Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dayton TV camerman retires after 51 years

Bob "Scoop" Phillips, who at age 75 was the longest working active news photographer in Ohio, and perhaps in the industry, is retiring as chief photographer at WDTN-TV, Channel 2 News in Dayton.

Phillips, with Channel 2 for 51 years, said the decision was one of the hardest he has ever had to make.

"It is not easy after all this time," he said, his voice heavy with emotion. "I love this job. I love Channel 2 and I love the city of Dayton. It was a difficult decision, but the time has come."

Click on the headline to read an article by Dale Huffman in the Dayton Daily News

The SA Today

The SA Today

That's not a typo: We hear that the wind blew off the U off the USA Today's building in Virginia today.

McClatchy delays close of Miami land sale

The McClatchy Co. said on Tuesday that it is extending the closing date of the sale of its Miami property, Editor & Publisher reported today in a story by Jennifer Saba

The deal, which is expected to bring in $190 million, was originally expected to close at the end of this year. Because the buyers of the 10 acres of land adjacent to The Miami Herald are having trouble securing financing, McClatchy has postponed the date until June 30, 2009.

Citisquare Group paid McClatchy $10 million in a nonrefundable deposit. The company has the option of extending the closing date even further until Dec. 31, 2009 by increasing the termination fee to McClatchy should transaction not go through.

Under the new terms, Citisquare has relinquished its right of first refusal to purchase the Miami Herald building.

Gary Pruitt, CEO and chairman of McClatchy, said in a statement: "We are pleased to reach an accommodation with Citisquare to preserve this valuable transaction. Maefield Development, a Citisquare partner and developer of the land, has expressed confidence to us that the deal will close."

McClatchy's CFO Pat Talamantes said the delay of the transaction-the money from the sale will be used to pay down debt -- will not affect its credit agreement. "We expect to continue to have ample availability under our revolving line of credit to meet our funding requirements, including public bonds maturing in April 2009. Thereafter, the company has no other bank or bond debt maturities until June 2011," he said.

Jennifer Saba ( is E&P's associate editor

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Career Transition Day set for January 10

Media Career Transition Day

A journalism career might take you to retirement, but if not… What's your Plan B?

You might not need one, but it's always good to be thinking ahead. So we've designed a day for all media employees (with a special focus on the 27 recently laid-off at The Plain Dealer).

PLACE: Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave. (free parking behind church, off Prospect)
DATE: Saturday, January 10, 2009
TIME: 7:45 a.m. doors open. Program starts 8:15 a.m., ends at 3:00 p.m.
MEALS: Breakfast, lunch and dessert reception included in entrance fee.

Professional career coaches on:

  • Making your resume work for you\Finding transferable skills and strengths
  • Marketing your talents and expertise
  • Interviewing and negotiating a salary
One-on-one sessions (concurrent with panels):

  • -- Bring your resume for a constructive critique
  • Meet with career coaches to jumpstart your job search
Choose from panels on:

  • Working for foundations and non-profits
  • Public relations and marketing jobs
  • Careers in graphics, photography and web design
  • Higher education: Returning to college to teach or get another degree.
  • Freelancing, online journalism and radio opportunities
  • Post-Plain Dealer Success Stories: our colleagues show us the way ahead

*** Free for the 50 (who were recently laid off from The Plain Dealer or who took buyouts)
*** $25 for Guild employees
*** $50 for all others (management, other media members, etc.)

Deadline to register is January 5.
This event is open to ALL current and former members of the media in Greater Cleveland. This event will fill up fast, so please register ASAP. Any profit will be donated to the Guild to help the PD people who were laid off.

Anyone registering at the event will be charged $10 extra.

You can register online with PayPal. If you don't have a PayPal account, you will be offered the opportunity to set one up when you register. Go to OR make checks payable to Harlan Spector (at The Plain Dealer) and send it to him there. A schedule of speakers will soon be posted to:

FOR INFORMATION: Call Harlan Spector at 216-999-4543 or Regina Brett at 216-932-6234.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kent State shootings voted top Ohio story

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The National Guard's deadly shooting of students at Kent State University during a Vietnam War protest tops a list of Ohio news events of the last 75 years.

The Ohio Newspaper Association asked visitors to a Web site to rank 75 m
ajor news events from 1933 through 2007 as part of the trade group's 75th anniversary. The Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970 left four students dead and nine wounded.

Coming in second was the 1969 moon walk by Wapakoneta's Neil Armstrong, followed by Ohio's mourning of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jesse Owens winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games and the blizzard of 1978.

Rounding out the list was Ohio joining the war effort after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, followed by the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which killed Akron's Judith Resnik, the 1974 tornado that leveled Xenia, the Cleveland Indians winning the 1948 World Series and the 2003 blackout.

The list was based on 316 votes.

Cincy Enquirer to cut days it runs classified

The Cincinnati Enquirer will cut the number of days it runs classified ads, switch to a narrower page-format and condense some of its sections in an effort to reduce costs as advertisers spend less.

In a Sunday front-page letter to readers, Cincinnati Enquirer Publisher Margaret Buchanan detailed the steps the daily paper plans to make in order to use less newsprint and ink, its second-largest expense. She cited difficult economic conditions for the changes, which are effective today.

Those include the elimination of traditional classified advertising on Mondays and Tuesdays. Its Life section will move behind the Local section on Mondays through Thursdays and will be renamed. The editorial page will move to the front section of the paper, and the Sunday television guide will be combined with Life and Travel sections. The daily television grids will be reduced to include only evening programming of the major broadcast stations.

Buchanan also said the Enquirer will be making a switch to a narrower page size in March, also in an effort to use less paper and ink.

The format changes come on the heels of December job cuts at the Cincinnati Enquirer, as well as across other newspapers owned by parent Gannett Co. Prior to the December layoff, 60 Enquirer employees left the paper as part of a voluntary severance plan announced for Gannett’s newspaper division in August. Gannett has said it expects revenue to fall 8 percent from 2007.

Movin’ on up after leaving the BJ

Former Beacpn Journal reporters are moving up in the social world. Their daughters were among the 44 debutantes listed with a story on the 106th Charity Bll of the Women’s board of Akron Cjhildren’s Jhospital at Goodyear Hall.

Among the debutantes were:

Grace Etheridge Williamson of Akron, daughter of Mark Aaron Williamson and Mary Ethridge Williamson. Mother was former BJ business writer Mary Ethridge.

Alanna Montgomery Gippin of Akron, daughter of Judge Robert Gippin and Susan Smith Gippin. Mother was former BJ reporter Susan Smith.

Alyssa Marie Pupino of Fairlawn, daughter of Dr. Sam and Holly Pupino.
Holly formerly did Beautiful Things for the Community Extra sections.

Debt from Knight Ridder now junk-bond status

When McClatchy bought the former Knight Ridder papers in 2006, it paid $4.5 billion and took on $2 billion in debt. That debt is now rated at junk-bond status and shares of the company (NYSE:MNI) have fallen more than 90 percent from their 52-week high of $13.31 per share on Dec. 26, 2007. As of Friday’s close, McClatchy was at 81 cents a share, giving it a market capitalization of $66.8 million. And that’s an improvement from its all-time low it hit on Christmas Eve. No one thinks McClatchy is on the verge of bankruptcy filing, but the company’s financials are hardly sound.

* The parting out will accelerate: Much like you do with an old car that is beyond repair, the industry will begin to
see if the sum of the parts is worth more than the whole. When McClatchy quietly put The Miami Herald up for sale earlier this month, it was a clear example of how far this industry has fallen. Once considered one of the flagship papers of the Knight Ridder chain, the Herald had been such a low performer in both chains for so many years and that now the paper’s primary value is considered to be in its prime waterfront real estate. Expect chains to attempt to spin off more individual properties to shore up the balance sheet. However, few buyers will materialize. And the lack of liquidity has little to do with it. After all, it’s cheaper to wait and buy after the bankruptcy. Anyone at 400 West Seventh Street who still harbors the fantasy of the Basses riding to rescue in fit of civic altruism should remember this.

[Source: :Dallas-Fort Worth]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

NY Times Op-Ed features Ted Gup's Christmas story

Mysterious benefactor “B. Virdot,” some of the checks he sent and letters received

Ted Gup, former BJ reporter who is professor of journalism at Case Western Reserve University, has written a beautiful Op-Ed piece in the New York Times about a mysterious benefactor who sent checks to desperate residents of Canton at the height of the Depression. The piece is headlined: Hard Times, a Helping Hand

The gifts made The Canton Repository’s front page on Dec. 18, 1933. The headline read: “Man Who Felt Depression’s Sting to Help 75 Unfortunate Families: Anonymous Giver, Known Only as ‘B. Virdot,’ Posts $750 to Spread Christmas Cheer.”

The benefactor we learn as the tale unfolds was Gup’s grandfather, Samuel J. Stone..

Gup writes:

Down through the decades, the identity of the benefactor remained a mystery. Three prosperous generations later, the whole affair was consigned to a footnote in Canton’s history. But to me, the story had always served as an example of how selfless Americans reach out to one another in hard times. I can’t even remember the first time I heard about Mr. B. Virdot, but I knew the tale well.

Then, this past summer, my mother handed me a battered old black suitcase that had been gathering dust in her attic. I flipped open the twin latches and found a mass of letters, all dated December 1933. There were also 150 canceled checks signed by “B. Virdot,” and a tiny black bank book with $760 in deposits.

My mother, Virginia, had always known the secret: the donor was her father, Samuel J. Stone. The fictitious moniker was a blend of his daughters’ names — Barbara, Virginia and Dorothy. But Mother had never told me, and when she handed me the suitcase she had no idea what was in it — “some old papers,” she said. The suitcase had passed into her possession shortly after the death of my grandmother Minna in 2005.

I took the suitcase with me to our log cabin in the woods of Maine, and there, one night, began to read letter after letter. They had come from all over Canton, from out-of-work upholsterers, painters, bricklayers, day laborers, insurance salesmen and, yes, former executives — some of whom, I later learned, my grandfather had known personally.

Click on the headline to read the full story in the New York Times.Gup tells of his grandfather's own struggles that prompted his spirit of giving. There also are other photos of him and the family, the bank book and letters. . Click on the photo above to enlarge for a better view.

Footnote: Gup has been named chair of the Journalism Department and professor of journalism at Emerson College in Boston beginning in the Fall of 2009.

Knight Ridder's Alvah Chapman dies

MIAMI -- Alvah H. Chapman Jr., a Knight Ridder executive, third-generation newspaperman and former Miami Herald president and CEO, died Thursday at 87.

Chapman spent a traditional family Christmas Eve at his Coconut Grove home, reading the Bible wit
h his wife, Betty, their two daughters and several grandchildren, then succumbed to pneumonia on Christmas Day.

He was afflicted with Parkinson's disease, suffered strokes in recent years and broke a hip in March.

Georgia-born and Citadel-educated, Chapman brought his family to Miami in 1960. He evolved into a devoted and energetic champion of his adopted hometown and became the unifying force behind scores of civic endeavors.

Chapman came to Miami as company patriarch James L. Knight's executive assistant, quickly moving up the ranks to become the Herald's general manager and president. From 1976-1989, he was CEO and chairman of the newspaper company Knight Ridder, the now-defunct corporate parent of the Herald and the Akron Beacon Journal.

Former Herald publisher David Lawrence Jr. said Chapman ''cared deeply about good journalism.''

Click on the headline to read a four-take obituary in the Miami Herald. Or Google other sources including one by the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Geewax joins NPR as senior business editor

Marilyn Geewax, who has covered the national economy from the Cox Newspapers Washington bureau, joined National Public Radio’s national desk on December 15 as the new senior business editor.

Cox is shutting its DC bureau.

“After 24 years with Cox, it’s weird to be leaving,” said Geewax. “But I’m really excited about NPR.”

Geewax was the national economics correspondent for Cox Newspapers’ Washington Bureau. Before coming to Washington in 1999, she worked for the Cox flagship paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, first as a business reporter and then as a columnist and editorial board member.

Before coming to Atlanta, she was a business reporter with the Beacon Journal. She began her career as a general assignment reporter for the Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal.
In 2004, Marilyn earned a master’s degree at Georgetown University, where she focused on international economic affairs. During 1994 and 1995, she studied economics and international relations at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University.

From 2001 to 2006, she taught a business journalism class as an adjunct professor at George Washington University.

Geewax grew up in the Youngstown area and now lives in Chevy Chase, MD.

And here's an email just received from Marilyn:

After seven years with the ABJ, and 24 years with Cox News, I am leaving newspapers. Yikes! Here’s what happened:

After I left Akron in 1985, I went to work for the Cox-owned Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I was a business reporter and then editorial writer there, before moving in 1999 to the Cox Washington bureau as the national economics correspondent.

This past August, it became clear the Washington bureau would soon be closing (the company announced it would sell off 10 of its 17 papers, and hinted the end-was-near for the bureau). Given the way newspapers have been shutting down bureaus, I figured I’d better look for something else.

I started talking to NPR in late August about becoming a business editor here in the Washington headquarters. These things always take a long time…and that was fortunate for me. I stayed with Cox long enough to get the buyout, and then started here on Dec. 15. I have lots to learn about radio, but it has been fun so far. My new email is

Merry Christmas! Marilyn

Click here for earlier blog posts on Marilyn.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feagler's Coffee Shoppe was a fake

When Dick Feagler announced at the top of the Forum section front last Sunday that the end of the year would bring the end of his long-running column, disappointment from his many fans was almost palpable. Most of the pe
ople I talked to last week, no matter why they had called, noted how much they are going to miss him. That's true of a lot of us.

But a lower-grade disappointment was also evident in the wake of Feagler's acknowledgment that the coffee shop conversations that had become a staple of his commentary were not quite the w
ay he has presented them. The "Coffee Shoppe," as he described it, does not exist. The conversations he recounted were portrayals of real conversations with real people, but had rarely happened as he related them: a bunch of guys sitting around a coffee shop.

Blog Note: Feagler wrote a column for a while for the Beacon Journal.

C;lick on the headline to read the explanation by Ted Diadiun, the PD ombudsman.

Click here to read Feagler’s columns

No kidding? Job cuts listed as top news

The record number of jobs cut was the top news industry story in Joe Strupp’s annual list in Editor & Publisher.

“Three years ago, this was the top industry story of the year when some 2,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2005, Strupp writes. “This year, Gannett cut that many in December alone, after slashing 1,000 others in August. Then there is McClatchy with two rounds of cuts, totaling 2,500 jobs; Tribune slashing more than 1,000; and various other small dailies and chains dropping staff here and there. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. saw more than 300 buyouts, while more than 100 jobs were lost each at The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Newsday and others.”

Strupp notes that the U.S. Department of Labor estimates some 21,000 newspaper industry jobs disappeared this year.

Strupp concludes:

“Somehow, newspaper owners continue to think that the way to handle economic downturns is to make their product worse be eliminating its most important asset, people. But with fewer reporters to dig up news as newspapers transition to the Web their content is going to look more and more like everything else online, limited and poorly reported.”

You can click on the headline to read the rest of the list, but be warned that it is a pretty dull list.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Retired stereotyper Bob Brown dies

Blog Note: Bob Brown was a retired Beacon Journal stereotyper.

Robert (Bob) L. Brown, Sr., 81, went to be with Jesus on December 17th, 2008.

He was born in Weston, West Virginia June 8th, 1927, and was a resident of Kenmore most of his life. He was a veteran of World War II, and a member of the Kenmore Masonic Lodge. He spent numerous years working in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and took pride in being a positive influence in the lives of all he touched. He was a former member of Kenmore United Methodist Church, and a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Bob was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Alice Brown; parents, Basil Brown and Thelma McCoy; sisters, Betty
DeMarco and Jenneth Platt. He is survived by daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and Roger Terrill of Burbank, Ohio; sons and daughters-in-law, Dennis and Lorene Brown of Akron, Ohio, Glenn and Terry Brown of Clinton, Ohio, Dale and Michelle Brown of Barberton, Ohio, and Bob II and Debi Brown of Knoxville, Tennessee. He also leaves behind 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at Schlup-Pucak Funeral Home on Kenmore Blvd. Family will receive friends from 1 to 2 p.m. on Monday, December 22, 2008, where funeral services will begin at 2 p.m. Interment to follow at Greenlawn Cemetery, Rev. Max Beery of Firestone Park United Methodist Church officiating.
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Saturday, December 20, 2008, page B6, col. 3]

Seattle Times tells 500 to take week off

With a financial crunch rapidly approaching, the struggling Seattle Times Co. told some 500 management and non-union employees at its flagship Seattle Times newspaper today that they would each have to take a one-week unpaid furlough by the end of February to help the company raise as much as $1 million.

The mandatory furlough comes on top of three rounds of layoffs at the Times in the last 12 months, including a reduction of 150 jobs this month. The company is also seeking to raise cash by selling five acres of downtown real estate and its Blethen Maine newspaper chain. The Times Co. owes its lenders at least $91 million and is being pressed by a banking consortium led by Bank of New York Mellon to sell both the Maine papers and real estate in South Lake Union to pay down the debt.

“There are very few areas remaining in which we can pursue necessary savings,” Times senior vice president Alayne Fardella said in a memo to Times staffers. “However, we must continue to take steps to offset our dire economic situation.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some top photos of 2008

Check out some or the top news photos of 2008. Click on the headline for a link to them provided by the BJ's Bob DeMay via his new blog for news ph0tographers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry Christmas


Harry and Helen Liggett

in Akron, OH

If you share the sentiment,
click on the tree to read
story by scribe named Luke

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rx memo from Bob Abbott

BJ Retirees;

I have decided to put forward some information I have received from Dave and Gina White. Instead of going into a complete explanation and details I will only give an abbreviated view of this new possible approach.

Unlike our other explorations into only the Rx coverages for those over 65 this delves into ALL medical, hospitalization and Rx coverages for retirees of the BJ.

This involves retirees of Raytheon (International Association of Machinists Local 933...AFL-CIO) and the Raytheon Missile Systems Corp. of Arizona. A U.S. District Court has ruled that Raytheon must restore health care benefits to its employees. In this particular case it was employees who took early retirement/separation from Raytheon. If there was a problem with "regular" retirees I'm not sure at this time. Quite possibly it would or could include them if they were "injured" by the company not fulfilling there obligations. The amount of compensation to pay for the expense of the plaintiffs paying for their own medical coverage was between $6 and $12 million.

I'm not sure if the company has appealed the decision. There are many parallels I see with that situation and the situation of many BJ retirees. Many of the points of the plaintiffs in this case and the points brought up by the attorney I was talking to earlier are either the same or at least similar.

More important...and I believe this to be VERY important... Dave and Gina had a retired judge read over the U.S. District Court of Arizona's decision and the contract (the BJ's) in effect at the time of Dave and Gina's retirement/separation and in his opinion that they had a good case!

Without getting into a horribly long list of details I believe that we first must find out if there are enough people that have been injured by the BJ's sidestepping their obligations to start getting a class action suit underway. So that's what this is about. Either contact me ( or Dave and Gina White in Florida.

I still believe that the small claims court approach is interesting to say the least...but this could be big...

bob abbott

Monday, December 15, 2008

Good video via Bob DeMay's photog blog

Here’s a link to a video stolen from Bomb DeMay’s blog for Ohio newspaper photographers. Thanks, Bob.

The video, "God Rest Ye Weary Journalist", was made by Adam Jadhav, a multimedia reporter and Joel Currier, a metro reporter at the St Louis Post-Dispatch. The pair made the video for the paper's "unofficial" Christmas party. This is what happens when the company cuts the Christmas party from the budget and leaves it to the hands of their employees.

Former ONPA member and Kent State University graduate Emily Rasinski brought her co-workers efforts to the attention of members of a Kent State University photographers discussion group. Rasinski has been a staff photographer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since January and says she is quite happy there, but nervous about the next round of layoffs. We can all relate to that.

Before joining the Post-Dispatch Rasinski worked at The Evening Sun in Hanover, PA where her portfolio placed third in the small market portfolio category of the 2008 NPPA Pictures of the Year competition. While a student at Kent State she interned in Ohio at the The Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin and the Akron Beacon Journal.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Floppies disappear, but times never change

Blogger Note: Source for the following is unknown. It was found on an old floppy disk:

Excerpt from Santa's Corporate Newsletter:

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

Streamlining was appropriate in view of the reality that the North\ Pole no longer dominates the season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share and he could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated and should take up the slack with no discernible loss of service. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen
airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has been cited and received unfavorable press.

I am pleased to inform you and yours that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

As a further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary:

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

[The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French.]

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets
will be a good one.

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching.

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the
savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed
congressmen this year.

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Detroit Free Press cuts home delivery most days

The publisher of the Detroit Free Press, the country's 20th largest paper by weekday circulation, is expected to announce next week that it will cease home delivery of the print edition of the newspaper on most days of the week, according to a person familiar with the company's thinking.

The publisher hasn't made a final decision, said this person, but the leading scenario set to be unveiled Tuesday would call for the Free Press and its partner paper, the Detroit News, to end home delivery on all but the most lucrative days—Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On the other days, the publisher would sell single copies of an abbreviated print edition at newsstands and direct readers to the papers' expanded digital editions.

The Free Press, owned by Gannett Co., and the News, owned by MediaNews Group, form the Detroit Media Partnership LP, which operates both papers under a so-called joint operating agreement.

As of Sept. 30, the Free Press had a weekday circulation of 298,243 papers, including 200,110 home and mail subscribers. The comparable numbers at the News were 178,280 and 97,483.

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

Rosenberg sues his boss over transfer

Don Rosenberg has filed suit naming his newspaper, the Plain Dealer, his editor Susan Goldberg and the Musical Arts Association (Cleveland Orchestra) over his ouster as orchestra critic.

You will want to click on the headline to go straight to the lengthy New York Times article, complete with a head shot of Rosenberg or you can read the first few graphs here. We did not bother to check the Washington Post or other newspapers that grabbed onto the news. The PD also supposedly had an item on it. Here’s a summary:

Plain Dealer’s Music Critic, His Beat Changed, Sues Paper and Orchestra

New York Times

A classical music critic who was removed from his post at The Cleveland Plain Dealer after a history of negative reviews of the Cleveland Orchestra’s music director struck back on Thursday with a lawsuit.

The critic, Donald Rosenberg, charged that orchestra officials had waged a “campaign of vilification” against him and that his bosses at the newspaper had caved in to demands that he be ousted.

“It’s key that people realize that journalists have to be given the freedom to operate without pressure from outside sources,” Mr. Rosenberg said in a telephone interview. Mr. Rosenberg stressed that his complaint was directed at the orchestra’s management and not its musicians.

Mr. Rosenberg’s case became a nationwide cause célèbre among music critics, a dwindling breed in a time of newspaper cutbacks. They said a prominent, knowledgeable voice had been silenced by an influential local institution.

Mr. Rosenberg remains at the paper as a music reporter and dance critic and writes some music reviews, but not of the Cleveland Orchestra. The paper in September assigned a former intern who had worked with Mr. Rosenberg to do that job.

Mr. Rosenberg’s suit, filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County, names the newspaper and the orchestra’s parent, the Musical Arts Association, as defendants. Also named are Susan Goldberg, the newspaper’s editor; Gary Hanson, the orchestra’s executive director; Richard Bogomolny, its chairman and president; and James Ireland III, a board member and former president.

Mr. Rosenberg, 56, charged the defendants with defamation. He accused orchestra management of tortious interference with his job, and the paper and Ms. Goldberg of age discrimination and violating Ohio’s free speech principle. The suit seeks damages of at least $50,000.

'Steve' Hapoanowicz dies at 80

Blog Note: He covered Akron and Summit County high school sports for the Plain Dealer and was a longtime board member of the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame. He also worked at the Massillon Independent.

Norbert "Steve" Hapanowicz

CUYAHOGA FALLS -- Norbert "Steve" Hapanowicz, 80, passed away December 11, 2008.

Mr. Hapanowicz was born in West Hazleton, Pa., June 22, 1928 and was raised in Cleveland and had reside
d the past 42 years in Cuyahoga Falls. He was a 1952 graduate of Ohio University, was a U.S. Army Veteran and retired in September 1992 having worked as a newspaper writer for 37 years, including 26 years with the Cleveland Plain Dealer after working for the Columbus Dispatch and the Massillon Evening Independent. He was a member of the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame Committee for 40 plus years, was member of the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame Selection Committee, the Cleveland Society of Poles, the Polish American Club and St. Eugene's Parish in Cuyahoga Falls.

Preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Magdalen and sister, Gloria Liszeski, he is survived by his wife of 57 years, Helen; children, Steven (Carol) of Cincinnati, Mark (Peggy) of Silver Lake, Barbara (Matt) Swysgood of Sunbury, Jon (Carmela) of University Hts., and Christine Hapanowicz of Columbus; grandchildren, Isaac, Rachel, Jessica, Trevor, Michael, Megan, Teddy, Joe, Hannah, Emma, Lukas, Adrienne, Elise, Owen, and Grace; great-granddaughter, Alyssah and brother, Clarence Harper of Richfield.

Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. TONIGHT and 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday in the Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home, 1930 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls. A Funeral Mass will be conducted at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Eugene's Catholic Church, 1821 Munroe Falls Ave., Cuyahoga Falls. Memorials may be made to American Heart Association, 15120 Collections Center Drive, Chicago, IL 60693 in his memory.
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Friday, December 12, 2008, page B6, col. 3 ]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guild yule party is December 17

The Newspaper Guild's holiday party is next Wednesday, December 17, at the Printers" Club. The party will start at 6:30 p.m. , with the nightsiders coming over at 7:30 and the entertainment at 7:45 p.m.

"We're doing a scaled back party, with just pizza, pop and chips. Under a tighter budget than usual," a Guild officer said.

Record-Courier closes Kent office

The Record-Courier newspaper in Portage County this week closed its Kent office as the company's leaders continue to evaluate other cost-saving opportunities, the Akron Beacon Journal reported today.

The daily newspaper, based in Ravenna, and its sister chain of Record Publishing weekly and twice-weekly newspapers have reduced their staff from 180 to 140 during the past year, mostly through buyouts and layoffs, Publisher David Dix said on Wednesday.

More staff reductions are likely in January ''because business is terrible,'' Dix said. ''We're under a lot of stress, like everybody else.''

Overall, the publications still are profitable, Dix said, ''but right now with the daily newspaper, it's nip and tuck.''

The Record-Courier is evaluating the possibility of eliminating one day of publication, Dix said. The paper has published seven days a week since 1994, when it added a Saturday edition.

Earlier this year, Record Publishing discontinued its weekly newspapers in the Cleveland suburbs of Bedford and Maple Heights.

There are no plans to cease publication of any other papers, Dix said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BJ Alums lunch was a laughter. Thanks, Ray

Ray Habyan, Maintenance, showed up at the December lunch gathering of BJ alums at Papa Joe's Restaurant on Akron-Peninsula Road. Ray, who lives in Sedona, AZ, left warm and cozy Arizona for December in Akron because he and his wife are visiting Ray's parents and his wife's mother, who live in the Akron area.

Ray kept the group rolling on the floor with laughter unrolling his recollections of events at the BJ during his time with the company. And fascinated with tales of piloting small planes, some harrowing, all interesting.
Ray, 62, is in computer networking in Arizona.

Others at the get-together were Bill Bird, Advertising; Pat Dougherty, Engraving; Al Hunsicker, Carl Nelson and Gene McClellan, Composing, and Tom Moore, back from Florida and Tom Giffen's Roy Hobbs baseball tournaments, and John Olesky, Newsroom.

If you want in on the fun, the BJ Alums meet at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at Papa Joe's, where Akron-Peninsula Road meets Portage Trail.

[Photos by Tom Moore]

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Brian Tierney's Christmas cheer message

Philadelphia Newspapers informed Guild leadership that it intends to eliminate 35 bargaining-unit jobs at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News effective Dec. 31.

The layoffs as planned would come primarily from the newsrooms, specifically from the photo and graphic arts departments and the copy desk. The company also plans to cut six positions in advertising.

Layoffs among management are also planned. The company would not say how many. Tomorrow, it will send letters to all 320-plus independent employees across the company asking for volunteers. If it does not get enough volunteers, the company said it will resort to forced layoffs of independents. Management cuts are assured in all departments.

The projected Guild layoffs are as follows:
At the Inquirer:
7 photographers
2 photo lab technicians
3 photo editors
7 copy editors
3 graphic artists

At the Daily News:
1 photographer
4 part-time copy editors
1 full-time copy editor
1 graphic artist

In Advertising:
4 outside sales positions
2 retail supervisor positions

The company said the job cuts are necessary as revenue continues to decline.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Repository workers share $250,002 prize

Blog Note: We noticed this first on Bob DeMay's new blog for press photographers, so we grabbed the story from the Canton Repository:

CANTON — We normally report the news — but workers at The Repository are abuzz today after making some news.

A group of editorial workers hold a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket worth $250,002. The ticket had five numbers on one line to win $250,000, and the Mega ball on a separate line to win $2.

The winning ticket was sold at Erik’s Grocery Bag in North Canton. It was one of eight Mega Millions tickets from Friday’s drawing to have the five numbers.

No ticket with all six numbers on the same line — good for a $146 million prize — was sold for Friday night’s drawing.

The top prize for Tuesday’s drawing is estimated at $170 million.

Two dozen lottery pool members at the Rep will split the prize, netting each about $7,000 after taxes.

The winning ticket was verified Monday morning at the Ohio Lottery’s office in Green.

Sick pay, leave reduced for BJ employes

On January 1, 2009, reduced sick pay and short-term disability polices will go into effect for all full-time independent staffers at the Beacon Journal. This does not yet affect Guild employes, but it will no doubt be sought in current Guild negotiations.

Sick Pay

Staffers will be eligible for five paid sick days every two calendar years. This is a change from the current benefit that provides ten paid sick days per calendar year. Staffers are reminded that sick pay is a benefit to be used only in the event of personal illness, injury or medical treatment. Staffers who exhaust their sick leave may substitute vacation pay or personal days.

Short-term disability

Staffers who qualify for short-term disability (STD) will be eligible for 100% of their salary week one through week 13. Week 14 through week 25, STD will be paid at 85%. This is a change from the current benefit that provides 25 weeks of short-term disability paid at 100%.

Tribune Co. considering bankruptcy

The Tribune Company, the newspaper chain that owns The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, is trying to negotiate new terms with its creditors and has hired advisers for a possible bankruptcy filing, according to people briefed on the matter.

Tribune is in danger of falling below the cash flow required under its agreement with its bondholders, but it is not clear how seriously Tribune is thinking about seeking bankruptcy protection. Analysts and bankruptcy experts say that the hiring of advisers, including Lazard and Sidley Austin, one of the company’s longtime law firms, could be a just-in-case move, or a bargaining tactic. The company would not comment on Sunday.

Tribune went private last December, paying more than $8 billion in a deal that put Samuel Zell, a real estate billionaire, in control of the company. It has struggled since then under the resulting debt, forcing deep cuts at its newspapers. It also sold Newsday to raise cash.

The Tribune Company owns 23 TV stations and 12 newspapers, including two of the eight largest in the country by circulation. As of Sept. 30, The Los Angeles Times had weekday circulation of 739,000 and the Chicago Tribune had 542,000.

Tribune has been trying to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team; the team’s stadium, Wrigley Field; and the company’s share in a regional cable sports network. Such a deal, which could bring the company more than $1 billion, has been a crucial part of its strategy since last year.

But the sale — originally expected to take place before the last baseball season — has been delayed by several factors, including the tight credit market.

It is not clear how recent federal allegations of insider trading against Mark Cuban, believed to be the highest bidder, could affect the sale.

Click on the headline to read the full story in the New York Times.

NY Times to borow $225 million

The New York Times Co. plans to borrow up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits.

The company has retained Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm, to act as its agent to secure financing, either in the form of a mortgage or a sale-leaseback arrangement, said James M. Follo, the Times Company’s chief financial officer.

The Times Company owns 58 percent of the 52-story, 1.5 million-square-foot tower on Eighth Avenue, which was designed by the architect Renzo Piano, and completed last year. The developer Forest City Ratner owns the rest of the building. The Times Company’s portion of the building is not currently mortgaged, and some investors have complained that the company has too much of its capital tied up in that real estate.

The company has two revolving lines of credit, each with a ceiling of $400 million, roughly the amount outstanding on the two combined. One of those lines is set to expire in May, and finding a replacement would be difficult given the economic climate and the company’s worsening finances. Analysts have said for months that selling or borrowing against assets would be the company’s best option for averting a cash flow problem next year.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

McClatchy trying to sell Miami Herald

Printed in its interity from the New York Times website. Click the headline to go there.

The McClatchy Company, burdened by debt and a steep slide in newspaper advertising, wants to sell one of its most-prized properties, The Miami Herald, according to people briefed on the company’s plans.

McClatchy, the nation’s third-largest newspaper chain, has approached potential buyers for The Herald, said these people, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue. But they said they knew of no serious offers for the paper, reflecting the evaporation of major investors’ interest in buying newspapers.

The company refused to discuss the matter. Elaine Lintecum, the treasurer, said, “We do not comment on market rumors.”

The Herald is one of the largest of McClatchy’s 30 daily papers, with daily circulation of 210,000, and arguably the most prestigious, having won 19 Pulitzer Prizes. But it is not clear what kind of bids it might fetch, if any; with newspaper profits shrinking fast, the economy contracting and credit tight, many newspapers have been on the block for months without selling.

The people briefed on the company’s plans say The Herald generates a very slim operating margin and that the most attractive part of any deal could be its prime waterfront real estate. But the Florida real estate market is in deep recession — one of the reasons for the struggles of the paper, which used to benefit from heavy real estate advertising.

The bid to sell The Herald continues the fallout from McClatchy’s $4.5 billion purchase in 2006 of Knight Ridder, the newspaper chain that had owned the Miami paper. Largely as a result of that deal the company has about $2 billion in debt, payments on which eat up much of its cash flow.

Some Wall Street analysts warned at the time that McClatchy, based in Sacramento, had overpaid, but even they did not expect the steep decline in newspaper advertising that began months later and has accelerated this year.

The drop has been most pronounced in Florida and California, states where McClatchy has a major presence. Through the first 10 months of this year, the company’s ad revenue fell 14.7 percent in other parts of the country, and 22.5 percent in California and Florida.

McClatchy reported third-quarter income of $4.2 million on $451.6 million in revenue. The company’s stock price, which topped $75 a share in 2005, closed on Friday at $2.20.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Laid off news staffs have lots of company

Newspaper staffers are not alone today when it comes to "layoffs" and northeast Ohio is feeling the brunt.

General Motors said today it will cut shifts at Lordstown, OH, Union Township, MI, and Oshawa, Ontario, starting Feburary 2 due to slowing demand for their products.

At Lordstown, where GM makes the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 small cars, 890 workers will go on indefinite layoff starting Feb. 2 when GM ends a third shift at the sprawling complex. That is in addition to the 1,100 layoffs at Lordstown announced last month.

"It seems like every time you wake up more good news hits you," said a frustrated Jim Graham, president of UAW Local 1112, which represents Lordstown assembly plant workers.

The layoffs amount to 2.4 percent of GM's North American blue-collar work force of 84,000. So far this year, GM has announced 11,000 factory worker layoffs in the U.S.

Blog comment: Will there be any jobs left for the bailout to save?

Not wanted any more -- no pun intended

The BJ Alums blog posts items every day about newspapers cutting huge numbers of their staff, but it is more than just numbers. People–friends–are involved. They call it buyouts or layoffs or some other puzzling words. If you want to know what it really means, ask someone involved.

When we heard an old friend and veteran reporter Terry Oblander was among 27 let go by a phone call from his editor at the Plain Dealer on Tuesday, we sent an email asking “Is it true?”

Here is the answer from Terry:

Yeah. Editor Susan Goldberg called me Tuesday morning to tell me I wasn't wanted any more.

I sign severance papers Saturday.

It's hard to
be told that you're not wanted any more. But, not as hard as that might sound.

While I will miss reporting, I'm afraid I won't miss my job and the current state of journalism and newspapering. I did not enjoy going to work every day, particularly the tortuous drive to Cleveland every day from Medina.

My wife Linda, who is recovering from double knee replacement, returns to work on Monday at the Akzo-Nobel Paint Co. (former Glidden Co.) in Strongsville. Her job will pay the bills and provide health care.

My severance pay will carry me to my 62nd birthday in July when I will either roll around in all the money I'm making with ventures I'm toying with or take early retirements from the BJ and the PD.

I will continue to produce Public Squares Puzzle for the paper. I've produced about 2,300 of the pun-based puzzle for more than seven years. It started the day before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I asked and got a moderate increase in the
amount they will pay me for the puzzle six days a week.

I'm going to use my "celebrity" in the local puzzle community to market my puzzle skills online. Plans are to develop a web site that will combine a local news blog, free puzzles, a page filled with links to other puzzles, serious word sources, etc. I plan to
use the web site to sell custom-made puzzles and time capsules. I've done several of these for retirements and guys wanting to use the puzzle as a way of proposing to their girls.

I'll tell you about the time capsule idea another time.

Thanks for asking about me. I gave you more than you'll ever need.


About Oblander:

Oblander was part of the Beacon Journal staff that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for its coverage of a threatened corporate takeover of Goodyear and has won several Ohio and regional journalism awards.

Oblander is a lover of words–especially words at play. That explains how he got started doing the pun-based Public Squares Puzzle for the Plain Dealer. He collects books about words and about baseball history and has a baseball card collection of Indians players. Dabbling in family history, he also became interested in Germans from Russia who migrated to the U.S. in the mid to late 1800s.

A 1965 graduate of Olmsted Falls and Cuyahoga Community College (1967), he attended Kent State University through 1969, worked for the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier from 1969 to 1971 and at the Beacon Journal from 1971 to 1990 when he joined the Plain Dealer.

KSTP, Star Tribune announce job cuts

The Minneapolis media's holiday season just got a little bluer. The Star Tribune told its staff Thursday that it will eliminate up to 25 newsroom jobs through buyouts or layoffs. KSTP-TV, the Twin Cities' ABC affiliate, is expected to announce major cuts this morning during an all-station meeting. Insiders project at least 18 of those layoffs will come from the newsroom. The casualties confirmed Thursday include producer Dana Benson, who recently filled in as news director, and investigative reporter Kristi Piehl, who has won two Emmys during her three years at the station.

The buyouts at the Star Tribune are part of $30 million in cost cuts by the company, a figure that includes $20 million in labor savings from its unionized workers.

"As you all know, the Star Tribune is under severe pressure to align its costs with its revenue in what is clearly the most challenging economic environment any of us has ever faced," Editor Nancy Barnes said in an e-mail distributed to the news staff. "Those efforts are already under way in every corner of the company."

On the national front, Viacom, which owns several cable channels, shed 850 jobs (about 7 percent of its workforce) and NBC Universal is expected to eliminate 500 positions.

The NBC affiliate is owned by Gannett, which is in the midst of the largest layoffs in newspaper history with more than 2,000 jobs expected to be eliminated.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gannett to end up eliminating 2,000

Editor & Publisher is reporting that the latest Gannett newspaper job cuts at Gannett will end up eliminating about 2,000 positions across all of the company's 85 daily papers, except the
Detroit Free Press and USA Today, according to Tara Connell, the company's vice president of corporate communications.

Connell told E&P that until now, Corporate did not know how many jobs were being eliminated, because individual papers decided how many cuts to make and where. "We said that it was going to be locally decided and locally managed and that is exactly what happened," Connell told E&P.

Gannett's downsizing has now claimed 1,786 newspaper jobs, according to a new Gannett Blog reader tally. The Salinas Californian eliminated a whopping 31% of its 130 jobs -- one of the biggest percentage losses yet.

General Manager Terry Fenberg was struggling to find something to say when he told his paper: "As difficult as this is, it does provide us with an opportunity to take a look at everything we do.'' The paper reports: "Layoffs started Tuesday and finished Wednesday, with 21 people losing their jobs immediately and another 14 positions to be cut over the next six to eight weeks. Four positions were removed through attrition, and one person took a voluntary buyout, for a total of 40 jobs eliminated.''

Cut $30 million or declare bankruptcy?

Cut $30 million or declare bankruptcy? The Minneapolis Star Tribune should go for the latter, says magazine critic and former St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Brian Lambert.

Here's :Lambert's take on it:

The rumor mill within the Strib is, of course, on fire in the aftermath of publisher Chris Harte's latest memo--the one jangling the threat of imminent bankruptcy as a means to the end. The end, of course, being salvaging more than a nickel on the dollar of "the partners'" investment, not retaining a large, functioning news operation in Minnesota.

At this point, another round of concessions, cutting salaries, eliminating merit pay, larding even more health-care costs on employees, burning stockpiled issues of Marq for heat . . . whatever, strikes me as an exercise in masochistic futility. Bankruptcy is where Avista needs to take the Strib, and the sooner, the better, even though there probably isn't a banker anywhere who'll lend it cash to restructure.

This may be the time state leaders step forward and devise something like the pre-structured bankruptcy recommended for Detroit. The one obvious condition here being that Avista leaves town.

Bankruptcy is so inevitable, the Guild and the other unions might as well throw themselves on the mercy of a court rather than face off across a table with a group of professional vivisectionists with no detectable interest in the community service aspect of journalism.

Bankruptcy sounds scary. But in relative terms, is digging in and forcing Avista's hand really worse than formally consenting to another round of cuts with no reason--zero--to expect concessions will forestall the inevitable? There is simply no conceivable way that another $20 million out of employees' pockets does anything about addressing Avista's biggest problem--its monumental debt.

Howard Weaver retires from McClatchy

Howard Weaver said today that he is retiring as vice president of news for The McClatchy Co., ending an extraordinary journalism career that won him two Pulitzer Prizes.

Weaver, 58, will leave at year's end. He said he "always wanted to have a Phase 2 career," although he hasn't yet figured out what that next phase will bring. He might try some non-journ
alistic writing, he said.

"It's exhilarating rather than scary," he said.

A former Bee editor, Weaver oversees McClatchy's news bureaus in Washington and overseas, as well as the company's interest in McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, a news operation jointly owned by T
ribune Co. of Chicago. He also consults with the top editors of every McClatchy newspaper, and has been an ardent cheerleader in the company's drive to embrace the Internet.

"Howard wholeheartedly embraced the digital age and saw an important place in it for McClatchy journalism," said McClatchy Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt.

Rx memo from Bob Abbott

It appears the computer is back to normal and I'm in business again. Amazing how we get to depend on the tech stuff available nowadays.

I also decided to wait until after Thanksgiving to present this. Nobody wants to even think about how we've been treated by the BJ's failure to live up to their retirement/separation agreements. Could tend to put a damper on the holiday.

I also want to revisit the Rx situation before I present some areas of medical/hospitalization. And realize our previous exploration into the situation was mainly into those over 65 that were "forced" to sign up for the Aetna Medicare part D. A group plan partially funded by the BJ and partially funded by Medicare.

To go past those parameters somewhat; let me first say that if you had Rx coverage while you were working at the BJ up to the time you retired/separated you (according to several legal opinions I have heard...(both first hand and indirectly) are entitled to those benefits even though they were/are not in the union contract you were working under at the time you left the BJ. And I'm not aware of ANY contract with the BJ that states the Rx coverage. Over the past couple of years I have become aware of many situations where the Rx benefits have been cut off...even after the BJ had paid them for various periods of time after the employees' separation.

Think about this. Especially with the present ownership of the BJ. Do you think for a moment that the BJ would pay out a dime of Rx coverage if they didn't have to? Of course not. That, I believe, backs up our counsel's belief that, indeed, there is an obligation on the part of the BJ to give Rx coverage even though it's not in writing in any contract.

Recall my report of Bob Brown's success with his small claims court petition against the BJ in regard to their failure to continue to pay for him and his wife's medical/hospital/Rx coverage. He collected thousands and the BJ tried to "give" him more thousands if he signed off on future claims. He didn't. And the BJ's appeal as to the legality of small claims court to award Mr. Brown claims is still working through the system. I plan to contact Mr. Brown in Jan. as to the status of the action, if he doesn't get in touch with me first.

Here's what we need to do in the meantime. Try to get in touch with as many legal people as possible to see if they can give us a new viewpoint. And we need to talk to as many other retirees as possible. Our group is very small and we need more input and more feet on the ground. And if we can get into the hospitalization/medical aspect with a class action we'll need many more retirees involved.

If you get to talk to a labor lawyer...I suggest you take a copy of the union contract in effect at the time of your retirement/separation. Make sure the lawyer knows that the medical/Rx coverage in effect at that time was the big reason for your retiring/separating. If possible, have some statements that weren't...but should have been...paid by the BJ's insurance. I think most of us have a retirement/separation letter stating what we could expect upon our leaving active employment with the BJ...present that of course.

The small claims court approach is very interesting. I don't think the present owners of the BJ have attorneys on a retainer throughout the country. And we retirees are scattered all over the place. When it costs less to live up to their obligations than pay attorney fees in various states they will look at things differently. Until that happens they will do nothing. Unless they are ordered by a "regular" court to straighten up. And, even then, they will probably just keep appealing until we either die of old age or go broke filing papers for the appeals process. Think about small claims!!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and definitely get in touch after you talk to any counsel...with both good news or bad news.


Those that are approaching 65 years of age. The BJ will be getting in touch with you to sign an agreement to go with Aetna Medicare Rx group plan. BE CAREFUL!! I suggest you contact an attorney, the BJ human resources people, before you sign anything. Ask the human resources people if you REALLY have to sign that. The letter will probably state that either you sign it or lose all Rx benefits. Maybe not!! Let me know what those meetings boil down to.

In a week or so I will share with you some information about the possibility of a class action that might be valid against the BJ in some areas.

hang tough

bob abbott

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dave Adams joins the blogging club

David B. Adams, a Beacon Journal reporter from 1986 until 1999 and now assistant director of Global Risk Advisory Services at Ernst & Young, has joined the club..

Adams has just started a blog which has a name shared with his first post which is headlined with good advice:

"Wake up every day feeling like you just won the lottery?"

“After years of PR work layered with work at -- gasp! -- an accounting and consulting firm, my "writing legs" need to stretch a bit (to say the least).” writes Adams in an email
to BJ Alums.

“Where's Bill O'Conner when you need fire-in-the-belly inspiration? Where's Michelle Lecompte when you need off-the-wall suggestions? Where is Glenn Proctor's gentle-but-stern hand? Where is Kathy Fraze's nurturing wisdom? Where is Larry Pantages' effervescent guidance? Where is Bob Paynter to make you wonder what-in-the-world was I thinking? Where's Pat Engle
hart when you need a stiff kick in the pants (literally)?”

Check it out to read about his latest post “The boy with the magic powers.”:

Weekly newspaper lays off 30

“Economic pressures” are being blamed for the layoff of 30 employees at the Freeport Press Inc., a weekly newspaper in Harrison County, OH.

Owner and President David G. Pilcher Sr. of Dover confirmed Tuesday that the company “has had a recent staff reduction of 30 people as a result of slower than expected sales.”

“This is definitely the result of economic pressures on our customer clients who have been hit with increased paper prices and a loss of advertising revenue,” Pilcher said. “We expect this to be temporary in nature, and we have increased our sales efforts to secure the additional volume to meet our projections. Additional volume would enable us to bring back some of the affected employees in the near first quarter.”

Freeport Press currently employs about 130 people from a 50-mile radius surrounding the village of Freeport in Harrison County.

The commercial heat-set printing company is 127 years old. Its printing presses produce digest, magazine and tabloid publications, catalogs and direct-mail products for customers throughout the eastern half of the United States.\

Star Tribune asks unions for $20 million in cost cuts

As advertising revenue declines, the newspaper wants
workers to accept modifications to their contracts

Following is a story by Neal St. Anthony in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The Star Tribune asked its unions Tuesday for another $20 million in annual cost savings beginning in January in a bid to have lenders forgive some of nearly $400 million in long-term debt.

The request comes amid sharply declining revenues at the Star Tribune and at other newspapers around the country.

In a written statement to 1,400 employees, Chief Executive Chris Harte said the company plans an additional $10 million in savings over and above the $20 million that it seeks from about 900 contractual workers. Without help from the unions, Harte said, the company may have to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition.

[Blog Note: Harte is a former BJ publisher]

In Chapter 11 a company can ask a judge to impose new pay rates and work rules.

The financial squeeze affecting the Star Tribune is playing out in newsrooms and publishers' offices around the country. The stocks of some of the biggest publicly held newspaper companies, such as Gannett and former Star Tribune owner McClatchy, are trading at historic lows despite layoffs and other cost-cutting measures. Creative Loafing, an owner of alternative weekly newspapers in Atlanta, Chicago and Washington D.C., filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

The Star Tribune has one of the biggest newsgathering staffs in the Midwest. The $30 million in cuts sought by Harte would be in addition to $50 million he said the company has achieved since 2007 through attrition, layoffs, buyouts and other expense reductions.

"Our secured lenders, who have already lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the value of their loans, have made it very clear that the company must take immediate action to bring its expenses in line with its greatly reduced revenue before they will agree to restructure the company's debt," said Harte, who declined comment beyond the prepared statement. "We very much hope to reach a consensual solution that will allow our company to adjust our labor expenses to affordable market rates and avoid an expensive and difficult court-supervised reorganization [in bankruptcy]."

Union officers, who were briefed Tuesday afternoon, declined comment until after they meet on Wednesday.

Last summer, the Newspaper Guild, which represents about 300 employees in the newsroom and several smaller departments, agreed to a concessionary three-year contract designed to save the company about $2.4 million a year. However, the Teamsters, which represents 515 production workers, rejected a proposed cost-saving contract.

Earlier this year, the Star Tribune stopped making payments to its lenders, who are owed nearly $500 million.

Print circulation at the Star Tribune has declined, but total readership -- a figure that includes online readers -- is up. Still, revenue and profits have fallen sharply in recent years as employment, real estate, car and other advertising has migrated online or disappeared in the wake of turmoil in both the housing and auto sectors.

Star Tribune revenue has declined from a peak of about $400 million in 2000 to less than $300 million last year.

The Star Tribune was purchased by Avista Capital Partners of New York in early 2007 for $530 million from the McClatchy Co., which paid more than $1 billion for the newspaper in 1998. Star Tribune debt is trading at levels that value the company at about $150 million.

Avista is expected to write off the final $25 million of its $100 million down payment at the end of 2008 to reflect the company's declining value.

The Star Tribune has put up for sale several blocks of parking lots around its downtown headquarters.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

BJ's Downing to show photographs

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association is sponsoring the photographic exhibit In the Wild by Akron Beacon reporter Bob Downing.

There will be an artist reception/opening from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Seiberling Gallery, 1403 W. Hines Hill Road, in the administrative offices.

Downing has been writing and taking pictures for the newspaper's outdoor travel column In the Wild for more than 10 years.

''The travel column has taken me from California and British Columbia to Maine and Florida and the Caribbean,'' Downing said. ''I have been to 37 states in search of interesting and special places to visit, photograph and write about.''

The exhibit runs through Jan. 15.

[Source: Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Tuesday,l December 2, 2008, page B3, col. 2]

PD Guild starts fund for laid off staff; 27 more cut

Reprinted from the PD Alumni News, December 1, 2008:

Today we learned that 27 people will be laid off, losing their jobs at the newspaper we've loved and labored for. Those selected will be called at home tomorrow morning, Dec. 2.

I'm sending along a request. Basically, it's a pledge of a different sort, aimed at easing the burden on those who will hear their jobs are done in the morning. This email is an invitation to help in the most concrete of ways.

We, the remaining 238 union members (before the buyouts and cuts) are striving to each volunteering a certain sum out of our paychecks for a certain number of weeks for the 27 people forced out. As each laid off person's severance ends, we will cut that individual a check for 1/27th of the pledged amount. So if Stan Donaldson, say, is laid off, he'll be out of money mid-January, and will get the first.

No need to ask, no need to show a gas bill, although a person could, if they wished, opt out.

We are soliciting past employees, present managers and those who took the 2006 buy-out. The Akron unit and some individuals are already onboard.We hope to send each person out the door with a one-time amount somewhere around $2,400. Obviously, that will take a lot, but the beauty of this system is we are pledging before we know who is axed, and the money is meant as a tribute to the work.

Friends, I know the economic picture is bleak and you have your own finances to work out. But I am also hoping that this salute to your less fortunate former colleagues will appeal to you, and move you to contribute either a lump sum or a weekly amount.

Our reasoning is that those of us who remain and those of us lucky enough to secure other work -- or smart enough to take the 2006 buyout -- can do something now.

Checks can be made out to Account number 14869 at the Plain Dealer credit union. Checks can also simply be made out to Newspaper Guild Fund at the credit Union.

Whatever you decide, many blessings of the season upon us all.

Karen R. Long
Vice President
PD Unit, Local One
The Newspaper Guild