Monthly Archives: November 2012

I’m told that Orlando Sentinel editorial cartoonist Dana Summers and business columnist Greg Dawson have accepted buyouts, while golf writer Jeff Shain has been laid off. I hear that three other positions have been eliminated.

I’m working to get more information. Please let me know what you know.

At Tribune’s Baltimore Sun, four newsroom veterans have taken buyouts: tech­nol­ogy reporter Gus Sen­te­mentes; local news reporter Mary Gail Hare; sports reporter San­dra McKee; and long­time film critic/recent copy edi­tor Michael Sragow.

UPDATE — A tipster reports: “The Orlando Sentinel’s sister paper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, also had layoffs.” Second tipster: “One position included religion editor. Sports columnist. Assistant. Online worker.”

UPDATE II: Greg Dawson confirms he took the buyout:

True. Retiring after 45 years in the business (5 newspapers in 6 states). Last day is Friday, last column runs Monday. I turn 63 in December. No specific plans beyond working on a book about – don’t laugh – the development of Crest toothpaste. Look, Mom, no job, er, cavities!

UPDATE III: “Among the Sun-Sentinel layoffs was religion reporter Jim Davis, who’s been there since 1973.” I got this auto-reply when I emailed him to confirm the news:

To all: I have left the Sun-Sentinel and am no longer replying to e-mails here. I have enjoyed working here and have been inspired, warmed and fulfilled in getting to know so many of you over nearly four decades. Together, I believe we have helped South Floridians understand religious issues and to aid their search for spiritual truth.

If you wish to keep in touch, you can write me at Thank you and bless you all.

* Report: Plain Dealer will have layoffs after January 31, 2013 (

— From the Oakland Press

The paragraph above is from an Oakland Press story about the closing of St. Dennis Church in Royal Oak, Mich.

Rev. Ventline: Citizen journalist

Here’s the problem with it: Tom and Mary Jo Hurley — the couple who “listened” to the final service last Sunday — have been dead for years.

Their son, Tim, learned of the story through a high school friend, who wrote in an email: “Timmy, I thought both your parents had passed. You better read what the Oakland Press printed.”

He did, and tells Alan Stamm that “the grief hit while trying to compose a response [to the paper] without using profanity. A flood of memories came rushing in.”

The son wrote in the Oakland Press comments section:

My parents, Tom & Mary Jo Hurley were indeed, long time members of St. Dennis Parish. My Dad built the advent wreath used for years in the sanctuary. My Mom, Mary Jo was very active at St. Dennis. We Hurley children did attend St. Dennis at one time or another. However, unless resurrected for the last service, my parents have been deceased for years.

Reporter Stamm called the author of piece — Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline, a Catholic priest — who was reluctant to discuss the error.

“What business is it of yours?” he asked. “Why are you bothering me? I already spoke to the editor.”

The priest-reporter continued: “Whoever edited it condensed and took out a lot. My editor screwed it up. ….I’m a citizen journalist. I do this for the community good.”

Stamm writes:

Ventline attended the church’s last service, he says, and after interviewing the man seated next to him asked the man to write down his name and that of his wife. That’s how the Hurleys’ names were used, as Ventline tells it. “I was sitting next to them,” according to Ventline.

Without knowing that, Tim Hurley suggested this explanation: “I was able to piece together that the guy had ‘interviewed’ or at least talked to my brother Dan.”

Oakland Press local news editor Julie Jacobson Hines says: “We’re looking into this. We will fully investigate this.”

* Citizen journalist quotes deceased couple in Oakland Press story (
* Royal Oak’s beloved St. Dennis closes its doors (

Eric Blaisdell, 27, is a registered sex offender who sat in jail for nearly a year and is now on probation for three counts of attempting to solicit a minor.

He also covers the crime beat for the Barre-Montpelier (VT) Times Argus — he’s “a steady and solid reporter,” says his editor — and has written at least 17 stories about sex offenses since June, reports Paul Heintz. (Last week, Blaisdell wrote about a “teen safe space.”)

From the Times Argus’s story on its employee, who was a 21-year-old student when he was arrested:

Blaisdell said that he never had any physical contact with any of the females he met online. When they suggested meeting, he said, he came up with excuses.

Blaisdell’s mug shot (left) and Twitter avatar

“It was never my intention of following through. There was a lot of talk, a lot of talk, but I would come up with some excuse, and say, ‘Oh, my car broke down,’ or ‘My grandmother died.’”

Blaisdell said he was talking about his history to get his side of the story out.

“I think my side needs to be told,” he said.

Blaisdell tells his paper that now that his record is public, “all I can do is move forward.” He adds that “I’m fearful it will compromise my ability to talk to people. People just see the word ‘sex offender’ … I fear it’s going to make my job much harder.”

* Reporter covering cops and courts knows a thing or two about both (
* Experts question handling of sex offender reporter (

Cute, NY Metro (Wednesday’s front page)

* Retired USA Today publisher Dave Hunke returns to Detroit as chief strategy officer of Digerati. (
* How to save the Providence Journal. (“In a state this small, saving the paper feels like an urgent task, even a personal one.”) (
* Battle lines drawn over old Miami Herald building. (
* It’s fun to watch Googlers not be the smartest guys in the room for a change; Nate Silver is (
* Want to be editor of NYC Woman Magazine? You’ll have to submit a resume — and be prepared to write a $25,000 check. (
* CNN finally announces that Jeff Zucker is its new president. (
* Washington Post’s Federal Diary column turns 80. (
* Oh, boy! “Project Runway” winner gets a photo in USA Today, along with an “editorial piece.” (
* Alec Baldwin — a Page Six regular — calls the New York Post “the worst newspaper in human history.” (@ABFalebaldwin)

Don’t we know!

— From The Franklin Times

The chief investigator notes in his 46-page summary of the 1,987-page report:

Too many stories in too many newspapers were the subject of complaints from too many people with too little in the way of titles taking responsibility, or considering the consequences for the individuals involved.

* The report devotes an entire section to Murdoch’s News of the World (
* Guardian live-blogs the report’s release ( | Read the BBC’s reports (
* Read the full Leveson report here (

* Jeff Zucker has lots of help retooling CNN. The suggestion box is overflowing. ( | But things are already looking up, the cable-newser says. (
* NYT assigns an editor to work with Jodi Rudoren on her social media skills. ( | “You’re wrong in describing this as ‘punitive,'” says a Times spokesperson. (
* Do they even bother with casual Friday at Details magazine? (
* Study: 82% of all content sharing is done by cutting and pasting. (
* What was missing in the Sandy coverage: Useful lists, according to Jeff Jarvis. (
* Ex-Newsday classical music writer Justin Davidson adjusts to a new pace at New York magazine. (
* ESPN tells the SportsCenter crew not to credit SportsByBrooks for its scoop. (
* Sorry, Chris Berman, but it’s doubtful you’ll get picked for the Hall of Fame this year. (
* Who killed progressive radio in Portland? (
* People’s Daily editor now realizes Onion’s “Sexiest Man” story was satire. (

Former Greensboro News & Record editor John Robinson wrote on Sunday: “Because we have more reporters than we know what to do with, let’s see now, we can assign reporters to…”

His list:

* Interview people lining up to buy tickets.

* Review exactly what 1-in-175 million chance of winning actually means. (You don’t have a prayer.)

* Show graphically now many times 425,000,000 one dollar bills would stretch around the world.

* Remind readers/viewers of past winners and the good/bad luck they’ve had since winning.

* Interview that guy who gives what he calls tips on how to win the lottery.

I told Robinson this afternoon that I’ve seen all of the stories he listed, but have yet to spot the dollar bills graphic. (I liked this Mercury News graphic that points out you’re more likely to be killed by a coconut than win tonight’s jackpot.)

“Have you spotted all 5 since your 11/25 post?” I asked the newsman. “Curious if you’ve seen any examples of lottery stories that you thought were done right. Any *really* dreadful ones? Angles that have been missed?”

He replied:

Actually, I’m embarrassed that I missed some [angles] on my Sunday list!

I haven’t really searched, but I haven’t seen any that justified a reporter’s time. (An anchor reading a few paragraphs from a wire story is fine. A newspaper running a wire story is fine. They take no staff time.)

As for the dreadful ones, boy, to me, most of them are dreadful. They’re full of cliches — a greater chance of getting struck by lightning! Money can’t buy happiness! — and shed little light on, well, anything.


From AP’s story: “In the hours before Wednesday’s drawing, Associated Press photographers fanned out across the nation to meet ticket buyers and ask about their lottery fantasies. Here’s a look at what they found:” Wait. What? They fanned out across the nation? That’s serving the public how, exactly? If I were still a newspaper editor, I’d be on the phone to the AP bureau asking for a day’s refund for that.

That said the Today Show led with the lottery story this morning. The lottery is the biggest story of the day? Take THAT Susan Rice and Fiscal Cliff and Sandy survivors in Long Island!

OK, OK, sorry. I’m no lottery expert. I’ve even bought a ticket. This is just part of my campaign to stomp out predictable, cliched news coverage that doesn’t truly help readers or viewers.

Now, if the reporter would look at problem gambling or how the state spends its lottery proceeds or whether the lottery truly attracts the poorest among us then that would be something. Of course, they never do. They just roll out the cliched piece on odds, on winning strategies, on lines of excited buyers, on how it doesn’t buy happiness.

Is it a big deal? No, it’s just another story in a day full of stories.

* Chances of avoiding lottery stories are 1-in-175 million (
* Newseum: “Coverage of the record-breaking Powerball jackpot made our top nine front pages today” (
* Author: “Although no one studies it as much as I do, I am still stunned by the way people are fascinated by the lottery” (

Washington Times editor David Jackson’s memo on staff cuts goes on to say: “I can’t give you the details of any decisions about the workforce because nothing has been finalized yet. … I can tell you, though, that the reductions in staffing that we expect will be a one-time only process.”

* Washington Times to cut staff (

Financial Times staffers are told not to tweet commentary or analysis of the Leveson report on media standards when it’s released tomorrow. “We will have commentary but it will stretch beyond 140 characters,” writes editor Lionel Barber. “Only the facts in other words on twitter.” Here’s his memo:

From: Lionel Barber
Date: 28 November 2012 17:35
Subject: Leveson – Twitter tomorrow
To: FT Editorial users A-J, FT Editorial users K-Z

Please take note: we need to focus on reporting not comment.

I would therefore ask people to refrain from tweets tomorrow which comment or purport to analyse the report with personal views.

Only the facts in other words on twitter.

We will have commentary but it will stretch beyond 140 characters – and it will be written by seasoned journalists who have
read and reflected on the report.

This is not a case of letting 1001 flowers bloom…..

Thank you