Wednesday, May 31, 2017

NY Times to trim staff again

The New York Times offered buyouts to its newsroom employees Wednesday. Copy editors and others who assign and shape articles would be replaced by one group responsible for doing all of that without the layers of handling.

If not enough volunteer for the buyouts, then the Times will go to layoffs to reach its staffers reduction goal.

The Times also is eliminating its public editor, who handles reader complaints and questions.

In 2012 the Times had 5,363 employees. A year later, it had 3,529. The newspaper industry lost 3,800 full-time professional employees in 2014.

Advertising revenue for the latest quarter is down 7% for the Times.

Former BJ reporter Thrity Umbrigar will do some serious traveling to promote her latest book, “Everybody’s Son.”

Like Naperville, Illinois on June 9, Chicago on Jun 10, Corte Madera, California on June 26, Orinda, California on June 27, Palo Alto, California on June 28, Petoskey, Michigan on July 6 and Decatur, Georgia on September 2.

Heck, even the Hudson Library, 96 Library Street, Hudson, Ohio at 7 p.m. June 20.

This woman gets around.

Thrity was interviewed about “Everybody’s Son” by National Public Radio’s  Scott Simon for the Saturday, June 3 “Weekend Edition.”  The chat will show up sometime between 8 and 10 a.m. “We even talked about LeBron James,” Thrity said.
Thrity wrote “Bombay Times” in 2001, “First Darling in the Morning” in 2004, “The Space Between Us” in 2006, “If Today Be Sweet” in 2007, “The Weight of Heaven” in 2009, “The World We Found” in 2012, “The Story Hour” in 2014, “When I Carried You in My Belly” in 2017 and “Everybody’s Son,” also in 2017.

Many of her novels are tied to her experiences growing up in her native India, which she left at the age of 21 to attend Ohio State before winding up at Ol’ Blue Walls in 1987 after a couple of years at the Lorain Journal.

I wonder how she has time to teach creative writing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, which she has been doing since 2002.
BJ travelers cross paths … as usual 

Chip Bok, Susan Kirkman Zake
Former BJ photographer Susan Kirkman Zake was in Oregon at Otter Crest State Park and ran into BJ editorial cartoonist Arthur “Chip” Bok.

“And we weren't even on the main road,” Susan wrote. “How crazy is it that I’m clear across the country and run into Chip Bok?”
It isn’t unusual for traveling BJ folks to encounter others from Ol’ Blue Walls.
Former BJ reporter Charlene Nevada recalled: “We were walking in Berlin once and heard the words, ‘Krumel, you son of a bitch.’ We looked and lo and behold it was Derf (former BJ artist John Backderf) and Sheryl Harris,” former BJ reporter and Derf’s wife.
Former BJ 1970s State Desk reporter Paula Tucker and I landed in Aukland, New Zealand several years ago and were greeted at the airport by former BJ photographer Don Roese, who was getting ready to depart from the airport.
That wasn’t a total surprise since we knew that Don and wife Maryanne were visiting former BJ 1970s State Desk reporter Cathy Strong and that Paula and I were next in line for a reunion with Cathy, on the Massey University faculty at Wellington, New Zealand.
Sue is on the Kent State faculty in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She began at the BJ in 1986 and spent two decades at 44 E. Exchange Street. She had a hand in three of BJ’s four Pulitizers. She’s traveling with her husband, Bruce Zake.
Chip was a Pulitzer finalist in 1997. His web site is He got the bug in 7th grade, thanks to inspiration from Mad Magazine, and began his career with the Clearwater, Florida Sun. He is a University of Dayton graduate and former UD hockey player.
Chip and wife Bev have four children and live in Akron. So Sue went from Kent and Akron to meet Chip in Oregon. Go figure.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

KSU has #1 student magazine in America

Kent State’s The Burr Magazine was named the best student magazine in the nation in the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Mark of Excellent Awards.

Neville Hardman was editor of the submitted issue, which celebrated nostalgia and the retro revival of television, film, fashion and culture.

Neville is a North Canton Hoover High graduate who also attended Kent State-Stark and lives in Kent.
He shared the credit for the #1 choice with Jackie Stofsick, Brianna Deckert, Benjamin VanHoose, Sammi Ickes, Kelly Powell, Amani Williams, Molly Spillman, Jacob Derwin and Sam Sale plus adviser Stephanie Lawrence.
KSU’s Kent was a national finalist in general news for his photos of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The KentWired staff was a national finalist in breaking news for its coverage of civil lawsuit by senior health studies major Lauren Kesterson, a former Kent State softball player, who said she was raped by the son of former softball coach Karen Linder and that the university did not comply with Title IX reporting procedures.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Windhorst rode LeBron wave early

Brian Windhorst
Ed Sherman, in, has an interesting about former BJ sports wrtier Brian Windhorst hitching his wagon to LeBron James long before the St. Vincent basketball player became a superstar.

Windhorst had to beg his editor at the Akron Beacon Journal to report on LeBron’s games with St. V, before the world discovered LeBron. That was in 1999.

Since, Brian has covered LeBron in Cleveland, Miami and back in Cleveland, parlaying himself into an ESPN job as an NBA reporter and teamed with Dave McMenamin on a new book, "Return of the King: LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History.".

Brian observes: “Everyone around LeBron has been pulled up by him.”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ott and Ann Gangl, who put the Energizer Bunny to shame, are celebrating their 62nd wedding anniversary.

Retired BJ photographer Ott is equally at ease at a raucous Oktoberfest Festival, in a roomful of models during a photo shoot or going naked while photographing a nudist colony.

Ott wrote:
60 years ago this weekend Ann and I were married at St. Bernard Church in Akron by Father Wolf, who did it in German. Not that we couldn't speak English; he just wanted to practice.

“It's been a blast being married to that girl.”
“A blast” is an accurate depiction of their lives.
How Ott wound up with Ann is as fascinating as other stories that Ol’ Blue Walls escapees have of the effervescent German. Let Ott explain it, as only he can:

“John, I came over on the same converted Liberty Boat from Germany as her cousin on April 20, 1952. So while visiting I was introduced to the family with three young and beautiful daughters.
"I dated the older one for a while and then went to the middle one, Ann, to whom I got enamored while sitting in their living room waiting for Mary to fiddle with her makeup.
"After Mary dumped me I didn't miss a beat to date Ann. We got engaged in 1954 and a year later we got married.”
Moss never had a chance to grow on the rocking and rolling Ott family. Not with perpetual activities like skiing all over the world. When Ott broke a leg skiing, he just got back up on the mountain and resumed his carving, ollies and schussing.
All the while his medication rarely consisted of more than an aspirin.
After surviving ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia as the child of German parents in World War II, everything else paled by comparison for Ott.
In 2011 Ott photographed more than 100 models in a 90-year-old North Canton barn for 72 straight hours. The women flocked to have Ott take their pictures because he’s an area legend for models’ shoots.
The late BJ and PD reporter Terry Oblander chronicled the event, but his article was never published till Ott did it decades later online.
Years ago when there was threatening weather predicted for the Soap Box Derby, Ott was assigned to take a photo of “a pretty woman separating the clouds.” Ott saw a line of women, picked out the late BJ Features columnist/editor Connie Bloom and her long Garfield High majorette legs, and told her to hop in his car.
They went to Derby Downs, and Ott told Connie to “separate” the clouds. She made the appropriate motion and Ott had his leggy photo of the clouds-separator for the BJ, where Ott dazzled everyone for 25 years. Photography chief Julius Greenfield hired Ott.
Three score and two years ago, and Ott and Ann haven’t switched from the accelerator to the brakes yet.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump coverage elevates MSNBC to #1 for first time

MSNBC, the pride of liberals, ranked #1 for the first time in history in Nielsen ratings for the week of May 15, both in total viewers and in the 25-54 age group that advertisers salivate over.

Fox News, the pride of conservatives, finished third. CNN fit in above Fox and below MSNBC.

Rachael Maddow’s live show and repeats both were #1 in their time slots.

MSNBC has been hitting the Trump camp scandals hard. Fox News takes a more protective stance.

Fox News founder Roger Ailes is dead. His right-tilted cable channel is having health problems, too.
Drug-overdosed bodies pile up in Ohio

Dayton, like Akron and most of the country, has a serious problem with drug overdoses.

Already this year the Montgomery County coroner in Dayton has handled 2,000 overdose autopsies. That’s more than in all of 2016.

12 of 13 bodies the coroner had Monday were overdoses.

Akron had 236 heroin overdoses in 3 weeks last July.

Stark County’s coroner had to get a cold storage vehicle to handle the overflow of drug overdose deaths.  So did Ashtabula and Cuyahoga counties.

Last year a record 3,050 Ohioans died from drug overdoses, most from heroin or pain-killers.

In 2015 the worst drug overdose death totals were in West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio and Rhode Island, in that order.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mary Beth Breckenridge
From writing about to selling homes


Well, this seems appropriate to me.

Former Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Nord Breckenridge will switch to selling homes. For Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, one of the four largest real estate companies in America.

Writes Mary Beth: “I can hardly wait to get started.”

Mary Beth is versatile. She has won Press Club of Cleveland first-place awards for a general news story on the toll war has taken on military families, for her technology article, for studying insects and for her column on re-gifting.

Mary Beth began at Ol’ Blue Walls in June 1987 and left in April, so she was two months shy of 30 years.

1970s BJ State Desk reporter Cathy Robinson Strong’s feet are paying the price for her active life.

During her three years of teaching in Dubai, United Arab Emirate, she slipped on a stairwell and broke her left foot in two places.

Five years of snowboarding in New Zealand, where she’s lived for nearly four decades, keep cracking two bones on her right foot.  So she had foot surgery, a Metatorsophalangeal fusion, six weeks ago.

Cathy still is in a cast and unable to drive and taking “lots of pain-killers.”  She’s staying with a friend who has NO stairs in her house.

Cathy’s snowboarding coach was Henry C. “Hank” Parker. She also was a snowboarding instructor herself.

Cathy also has done a lot of water-skiing, apparently with better results for her feet.

The BJ’s most famous skier (real skis, not the snowboarding kind) is retired photographer Ott Gangl, who also dealt with a leg fracture in his days of swooshing down mountains all over the world.

1970s BJ State Desk reporter Cathy Strong, who created the journalism master’s program at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, and who stays in one place about as long as a hummingbird does, is off to Washington State with her granddaughter, Katie Belle, whose parents are Cathy’s daughter, Rebecca and her husband, Dion.

Cathy hops from continent to continent for academic, vacation and family-visiting reasons.

Cathy’s sister, Janet Mullins, lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Cathy saw daughter Penelope marry international patent attorney John Pint, originally from Minnesota, in New Zealand.

In 2005 Cathy's daughter, Rebecca, and husband Dion, were married in Otaki, New Zealand. They have three daughters and a son. 

In 2013 Cathy’s daughter, Amanda, married Jeff Shima near Waiouru, New Zealand. They have a daughter. 

Cathy visits them from time to time, and even jumped into a hot tub with BJ friend Pam McCarthy, a retired Hoover High teacher, in Boston somewhere along the way.
No wonder Cathy is cast as the poster woman for a footrest.

The late Fran Murphey, retired BJ photographer Don Roese, former State Desk reporter Paula Stone Tucker and I have visited Cathy in New Zealand.

If you’re in New Zealand and want to look up  Cathy, she’s in the Massey University School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Room SF47, Block 5 in Wellington. Her phone number is (04) 801-5799, extension 63549 and her email is 

Friday, May 19, 2017

KSU Journalism’s Gary Hanson dies

Kent State School of Journalism and Mass Communication emeritus professor Gary Hanson passed away Thursday, May 18 almost seven years after being diagnosed with cancer. He retired from KSU in 2016 after 18 years in Journalism.

Hanson taught Broadcast Beat Reporting, Reporting Public Affairs and Media, Power and Culture. Previously, he was Youngstown station WKNT news director.

He was an adviser for the student-run TV station for 11 years. He received KSU’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011 and the Edward L. Bliss Award for Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Education in 2016.

He is survived by his wife, LuEtt Hanson, who retired as associate dean of the College of Communication and Information in 2016.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

BJ reunion in South Carolina

BJ Finance Department retiree Cheryl Scott Sheinin had a BJ reunion in South Carolina with Linda McElroy and retired printer Dick Latshaw and his wife, Pat. All three live on Pauleys Island.

Posted Cheryl: “It was great to see you all. Had a good time as always.”

The food at Crabby Mike’s in nearby Surfside Beach was good, too.

Cheryl retired after 45 years in BJ Finance. Husband Neil Sheinin is a former BJ staffer who married her 37 years ago on Cheryl’s birthday.

Dick and Pat have lived on Pauleys Island for 18 years.
Linda and her late husband, BJ business department retiree Harold McElroy, were their neighbors.
So was retired printer Sid Sprague, until he moved to Loveland, Colorado with his new bride after his first wife passed away.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Autumn release in America for ‘Dahmer’ movie

Jeffrey Dahmer
FilmRise will release My Friend Dahmer,” based on former BJ artist John Backderf’s graphic novel about the gay serial killer, into North American theaters this autumn.

The movie created a stir at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

John Backderf
Ross Lynch, a Disney Channel star, plays a high-school age Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer from Summit County who was Derf’s classmate. Anne Heche plays Joyce Dahmer, Jeffrey’s mentally unbalanced mother. Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”) is a doctor that Dahmer becomes obsessed with. Alex Wolff (Nickelodeon’s “The Naked Brothers Band”) plays Backderf.
The film was shot in Dahmer’s boyhood home in Bath Township. The family from Doylestown to Bath Township in 1968. Dahmer was a 1978 graduate of Revere High School, which Backderf attended during Dahmer’s Revere years.
Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest, most of them in Wisconsin, between 1978 and 1991. A fellow prisoner killed Dahmer in 1994.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dave Scott, BJ regional issues reporter and deputy Business editor before the April 2014 BJ buyouts exodus, traveled back in time by taking an Amtrak train from Cleveland to Oakland, California.

The Ohio University and Ashtabula Harbor High graduate who lives in Copley with wife Jane Gaab Scott provided this tale of his trip (he’s qualfied since, like me, he's been to the Blarney Stone in Ireland):

Here are some details from my Amtrak trip from Cleveland to Emeryville (Oakland) last month.

The station in Cleveland is sometimes called AmShak and it’s easy to see why. Stuck between the football stadium, science center and Rock Hall and the skyscrapers downtown, it is humble. Add in the dim lights and the half-asleep people waiting for the 3 a.m. arrival and it can be depressing.

However, I found the people there pleasant, helpful and anything but threatening. I realize that Amtrak is favored by some wealthy people, but in Cleveland it is chosen by people looking for bargain travel. Some did not have proper luggage, preferring shopping bags.
I took a lower coach from Cleveland to Chicago and when I showed up there were just three people for eight seats, two were asleep. We all had two seats to sit/sleep on.
It was a smooth, quiet ride and the only reason I didn’t get more than a couple hours of sleep was because I was enjoying the ride so much. I also enjoyed a conversation with a woman from the Washington area who explained that the lower coach was partly for disabled people, so it had room for wheelchairs and an extra large restroom.
The train staff will bring you dinner from the dining car if you ask. The seats were larger than you would get in an airplane, recline and have a nice foot rest and retractable table. If you are lucky like me, you can stretch out over two seats.
I went up to the observation car at dawn and enjoyed rolling through the center of Indiana, including the older, industrial sections of many towns and a lot of farmland. It was a treat to see a big tom turkey on his morning walk.

Chicago's Union Station was a bit confusing and involved a bit of walking but staffers there offered a cart, which I declined, but did give clear directions to the El’s Blue line. My trip to Logan Square was uneventful.
Thanks to John and Kate for being great hosts, including a trip to whatever the White Sox are calling their ballpark these days and a nice walk through Wrigleyville Sunday morning.

Advice: get to Union Station early. I was late but not comfortably early.
I rode a lower coach from Chicago to Denver and started with a nice conversation with two couples from downstate Illinois who were coming back from the Science March in Chicago.
Unlike the airplane which usually includes people who are locked into their own lives and tuned out to much of what is happening around them, the folks on the train seem to be eager to talk and engage and tell their story. These two couples sat next to each other, the only folks who had to do that on my entire time in the coach section.

There were several stops in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, but only one seemed to offer enough time to get out and walk trackside. That was Ottumwa, Radar’s old home.

There were plenty of opportunities to get up and move around in the train. Getting to the dining car required walking up some steps and sashaying down the aisles of several cars. Same for the observation car and snack bar. I did this several times just to keep blood flowing in my legs.

There were only a couple times when the train lurched in a way that made me recapture my balance. I consider planes far more wobbly.
In coach, you must pay for your dinner. Expect at least $15 plus whatever you drink. The menu is very limited but the food is of decent quality. You need to make reservations for dinner.
For all meals, you will be seated with strangers unless you are traveling with three companions. I found this a great conversation opportunity.
I met a couple from Ireland, a couple from Manhattan/Miami and others. We took so much time talking, we were “invited” to move on to allow another group to eat.
Union Station at Denver is fabulous – Clean, easy to navigate, complete with a good breakfast restaurant and coffee shop. Uber was available, but I chose to walk through the city because it was a sunny day and not too cold. Snow and hail followed a few days later.
I found a nice bookstore and, of course, the Coors Field box office, which was open at 10 a.m. I was told the cheapest seat was $9 but on the day of the game was reduced to $4. Then I got a senior discount and saw a Major League game for $1!
Yes, I was about 550 feet away and I saw the hits about three seconds before I heard them, but I had fun with the bleacher folks. It’s a nice clean, roomy stadium and hope to go there again.

Uber service was excellent in Denver. The La Quinta was what you could expect for $99.
I had a roomette for the trip from Denver to California. It is about the size of a closet with face-to-face reclining seats.
There is a place to stash your luggage, power outlets and great window views. Any consideration of climbing into the hammock above was done for comedic value. The lower seats were easily turned into a bed.

I had intended to do some reading but that ended after I got into the Rockies. They were so beautiful and different at every turn, I felt I would be cheating myself by putting my attention anywhere else. The PA system offered a few highlights.
The most memorable part was when I put on the headphones and listened to Rachmaninoff and Mozart as the mountains went by.

I slept through Utah and some of Nevada.
One thing that became clear throughout the trip was that the droughts are over. I saw standing water everywhere. The mountain streams were nearly overflowing and I saw lots of rapids.

Lunch in California was a problem. All they had left was the hamburger I had the day before or a hot dog or mac n cheese off the kids’ menu. Meals were free for those of us in sleepers or roomettes.

Sleepers are larger rooms with real beds and bathrooms, but I did not go in one. The showers were roomy enough, but a little wobbly.

I expect to ride Amtrak again and will prefer it over air travel if I have time. I left on a Friday morning and arrived in Emeryville on a Wednesday afternoon. I took whole days in Denver and Chicago. Nonstop, my trip would have been from 3 a.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Monday. I doubt I will every travel without at least one stop.

Thanks for reading.

Another former Ol’ Blue Walls inhabitant, Webb Shaw, is married to Katie Gaab-Shaw, Jane’s sister. Webb retired in 2014 as Vice President of Editorial Resources at J. J. Keller & Associates in Neenah, Wisconsin.
Dave and Jane and met on a blind date arranged by Webb and Katie Shaw and Rick and Diane Reiff. Rick, another former BJ newsroom inhabitant, and Dave had crossed paths during their Norwalk and Elyria newspaper days.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Former BJ medical writer Phil Canuto is celebrating an incredible event: the 15th anniversary of his successful kidney transplant from his cousin.

“Fifteen years ago today I received a new kidney from my cousin after being on dialysis for seven months. My doctors thought the kidney might last for 15 years, but it is still going strong.

“Much is said about the transformational power of organ transplantation that it has almost become a cliché. But it really is true. The transplant not only saved my life, it gave me the best 15 years of my life.

“Many thanks to my cousin (who I have kept anonymous on social media) and to all the people kept me alive these many years. And thanks also to those closest to me who have supported me – and endured – my many health problems.

“And if you haven’t signed your donor info when you get your driver’s license, please consider it.”

My memory of Phil at Ol’ Blue Walls (1987-95) was his astonishment when I revealed my chloresterol count in the 120s (thanks to my Polish grandmother’s DNA): “That can’t be. That’s marathon runner levels.”
Grandma Olesky’s DNA will has my count in the 104s today.
Phil came from Jacksonville, Illinois by way of Northwestern University School of Journalism (Patrick T. Englehart’s alma mater, too) to the BJ. He still lives in Akron.
Before writing for the Cleveland Clinic, Phil was Public Information Officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Information Service.