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Daily Archives: June 4, 2012

Steve Proctor

Steve Proctor, managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, is taking the same position at the Houston Chronicle in two weeks. (Both papers are owned by Hearst.)

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to join Hearst’s largest newspaper,” says the 54-year-old journalist. “Houston impresses me as a great news town, given that it’s at the forefront of so many issues facing our nation.”

Read the press release after the jump. Read More

Gannett’s Media Network of Central Ohio (MNCO) has printed and distributed The Lantern for about six years, and starting July 1 it will run the Ohio State University paper’s advertising and business operations too.

The three-year deal “blindsided” some Lantern student employees, the newspaper reports. One staffer says “no one saw it coming especially after the awesome year we had.” He adds: I don’t want to come back and then find out I don’t have a job. I’m not going to interview for a job I’ve had for three years.”

* Gannett to take over The Lantern’s business operations (The Lantern)

Nancy Sebring abruptly resigned as Des Moines school superintendent on May 10, explaining that she needed time to prepare for her new job in Omaha. (It was supposed to start July 1.) The day earlier, school board leaders confronted her about sexually explicit emails that were discovered by school district employees reviewing a May 7 records request filed by the Omaha World Herald’s Jonathon Braden.

Nancy Sebring

The Des Moines Register reports Sebring tried to get rid of the emails after the school board found out about them, and “she also called Braden and persuaded him to revise his records request in such a way that it did not include the personal messages.” (My boldfacing here.)

HERE’S HOW THE OMAHA WORLD-HERALD EXPLAINS WHAT HAPPENED:

Sebring tried several times to prevent public disclosure of the emails.

Immediately after Sebring decided to resign from Des Moines, Sebring called The World-Herald to ask about its records request relating to Omaha.

She asked if the newspaper could revise its request, indicating that the full request might encompass such emails as her sister congratulating her about the Omaha job.

The newspaper, unaware of the sexually explicit emails, agreed to narrow its request to deal specifically with communications to and from people in Omaha.

I’ve asked Braden and executive editor Mike Reilly about their decision to revise their records request.

UPDATE: Reilly sends this email:

As a matter of routine, we listen and try to be reasonable when a public official tell us a records requests is impractically broad.

In this case, a public official used our reasonableness against us and put up a smoke screen.

It bought her some time, but the important thing is that our reporters eventually discovered the story anyway and got it to our readers.

* School superintendent Nancy Sebring resigns after sexually explicit emails discovered (Des Moines Register)
* Racy emails kill Sebring’s Omaha Public Schools job (Omaha World-Herald) || Read the emails
* Des Moines school board accepts resignation after closed meeting (Des Moines Register)

The Times-Picayune Citizens Group — an organization of about 50 business and civic leaders and organizations — says in a press release that its purpose is to “ensure the continuation of the delivery of a high quality, seven-day-a-week newspaper, with access to the entire community.” The Times-Picayune notes: “The group’s introduction comes just hours before a rally in support of The Times-Picayune and its employees is scheduled to take place. The community tailgate is scheduled for today at 4 p.m.”

* Times-Picayune Citizens Group aims to stop changes at paper (Nola.com)

U-T San Diego sports columnist Tim Sullivan was fired on Friday after working at the paper for a decade. “I was advised that my services were no longer required,” Sullivan tweeted. “Simple as that.”

Tim Sullivan

Over the years, Sullivan has had his differences with U-T San Diego chief executive officer John Lynch. (The two, though, have never met in person.) In 2006, when Lynch ran a San Diego sports radio station, Sullivan wrote that Lynch’s “heavy-handed editorial crusades have started to echo Citizen Kane’s” and that “the man has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.”

Late last year — after Lynch was named U-T San Diego CEO — Sullivan met with editor Jeff Light and expressed concerns about an interview that the new boss had given to the Voice of San Diego in which he said the paper’s sports pages would advocate for a new football stadium “and call out those who don’t as obstructionists.”

Sullivan writes in an email:

I initiated a meeting with U-T editor Jeff Light to provide him the background on what I had written about Lynch and to express my ethical concerns going forward. I told him then that I was not in a position to quit on principle but that I was worried that Lynch’s interview had inflicted serious damage to the paper’s credibility.

Later, as new management has built a television station in the newsroom with the intent of launching 24/7 programming and using existing reporting staff to create content, I have raised questions at staff meetings about how this can be done without compromising the printed product and about the hiring of a controversial radio host, who worked for Lynch’s former station and was fired for outrageous comments about a woman prior to being hired at the U-T.

John Lynch

Sullivan says he didn’t oppose the paper’s new initiatives. “I believe in the need for multiple platforms but have questions about the logistics of such an operation.” Here’s some of what he wrote to Light on April 26, after he questioned the editor at a staff meeting:

Be assured that I am in agreement with the basic principles of a multi-platform news operation, and recognize the need for the Union-Tribune to expand its reach through other media. If the printed paper is a dinosaur, as I fear it is, it must learn to adapt if it is to survive.

My primary concerns relate to the inherent difficulty of serving multiple masters at the same time and serving all of them well in a finite number of hours. I wish I were more optimistic about how this new business model can work, and about our ability to bear the additional burdens being placed on a news operation that many staff members believe is already overtaxed, but I hope to be proven wrong.

Sullivan says: “Light did not respond to this message. Nor was I given any formal (or even informal) notice that I was in danger. Last Wednesday, I received an e-mail message that I was to meet with Light at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon. By 3:02, I had been fired.”

UPDATE: Light sent this email after I invited him to comment:

Tim has a fine record as journalist, and I think his account is pretty accurate as far as it goes. Without getting into the details, I would say that if he can find the right fit, I think he would make a good columnist for someone.

* U-T San Diego fires sports columnist Tim Sullivan (JimRomenesko.com)

Jeffrey Clouser and Brent Weaver, who have been together for seven years, tried unsuccessfully to get their engagement announcement published in the Celebrations section of the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era in Lancaster, Penn.

“We got an email from the paper saying that we didn’t meet the standards of acceptance, which were never made very clear,” says Weaver. “I’d like to make it clear that I think standards of acceptance means you don’t like gay people. …Instead of planning our wedding, we’re fighting about putting an announcement in the paper.”

Harold E. Miller, president Lancaster Newspapers Inc. — publisher of the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era and the Sunday News — says in a written statement:

Our readers have come to depend upon our judgment, taste, tone and discretion in publishing advertising to be admitted into their homes. They select our newspapers because of these qualities and we believe we are obligated to uphold their selection by declining to publish advertising announcements and notices which, in our opinion, are not consistent with prevailing community standards.

* Newspaper says same-sex announcement “not consistent with community standards” (Lancasteronline.com)
* [VIDEO] Couple’s engagement announcement rejected (WGAL.com)

Tim Rohan

Tim Rohan

Tim Rohan, who just graduated from the University of Michigan with a sport management degree, officially became a New York Times summer intern last Tuesday.

On Friday he covered the Mets’ first no-hitter in their 51-season history.

Here’s how that happened:

The 22-year-old journalist asked — or “bugged”Jay Schreiber, a sports editor, for an assignment early in the week. “I said, ‘What do you need? What do you have for me?’ He said, ‘I happen to have the Mets open on Friday.’ I said ‘I’m on it.’”

During Friday’s game, he says, “I was was just focused on how I wanted to write the story. I didn’t think of the magnitude [of the game]. …I was just happy I wrote a story I was proud of.”

Rohan says that when he was at the Michigan Daily, former Detroit Free Press sports columnist Michael Rosenberg would occasionally stop by the newsroom and give advice.

“He always told us, when writing on deadline, to make sure you had enough words on the page. Because then you could rewrite or rearrange and craft the story how you wanted, but first you needed enough words on the page. …That’s what I was doing” while writing about Johan Santana’s no-hitter.

Rohan worked at the Daily for four years, covering University of Michigan women’s basketball his freshman year, the hockey team his sophomore year, then the football team his last two years. He interned at the Philadelphia Inquirer last summer. In December, he got word that he’d been hired as a New York Times summer intern. He almost immediately went to work, though. “The first thing I wrote was about David Wilson at the Sugar Bowl.”

“I wrote a dozen or so stories from January to when I started last week.” (He also volunteered to cover the Mets game the Friday before the no-hitter.)

Tim Rohan and mother Christine.

Tim Rohan and mother Christine.

In one of his last SportsMonday columns in the Daily, Rohan wrote that he was 18 when his father died and that “his Parkinson’s disease drove me to find something worth loving to do for the rest of my life. I found The Michigan Daily.” He continued in his open letter to his mother:

Mom, I’m sorry I’m not the engineer you wanted me to be, but the Daily never felt like work.

I know you’re holding out hope, hinting not-so-subtly how grad school is an option “down the road, Timmy.”

But writing sports, I get the same warm, fuzzy sensation Taylor Lewan described after winning the Sugar Bowl: “It’s the feeling you get when you see a box of kittens.”

My box-of-kittens passion is to tell stories, to meet people worth telling others about, to stop, to look around, and to make sure I don’t miss a single moment.

He added: “Mom, thanks for funding my roadtrips and my unpaid internships — thanks, really, for funding this passion that you still aren’t a fan of. Thanks for believing in me.”

* Santana’s no-hitter is a first for the Mets (New York Times)
* “Mom, thanks for funding my roadtrips and my unpaid internships” (Michigan Daily)


Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says of his recent acquisition of Media General newspapers: “It’s not a soft-headed business decision. It’s not going to move the needle at Berkshire Hathaway. If it were the widget business, I wouldn’t do it. The kind of earnings we’ll draw from our newspaper properties will be a very tiny fraction of, say, Burlington Railroad. But it’s not a dumb decision financially.”

Buffett tells Howard Kurtz that he doesn’t have any interest in the Los Angeles Times or Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know exactly what you would do with the Tribune Company,” he says. “It’s really hard in L.A. to have a sense of community. They probably don’t care that much about the city council, and don’t live in the same parish their parents did. They’re not as interested in high school basketball.”

More from Buffett:

* “This three-day-a-week [print publishing schedule] really kills you. You want people who look at you every day. Once people get used to online, I don’t think they come back.”

* “I don’t believe in running [newspapers] at a permanent loss. I can’t do that with the shareholders’ money.”

* “I think it’s crazy to shrink the news hole. You’re selling information.”

* “I will not be running these [Media General] papers. I won’t know the names of the editors at the smaller ones.”

* Buffett still buys newspapers as the industry sinks (The Daily Beast)

RELATED STORIES:
* Cutting newspaper print publication schedules is like having TV networks go dark on nights when they don’t sell many ads. (New York Times)
* David Warsh: Publishers should be leery of Web-bedizened voices trying to shut down print. (Economic Principals)
* Times-Picayune staff-reduction meetings that were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday have been postponed. (Gambit)
* Why AnnArbor.com is the wrong model for the Times-Picayune. (Ann Arbor Chronicle)

* How the editor of Time Out Chicago got full access to Groupon’s execs for his book on the daily-deals site. (Chicago Tribune)
* Buying the New York Times is the most often discussed next act for Michael Bloomberg. (New York)
* Soon-to-launch Narratively site is “devoted to original, true, and in-depth storytelling about New York.” (Capital New York)
* The New Republic has tried to hire Dexter Filkins, Mark Leibovich and Robert Draper. (WWD.com)
* Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw is sued by her law firm. (CalCoastNews.com)
* Sunday sales of Murdoch’s Sun tabloid have fallen 28% since it first hit UK newsstands in February. (New York Times)