July 15, 2009

Hello, goodbye in Muskegon

waving hand

See Tuesday
for K-zoo...
Four months
Steve Wesphal, the new general manager of the Musekgon Chronicle, introduces himeslf to his readers as does Cindy Fairfield, the new editor. The two are taking over duties of Paul Keep, who now is editor of the Grand Rapids Press and left behind a "fond farewell."

Wesphal says his first priority is to "find opportunities to support key community initiatives and causes in Muskegon as we continue to move forward."

Fairfield says "One of my biggest goals in the coming months is to increase our enterprise and investigative reporting."

But, oh, those bloggers

I'm hoping she'll learn that not all bloggers "write anonymous blurbs on the Internet without attribution or fact checking."

Indeed, she might even learn that some are just liked the journalists she employs "college-educated professionals who have broad experience in news gathering."

Or perhaps some of those who once worked in her newsroom are blogging or will someday.

My money is on Jeff Alexander, who once did the EcoLogic blog and reported on the environment before leaving a journalism career of 25 years. In a farewell column, he told us he was moving to a job with the National Wildlife Federation. Let's see what the future brings.

Book gaining steam

Oh, and did you see that Jeff Alexander's new book is starting to get a few mentions. Grand Rapids writer Howard Meyerson reviews Alexander's book "Pandora's Locks: The Opening of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway." Meyerson says that Alexander's
"new book, is a powerful expose of how the once-touted technological marvel and economic stimulus project became an artery of commerce that infected the Great Lakes with biological pollution, costing consumers and taxpayers $2 billion a decade in U.S. waters alone."
You can read two excerpts of the book online too, including one part on foreign mussels.

Many took Booth buyout

A number of folks took the "Booth buyout" this year. Remember, I thought it was very classy of Publisher Paul Keep to say goodbye publicly to so many veterans. What's surprising is how many of those who left keep popping up in the Muskegon paper.

Keep told us that features writer Susan Treutler and Steve Gunn, who covered the courts, had left as well as writer Susan Harrison Wolffis, columnist Clayton Hardiman, and features/entertainment reporter Bill Iddings.

Also leaving were Robert Burns, Lisa Medendorp and Terry Judd as well as Metropolitan Editor John Stephenson, Photo Editor Greg Dorsett and artist Mark Donnelly.

Editorial Page Editor David Kolb and John Jarvi, who worked on special sections and the North Ottawa Weekly publication left mid-February.

Muskegon keeps bringing 'em back

But not everyone who leaves stays away. Treutler still writes a weekly column while adjusting to retirement.

Wolffis also is writing a column and some features, such as a recent one on Log Cabin Day. Her latest column talks about the "bounty beyond belief" that her retirement has allowed:
"Because of the hours I kept all those years at work, I've had to limit my trips to market to Saturday mornings. Now that I'm in early retirement, working a freelancer's schedule, I can get there Tuesdays and Thursdays, too, even if it's just to take stock.

Hardiman still posts a column and some features.

There's still Extra Iddings. (Iddings even updated his bio, letting us know that he is now a freelance writer "after writing for the Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle from July 1975 through January 2009. There he was chief film critic since 1976; a feature writer, specializing in arts and entertainment; and most recently author of the online blog “Extra Iddings."

He's also busy at the Howmet Playhouse, in Whitehall among other things. That's also why he has aged so/

Opinions still coming

Kolb still writes a regular column, including the recent "Paul Keep led the Chronicle through the worst of times" that included:
"On Paul Keep's watch a lot of newspaper jobs disappeared. Chronicle institutions, like its presses were silenced. Whole departments were consolidated with other newspapers. Even our adolescent paper carriers were given their little pink slips."
Kolb, who says he "entered into semi-retirement prematurely," and Keep disagreed many times (see From birth to death: A eulogy for Viewpoint). Kolb is not sure that all of Keep's changes and experiments were smart. But ...

"Say what you will about the moves he made, Keep showed a lot of guts. He was unafraid to confront tradition, entrenched attitudes or conventional wisdom in the newsroom.

"I always appreciated the fact that, as bad as things got at times, Paul never lost his cool or hid in his office.

"Every piece of bad news that came our way was delivered personally, from the man, at open staff meetings where everyone had his or her say, and could ask all the questions they wanted."

Assistant News Editor Stan Harrison, who coordinated the Chronicle's Sunday HomeFront section among other things, left in the springtime. He still blogs "Been There, Done That."
giving home improvement and gardening ideas. And he's not afraid to show a sense of humor - did you hear about the reel-to-reel lawnmower?

I spotted a Lisa Medendorp byline on Sunday with a feature on a Muskegon artist. and another for Terry Judd so maybe they haven't left yet.

Not likely to make Chronicle again

Freelance columnist Tracy Lorenz is blogging, just not on news. It's the Muskegon Comical now (or find some old columns at Lorez at Large). The departure of the contract columnist was not smooth, starting with his good-bye after six years way back in February. He even got a dig in on editors, all seven of them:
"... each one had a different way of plucking humor from the written page and dropping it on the cutting room floor like a no-bake cookie."

There are other Muskegon blogs, of course. The Muskegon Taxpayers Alliance, silent since February, and the Muskegon Pundit, not so quiet.
Talk to you later.


  1. Hi,

    Came by to say hello hope you are doing well and enjoying the summer.


  2. A better summer then you :) minus a few migraine and ms hugging days

    Thanks for stopping by.