Monthly Archives: May 2015

Fat? Hardly! Freelance photojournalist Sam Hodgson, who was shooting for Bloomberg News today, tells me: “I’m about 5’9, 185. So, pretty average sized dude, which made the whole thing quite silly.” Here is Hodgson’s photo from the sentencing of former Madoff accountant David Friehling. (He got two years’ probation and 250 hours of community service.)

Marquette Tribune, Sept. 19, 1990

Marquette Tribune, Sept. 19, 1990

I spent the afternoon going through old copies of the Marquette Tribune – a paper I wrote for decades ago – and found some interesting items, including this 1990 page one story about Chris Farley. He told the paper he had a one-year contract and was getting set to “stay with SNL as long as I can.”

After the Pendleton (OR) city council amended its nuisance ordinance to ban marijuana odors, Peter Walters suggested in a letter-to-the-editor that the politicians “move on to restricting the other offensive smell that plagues our community: farts.”

He writes in the East Oregonian: “Too often, homeowners and businesses fail to contain farts to their property, forcing the rest of us to put up with the smell. Some habitual farters argue that they need to fart for medical reasons but that doesn’t mean my kids should have to smell their farts. The city council should stop looking the other way and pretending not to notice.”

Walters’ letter has been picked up by the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Oregon Public Broadcasting and other news outlets. His reaction? Walters tells Romenesko readers:

Oh man. It’s been a surreal day. I really just expected it to get some laughs out of my friends and some funny comments on the East Oregonian’s Facebook page. … Yesterday morning it started getting crazy and this morning my phone, facebook, email even work phone have been blowing up. I guess people love a good fart joke!

I write letters to the EO [East Oregonian] every once in a while and I usually try to make them kind of amusing because most letters to the editor are just angry and boring. I’ve put more thought into letters than this one but never have I had a response like this. It’s just crazy to see how excited people are about it.

In the end my real point is that our local government and our local citizens seem to be at odds about this city’s actual priorities: Lingering pot smells or lingering pot holes.

I regret, a little bit, that my broader points have gotten lost in the joke. But if it made people laugh I guess it was all worth it.

* Letter: Farts should be city council’s next order of business (
* Earlier: “I was the band nerd, angry punk-listening kid every high school’s got” (

In a Friday CommonWealth opinion piece, executive editor Michael Jonas wrote that Boston Globe business columnist Shirley Leung “has emerged as the undisputed cheerleader-in-chief for the Boston 2024 effort” and that “more than any opinion writer in town, Leung has been carrying the torch (water, her critics would say) for the Olympics effort.”

Here is Globe editor Brian McGrory’s response to CommonWealth publisher Greg Torres and editor Bruce Mohl.

Dear Greg and Bruce,

I’m stunned that you saw fit to publish Michael Jonas’s juvenile opinion piece about Globe columnist Shirley Leung on Friday. It’s certainly not the vapidity of the post that’s so concerning, though let’s take a look at that as well.

On that front, Mr. Jonas seems shocked that Shirley would deviate from the deeply grooved mindset of virtually all local opinion writers that the Olympic bid is an awful idea that will lead to billions of dollars in unplanned public spending. Mr. Jonas, from the safety of the press pack, implies that Shirley is in some bizarre way a shill because she chooses to have an open mind. He spends the most words regretting that Shirley, unlike past Globe business columnist Steve Bailey, doesn’t give cutting little nicknames to, say, the governor of the Commonwealth – as if that would somehow prove her worth. I know Steve Bailey well and admire him very much, but those nicknames never actually caught on with anyone (Mr. Jonas aside) and were hardly his high-water mark as a columnist./CONTINUES Read More

USA Today editor-in-chief David Callaway said on Wednesday that the company could stop publishing a daily print newspaper as early as the next “five or six years.” (A weekly USA Today print edition coming soon?)

That remark didn’t go over well with Jim Gath, who was on the ground floor of USA Today. He tells me in an email: “I was there from the 2nd prototype onward – from 3/81 to 10/94. Was Director of Special Sales, Director of Sports Marketing & VP/Advertising. Also a founder of Baseball Weekly.”

Gath says of Callaway’s remarks: “To me & to an awful lot of other people out there who remember what having guts is like, this idea of ceasing the print version of USA TODAY is nothing short of a travesty. Not a shame, mind you. A friggin’ travesty.”

He adds: “People WILL buy pieces of paper with stuff printed on it. But only if they feel they can’t live without it or it adds an important, welcome addition to their lives. If you give people something they can’t possibly get anywhere else, they’ll flock to your door.”

His full blast is posted on Facebook, but it’s reprinted after the jump for readers who’ve chosen not to log in at Mark Zuckerberg’s place. Read More

NPR “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross tells Marc Maron in a recent interview in front of a live audience at the BAM Opera House in Brooklyn:

There was a period when I didn’t want to be photographed. It was a short period, but I declined to be photographed because I thought radio listeners want you to be who they think you are visually. I’d meet people and they’d go, “Oh! really?” There’s this thing, like, when you’re on radio and you feel [?] the speaker, people assume, So she’s tall. And really, I’m so short. And so I’d always feel like people would meet me and they’d feel like – they’d hide their disappointment. Like – “Oh, she’s kind of short. she’s not really very glamorous.” So I thought, let me be whoever they want me to be visually.

Mom to Terry: Don’t tell them anything about us!

I grew up in a family that thought that we shouldn’t share things about the family. You keep that inside. And so there was an article about me that was written for Philadelphia magazine years ago, and the gist of the article was: People don’t know much about her, they don’t know who she really is. One of the people on my staff was quoted as saying, “She’s really great, I really like working with her. I don’t know a thing about her.”

So my mother took the article and said, “You shouldn’t have told them all of this!” She said something like, “I don’t even want this in my house!” And I was like, “Mom, the article was about how nobody knows anything about me!” So it’s kind of ironic that what I do for a living is help people share things about themselves that might be of value to other people.

New: Gross is referring to a Philadelphia article from September of 1992, “Terry Gross Hears Voices,” by Bob Huber. It’s not online, but editors Joel Mathis and Timothy Haas were kind enough to dig it up and send this clip.

* Marc Maron interviews Terry Gross (unedited, 90 minutes) ( | Shorter edited NPR version (

University of Montana j-school dean and former NPR reporter Larry Abramson was one of the first to tweet the news Thursday about Lee Enterprises closing its Montana state bureau, which serves newspapers in Billings, Missoula, Helena, Butte and Hamilton. I’m told the Billings Gazette newsroom learned of the bureau closing through Abramson and that staffers were called into an all-hands meeting five minutes after his tweet was posted.

The announcement is so big in the state that it’s on the front page of today’s Gannett-owned Great Falls Tribune. Its editor, Jim Strauss, says “the loss of the Lee Bureau is a hit to the watchdog role of Montana media.”

My sources say veteran Lee political reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison were told by Billings Gazette editor Darrell Ehrlick that they had a choice of a 40% pay cut or a buyout. The men chose the latter. (I’ve asked Ehrlick to comment.)

Ehrlick told a Montana Television Network reporter that Lee is changing the way it does state coverage, and that instead of focusing on state government and politicians, it will look at news on an “issue and regional level.”

A Montana journalist writes me in an email: “Utterly pissed about this and concerned about what this means for political coverage in a state where they [Johnson and Dennison] were essentially the only ones reporting.”

My regular readers know about Lee CEO Mary Junck and her executive team taking big bonuses after cutting newsroom staffs. On May 10, the University of North Carolina gave Junck an honorary degree.

* Lee closes its Montana state bureau ( | (

* WTF! A Texas school district is claiming ownership of a student’s portfolio of 4,000+ photos. (
* Two bids for the New York Daily News. (
* Business Insider’s business plans “absolutely calls for significant unprofitability this year,” says its president. (
* The Star-Ledger catches Chris Christie telling another “big lie.” (
* Michel du Cille, the late Washington Post photographer, wins two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards. (
* Boca Raton Tribune suspends a contributor and investigates his alleged plagiarism. (
* Friends of “On Writing Well” author William Zinsser are gathering today to celebrate his life. (
* A Bloomberg News freelancer has photographed every Harvard graduation ceremony since 1981. (
* St. Paul Pioneer Press puts its longtime headquarters up for sale. (
* Yes, we all know about the declining value of newspapers. (
* Capital Gazette’s Steve Gunn is named editor of the Virginian-Pilot. ( | Rick Hutzell is promoted at the Capital Gazette. (
* IN JOBS: Apply for the Associated Press‐NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Journalism Fellowship Program. (Romenesko Jobs)
* “Wimpy Kid” author Jeff Kinney is opening a bookstore in Plainville, Mass. (
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Bob Dickey, who has been named CEO of Gannett’s spun-off newspaper publishing unit, tells employees that execs are “planning some important and significant changes to our org structure” and that “we will unlock the full strength and impact of being the nation’s largest newsgathering force.”

His full memo:

Subject: Update on the New Gannett
From: A message from Bob Dickey
Date: May 21, 2015, 4:05 PM

Dear friends and colleagues,

On a hot and hazy Tuesday last August, when we announced the split of our business, you heard about a new publishing company that would have the freedom to carve its own future.

Now that future is almost upon us, and I know you have questions. What is our vision for the future? What are our plans for growth? How might our news business evolve? You might be asking, “How will this affect me?”

My leadership team and I promise to answer these questions in the weeks ahead—particularly on launch day. But in the meantime, I’d like to get started by sharing a few updates and painting an early picture of the new Gannett./CONTINUES Read More

This memo from Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner was just sent to employees of the San Diego Union-Tribune, formerly known as U-T San Diego:


The Los Angeles Times’ parent company has completed its acquisition of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

This is exciting news for all of us as we bring together two outstanding institutions with a singular commitment to excellence in journalism.

As we move forward, we will reestablish the name of this historic publication, The San Diego Union-Tribune, which has long been synonymous with quality journalism and public service.

The team at The San Diego Union-Tribune will be led on a day-to-day basis by Russ Newton, the new President and Chief Operating Officer. He will report to me in my role as Publisher and Chief Executive Officer.

Russ will work closely with Editor Jeff Light, Managing Editor Lora Cicalo, and Bill Osborne, Editorial and Opinion Director.

What won’t change is The San Diego Union-Tribune’s place as an independent voice of the San Diego community, devoted to informing, engaging and serving its readers.

I look forward to working with all of you.


* January 2012: San Diego Union-Tribune becomes U-T San Diego (