October 17, 2009

More Freep layoffs

Thhe Detroit Free Press finalized seven layoffs, including two reporters and one copy editor

Sometimes, we can't help ourselves

Does it drive you nuts when there is a wrong their or there or they're? Grammar Nerds can create a sticky situation with this product. Just $3  or save a buck and get 3 sets for $8 plus shipping from the Portland Oregon Temple of Commerce.

Go for a real copy-editing fix.

Quote bowdlerizing that may only be of interest to copyediting nerds

Reality? Marley & Me, re-considered

My feeds and defined searches can pull in more then doom and gloom. See this post "in which the author wonders whether the 2008 Owen Wilson/Jennifer Aniston vehicle Marley & Me accurately reflects the fortunes of an ailing newspaper industry.

ThisWashington City Paper post is worth a click: Marley & Me, Considered 

Go ahead. Smile. It won't hurt much.

(Michigan connection: John Grogan was a former Kalamazoo Gazette reporter who is married to former Muskegon Chronicle reporter Jenny Vogt)

October 16, 2009

Michigan reflections: Out of the newsrooms

I went looking for something else and stumbled into a couple more look backs at careers. Some leave by choice, others are "downsized out of a career" through the decisions of others. Everyone survives.

From Detroit, Michigan, Bill McGraw said 'Thank you' to all who filled 37 years of Detroit stories

In the Sept. 27 column he said he'd be working at Compuware Corp., but first recounted some of the highlights that included 427 articles covering the Tigers in 1984 and an obituary that inspired a thank you letter .It's a nice collection of a runthrough that began in Detroit in 1972.

A call out of the blue gets Musekgon Chronicle columnist Susan Harrison Wolffis to remember how "it was so much more than a job" when you are "downsized out of a career."

An interesting insight:
"There was a time when researchers thought women were better equipped emotionally when their careers were over, when they retired or their jobs ended. Men were the ones — generally speaking — whose identities and esteem were closely tied to work. Women — generally speaking — had other things that defined their worth: family, outside interests, friends. The thought was, because they had more than work in their lives, women handled life's transitions with less trauma."
No Michigan connection but this one-year reflection caught my eye. Perhaps it is the reference to the fishes and loaves story and the amazingness some of us have that we are provided with what we need if we trust, if we believe. So, like so many of us in newspapers and outside, Hal Talerton never expected to be let go, or to be without work for three months, much less a year.
"I've survived it all — the shock, the loss of confidence, the frustration, the bouts of depression, the anxieties, the doubts about the present and the future, the feelings of hopelessness. I've also experienced the emotional support of friends and family, the recognition of strangers who had seen my mugshot in the paper and were sorry I was gone, the reassurances of loved ones and former colleagues, and the near-miraculous juxtaposition of frugality and good fortune that has allowed my wife and me to get through the past 12 months without dipping far into our savings."
Go ahead, bookmark that post so you can share it with the next person you need to assure will make it because "Being laid off is a terrible experience, I think anyone would tell you, but life is good."

Consider adding the Erstwhile Editor blog to your feeds or stopping by for regular visits.

I especially liked a followup post that contains a plus to no career:
"When we both worked, my wife and I tended to eat instant meals more often — microwave dinners, fast food, hot dogs, etc. Since I have the time to cook, we've prepared more meals from scratch (or nearly scratch), and we've eaten healthier. We've also paid attention to portion size. I've also exercised more, by doing yard work, walking the dog and actually going to the gym (gym membership is one luxury I did not give up as we reduced our living expenses). As a result, I'm leaner and healthier and feel better (in part because job stress is gone)."
See, life is good.

October 15, 2009

News (or mad?) scientist won't workship at local-local-local altar

Glynn Wilson's comments about the Newhouse's Advance Publications dominating media in Alabama caused
The Locust Fork News-Journal's entry on How the Internet Changed the World, For Good and Bad to turn up in must-reads this week.

I was thankful for a reminder to look at this man's effort to create a "wide open independent weblog for big news and the big picture."
"It is my educated opinion that most newspapers will never get past the ink, paper and delivery truck economic model and figure out the Web economy, so new news organizations will have to be built to replace them. That’s one of the reasons I started the Locust Fork News-Journal four and a half years ago, to start experimenting with how to do this. It is still a work in progress."
Unlike many who are experimenting with news, Wilson does not see hyperlocal, or even local, as a key to success. Instead, he suggests we think about this:
"The Web has the potential of a global audience. But you can’t build national and international traffic by spending more time covering local news and sports and by forcing people to sign up to read your site. It just won’t work. That’s why I have kept my site open and free and focused more on national news."
Visit the post for more on how he got to that attitude and a quick review of Internet's role. Visit the site to see how his experiment is going. Feel generous? Donate a "road trip," "tank of gas," "carton of ACLs, " "3 month server bill" or just pick up the tab for a 12-pack Yuengling Black and Tan. OK, I admit there are sponsorships and ad placements possible.

October 14, 2009

Ann Arbor News building listed for $9 million

Looks like the building that once housed Ann Arbor's daily newspaper is ready for the market. The newspaper's successor, AnnArbor.com posted a piece today:Ann Arbor News building listed for $9 million

The Ann Arbor News building goes onto the market today, creating a high-profile development opportunity in the form of a rare downtown listing combination that includes two buildable lots and a historic office building.

The listing with the local office of Colliers International sets a price of $9 million for the building, adjacent parking lot and nearby parking lot with Ann Street frontage.
Continue reading Ann Arbor News building listed for $9 million...

Politics in the press: West Michigan newspapers wrapped up in politics

Muskegon Chronicle editor Cindy Fairfield says a conservative voice will join Opinions page in her latest Sunday column.

The decision means another former Chronicle writer returns to the fold. Steve Gunn, who the editor says "currently advocates for conservative issues, is a fantastic writer, a knowledgeable journalist and a person who embraces a point of view similar to many conservatives in our area."

Gunn's weekly column starts Thursday.

(By the way, she also shared that a "good news" column .... a collection of items and tidbits that show Muskegon area people doing good things" is coming soon.)

Meanwhile, over in Grand Rapids, Press editor Paul Keep tells readers "We report the news, not political agendas" by sharing conversations with two readers with opposing viewpoints of what the daily newspaper does. One was a sometime subscriber, upset with not seeing his liberal viewpoint often enough in the newspaper. Another saw the paper as too liberal, set off this time by an article about Michael Moore's latest film.

Now some would take the opposing characterizations as indications that the paper is balanced. Keep uses it to remind readers that
"A newspaper isn't doing its job if it makes decisions about what to print based on whether its editors agree with the person being written about. We are not pushing agendas. Our job is to tell readers what is going on in the world, as best we can. That may well stir some people up from time to time."

Of course, not all agree that all voices are represented in mass media. Isn't that one reason for Reporting Michigan's debut to ensure a conservative voice. The former Ann Arbor News reporter Tom Gantert is doing a good job of frequently updating his site and Facebook.

One last thought from Paul Keep:
"When did people start wanting to read only what they agree with in their daily newspaper? Like him or hate him, isn't it legitimate news when a famous filmmaker like Moore turns out a new movie? As a conservative, don't you want to know what this influential liberal is up to?"
Yeah, know your enemies.

See a story about Michigan media moves? Bookmark it in the Publish2 Michigan News about News  newsgroup.

October 13, 2009

Newhouse news: Star-Ledger needs 50 to go via buyouts or layoffs

An expected memo went out to another batch of employees working for companies in the Advance Publications fold. Today's recipients are the employees of the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey, where editor Jim Willse recently announced his retirement.

It follows an offer made to employees at The Oregonian and the Times Picayune in New Orleans.

To: Full-Time Employees
From: George Arwady

Consistent with my updates to you, the revenue situation at our newspaper has worsened this year, and we expect a further significant revenue decline next year.

We are working on the budget for Y2010, and it is clear that we must reduce our staff significantly to offset the continuing steep decline in revenue. My best estimate is that the full-time workforce must be reduced by at least 50 people.

Accordingly, we are announcing another voluntary buyout offer. Full-time, non-represented employees can apply to receive 2 weeks’ pay for every year of completed service, capped at 26 weeks’ pay, along with medical coverage for the severance period. The newspaper reserves the right to reject applications based upon business needs.

We sincerely hope that we meet our staffing goals through this voluntary buyout offer. If we do not, we will need to resort to other ways of reducing our employee costs, which could include involuntary layoffs.

Catching up - Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper finally jumping into online conversation

Whoa. The Cleveland Plain Dealer took a giant step on the Internet today in its attempt to make the conversation at its place more civil. 

"But we're also doing something we should have done earlier: We're joining the online conversation. For too long, we at The Plain Dealer posted stories on cleveland.com and then turned away to focus on the next day's news. Now, we're encouraging our reporters and editors to pay attention to what you're saying, to answer your questions and respond to your complaints."
Hip, hip hooray. But what took you so long?

Reading your news organizations web site, or at least comments generated by the stories you write, should be just as natural as picking up the print newspaper and reading the letters to the editor. Knowing what people or organizations you cover are doing online should be as normal as knowing what they do in "real life."

Is there a reporter in the world who would walk away with nary a word to someone who spoke to them at a public meeting or in a public place? Why does it become to OK to ignore what's being said just because it is online.

John Kroll, director of training and digital development for the Advance Publications newspaper in Ohio, tells us he been working to improve the   Plain Dealer's handling of online comments on our stories. He mentions how the Ohio staff plans to follow AnnArbor.com's "We don't tolerate jerks" policy.

Read John's column for more about the policy and encouraging signs that more people involved with the newspaper side of the organization are getting the ways of the Internet.

I wish I could be in the Ohio newsroom the first time a reluctant reporter discovers a story via the comments.

I thought all of the newspapers in the Advance Publications were further along but the recent system wide - system being Newhouse newspapers such as the Syracuse Post-Standard in New York, The Oregonian, Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Birmingham News in Alabama, Grand Rapids Press in Michigan, etc. - upgrade of software that now allows people to develop profiles, recommend stories, and track comments has shown me how few people at these newspapers are online.

It is especially irritating to me that people who carry some responsibility for the online links haven't posted anything about themselves, much less shared a photograph.

Let's hope the rest of the newspapers follow The Plain Dealer's lead and get talking with their villages. Then, perhaps we can teach 'em how to put hotlinks in and with articles.

(By the way, John did a great job yesterday jumping in, collecting comments, and answering many of the concerns that cropped up in the 245 comments posted as of 12:30 a.m. Oct. 13.

He's been jumping in - answering readers' questions by giving specific links, or background information or clarifying a writer's reporting for a few months now. Hip, hip, hooray.)

Jealousy over blog post leads to reflection

I don't know. Except that I do know Louis Gray inspired guilty feelings with his latest explanation of what he does when he does what he does. See, my question is how does he know that. No, that's wrong. My question is more personal: Why don't I know that?

Gray takes a global approach to what he shares online, mindful of his audience, careful to not overload with too much or to stray from a particular path whether he is blogging or pointing to other posts via Google Reader.
"Every time I hit a "share" button, or I hit "post", it is calculated."
I think I'm jealous that he knows his audience, while I'm still searching for what it is that I have to say that someone will want to hear. What is it that I can talk about that anyone wants to listen to? Or what is it that I want to talk about day after day after day?

Meanwhile, I pull together posts I might want to look at later,posts that collect more about the why and the how in an attempt to understand this or that, or grab onto the success of others who left the newsroom and survive, or better yet, thrive.
I forget sometimes that humans are reading this, much in the same way that the people who pulled the "best" pages for the State News 100 years  book featured the page highlighting a staff walkout as the one for my year as editor. That, of course, ignores events like the time Ohio State University football coach Woody Hayes grabbed a State News reporter's neck, upset over the printed allegations that Ohio State University alumni were illegally funding his recruitment efforts. Now, that story made it into Sports Illustrated. and papers like the Milwaukee Journal. Or an investigation that led to the true story about a shooting by police, or ... so many highlights that could have been chosen. Oh well, I enjoyed the 263 other pages.

The walkout, by the way, came because the board of directors chose me to be editor while the editorial staff's recommendation was for another candidate. It was not the first time or the last time the board and staff disagreed. It was not the first walkout.

But the walkout that followed my selection also came while I was in Florida, vacationing with my former husband and in-laws for the first time. I had delayed the start of the vacation so I could face the board for a grueling interview. I ended the vacation days early, listening to those who said a return was necessary for the success of the newspaper as the current editor decided enough was enough and wanted out early.

Ah, how early I began putting work before family. That thought hits me hard, illustrating why I write still. It's a path to understanding because sometimes I sweep through things and forget to reflect.

So back to this online personality thing, this what do I blog about, or what do I share, or why, or ....  Also, back to remembering those in college are there to learn and that learning does not need to happen at their expense. Besides, have you ever seen an Advance Internet site that is easy to navigate?

More on those Michigan newspaper changes

Guess I should have waited to tell you about some of those promotions and changes at Michigan newspapers.

Quick. Head over to mlive.com and catch Giddy up: Look who's back in the saddle again
It is especially good news for those who follow the Flint Generals.

An article in Sunday's Flint Journal also announced Bruce Gunther is returning to The Flint Journal as sports coordinator. He was the former sports editor for The Bay City Times and The Flint Journal. He left as sports editor of The Journal at the end of May after accepting a buyout earlier in the year.

Bryn Mickel's promotion to assistant community editor also was noted.

Readers reminded me I overlooked some folks in the update, including Jason Christie, who joined The Journal as a sales consultant in May 2008. He had been a regional sales manager for ISource Worldwide and web services manager for AlliedMedia.

 By the way, I noticed the beat page for The Journal was recently updated.The contact page now has Marjory Raymner as Community Editor, the top ranking editorial position in the new scheme of things, among other changes. The Community Newspapers beat page and one for the advertising staff  look like they were recently updated although the update tags still reads 2008. Alas, the page listing editors and the general contacts page still needs work.

See a story about Michigan media moves? Bookmark it in the Publish2 Michigan News about News  newsgroup. 

October 12, 2009

Writer moved out of Newhouse bureau, into own business

Michigan jack-of-all-trades Joe Grimm continues his upbeat look at journalists who find success after buyouts and bootouts by interviewing Katherine Reynolds Lewis, who once wrote "feature articles and news analyses on work, money and business for the Newhouse newspaper chain" from 2003-2008.

Now, as Joe says, Former National Correspondent Creates Two Sites for Working Moms
The first is CurrentMom.com, a Web site for entrepreneurial mothers, and the other is About.com site for working moms."

But that's not all that this mother is doing now that the Newhouses have closed the Washington Bureau and the National News Service. She's a freelance writer and editor, writing about work, personal finance and parenting for magazines, newspapers and Web sites.

She's also indirectly continued working with the Newhouses - a piece about curbing the abuse of prescription drugs was in the Oct. 4 Parade, which is in the Advance Publications fold.

Head to Poynter for some advice on creating a new career, becoming your own boss and recognizing your value.

I've written before about journalists with jobs post buyout and bootout. Joe Grimm, who worked for the Detroit Free Press as a recruiter and now blogs, freelances and teaches at Michigan Sate University, has a lot of helpful posts on career transitions.