June 4, 2009

Surgery done so ...

My friends and family helped make today happen - successful breast cancer surgery for my 25-year-old. We are waiting to hear if all the cancerous cells and enough lymph nodes were removed by the surgeon. Those tissue reports should be in Tuesday or Wednesday. The oncology team was thrilled that the chemo-prayer-good wishes treatment shrunk all of the tumors - the largest was 9 centimeters - so much that they were impossible to see today with the naked eye.

A specialist was able to use tumor clips put in the center of the tumors in Noivember with today's ultrasound and a zilion mammograms to insert new wires to mark where the tumors were for the surgeon.

She contributed to two more studies today, one that may help many patients who are put out do better. The other is more informal - the surgeon's use of a pain block. She's also been in a study that compares results of a newer MRI with a more common MRI. There's a fourth but suddenly I can't remember the details of that. (It has been a long day.)

My husband, her boyfriend, his mother and an aunt also were at the surgery. And, of course, many virtual connections. (how useful txting, Facebook, Twitter, myspace, email and the web are for the exchange of messages. Wonderful support.

My daughter is glad that surgery is over, even knowing there's more to come. She's actually fascinated by the draining right now - pain pills, I suspect, helping to foster that.

Meanwhile, since moms don't get the pills that calm you, I am frazzled and tired. My husband is taking the first shift, her boyfriend the second so I am forfeiting the Red Wings in search of sleep and its restoring powers.

Go Red Wings. Go L'Hermeties (spelling) goodbye

Breast cancer surgery today

My 25-year-old's breast-conserving surgery is today so that's where my attention is this week. The fact that a lumpectomy is possible means the first six months of treatment worked. Who cares about hair or toenails or fingernails if the cancer is gone.

We're told it will take about six hours and we won't know until next week if the doctor gets all the cancerous cells. We are confident she will.

I'm posting via the iPhone so getting links in here is hard - you can read about the journey to today in a May 14 post. (See list on right)

I'll post updates later on how that goes.

Birmingham Weekly says Newhouse paper cutting pay; saying bye to part-timers

More on the changes in Birmingham, Al., aimed at buying time for the newspaper in the Advance Publications family. The changes include pay cuts for many full-time employees, elimination of part-time staff and the closing of suburban bureaus.

I shared a link to Media of Birmingham, which first posted information about the Birmingham News based on information gathered from Twitter updates.

Later, the Birmingham News published an article outlining the changes.That includes graduated pay cuts of 5 to 8  percent for most employees, beginning June 29, said publisher Victor Hanson.

Hanson had announced 10-day furloughs for employees, pension freezes on March 23.

Gawker JuicerHub: Newhouse family cash

Is the Newhouse family need for money driving the closing of Advance magazines?

Gawk plays off the Si Newhouse profile in this article. First, newspapers pushed out the profits for Newhouse. Now, it is cable. The question is for how long?

June 3, 2009

Newhouse web site gets plenty of eyeballs, report says

A Radio Business Report brings good news about NOLA, the Advance Internet New Orleans site. The article is on the results of the Media Audit.

By the way, the site does a good job of keeping you up-to-date on radio, TV, and media research so now I know Jay Leno returns to TV on Sept. 14 and Michigan musicians want royalities.

Birmingham News cuts salaries through 2010, eliminates most part-time positions « Media of Birmingham

Media of Birmingham posted an exclusive announcement on more changes at Birmingham News, one of three newspapers in Alabama owned by Advance Publications. Check out what's down at this Newhouse newspaper.

(updated 6/19/09 to correct the name of the Birmingham News)

June 2, 2009

Flint connected: Union Tribune's, Delphi plants' new owner

Speaking of storytellers and Flint connections (Storyteller won't get regrets from me), the San Diego Reader published a piece on Who is the (San Diego) Union-Tribune's new owner.

That owner would be Tom Gores, once known as Tewfiq Gores, worked in Tom's Supermarket, is a graduate of Genesee High School and a 1986 Michigan State University graduate.

His proud uncle, Tom Joubran, also is in the article.

The magazine's writer, Matt Potter, explores much of Gores' early life here in the Flint area and interviewed former Flint Journal reporter Dan Shriner, who knew a lot about Joubran.

Joubran, who came to the United States in 1950, is one of the colorful people I first met when I came to the Flint area to work at The Suburban News, a small newspaper housed not far from Joubran's businesses. I remember the Mikatam best, but there were other bars, laundromat, houses, apartment buildings, shopping malls (Mayfair Plaza), and mobile home parks (Pineview Estates). The Reader quotes The Flint Journal estimating Joubran's net worth was $80 million.

Family counts

As the Reader article also reminds me, Joubran was a mentor to many and a big believer in helping family succeed in the United States. That's why the Reader article mentions Joubran in its profile of his nephew, "a billionaire who runs Platinum Equity, the partnership that has bought the San Diego Union-Tribune from the Copley Press, a San Diego institution for over 80 years."

Thanks to Gordon Young who publishes the Flint Expatriates blog for pointing the article out. Don't neglect the comments for more depth on the story.

Why a San Diego newspaper?

The Union-Tribune interviewed Louis Samson, who spearheaded Platinum's purchase, on the outlook:
"Big picture, we believe that newspapers like the Union-Tribune will continue to be very relevant in their communities as long as they are committed to delivering real value in terms of content."
Why the Union-Tribune? Here's my brief summary of the answers given:
  • Most relevant medium in the community.
  • Excellent market.
  • Good price.
  • Opportunity to improve operations.
That opportunity, which included maximizing revenue opportunities, included cutting costs. So the fact that 192 jobs are being eliminated by July 6 is no surprise.

Platinum buying some Delphi operations

Meanwhile, Detroit Free Press reported that Platinum will buy some Delphi operations.

"Delphi Corp., the largest supplier to General Motors Corp., said it has reached a deal to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The plan includes selling Delphi's remaining operations to a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, Platinum Equity, which has lined up commitments of $3.6 billion to finance the operations."
The Free Press reported that Gores said his firm understands Delphi’s business:
"We know the business very well and understand its potential. Despite the obvious challenges facing the auto industry, we are excited at the opportunity to be a part of its renewal.”

A big news day

Monday was a big news day in Flint with the General Motors bankruptcy and the Delphi news. How sad that our next newspaper won't be out until Thursday.

I found an article on Delphi on mlive.com, but there's no mention of the impact on Flint.

And there's a lot on GM on the site. and here and here and here. Too bad that on the "special GM bankruptcy page" you have to keep going back as the stories slip off the page and out of sight. I'll spare you my rant about the RSS feeds. Perhaps I'll follow Steven A. Smith who says in a Still a Newspaperman post on How I Consume the News about his former newpaper:

"A confession, I don’t read the print Spokesman-Review any more. I know some will say that makes me a hypocrite. But former editors will know what I am saying. It just hurts too much. When the paper does something good — which is most of the time, it hurts not to be involved. When something goes awry, I admonish myself for not being there to fix it."

June 1, 2009

NYT notices NJ effort; Michigan's 5 B's still hoping

In New Jersey, it is a group of journalists out to save the news. In Birmingham, it is the community. In Washington, a former journalism teacher sorts the yellowing newspapers in her basement to create a four-part review of another newspaper.

The work of the 40 ex-Star-Ledger journalists gets attention from the The New York Times today. Read about the NewJerseyNewsroom under a headline "Cast Out, but Still Reporting."

The journalists, who accepted buyouts from the Advance Publications newspaper, are slowly building an audience but are not making money yet.

David Carr quotes Garrett Morrison a sports editor who also is handling the business side:
“This is a start-up, but we are not doing it without resources We have Tom Hester’s experience, his Rolodex, and people are happy to return his calls. There are a lot of people like him.”
The New Jersey effort is not the first of its kind. Carr points to San Diego, Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago as some of the hybrid models. He also notes:
It helps that there’s a lot of talent at loose ends. Across the country, various bands of journalistic hardies — newsroom pros whose services are no longer salient to a crippled and disrupted information economy — have taken matters into their own hands.
Editor & Publisher wrote about the site in April.

Five B's want their newspaper

How's the fight for the five B's to save their newspaper in the Detroit area? Organizers hope for a good turnout at Wednesday's rally to save the Birmingham Eccentric from folks in Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Bingham Farms and Beverly Hills.

The Freep reported on a lunch
that turned into a mini-rally for the effort and posted the refrain of Curtis Posuniak's ‘Keep the Eccentric News Flowing’
“To keep the Eccentric news flowing,
To keep the presses going!
If we meet our potential subscriptions,
We’ll all be happy, too!
A special web site encourages folks to sign up for a year-long subscription.

Bob Martin, who posts in Uncle Bob for President, shares a history of the Birmingham weekly and signs up for a subscription. He urging others to do so in Progress is not always good.

He also drops Tim Allen's name, reminding all that Birmingham is "The same town depicted in Tim Allen's "home Improvement" TV show, both he and I grew up there and went to the same High School together."

Wonder if Tim has bought a subscription or will be doing commercials for that cause.

Meanwhile, the West Bloomfield Eccentric published its last edition and a farewell column.

Basement of newspapers

And speaking of farewells, two of the writers of the B-Town Blog in Washington tracked down their former journalism teacher and had her write a four-part series reflecting on the closing of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Miss Dorothea Mootafes "known a little better as Dorothy, and affectionately as Miss Moo" finished the third installment.

She shares so many names and insights into the changes of newspapers. This installment starts with recalling a columnist who covered Harry Truman to George W. Bush.

"For this article of remembrance, I entered my basement with its myriad of yellowing and aromatically scented Post-Intelligencers proclaiming presidential nominations, elections, and inaugurations as well as the rare times when Seattle sports teams triumphed nationally (the Seattle Supersonics in 1979 when they won the NBA Championship and the Seattle Mariners in 1995 when they stopped one game short of playing in the World Series)."
You can still read the first and second installments, learning about the evolving women's section and a sports editor who was a "cheerleader and promoter of every Seattle-based team and outstanding athlete." If you don't read them, you'll miss learning about the columnist who shared that "Firefighters have the greatest incidence of heart attacks."

The B-Town Blog started as a hobby but turned into more for its founders who were intent on covering their community as the "only daily-updated, totally independent online source (meaning we’re not selling real estate, nor do we work for the city) for all things Burien-related."

Related posts:
Citizens won't let newspaper die

May 31, 2009

Storyteller won't get regrets from me

Thanks to Google I had a chance to explore some stories about Flint, journalism, married life and love today. I'd forgotten about Joseph Ritz until my Google Reader unexpectedly gave me a bunch of his posts today.

I first discovered him via a book, "I Never Looked for My Mother and other Regrets of a Journalist," that opens this way:
“I was born a bastard and I’ve remained one all my life. I became a journalist.”
He also was good at finding those who needed outing, sticking to a story no matter what and finding a truth that remains relevant today.

Ritz was a reporter in Newburgh, N.Y., in the early 1960s when the city decided to require welfare recipients to pick up their payments at police headquarters. Next, the city manager announced a program that would limit welfare to three months to anyone not "aged, the blind or handicapped." Many in Newburgh blamed blacks on welfare for the poor economy, Ritz said.
"Those affected would have largely been single mothers of young children, the only category in which blacks were predominant. The program also would have denied payments to single mothers who had working relatives living in the city or had additional children."
He covered the story, was pulled from his city hall beat and moved on. But he'd already started a book, "The Despised Poor: Newburgh's War on Poverty." He talked about that experience when the Newburgh Historical Society invited him in October 2006.
"There is a prejudice against welfare recipients, which pictures them as either a dirty, lazy, able-bodied freeloader or an immoral woman. That belief exists in nearly every community in the United States today and I think just as strongly as it was then in the 1960s."
Joseph Ritz started in radio, working for WFDF in Flint in 1955:
"The job pays $55 a week. That is $20 more than the Flint Journal is paying new reporters fresh out of college. By comparison, assembly line workers at the booming GM plants in the community, many of them high school dropouts, average $113 a week with overtime."
flint journal ad for 1955 eventIt was at his first job out of college that he met vice president Richard Nixon, in town for Flint's celebration of being a city for 100 years.

Besides a memory of Nixon, the event produced a memory of General Motors:
"General Motors went to great lengths to keep the press comfortable. Besides the usual lunches and dinners, a 24-hour bar was set up in a room of the Hotel Durant at which the media could drink for free. A new Buick and a driver were at the call of every journalist."
Ritz gives Flint a whole chapter, Sparks Stuck at Flint, in his book I Never Looked for My Mother, including why he moved from radio to newspapers. The crash of an Air Force jet
in a rural area some 40 miles from Flint, The Flint Journal's coverage of it and the limitations of radio encouraged that decision.

Ritz worked for Seattle Times, Milwaukee Journal, New haven Journal-Couriter, Gloversville (NY) News, Newburgh News, Buffalo News and Buffalo Courier-Express, and other places.

Read "I like to tell stories." I also enjoyed reading 50 years is a long time to be married. You can read more of his postings in Gather. Or a blog with some excerpts from I Never Looked for My Mother ... Or buy the book. It's worth reading.