Friday, August 29, 2008

Salary story to publish Monday

Although the sample is small, I feel confident that the numbers I have are very close to the current reality at the Flint Journal. I'm writing the story this weekend and will publish it on Monday - Labor Day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Helen Dent back from the dead

This from today's Flint Journal (Page 2 corrections):

"Helen Dent still living

An article Friday about a real estate sale at the former Goodrich home of Harold and Helen Dent should have said Helen Dent is still alive, while her husband died in 1990. The article contained incorrect information."

The "incorrect" information was wording that made it sound like Mrs. Dent was dead, which she obviously is not.

Here's the link to the story, but remember it won't be there long:

Hard to know who made the error, but my wild guess is that an editor did it trying to shorten up the story. I've never had an editor kill one of my story subjects, but I have had them edit in misinformation, switched quotes and otherwise mangled a story because the editor was so much smarter and better than I.

An editor's motto should be the same as a doctor's: First, do no harm.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

William T. Smith, RIP

William T. Smith, my uncle, was quite simply the funniest man in the world. That may be a bit of hyperbole, but to me he was the funniest man I ever knew.

Funnier than Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, or maybe even Laurel and Hardy, although Uncle Bill would take exception to that because he thought they were the funniest men in the world.

I've never been a laugh-out-loud person. Uncle Bill could make me laugh out loud. He could have made you laugh out loud, even though most of you will have to take my word on that.

He was a prankster, a kidder, but he was a master joke teller and he had a million of them.

Uncle Bill would do anything, with some wide limits, for a laugh. I shared with my cousin Cynthia today (Cynthia is the oldest of Uncle Bill and Aunt Mona's three daughters) the story of a trip up Angeles Crest Highway in Los Angeles for a picnic at Mt. Waterman.

The two families met up at a prearranged place and my Uncle Bill stepped out of his station wagon wearing a plaid, short-sleeved shirt, stripped Bermuda shorts, mismatched socks and mismatched tennis shoes. He topped off the outrageous ensemble with the most ridiculous Panama hat you have ever seen.

It was hilarious and Uncle Bill had no inhibitions about showing up in public like that.
Tell him you thought he had beautiful teeth and he would pop out his perfect dentures and try to hand them to you.

He had a laugh that came from the bottom of the well of his spirit and tumbled out his mouth and could infect a whole room.

As a kid, I often stayed with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Mona (she passed a number of years ago) in their Los Angeles home. My parents lived in a garage apartment behind their house on Camaro Avenue. Those were some of my earliest, and favorite, memories.

He told a joke about "a beautiful suit" that simply reduced everyone to pieces when he told it. I tried to tell the joke and it fell flat. My Uncle had facial expressions and mannerisms that lit up any joke he told.

But Uncle Bill was not just a funny man. He was a kind and loving person, who cared deeply for his family and friends and let them know it. He was also a veteran of World War II.

When I went out to California last January I wanted to see Uncle Bill, but he discouraged the visit. "Better to remember me how I was," was his answer. He was sick and not up to visitors. While I was disappointed at the time, I think I get it now. He wanted me to remember the good times, the great jokes and the warm memories of love that he showed to me in those early years.
The last time I saw Uncle Bill (who early in his career was a beat reporter with one of the many Los Angeles dailies in the 1940s) he was visiting me here in Michigan during the late 1980s. He and I visited the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. On the way back to the Detroit Airport I took him to Ann Arbor to see the hospital where he was born.

Unfortunately the hospital had been razed and he was disappointed to see it was not the same as he last saw it some years ago. So maybe it was with his feelings about me visiting him. It wouldn't have been the same.

Sometime Thursday night, my cousin Cynthia is going to slip his favorite sword into his casket so it will be with him always.

The world is just a little bit more serious today, but I'll bet they are yucking it up in heaven. After all, they just took in the best joke teller of all time. At least in my humble opinion.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Bill, I'm going to have myself a really good laugh.

Love, Jim

Monday, August 25, 2008

New country checks in

On Sunday, freefromeditors received a visit from someone in the Republic of Moldova (which sounds like one of those fake countries The Three Stooges used to talk about.

But Moldova, which is next to Romania in Eastern Europe, is now the 33rd country to visit.

Welcome Moldovian!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Former Ganneters start their blog

For all you former, or current Ganneters who read this blog (and I know there are a few because you have let me know) there is a new one especially for those recently laid off:

Also may I commend to your reading the Sunday entries on "Fading to Black" blog which is listed in the link list next to this entry. Lots of important and interesting newspaper news there.

Crim coverage once again superb

In addition to breaking news, the one thing the Flint Journal did very, very well from my earliest employment was the coverage of the Crim Festival of Races.

To be fair, this year was really good again. Undoubtedly part of that was due to the coverage, anchored by Bill Khan, who is a veteran reporter who knows this event inside out. It helps he is a runner as well. As always the Crim Special Section (except for the misspelled word "downton" in the caption) was a marvel in quick turnaround.

Two other contributing reporters, Dan Nilsen and Greg Tunnicliff are also veteran sports reporters who have a long history with the event. I do miss former columnist Dean Howe's (took the first buyout a couple years ago) reflections on the event. The front page color story was also well done by a veteran reporter, Sally York, and had the annual (I've done it to when I was there, so I'm not criticizing Sally) predictable story about someone who overcame great odds to compete and finish the race. It's one of those things you can't help but do each year.

So while this is a serious compliment for the coverage, it also points out the need and reason for keeping veteran staff.