Saturday, February 28, 2015

An issue that needs a-dress-ed

I’m not sure what this says about humanity,  but I don’t think it’s good.

The Internet’s Buzzfeed posted a photo of a dress and then asked readers to tell them what colors it was. It was an exercise in self-induced illusions.

Publisher Dao Nguyen said the viral post attracted 28 million views in four hours. Buzzfeed had to increase its capacity 40% to handle the traffic.

ISIS is beheading and torching those who don’t agree to their Kool Aid beliefs. The U.S. still has military in Afghanistan and elsewhere. America's leaders act like spoiled brats in the pockets of billionaires while democracy is on the sidelines.

And a dress draws more attention from millions of people?

This is a far cry from Woodward and Bernstein bringing down a President. Have we all gone mad?

I think Lupita Nyong’o’s 6,000-pearl-studded Oscar dress that reportedly was stolen, then returned, is more in line with the kind of news we would have covered at Ol’ Blue.

I guess Internet “journalists” think differently.

The making of a President

Abraham Lincoln came to New York City on February 27, 1860 and delivered his Cooper Union address, the most important speech of his 1860 presidential campaign.

Photographer Mathew Brady was there and captured the image that re-invented Lincoln to the public.

Lincoln bowled over his audience, got the Republican nomination and won the general election.

When Lincoln, now president-elect, encountered Brady in Washington the following year, he volunteered: "Brady and Cooper Union made me president.”

Friday, February 27, 2015

Nimoy/”Spock” passes away

Leonard Nimoy, “Star Trek’s” pointy-eared, purely logical half-human, half-Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock, passed away in his Los Angeles home. He was 83.

His autobiographies were titled “I Am Not Spock” (1975) and “I Am Spock” (1995).

Leonard Nimoy
As Dr. Spock
He became Spock after “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry was impressed by his work in guest appearances on “The Lieutenant” and “Dr. Kildare” TV series.

Nimoy was born in Boston to Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union.

In 1954 he married Sandra Zober, a fellow student at the Pasadena Playhouse, and they had two children, Julie and Adam. The couple divorced, and in 1988 he married Susan Bay, a film production executive.

“Live Long and Prosper,” Spock, in the memories of your legion of fans.

Vince Doria
ESPN’s Vince Doria retires

ESPN news director Vince Doria retired Friday.

He broke in as a young sports reporter in Ashtabula in the early ‘70s. By the 1980s he was sports editor of the Boston Globe. Next came senior editor on The National.

When the national sports newspaper flamed out, Doria moved to ESPN in 1992.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ohio River No. 1 – in pollution. Blame Indiana.
The Ohio River is the most polluted body of water in the United States for the seventh year in a row.
The only solution seems to be to construct a diversion dam at the Indiana border.

73 percent of the chemicals released into the Ohio River come from AK Steel Corp. in Rockport, Indiana.

Newspapers’ freefall blow to democracy?
Newspapers are reeling over slumping ad sales, loss of classified advertising that provided 70% of their income and precipitous drops in circulation.
Newspapers have axed 20% of its journalists since 2001 in a desperate attempt to stay solvent. The BJ went from 250 in the newsroom in 1996 to about 60 today. That's a 76% reduction of staff.

Both television and the Internet bring news to the consumer faster and in a more visual style than newspapers. 
The Internet is convenient for classified advertising, which is up to 70% of many newspapers’ ad revenue. Craigslist alone cost newspapers $5.4 billion from 2000-2007.
What Rupert Murdoch once called "rivers of gold" has become a treacherous trickle.
Newspapers that folded, filed for bankruptcy, sold at rock-bottom prices, dropped the print version for an Internet replica or reduced the days of home delivery:
Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Tucson Citizen, San Diega Union-Tribune, Tribune Company, Journal Register Company, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sun-Times Media Group,  Freedom CommunicationsAlbuquerque Tribune,  Baltimore Examiner, Cincinnati Post, Halifax Daily News, Honolulu Advertiser, Kentucky Post, 
King County Journal,  San Juan Star, South Idaho Press, Union City Register-Tribune. 

Since its $6.5 billion Knight-Ridder purchase, McClatchy's stock has lost more than 98% of its value. That’s down to an astounding 2 cents on the dollar.
Ironically, founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, bought the Washington Post and smaller newspapers for $250 million. He helped kill the goose that laid the golden egg, then bought the carcass for peanuts.
To read the entire article about the horrendous decline of newspapers, which America’s Founding Fathers saw as so critical to democracy that they created the First Amendment, click on

Without newspapers investigating politicians, there’s no shotgun-toting farmer to keep the fox from destroying the hens, which in this case is a euphemism for democracy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Carney on radio again

Retired BJ reporter Jim Carney is subbing on 1590 WAKR again, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday. This is beginning to look like a second career. Jim was on radio before he came to the BJ.

Olbermann off air for week over Tweet

Keith Olbermann will not host his show for the rest of the week, ESPN said Tuesday, because of tweets critical of Penn State and its annual THON fundraiser.

ESPN didn’t say whether Olbermann would be paid during his absence. If he is, then the absence is relatively meaningless.

THON is an IFC/Panhellenic dance marathon at Penn State, which since 1977 has raised more than $127 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. The most recent marathon took place Friday to Sunday and raised $13 million.

Another example of painting the good with the bad by using a much too large brush.

Diversity advocate Dori Maynard dies

Dori Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and longtime champion of diversity in journalism and civic life, died Tuesday of lung cancer at age 56 at her West Oakland, California home.

Dori Maynard
Her father, Robert C. Maynard, was a co-founder of the Institute and publisher of the Oakland Tribune. Nancy Hicks Maynard, also an Institute co-founder, co-publisher of the Tribune, was Dori Maynard's stepmother.

Under Maynard, the Institute's training included Fault Lines, which looked at diversity through the prisms of race, class, gender, generation and geography and BrotherSpeak, a video series looking at the lives of black men through the eyes of black men, done in partnership with The Washington Post.

Maynard was on the board of the Knight Fellowships at Stanford University.

Maynard was a reporter at the Bakersfield Californian, the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts and the Detroit Free Press.

To read the entire article about an amazing life, click on

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Belly-up list

North American metro dailies that have closed since March, 2007:

Albuquerque Tribune
Baltimore Examiner
Cincinnati Post
Halifax Daily News
Honolulu Advertiser
Kentucky Post
King County Journal  
Rocky Mountain News
San Juan Star
South Idaho Press 
Tucson Citizen
Union City Register-Tribune

Lowell Thomas a Johnny-come-lately

85 years ago on Feb. 24, 1930 Floyd Gibbons broadcast the first daily network radio news show. Gibbons was a former World War I correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.

His program aired on the NBC Red Network.

A few months later, Lowell Thomas broadcast the first CBS radio daily newscast. 
Chat with Sheryl, even if you’re not Derf

PD and former BJ consumer columnist Sheryl Harris, wife of Jeffrey Dahmer’s friend, artist John “Derf” Backderf, will be having an online “chat” with hundreds of her followers from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 3.
Sheryl Harris

The first week of March is National Consumer Protection Week, so she’s assembled a panel of consumer experts to answer questions about credit scores, reports and freezes, privacy and ID theft, tenant/landlord issues, home repair scams and consumer rights.

Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland's Consumer Law Center folks will field the questions.

To participate, you go to at 7 p.m. March 3 and look for the "web chat today" post at the top of the page.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Eye opener for Hugh Downing

After surviving two heart attacks and a stroke over the years, the next surgery Thursday for retired Beacon Journal printer Hugh Downing should be a piece of cake.

He’ll have cataract surgery in one eye, then return in two weeks for the other eye’s surgery.

He plans to play golf with BJ Guild retiree John Olesky for a 5th time between the surgeries.

Three million Americans have cataract surgery every year.

Hugh and wife Sharon have lived in The Villages retirement community in Florida for more than a dozen years. 

That’s the city where there are 50,000 golf carts for 100,000 people and 540 miles of golf cart paths.

Hugh Downing
Sharon, married to Hugh for more than a half-century, grew up in Galion, Ohio. 

Their sons Chris,  Mark, Ben and Jonathan reside in Hudson, Toledo, and Vienna, Virginia and Erie, Pennsylvania.

Hugh and Sharon were reunited with my late wife Monnie and I more than a decade ago on Siesta Key, which is adjacent to Sarasota, Florida. 

We were in our usual February hangout, Sea Castle, and the Downings rented an apartment once owned by the late BJ printer Bill Gorrell, whose two-building Poor Bill's complex got a lot of BJ visitors over the decades. 

Fun-loving folks like Terry Dray, Dave White, Don Bandy and Don Pack, all -- unfortunately -- deceased.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Don Pack's obituary; see earlier blog posts about Don

Donald Edward Pack Sr., 76, passed away February 17, 2015 surrounded by his family.

Donald, the son of Solon and Martha Pack, was born March 17, 1938 in Akron Ohio. He graduated from Garfield High School. He retired from the Akron Beacon Journal in 1983. He was the proud owner of Pack Man's Place. He retired to Sarasota, Florida in 1995 where he met his loving companion Betsy. He loved traveling, fishing, swimming but most of all he loved happy hour. His mischievous sense of humor and wit will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.

He is survived by Betsy; his former wife, Sally; and his seven children. He was a loving father to Christopher (Cathy), Joe (Janie, deceased), Donny (Marcia), Michelle (Andy), David (Christine), Julie, and Samantha (Jeff). He had 12 grandchildren and 1 great grandson, Christopher, Conner, Megan, Mariah, Daniel, Suzan, Samantha, Drew, Cameryn, Carly, Sarah, Maddie and Greyson.

Services are private and in lieu of flowers please buy a round of drinks for family and friends and place a bet on your favorite sports team…

Published in Akron Beacon Journal from Feb. 21 to Feb. 22, 2015 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

‘Paradise Lost’ filmmaker dies

Bruce Sinofsky
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky, whose “Paradise Lost” trilogy led to the release of three Arkansas teenagers convicted of murder, died Saturday of complications from diabetes. He was 58.

After spending 18 years in prison, Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin were released.

Sinofsky's debut film was the critically acclaimed "Brother's Keeper."

NBC’s Brian Williams needed an Englehart
Former BJ reporter Bill Hershey, who once had a gun pulled on him while phoning in a story, wrote a fabulous article that captures Pat Englehart perfectly. Pat was the best editor I ever had. A lot of others who went on to other newspapers would say an “Amen!” to that, unless they talk like a man with a paper asshole.

COLUMBUS: NBC’s Brian Williams, as far as I know, never met the Mad Man.

That’s too bad for Brian who, when not discussing his reporting achievements, is said to be a good fellow and great storyteller.

The Mad Man was the name we gave the late Patrick T. Englehart, state desk editor for the Beacon Journal, who died at age 70 in 1995.

Pat Englehart
crazy like a fox
For many of us who started our reporting careers in the 1970s, Englehart was the first real editor we had and, on the surface at least, a throwback to a more rough and tumble era in journalism.

In the days since Williams has admitted that he lied about riding in a military helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq War, my thoughts often have turned to Englehart and the lessons he passed on to those of us who got our start in reporting at meetings of the Mogadore Village Council or other venues far removed from the excitement and danger of a shooting war.

While the state desk’s first priority was local government and schools, Pat expanded his portfolio whenever he got the chance and led the paper’s effort in winning a Pulitzer Prize for the coverage of the 1970 shootings at Kent State University in which four students were killed by members of the Ohio National Guard.

His reporters also covered the environmental damage caused by strip mining, substandard housing for migrant workers and poverty and its causes.

Pat even sent me to Kent State in the early 1970s to report on the emerging Gay Liberation Front, only to have the resulting story spiked by editors worried that the community wasn’t “ready.”

Pat was definitely from the “old school.” He smoked and chewed awful smelling Denobil cigars, had a Rolling Rock drink or two at lunch and never stopped tapping — pounding really — one foot on the floor while carrying on multiple conversations.

Sometimes he didn’t pay close attention to what he was doing, like when the telephone at his desk caught fire from ashes he flicked from his odoriferous cigar.

But in one respect he was far ahead of what’s become known today as “branding,” the concept Williams’ apologists offer for the mess he’s made of his career.

Pat and other editors of the Beacon Journal in those days “branded” the paper by making it a comprehensive and truthful digest of what was happening at local governments, schools, the tire companies and everything else of interest in Akron and the surrounding communities.

The paper had star reporters and columnists, but the emphasis was on the news, not the news gatherer.

Pat loved controversy in stories, but it had to be backed up by facts. The reporter gathered the news. Only in very rare circumstances did he or she become part of the story.

No story was ever good enough.

Pat constantly questioned the facts and demanded that they be checked, rechecked and then checked for a third time. If something sounded too bad or too good to be true, it often was and got edited out of the story. Or sometimes the story got better because the third or fourth phone call turned up previously unknown facts.

I hate to think what Pat would have done if one of us told him our facts were wrong because we “conflated” two events, as Williams said he did.

Today the emphasis has shifted to “branding” individuals like Williams, rather than newspapers, television networks or other media outlets. With this shift comes the temptation to make the individual’s brand more exciting and compelling than those offered by competitors.

There was nothing new about the temptations faced by Williams in covering the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina — for which his accounts also have been questioned — or other big stories.

Every reporter — print, television or online — wants to make his or her story stand out from other accounts, but facts must support it.

Nobody at NBC was willing to question Williams’ exaggerations that provided good “stories” on late night television or before fawning audiences. He was the most-watched anchor and, seemingly, above oversight.

He needed a “Mad Man,” somebody scowling and blowing cigar smoke in his face and questioning tales that sounded too good or too bad to be true.

It turns out that too often they were and for that Williams and NBC and their brand should pay the high price they are paying in lost credibility, the only real currency any reporter has.

Hershey is a former Washington correspondent and Columbus bureau chief for the Beacon Journal. He also was the Columbus bureau chief of the Dayton Daily News. He can be reached at

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wal-Mart, a drain on U.S. taxpayers, to up pay for some to $9 an hour

Wal-Mart says it will increase its pay to a half-million of its 1.2 million workers to $9 an hour by April. That’s up from the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour that Wal-Mart is paying most associates. 

Only 6,000 Wal-Mart employees make federal minimum wage. 

American taxpayers pay an average of $3,000 a year for each Wal-Mart employee on public assistance.

Wal-Mart's gross revenue is $475 billion, its profits $17.2 billion.

Wal-Mart employees who get $7.25 an hour for 20 hours, which keeps them from getting company benefits like health insurance, make $145 a week or $7,540 a year.

The poverty level this year in America is $23,850 so even full-time Wal-Mart employees qualify for public assistance.

When a food drive was held in a Canton Wal-Mart to help those receiving public assistance, almost every employee in that store qualified.