July 16, 2009

Wishing not working so daughter must wait on cancer fix

The space shuttle has nothing on my daughter as her launch into radiation was delayed. Again.

The "vacation" between surgery and radiation for my daughter has been filled with tests to ensure her heart can handle the next steps necessary to fight late stage three cancer. Toss in some measurements needed as part of a study - long, long days at the cancer center or in the nuclear medicine area.

I could bore you with details on infections - hers. husband's, a dog.

Instead, here is her posted status Wednesday:

"Just my luck- surgery hasnt healed enough to start radiation - 1 more week to wait - partly from all the chemo :("
She could have mentioned fatigue or some of the other side effects.

It is now a year since my daughter found the first tumor. I am in my ninth month of full-time caretaking. No one in this family trained for a 10k. How did we get entered into a marathon

Still, it is only a week in a lifetime of weeks. September is a month of starts for many. Why not us?

Michigan State chooses temporary director of journalism

Looks like Michigan State University's School of Journalism will look more at research as a focus. Lucinea Davenport will lead the school as its temporary director, the new dean of the College of Communications Arts said Wednesday.

She replaces Jane Briggs-Bunting who had a contract to lead through 2010, but was asked to resign July 1. Briggs-Bunting told The State News she will do research for two years away from East Lansing and return to teach.

Davenport, who I met years ago when she was studying computer-assisted reporting, has published several research projects.

The State News reported that the journalism faculty backed Davenport.

No word if the dean will still meet with students as planned today.

Live in the present - advice for the going, going, gone at the Grand Rapids Press

waving hand

Folks continue to trickle out of the newsroom on the west side of Michigan.

Charles Honey, most recently the religion editor at The Grand Rapids Press, decided to "focus on the present" after a timely walk through a cemetery.

Like many of us, he's reminding himself that he's not his job.
"I am no longer Religion Editor.

Check that: I no longer work as a Religion Editor. The job was not who I was, it was what I did.

OK, maybe it was more who I was than I realized. If I'm not a Religion Editor, who am I?"
Some of Grand Rapids Press employees were highlighted in a TV feature, not surprising since Ken Kolker went to WoodTV8 when he ended his 30-year newspaper reporter stint in an earlier round of goodbyes. There was a picnic celebrating the last days.

Ruth Butler, who left her day job of supervising education coverage at the Grand Rapids Press, talks about starting over and writes: "Tell me a tale of passion by book." She'll continue writing a weekly column for the western Michigan newspaper.

Rademacher, who just got top honors from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists , also will keep writing columns on a contract basis for the Grand Rapids Press. His latest column includes this:
"It's moments like this that have given way to a familiar routine for me over the past 30-plus years: See something. Wonder. Then wander on over. And discover so much more than what graces the surface."
Sue Merrell, whose LinkedIn description says "I laugh for a living," expects to continue covering the Grand Rapids theater scene on a free-lance basis.

Feature writer
Jennifer Ackerman bid goodbye in "To emotional exits, new beginnings and the belief that anything is possible." Well, sort of goodbye as she'll keep writing her Running with Needles craft column and occasional features.

Long-time reporter
Pat Shellenbarger is remembered fondly in a July 1 post on the Humanity for Prisoners blog. and in a July 6 letter to the Press editor. Delayed Justice also has written about Pat's work. He has been teaching journalism at Grand Valley State University.

Not sure what's up next for photo editor Hoyt Carrier or reporter Ted Roelofs , photographer Lance Wynn, copy editors Dixon Dudderar (more sailing, right?) or Gary Schroder. , who also spent time as an assistant news editor for business coverage and deputy metro editor at the Press and nine years as a reporter and editor at the Saginaw News.

By the way, an anonymous commenter says there's only 9 FT news reporters, 3 1/2 biz reporters and a FT sports staff of 8 left. mmmm. Could that be true?

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.

July 14, 2009

Publisher blasts "Birmingham Noose"

Glynn Wilson says research shows that older, more liberal people are more apt to read a newspaper — but not a newspaper that ignores their point of view. In his July 6 post, he says "I don't often link to the Newhouse press in Alabama's Website, al.com, because I usually find their coverage severely lacking." The post explains why and is one of only 3 posts linking from the Locust Fork News-Journal blog to the Birmingam News.

Wilson is the publisher of the Locus Fork, focusing much attention on the judicial nomination before the Senate.

The headline of his July 6 post clearly shows his point of view - tagging the newspaper the Birmingham Noose as he weighs in on Palin's latest moves.

Four months: Still working on this going, going, gone thing in Kalamazoo

waving hand

Four months into "semi-retirement" and Tom Haroldson still finds the pace surprising. Equally surprising? The words that spring out of his mouth during the most unexpected times.

He's 57 and worked 30 years in as a reporter, editor and bureau chief for the Kalamazoo Gazette in a state where 30-and-out was almost a requirement

There are pluses in being able to stay up late when you want and choosing what to write about. But still:

"I have discovered that what I am is semiretired, which means I am in the middle of two worlds and wrestling with which one fits best and is the most enjoyable. I am too young to retire and too old to play around all day long. I am semidevoted to serious working and semi-interested in goofing off. "

Malcolm McBryde, Generations editor for the Kalamazoo Gazette, shared his nervousness of becoming a grandfather and being without a job as he gets ready to leave on his buyout.

I missed James Sanford's last column and an interview with him. The arts & entertainment coordinator ended his 12-year Kalamazoo stint in early June for Martha's Vineyard and in hopes an entertainment magazine that spans continents. Some of his work is still online at the old place and soon at the new place. He's still Tweeting and blogging.

When his stay on the vineyard ends - a summer too good to pass up with a buyout offer equally attractive - he'll see what the next step is.

I missed too that Anne Holcomb, a librarian who also knew much about making mlive.com work for her newspaper, also left the Gazette, moving to a new job at the Willard Public Library in Battle Creek. She can blog, created multimedia packages, and pull together information in amazing ways.
Also recently gone are Dave Person, Tim Lehman, and artist Richard Jordan.

Paul Morgan,
former sports reporter and page designer, is still pulling together a daily sports TV listing and covering some sports and fitness for the news organization. But mostly he's gone.

Hirten: Practice what you teach, MSU | Lansing State Journal

Lansing Michigan editor M Hirten gets the real fail at Michigan State University.

The College of Communication Arts failed the most basic principles of public relations. That failure will haunt the school as it seeks new students, new funding and even new staff.

The new dean keeps blundering each day she postpones talking to the students of the school and the student newspaper

The dean and journalism school director need to talk sooner then later and figure out ways both win. Does Jane Briggs-Bunting head the curriculm change, the Tandem Project and Redesign the News series? What about the centennial celebration?

Can Dean Pam Whitten quickly find someone to lead the school? Or take over the projects if that's the beef?

Show the students, the campus, the alumni how pros communicate and get past the crisis. Silencing the Twitteting and blogging is as equally wrong as a poorly executed plan that is still failing 14 days after its horrendous start.

Enough is enough.

July 13, 2009

Many eager to tell new Grand Rapids Press editor what to do

waving hand

Paul Keep didn't wait long to jump back online to talk with his new community.

The new editor at Grand Rapids Press asked for help and the ideas are coming in fast and furious from readers.

First, though, Keep who became the editor of the largest Advance Publication news outlet in Michigan on July 1, promises to:
  • Focus on local
  • Listen to readers and
  • Communicate.
About 40 readers quickly came back with suggestions, including firing the food critic, beef up the travel and sports section, and drop opinion from news stories. Several referred to the western Michigan newspaper allowing a sports columnist to return to the payroll despite a guilty plea in a drug case.

Stay focused

Some folks were confused about Keep's influence, leading to complaints about the content and price of the Bay City Times, delivered on the east side of the state. (Yes, he worked there once upon a time. Also, at The Flint Journal, Musekgon Chronicle and Kalamazoo Gazette. The feedback was sought for the current news organization, the one in Grand Rapids.)

At least one recognized the difficulty of pleasing everyone and suggested that Keep:
"Organize a readership panel and meet with them monthly to get their ideas. Keep us informed. My best guess is if you show us frequently that a dozen, diverse readers have a dozen (if not more) differing opinions on how to edit a newspaper, at least some of your readers will gain some insight into just how impossible a task it is."
Some feedback is very specific, naming two organizations and information requested. Some was more general, such as "report on West Michigan."

Make us proud


"I challenge you Paul to take the initiative and really make the Press the kind of paper that Grand Rapids can be proud of. ... make up for the decline in quality and quantity.

Another reader had many ideas, including:
  • More positive news,
  • Investigative- dig a bit, create accountability and
  • Cover local news more.

One person thought the local initiative could be accomplished by putting "more pictures in the print edition, and less online. If there is one thing people go out of their way to buy a paper for it is because their picture (or someone they know) is in the paper."

While another said:
"There is other news besides what Johnny and Mary are doing.
Look abroad

The content of the Grand Rapids Press Travel section was criticized:
"I find it hard to believe a town the size of Grand Rapids has such a poor travel section. Indiana? Northern Michigan? ... I want to see Europe, China, Mexico, Hawaii. I want to look at the Sunday Press and take a vacation to that exciting place. Fire your travel staff and start over."
Sports was discussed by several, including:

"We love our Michigan sports - especially the pro teams - Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Red Wings along with UofM and MSU. It would be great to add a few more pro/major college columnists. "

Mayo on mind

It's clear that some in the conservative community are not happy with the newspaper's decision to allow David Mayo his job back.

"In my opinion the Grand Rapids Press is on the wrong side of the Pot issue (in particular because it is allowing a (now) known, unsupervised felon to be a role model for, and occasionally interact with, young people)."

Although Mayo started before Keep official started, I'm sure he was involved in the decision.

Meanwhile, it was nice to see that Keep said goodbye and hello and plans to keep in touch with his newest community.

Humiliation or proof positive that a newspaper went crazy?

waving hand

What a first week back for the Grand Rapids Press sports columnist suspended in February after drug charges followed police getting 71 marijuana plants and 32 ounces of pot in canning jars from his home.

David Mayo, who started at the Press in 1985, now knows what it feels like to be the subject of the press as his story has been told on radio, TV, in print and online. I wonder how that will influence his future reporting. With luck, he'll be more sensitive. Says one Grand Rapids reader:
"It's so hard to not be judgmental and not make nasty comments about someone who repeatedly was judgmental and made nasty comments about people and teams."

Mayo covered collegiate and professional sports, including the World Series, Super Bowl, and boxing, including the career of Floyd Mayweather.

His July 5 page one column in the Press ' I've come out the other side' after marijuana conviction drew reactions near and far.

Mayo also went on several radio shows, John Gonzalez tells us.

The Grand Rapids Press gave the community a chance to react in print with letters to the editor that included both praise and criticism:

Taken from the Mayos
It was pro and con in the world of bloggers and online commenters:

Eric B. on Michigan Liberal criticizes the required public humiliation.
"... after five decades of doing this kind of thing I think it's probably pretty clear that these things never serve any purpose beyond permanently labeling the author as an addict. I mean, you'd have to be an idiot to think that any self-respecting teenager is going to read about the legal travails of a middle-aged sports writer and turn down pot."

No need to write

An unnecessary column was the viewpoint of Improved Clinch's Self Flagellation at the Point of a Gun:

"Mayo’s self flagellating mea culpa is the culmination of the injustice inflicted by the State, and it all started with the State’s questionable procuring of purchase invoices for hydroponic growing equipment, which sets a precedence for the State to obtain records of your individual purchases, whether those purchases are benign or not."

Others suggest that Mayo needs to watch what he writes, including the blog Chicken Scratch in "Bong Smoke Clouds Judgement of Grand Rapids Press:"
"I sure as hell don’t want to see any more stories in the press talking ill of those who smoke marijuana because your lead sports guy is a pot head."
There were some who don't want Mayo near student athletes.

Precious newsroom jobs

That the sports journalist is coming back to a newspaper job when so many have lost newsroom jobs has Chicken Scratch and others raising questions. Some familiar with the once-strong Advance Publications' job pledge and no-tolerance drug policy question what the hiring means..

The Daily Derelict calls the return "proof even heavy drug users (dealers) can work for Booth Newspapers for life." He repeats a few stories he's been told before concluding (incorrectly, in my opinion):
"You basically have to be CONVICTED of murdering or raping someone to get fired in Booth Newspapers."
I never understood you had a job for life no matter what. Some folks were let go over the years, or, as said over on Free From Editors, "I've known other employees who have lost jobs at Booth for far less transgressions than this.")

Lingering questions

There are questions - could this be a case of using the marijuana to ease the pain of a medical condition, hinted at when a
TV station's report on his rejection of a plea agreement included this quote:
"My wife's debilitating illness, that's been the hardest part to watch her. That's been the hardest part of this whole deal."
The illnesses came up again when a TV station reported that a defense fund had been set up. The station quoted Mayo saying the loss of his salary from The Press, and the fact his wife has a number of medical conditions, has made their life extremely difficult.

The defense fund is administered by Jeff Calhoun, general manager of the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team (2003-07), an executive with the former Grand Rapids Hoops (1989-2003) and now an insurance agent (He also was named a potential character witness). Contributions can be sent to Jeff Calhoun, Attn: Defense fund, 6719 Rubina Way, Lansing, Mich. 48917

Those other jobs

It's been widely reported that the Kirby, Ark., native also worked as a regular correspondent for The Ring magazine and its sister publications. But no articles are up there for 2009.

He also resigned less the a month after being elected as vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

I looked, but couldn't find any bylines on mlive.com. I did see that Mayweather is facing some IRS troubles and been in the news for some other things. That must be hard for Mayo not to cover after all these years.