Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oblander in BJ print after absence of 2 decades

Terry Oblander’s byline is in the Beacon Journal again after an absence of two decades. He was just hired by the Beacon Journal as a part-time stringer to write feature stories of Medina County.

His first is spread over a big chunk of the Community section front with photos and the headline
"Hard times claim old hardware store" about a Seville store closing after 70 years because or the difficult economy. Click on the headline to see the story. There are more photos on

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

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

Oblander was among 27 PD staffers who were let go by a phone call from the editor on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 a few weeks before Christmas.

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

It’s nice to read him again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mark & Mark at it again

Former BJ TV critic Mark Dawidziak, who escaped to Cleveland with two dozen others in the recent decade, will be performing "Twain by Three" for the umpteenth time at the University of Akron's Wayne College in Orrville at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1.

Mark, wife Sara Showman and Jason Davis will perform in the J. M. Smucker Room of Wayne College's new Student Life building at 1901 Smucker Road.

Click on the headline for previous posts on Wayne County's Big Read project that Dawidziak has been involved with.

Monday, March 29, 2010

St. Louis Guild OKS 6% pay cut

By a vote of 132 to 54, the St. Louis Newspaper Guild on Saturday  approved a 5½-year contract with the Post-Dispatch calling for a 6 per cent pay cut.

About 74 percent of the Guild's members cast votes. The Guild represents employees in the newsroom, advertising and building service at the Post.

The contract calls for a 6 percent wage cut, along with three unpaid, one-week furloughs over the next 2½ years. Wages would bounce back by 2.5 percent in each of the last three years of the contract if company revenue increases by at least 2 percent a year.

Some commission-based advertising sales representatives will receive an increase in their base pay to $575 a week from $400.

The contract includes a six-month moratorium on layoffs. The pact will also freeze pensions and eliminate retiree medical benefits for current employees.

"At the end of the day, the people didn't feel fighting the Post-Dispatch in this difficult economic time would have been a very prudent thing to do," said Jeff Gordon, Guild president.

Charles 'Chick' Lipford calling hours Tuesday

His wife. Martha, was retired from BJ accounting department

Charles "Chick" G. Lipford passed away on March 26, 2010.

Charles was born in Gastonia, North Carolina to the late Mack and Mary Lipford, and soon moved to Akron, Ohio. A graduate of South High, he proudly served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He spent the next 37 years working at Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. In 1955 he married Martha "Cookie" Kolton who was his life partner and best friend.

Preceded in death by his brother, Tom, and his sister, Alice Kark; he is survived by his wife, Martha; son, Mark (Pat); two grandchildren, Matthew and Christopher (Rachel); two great-grandchildren, Winston and James Lipford; sister, Wanda Smith; and many nieces, nephews, and good friends.

If the true measure of a man is the impact and positive change he leaves on those whose lives he touched, then Charles' life was and incredible success. He was a terrific husband, outstanding father, loving grandfather and great-grandfather. His family was his priority.

Calling hours will be on Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Dunn-Quigley Funeral Home (811 Grant St.). Mass of Christian Burial will be on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Catholic Church, (2425 Myersville Rd.), entombment, Holy Cross Cemetery.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Meet Ethel Myers: BJ society editor in 1930

[Updated 3/29/2010 to provide complete address.]

Ethel Myers, who was Beacon Journal Society editor back in 1930, probably would not have taken it kindly if you had asked her age.  She was 40.

Ethel, like you and I today,  was required by law to tell her census taker (Jessie Ellis in Enumeration District 77-144) her age and a little more.  That was 80 years ago.

In addition to being required by law, the census can be helpful.

Abe Zaidan, retired BJ columnist who is still writing, needed to know a little about Ethel because of an undated clipping with her byline that  he dug up for a book he is writing.  After googling and delving much, Abe asked if there were any of our old blog viewers who might know something.  We were ready to put a request here, but decided why not just ask a librarian.

Joanne O'Dell in Special Collections at Akron-Summit County Public Library,  suggested we sort through the online Akron city directories while she checked the census.   

She reported back quickly that Ethel was listed as a lodger, age 40, who was age 26 at her first marriage.  She and her parents were all born in Ohio and she listed her occupation as society editor newspaper.and reported she could speak English.  Under marital status was the letter “M.”   

And sure enough we found her in the 1930 directory in Ward 8 on N. Highland Avenue near Edgerton Road.  She was listed in the alphabetical section as Mrs. Ethel B. Myers. society editor Beacon Journal.  The address on N. Highland Ave.  was two digits  but it was not possible to decipher and she was not listed in the street listing for Highland Avenue.
[Printed directory shows address was 30 N. Highland Ave.]

We do not know if she was a widow, or divorced or living apart. 

The librarian suggests we should still try to find her obituary.  Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Week without pay

Memo to Fort Worth Star-Telegram employees
To: All Employees
From: Gary Wortel
Subject: Furlough Announcement
Date: March 22, 2010

Although we're seeing improvement in several advertising categories, the economic climate remains unstable and revenues continue to be negative year-over-year. Unfortunately, revenues have not grown enough to offset our expenses. Regrettably this necessitates further cost-saving strategies.
Effective April 05, 2010 well implement a one week unpaid furlough program. The furlough period will be from April 05, through July 4th, 2010. Shortly you will be receiving:

· A scheduling form to complete and return to your manager no later than April 5, 2010.

· Q & A to assist you in understanding how the program works It's imperative that we remain diligent in reducing expenses and continue to focus our efforts on growing ad revenue. I appreciate that everyone is working hard toward both of these efforts.

After receiving the furlough Q & A and the scheduling form, please feel free to contact anyone on the Human Resources team with questions.

[Source: Poynter online Jim Romensko]

$300 million newspaper sold for $20 million

DAYTONA BEACH -- A federal judge on Tuesday approved the sale of the News-Journal Corp. for $20 million, saying there was no evidence the newspaper would bring a higher price if the sale was delayed.

U.S. District Judge John Antoon II said at the end of a one-hour hearing that in spite of a ruling in 2006 that the newspaper was worth nearly $300 million, the sale to Halifax Media Acquisition LLC is "fair and reasonable and appropriate."

Attorneys for the News-Journal's parent company and the Davidson family repeatedly asked for a delay of the sale to allow the economy to improve. Antoon said that while he understood that argument, he was in "no position" to do so.

"This is the value today," the judge said.

Click on the headline to read the full story.

[Source Dayton Beach News-Journal]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tom Moore: Now he's a railroader?

Would you believe, Tom Moore is a railroader?

Tom has his own blog similar to this--except he rarely writes anything. He is retired, you know.

However, he has been looking for a way to volunteer and -- 

Well, let him tell you.

Read all about it in a rare blog column

Chocolate lovers flock to Montague store

  Amanda and Joshua Montague: Chocolate lovers flock to their store

The daughter-in-law and son of retired Beacon Journal copy editor Charles Montague are making mouth-watering chocolates at Lilly Handmade Chocolates in Cleveland. One of their customers recently was Kelly Clarkson of American Idol fame.

Here are the lead graphs of a story in the entertainment section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Amanda Montague, who owns Lilly Handmade Chocolates in Cleveland's 'Tremont, neighborhood with her husband, Joshua, prides herself on giving customers exquisite service. They ship their mouthwatering wares anywhere in the United States.

So it was with bemused regret that she refused the request of a patron hoping for an overseas delivety

"Somebody asked if I could ship chocolates to Paris, and I said, Why?  I , know mine are awesome; but you're hard-pressed if you can't find good chocolate in Paris:'

 That's how good Lilly chocolates are.

In a city,where there is no shortage of fabUlous confections, word about the Montagues' avant-garde treats is getting around.

In May,  the Monagues  will celebrate the two-year anniversary of the store at 761 Starkweather Ave. in Cleveland.

Click here to check out the botique

[Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sunday, March 21, 2010, page E2.  Photo by PD photographer Scott Shaw scanned from newspaper. ]

Dawidziak "enchanting" as Twain keynote speaker

Mark Dawidziak was "enchanting" in Wooster, according to a review of his discussion of humorist/author Mark Twain by the Wooster Daily Record's Linda Hall. Our Mark, former Beacon Journal and current Plain Dealer TV critic, lectured on Hannibal, Missouri's Mark -- and slipped into some Twain bits from time to time -- at the Wayne County Public Library in Wooster.

The keynote speech by Dawidziak was part of a communitywide "Big Read in Wayne County," designed to encourage reading county-wide.

Mark and wife Sara Showman will be doing The Largely Literary Theatre Company’s production of "Twain By Three" at 7 p.m. April 1 in the J. M. Smucker Room of the new Student Life building at Wayne College in Orrville, 1901 Smucker Road.

Click on the headline for the Wooster Daily Record story on Mark's lecture/performance.

Click on Big Read for the original story on the Wayne County project.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How health care bill affects retirees' Rx donut hole

The health care bill just passed will deal with the prescription donut hole, which retirees are quite familiar with. Once retirees get past a certain accumulated value of our prescriptions in a year, as determined by Aetna Medicare, we pay all the costs of certain brand-name drugs till we get out of the donut hole, which I never have.

That's one issue listed in CBS' summary of the bill that President Obama will sign into law.

Others include:

Closes the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole" by 2020. Seniors who hit the donut hole by 2010 will receive a $250 rebate.

Beginning in 2011, seniors in the gap will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs.

Six months after enactment, insurance companies could no longer deny children coverage based on a preexisting condition.

Starting in 2014, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone with preexisting conditions.

To read CBS' summary, go to

CBS summary

I have been reading the actual bill -- thousands of pages.

Here's what I found:

The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific health insurance coverage without changing the premium for all enrollees in the same risk group at the same rate.

Nothing shall prevent the offering of excepted benefits so long as it is offered and priced separately from health insurance coverage.

A qualified health benefits plan may not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion.

The premium rate charged for an insured qualified health benefits plan may not vary except

By age so long as the ratio of the highest premium to the lowest premium is not more than 2 to 1.

By premium rating area.

By family enrollment as long as the ratio of the premium for family to individual enrollment is uniform.

If a qualified health benefits plan does not meet a specified medical loss ratio, then the insurer provide rebates to enrollees to meet the loss ratio.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Insurers can’t jack up rates to increase profits above the government’s acceptable ratio. Profits can’t be expanded to provide additional money for CEOs.

No annual or lifetime limit on covered health care items and services.


Outpatient hospital and outpatient clinic
Services, including emergency department services.
Professional services of physicians and other health professionals.
Services, equipment and supplies in institutional settings, physician offices, patients’ homes or place of resdence.
Prescription drugs.
Rehabilitative and habilitative services.
Mental health and substance use disorder services.
Preventive services.
Vaccines recommended by Centers for Disease Control.
Maternity care.
Well baby and well child care and oral health, vision, and hearing services, equipment, and supplies for children under 21.

Any notifications of changes in health care plans shall provide adequate notice and be in plain English so that clients can understand them.

A health insurance issuer may rescind health insurance coverage only upon clear and convincing evidence of fraud and after adequate notice to the person involved.

Only if an insurer offers a basic plan for an area can it offer a premium plan for that area.
EDITOR’S NOTE: No “Cadillac” plan unless insurer also has a basic plan.

And no plan can have more than 10% cost-sharing than the plan above or below it.

Insurers shall accept all enrollments unless it is at capacity for any more enrollments.

September through November of each year, for not less than 30 days, will be open enrollment for those who want to join a plan.

A child born in the United States who is not otherwise covered shall be covered under Medicaid.

Public option insurers will be under the same rules as private insurers.

Public option premiums will vary, based on how the income compares to the federal poverty level, possibly adjusted for regional cost of living differences.

Employees may opt out of their employer’s insurance plan and choose a public option.

If an employer chooses not to provide insurance, then it must pay 8% of its employees’ salary into the public option plan. This will be adjusted downward for employers with a payroll of less than $400,000.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An attempt to answer the fear that costs would endanger small businesses.

No one can be forced into an insurance plan if it violates their religious beliefs.

Employers can be taxed $100 a day for failing to cover employees as required by the law.

Those who earn $350,000 or more a year will be taxed on a sliding scale for payments intothe public option plan.

Click on the headline to read the actual bill yourself. It make take a while.

Whatever happened to Dick? Beacon Mag?

Former copy editor Dick McLinden, who retired in 1990, got a couple of unwanted gifts just before Christmas. McLinden, who still lives in North Canton, told us in a phone conversation that he had cataract surgery on both eyes and then suffered a heart attack and had to have a pacemaker installed.

Dick, who probably is better known for his work in the Sunday department on the Beacon magazine,  was working on the copy desk when computers first came to the BJ and had to learn three or four different systems as the newspaper grew into the technology.  By the time he retired he was tired of learning new computer systems so he never gets on one now. 

He did promise to send us some more information by U.S. mail--perhaps reminisce about those Beacon mag days and old friends.

Dick's wife died in 1999 just a year before they would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

We will be watching for the mailman to deliver more info from Dick.  We hope to lure him back to a computer just to catch up with some old BJ stuff.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Amanpour leaves CNN for 'This Week'

Christiane Amanpour announced Thursday she is leaving CNN to become anchor of "This Week" on ABC. Following is the text of an email she sent out Friday to everyone at CNN:
To My Family at CNN,
I am stunned and humbled by all your words and thoughts and good wishes. I have been bobbing on a tide of poignancy, enveloped in the amazing outpouring of love and affection from my friends and family at the place I call home.
For nearly 27 years it has not just been a privilege but an unparalleled pleasure…a great, rollicking, earth-shaking, world-shaping adventure…to be part of CNN, which is not just a company but an institution that has changed the very way we live. From the beginning the excitement was overwhelming as Ted Turner strode around declaring “I WAS CABLE BEFORE CABLE WAS COOL.”
And then boldly exhorted the establishment arrayed against him to “Lead Follow or get out of the way”. He led, we followed and the rest had to get out of the way!
From being shut out of the first White House stake-outs 30 years ago to the barely met payrolls, CNN and all of us, the army of true believers, did what no-one ever imagined one organization could do, pioneering, transformative, indispensible to this day.
From the very first day I walked into the newsroom at Techwood, September 1983, I have been proud to climb the ladder CNN put in front of me, every hard-won step of the way. Not just proud, but thrilled to bits. I feel truly fortunate to belong to the most supportive, amazing, dedicated and inspiring people from the leadership to my colleagues in every corner of the company.
I never get tired of recalling the heart-stopping events we have all covered and brought to the world, from the Wall coming down, to the first Gulf War. To Bosnia where I became myself as a reporter, where I learned how to use my voice, where I learned what it means to have someone’s back and for them to have yours; where we risked our lives…and sometimes our sanity…forged the closest of bonds and never never wavered from the mission: to report the truth, no matter how difficult and dangerous; to be the eyes and ears of our viewers in the United States and around the world, to tell people’s stories and be a constructive and positive force in society, a force that tries to make a difference.
That’s what CNN is, that is what I am so proud to have been part of, proud to have helped shape. And happy to have had so much fun all along the way.
That’s the mission I have been trying to continue with my phenomenal team at our eponymously named program here. So why am I leaving? In my heart I am not. This has been the most difficult of decisions. I am simply taking the next challenging and difficult but exciting step. I believe more than anything that knowledge and familiarity with important international news and events abroad are fundamental to Americans today. This rare chance to take international news to a broader base here in the United States is one that I felt I could not turn down. I will take everything I have learned, and loved, here at CNN and put it into action!
And the network I love will have you, your hard work, your heart, your vision and your faith. Keep doing CNN’s important work, without which the world would most definitely be a poorer place. Never forget who you are. Never forget what CNN is. Never forget how we all together changed the world.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you all, and I say only “au revoir”, not goodbye

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Louis Post-Dispatch offer: 6% pay cut

The  St. Louis Post-Dispatch  presented its unionized newsroom staff its “last, best and final offer” Tuesday as managers and employees strain to reach a new labor agreement.

St. Louis Newspaper Guild members, which include reporters, photographers and some other Post-Dispatch staff, are likely to vote on the offer March 27, according to the Guild’s Web site.
The offer calls for a one-time 6 percent wage reduction plus a week-long, unpaid furlough each of the first three years, according to the Guild.

The plan would also eliminate retiree medical benefits and life insurance, freeze current employees’ pensions, and limit the company’s 401(k) retirement fund match to $75.

In exchange, the newspaper would agree not to lay off any Guild employees for at least six months from the ratification of the contract.

The Post-Dispatch, which is owned by Lee Enterprises Inc. of Davenport, Iowa, wants a contract signed by April 1.
[Source: St. Louis Business Journal]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Briggs named chair of Knight board

Robert Briggs started his four-year term Tuesday as chairman of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Board of Trustees. He succeeded W. Gerald Austen, M.D., who has been a foundation trustee since 1987 and served as chairman the past 14 years.

Briggs became a Knight Foundation trustee in 2002 and served as vice chairman from 2005 until his appointment as chairman-elect in March 2009. He is president of the GAR Foundation in Akron and chairman emeritus and former CEO of the law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs.
[Source: Akron Beacon Journal business briefs, Wednesday, March 17, 2010]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Briefs from Guild Reporter

Briefs in the January/March issue of The Guild Reporter

About the Canton Repository
A new two-year contract was ratified Dec. 8 by members of The Canton Repository unit of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild. Wages at the GateHouse-owned newspaper were frozen for 2009, with potential raises in 2010 and 2011 based on targeted increases in The Repository's gross revenue. Changes in the design of the health care plan will lower premium costs somewhat for both employees and the employer, but also will result in increased costs for doctor's office and emergency room visits and prescription drugs.

Aboout McClatchy Co.

The McClatchy Co. is making money, thanks to deep cutbacks and layoffs and a marginally improved economy. But it also kicked off contract negotiations at the Sacramento Bee by putting forward what it calls a "tough proposal" to further cut costs: a reduction in maximum severance pay from 40 weeks to 26, unlimited use of part-time and freelance workers, and the ability to assign Bee employees to do work for other McClatchy newspapers and web sites. Guild negotiators, meanwhile, are trying to roll back a 6% pay cut that was Imposed in the spring, and to restore the company's contributions to employee 401(k) plans.

State of Media? Just read the boldface

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has just released its annual  "State of the News Media" report.

You can find it on our website in the News Index section.

You also can to the website or just skio to the major findings section of the report.

Or just see major trends of the report

Or the key findings of the report

For the third consecutive year, the report shows only digital and cable news saw audiences grow among the key sectors that deliver news. In cable in 2009, those gains were largely captured by one network, Fox, though during the day, a breaking-news time, CNN also gained viewers.

What’s more, the data continue to suggest a clear pattern in how Americans gravitate for news: people are increasingly “on demand” consumers, seeking platforms where they can get the news they want when they want it from a variety of sources rather than have to come at appointed times and to one news organization.

BJ Alums has pulled one section from the report, adding  boldface which suggests our view of the state of affairs -- that there is a lot more opinon and a lot less reporting and 72 per cent of Americans feel the news is biased.

* The notion that the news media are shrinking is mistaken. Reportorial journalism is getting smaller, but the commentary and discussion aspect of media, which adds analysis, passion and agenda shaping, is growing — in cable, radio, social media, blogs and elsewhere. For all the robust activity there, however, the numbers still suggest that these new media are largely filled with debate dependent on the shrinking base of reporting that began in the old media. Our ongoing analysis of more than a million blogs and social media sites, for instance, finds that 80% of the links are to U.S. legacy media. The only old media sector with growing audience numbers is cable, a place where the lion’s share of resources are spent on opinionated hosts. One result may be the rising numbers in polling data that show 72% of Americans feel now most news sources are biased in their coverage and 70% feel overwhelmed rather than informed by the amount of news and information they see. Quantitatively, argument rather than expanding information is the growing share of media people are exposed to today."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

BJ retiree Maxine Lozier dies in Columbus

Maxine (Johnson) Lozier was a retired Beacon Journal communications supervisor. Her husband, Ted, died April 13, 2008  in Louisville, KY,  after a long illness with COPD and other health issues. Ted was a retired advertising executive with Hilary Advertising Services. 

Maxine Jane Lozier, 87, of Columbus, passed away Wednesday, March 10, 2010 in Kobacker House.

She was born on April 18, 1922 in Akron, a daughter of the late Dwight M. and Ruth A. (Denaple) Williams.

Maxine attended St. Timothy Catholic Church. She had volunteered with many different Hospice organizations and was also a volunteer at the Stan Hywet Hall. Maxine retired in 1987 from the Akron Beacon Journal after 42 years of service.

She is survived by her daughter, Connie (David) Huret of Columbus and Pam Simpkins of Holland, Mich.; step sons, Christopher Lozier of Illinois and Mark (Georgette) Lozier of New York; a step daughter, Martha (Glenn) Voss of Pennsylvania; six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Theodore Lozier in 2007.

A Memorial Service will be held at a later date. The family is being served by the Halteman-Fett & Dyer Funeral Home, Lancaster. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions be made to the American Cancer Organization or your local Hospice Organization.

[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Sunday, March 14, 2010, page B6, col .4]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Newspapers Must Be Kept Alive as Print Editions

Printed newspapers are dying left and right, being replaced by online news and broadcast news. Yet there are reasons to keep print media alive. You may be happy getting your news online, but for some citizens the loss of the printed page will have a profoundly life-altering impact.

The Onion News Network presents its best argument for keeping print media breathing. Listen as a panelist describes life without thousands of old newspapers.

How Will The End Of Print Journalism Affect Old Loons Who Hoard Newspapers?

Ex-Knight reporter Mary Swartz dies

Mary Elizabeth Swartz, age 87, passed away at the Hospice Care Center on March 7th, 2010, with her daughter and son at her side. Mary died as she lived, embracing the adversities of her life with a positive attitude and a gracious smile.

Mary was born on July 25, 1922 in Newark, Ohio to parents, William Peter Hutchinson and Cecilia
Elizabeth Adam. She was raised and educated in Akron, receiving BA, BS, and MS degrees from the University of Akron. As an undergraduate, she was editor of the campus Buchtelite newspaper, and as a graduate, the editor of the Alumnus Magazine.

For several years, Mary was a reporter for Knight Newspapers; first at the Akron Beacon Journal and later at the Miami Herald while her husband was stationed at the nearby Blimp Navel Station during World War II. Later, she taught in the Akron Public Schools for 23 years before retiring in 1981.

Mary and Jack, her late husband of 57 years who died September 12, 2000, traveled extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Orient. They also enjoyed theater productions here and in Cleveland, Toronto, New York, and London. They were Coach House Theater patrons.

Mary was a very active member of the Akron Woman's City Club and the College Club of Akron, having served on the Boards of each and as editor of the College Club bulletin. She was also a member of the Sorin Society at the University of Notre Dame. She was an avid tennis and bridge player.

Preceded in death by her parents and brothers, William, of Aurora, Colorado, and James of Las Vegas, Nevada, Mary is survived by her very loving and caring daughter, Jean-Anne Belfonti; and her son, Fred Swartz, both of Akron; also four Swartz grandchildren, Mark (Lisa) of Charlotte, N.C., Amanda Utz (Charlie) of Atlanta, Ga., Gregg, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and Katie of Chicago, Ill. In addition, survivors include sister, Jean Hutchinson of Jensen Beach, Fla.; brother, Joe (Marilyn) of St. George, Utah; and sister-in-law, Gerry Schlegel of Akron. There are also several cousins, nieces, and nephews scattered throughout the U.S.

Mary's kind and loving demeanor, beautiful smile, and always positive outlook on life will be sorely missed but will live in our hearts forever.

At Mary's request, there will be no calling hours. Cremation has taken place.

Mary always enjoyed her brand of homespun poetry, and this is her "goodbye":

Now I lay me down to rest;
God has put me to His test.
The gates of Heaven won't swing wide;
ecause I've had sins I couldn't hide.
Come what may I hope to meet friends,

Who have already met their own ends.
Perhaps we can share a good book,
Or have a hand of bridge; take a look.
Whatever - I've had a good run;
And looking forward to what's to come!

A memorial service to honor Mary's life will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 1905 Portage Trail, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223 on March 15th, 2010 at 10:30 A.M. Also, there will be a luncheon at the Woman's City Club, 732 W. Exchange St., Akron 44302 immediately following the memorial service. All friends are encouraged to stop by for a short repast.

The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you for all the compassion and loving care given by the nurses and staff of the Hospice Care Center.

In lieu of flowers, memorials and donations may be made to both the Hospice Care Center, 3358 Ridgewood Rd., Akron, OH 44333, as well as Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Saturday, March 13, 2010, page 5, col.5]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Scripps Howard awards announced

Scripps Howard Foundation has announced National Journalism Awards winners
They include the AP (Breaking News), Philadelphia Daily News (Investigative Reporting), and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Public Service). PLUS: Winners in 14 other categories.

Click on the headline to read the list.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Composing room had over 100 on 1982 list

Can you believe that once there were 113 employees in the Beacon Journal composing room.  It is difficult to imagine that this many workers were involved in putting out the newspaper if you compare it with today's automated, technology-driven work force.

Calvin Deshong brought the proof Wednesday to the monthly luncheon of Beacon Journal retirees at Papa Joe's.

Deshong made copies of a list that was in a file printed by the Beacon Journal  vdt  on August  8, 1988 and marked "give to Bob Lewis."  It had a subtitle indicating it was a list by age. We count 113 names on the list of composing room employees.   Deshong was listed as age 65 at the time and had 31 years of service.  He is now 91 and has been retired for 26  years.  There are check marks on the list to indicate employees who are now deceased.  

The list has been posted on our website.  You can access it from the main website page by clicking on Composing Room in 1982.  There is a link to our website at left but you can just click here to see it now.

Lucky laughing 'leven lunch

Rosetta Blanton brought friends and laughter to Wednesday’s monthly BJ retirees lunch at Papa Joe’s.

It was Rosetta’s first appearance since her husband, Watson Blanton, a BJ engraver for 22 years, died March 25, 2009 after 53 years of marriage. Accompanying Rosetta were Lonnie Thomas, long the
driver/friend for the Watsons’ appearances at Papa Joe’s monthly lunches; Lonnie’s wife, Sharon; and Rosetta’s foster cousin, Michael Goop.

That burgeoned the attendance to 11, the largest number since the July 9, 2008 Sandy Levenson/Bob Pell memorial lunch drew 23. It was a stark contrast to the February lunch, when only engraving’s Pat Dougherty and composing’s Gene McClellan braved a Northeast Ohio snowstorm.

The BJ’s Rosetta, instead of uncovering the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, unleashed a torrent of laughter.

The second-Wednesday 1 p.m. monthly gathering hasn’t had that much joy splashed around the tables in a long time.

Others enjoying the special camaraderie were McClellan, fellow retired printers Al Hunsicker, Cal Deshong and Carl Nelson and newsroom retirees Tom Moore, Harry Liggett and John Olesky. That's laughing Al (left) and Gene (right) in the photo you see.

Click on the headline to see photos of the laughing ‘leven.

Click on obituary to see Blanton’s death notice.

Click on Cub Scouts to see 2009 blog item about Blanton being honored for his Navy service.

Click on 50th anniversary to see the Blantons’ golden anniversary story and photo.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Freedom newspapers emerge from bankruptcy

A federal judge Tuesday approved Freedom Communications Inc.’s reorganization plan, giving a green light for the company to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of this month.

Freedom owns  33 newspapers includincg the Orange County Register,  eight television stations and other related companies.

The court action gets the Irvine-based media company and parent of the Orange County Register out from under 58 percent of its debt – from $775 million to $325 million. The company’s unsecured creditors will share in $32.2 million compared with the $5 million Freedom originally offered.

“I’m a little relieved that it’s all done,’’ said Freedom Chief Financial Officer Mark McEachen, who attended the less than 30-minute hearing. “Now we’re on to the business of running the business so we can get this distraction behind us.’’

Building a prosperous future for Freedom Communications means concentrating on providing relevant news and information to people in the way they want to receive it, the company’s chief financial officer said on Tuesday.

“If we can figure those things out we can make money on it,’’ McEachen said in an interview with the Orange County Register.  McEachen and interim CEO Burl Osborne both said that emerging from bankruptcy will be a new chapter for the Irvine-based company.

“There will be no dictation – at least with the current management – on positions to be taken by the editorial staff,’’ McEachen said. “They will be free to edit, comment and cover local events as they see fit, always remembering that we have to be relevant to our readers and advertisers.”

The company’s top two executives also said that they will be looking to expand, not to contract, Freedom.

“We’re looking at all opportunities,” Freedom Interim CEO Burl Osborne Osborne said.
“It’s clear there are opportunities for improvement in newspapers around the country, including Southern California.”

Osborne said the bankruptcy “will give the company a new balance sheet, a fresh start, if you will.”

The company’s plan calls for it to more than double its pretax earnings to $98 million within four years. Newspaper analysts predicted that the new investors/owners of the company are likely to hold on to it for a minimum of two years and as much as six or seven as they wait for the market for media concerns to improve.

See Freedom’s leaders bullish on future

See Judge approves Freedom bankruptcy plan

Marv Katz's daughter diagnosed with cancer

An email from former BJ staffer Marv Katz:

Dear friends and family,

Some of you already know this, but there's no easy way to tell the rest:  Our daughter Lisa has been diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, a rare and tricky-to-treat form.

As you may know, Lisa got married last summer and quit her job at UNC-Chapel Hill to move to Fort Leavenworth, Kans., where her husband, Major Thomas Pagel, is taking a course at the Army's Command and General Staff College.  She'd been experiencing pain and discomfort from gallstones, and had her gallbladder removed several weeks ago.  A pathology examination of the gallbladder showed it to be cancerous.

Lisa subsequently underwent an MRI and a PET scan last week, which showed the cancer had spread to her liver and to lymph nodes near her aorta.

She and Thomas are flying late this afternoon to Houston, where Lisa has an appointment Wednesday morning with a specialist at the renowned M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  She has been told to plan on staying in Houston until Friday.  Her oncologist in Kansas City and a friend on the staff of UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill helped make the process move quickly and smoothly.

Still to be determined is whether Lisa will undergo surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination.

Lisa is in good spirits, as is Thomas, though he is recovering from reconstructive ankle surgery two weeks ago and is getting around on crutches.  Both of them are determined to fight the cancer every way they can.

To keep folks up to date on Lisa's journey and Thomas'  recovery without consuming large amounts of time for them and others, they've created a CaringBridge Website, where they will be keeping a journal.

You can visit their CaringBridge Website in either of two easy ways:
    1. Click on this link:
    2.  Go to and enter their Website name:  lisathomaspagel.

When  you visit you’ll be asked to identify yourself, set up a password and log in, because they’ve chosen to  keep the site private. That said, if you know of someone you think they might have missed who'd want to be a part of their CaringBridge community,  please feel free to loop him or her in.

You can show them support by:
• Visiting the site and keeping yourself up to date.
• Leaving a message in their guestbook on the site.
• Agreeing on the site to receive e-mail notifications when their journal is updated.

Obviously, this is a stressful and heartbreaking development for all of us.  Your prayers and your support would be most welcome.  And if you wish to contact Joyce or me, please feel free to do so.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Importance of name brand reporting

A professor teaches the importance of "brand name" over "knee jerk" reporting.  A remark that  Chief Justice Roberts was retiring spreads trom the classroom and gets picked up quickly by the online "get it first" media who never seem to abide by the old rule "Get it first, but first get it right."

Read about it in the Los Angeles Times.

David Morgan Jr. makes career switch

Another BJ reporter making a career switch is David Lee Morgan Jr. .  What started as an avocation has become a new career for the former BJ sportswriter who left the newspaper to join David Brennan’s White Hat Management on March 1 as a literary / character education coordinator for the
charter schools. He has written a 105-page workbook for use in the schoools.

Morgan who has enjoyed teaching literacy and writing skills to youths and discussed it one his book-signing sessions when it was suggested that working for Brennan might be a good fit for him.

Morgan  started working as a sportswriter in 1987  for his college newspaper (The Jambar) at Youngstown State University. He worked at several newspapers including the Warren Tribune-Chronicle, The Raleigh News & Observer, The Youngstown Vindicator and  the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin before joining the  Beacon Journal, where he worked 15 years.

Morgan covered  various beats, from high school to pro. He was the Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer in 2002, covered the University of Akron Zips athletics. He also was the beat writer for the Akron Aeros from 1997 to 2003 and was part of the Beacon Journal's coverage during the Indians' 1997 playoff run..

Morgan covered  LeBron James when James played at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. Morgan and has written several books including:

LeBron James: The Rise of a Star,
Gray and Co. Publishers (Cleveland) October 2003, 208 pages

Ring For The King: King James, Shaq, and The Quest for an NBA Championship, 
Triumph Books (Chicago) October 2009. 128 paes

More Than a Coach: What It Means to Play for Coach, Mentor, and Friend Jim Tressel,  Triumph Books (Chicago) July, 3009 208 pages

High School Heroes: Stories of Inspiration, Dedication, and Hope,
University of Akron Press, September 2009, 203 pages

Kelly ‘The Ghost’ Pavlik: The Pride of Youngstown, May 2009 by City Printing in Youngstown. Co-wrote the  book with his former baseball coach at YSU, Greg Gulas.

Game Changes: Greatest Moments in Ohio State Football History due out in September 2010    105 pages

Morgan was named the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Writer of the Year three times (2004, 2007 and 2009) and is a member of the Trumbull County African-American Achievers Hall of Fame.

Born in Warren, Morgan is married to Tricia (Leslie) Morgan and they have four children:  Morgan III (Trey), Christian, Brooke, Cameron and a border collie-lab mix named Vinnie.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Donald and Nancy Reppart mark anniversary

This 50h wedding anniversary and photo of Donald and Nancy Reppart was published in Sunday’s Beacon Journal on page E6.  Reppart was a composing room employee.

Donald and Nancy Reppart recently celebrated 50 years of marriage

The celebration

To commemorate a party was hold in their honor at the Wooster Church of the Nazarene.

At the commemoration, December 5, 2009 in American Sign Language, led by Douglas Smart, Donald and Nancy were able to renew their wedding vows, take communion, and light a unity candle. In attendance was oldest son, Douglas Reppart and daughter, Jessica, with daughter Susan, husband Paul Dorando and children Samuel and Cianna.

Their story
Donald Reppart married Nancy Jean 86hon"ln Elkins, West Virginia on December 26, 1959. Donald retired from the Akron Beacon Journal after 35 years of service and he and Nancy reside in North Canton with their brood of chihuahuas.

Mary Ohlinger, retail ad retiree, dies at 90

[Blog Note: Mary Ohlinger worked in Retail Advertising at the Beacon and her brother, the late Jerry VanSickle, who worked in the composing room]

Mary Lorraine Ohlinger, age 90, passed peacefully at home with her daughter, C. Kelly Bickey and
granddaughter, Allison Leigh Bickey, both of Raleigh, holding her hands as her long and brave struggle with vascular dementia ended.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, George Daniel Ohlinger, and her youngest daughter, Kathleen Gail Ohlinger. She is survived by daughter, Linda Marie Gibson and husband, Jim, of West Palm Beach Fla.; grandson, Robert Mitchell Bickey, of Philadelphia Pa.; and friend, Bob Bickey, of Raleigh.

Mary was born in Laramie, Wyo. and was raised and educated at Mooseheart in Ill. She moved to Akron, Ohio married and later did outstanding work for Knight Ridder newspaper, The Akron Beacon Journal, as director of business review pages. Mary had a passion for family, friends, antique glassware, ice skating and golf. She loved the warmth and beauty of the Raleigh area for the past 30 years. We will all miss "Cranberry Mary".

If desired memorial contributions may be made to the Susan B Koman Breast Cancer Fund or to the Alzheimer's Association at

Renaissance Funeral Home of North Raleigh, (919) 866 1866
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Sunday, March 7, 2010, page B6,  col 5]

Saturday, March 06, 2010

BJ pension gobbled till late October by medical, inflation


In 2009 it took every penny of the first 9.75 months of my BJ pension to pay for my medical expenses that year plus offset the 41% inflation since my 1996 retirement. That’s right: Until the final week of October 2009, my pension checks went for medical expenses and reduced buying power.

Along comes Aetna Medicare, which the Beacon Journal provides for its retirees, and says that the medical deductible for 2010 went from last year’s $150 to this year’s $250. That’s a 67% increase. The out-of-pocket maximum went from $4,000 to $5,000. That’s a 25% increase. Unfortunately, BJ retirees are not unique. It’s the same for other companies’ retirees who have Aetna Medicare or similar plans.

About the 41% inflation since 1996: It takes $1.41 to buy today what I could buy in 1996 for $1. Those numbers come from the federal government.

My Social Security, thankfully, has increased 45.3% since 1996, slightly more than inflation.

And I’ve been lucky – not skilled – with my investments amid the market turmoil. That helps keep me afloat financially.

Health care is devouring huge chunks of retirees’ incomes and of businesses’ profits while politicians posture, point, pout, procrastinate, provoke partisan passions and we puke our pensions into prodigious profits by pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

Care to comment? Click on “Comments” and have at it.

Friday, March 05, 2010

LA Times Sells Disney Entire Front Page for 'Alice'

UPDATE: Click on the headline for an update in NY Times: It was the business office, not the editor's,  decision.

In another first, the Los Angeles Times sold its front page to The Walt Disney Company in a special promotion for “Alice in Wonderland,” which is opening on Friday.

Instead of the actual front page, readers in Los Angeles are treated to a faux front page, complete with the traditional “Los Angeles Times” masthead, splashed with a full-color photo of Johnny Depp as the

Mad Hatter. The image spilled over two “articles” on health care and Afghanistan.

The actual front page required readers to turn the page.

One media buyer insider said the ad cost $700,000, but others said that figure seemed high. Even at half that amount, it would be a huge take for the daily paper.

“We worked very closely with Disney to come up with an exceptional and distinctive way to help them open ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” said John Conroy, a spokesman for the Times. “It was designed to create buzz, and to extend the film’s already brilliant marketing campaign. “

The campaign may indeed create buzz, but perhaps not the kind that a newspaper might seek.

Last April, the paper stirred controversy by running a full-page ad on its front news page for NBC’s “Southland.” At the time, critics inside the paper and out accused the Times of selling its editorial integrity for an ad, because the ad appeared at a casual glance to be an article.

Similarly, this ad appears at a casual glance to be the actual front page, with slightly different fonts used for the articles on it.

Guild OKs 3-year pact: 10% cut in pay, benefits

The Akron unit of the Newspaper Guild voted today to ratify a three-year agreement with the Beacon Journal, averting a possible strike that would have been detrimental to the newspaper.  The contact amounts to an overall 10 per cent cut in salaries and benefits.

The vote was 45 to 13 for the settlement.  The vote turnout was good considering the dwindling staff numbers and those who were out of town or otherwise  did not have an opportunity to vote.

The agreement is concessionary, but is an improvement from the 25 to 30 percent cut in wages and benefits the newspaper was originally requesting.

``This contract isn't a cause for celebration,'' said Bob DeMay, the union's president and an assistant photo editor at the Beacon Journal. ``We wanted to prevent a strike or the possibility of imposed conditions worse than those we accepted today.''

The vote was divided, indicating the membership's deep concern over a contract with concessions that amount to a 10 percent cut to wages. Members were especially upset because similar sacrifices haven't been asked of newsroom managers or other non-union employees.

``We felt this was the best deal we could get for our members,'' DeMay said. "That doesn't mean we like it."

The agreement includes a 2.11 percent decrease to base pay, a reduction in the work week from 40 to 37.5 hours, and a week of unpaid vacation this year, which together equal a 10 percent cut. There are no raises in the second or third year.

The contract has layoff protection for the next 18 months, with wages and hours snapping back to previous levels if a notice is given. It also includes a $200 signing bonus.

Pensions will be frozen, but the company agreed to increase its 401K match. The union will take on a larger share of health care premiums in the second and third year and will go down to five sick days every two years starting in 2011, with immediate short-term disability offered for serious illnesses at full pay.

The union preserved language on job security, seniority, severance, vacation time for current employees, and most job titles. The two sides agreed to language that gives the company more flexibility in hiring correspondents but restricts their use to 6 percent of the Guild's payroll.

The Guild and company had been negotiating for more than a year, with the union's members operating under the terms of a contract that expired in July 2008.

The union represents about 85 reporters, copy editors, photographers, assistant editors, page designers, artists, sports statisticians, librarians and secretaries -- a number slashed more than 50 percent over the past 10 years through layoffs, buyouts and attrition.

Guild members annually win state and national awards, earning the newspaper respect and recognition. In the Associated Press journalism awards announced this week, Guild members were named as finalists in 13 categories.

Big Read in Wayne County highlights Dawidziak

The Wayne Center for the Arts is working closely with Northeast Ohio writer and Twain scholar Mark Dawidziak as a part of THE BIG READ IN WAYNE COUNTY this March and April. Dawidziak will be the keynote speaker for the Big Read and with the Largely Literary Theatre Company, will perform “Twain by Three” on April 1..Dawidziak  has also provided  the Wayne Center which many pieces from his Twain memorabilia collection.

Dawidziak has been the television critic at the Cleveland Plain Dealer since July 1999. During his fifteen years at the Akron Beacon Journal, he held such posts as TV columnist, movie critic and critic-at-large.

The Center for the Arts, all seven branches of the Wayne County Public Library, the Orrville Public Library, The Wooster Book Company and area schools have come together to get adults as well as students to read, discuss and examine the work and  life of Samuel Clemens at the one hundredth anniversary of his death. A Kickoff Event is scheduled for Friday, March 12 from 6 to 8 pm at the Wayne Center for the Arts.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Wayne County is one of 268 communities nationwide participating in The Big Read from September 2009-June 2010.

Here are evnts:

* Friday, March 12 with an opening reception at the Wayne Center for the Arts celebrating an exhibition entitled, Mark Twain in Wooster. The exhibition will feature information on Mark Twain’s life and will include photos, memorabilia, artifacts and early editions of Twain books. A special section will highlight Twain’s visit to Wooster in January of 1872.

•  Tuesday, March 16 Keynote Speaker Mark Dawidziak at Main Branch of the Wayne County Public Library will present a program entitled, "Mark Twain: The Reports of His Death Are Greatly Exaggerated," at the Main Branch of the Wayne County Public Library, at 7 pm .

•  Thursday evening, April 1 at 7 pm. Twain by Three at Wayne College in conjunction with the Orrville Public Library The Largely Literary Theatre Company’s production of Twain by Three, will be performed in the J. M. Smucker Room of the new Student Life building.  The play begins with  Twain working at his desk. He talks to the audience about his frustrations with critics, editors and publishers, and this talk leads to a succession of stories. Three actors play all of the characters in these sketches.

•  Public programs at libraries around the County include Tom Sawyer movies, speakers and gamew.

• March 26 and March 27. Twain’s Tales  Storytime Family Theatre production at the Wayne Center for the Arts, a collection of five short stories by Twain.

•  Book discussions: At least twelve book discussions will be held during The Big the sponsoring locations. .The Wooster Book Company, College of Wooster, and Muddy Waters CafĂ©.

He is elated to be in Wichita

It's easy to imagine that moving from New Jersey to Wichita will be jarring for William "Skip" Hidlay.

Considering he is the new publisher of The ]\\ichita Eagle, it's easy to imagine it will be jarring for
Wichita, as well.

But to Hidlay, the practice of strong journalism will provide a natural transition.

"I was trying to get out of New Jersey 14 years, but there were these great corruption stories to keep me there." Hidlay (pronounced "HIDE-lee") told the newspaper's staff at a meeting Thursday after he was named to the post by the McClatchy Co.

His experience investigating that corruption is in keeping with The Eagle's heritage, he said in an interview later.

"The Eagle has always been known nationally as an excellent newspaper, an agenda-setting newspaper that does great journalism in a variety of ways, and now on multiple platforms," he said.
"I am elated to be here."

[Source: Wichita Eagle]

Monday, March 01, 2010

Some more findings: Little editing

Here are a few more startling findings–this time from the Columbia Journalism Review and a survey on magazine websites:

    *  59 percent of those surveyed said that either there was no copy editing whatsoever online
(11 percent), or that copy editing is less rigorous than in the print edition.

    *  40 percent said that when Web editors, as opposed to print editors, are in charge of content decisions, fact-checking is less rigorous (17 percent said there was no fact-checking online when Web editors made the content decisions).

    *  54 percent said that when errors were eventually pointed out, on sites where the Web editor made content decisions the errors were corrected, but without any indication to the reader that there had been an error in the first place.

And that’s taking respondents at their word!

Does this mean that Web people care less about traditional journalistic standards than print people? Well, let’s put it this way: in the online world, speed is the name of the game. Web sites are interested in maximizing traffic on the theory that that’s the way to attract advertisers, and quantity often trumps quality when it comes to that. Thus, given the prevailing business model (advertising is still king), the question arises: Is online content, with its rapid turnaround requirements, held to the same standards as its print equivalents? Survey says no! We conclude that while Web people don’t always favor speed over accuracy or elegance of style, they nevertheless seem to factor speed (i.e., who is first with the news, or the controversial views, as the case may be) into the equation in a way that tends to undermine traditional journalistic standards.
Read the full report.

Blog Guy's Confession:  The above confirms my worst fears. I used to believe I was a careful editor, but I can attest to the dangers of getting something up fast and the lack of copy editing. It seems any time I dash something onto  this blog and hit the publish button and go away---I will find the most horrible, attrocious errors the first time I look at it again.  Thank God , this is a blog for former news types.  Often as soon as a bad headline or typo hits, I will get an email saying:  "Typo in -----"
Copy editing is essential.  I need to repeat that twenty times.

26 per cent get their news on cell phone

This is a report from the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism. Note: This is always available on our webiste under “News Index" which takes you to the website.
A new PEW reports shows 26% of Americans get news on their cell phones. They  are typically white males, median age 34, who have graduated from college and are employed full-time. Overall, cell users under age 50 are almost three times as likely as their older counterparts to get news on their cell phones (43% v. 15%).

The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get their daily  news.
And the internet is now the third most-popular news platform. It falls behind local and national television news and ahead of national print newspapers, local print newspapers and radio. Still, the overall reality is that the internet fits into a broad pattern of news consumption by Americans.

Six in ten (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day.

Just 7% of American adults get their daily news from a single media platform, and those who do typically rely on either the internet or local television news.

“Americans have become news grazers both on and offline – but within limits,” says Amy Mitchell , Deputy Director for The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, “They generally don’t have one favorite website but also don’t search aimlessly. Most online news consumers regularly draw on just a handful of different sites.”

The internet and mobile technologies are at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing. In today’s new multi-platform media environment, people’s relationship to news is becoming portable, personalized, and participatory:

Portable: 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.

Personalized: 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.

Participatory: 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

The rise of social media like social networking sites and blogs has helped the news become a social experience for consumers; people use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess, and react to news. They also use traditional email and other tools to swap stories and comment on them.

These findings form the centerpiece of a new report from the Pew Research Center ’s Internet & American Life Project and the Project for Excellence in Journalism aimed at understanding today’s news environment and the “new” news consumer. The report is based on a national telephone survey of 2,259 adults ages 18 and older.

“News awareness is becoming an anytime, anywhere, any device activity for those who want to stay informed,” argued Kristen Purcell, Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center ’s Internet & American Life Project. “We see new segments of avid news consumers built around those who have set up news alerts and those who are eager to be part of the news-creation and news-commentary environment.”

Other main findings:

Six in ten American adults (61%) get news online on a typical day, and 71% of Americans get news online at least occasionally.

Getting news is an important social act. Some 72% of American news consumers say they follow the news because they enjoy talking with others about what is happening in the world and 69% say keeping up with the news is a social or civic obligation. Moreover, among those who get news online, 75% get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52% share links to news with others via those means.

When getting news online, Americans use just a handful of news sites and do not have a favorite. The majority of online news consumers (57%) routinely rely on just two to five websites for their news, and only 35% have a favorite.

Portal websites like Google News, AOL and Topix are the most commonly used online news sources, visited by over half of online news users (56%) on a typical day. Also faring well are the sites of traditional news organizations with an offline presence, such as CNN, BBC and local or national newspapers. Age, political party and ideology all affect an individual’s preference for particular online news sources.

The 26% of Americans who get news on their cell phones are typically white males, median age 34, who have graduated from college and are employed full-time. Overall, cell users under age 50 are almost three times as likely as their older counterparts to get news on their cell phones (43% v. 15%).

mericans have mixed feelings about the current news environment. Over half (55%) say it is easier to keep up with news and information today than it was five years ago, but 70% feel the amount of news and information available from different sources is overwhelming.

Americans also have mixed feelings about the quality of news today. Just under two-thirds (63%) agree with statement that “major news organizations do a good job covering all of the important news stories and subjects that matter to me.” Yet 71% also agree that “most news sources today are biased in their coverage.”

 This report is based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research International between December 28, 2009, and January 19, 2010, among a sample of 2,259 adults, 18 and older, who were contacted on landline and cell phones. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. For results based internet users (n=1,675) and “online news users” (N= 1,582), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.