Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2 Soap Box Derby books & movie heading your way

Carol Biliczky's story in today's Beacon Journal reports that The University of Akron Press is releasing two books on the All-American Soap Box Derby.

Former BJ reporter Melanie Payne is updating her 2003 "Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams: Memories of the Soap Box Derby." Former derby employee Jeff Iula, Cuyahoga Falls councilman, authored "How I Saw It: My Photographic Memory of the Soap Box Derby" with cowriter Bill Ignizio of Cuyahoga Falls, which will be out July 15. Jeff's dad, Ralph Iula, former BJ promotions director and Soap Box Derby chief, died in 2006.

Both books will appear in time for the debut of "25 Hill," a derby movie produced by actor Corbin Bernsen, on July 9 and the 74th All-American race for about 500 local race champions on July 23.

Click on the headline to read Carol's story in the BJ.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chuck Strouse on Miami Herald building sale

The McClatchy Co. announced this morning that it has sold one of Miami's most iconic buildings to a Malaysian resort and gambling company.

The company's chairman, Gary Pruitt, said it was no longer the era for a newspaper to be located on the bay. That says something about daily newspapers.

The good news: Herald reporters get to stay in 1 Herald Plaza for two years rent-free.

The bad news: They are going to knock down the building where I and thousands of Miamians worked for years. This must be what it feels like when your parents sell the house and tell you it's time to move out.

Scratch that: That's EXACTLY what it feels like.

The price: $236 million.

The buyer: Genting Malysia Berhad, or actually a subsidiary of that company.

News has been reported from that building for years. It was Herald founder John S. Knight's pride and headquarters of one of the nation's largest newspaper companies, Knight-Ridder, for years.

People hid under desks there when Hurricane Andrew went through in 1992. They held up there when riots burned down the town in the 1980s and 1990s. Then there was that unfortunate incident involving my onetime source, former Miami commissioner Arthur Teele.

I'll miss 1 Herald Plaza. I spent a chunk of my life there. And I am not alone.

McClatchy sells Miami Herald land, building

The struggling McClatcy newspaper chain sold 14 acres and its bayside building to a Malaysia-based company, which plans to develop the property as an entertainment complex. (A long-stalled agreement to sell about 10 acres of that land for $190 million a a Miami developer was terminated in January.) The cash deal allows the Miami Herald and El Nuevo to continue to operate from their current location rent free for two years as owner McClatchy searches for a new location. The Herald reports:
McClatchy will use the $163 million from the sale to bolster the company’s pension plan and $65 million to pay down debt. The remaining monies will be used to pay for relocation and taxes associated with the sale.

 “While locating a newspaper operation on the bay may have made sense in the past, it no longer is the best fit,’’ said Gary Pruitt, McClatchy’s chairman and chief executive.

Read the Miami Herald story

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Geigers to celebrate 50th wedding anniversary

Sandy and Pete Geiger on their wedding day and today (inserts)

BJ Alums got this email from former BJ staffer Pete Geiger, who lives in Penney Farms, Florida, a Christian retirement community 38 miles west of St. Augustine, after spending 13 years in Mongolia:

Good Morning,

Some of you were there; you know who you are.

Sandy graduated from Eastern Baptist College (now Eastern University) and we all trooped westward to New Castle, Pa. to celebrate her birthday. And then there was the wedding in First Baptist Church, where she married Pete. (He, a part-time student, took another two years to finish college.)

Hard to believe that was a half-century ago, eh?

Well, it was; and now we're going to mark the occasion by renewing our vows. We'd thought you'd like to know. There must absolutely be no remembrances other than your good wishes, OK?

Our renewal ceremony will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3, 2011 in First Presbyterian Church of Green Cove Springs, Florida. That's 50 years and five hours from the time we tied the knot. The Rev. Dr. W. Hunter Camp II will officiate. If you're close enough to be there, we definitely want to see you in the congregation. A very small reception with cake and punch will follow in the church's "Friendship Hall."

God has been extremely good to us. Our ceremony will be one of gratitude and much of our thankfulness has been for all of you who have been with us through some or all of the years of our marriage. May He bless you abundantly, as well.

With love,

Sandy and Pete Geiger
P.O. Box 2000
Penney Farms, FL 32079

If you choose to email the Geigers rather than mail them a card, the email address is


Their phone number is (904) 284-2220.

The Geigers returned last month from a cruise of the Danube River in Europe.

Click on the headline to see earlier stories about the Geigers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

BJ's Dyer wins commentary award

The Society for Features Journalism has awarded Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer third place in the General Commentary category among newspapers with a daily circulation of 90,000 to 200,000. His entry consisted of a cross-section of columns from 2010. The first- and second-place winners both write for the Palm Beach (FL) Post. The awards will be presented in August at the group's annual conference in Tucson, Ariz.
[Source: Beacon Journal]

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jeff Iula writes Soap Box Derby memoirs

Jeff Iula, who followed in the footsteps of his dad Ralph (former BJ promotions director), has written a book with Bill Ignizio about Jeff's tenure as All-American Soap Box Derby general manager.

"My Photographic Memory of the Soap Box Derby" will go on sale July 15 at the University of Akron bookstore. Jeff will host a presentation July 15 at the University of Akron’s Martin Center. Corbin Bersen’s derby movie, "25 Hill," will premiere in Akron July 9.

Four of the groomsmen at Jeff's wedding 21 years ago were derby world champs.

Jeff is a Cuyahoga Falls councilman.

Ralph died in 2006.

To read the story on the Cuyahoga Falls Patch news web site, click on the headline.

Listen to Ted Gup at 10 a.m. Sunday on WVIZ

Author Ted Gup's appearance this week at the City Club forum in Cleveland will air on WVIZ-Channel 25 at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Ted, a former BJ reporter, discussed "A Secret Gift," about his grandfather, Samuel J. Stone, who wrote numerous checks anonymously under a made-up name to help out people in financial straits in the Canton area.

Ted also wrote “Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life” (Doubleday, 2007), winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and the bestseller, “The Book of Honor: Covert Lives And Classified Deaths At The CIA” (Doubleday, 2000.) He is a former investigative reporter for The Washington Post and wrote for Time magazine.

Since 2009, Ted has chaired the Emerson College (Boston) journalism department. He also taught at Case Western Reserve University, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

He and wife Peggy live in Boston and Bucksport, Maine. Their children are David and Matthew.

Click on the headline to see a previous BJ Alums article on Ted.

Paul Tople's grandson dies

Michael Ryan Tople, grandson of BJ photographer Paul Tople, died May 17

Michael Ryan Tople

Baby Michael was taken into the arms of Jesus on May 17, 2011. He was born
January 18, 2011 in Akron.

He is survived by his loving parents, Mike and Jamie Tople. In his short time here he touched the lives of all of his family and friends.

We trust that Jesus Christ needs little angels for bigger things than we can understand.

Funeral service will be held 1 p.m. SATURDAY at the Billow FAIRLAWN Chapel, 85 N. Miller Rd. Private family interment at Greenlawn Memorial Park. Friends may call from 11 a.m. until time of the service on SATURDAY at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Michael Ryan Tople memorial fund at any First Merit Bank.
(Billow FAIRLAWN Chapel)
[Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Friday, May 20, 2011, page B5, col. 5]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

About getting the news

Bob Dyer’s column in today’s Beacon Journal ['Big news' has changed over time] is worth reading. It discusses an alarming trend on where people get their news and how little they know.

Read it.

Bob Dyer -- 33 awards and still typing away

Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer's selection by the Associated Press Society of Ohio for columnist of the year is old hat to Bob. It's his 32nd national or state award in a career that began in 1975 with the Wooster Daily Record and switched to the BJ in 1984.

In three years Bob -- my Blue Room lunch partner till my 1996 retirement from the BJ -- has een named Ohio columnist of the year FOUR times -- by the Associated Press Society of Ohio (2011), Ohio Society of Professional Journalists (2010 and 2009) and the Press Club of Cleveland (2010).

Bob one-upped that honor in 2008, when the National Society of Professional Journalists named him the best columnist in the nation.

Among the 13 first places for Bob:

General-Interest Column, Press Club of Cleveland, 2010.
Personality Profile, Press Club of Cleveland, 2005.
Feature Writing, Ohio Associated Press, 2001.
Feature Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1993.
Arts/Entertainment Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1987.
Arts/Entertainment Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1986.
Investigative Reporting, Women in Communications, 1986.
Newspaper Series, Women in Communication, 1986.

The rest of a long list of accomplishments for Bob:

Second place, Column Writing, Ohio Associated Press, 2008
Second place, Newsmaker Profile, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2005.
Second place, Personality Profile, Ohio SPJ, 2000.
Second place, Public Service Journalism, Ohio SPJ, 1998.
Second place, Sunday Magazine Human Interest Story, Press Club of Cleveland, 1995.
Second place, Arts/Entertainment Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1990.
Third place, Best Columnist in Ohio, Ohio Associated Press, 2010.
Third place, Feature Reporting, Ohio Associated Press, 1993.
Third place, General-Interest Columns, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, 2008.
Third place, Herb Caen Award, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, 2010
Third place, Multiple-Topic Columns, National Society of Newspaper
Columnists, 2009.
Third place, general commentary, Society for Features Journalism.
Fourth place, Multiple-Topic Columns, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, 1996.
Honorable Mention, Personality Profile, Ohio SPJ, 2006.
Honorable mention, Feature Writer, Ohio Associated Press, 2002.
Honorable mention, Feature Reporting, Ohio Associated Press, 1989.
Finalist, Best Newspaper Series, Penney-Missouri Journalism Awards, 1987.
One of lead writers, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, 1994.
Contributor, Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting, 1987.
Nominated for Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, 1993 and 2004.

Phil Trexler, this year named first in news writing and second in enterprise reporting by the Associated Press Society of Ohio, was third in news writing a year earlier and got an honorable mention in breaking news in 2007.

Former BJ staffer David Giffels was chosen best news writer in 2008, when the Beacon Journal was first in community service.

Ken Love was first in spot news photo in 2007, with Phil Masturzo second.

Former BJ staffer Terry Pluto, now at the PD, won first place as sports writer in the latest Associated Press Society of Ohio awards.

The Columbus Dispatch had the most winners (52) this year.

Massillon Independent was first among newspapers with circulation under 13,000. The Indie also was first in 2007, second in 2009 and third in 2008.

Click on the headline for the list of all the winners of this year's Associated Press Society of Ohio awards in the BJ's circulation category.

Pete Hammill discusses future of news

Author Pete Hamill discusses future of journalism (and newspapers) on Morning Joe

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

NY Times editor on Morning Joe

New York Times editor Bill Keller discusses the NYTimes online paywall on Morning Joe

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Winges elected AP Society director

Bruce Winges, vice president and editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, was elected as a director of the Associated Press Society of Ohio for 2011-12 at the group's annual convention Sunday. Winges will represent newspapers with a daily circulation of more than 50,000.

Also serving on the board, with a term expiring in 2012, is Jeff Gauger, editor of the Canton Repository, representing newspapers from all circulation divisions as an at-large director.

Laura Kessel, managing editor of The (Willoughby) News-Herald, was elected president of the Associated Press Society of Ohio for 2011-12 at the group's annual convention Sunday.

Lance White, managing editor of The (Wooster) Daily Record, was named president-elect, and Peter Mattiace, editor of The (Findlay) Courier, was named trustee.

Jim Bebbington, managing editor of the Springfield News-Sun, was elected to represent newspapers with a daily circulation of 10,000 to 50,000.

David Fong, executive editor of the Troy Daily News, was elected to represent newspapers of up to 10,000 daily circulation.

Winges, Bebbington and Fong were elected to two-year terms.

BJ staffers win AP awards

Beacon Journal staffers won honors in the Associated Press Society of Ohio on Sunday. Bob Dyer won a first place as best columnist, Phil Trexler won a first as best news writer and Nate Ulrich won a second place for best sports writer. Trexler also won second place for best enterprise reporting.
[Source: Beacon Journal, Monday, May 16, 2011, page B1]

Friday, May 13, 2011

Delano Massey laid off again

Former BJ staffer Delano Massey apparently just can't keep a job. Massey, a J-grad of University of Akron, got a job at the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader in the early 2000s and worked his way up from cop reporter to regional editor. At some point he jumped to the Beacon Journal, which he considered his dream job, but then was laid off, maybe within a year or so. The Herald-Leader was thrilled to get him back. Then last week he was let go again. Newspapering's a tough racket these days.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

BJ advertises leasing of building space

As reported earlier on this blog, the Beacon Journal will combine all it departments on the third floor and lease space on other floors of the building. Here is an advertisement for the leasing:

Pickard Commercial Group announces the appointment as the exclusive representatives for the Historic Akron Beacon Journal building located at

44 E Exchange Street, Akron, Ohio.

Office/Retail Space for LEASE
44 E Exchange Street
Akron, OH 44308

Available Space: 29,890 SF, including Mezzanine space, 2nd Floor Office Space, and First Floor Office/Retail Space

Lease Rate: $10.50/SF and $8.50/SF


Beautiful landmark building with distinctive architecture
Built in 1929 in the heart of downtown Akron
Secured entrance and attached parking deck offer convenient access for employees and clients
Unique mixture of surrounding businesses and residents, including the University of Akron
Easily accessible to greater Cleveland/Akron area via Route 8, I-77, and I-76
CISCO VOIP (phone service) available

For information on this property, please contact:

Jim Pickard at (330) 794-7986

Quartet at BJ Alums lunch

From left: Gene McClelland, Calvin DeShong, Al Hunsicker, Tom Moore

Newsroom retiree Tom Moore filed this report on the 1 p.m. second Wednesday of the month BJ Alums lunch at Papa Joe's:


Just four of us. Next month a phone booth?


Joining Tom were retired printers Gene McClellan, Calvin DeShong and Al Hunsicker.

Except for January 2011 when no one braved Northeast Ohio's winter to show up, the quartet was the lowest total since three made it to the December 2010 lunch.

I confess that I forgot about it, again. I didn't post it on my calendar, as I usually do, and I didn't have anything else going on of any consequence. I since have put the monthly dates for the rest of the year on my calendar.

Sorry, Tom.

There hasn't been a double-digit attendance since the dozen who made it to the March 2010 lunch. It's beginning to feel like The Last Man Club.

If you show up at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at Papa Joe's, you would be welcomed with open arms. It's open to current and former BJ employees, and spouses of both categories. Heck, if you are a neighbor to either category, show up and swell the attendance total. We're a dying breed. Literally.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LA Times wins SDX award

Sigma Delta Chi 2010 award winners:
The Los Angeles Times wins yet another award (Investigative Reporting; Daily Circulation 100,000+) for its Bell investigation. The Public Service Journalism Award (Daily Circulation 100,000+) goes to the Washington Post for “Top Secret America.” The award for Breaking News Coverage (Network/Syndication Service/Program Service) goes to “NBC Nightly News” for its Chilean mine rescue coverage.
PLUS: Many more winners

Update on Marv Katz's daughter

Marv Katz, who included the Beacon Journal in his 40-year career, posted this information yesterday about his daughter, Lisa, on the CaringBridge.org web site:

This is from Lisa's dad, Marv Katz, with editing by both Lisa and her sister, Susie...payback for the editing I did of their high-school papers.

The majority of Lisa's surgery did not go forward today. The surgical oncologist did a laproscopy first and found a number of rice-grain sized nodules throughout her abdomen that a quick biopsy showed to be cancerous. They provided something less than the "pristine" environment he'd hoped to find, and he decided not to go ahead. He closed the two small incisions he'd made and sent Lisa home. The nodules aren't immediately threatening to Lisa's well-being, so Lisa will go back on chemo in two weeks.

The better news is that what appeared to be a tumor near one of her ovaries is instead a cyst, and also apparently non-threatening. The other tumor is less accessible and the surgeon decided not to examine it because that would involve more dissection. He also determined the source of Lisa's recent abdominal pain likely was her liver, which showed a considerable amount of scar tissue from the chemo and radiation treatments.

There's no way of knowing whether the small nodules may have been larger earlier, and reduced in size by the chemo and radiation, but that's a possibility -- one we can hope to be the case. Knowing more about them may enable the medical oncologist to make changes in the chemo cocktail to make it more effective.

The information gained today also may help make Lisa eligible for any appropriate clinical trials at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, if she chooses to participate.

In the meantime, Lisa is home and, after a four-hour nap this afternoon, she has joined us in the living room for a while, kicked back in half of the reclining love seat with Susie next to her doing some charting for work. We've been recounting the day together and, since Lisa had been down for most of Sunday afternoon and evening with her bowel prep (Happy Birthday!), reading through posts to CaringBridge from midday yesterday through today. Lisa has also gotten to field a couple of phone calls as they've come in within the hour, surprising the callers who sure didn't expect her to be here or answering the phone.

Lisa is experiencing the dry mouth that is routine after surgery and is also a bit tender where the surgeon did his work. She and Thomas have felt the love and support of all of you, particularly those among the sisterhood, and now brotherhood, of the purple toes (and shirts). I'm sure she'll be posting here herself as soon as she feels fit enough to deal with her laptop.

Click on the headline for an earlier report on Lisa's health situation.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Pete & Sandy Geiger cruise the Danube

Sandy and Pete during Mongolia Days

Former BJ staffer Pete Geiger and wife Sandy live in Penny Farms, Florida, a Christian retirement community 38 miles west of St. Augustine, after spending 13 years in Mongolia, sent this email in reply for my request for information about them:


Sandy and I are just back from cruising the Danube; a wonderful experience! We've never before been on a group tour, preferring to buy plane tickets, rent a car and go find B&Bs. We may not do so again, but figured this was a good way to get an education about a part of Europe where we'd not been previously. All-in-all, that proved true.


Their sightseeing included Wallfartsbasilika Church atop Pöslingburg Hill in Linz, Austria.

When I emailed back, requesting yet more details, Pete replied:

We enjoyed the travel and appreciated the local information
afforded by the guided aspect of the trip. I, more than Sandy, did not
especially enjoy being herded.

Being on tour enabled us to do some things we otherwise could not have done: a visit to a Kindergarten in Bratislava; lunch in a private home in Cesky Krumlov. I suppose it's a trade-off. I would hesitate doing it again, not to say I would resist,
and Sandy is enthusiastic about it.

Everyone told us -- and the Internet comments seem to agree -- that
Grand Circle is the premier river cruise line for Europe. They're based
in Boston, 1-866-313-3744. You'll still wind up spending (a lot of money),
all-in-all, but we believe it's a worthwhile price.

You might want the Danube on your bucket list and this is probably the way to do it.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Cathy Strong trip to Kenya

Click on the headline to read the first journal entry of Cathy Strong on her trip to Kenya. You will need a facebook log on.l

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Jane Scott turns 92

Jane Scott, the legendary journalist who covered four decades of rock 'n' roll for The Plain Dealer, turned 92 on Tuesday, May 3. Her byline appeared in the newspaper thousands of times, above music features, concert reviews and her long-running "What's Happening" column in Friday! magazine.

Her first day at The Plain Dealer was March 24, 1952, three days after the world's first rock concert -- Alan Freed's Moondog Coronation Ball at the old Cleveland Arena. She retired 50 years later on March 28, 2002. She lives in Lakewood.

See the story with photo album on Cleveland.com

[Source: PD Alumni News blog

Staging of Obama photo described

Reuters White House photographer Jason Reed says that “once Obama was off the air, we were escorted in front of that teleprompter and the President then re-enacted the walk-out and first 30 seconds of the statement for us.” Al Tompkins points out:

That means the photograph that appeared in many newspapers Monday morning of Obama speaking may have been the staged shot, captured after the President spoke. This type of staging has been going on for decades. …

This practice of re-enacting an historic speech flies directly in the face of the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics which includes this relevant passage: “Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.”

Kathy Lally and husband a lonely pair in Egypt

Former BJ staffer Kathy Lally reports on the drastic economic costs of Egypt's revolution. While in Cairo with her husband, Kathy writes:

On a short four-night trip to Cairo, we found ourselves walking blissfully alone around attractions usually surrounded by fleets of buses, overrun by long lines of
tourists and immersed in a din of languages. The revolution here, with its attendant uncertainties, has made tourists keep their distance, to the profound regret of a nation that depends on them.

Paula and I were in Cairo only a few weeks before the protests began that led to the February 2011 ouster of long-time dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak. Popular sightseeing sites were crowded with buses filled with tourists, which unleashed hundreds of people traveling to the Great Pyramids, King Tut's golden artifacts in the Egyptian Museum, the Aswan Dam, the Valley of the Kings, etc.

Egypt is a desperately poor country that depended heavily on tourists to keep it afloat financially. We saw hundreds of dilapidated buildings and horrid sanitary conditions.

Kathy left the BJ in the mid-1970s for the Baltimore Sun and rose to Moscow correspondent and deputy foreign editor. Kathy left the Sun for the Washington Post about seven years ago, where she is deputy business editor. Her husband, Will Englund. won a Pulitzer in 1998 for an investigative reporting series on shipbreaking.

They have two daughters: Kate, who is a photo editor for Getty Images in New York, and Molly, who graduated from Emerson in theater.

If you want to read Kathy's tale of the financial penalty of political unrest, click on the headline.

Monday, May 02, 2011

BJ pension underfunded

Notice Regarding The Employees’ Retirement Plan of the Beacon Journal Publishing Company
The employer sponsoring your pension plan has made an election permitted under Federal law to delay funding for the plan. The election applies to the plan year beginning on January 1, 2010 and ending on December 31, 2010.
Without the election, Federal law generally requires that any increase in the amount by which the plan is underfunded for a plan year be paid off over 7 years. However, the election allows the increase in the amount by which the plan is underfunded for this plan year to be paid off in smaller annual payments over 15 years.
If you have any questions, contact:
Aaron Burr
44 E. Exchange Street
P.O. Box 640
Akron, OH 44309
(330) 996-3184

Black bought the Beacon Journal from McClatchy for $165 million.

The pension reportedly is underfunded by 17.29%. Some of that can be made up by Black Press' stock prices rising.

And it's not like Black Press/BJ doesn't have the money for current retirees' pensions. That usually is handled through an annuity purchased when you retire, and the Black Press/BJ agent sends out the checks till you die.

Most underfunding is for pensions of current employees.

How newpapers played Bin Laden death

Click on the headline to see about 20 of today’s front pages on the death of Osama bin Laden.

This is thanks to @ronterrell, who shared links to many on Twitter, and to the Newseum. For perspective, see a gallery of front pages from September 11, 2001 and another on the first anniversary of the attacks.