Monday, March 31, 2008

Over 100 Staffers Leave Newsweek

The staff of Newsweek will shrink dramatically, after 111 staffers on its news and business sides accepted a buyout last week. Among those leaving are some of the magazine's best-known, most-admired and longest-service critics, including David Gates, David Ansen and Cathleen McGuigan.

Harold Shain, a former president of the magazine who moved over to sister publication Budget Travel at the beginning of this year, is also departing.

146 staffers were offered the chance to leave the magazine, with as much as two years of their current salary as a departing bonus, depending on their age and length of service. The package also includes pension sweetners and the chance to continue health insurance coverage until the age of 65. More staffers than expected accepted the offer, so at least some their jobs are likely to be filled by new hires. But dozens of positions will be eliminated permanently.

The departure of so many senior staffers at once—all of them are expected to be gone by the end of this year—will mean the loss of much of the magazine's institutional memory, as well as many of its most talented writers and editors. All of the chief researchers are also leaving, including Nancy Stadtman, Ray Sawhill and Ray Anello, and their positions may be eliminated.

Other longtime senior editors who accepted the buyout include Nancy Cooper, George Hackett and Alexis Gelber. Senior Editor Jerry Adler is reportedly still considering the offer.

Top political writers Jonathan Alter and Howard Fineman were also offered the buyout but declined it, and will continue in their current positions. Fineman told Radar, "my sense was that they wanted me to stay, and I am delighted to be doing so... I'm a lucky—and happy—guy." Alter said, "Because I've turned 50 I was just barely eligible under the terms, but I'm not taking it."

Check Knight News Challenge finalists

For the second year in a row, the Knight News Challenge asked the public for great ideas aimed at transforming community news through digital innovation.

At the end of the process, 17 projects were chosen for funding. Those projects will be announced on May 14, 2008, at the E&P Interactive Media Conference in Las Vegas.

Many finalists had excellent proposals worthy of being considered by other foundations and funders.

For that reason, Knight Foundation is pleased to share with you the top finalists. We hope you take advantage of this database of screened projects, and ultimately that you find some of these ideas worth of funding.

Below are proposals for projects that have the potential to inform, empower and engage citizens and help them participate in the decision-making process of their neighborhoods, their communities and their countries.

Click on the headline for links to each of the projects

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bob Abbott on Rx problems

Here is where we stand...

My last contact (late last week) with counsel was just the confirmation that my (personal) latest problem with Medicare parts A & B could not be attributed to the BJ directly. If we could have involved them there was a chance that it would have given us a new foothold to perhaps
invoke some legal action against the BJ and their stance on "forcing" retirees over 65 to sign up for Medicare part D as administered by Aetna.

As it turns out the screw-up probably was with Aetna. This had a chain reaction in regards to my Medicare parts A & B. It is rather a moot point to try to assign blame if it wasn't the BJ's fault. Everything cleared with my new "Advantage" program with Humana. Good for me but not
so good for our cause. On advice from counsel...unless something new comes up (or the medicare
situation changes) we don't really have a strong case to challenge the BJ's stance. And, even if we did, he had the impression that the BJ was ready to fight it through as many appeals as would be necessary. This ultimately would involve a lot of expensive filing fees. Probably more than the monies we might stand to save. And it would take years. So, in this particular case (and it is only one situation) we are on hold.

Here's what we have accomplished.

We know exactly what the stance of the BJ is. They're going by the contract(s) in effect at the time of separation/retirement. This is the usual stance of companies involved with union separation/retirement negotiations. The mitigating circumstance that we all (most of us) had a
signed agreement stating something other than what the contract said seems to have no bearing. Which I still can't understand...but counsel seemed rather certain of that. But realize that conclusion is only from one attorney in regard to one situation.

The BJ was made aware that we aren't just giving up and accepting whatever they deem viable. That should at least make them be sure they have to be on relatively sound legal grounds before they totally violate our agreements.

I have amassed a lot of information in regard to the situation...which is available to anybody starting from any other angle to "fix" the situation. This could be valuable to future counsel to get a running start at them.

While we didn't actually start any legal action the BJ certainly knew (and they did respond) that counsel was looking at their stance in regard to the issue.

I am going to repeat what our stance was. This is important because it limited the information of what could or could not be used. This was NOT a class action. Counsel advised that Summit County judges are not favorable to class actions brought on by union groups. It was an
individual action (my name was on the dotted line) in regard to ONLY the fact that the BJ forced those of us (me) over 65 to sign up for Medicare part D. It had no bearing on anybody else and especially those under 65. This approach was taken because that appeared to be the best
approach and could involve some federal rules. Those under 65 definitely were still under the guidelines of union contracts. And since none of the different crafts union lawyers would touch seemed pretty cut and dried that there wasn't much that could be done it that area.

And, until you are forced to sign up for the Medicare part D, the information I gathered was "merely" heresy and not usable in my case. Once you are affected, then you can start some actions. And some of the information I have heard, while being unusable for me, tweaked the
interest of the lawyer and he said there possibly could be some openings with that new information and with the parties involved. Some of that information could well be what is needed to get started. But it has to be from somebody that is directly involved AND affected by the BJ's

So here's what I suggest. Each and every one of you should contact a labor lawyer and try to set up a "free" initial consultation. Present your case and see what they say. It might take several tries but keep at it. I can't believe that somewhere down the line we can't come up with a viable case. We all know that what the BJ has done isn't what we signed up for and they're using loopholes and legal mumbo jumbo to fatten their coffers while costing us dearly.

Feel free to contact me for information/ammunition that might help you.

Those that contributed to the "slush fund." I'm waiting for a final statement from the bank to be sure I haven't been billed for my last few phone calls to counsel and I will get copies of the bills and bank
statements out to you. There is a little money (I hope) left in the account and I will get the checks to you as soon as I get the billing all cleared.

If anybody gets a positive reaction from any lawyer I also suggest perhaps we do this all over didn't cost us that much and I think it was monies well spent. With new information and tactics we still could put some pressure on them.

If anybody getting this e-mail doesn't want me to pass on their e-mail address please inform me and I will, of course, honor your wishes. I think a special thanks should be given to Al Hunsicker...he ponied up some cash and he wasn't even affected!! Which is an interesting point in
itself!! Thanks Al!!

Hang tough...

bob abbott

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is Yahoo right fit for newspapers?

MediaNews CEO William Dean Singleton and McClatchy’s Gary Pruitt seem optimistic about advertising ties with Yahoo, according to a special report in Editor & Publisher by Jennifer Saba and Mark Fitzgerald.

Headline for the report;

Is Yahoo The Right Fit for Newspapers?

The lead concludes that newspapers “might get squeezed” by Microsoft’s unwelcome big for Yahoo. No matter who wins, the gurus say, the fight will distract Yahoo at a crucial time in the rollout of its next-generation online ad tools for the 600-plus papers in the newspaper consortium.

"I'm just saying that it's a big company with lots of things going on," says San Francisco-based consultant Alan Mutter. "The newspaper initiative is just one of many -- and not one of the leading lines of business."

CEOs in the newspaper consortium say that kind of talk doesn't reflect the reality of Yahoo's efforts.

"Yahoo has 572 people working full time on newspaper consortium projects, and we were told that number could exceed 700 in the next few months," says MediaNews Group CEO William Dean Singleton, interviewed just hours after a two-day meeting of consortium heads at Yahoo's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters. "They are giving it a very determined focus." The alliance keeps growing too. In late February, Yahoo said that four publishers including Shaw Newspapers and The Buffalo (N.Y.) News joined the group.

If the Microsoft bid is disrupting any work -- and that's a big if -- it's happening in Yahoo's executive suites, not at the desktops of programmers, adds Gregory P. Schermer, Lee Enterprises' vice president/ interactive media, who was also at the Sunnyvale meeting held in early February.

McClatchy, for one, is staking future revenue gains on online prospects. During a quarterly earnings call in February, CEO and Chairman Gary Pruitt signaled he expected to see strong double-digit online growth, thanks in part to Yahoo's ad platform and traffic generation, throughout what will sure to prove an otherwise painful 2008.

One attendee, who requested anonymity, told E&P, "If you had seen what I saw, you would be blown away, absolutely blown away."

Click on the headline to read the full report.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bob Pell is now Great Grandpa

This is Nickolas Joseph
Birth Date: 3/22/2008
Birth Time: 9:44 p.m.
Weight: 8 lbs. 10 oz.
Length: 20 1/2 inches
Delivered By: Dr. Steven Gaich
Great Grandpa is Bob Pell Sr., grandparents are Bob Pell Jr. and Phyllis and parents Joe and Carrie.

Janet Frankston Lorin moves on to Bloomberg

Janet Frankston, who joined the Beacon Journal after finishing graduate school at Columbia University in 1996 and left sometime in 2000 for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is moving on to a new posiition.

Here’s the story-- intercepted in an email from her:

I have lots of news to report. I am switching jobs to work for Bloomberg, writing enterprise stories about higher education. The beat is focusing on elite schools, digging into issues of endowments, financial aid and trends to interest Bloomberg's wealthy customers.

It's a good fit for me because I enjoy focusing on a subject rather than touching scores of topics with AP. The commute will be much better, 20 to 25 minutes, versus more than an hour to Newark.

And my husband and I are expecting a baby this August. Lots of changes.

Frankston background:

While still in Atlanta, Janet met a doctor from New York City on a blind date, fell in love, got a job heading up AP's Newark office, and got married. With AP, she had to do it all - crime, business, sports. Now she's leaving for Bloomberg News in New York to concentrate on specialty reporting. She and her husband live on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, where he practices medicine, so this will be more convenient - especially since they're expecting an addition to the family.

Googling to see what else we could find on Janet, we came up with Janet’s wedding story published October 22, 2006 in the New York Times:

Janet Frankston, Scott Lorin

Janet Robin Frankston and Dr. Scott Michael Lorin were married last evening at Scandinavia House in New York. Rabbi David Gaffney officiated.

Mrs. Lorin, 33, is the administrative correspondent of The Associated Press office in Newark, where she is a reporter and manages the five-person bureau. She graduated from Columbia, where she also received a master’s degree in journalism. She is a member of the Columbia College board of visitors and is the chairwoman of Columbia College Women, a group of alumnae who mentor students. She is a daughter of Barbara and Fred Frankston of Skokie, Ill.

Dr. Lorin, 37, is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He is the program director of the pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship at Mount Sinai and is an associate program director of its internal medicine residency program. He graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton and received a medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv. He is a son of Claire and Leonard Lorin of Great Neck, N.Y.

Want to read more: Click here to read an AP story about her wedding cake.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Journalism video on You Tube

If you have ten minutes with nothing else to do, click on the headline to see a video of the Old Skool newspaper

PD receives Dart Center award

SEATTLE - The Dart Center has announced the selection of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and National Public Radio as the winners of the 2008 Dart awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma.

In addition, WFCR (Amherst, Mass.) and National Public Radio received Honorable Mentions in the radio category.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer received the Dart Award for “Johanna: Facing Forward” (Rachel Dissell, reporter; Gus Chan, photographer). This remarkable nine-day series traced events leading to the 2007 shooting of 18-year-old Johanna Orozco by her 17-year-old boyfriend. Exploring the roots of relationship violence through Johanna's eyes, the series – reported and photographed over six months - particularly struck a chord in Cleveland's Latino community and led to the creation of abuse-awareness programs for teens.

Judges singled out “Johanna: Facing Forward” for its extraordinarily compelling and careful explanation of a teenager’s harrowing experience. They described it as a tour-de-force of narrative writing and photography and called the series poignant, complex and intimate. They commended Dissell and Chan for the compassion, dignity and cultural acuity used in reporting Johanna’s story.

National Public Radio received the Dart Award for "Sexual Abuse of Native American Women" (Laura Sullivan, correspondent), a startling two-part investigative series that opened a new window onto a national disgrace. The series exposed both the fate of women assaulted on reservations, and the web of impunity protecting their assailants.

Judges called “Sexual Abuse of Native American Women” a ground-breaking and powerful expose of an invisible epidemic of rape on reservations, and commended Sullivan for her determination and persistence in the face of tremendous reporting challenges.

The newspaper and radio Dart Award winners each receive $5,000.

Monday, March 24, 2008

An uproarious restaurant review

Here, in its entirety, is an uproarious restaurant review by Jane Snow, Beacon Journal resdtaurant critic, who pushes that title to its highest level. It was published on page B2 on Thursday, March 12, 1987.

Red Pepper Steak House
2661 Barber Road Norton 745-0202
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday, through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
Entree price range: $5.25 to $17.50
Wheelchair access: dining room, yes; restrooms, no
Drinks: martini, $1.65 / Reservations: accepted for groups of 15 or more
Credit cards: not accepted.


We knew we were in for an unusual evening when we spotted the produce stand between two tables. Cauliflower was going for 80 cents a head. Not a bad price, but hey, was this a restaurant or a roadside market?

The produce stand turned out to be small potatoes compared to the other oddities we encountered at the Red Pepper Steak House. Was it our imagination, or did most of the customers resemble sumo wrestlers? All evening they squeezed (with difficulty) in and out of the vinyl booths, on trip after trip to the salad bar. The crazy salad bar is a story in itself, but more on that later.

Suffice it to say that the Red Pepper Steak House is not your average restaurant. Basically, it's a homey, truck-stop kind of place with low, low prices and a kitchen that specializes in bulk, not nuances of flavor. The food is pretty bad, but there's a lot of it. There's also a lot of atmosphere, of the down-home variety. We're not talking fancy. Margarine, for example, is served in big plastic tubs plunked down on the salad bar.

The decor is funky-utilitarian. Petitions and newspaper clippings are taped to the front door. Children's crayon drawings are taped to the cash register. Trophies -- owner Louis `Bony' Juhasz was a bantamweight football star in the ' 30s -- are everywhere.

Walls are covered with sheet paneling and white bricks, the expanse relieved here and there with panels of velvet-flocked wallpaper.Silverware is wrapped in paper napkins, and there's A-1 sauce on every table.

The attraction here, judging from our fellow diners, is the salad bar. The Red Pepper uses the term loosely; salad is just a sideline. The all-you-can-eat bar is an extravaganza of salad fixings and Crock Pots and steam tables filled with an astounding array of lukewarm food.

We can't begin to remember everything, but here's a sampling: Baked beans, caramelized onions, corn, potato chips, cauliflower, deep-fried yellow squash, Spanish rice, mashed potatoes, gravy, broasted potatoes, spaghetti, corned beef and cabbage, sauerkraut, vegetable rice, toasted hot dog and hamburger buns, red Jell-O, fresh grapefruit and orange wedges, and a bowlful of apples.

The `hot' food ranged in temperature from tepid to cool, and with\ one or two exceptions it was viciously overcooked. The cauliflower was a mushy gray; the corn was parched and wrinkled. You've heard of mystery meat? This was mystery food, on a grand scale.

Most of the stuff was unseasoned, and some of it was just awful. The spaghetti a la Franco American and the Spanish rice come to mind. Our favorites were the thick potato chips, the caramelized onions and the mashed potatoes, which were the real thing. Our least favorite was what looked like breaded chicken strips, but turned out to be strips of deep-fried breading.
They did smell faintly of chicken, though.

The salad bar is $3.75 a la carte, or free with meals. We recommend ordering a meal. The cooked-to-order food is much better than the steam-table stuff.

An entree of deep-fried catfish ($6.50), in fact, was more than acceptable. The breading was light, crunchy, and practically grease-free. The fish was served whole (minus the head), and the flesh was flaky and sweet. The round fries -- deep-fried potato slices -- that accompanied it were good,

Red Pepper, which bills itself as a steakhouse, offers just three steaks. The prices are ridiculously low ($6.75-$7.75), so we can't complain too much about our fatty T-bone ($7.75), the top-of-the-line model. It certainly looked gorgeous sizzling on our plate. It was at least an inch thick, and must have weighed three-quarters of a pound. It could have been juicier, though, and it wasn't the most flavorful piece of meat we've ever eaten. Fully a third of it was gristle and fat.

When we inquired about dessert, the waitress steered us toward the Jell-O on the salad bar. Dinner for two was just $19.67, plus tip.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Knight Foundation Gives $25 Million to Newseum

The Newseum building, which opens to the public April 11, is one
of capital's grandest architectural projects in the last decade.

By Jacqueline Trescott, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Knight Foundation is giving $25 million to the Newseum, the mammoth facility dedicated to the history of news that opens on Pennsylvania Avenue next month.

The gift, the largest single donation from a news institution to the museum, will be commemorated with the naming of two broadcast studios and a conference center for John S. and James L. Knight, the brothers who founded Knight Newspapers. The chain later merged to become Knight Ridder, which was sold in 2006.

"We really believe this is the great platform for a conversation among Americans about free speech and a free press," said Alberto Ibarguen, the foundation president and former publisher of the Miami Herald.

The foundation appointed a special committee to study the Newseum as it developed because Ibarguen is both the foundation's leader and chairman of the Newseum board.

"They came to the conclusion that this is where you could influence generations of Americans, intimately and personally, on the interpretation of free speech issues," Ibarguen said. "The museum makes what otherwise could be a scolding lecture one that is fun, accessible and easy for any adult or kid to figure out what free speech means to them."

The museum is to open April 11. Facing Pennsylvania Avenue, it has an 74-foot-high marble tablet engraved with the First Amendment. Behind the glass portion of the facade is an enormous screen that will give passersby a look at the day's latest news.

The Newseum's 250,000 square feet will exhibit newspapers, films, newsreels, photographs and television screens that cover the making and delivery of the news back 500 years. It is packed with interactive games and screens that not only put the visitor in the action of a story, but give them a chance to answer questions about the ethics of journalism. "We wanted to be part of that conversation," Ibarguen said.

The Newseum cost $450 million and a number of news organizations have contributed more than $50 million for the project. The Annenberg Foundation gave a separate gift of $15 million last October.

Charles L. Overby, chief executive officer of the Newseum, said of the Knight gift, "This is going to make a huge difference in our long-term" ability to focus on issues facing the media.
[Washington Post, Thursday, March 20, 2008]

Monday, March 17, 2008

State of News Media 2008 released

The State of the News Media 2008, the fifth edition of The Project for Excellene in Journalism, was released today.

Its goal wass to gather in one place as much data as possible about all the major sectors of journalism, to identify trends, mark key indicators, note areas for further inquiry and provide a resource for citizens, journalists and researchers.

Statistical data is incluced in an interactive format, which allows users to customize their own graphics. A Year in the News provides a content analysis of more than 70,000 stories from 48 news outlets across five media sectors; a Survey of Journalists, produced with the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press; a Special Report on the Future of Advertising and a content study of Citizen Media Sites, 64 in 15 communities.

The study is the work of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a non political, non partisan research institute that is part of the Pew Research Center in Washington. The study is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and was produced with the help of a number of partners, including Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute and a host of industry “readers.”

The full report is comprehensive, totaling more than 180,000 words

The State of the News Media 2008 report was built to take advantage of the capabilities of the Web. It has not been published as a single hard copy document, which would be more than 700 pages. Users can, however, print each section of the report by using the available links.

Click on the headline to go to the report.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gannett CEO Gets $7.9 Million in 2007

By Matthew Barakat, AP Business Writer
McLEAN, Va. (AP) -- The head of the nation's largest newspaper chain received pay and compensation valued at $7.9 million in 2007, 36 percent higher than the previous year, according to an Associated Press analysis of corporate filings released Thursday.

Craig Dubow, chief executive, president and chairman of Gannett Co., which publishes USA Today and 84 other daily newspapers in the United States, received compensation including pay, bonus and stock options valued at $5.79 million in 2006.

The increase came as Gannett stock, like that of other media companies, tumbled over the last year. In the last 12 months, Gannett stock has lost roughly half its value, from about $60 a year ago to $29.97 at the close of business Thursday.

In fact, the decreasing value of Gannett shares means that a large chunk of Dubow's 2007 compensation is currently without value.

The proxy statement filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday shows that $3.35 million -- or 43 percent of his 2007 compensation -- came in the form of stock options granted in February at a strike price of $61.26 per share.

That means the stock options are effectively worthless until their value exceeds $61.26 a share. The options allow Dubow to buy the company's shares at that price.

The proxy statement shows that Dubow's salary and bonus are unchanged from 2006 to 2007, with a salary of $1.2 million and a bonus of $1.75 million. He also received $1.45 million in stock awards and $120,629 in other compensation, including an annual premium on a life insurance policy and home security system allowance.

In the filing, the company states that Dubow and other top executives asked Gannett's executive compensation committee to refrain from increasing the salary or bonus "in light of the challenging business environment we currently face."

The AP's total pay calculations include executives' salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the SEC.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Did 100 BJ types attend 'What's My Line' show?

Mark Price who writes a weekly history piece for the Beacon Journal poses a question about a 1961 episode of the game show What’s My Line? (old episodes air overnight on GSN, the former Game Show Network):

In the episode summarized below, host John Daley mentioned that 100 BJ employees were in the audience. Does anyone remember this episode or anything about BJ people in the audience?

Game 2: Miss Carole Chamberlain - "Does Underwater Act In Nightclubs" (salaried; she works for Bob Maxwell of Miami, Florida, at both the Marlin Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the Evergreen Hotel in Miami, Florida; from Akron, Ohio; host John Daly mentioned that 100 employees from the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper were in the audience)

Price says he is guessing that Carole Chamberlain was ''Divena,'' who performed in water tanks in Akron nightclubs in the 1950s and 1960s. However,he is skeptical that 100 employees from the Beacon Journal were in the New York studio that night. Does anyone know anything about it? Was it one of those trips that the Beacon Journal used to sponsor for readers?

Please leave a comment

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The two famous Beacon Journal pranks

We have Phyllis Boerner to thank for this copy of the famous “God willing” clipping. Phyllis told husband Dave it was time he started cleaning up the litter collected over years working at the BJ. And so Dave came upon the clipping.

We are still looking for the publication date of this weather report and the other famous clipping shown here.

The late Ron Kuhne was responsible for writing the weather summary for page 1. Kuhne thought he would have fun with his editor. It went through the city editor, the copy desk and slotter and was dutifully set in type. We have resurrected a file about the incident which you can read on our website. (Click on the headline)

The “slug” was a line of type set by a Linotype operator back in the days of hot type when each line of a story was a lead slug.
The printer who set this line of type sneaked it into the middle of a story and it was actually printed in the newspaper.

We still would appreciate any other copies of these two most famous BJ clips littering around anywhere and would really appreciate knowing the exact date they ran.

Rube Faloon's retirement story

This is a retirement story for Rube Faloon whose obituary appears just below this post. The story was published on page 10 of the April/May 1978 issue of Tower Topics with the accompanying photo and a headline which read simply, “Faloon retires.”

His license plate reads "Mr. B.J."

His desk belonged to the late C. L. Knight.

His infectious grin and bubbly optimism even brought smiles to the faces of surly copy editors.

"He," of course, is Rube Faloon, and he no longer is with us, having resigned as Research and Sales Development manager to pursue his own whims.

Rube came to the Beacon on September 5, 1967, from the Houston Post where he was Manager of Promotion and Public Service. He is looking at employment opportunities in the area and also a position that will take him to the South during the winter .months, thus enabl
ing him to renew his avocation as a distance runner.

Director of Marketing Earl Brown said, "He has contributed much energy to our efforts over the years. I know you join me in wishing him well in making a contact. "

"I'll really miss the people here," said Rube. "They've all been great. But we can keep on having fun together. That's my specialty in life.

Robert 'Rube' Faloon dies at 85

Robert Moreland Faloon

Robert Moreland Faloon's family, friends, journalists, Penn Staters, Rotarians, sports enthusiasts, fellow actors, and runners mourn the loss of 'Rube' who passed away on December 17, 2007 of congestive heart failure at the age of 85.

He had a long and creative career in journalism starting as a paper boy in Mt. Lebanon in Pittsburgh where he was born February 10, 1922. His interest continued in high school and college as editor of the school newspapers, Journalism school at Penn State, followed by reporter, editor, managing editor, sales and circulation, sales and research director where he developed many new and innovated ways to promote newspaper readership and civic involvement. He finished his career at the Akron Beacon Journal after more than 15 years of service. He also worked for the Houston Post, Coral Gables Times, Oak Ridger (Tenn), Pompano Beach Town News (Fla.), and The Lancaster (Pa), among others. While working in Tennessee Rube was honored to be asked by Al Gore, Sr. to head up Gore's first Senate campaign, but had to decline at the time due to family obligations. While at Penn State he was elected President of his senior class in 1943 but his term was interrupted by his enlistment in the Army. He also was a member of Lions Paw and ran cross country at Penn State where he competed at the Penn Relays and the Boston marathon, finally graduating in 1946 after the war. His World War ll service as a staff supply sergeant for the artillery in the Philippines was preceded by Russian language Studies for the Army Intelligence. He received three bronze stars. Rube also continued his running in the 1950's, organized many road races long before jogging became popular, and continued running well into his 70's. Rube's dedication to community service led him to be a life long Rotarian serving as president of many of his local chapters, as well as on the board of Rotary International, where he was very active in polio eradication and many trips abroad including Australia, Russia, Ireland, England, Belize, both in service and pleasure. He also served on the board of 'Up with People'. He also came out of retirement to volunteer as Director of the Census for a five county district including the Cleveland area. Rube was married twice for over 25 years each.

He is survived by his first wife, Mary Boyd which ended in divorce; his children, Jean Faloon, Kathryn Faloon, Kelly Faloon, Trudy Faloon, William Faloon, and a foster son, Richard Woolcock who Rube and Mary helped immigrate to The United States from Belize in 1956. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Orion Koller-Faloon, Brooke Koller-Faloon, Arial Koller-Faloon, and John Faloon. His second wife, a very distant relative, was Virginia Faloon now deceased.
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Tuesday, March 11, 2008, page B6, col. 1]

Robert Thomas dies at 84

Robert W. "Billy" Thomas, 84, formerly of Koerber St., Akron, died Saturday, March 8, 2008 at Traditions on Bath Road.

He was born on April 25, 1923 in Akron, the son of Benjamin and Margaret Thomas. On November 16, 196
3, he married Delphine Jennings Cramner. She preceded him in death on August 23, 1990. He retired from the Akron Beacon Journal in 1987 with 44 years of service.

Bob is survived by his stepdaughter, Barbara (Gregory) Putman, stepgrandchildren, stepgreat-grandchildren and other relatives and friends.

Thank you to the nurses at Traditions and the Visiting Nurses for their loving care.

A Funeral Service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Wednesday in The Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home, 1930 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, Rev. Vincent Lamb officiating. Friends may call beginning at 1 p.m. Wednes
day. Interment at Northlawn Memorial Gardens.
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Tuesday, March 11, 2008, page B7, col. 3]

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ed Suba's photo tells the story

A solitary figure makes his way up a deserted, snow-covered South High Street as heavy amounts of snow continues to fall on the five county area on Saturday, March 8, 2008, in Akron, Ohio.
(Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)

This photo by Ed Suba which appeared large on page A1 of Sunday's Beacon Journal tells the story of the 15 inches of snow that walloped Akron during the weekend. The Saturday total of 8.7 inches was in the top 10 snowfall records. It ranked No. 8 in a list topped by 19.7 inches on April 4, 1987. Remember that one?

Friday, March 07, 2008

San Jose Mercury News cuts 50 jobs

The Mercury News cut 50 jobs today through a combination of layoffs and buyouts, and named new business and editorial page editors to replace managers who accepted buyouts.

Barbara J. Marshman, associate editor, will replace Stephen E. Wright as editorial page editor. She is the first woman to hold that job at the Mercury News.

Deputy business editor Stephen R. Trousdale replaces Rebecca Salner as business editor.

The appointments were announced by Editor David J. Butler.

Fifteen newsroom employees and 19 employees from other parts of the paper were laid off today. Earlier in the week, 16 employees accepted buyout offers, five from the newsroom. The reductions represent a cut of about 5 percent for the newspaper.

BJ Art Department about 1978

Art Krummel provided this photo of the Beacon Journal Art Department around 1978. (Click on the photo to enlarge it for a better view)

Here is the note Art sent with it:

i found this old photo of the beacon art dept. dated around 1978 (based on the mickey mouse birthday card).

boy, that was a cramped little office and Joe and I still smoked (i might have just quit, not sure). I have no idea what the number one is doing on my chest. chuck is sitting in denny haas's chair and the desk in the foreground is where i sat.

Walt, Bud and Joe, of course are sitting behind myself and Chuck.

Chuck, Balogh, Derf and I still get together for a beer every now and then. We're even kicking around the idea of a show featuring "artists who used to work at the Beacon but don't anymore"

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Zieman named Kansas City Star publisher

The McClatchy Co. has named Mark Zieman as president and publisher of The Kansas City Star, effective Thursday, the Kansas City Business Journal reported.

Zieman had been editor of the newspaper since 1997 and has been interim publisher since Jan. 28, when Mac Tully stepped down to take a job at MediaNews Group Inc.

McClatchy, based in Sacramento, Calif., is the third-largest newspaper company in the United States, with 30 daily newspapers, about 50 nondailies, and direct marketing and direct-mail operations.

As of Feb. 29, The Star had 1,347 employees, of whom 1,037 are full time, McClatchy spokesman Peter Tira said. The paper has 290 newsroom employees.

Zieman said he hopes to name his successor as editor in four to six weeks.

"We have some strong internal candidates, and that's always good and comforting," he said. "I've already been approached by a lot of people outside the paper who want to come here as editor."

Zieman was sanguine about the future for The Star and daily newspapers in general.

"I think newspapers probably do an overzealous job of talking about the challenges of newspapers," he said. "All media have a lot of challenges. The great paradox of newspapers is that we've never been more popular with our readers. When you add in the online arm, .... we grew it by more than 7 million unique visitors in 2007 from 2006. Our readership in print and online combined is more than 3 million a month. We're a million a month in print alone. We've never had that in the 127 years of our history."

Click on the headline to read the story in the Business Journal.

Newspaper finds luck of the Irish

Hey, March is Irish-American Heritage Month (proclaimed by Congree is 1955) so it’s time for a report from the Irish Examiner.

The newspaper reports IRISH daily newspaper readership continues to grow — with the Irish Examiner adding 18,000 readers a day over the past year, and 60,000 a day over the past five years.

While the media landscape has never been so competitive, and with many predicting the demise of newspapers because of various new media, almost nine out of 10 people still read a national newspaper, according to the latest Joint National Readership Survey , from January to December 2007.

Three million readers choose to read a newspaper on a daily basis, the survey found.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Slate is Watching McClatchy

Slate , the daily magazine on the Web.founded in 1996 by the Washington Post, on Monday put up the first of a series by Jack Shafer called Watching McClatchy

The headline asks:

As a leading indicator of the newspaper biz's health, what does the chain's bad news portend for the rest of the industry?

Here’s the lead:

Just two years ago, McClatchy Co. President and CEO Gary Pruitt boasted the sunniest disposition of all newspaper executives. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he toasted newspapers as "still among the best media businesses" as his firm's purchase of the Knight Ridder chain tripled its print holdings.

Pruitt conceded that newspaper advertising had peaked in 2000, but he maintained that no competitors in local markets had held their audiences as well as newspapers. Far from being a "dying industry," wrote Pruitt, the newspapers were adding the "unduplicated reach of newspaper Web sites to newspaper readership" to grow their audiences.

Since Pruitt's declaration, McClatchy stock has fallen, fallen, and then fallen some more. It's dropped about 75 percent in the past year and is now trading at less than $10. Last week, the McClatchy-owned Sacramento Bee reported that the company is taking a $1.47 billion write-down, this following a similar $1.37 billion write-down in November.

Essentially, the write-downs are McClatchy's way of acknowledging under accounting rules that it paid way too much for Knight Ridder, that its stock price has vaporized, and that advertising has croaked. McClatchy's January ad revenue dropped about 16 percent over the previous year, a company press release reports. Real estate ads are off 34 percent and employment ads—a bigger business—fell 30 percent.

By scrutinizing McClatchy's agonies, I don't mean to rub Pruitt's nose in his optimistic 2006 op-ed. His reputation as one of the nation's best and most creative newspaper executives makes his chain a leading indicator of the newspaper future. Other chains are experiencing similar downturns, but McClatchy isn't just another chain. It's supposed to be smarter and more nimble than the rest, but is it? Did Pruitt show bad geographical judgment by overinvesting in the wrong markets at the wrong time? He bulked up on real-estate-driven economies, adding newspapers in Florida and the Sun Belt, just as those places were about to decline. He doubled down on newspapers just as newspaper's core advertisers—real estate, finance, job listings—were opting out for Web alternatives.

Pruitt must somehow reference his Journal op-ed and admit that he was wrong about his industry's prospects and then explain what he's going to do to rectify his error. He bought Knight Ridder at the peak of the housing bubble and obviously didn't foresee the subprime crisis. In that regard, he's not alone. The subprime monster has trashed real estate ad revenue in California and Florida, home to some of the chain's biggest papers. "Revenue from California and Florida operations dropped more than 20 percent," the Bee reports. Newspapers have traditionally been patient about riding out advertising downturns, but the subprime disaster may make this downturn an abyss for McClatchy's most affected newspapers.

As Alan D. Mutter noted in his Newsosaur blog last month, Pruitt mistakenly jettisoned the Knight Ridder newspapers in Akron, Ohio; Philadelphia; and the Dakotas in favor of the hot-house Sun Belt properties. Pruitt's plan to grow the Web side of McClatchy as advertisers migrate there, sketched briefly in the Journal op-ed, didn't work out, as Mutter reported in another post last September. "With industry-wide online sales up 20.8 percent in the first half of this year, McClatchy's interactive revenues gained a meager 1.4 percent through June, according to the company," he writes.

Click on the headline to read it all and then remember where you were because we may not have room for future posts in the series.

Is the TV news giving in to sexism?

Is the TV news giving in to sexism?

That’s the question asked by CNN’s Carol Costello in an interesting piece by Rich Heldenfels jn a nice piece on Page2 of today’s Beacon Journal.

Here’s just one quote:

''After we did a lot on Anna Nicole Smith, we felt dirty. We did. We had a meeting and a discussion about that, and we told ourselves . . . we were never going to do that again. And we
haven't. We do news. Even when it's not the great, interesting, political time, we do the news.''

Regarding image, she recalled recently seeing a man and woman anchoring the news. The man was in a dark suit. The woman, Costello said, ''was wearing, I swear to you, a skirt so short she did not dare uncross her legs. . . .

''I found myself unable to pay attention to what she was talking about because I was completely mesmerized by her skirt,'' said Costello. She wondered if the woman had been told by her boss to wear the skirt, or if she was simply giving in to sexism.

''Our culture seems to be saying sex is power,'' she said. Even older women, she said, have been called ''cougars,'' on the prowl for younger men. ''Desperate housewives'' still have to be sexy.

Click on the headline to read it all.

Rx note from Bob Abbott

Just got final paperwork Saturday on a hopeful new angle in regard to our situation. The trial balloon went well for me personally (in other words the personal medical mess I was thrown into) in regard to Medicare parts A & B but it appears we can't blame the BJ for this snafu that developed ultimately as a result of our being "forced" to sign up for Aetna's/Medicare part D. Not sure but I think it was Aetna's screwup and partially Medicare.

Bottom line...we're in a holding pattern. I tried to talk to counsel yesterday but he wasn't in. He wanted me to contact him once the dust settled in regard to the above situation. I'm heading to Utah for a week of skiing later today so I'll have to get in touch with him after that.

Then I will be able to spell out where we're at and the direction I believe we should go. And then I'll also find out if counsel is charging us for the last few phone conferences (I think (hope) not). We still have a small amount of cash left and I'll be giving an accounting of that as I find out if we have further legal bills coming in.

We're not dead yet...there are still some options which I will describe and will give an explanation of exactly where we are at now.

thanks for your patience...

bob abbott

Monday, March 03, 2008

Memorable Story: To an athlete who does much more

This blog occasionally posts Memorable Stories from either the past or the present.

This one was written by Frank Aceto, associate sports editor of the Tallmadge Express . It is a story of a young athlete of many admirable accomplishments whose father, a former emplpye of the Beacon Journal circulation department who is awaiting a kidney transplant, and whose mother who has just completed chemo treatment for breast cancer.

Click here to meet Jon Lampley, Jonathon Sr. and Rebekah of Tallmadge. . It’s a memorable story by Aceto. Beacon Journal sports writer David Lee Morgan Jr. also write a fine article on Lampley on Feburary 21. It follows Aceto's story on our website.

And so we do not get sued for plagiarism or copyright violation, our very sincere thanks to the Tallmadge Express for publishing a great story.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Philadelphia Newspapers Lays off 68

Philadephia Newspapers laid off 68 Guild members Feburry 27 from the advertising, circulation, customer service, finance, marketing and systems departments, a Newspaper Guild news release announced,

This amounts to almost 10 percent of the union’s membership. Company officials said that a very small number of managers would be laid off.

“If the revenue is not there, then we have to cut expenses,” Michael Lorenca, executive vice president of Human Resources, told Guild officers. He said he did not know how much savings would result from the layoffs.

The layoff is effective March 28. However, the Company has told members to leave today and plans to reassign their work to surviving staff.

The Guild will begin working with the company to establish which of the laid off have bumping rights into other positions.

Under our contract, employees may volunteer to be laid off. The company has said it will consider such offers.

McClatchy takes $1.47 billion write-down

This story appeared appeared in BUSINESS section, Page D1, of the Sacramento Bee

By Dale Kasler / Sacramento Bee
The McClatchy Co. announced another big write-down of its assets Thursday, this one totaling nearly $1.5 billion, a sign of a difficult business climate and the drop in McClatchy's stock price.

The $1.47 billion post-tax write-down was an accounting charge and won't actually cost Sacramento-based McClatchy any cash. But it's a reflection of the state of the newspaper industry and the troubles McClatchy has encountered since buying fellow publisher Knight Ridder Inc. in 2006.

Although The Bee's owner said it remains optimistic about its long-term future, the write-down signals a diminished value of the company's assets, especially the 20 papers acquired in the Knight Ridder deal.

The entire industry is suffering because of the real estate slump, a weakening economy and the migration of advertising and circulation to the Internet. McClatchy is particularly vulnerable because it gets one-third of its revenue from California and Florida, where the housing market is especially soft.

The write-down "reflects the downturn in advertising that has hit us, particularly in California and Florida," said McClatchy Treasurer Elaine Lintecum.

McClatchy absorbed a $1.37 billion non-cash write-down in November, mainly because of worsening business conditions.

The latest write-down became necessary almost entirely because of the decline in McClatchy's stock price.

Since the end of the third quarter of 2007, McClatchy shares have fallen roughly in half, and under accounting rules the company had to take another write-down.

The stock closed Thursday at $9.84, down 28 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

The write-down also reflects a dip in the market value of McClatchy's publicly traded bonds, plus the economy's "recessionary outlook," Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in a press release.