Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ah, the memories!

More fun with metaphors

My wife did it again. During a pillow talk conversation she said: "The gravy is always better on the other side."

Now did she mean: "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence," or did it have to do with something like a "gravy train." Again, no clue.

But we're still riding the golden cow. In case you didn't read or forgot:

On a news channel this week I heard a pundit say: "He seems to be swimming against a head wind." Clearly, you might have trouble swimming against a head wind, but isn't the proper saying: "Swimming against the tide/current."

And running against a headwind would make more sense.

Just a little light discussion for the weekend. We've had enough of the other this week.

(As a disclaimer my wife wants me to assure you she is not a "ditz")

Remembering Kevin Yauch

Flint Journal's Sally York did a good obituary on Kevin Yauch in today's paper:

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Booth news

Another former Boothie is blogging about the situation in Ann Arbor and elsewhere.

His link is to the right under "Paper tiger no more."

He has some interesting items there today.

Flint Journal on the Booth restructuring

Following is the brief business headline item that ran Thursday about the new round of buyouts. I will give credit that at least this time they reported on their own news.

Flint Journal among eight Michigan newspapers to do restructuring, consolidation that includes buyout offers to workers
by The Flint Journal
Thursday November 13, 2008, 10:45 AM

Steve Jessmore | Flint Journal file photo
The main office for the Flint Journal in downtown Flint. (photo at website)

FLINT, Michigan -- The Flint Journal is continuing a strategic restructuring to streamline costs and continue its mission of providing readers and advertisers with a strong local news package, Publisher David Sharp announced Wednesday.

The Journal and seven commonly owned papers (The Ann Arbor News, The Bay City Times, The Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle and The Saginaw News) will consolidate some operations and offer voluntary buyouts to affected full-time employees.

News gathering and advertising opportunities so vital to a local paper will continue at The Journal and the other newspapers. The restructuring will also allow for more innovation on The Journal's affiliated Web site,

Economic conditions have led to the restructuring.

(Blog editor's note: The photo credit is Steve Jessmore, one of the finest photographers - and people - I have worked with was a 2007 buyout recipient.)

The link to the article and photo is:

A blogger at the Jackson Citizen Patriot was writing about the cuts Wednesday but then took down the information, he left this comment:

Never mind
Posted by bflory November 12, 2008 11:05AM
An optical illusion: Some of you may have thought you read something different here earlier today. You may even have thought there was a link to some guy in Ann Arbor. Obviously, you were mistaken.

You can see it for yourself at:

You can read what he originally wrote at the Paper Tiger No More link to the right and click on the article: "Nope, False Alarm"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buy out news at Booth

From the private e-mails I have received from more than one Booth newspaper outlet, it appears that the buyouts announced Wednesday were coordinated and done at the same time at many of the Michigan newspapers.

The long and short of the news is bad for the employees. It will also result in major changes to the newspaper that subscribers see: Smaller and probably more expensive in the next few months.

Meetings are ongoing today and Friday to tell individual employees what the company specifically sees for them. Several employees described Wednesday's meeting as a meeting warning them about the next meeting.

The average 38-page Flint Journal will shrink fairly quickly to about 30 pages and then even smaller next year.

The separate Today section will soon be history and feature stories will be folded into the news section of the paper.

At a time when business and the stock market are exploding (in the wrong direction) the paper will significantly reduce that coverage. TV grids and the TV page may also be history or greatly reduced. (Paper savings).

Opinion pages will not be offered every day and when there is an opinion page it will only be on one page, not the two it occupies now.

National news coverage will shrink as well. When a central copy desk takes effect comics, games, puzzles and advice columns will be produced out of one location.

Sports coverage will also involve shared pages with national and state sports news produced out of one location.

There is also a corporate strategy to increase the cost of the paper while looking at cutting back subscribers to a basic core readership.

Core management, which shrank from 18 to 12 after the last buyout will be reduced to 3 or 4, according to the staff at the meeting.

It appears that what were standalone newspapers in cities across Michigan will now become news bureaus. Bay City, Saginaw and Flint will share management positions.

Unlike last year's buyout, the company has a right to pick and choose who takes the offer and they hope to limit the damage to the newsroom of 2-3 reporters. Part-time reporters are basically going to be eliminated, but they will receive some type of severance, according to staff members.

The Booth chain will move remaining staff around as needed to the various newspapers.

A target date for the move of the Flint copy desk to Grand Rapids is late next summer or early fall of 2009. A 24-hour centralized copy desk in GR will involve fewer editors than exist among the eight newspapers, but the number has not yet been set and the number of people currently doing that job is elusive.

Circulation will have fewer district managers and ad sales representatives are not part of the buyout offers and will now be given specific quotas they have to meet. Accounting and advertising appear headed to a new home in Kalamazoo.

Apparently the Flint Journal Internet team is OK, but other plants will be working to fix that particular area.

Reporter beats will likely be unchanged, but there will be a concentration of what readers want: Courts and cops coverage along with local government and school coverage.

The Community Newspaper staff (which has been moved all over the building in an ridiculous try to keep it separate from the Daily) will now be involved in daily, as well as weekly coverage. The separation of the two operation was something many of us never did understand. Beats will change very little.

The buyout offer is two weeks for every year of service, which is half of last year's offer. Health benefits are the same. What the buyout health care offer is still a little foggy.

Unlike last year's buyout, the newspaper is expected to publicly announce the changes in a newspaper article today. The announcements, which have been legally vetted, will appear identically in all Booth newspapers.

There was also a mention that those in line for the Grand Rapids transfer will have to re-apply for the jobs and will not be an automatic transfer.

Sadly, the word was that these may not be the end of the cuts.

It is a painful time for the employees at Booth. All of us hope that there is a bottom for the folks who many of us are still in contact with.

For further information on the cuts, as they relate to other papers you can visit these blogs:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More info on Kevin Yauch


Yauch, Kevin Alan - Age 51, of Swartz Creek died at home on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Visitation will be 12 p.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 W. Hill Rd. Funeral Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 3139 Hogarth Ave., Flint, with Father George Daisy officiating and Deacon James Corder, co-officiating.

Mr. Yauch will lie in state at the church beginning at 9:30 a.m. until the Mass.

Kevin was born in Flint on Feb. 8, 1957, the son of Ronald and the late Shirley Yauch. He was married to Jill (Click) for 24 years. He was proud of his Flint-area roots.

Kevin was a devoted son, husband and friend, who always put the love of his life, his wife, first.

He worked at the Flint Journal for 32 years in a wide array of positions, each with increasing responsibility and authority. Even in the rough-and-tumble newsroom, where deadlines and technology clashed and salty talk and strong personalities ruled, he remained polite, calm, kind and always professional.

He was a go-to man and a team player in any situation. He had a great sense of humor.

Kevin personally exhibited a strong Christian witness. He always went an extra mile for his family, his friends and his coworkers. He loved music, photography, and working with, troubleshooting and just plain playing with Apple computers.

He was an avid woodworker, and built his own furniture. He loved to travel with his wife, and spend time with his family members. His passion for his work, his hobbies, his life and his family was infectious.

He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Surviving are his wife, Jill; father, Ron Yauch; sister, Tracy (William) Khan, Debra (Thomas) Gorte, and Linda Yauch; 17 nieces and nephews.

Your condolences may be shared with the family at

Kevin Yauch, R.I.P.

One of the nicest men I have ever known, Kevin Yauch, died Tuesday while working in his yard with his wife. I don't know his exact age, but he's a lot younger than I am. (Late add - He was 51).
(Photo from Facebook, reprinted with permission)

It is suspected because of recent heart problems that Kevin died of something related to that, but it is hard to believe that someone with a heart as big and good as Kevin's could ever have "heart problems."

In my years with Kevin in the newsroom, I never heard him utter an unkind or foul word. He was cooperative to a fault. He was a Christian witness in the true sense of that statement.

A former colleague of mine, who admittedly has a lot of passion for his work and often showed his passion with sometimes harsh and foul words admitted to me today that Kevin's presence near his desk used to restrain his usual verbal outbursts out of respect for Kevin.

Trust me, that's as close to a miracle as you might see.

I'm sure everyone who ever worked with Kevin has a story of how he "saved" us by recovering some lost copy or thawing a "frozen" computer, but more than that I'm positive there are hundreds of stories about his kindness and gentleness in a room that sometimes lacked both.

Kevin, a wizard at fixing computer problems at the Journal, was one of the many who took the buyouts offered in 2007. So valuable was Kevin to the Journal that he was one of the buyout employees who was kept on as long as possible.

While still working at the Journal last spring, Kevin suffered a major heart attack, which brought to a close his Journal career.

Since then, I understand he and his wife have traveled the world, including luxury cruises and stays in villas. Good for them.

My prayers go out to his wife and family. I don't believe they had any children.

Kevin's death just made a tough day at the paper, a thousand times tougher.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wednesday is D (decision)- Day at the Flint Journal

Following is the memo that Flint Journal staffers received today (Tuesday, Nov. 11):

Sent: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 5:24 pm
Subject: Wednesday announcement

Dave Sharp will be making an announcement to the staff on Wednesday, discussing major changes that we will be making in the way we operate our eight newspapers in Michigan.

Dave will address the editorial staff as soon as we clear deadline in the morning, right around 9:05 a.m. That conversation will take place in the new training room on the mezzanine level.

Please plan to attend that meeting if you are able to. Throughout the day, Dave will continue to give the same presentation to employees in other departments. If you can't make the meeting for editorial, you are welcome to attend any of the other sessions.

Here's the schedule. All of these sessions will also be in the mezzanine training room unless noted otherwise.

9:45 a.m. -- Advertising

10:15 -- Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing

10:45 -- Circulation

1 p.m. -- Press and mailroom (at the PDC)

4:30 p.m. -- Open session for any employees unable to attend earlier sessions

After Dave makes his announcement, I will begin meeting individually with newsroom employees to discuss how these changes affect you and what your options are. My goal will be to speak to everyone yet this week. I understand that you want and need answers, and now that Dave will be laying it all out for you, I look forward to addressing your questions to the fullest extent.


This, of course, will only be more bad news. A long time, part-time employee of the Flint Journal was fired on Tuesday, one day ahead of the big announcement. The employee, who worked for the community newspapers division, was a great writer, but admittedly a bit of an eccentric.

I'm not putting his name in this item because I haven't talked to him since the deed was done. It's hard to understand why he would be let go now. Any issues the paper had with his eccentricities have been there for years. He was a major copy producer and, as I already said, a beautiful writer.

He kept unusual hours, but he has kept them for many, many years without any consequence, until now.

Anyway, he and I used to cover the same beat and although I have not talked to him since I left the paper, I wish him well now and hope that he finds something else soon.

Somehow the professional editors who used to work in the community news division were able to work with this writer, but apparently the new editors couldn't adapt.

One nice thing though. On the day after they fired the writer, they put out a little spread of English muffins and snacks for the remaining writers on Tuesday. Kind of a going away party for the guy who had already gone away.

Rumblings from The Journal

Stay tuned. It appears the long knives may be coming out at The Flint Journal soon.

Word is at least one person has already been fired and the rest are restless.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Washington Post chimes in, confirms election bias

OK, those of you who took me to task for my election comments. Don't take my word for it, here's the Ombudsman from the Washington Post about the Washington Post (If you click on the link and get the free sign in request you can avoid all that by going to google, search for Washington Post, go to the site and do a site search on "Ombudsman. "

Here's some info from with similar findings:

I found the Ombudsman's comments on the idea that issue stories were lacking, that any comparable probing of Obama/Biden were lacking in comparison to their opponents interesting very interesting.

What she fails to even talk about is the complete lack of coverage of the third party candidates and the bias that also represents. It is troubling, as the Ombudsman points out, that the horse race became the issue and not the issues themselves.

Again, I was not a supporter of either candidate, but I do believe in a fair and aggressive media. I just didn't see that in the last election.

Unless I see anything else that makes my original statements look correct, I'll shut up on this issue now. How's that for bias?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

MSU on top of the Big 10, thank you Iowa!

In case you missed it, and how could you, the MSU Spartans defeated Purdue on Saturday and then vaulted into first place in the Big 10 after Penn State lost to Iowa in an exciting come from behind victory by the Hawkeyes.

My brother-in-law Philip is a Hawkeye alum and I called him and thanked him (as if he had anything to do with the victory) for the unexpected victory.

In two weeks (MSU is off next Saturday) the Spartans face Penn State and have their own destiny in hand. Beat Penn State and they will do no worse than tie Ohio State for the Big 10 title. If Ohio State loses either game in the next two weeks (Go Blue!) including its season ending game against Michigan State could be all alone on top of the Big 10.

No matter what, it looks like State will be going to a major bowl game this year, which will be the first time in a long time for a major bowl bid.