Friday, July 10, 2009

Tom Gantert posts about citizen journalists

A sometime commenter Tom Gantert (I appreciate that he uses his own name) has offered a great reflection on a previous post on citizen journalists. Apparently Tom left the comment on the AnnArbor.com site a couple days ago, but it has apparently been lost because it has not been posted.

I tried to copy and paste it here, but I'm in Buffalo and something isn't working correctly so here's the link to the previous post and Tom's response is with the comments. There are other good comments as well.

Here's the AnnArbor.com post it refers to.

Things not to buy at the $1 store

My sister, who is our family's version of Warren Buffet, still likes to shop at the $1 store (mostly for my Christmas and birthday presents). Just kidding, Pam.

Anyway, she lives in West Virginia and recently told me that she was in her favorite $1 store where they were selling pregnancy testing kits for $1. She wondered out loud if anyone would trust a $1 store product for such an important test.

Then she noticed that the store clerk was quite pregnant. She thought it was quite funny.

What product would you never buy at the $1 store even if it was a great deal?

Slate.com: "Buy One Anyway" a campaign to save newspapers

Thanks to The Daily Derelict and Slate.com this little gem may brighten your day, or not. It's brutal, but great satire.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

DetroitMakeItHere.com: Citizen journalism

Here's the latest installment of Elizabeth Voss' series on the "new" media. This one is focused on the citizen journalists (read free or almost free writers) now working at The Oakland Press.

She used a quote or two from me at the end.

Timing bad for Steve McNair restaurant feature

A reader sent along the following link with the unfortunate experience of a newspaper that distributed a pre-printed supplement with an interview with quarterback Steve McNair who was shot and killed on Saturday.

Check it out.

Another buried Page 1 story

I've been trying to lay off the Flint Journal. Today, however, is an example of why the new organization of the Bay City-Saginaw-Flint alignment is faltering.

Earlier this week, at a time when the Flint Journal was not publishing, the reporters at the Journal initially broke the story of the involvement of the Shiawassee County prosecutor in a drunk driving crash.

Then the following day there was a post that simply linked to television news coverage of the event, which I found odd because the Journal had broken the story.

So today I was waiting to read more about the incident when my dead tree version arrived here at home. Let's be serious, the potential arrest of the elected county prosecutor in a drunk driving accident is big news. I naturally looked at the front page expecting to see the story there.

Nope.

So I turned to Page 2 and 3. Nope, again.

Now I'm getting curious. So I keep digging through the paper and finally find the story on page A-9. The old reporters' saying at the Flint Journal that you never know where you'll find a front page story was never truer than today.

I simply can't fathom the news judgment that doesn't see this as a major story, worthy of front page or at least Page 3 coverage.

It could be that the copy editor laying out the page was confused about the charge because the headline on the story said: "Alochol supsected in prosecutor's crash." Maybe the editor thought alochol was different than alcohol.

Another Advance publication bites the dust, merges with AnnArbor.com

An announcement was made today to Ann Arbor News employees that the Michigan Business Review will be folded into the operations at AnnArbor.com.

The release published today on MLive contains the usual Advance/Booth corporate speak that insists it was a successful publication, BUT........

Here's the AnnArbor.com version.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

John R. "Red" Uleskey, 1924-2009

John R. “Red” Uleskey, a native of South Buffalo, NY, died peacefully Tuesday morning in his own bedroom at the home he and his wife lived in for 55 years. Red was my wife’s father and was one of an estimated 1,000 World War II veterans who died yesterday.

Another 1,000 will die today, and tomorrow and everyday for a long time until they are all gone.

Unlike a recent big name entertainer, who did not fight for his country, “Red” and most of the others will die in relative anonymity and will pay a newspaper somewhere to run a short announcement that their life on earth has ended. The card carrying members of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” barely rate a passing mention anymore.

Like many men and women of his era, Red left high school before graduation to fight for his country. It says a lot about our country that we honor those without honor and neglect those who have truly earned our respect and admiration. But enough about that let me tell you just a little that I know about “Red.”

(Photos: Red and Red and his "girls").

I came late to Red, I married his eldest daughter Joan in 1999, but first met him in 1996 when Joan and I started dating. He was born June 21, 1924 in Buffalo. He married the love of his life, Joan Burke, on June 26, 1948. I’ll do the math. He was 85 and he and Joan just celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. My wife, also Joan, was born March 31, 1949, I’ll let you do that math. Never mind, it was nine months, almost to the day of their wedding.

Last weekend, in between the times my wife and I were turning him in bed, or wetting his lips as he moved slowly, but peacefully, toward his death, I sat down to write his obituary for the newspaper. It was the least I thought I could do.

When we met with the funeral director Tuesday afternoon, who just happens to be “Red’s” nephew, Patrick Cannan, he informed me that Red already wrote his own, 16 years ago. Unlike the flowery, information packed obituary that I had written it was short, sweet and to the point. We updated a few survivors, but left it as he wrote it.

In his obituary, Red didn’t feel the need to mention that as a member of an artillery company in the U.S. Army’s 75th Division, he arrived in Europe just before Christmas in 1944 where he and his buddies were pushed into action in the Battle of the Bulge. Talk about your trial by fire.

After defeating the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge, Red and the 75th, followed the huns across the Rhine River into Germany until the war ended. But none of this you would have known reading Red’s obit. He only mentioned his life membership in the local American Legion Post and VFW organization.

He served on the color guards for both those organizations, which was also not mentioned.

Also missing in his obituary was his career as a fireman and later engineer on the South Buffalo Railway working odd hours and weekends to support his family.

Oh how Red loved his family. He raised three daughters and they gave him two grandsons and two granddaughters, who he adored. Three years ago his grandson John, my stepson, and his wife, Nicole, gave Red and Joan a great-granddaughter, Addisen. Red didn’t need fancy trips to Europe, cruises or a second home in Florida. His joy came from being with family.

They have all been with him in the last weeks of his life. Everyone had a chance to tell him what he meant to them and say good-bye. Even little Addisen put on the latex gloves that hospice left behind and told us, "I'll check on great grandpa."

Getting the family together was always a priority for the Uleskeys.

When it was hard to get them all to Buffalo and a little cramped in the 1,000-square foot home that he and Joan purchased in the early 1950s, he financed frequent reunions (three or four times a year) in the 1990s and 2000s at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Pittsburgh, which was roughly half way for everyone.

In addition to letting him be with his daughters and grandchildren, it was Red’s intention that the cousins become closer and to give them the close family ties that he didn’t always have as a child.

There were 25 of these “Pittsburghers,” as we called them. Red's plan worked, my stepdaughter, Elin, and Jessica, daughter of Red’s daughter, Diane, are close friends to this day. Grandson Shaun inherited Red’s ability to fix, repair and make a buck.

The three brothers-in-law were always included and loved, but we knew that our place was a secondary one to his “girls.”

Other than his trips to Pittsburgh, the only other major trips he and Joan took were to annual reunion conventions of the 75th Division. A few times he included us in those plans, the most recent a weekend reunion in Chicago.

During one convention in Missouri, he penned a comment in the guest book at the Truman Library. “You saved my life.” That comment referred to plans for the 75th Division to be transferred to the Pacific Theater until Truman authorized the dropping of the Atomic bomb on Japan.

One of his most memorable moments was when his daughter Diane and son-in-law Denny took him into Washington, D.C. to be present at the dedication of the World War II Memorial. A military person rolled him down front in his wheelchair to hear former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole speak.

In his obituary, Red didn’t mention that he was a kind and gentle man who rarely raised his voice, but was fiercely defensive of his family.

He bought his cars new and then meticulously maintained them, including a few that he took apart to undercoat as soon as he purchased them to protect them from the fierce Buffalo winters.

When something needed fixing at the Uleskey house, Red didn’t run to Home Depot, he climbed into his basement and found the right screw, tool or board safely stored away there. Why buy something new when something old in the basement could do the same thing, or be made into something that would do the same thing.

The obituary he wrote also didn’t mention that he studied and became an artist, that he took lessons to learn how to play the organ and how conflicted he was for a time that he couldn’t decide which of the two he liked better. His grandson, John, my stepson, was the one who apparently inherited those artistic genes.

Until recently, he made daily entries into a journal that kept track of great events, the birth of a grandchild, and minor events, like what he and Joan had for dinner at a local gin joint. Some of his sayings would rival that of any great philosopher.

Red never wanted to disappoint and when his youngest daughter, Pat, signed him up for a class to complete a GED without his knowledge, he began attending after the GED instructor called him and asked him why he missed the first class. He finished with flying colors.

Not that education wasn’t important to Red, he sent two of his daughters through college and taught the other how to read when she struggled at school with the skill. He did crossword puzzles and loved the Sunday talk shows, especially Meet the Press with Tim Russert, a Buffalo native of whom Red, as well as the whole community, were justifiable proud.

Red was typically Buffalo, down-to-earth and real. A lifelong “family values” Democrat, Red was a strong union man who worked construction jobs during labor disputes on the railroad to make sure his family was provided for. He had no patience for sloth.

Between him and his wife, they knew every good restaurant in Buffalo and if they didn’t take you there, it probably wasn’t worth going to. They knew who had the best Beef on Weck (a Buffalo roast beef sandwich on a salt-covered roll) or fish fry.

Red liked his beer cold, his home warm and his soup “extremely hot." He was most happy if he was surrounded by his family and was holding a “Sammy,” a Samuel Adams beer in his hand.

Another thing Red neglected to mention was his skill as a gardener. He raised tomatoes, peppers and a number of other wonderful produce in his backyard garden in West Seneca. He poured his own concrete driveway and built his one-car garage after he and Joan purchased the house.

“It cost $500,” he told me recently. “And Joan helped.”

To save the plastic tile in the single bathroom of the house, Red plumbed and added a basement shower that we in the family affectionately call “Camp Uleskey.” Until last year, no one ever used the upstairs shower.

He was also happy sitting in his “shack” a converted first-floor bedroom that included his Ham radio equipment. When he couldn’t get a good signal he was content to listen to the time signal. KB2FME has now signed off forever.

The attic he turned into a bedroom for his two oldest girls and now serves as the guest room.

Without a formal college education, Red made smart investments and while he lived well below his means, he was generous when it came to his family. Red didn’t think up the phrase “Waste not, want now,” but he certainly brought it to a new level.

A quick wit and a thoughtful mind never failed to inspire a laugh or a good discussion. Red never said much, but when he spoke we all listened. And learned.

Red’s quick wit and kind demeanor endured him to all who knew and loved him. No wife had a better husband, no children had a better father and no grandchildren had a better grandpa.

When his wife had a stroke in April, he insisted on visiting her, sometimes three times a day in the hospital, which took a tremendous toll on his body, which was already struggling with a debilitating Parkinson’s related progressive disease.

In recent weeks, he could no longer go and visit her, but they talked on the phone and last weekend met for the last time face to face in his bedroom on a quick visit from the nursing home.
He sent flowers to her on their anniversary. The two of them demonstrated the real meanings of the vows, "to love and honor ... for better or worse … in sickness and in health."

But in the end, we decided to go with Red’s own obituary version of his life. Simple and to the point, just the way he wanted it and wrote it.

During my years of reporting I sometimes visited people in hospice care, but I had no idea how wonderful service this is. Hospice Buffalo, which helped Red during his last 13 days of life, were incredible. The average stay in hospice, we were told, was 13 days exactly what Red did.

They made it possible to honor his wish that he die at home. We are asking our friends who wish, in lieu of flowers, to make a donation to Hospice Buffalo, 225 Como Park Boulevard, Cheektowaga, NY 14227, in Red’s name.

I could go on for a long time, but Red would already be upset that I wrote all this. Forgive me Red, I just couldn’t help myself. Rest in peace. Thanks for your life and your sacrifice to your country.

AnnArbor.com suggests tutorials for "citizen" journalism

The latest post on AnnArbor.com may signal what they will rely on for the future.

Another blog newspaper idea bites the dust

Want to lose money? Try inventing the new bridge from paper to Internet. Here's a guy who tried and is now broke.

Pssst. The money has been, and despite all the Internet gurus claiming otherwise, remains in the print product.

Back and forth to Buffalo

For those who have followed our trips back and forth to Buffalo during the past two years, my wife's father died peacefully at home Tuesday, July 7, while we were at the house with him. His entire family had been at the house over the Fourth of July weekend to celebrate his 85th birthday (June 21) and Red and Joan's 61st wedding anniversary June 26.

He had gone into home hospice (Buffalo Hospice - one of the greatest non-profit groups I have ever dealt with) just 13 days before. I'll have more to say about John "Red" Uleskey later today, but thanks to all who have prayed and encouraged us over these past several years.

Now more of our attention turns to Red's wife, Joan, who continues her rehabilitation from a major stroke in April.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dallas Cowboys honor boy with cancer

If this doesn't put things in some perspective, I don't think anything will. This was very touching.






Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sports writer David Mayo writes about conviction

Grand Rapids Press sports writer chimed in today about his marijuana conviction and his great fortune in getting his old job back.

In a time when newspapers are trimming staff and cutting costs, for a guy to get his job back after being convicted of a drug felony is pretty much a miracle.

I do not know David Mayo and believe in second chances and forgiveness, but I've known other employees who have lost jobs at Booth for far less transgressions than this.