information below on numbers to contact for information.]

All but a few chairs in the JSK conference room at the Beacon Journal were filled Wednesday by retirees attending an information session on the change in benefits.

Retirees will no longer be covered by United Health Care, a PPO (preferred provide organization) provider of secondary coverage, which allowed unlimited prescriptions at $2 co-pay for many with Medicare as the primary insurer.

The 329 retirees are now being asked to enroll in an Aetna (private fee for service) program which will handle both the Medicare and prescription program.

The Beacon Journal will pay the monthly premium.

A representative from Aetna outlined the program and answered questions. Also on hand were Aaron Burr, head of BJ Human Resources Department; Karen Jones, benefits coordinator and legal counsel Karen Lefton.

An answer to one question, explained that in reaching the $2,400 initial coverage limit the total would be based on actual drug costs. From that point until reaching the $3,850 level (called the coverage gap or donut hole) the retiree’s out of pocket costs and not the costs of the drugs would be used. Generic drugs during that period would still cost only the $5 co-pay.

There are no generic ($5 co-pay) drugs for diabetes or Alzheimer’s medications.

In answer to questions, Lefton explained that different contracts with different labor unions in different years could mean a difference in some benefits. She noted that letters were provided to some employees in years past promising certain benefits. But those promises had to be part of the contract or a legally-binding side-letter agreement and not just a notice given to employees. She said retirees should consult their contract at the time they retired to see what benefits were stipulated. Copies of these contracts and any side letters will be provided to retirees who request them, she said.

You can call benefits coordinator Karen Jones at 330-996-3183 for some information. For detailed information on the Aetna program it is probably best to call Aetna at 1-800-307-4830 or for the hearing impaired 1-800-628-3323.

The Aetna web site is at You can read or download the Aetna formulary (list of drugs) for 2007 which lists drugs by brand name and generic name and states whether they are in Tier 1 or $5 co-pay for generic., Tier 2 ($20 co-pay) for preferred brand or Tier 3 ($40 co-pay for non-preferred drugs.

If you order drugs by mail, the co-pay is doubled but you get a 90-day supply rather than 30 days.

Alice Gresock, widow of Don, dies

Alice G. Gresock, age 78, passed away January 1, 2007, in San Antonio, Texas.

She was born April 16, 1928, in San Antonio, to Paul and Julia Mahoney Gonzales.

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Francis J. Walsh of Dublin, Ireland and second husband, Donald W. Gresock of Akron, Ohio.

[Beacon Journal retiree Don Gresock died in San Antonio on December 5, 2004]

Alice is survived by children, Catherine Bartlow and husband Richard, Julie Walsh, Frank Walsh and wife, Regina, Stephen Walsh and wife, Hazel Briseno and Brian Walsh; 12 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; brother; Paul Gonzales and wife, Lou; brother-in-law, Richard Gresock and wife, Lorraine; sister-in-law, H. Patricia Brunner; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to give special thanks to all the staff with Sisters Care, Morningside Manor and VITAS Hospice for their generous care over the years.

A Vigil Service will be held Thursday, January 4, 2007, 7 p.m. at Porter Loring North Chapel. A Mass will be held Friday, January 5, 2007, 10 a.m. at St. Matthew's Catholic Church. Interment will follow at San Fernando Cemetery #2. You are invited to sign the Guestbook at Arrangements with PORTER LORING MORTUARY NORTH, 2102 NORTH LOOP 1604 EAST, SAN ANTONIO, TX 78232. (210) 495-8221

[The Beacon Journal,, Akron, OH, Wednesday, January 3, 2007 ]

68 in Inquirer newsroom to lose jobs

Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C. said yesterday that it would lay off 68 newsroom employees, or 17 percent of the editorial staff, in another round of cost cutting at The Inquirer.

PMH said the cutbacks would save about $6.8 million a year in salaries and benefits and would lead to more restructuring of beats and coverage areas as the slimmed-down news staff regroups to report the region's news.

The Inquirer newsroom will have 325 employees after the cutbacks. As the cuts approached, a handful of reporters and editors left. The Daily News will have 106 newsroom employees.

"It's a very difficult day for The Inquirer and for the individuals, and we're going to try and handle this with professionalism, dignity, thoughtfulness and care," Inquirer editor William K. Marimow said last night. He said the cutbacks were smaller than earlier plans, which called for more than 100 jobs to be eliminated.

PMH, a group of local businesspeople, led by public relations and advertising executive Brian Tierney, bought The Inquirer, Daily News, and other publications for $562 million in June.

Tierney said recently that he intended to invest $20 million in marketing, plant modernizations, and a jazzed-up Web site.

Click on the headline to read the story by Inquirer staff writer Bob Fernandez.

Services set for David Bonar

Family and friends will remember David Troyer Bonar at a 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, service inside the Rose Hill Burial Park Mausoleum, 3535 W. Market St., Fairlawn. The Rev. Thomas Heinlein of Westminster Presbyterian Church will officiate.

Mr. Bonar's interment at Rose Hill will be with his father and mother, Boyd and Lula (Troyer) Bonar, to whom he was born Oct. 13, 1925, in Akron, and where they were members of Westminster.

A 1943 graduate of Buchtel High School, he attended The University of Akron before serving honorably with the Army Air Forces in World War II. At Miami University (Ohio), he met, and would marry, Akron's Barbara Bunten. Daughter Julie is a legacy.

Upon Kent State University 1950 graduation, he joined Evans Insurance Agency as an agent for individual and business group insurance, and became vice president.

In 1964 he married Nancy Yockey and moved from Akron to Bath. Son Tim is their legacy.

In his free time he enjoyed traveling, fishing, golfing, playing tennis and spending time with the people he loved.

Survivors include loving and caring children, Timothy Cooper Bonar of Bath Township, and daughter, Julie Bonar (John) Baughman of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Also grandson, John "Jay" Baughman of West Palm Beach; granddaughter, Jaime (William) Corzo and great-grandsons, Christian and Julien of Naples, Fla.; and cousins, Paul Troyer of California and Bob Troyer of Michigan.

Before our dad was freed from Alzheimer's, Friday, Dec. 22, he reaffirmed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Dave Bonar's name may be made to Alzheimer's Association, 1815 W. Market St., Ste. 301, Akron, OH, 44313. Ohio Cremation & Memorial Society.

[The Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, page B5, col. 3]

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Star-Trib land eyed for stadium

Avista Capital Partners might be interested in acquiring the Minneapolis Star Tribune for reasons beyond its considerable newspaper and Internet presence, or so goes the buzz in the Twin Cities business world.

The Star Tribune also owns five square blocks of semi-prime real estate west of the Metrodome, most of which is surface parking.

And that real estate has caught the eye of New York developer and Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. Wilf wants to replace the Metrodome with another downtown Minneapolis stadium. He previously approached top Star Tribune management about its availability.

The new owners could probably fetch a pretty good price on land currently valued at $20 million to $25 million by Hennepin County.

Vikings representative Lester Bagley declined to comment last week about whether the Vikings have tried to contact Avista. But he said the Star Tribune is a "key property owner in the mix" for plans to redevelop downtown Minneapolis, a process that could produce a new Vikings stadium.

Click on the headline to read this news in the Star Tribune