Friday, August 29, 2008

The future of newspapers?

The Sporting News -- the former venerable sports weekly -- has created what it calls the country's only daily digital sports newspaper, Sporting News Today.

It is designed and packaged like a traditional newspaper, but delivered by email with a link to a PDF.

I received my first issue (39 pages) today. It's reminiscent of the short-lived sports daily The National from the early 1990s.

Unlike the newspapers delivered to my doorstep this morning, it was missing none of the "late" West Coast scores. It also had full stories and box scores on the previous nights Browns, University of Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) football games.

Best of all, perhaps, it's free (at least for now anyway).

Click on the headline for today's issue. And note the story on Page 29 about the Tampa Bay Rays written by former Beacon Journal sports editor Bill Eichenberger.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bloomberg runs Steve Jobs's obituary

The Bloomberg financial newswire decided to update its 17-page Steve Jobs obituary today — and inadvertently published it in the process. Some investors were undoubtedly rattled to see, as our tipster did late this afternoon, the Apple CEO's obit cross the wire and then suddenly disappear. Jobs's battle with pancreatic cancer, and speculation over his health, jarred Wall Street earlier this year and continues to be the subject of speculation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BJ wins Society of Professional Journalist awards

The Beacon Journal won three first place awards in the Society of Professional Journalists competition for newspapers over 100,000.

They were for criminal justice reporting of the Jessie Marie Davis murder by the staff, Betty-Lin Fisher for a business profile “Smucker Family Preserves” and Bob Downing for environmental coverage of the Countywide Landfill fire.

Other winners:

• Second place, criminal justice reporting — Ed Meyer for Gondor, Resh Leave Jail.
• Second place, headline writing — Kim Drezdzon.
• Second place, human interest writing — John Higgins for Basketball Plus: A Winning Equation.
• Second place, sports profile — Marla Ridenour, Glimpses of Greg Oden.
• Second place, Web site — staff.
• Third place, best critic in Ohio — Rich Heldenfels.

The honorees will get awards at a ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in October.

Click on the headline to read the Beacon Journal story on The story was published Monday on page B2

Monday, August 25, 2008

Abe Zaidan a blogger? Here's link proof

Retired veteran BJ political columnist Abe Zaidan now has his own blog called "Grumpy Abe."

You can find it at

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ex-BJ truck driver William Riffle Jr. dies at 43

William D. Riffle Jr., 43, passed away August 17, 2008.

He was born December 11, 1964 in Akron, Ohio and resided in Copley Township. He graduated from the Univ
ersity of Akron with a Bachelor of Science in Technical Education. He was owner of Riffle Properties Building, but also worked for the Beacon Journal for many years as did his father. [Both were truck drivers.] One of his proudest moments was building his own home that he, his wife, and children have enjoyed.

He was preceded in death by father, William D. Riffle Sr.; grandmother, Hester Riffle; and grandmother, Irene Near. He is survived by his wife, Michelle; son, Brendan; and daughter, Brittany. Also survived by mother, Rebecca; sisters, Eileen Smith and Veronica Furman; the Rotili family; and additional family members. Private services for the family have taken place.

(COX, WADSWORTH 330-335-3311.)
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Friday, August 22, 2008, page B7, col. 4]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Please send an email to a loyal blog viewer

Gil Beorn, a 1972 BJ mailroom retiree and one of our regular viewers, has a new email address and a new postal address:

Gilbert E Beorn
16225 N. Cave Creek Rd
Space 28
Phoenix, AZ 85032

Gil is an amazing man. He will be 99 years old in February but he lives for emails and always wants to make sure his records are current, his daughter Laura Modzel tells us.

There’s a reason for the new addresses. Gil’s wife, Opal Christina, died on April 5, 2008 at the age of 88. Tney were married for 67 years. Gil has since moved in with his son.

If you would like to recall a little more about Gil just type Beorn in the search box at the top of the blog to call up a couple of posts on Gil in February 2007.

And then, please, send him an email. We owe that to a loyal viewer.

'Voice of Doom' from Syracuse

Vin Crosbie of Syracuse, NY, has a blog called Digital Deliverance which reads like the Voice of Doom:

"More than half of the 1,439 daily newspapers in the United States won’t exist in print, e-paper, or Web site formats by the end of next decade. They will go out of business. The few national dailies — namely USA Today, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal — will have diminished but continuing existences via the Web and e-paper, but not in print. The first dailies to expire will be the regional dailies, which have already begun to implode. Those plus a very many smaller dailies, most of whose circulations are steadily evaporating, will decline to levels at which they will no longer be economically viable to publish daily. Further layoffs of staffs by those newspapers’ companies cannot avoid this fate - not so long as daily circulations and readerships continually and increasingly decline. (Layoffs are becoming little more than the remedy of bleeding that was used in attempts to cure ill patients during the 18th Century and cannot restore the industry’s health.)"

It gets worse:

" ‘Hyperlocal’ news startup companies, whose services will be delivered not on newsprint but online, might replace many small dailies, but not most, and certainly not before the printed products’ demise. The deaths of large numbers of daily newspapers in the U.S. won’t cause a new Dark Age but will certainly cause a ‘Gray Age’ for American journalism during the next decade. Much local and regional news won’t see the light of publication.

"Meanwhile, stock in the McClatchy Company, which publishers 30 dailies, has dropped from $74.30 three years ago to $3.78, a 95 percent loss. Stock in Lee Enterprises, which publishes 51 dailies, has dropped from $48.57 to $3.83, a 92 percent loss during the past four years. Media General, which publishes 25 dailies, has seen its stock price drop 83 percent in the past four years. Stock of The New York Times Company, which publishes 17 dailies, has dropped 75 percent during the past six years, from $51.50 to $12.98. Stock in Gannett Company, which publishes 85 dailies, has dropped 65 percent, from $90.14 to $17.40, during the past four years."

Crosbie will be writing more in the coming days at his site, but alas this sentence is the one that is most depressing:

" I’ll outline what the American daily industry might have done to avoid its demise."

Might have done, as if it is too late already.

Click on the headline to go to Crosbie's blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PD follows with buyout, hikes price to 75 cents

The Cleveland Plain Dealer extended a voluntary buyout offer to most of its 370 non-union office employees Tuesday as part of the daily's effort to reduce expenses in the wake of a newspaper-industry advertising slump. It comes a day after the newspaper raised its newsstand price from 50 cents to 75 cents

Workers offered the buyout, about a third of the paper's 1,200 employees, received a letter from Terry Egger, president and publisher. It went to newsroom managers, as well as employees in advertising, circulation and other departments.

Under The Plain Dealer's buyout offer, employees are eligible for six to 18 months of salary and health care coverage, depending upon length of service with the company.

"We really don't have a target number," Egger said. "We very much respect each individual's decision about whether it works best for them at this point." They have until Oct. 2 to decide.

The Plain Dealer offered a buyout to all employees in 2006, and 64 newsroom employees left with severance packages. The Beacon Journal laid off 40 newsroom employees — 25 percent of the staff — in 2006.

The Plain Dealer is owned by Advance Publications Inc. and has a daily circulation of about 345,000. The Beacon Journal, which has an average weekday circulation of about 134,000 and 173,000 on Sunday, is owned by Sound Publishing Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Canada's Black Press Ltd.

Read the Associated Press story in Editor & Publisher

Read the PD website story by Frank Bentayou and John Funk on

No news is NOT good news

Beacon Journal editor Bruce Winges got it right. “The Beacon Journal is no exception” to the rough times in the newspaper industry.

It took only 77 words to provide the news.

In the huge economic scheme with Summit County unemployment above the state level it is not a big deal--unless, of course, you are one of the 20 who will experience it. The news was offered in a Backgrounder on the second business page–a little difficult to find on where a search for ‘Winges’ asks if you mean “twinges” which usually means a sharp, sudden pain.

Here’s the story:

Beacon Journal
offering buyouts

The Akron Beacon Journal announced Tuesday that it is offering early retirement and buyout packages to all newsroom employees.

''We are offering these packages because of the economic downturn the newspaper industry is facing. The Beacon Journal is no exception,'' editor and vice president Bruce Winges said. ''We believe that these packages are a generous alternative to layoffs.''

The early-retirement package is available to employees 55 years and older. The buyout is available to all newsroom employees.

And here’s the talk:

There is not much news, but lots of talk going the rounds. An earlier post (August 11) noted that Phil White, advertising customer service manager, was let go. White is 55 years old and began working at the Beacon Journal on June 23, 1975.

Also heard was Jan Wyatt, who has been at the Beacon Journal for 30 years, left because she found another job. Jerri Combs, who was secretary to the comtroller for 25 years, got severance pay of two weeks for every year of service.

And how about these “have you heard” comments:

“Tony Barone who works in newsprint told me this is the first time in history of Beacon that they have ordered a less amount of paper to use.”

“Circulation will be delivering the Plain Dealer in all our delivery areas except up in the Northern part.”

“ I heard just the opposite that they will be delivering PD to the northern part.”

Which may prove that no news is not good news

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

BJ to buy out 20 and trim section fronts

The axe is falling again at the Akron Beacon Journal. Editor Bruce Winges was the bearer of bad news at a 3:30 p.m. staff meeting today in the JSK room.

Buyouts are being offered to cut the staff by 17 per cent (around 20) and the paper will be confined to three sections; one for all news, one for sports and one for entertainment and other content. This would eliminate the Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday section fronts.

The goal is to get rid of 8 reporters, 8 copy editor/page designers, 2 artists and 2 photographers. Management will decide which to accept.

Those 55 or older would be offered a lump sum payment of their pension entitlement plus $25,000. Younger staffers would get two weeks pay for every year of service plus an extra two weeks pay.

The Newspaper Guild is currently in negotiations.

Adding to the poor image: Nothing could be found in breaking news on, but Akron News Now was jumping all over the story.

Also, see our earlier post about the new design plans for the Beacon Journal.

Fake News show viewers know news better

Pew Survey:
Viewers of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Score High on News Knowledge

The results of the new Pew Survey on News Consumption (taken every two years and released this afternoon) suggest that viewers of the “fake news”
programs "The Daily Show"and "The Colbert Report" are more knowledgeable about current events (as judged by three test questions) than watchers of “real” cable news shows hosted by Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly and Larry King, among others -- as well as average consumers of NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN, C-SPAN and daily newspapers.

That’s the report from Editor & Publisher in a story by Greg Michell. There are, of course, many more significant statistics in the report (see the graphic here) so you should click on the headline to see the Pew story.

Here’s Mitchell's report:

The national average for answering the three questions was only 18%. But 34% of The Colbert Report fans got them right, with 30% of The Daily Show viewers doing so
– even though the two Comedy Central shows draw younger audiences which generally scored less well on the "test" than older viewers/readers.

The Pew Report observed: “The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are notable for having relatively well-informed audiences that are younger than the national average.”

Topping the knowledge list were The New Yorker and The Atlantic (48%), N
PR (44%), MSNBC’s Hardball (43%), and Hannity & Colmes at 42%.

While consumers of most news outlets scored poorly on the test, a separate question revealed that a vast majority believe they follow national news closely.

Respondents were asked to identify which party now controls Congress, who is the current U.S. secretary of state and name the new prime minister of Great Britain.

Coming in behind the two fake news show on the test were consumers of :

News magazines 30%
O’Reilly Factor 28%
Lou Dobbs Tonight 27%
C-SPAN 24%
Daily newspaper 22%
NBC News 21%
Letterman/Leno 20%

Larry King Live 19%
ABC News 19%
CNN 19%
Fox News 19%
CNBC 17%
Personality magazines 13%
Religious radio 12%
CBS News 10%
National Enquirer 9%

Could this happen: From the fake LA Times

L.A. Times axes last employee
Alleged newspaper will be written by a computer software program. CEO Zell orders downtown headquarters converted into a 'gentleman's club' to maximize the property's value.

That’s the headline on a fake story on the fake web site called:

Click on the headline to check it out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A new model for news by AP

Finally someone is trying to fix the problem rather than just complain about it.

The Associated Press commissioned a study and thinks it has come up with a new model for news. Remember the pyramid form of writing with the five Ws and an H: WHO, W
HAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY AND WHO? It needs work ---difficult study.

We all have read the alarming studies that show people don’t read anymore and that young adults experience news fatigue from being inundated by facts and updates and have trouble accessing in-depth stories.

The AP is in the business and needs to work on the problem. The surprise is that none of the gloom-and-doom media watchers have even commented on the AP report,

The Context-Based Research Group, an ethnographic research firm, found that the news consumption behavior of younger readers differs profoundly from that of previous

The research project, commissioned by The Associated Press in 2007, analyzed the news consumption patterns of an ethnically diverse group of 18 men and women between the ages of 18 and 34 in six cities in the United States, Britain and India.

It ultimately helped AP design a new model for news delivery to meet the needs of young adults, who are driving the shift from traditional media to digital news, said Jim Kennedy, AP's director of strategic planning.

"The real value was that it gave us a lasting model of how news is being consumed in the digital space by young people that we can use to improve our own newsgathering and project development," Kennedy said.

That includes what the AP calls "1-2-3 filing," starting with a news alert headline for breaking news, followed by a short present-tense story that is usable on the Web and by broadcasters. The third step is to add details and format stories in ways most appropriate for various news platforms.

Consumers come to the news from a variety of perspectives and platforms and news providers can create links and pathways to different points. Editors must find ways to connect a story’s entry point for users –providing them with more information than they could find by searching or scrolling.

A key finding in the 71-page report is the participants yearned for quality and in-depth reporting but had difficulty immediately accessing such content because they were bombarded by facts and updates in headlines and snippets of news.

The study also found that participants were unable to give full attention to the news because they were almost always simultaneously engaged in other activities, such as reading e-mail. That represents a shift from previous consumption models in which people sat down to watch the evening news or read the morning paper.

"Our observations and analysis identified that consumers' news diets are out of balance due to the over-consumption of facts and headlines," said Robbie Blinkoff, co-founder and head anthropologist at Baltimore, Md.-based Context-Based Research Group.

To combat that, the authors recommended that news producers develop easier ways for readers to discover in-depth content and to avoid repetitious updates of breaking news.

Editors at the Telegraph in London are following a similar approach and have seen a big jump in traffic at the newspaper's Web site. The study said the Telegraph has adopted the mind-set of a broadcast-news operation to quickly build from headlines to short stories to complete multimedia packages online to boost readership.

Incidentally, the CNN presentation of Jim Kavanagh’s story on Shaken Baby Syndrome is a good example of using the new model to provide readers with information on an important subject.

Click on the headline to read the full report. Hopefully others will stumble on it.

A Memorable Project from Jim Kavanagh

We occasionally post a Memorable Story we discover from the past or the present.

Today we salute a work that goes beyond Memorable Story and must fit into a category we might call a Memorable Project..

The story is about the this little baby boy who became the 2008 Baby of the Year in Summit County when he was born at 12:33 a.m. on January 1 and died 12
weeks later as the victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome. The baby’s father, Craig R. Wilson, 28, of Cuyahoga Falls, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on murder and other charges August 20.

Former Beacon Journal copy desk chief Jim Kavanag
h, now at CNN, spent three months reporting and writing it. He originally proposed telling the story over two days with a main and a sidebar each day. The CNN editors were not ready to commit to that so it ended up a single, 1,600-word story.

But what a story: It stood as the main story on the main page for four hours , an extraordinarily long time for CNN”s site, because it was drawing such heavy traffic. Between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., the story received 1,388,000 page views; 360,000 of those were people who read it because someone had emailed it to them.

“This was by far the biggest project of my career,” Jim writes. “I spent about three months reporting and writing it. It's a tough read, but I thought it was a story worth telling. I hope you think so too.”

The story is well displayed on the CNN site with links to the autopsy report, police investigator
ss’ report and the indictment plus a couple of info boxes and other lins to Shaken Baby Syndrome sites, You Tube and a tribute page. There also is a video with a doctor from Akron Children's Hospital.

Jim, incidentally is one of the people honored on the Blog Wall of Honor on our website which contains the names of 16 who left the Beacon Journal during the big layoff announced on August 22, 2006 when one-forth of the staff was cut. The list honors 16 former employees with 291 years of experience who were not laid off but volunteered to leave--sometimes in the hope of saving the job of a friend.

Click on the headline to see the Memorable Project.

McClatchy online revenue stands out

McClatchy Co., the No. 2 newspaper publisher, grew online revenue more than 12% during the quarter. CEO Gary Pruitt told Wall Street analysts that success was in part a result of the publisher's push to build an online ad base independent of its print edition.

As of late 2006, he said, 70% of the paper's online ads were the result of either up-sells from print or buys in tandem with print. Today, print advertisers account for 50% of McClatchy's web business, as the chain has been able to attract a growing number of online-only advertisers in nonclassifieds categories such as retail. "This is significant because it's establishing a separate, independent business from our print product," Mr. Pruitt told analysts.

Steep spending declines
But several major publishers have not been as successful on that front and are apparently paying for it now, according to a report in Adverisitng Age. . Tribune Co., Lee Enterprises and E.W. Scripps all reported declines in web advertising during the most recent quarter, a worrying development in an industry that has been able to count on the uninterrupted growth of its websites during a period in which it has been able to count on little else.

At Lee -- which publishes a number of Midwestern titles including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch -- online ad revenue declined 9.1% during the quarter.

"The decline in print has been so pervasive that it's taking the online stuff with it," said Benchmark Co. Media Analyst Ed Atorino, who has covered the sector for three decades. "This is the worst market we've seen."

But not every publisher is seeing declines online. Randy Bennett, senior VP-business development at the Newspaper Association of America, said the industry is "probably" on track for double-digit online-revenue growth this year, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years. Online newspaper revenue in 2007 grew about 19%, markedly less than its 31% rate of expansion in 2005 and 2006.

Click on the headline to go to the Advertising Age story.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The land of tons of daylight

By John Olesky
BJ 1969-96
I saw the light on my sixth cruise in 40 months with Paula. Plenty of it. During our July 15-28 Baltic Sea vacation sunrise was as early as 4 a.m. and sunset was as late as 11 p.m. Up to 19 hours of daylight in Scandinavia.

Holland America’s MS Rotterdam took us to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland
, Russia, Germany, Estonia and Holland.

I got to test my 5-month-old right knee replacement on cobblestone streets, hills and church steps. We walked as long as five h
ours on some days. The knee worked fine. Thanks, Dr. Raymond Acus III of Falls Orthopedic Surgeons.

I loved the Old Town section of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, where the Town Wall and fortresses were built in the 15th through 17th centuries – and cobblestone streets. Old Town even survived World War II.

Obviously, when you visit St. Petersburg you go to Russia’s Hermitage, where we spent three hours looking at some of the three million works of art. And marveled at the Church on the Spilled Blood, built on the spot where Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. The building has perhaps more mosaic pieces inside and out than any church in the world. A football field away near the Griboedov Canal we observed five wedding parties. Russian newlyweds go to various famous, popular sites for their wedding photos. Instead of “cheese,” the photographer and the guests yelled “Vodka!” before the pictures were taken.

We were fascinated by the Vasa, a 226-foot long, 62-foot high wooden Swedish warship that capsized and sank 10 minutes into its 1628 maiden voyage. It remained under the Baltic Sea for 333 years before being brought up. The Baltic’s brackish water kept the Vasa 95% intact. A Stockholm museum was built to house it.

Helsinki’s Lutheran Cathedral, with its 56 steep steps, gave my knee another successful test. It is a 1852 replacement for a 1727 church.

Oslo’s 80-acre Vigeland Park, with 212 bronze and granite sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland, beginning in 1924, was astounding. We also entered Oslo’s City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded.

Also amazing was the astronomical clock in St. Mary’s Church in Rostock, Germany. It was built in 1472 and will keep track of the minute, hour, day, month and year till 2017.

Paula visited the 1,200-seat Arhus Theater in Arhus, Denmark, without me while I upchucked and spent the entire day in our cabin.

We prefer to explore on our own and stumbled upon the World Lifeguard Championships off the beaches of Warnemunde, Germany. The Australians seemed to be dominating the events, which included jumping into a motorized rubber rescue boat, racing out to buoys and bringing the “victim” back to the sand.

Since we were in Germany, the land of beermakers, Paula and I hoisted pilsners and emptied our cups. A fitting toast to another marvelous vacation, I’d say.

To see the photos, click on the headline.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Where can you go for a rest?

The Padded Cell, the outhouse at Murpheydale, Fran's home in Boston Heights

Frances Burke Murphey (Dec 24, 1922 - Nov 9, 1998) has been gone for almost a decade, but she keeps popping up occasionally.

The latest is a mention in the Dyer Streets column of the BJ's Bob Dyer. Bob got a note from Meleine (That's her real name and not just one of our typos) Dailey of Wadsworth who said she saw the flashing sign on Interstate 77 North which said the rest stop was closed and wondered if it was permanent or temporary.

Dyer reported that "The Ohio Department of Transportation did close the northbound rest stop--the one with a plaque memorializing legendary Beacon Journal columnist Fran Murphey--on Aug, 1."

It will reopen Sept. 1 with new waterlines.

We know very little here, but would bet that the outhouse at Murpheydale is probably no longer available.

Thanks to Bob and what's her name, however, we have an excuse for printing this photo. Fran loved to write about outhouses so this would bring a chuckle from her.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A mini-skirt design for Beacon Journal?

There has been talk about it for some time but the word is that you can expect a tabloid-sized Beacon Journal landing on your porch within a month or so.

Line drawers met this week to talk about design, but details are being held close to the chest.

Supposedly there will be three tabloid sections: one for all the news (national, state and local), one for sports and one for entertainment

Roy Peter Clarke, a senior of Poynter Institute, was talking about it a couple of years ago.

“If I were an editor or publisher of a broadsheet newspaper in any corner of the United States, I'd be paying close attention to a powerful trend affecting the future of newspapers around the world: big papers are converting to smaller formats.

“Size matters. But one size does not fit all. Yet the trend is smaller, smaller, smaller. Watch them shrink from the 54-inch to the 50-inch web; from broadsheet to what in Europe they call "compact" sizes: from the "super tab," known as the Berliner, down to the traditional tabloid.

“In countries like England and the Netherlands, converts are popping up like reformed sinners at a tent revival. In places like Poland and South Africa, wild and wooly tabs are testing boundaries and building readership with a reckless democratic energy.

“And while the word "tabloid" often connotes sensationalism, celebrity and sexuality, some of the world's most traditional and historical news journals have exchanged the formal gown for the mini-skirt.”

The European edition of The Wall Street Journal is now a tab

Here are a couple of points made in the Poynter article:

+ Catching the tab spirit should not require you to make a compact with the devil. Catching the tab spirit does not require the broadsheet to shed the monk's robes and don the harlot's frock. Serious tabloids, including Newsday and The Christian Science Monitor, exist everywhere, sometimes dancing the waltz so that no one can see them jitterbug

+ Broadsheets need to catch the Tabloid Spirit. Newspapers that converts soon discover that everything changes: news judgment, content, design, photography, advertising, marketing, story-telling forms, writing and audience. Without lowering their standards, news organizations need to study and adapt some of the best effects of tabloids: portability, tight writing, great headlines, connection with youth culture, devotion to sports, a lively editorial voice.

Hopefully, it will not include one bad trend predicted by another media watcher:

“One additional category that I predict will arise in the next few years: the newspaper that moves to a heavily templated design - that is, pre-formatted pages, including covers, plug-and-play with strictly placed briefs, pre-measured stories, pre-sized photos, whether local or wire, and possibly very strict pre-formatted advertising holes to accommodate it..

McClatchy announces salary freeze

The McClatchy Co. announced on Thursday a one-year salary freeze starting Sept. 1. The across-thme-board freeze includes all 30 newspapers in the chain and the corporate office in Sacramento.

If employees are scheduled to receive a merit or salary review between Sept. 1 and Aug. 31, 2009, the review will occur one year later than scheduled.

Publishers of the newspapers sent out memos to all employees

The memo at one of the newspapers explained:

"This means that if you are scheduled to receive a merit or salary review between Sept. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31, 2009, your salary review will occur one year later than scheduled. For example, if your next salary review date is March 1, 2009, the salary review will be postponed until March 1, 2010. However, you will receive regularly scheduled performance reviews during this period."

Thursday.Sacramento Bee publisher Cheryl Dell in his memo to all employees said

“While we have taken many steps to reorganize and streamline operations to respond to changing business models and these economic challenges, we need to do more to control expenses.”

Ed Fletcher, chairman of the employee union, said employees are learning to do more with less, but are opposed to doing more for less.

“Sadly we’ve seen a steady stream of good employees making the often-difficult decision to leave the company over the last 12 months,” Fletcher said, in an e-mail. “Between layoffs, buyouts and attrition, the newsroom alone is down 29 people since Aug. 27, 2007.”

The salary freeze will only further that migration, he said.

“Losing pace with inflation will cause even the most die-hard journalist to question whether, for the sake of their future and family, it’s time to move on,” he said.

He said the guild is looking forward to meeting with management to offer ideas on how to trim costs without “destroying employee moral, driving more employees away, or causing a financial hardship for employees.

“One place to start is to eliminate management bonuses.”

Management at the Lexingcton (Ky) Herald-Leader earlier announcecd another voluntary separation package with no specific target number.

A memo there said:

“The Herald-Leader continues to manage through an economic downturn that is having an unprecedented negative effect on revenues and, therefore, our financial health. While we have taken many steps to reorganize and streamline operations to respond to changing business models and these economic challenges, we need to do more to control expenses.”

Click on the headline to read the story in the Sacramento Bee

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Here's an update from Marvin Katz

Here's an e-mail update from Marvin Katz who is now on our email and retiree list:

After 40 years of successive careers in journalism,
public relations, and freelance writing and PR consulting, I retired in 1998. Three years later, my wife Joyce and I moved from Rockville, Md., where we'd lived for 24 years, to a mountainside home five miles due north of downtown Hendersonville, N.C., and 22 miles from Asheville. Life is reasonably good, with modern medical technology staying a step or two ahead of our needs. I stepped down earlier this year after six years on the board of our homeowners association, five of them as president. But there's enough other stuff going on that I wonder how I ever found time to work for pay. We have two daughters. Lisa is a Kent State grad like me who did her J-School internship at the BJ and is now director of news services for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Susie is a family-practice physician in Portland, Ore., and the mother of our two grandchildren.

Carl Nelson and Pat Dougherty -- Dick Latshaw and Tom Moore
Cal Deshong and John Olesky -- Dave Boerner -- Al Hunsicker and Gene McCllelan
[Retirees' Lunch photos by Tom Moore]

Visitor from South Carolina

Beacon Journal composing retiree Dick Latshaw, who lives in Pauleys Island, SC, was among the nine who attended the monthly gathering of BJ types at Papa Joe's Restaurant at 1541 Akron-Peninsula Road. He is visiting his Mom and sister in the Akron area.

Harold McElroy also lives in Pauleys Island, about a block from Dick. Sid Sprague, who began the BJ retirees migration from Akron to Pauleys, moved to Colorado after his wife died. The Spragues were best friends with a couple in Pauleys. The couple's husband died, and eventually the widow and Sid got together, and later moved near her family in Colorado. Sid moved from Cuyahoga Falls to Pauleys Island.

Dick has lived in Pauleys Island for nine years. He's a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and fishes a lot, in the ocean and on a nearby river.

Others at the 1 p.m. second Wednesday monthly lunch were Pat Dougherty, retired engraver; retired printers Al Hunsicker, Gene McClellan, Carl Nelson and Cal Deshong; and retired Newsroom employees Dave Boerner, Tom Moore and John Olesky.

'Pro bono' does not mean working for free

A note from Kevin Allman to Poynter Online:

Phil Rosenthal's story on Arianna Huffington's foray into the local blogging market included this line: "Writers work pro bono."

"Pro bono" means "for the public good." What Rosenthal should've said is that Huffington wants writers to work for free so she can sell ads around their work. That ain't the public good. That ain't good, period.

The Huffington Post has been a winning formula, because it gives platforms to Huffington's D.C. and L.A. buddies who need vanity exposure more than they need money. But when she comes into communities and applies the same formula, there's another word for that formula, and it's exploitation.

It's hard for me to take any "progressive" site seriously that expects people to work for free while the founders make money. At least Wal-Mart pays minimum wage.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reminder: BJ Retirees lunch is tomorrow

The monthly (August) luncheon of Beacon Journal retirees is tomorrow (Wednesday).

Retiree luncheons are at 1 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at Papa Joe’s in the valley, 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road at the intersection of Portage Trail. You need not be a retiree to attend. Former Beacon Journal employees and those still on the job are always welcome to come and learn what old friends are doing.

Over 6,300 newspaper jobs lost

Mark Potts, who calls himself a recovering journalist, has put a nice chart you might want to check.

“How severe have the recent cutbacks in newspaper staffing and operations been?” Potts asks. “Pretty severe. Over the past few days, I've built a database of the cuts over the past year at the nation's 100 largest newspapers (measured by circulation), and here's what I found:

* More than 6,300 employees at the 100 largest newspapers have lost jobs through buyouts or layoffs in the past year.
* More than half of those cutbacks have come since the beginning of June.
* Nearly two-thirds of the top 100 papers have cut staff in the past year, including all but four of the top 34 (the two New York City tabloids, the Indianapolis Star and the Cleveland Plain Dealer are the exceptions–and Plain Dealer management has threatened imminent cuts).
* Even papers that haven't made recent cuts have sliced staff in the past couple of years–in all, three-quarters of the Top 100 have eliminated jobs in the past two years or so.
* Twenty-eight of the Top 100 have cut more than 100 jobs in the past year. Seven have cut more than 200 jobs–and those numbers go up significantly if you go back more than a year.
* The largest cuts have come at the biggest papers, not surprisingly, and at chains. (The worst: 350 jobs lost at the Los Angeles Times since February.) Perhaps the safest place to work is at an independently owned paper in a mid-sized market. So far.
* Virtually all cuts are on the print side–few papers, if any, have cut online staffing, fortunately.
* Until recently, voluntary buyouts were the usual method of cutting employment–but lately, many cuts have been through outright layoffs.
* Job cuts aren't the only thing going on–papers also are freezing hiring and shrinking through reduction of editions and sections, striking partnerships with other papers, closing bureaus and outsourcing some production (even copy-editing!) overseas.
* More than a handful of papers–and their owners–clearly are in fairly dire financial peril, losing money or having trouble making debt payments. And several papers have been put up for sale.

Click on the headline to see his PDF file. The Beacon Journal is 86 (by circulation) on the list.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bob Lewis having shoulder surgery -- again

Paula and I are looking for a Florida beachfront rental for February 2008, so I emailed a few retired Beacon Journal printers and asked if any of them had retired printer Bob Lewis' phone number or email address. Cal Deshong came up with the phone number (330-336-3340) in Wadsworth where Bob and his wife live.

So I called Bob in Wadsworth but left a message when no one answered.

Later, Paula and I were driving to Hudson High School for a German brass band concert (lots of polkas and oom-pa-pas) when Bob called back on my cellphone. Only Bob wasn't in Wadsworth, he was in California. Bob's wife told him that a guy named John wanted to talk to him about a Florida vacation.

"I knew it was you," Bob said.

"Where are you?," said I. "In California," Bob answered.

Bob is in California getting his rotator cuff repaired, his second shoulder operation. Bob said that he overdid the physical therapy after the first shoulder operation, so he returned to his favorite doctor to fix the latest problem.

I wanted to talk to him about renting his 2-bedroom home on Siesta Key, off Sarasota, which he still owns at 7007 Point of Rocks Road, maybe a block from the late BJ printer Bill Gorrell's rental complex. Several years ago, I ran into Bob and Mike Jewell walking on the beach at Siesta Key. Bob's place wasn't rented for about 10 days in February that year so they both went down to stay in it. We were staying in Sea Castle, whose parking lot is across the street from Gorrell's former rentals.

My late wife Monia and I had dinner with Bob and Mike the next evening.

Alas, Sea Castle has been razed to make way for a 6-story condominium. Gorrell's place also is or will be leveled for the same reason. And the two complexes behind Gorrell's former place, which Bill managed for the doctors who owned them.

Good luck on your second shoulder surgery, Bob!

Phil White is among half dozen who lost jobs

A half dozen business types lost their jobs at the Beacon Jiournal last Monday --including Phil White, advertising customer service manager. White is 55 years old and began working at the Beacon Journal on June 23, 1975,

Two other ad coordinators with less service and a top finance department employee also are gone.

There are no specific details on what type of severance, pension or health benefits might be available. Home telephone numbers already have been removed from the employee list.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Here's Cal in busy downtown Akron in 1949

Yes. That's now-retired printer Calvin Deshong at night on crowded Main Street in downtown Akron in 1949. You can see a reflection of the Richman Bros. sign in the background. Cal, who dug up the photo for us, says it was taken by a sidewalk photographer.

The Canadian Rx solution to the donut hole

To beat Aetna’s prescription costs, go to Canada – at least for those drugs that are not $5 or $10 through Aetna – particularly when you hit the donut hole. In my case, Uroxatral and Celebrex fit that category.

Uroxatral is cheaper for me from Aetna as long as I have NOT reached the donut hole. When I’m in the donut hole I can get Uroxatral from Canada (same pills, exactly, as you get from Aetna or your local American pharmacist) for $113.99 for 90 when it costs me $223.24 from Aetna when I’m in the donut hole. For Alfuzosin, which is the generic for Uroxatral, it costs me $77 for 100.

Celebrex is cheaper for me from Aetna as long as I have NOT reached the donut hole. When I’m in the donut hole I can get Celebrex from Canada (again, pills are identical to the ones you get from Aetna or your local pharmacist) for $137.78 for 100 when it costs me $301.41 for 90 from Aetna when I’m in the donut hole. For Celecoxib, the generic for Celebrex, it costs me $104.45 for 100.

There also is a $10 shipping charge from the Canadian pharmacy to factor in.

If I hit the donut hole Oct. 1, the 90 days of using the Canadian pharmacy will save me

Celebrex $301.41 minus $137.78 and $10 shipping= $153.63
Celecoxib (generic) $301.41 minus $104.45 and $10 shipping= $186.96

Uroxatral $223.24 minus $113.99 and $10 = $99.25
Alfuzosin (generic) $223.24 minus $77 and $10 = $136.24

With brand names I will save $252.88 and get 10 extra pills (100 vs. 90) for 3 months.
With generics, which we’re getting mostly from Aetna anyway, I will save $323.20!

Some of us are hitting the donut hole with SIX MONTHS left. In that case, for generics I will save $646.40!

How do you go about doing this and saving a ton of money for the exact pills you’re getting from Aetna?

1. Click on this headline, which will take you to the Canadian pharmacy web site, and find your drugs that cost more than Aetna’s $5 or $10 categories and see how much you can save.
2. Have your doctor write and hand you a prescription that, with refills, will equal or exceed the Canadian order (usually, 100 pills). If your doctor will fax the prescription to the Canadian pharmacy (mine won’t), have the Canadian pharmacy fax your doctor and he will fax the Canadian pharmacy the prescription.
3. If your doctor hands you your prescription, go back to this Canadian pharmacy web site, order your pills and either mail in your prescription or scan and email it in (that’s acceptable, too). There will be Rx delivery choices – Rx by U.S. Mail, email, etc. -- for you to click when you’re on the Canadian pharmacy web site.
4. CONTINUE to order the $5 and $10 prescriptions through Aetna. Even when you’re in the donut hole, that cost stays the same. Aetna just rigged the donut hole so that you won’t get out of it before the year ends, which means never.
5. Questions? I’d be happy to answer them. Email me at or call me on my cellphone at (330) 388-4466. Or conduct a discussion on this BJ Retirees web site by clicking on Comments. Maybe someone else has other, legal, sensible ways to reduce the money we spend on prescriptions.

Uroxatral 10 mg
Aetna pre-donut hole cost ……….. $40 for 90
Aetna donut hole cost …………….. $223.24 for 90
Canada uroxatral cost …………….. $113.99 for 90
Canada Alfuzosin (generic) cost ... $77.00 for 100

Celebrex 200 mg
Aetna pre-donut hole cost ……….. $80 for 90
Aetna donut hole cost …………….. $301.41 for 90
Canada Celebrex cost …………….. $137.78 for 100
Canada Celecoxib (generic) cost ...$104.45 for 100

Granddaughter of late Sol Shwartz dies at 17

Sarah Elizabeth Shwartz, 17, passed away unexpectedly in Akron on August 3, 2008.

Born in Akron in 1991, Sarah had been a lifetime area resident. She was a 2008 graduate of Garfield High School and was set to start her first semester at the Cleveland Institute of Art in the fall. She wa
s a scholarship recipient of the 2-10 Foundation and had also received a grant from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Sarah was an incredibly talented artist, whose passion was photography. Sarah worked on the Lock 3 project and the art that she helped create there with others, is on display at the main branch library in Akron.

Sarah was preceded in death by her grandparents, Barbara and Sol Shwartz and Hugh and Bernice
Feller. She is survived by her loving parents, Leonard and Karen Shwartz of Akron; brothers, Lee and Joseph also of Akron; grandmother, Frieda Gerin; aunts and uncles, Roberta and Phillip Hittner, Yong and Peter Shwartz, Larry and Barbara Evans, and Doyle Feller; niece, Megan; and nephews, Devin and Zach; cousins, Libby and Lily; special friends, Ashley Dowd and Carol Carter.

The family will receive friends Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Anthony Funeral Home Kucko-Anthony-Kertesz Chapel, 1990 S. Main St., where funeral services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. Interment Rose Hill Burial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Akron Art Museum, 1 South High Street, Akron, Ohio 44308, or to the charity of one's choice. (Kucko-Anthony-Kertesz,, 330-724-1281) ANTHONY FUNERAL HOME
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Wednesday, August 6, 2008, page B5, col. 4]

McClatchy online revenue looking good

Advertising lineage in newspapers will continue to decline, Media Daily News reports, but McClatchy Newspapers reports online advertising grew 58.5 percent in the second quarter of this year.

Although most companies still don't release separate figures for "Internet-only" revenues, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt, discussing second-quarter results, remarked: "Excluding employment advertising, which is the category most tied to print upsell advertising and which has declined nationally both in print and online, our online advertising grew 58.5% in the second quarter of this year. We were pleased to note that nearly 50% of our online advertising came from ads placed only online; they were not tied to a print upsell."

Online display ad revenue is up 26% at E.W. Scripps, and local ads (mostly display) rose 45.7% at Media General. Finally, although she did not cite specific figures, NYTCO CEO Janet L. Robinson attributed the 13% increase in the company's online revenues to "strong display advertising."

Nonetheless, the proportion of total revenues derived from online display advertising remains quite small, and potential sources of new online revenues are a long way off.

Most of the big newspaper publishers have seen their print ad revenues fall sharply over the last year, if not longer. The downward trend is clearly established, with executives warning investors that there are more declines on the way. It seems that things can't get any worse--but incredibly, they can, and probably will. As newspapers are buffeted by a perfect storm of industry-specific and general trends, the rate of revenue decline is likely to accelerate in the second half of 2008 and 2009.

It's impossible to see into the future, of course--and Ken Doctor, an analyst with Outsell, Inc., steered clear of hard-and-fast predictions, but he did say "the points for revenue are all pointing down"--adding that the situation appears especially ominous because of a couple of new, emerging trends.

First and most importantly, online revenue growth has sputtered, stalled, and in some cases even swung into reverse in 2008. Comparing the second quarter of 2008 to the same period last year, online revenues declined 9.1% at Lee Enterprises, 12% at A.H. Belo, and 8% at E.W. Scripps. Meanwhile, online revenue growth slowed to a snail's pace for newspaper divisions at Gannett--up 3%--and the Washington Post Company, up 4%. Online growth was more robust at the New York Times Company, up 12.8%, and McClatchy, up 12.5%-- but still looked positively anemic next to the quarterly growth rates of pure-play Internet companies like Google, up 39% in the same period.

The slowdown in online revenue growth "is absolutely terrible news," Doctor said, removing the one source of good news in previous quarters. The slowdown could have been foreseen: "Newspapers got addicted to online upsells from the print classifieds," Doctor recalled, relying on combined print-online sales to sustain double-digit growth in online classified revenues for several years. Meanwhile, the volume of print classifieds was shrinking, a process accelerated by the economic slowdown. With fewer print classifieds being placed, there are fewer opportunities for online upsells.

Click on the headline to read the full report in Media Daily News.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cincinnati Enquirer looks for 50 buyouts

By E&P Staff
CHICAGO Eight months after becoming the only local daily in the city, Gannett Co.'s Cincinnati Enquirer is seeking to buy out 50 staffers.

In an e-mail to employees Monday, Publisher Margaret Buchanan said the paper is looking to make the reductions among non-union employees.

"If this voluntary offer doesn't result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if in the future, economic conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider layoffs," Buchanan wrote.

On offer is two weeks of salary for every year of service plus health benefits for a period of up to 52 weeks.

The offer expires Aug. 15, Buchanan added.

SF Chronicle offers buyouts to 125

The San Francisco Chronicle will offer at least 125 employees the chance to take a buyout before the end of the year, the company said Friday.

"Obviously, we're not the first newspaper to be affected by the continuing downturn in advertising," said Publisher, President and CEO Frank Vega. "We are hopeful that by opting for our employees to voluntarily sign up for buyouts we can avoid any type of layoffs going forward."

The program is open to all employees who are not represented by a union as well as employees who are represented by the Northern California Media Workers' Guild.

The company said it would consider accepting more than 125 employees and that it has the right to reject as well as accept applicants. If the reduction goal is not met, the company said, layoffs will be likely.

This article appeared on page B - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Mayflower Hotel: Yesterday and Today

Today seem like an opportune time to post this old postcard of the Mayflower Hotel in all its glory. The card was provided by retired printer Calvin Deshong. And here's today's news:

Beacon Journal staff report
AKRON: A resident of a downtown Akron high-rise apartment building was taken Sunday morning to Akron General Medical Center following a fire that also caused the building to be partially evacuated.

Several units from the Akron Fire Department responded to the Mayflower Manor Apartments at South Main and State streets shortly after 9 a.m.

The fire was contained to a seventh-floor apartment.

Fire officials said smoke spread to the upper floors. Residents on the first floor, where there was significant water damage, were evacuated.

The extent of the woman's injuries was not known. Her name and age were not released.

Damage was placed at $30,000 to the apartment and $50,000 to the building.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

John Frederick Seiberling 1918-2008

Click on the headline to read the full obit. Click on the image to enlarge.

Bob Downing wro
te an admirable obituary for page A1 on Sunday on an admirable Akron native, John F. Seiberling. Rich Ststeinhauser drew an equally admisrable portrait of Seiberling to illustrate the front page tribute.

Downing captures it all in thse first eight paragraphs:

By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

John F. Seiberling, the retired Akron congressman who helped create the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, died Saturday morning at his home in Copley Township.

He was 89.

Mr. Seibe
rling, who was born in Stan Hywet Hall but represented blue-collar Akron in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years, was remembered by some as the conscience of Congress and by others as one of America's great conservationists.

His death was attributed to respiratory failure caused by chronic lung disease. He had been hospitalized June 29 but was released to go home, where he died about 7 a.m. Saturday.

''Without John Seiberling, there would be no Cuyahoga Valley National Park,'' said U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Navarre.

''He was a good person . . . and he left a great legacy in the Cuyahoga Valley park.

''He was the original environmentalist. He was green way back when. He really was ahead of his time. . . . He was a man of integrity and made his decisions based on what was right, not for their political value. And he cared deeply for the country and its people.''

Mr. Seiberling represented the old Akron-based 14th District in Congress from 1971 through 1986, frequently winning re-election with 70 percent of the vote.

He was a liberal New Deal Democrat, a supporter of wilderness, arms control, free trade, world peace and historic preservation. He was a fan of Shakespeare, poetry and bawdy limericks, as well as an accomplished nature photographer and a lover of The Wind in the Willows.

He was soft-spoken and reserved yet strong willed and at times feisty. He looked at the big picture, although he was a man of detail. Known for his calm, statesmanlike approach, he operated with caution and dignity, without flamboyance. He was known for his dry wit, intellect, idealism and integrity.

He was a loner and proudly operated outside the political system, refusing to be one of the boys, to join the congressional club. Behind his back, staff and supporters called him St. John.

Before Congress, during his 17 years as an attorney for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. — the company his grandfather founded — Mr. Seiberling once took a leave of absence to avoid crossing United Rubber Worker union picket lines. That's because he sided with the union at that time.

And in the wake of the May 4, 1970, shootings at nearby Kent State University, Mr. Seiberling ignored the political risks and warnings of advisers to speak at a rally at the University of Akron, advising students there to keep their protests peaceful.

It was his opposition to the Vietnam War that led Mr. Seiberling to run for Congress in 1970, defeating 10-term Republican incumbent William Ayers to become a 51-year-old rookie.

Mr. Seiberling served on the House Judiciary Committee that conducted the 1974 impeachment hearings that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

And in his 1986 congressional hearings to probe the proposed takeover of Goodyear by raider Sir James Goldsmith, it was Mr. Seiberling who drew the loudest cheers from Akron when he confronted Goldsmith with the question: ''Who the hell are you?''

Part of Mr. Seiberling's success as a congressman was attributed to his ability to work with local and federal officials in a bipartisan effort.

He got Akron a new federal courthouse and a new post office. He twice found federal money for the city's now-closed trash-burning power plant, as well as funds for Quaker Square, the Akron-Canton Airport, the Goodyear Technical Center and various other projects.

''I'm not sure any of us can adequately measure with words the immense contributions John has made,'' said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. ''The true value of his work will continue to reside in his legacy and will be enjoyed by and for many, many generations to come. His is the work of a remarkable public servant with a most generous spirit and creative mind. John Seiberling and his family have helped build and sustain this city.''

''John Seiberling was a darn good congressman,'' Summit County Republican Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff told a reporter after Seiberling retired. ''If I were a liberal Democrat, I'd say he was a great congressman.''

Mr. Seiberling also left his mark far beyond Akron, stretching across the American West and Alaska.

''John Seiberling stands as a giant in terms of managing public lands . . . an American hero,'' said John Debo, superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. ''What he did was really extraordinary, and he truly was one of America's great conservationists.''

Right man, right time

He was a key figure in Congress in the 1970s and 1980s and played a key role in preserving America's wild lands — with his constituents not always aware of the issues and what was going on, said Dan Nelson of Bath Township, an emeritus history professor at the University of Akron and author of A Passion for the Land: John F. Seiberling and the Environmental Movement (to be published next year by Kent State University Press).

''Getting the Cuyahoga Valley park created in 1974 only whetted his appetite. He got involved in Alaska and wilderness lands. . . . He was the right man at the right time to get a lot accomplished,'' Nelson said.

Doug Scott of Seattle, a wilderness author and policy director for Campaign for America's Wilderness, said Mr. Seiberling should rank among the very top conservationists in the 20th century. Scott worked with Mr. Seiberling on wilderness measures while with the Sierra Club and wrote The Enduring Wilderness: Protecting Our National Heritage Through the Wilderness Act.

''Wilderness was his passion,'' Scott said. ''And that legacy will touch all Americans for generations. . . . He truly was an American giant.''

Over the years, Mr. Seiberling served as chairman of the Interior Committee's public lands and national parks subcommittee and pushed 33 bills for 250 new and expanded wilderness areas in 27 states.

In 1980, he and U.S. Rep. Morris Udall, D-Ariz., led the fight to approve federal protection for 103 million acres under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

In all, Mr. Seiberling played a key role in preserving 69 million acres of wilderness — that included 54 million acres in Alaska — in addition to 59 million acres of other federal parks, forests and preserves.

Mr. Seiberling made his first trip to Alaska in 1975 and came away impressed.

In 1977, he held congressional hearings across that state, helping him develop a photo collection of more than 3,000 Alaskan shots. He exhibited his photos in the Capital during the 1978 debate and said the photos helped sway members of Congress.

He was widely saluted by national environmental groups for his efforts to save the American wilderness — efforts that earned him opposition from some Western and Alaskan politicians.

Bruce Hamilton, deputy executive director for the national Sierra Club, compared the significance of Mr. Seiberling's efforts for Alaska to President Theodore Roosevelt's creation of the national forests.

The Alaskan legislation was ''a tribute to Seiberling's persistence and statesmanship,'' he said.

''He was the expert and made quite the difference. . . . Every wilderness advocate in the country knew him and worshipped him,'' Hamilton said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. ''Most considered John Seiberling to be their second congressman.''

Conservationist is born

Mr. Seiberling's desire to save wild America may be traced to a childhood experience on a family vacation to an island in Lake Huron. On a return trip, the mainland forest near Hessel, Mich., had disappeared. The giant white pines had been cut to be turned into matchsticks.

Later, in a quote still cited by his ex-staffers, Mr. Seiberling said:

''We will never see the land as our ancestors did. But we can understand what made it beautiful and why they lived and died to preserve it. And in preserving it for future generations, we will preserve something of ourselves. If we all have an interest in this land, then we all have a stake in its preservation. There is no more worthwhile cause.''

His associates said the words were reflective of his goals.

But Mr. Seiberling was proudest of spearheading the creation of the Cuyahoga Valley park in 1974.

In 1971, as a rookie legislator, Mr. Seiberling's efforts to help sponsor legislation to create a national park between Akron and Cleveland went nowhere.

In subsequent years, though, he introduced the measure and worked to build public support for saving the Cuyahoga Valley.

Debo, the park's superintendent, said Mr. Seiberling ''had the foresight and the ability to galvanize public support to preserve the valley. It was an incredible accomplishment.''

Not everyone supported the idea. The National Park Service didn't think the Cuyahoga Valley deserved federal protection.

And even after winning approval in Congress, the legislation came perilously close to dying. With President Gerald Ford on a ski vacation in Colorado, federal officials, opposed to a high-cost urban park, were urging a veto.

Mr. Seiberling called Regula, who got an emergency phone call placed to Ford by Akron's Ray Bliss, the influential former national chairman of the Republican Party. Other calls went to U.S. Sens. Robert Taft Jr. and Howard Metzenbaum, as well as former Goodyear Chairman E. J. Thomas.

Bliss told Ford that he should sign the legislation if he wanted to win Ohio and to veto it if he wanted to lose Ohio.

Ford signed the bill on Dec. 27, 1974.

Mr. Seiberling called Ford's approval a Christmas gift for people in Northeast Ohio. In later years, he said the park was far more than he ever expected.

Mr. Seiberling also protected the park from Ronald Reagan's secretary of the interior, James Watt, who wanted to eliminate it as a federal park in the 1980s.

Mr. Seiberling also played key roles in the 1977 federal surface-mining reclamation act and a 1976 bill enlarging the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. He also pushed to eliminate acid rain in clean-air legislation.

He was unsuccessful in an effort to have federal judges selected on merit instead of political appointment, and to create a youth job corps.

He aggressively fought President Reagan over federal budget cuts in the early 1980s.

His influence was felt beyond U.S. shores. He played key roles in Congress in the birth of nations: the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

His staff saw Mr. Seiberling as ''this cuddly distinguished college professor whom we all loved,'' said Andrew Wiessner, a one-time staffer and now a retired public lands consultant in Colorado.

Issues instead of politics

Mr. Seiberling was different: He was the nonpolitical congressman, a good and dedicated public servant, Wiessner said.

''He looked at the issues, not the politics,'' Wiessner said ''There was a gentle way about him. He was so scholarly and so thorough''

Long-time Seiberling staffer Loretta Neumann added: ''He really was a Renaissance man, an amazing man, a giant. . . . Everyone who ever worked for him said it was the best job they ever had, and that was true for me, too. . . . He was the right person at the right place at the right time to do the things he did.''

Neumann, who came to Mr. Seiberling's staff from the National Park Service, said he hired her mainly to get the park established.

''At the time, I knew nothing about the workings of Congress.'' she said. ''When I first met him, I told him so. 'Don't worry,' he said. 'I need you to teach me about parks. I can teach you what you need to know about Congress.' ''

State Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, who succeeded Mr. Seiberling in Congress, said he knew Mr. Seiberling ''virtually my entire political life.''

''He was a commanding figure throughout this community and as soon as I got to Washington, it was clear as it had ever been that he was beloved by the people who knew him best,'' Sawyer said.

He had an ''enormous respect for the rule of law and love of nation,'' Sawyer said, and his respect for the environment went beyond Northeast Ohio in a way that ''will be remembered for generations.''

After serving in Congress, Mr. Seiberling returned to Akron to practice law, teach law and direct the University of Akron's Center for Peace Studies for 51/2 years, until mid-1996. He also returned to enjoy the Cuyahoga Valley from his long-time home at the edge of the park in Bath Township. He and his wife later moved to a Copley Township condominium.

He earned countless honors over the years, including the Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award from the Akron Community Foundation in 1999.

He attributed his love of nature to his father, John F. Seiberling Sr. But he frequently said the most influential person in his life was his mother, Henrietta, who died in 1979.

His mother was described as a formidable woman of strong moral conviction — a churchgoer who introduced Bill Wilson of New York and Dr. Robert Smith of Akron in 1935. They went on to found Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron.

Getting an education

Mr. Seiberling attended King Elementary School and Buchtel High School in Akron before going to Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Va.

He graduated from Harvard University in 1941.

During World War II, he served in the Army from 1942 to 1946, fighting in Europe. He enlisted as a private and attained the rank of major. He earned the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and three Battle Stars. He also earned the Medaille de la Reconnaissance Francaise (France) and the Ordre de Leopold II (Belgium).

After his discharge, he earned a law degree at Columbia University in New York in 1949.

From 1949 to 1954, he practiced law with Donovan, Leisure, Newton and Irvine in New York City.

He joined Goodyear in Akron in 1954 and remained here until he went to Congress in 1971.

Locally, Mr. Seiberling was a member of the Akron Regional Development Board and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority. He was a three-term president of the Akron-based Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.

He was a member of the United Community Council of Summit County, the Stan Hywet Hall Foundation, the United World Federalists of Akron and the Akron Bar Association's World Peace Through Law committee.

He was a founder of the Summit County Committee for Peace in Vietnam and a member of the local Sierra Club and the Cuyahoga Valley Association.

In 1949, he married Elizabeth ''Betty'' Behr, a Vassar graduate. They shared the same interests, the same priorities, the same outlook for 59 years of marriage.

She actually met her future husband while at Vassar through his sister, who was a student there. They had their first date in Paris in 1945 — at an officer's mess.

He proposed during his last year of law school in New York. She later told reporters she accepted his proposal in part because he had respect for women's intellectual capabilities.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by their three sons, John B. of Washington, D.C., David of Akron and Stephen of Chapel Hill, N.C.; and one grandson, Evan. He also leaves sisters Dorothy Seiberling of Long Island, N.Y., and Mary S. Huhn of Pennsylvania.

A memorial service is planned for late August or early September.

Billow funeral home in Fairlawn is handling arrangements.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or

John F. Seiberling, the retired Akron congressman who helped create the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, died Saturday morning at his home in Copley Township.

He was 89.

Mr. Seiberling, who was born in Stan Hywet Hall but represented blue-collar Akron in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years, was remembered by some as the conscience of Congress and by others as one of America's great conservationists.

His death was attributed to respiratory failure caused by chronic lung disease. He had been hospitalized June 29 but was released to go home, where he died about 7 a.m. Saturday.

''Without John Seiberling, there would be no Cuyahoga Valley National Park,'' said U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Navarre.

''He was a good person . . . and he left a great legacy in the Cuyahoga Valley park.

''He was the original environmentalist. He was green way back when. He really was ahead of his time. . . . He was a man of integrity and made his decisions based on what was right, not for their political value. And he cared deeply for the country and its people.''

Mr. Seiberling represented the old Akron-based 14th District in Congress from 1971 through 1986, frequently winning re-election with 70 percent of the vote.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Health update from Ken Wright

Well, just to bring everyone up to date with health problems, here goes. After surgery and six days in Cleveland Clinic, I got to come home Monday (21st). Sunday I had a fever, June took me to Akron City. They called my doctor at C.C. and he had me transported back to C.C. Spent five days there getting rid of an infection. Came home Thursday (31st). Doing much better. Still have no appetite (expected), sore stomach and get tired quick. Recovery will take several more weeks, at least. I am up walking around the house but not able to do much else. Please keep up the prayers.


Friday, August 01, 2008

You can call him Professor Mitch soon

You can call him Professer Mitch starting the end of this month, but you can still call him Editor Mitch part-time. . BJ online editor Mitch McKenney will join Kent State University as an assistant professor at the Stark campus. Here's the memo from Editor Bruce Winges:

I am sorry to announce that Mitch will be leaving us to join Kent State University as an assistant professor
in journalism and mass communication at the school’s Stark Campus. His new job will begin toward the end of August. I am happy to announce that Mitch will not be leaving us totally – he will continue to work at the Beacon Journal as a part-time editor.

Mitch has taught at Kent State as an adjunct professor for some time. He also has almost completed work on an MBA from KSU. He also holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Kent.

Mitch joined the Beacon Journal in September 1998 as a deputy metro editor. Since then he has worked extensively in metro, as features editor and most recently as online editor. Before joining the Beacon he worked at the Palm Beach Post and the late Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union.

Mitch lives in Hartville with his wife, Kim, and two sons and one daughter.

Please join me in wishing Mitch well. And if you miss him when he leaves at the end of August, he’ll be back soon.

Thanks, Bruce
Meanwhile there was an announcement on today's business page that Steve Cageao (pronounced Kah-gee-0) will replace Linda Lyell as director of operations for, the newspaper's website. Cageao began his career in the 1970s as a research clerk at the New York Daily News and had several advertising and sales jobs. He comes to the BJ from in Charlotte, NC

[ is the website of the Charlotte Observer, once a Knight Ridder newspaper and once guided by Editor Perry Morgan, once editor of the BJ]

Cageao and wife Audrey have a son, Fred, who will be attending the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. is the fastest-growing part of the BJ business and averages 912,461 unique visitors and more than 6.8 million page views each month, according to Alton Brown, BJ executive vice president and business manager