Saturday, May 2, 2009 posts jobs for digital journalists, photographers and clerks

Both full and part time positions available.

Now we know where the swine flu started

And here is an Associated Press story (co-written by Mike Stobbe, a friend and former colleague) about the Swine Flu. Could be we are witnessing the newest version of the media-created Y2K scare, the SARS epidemic and Avian "bird" flu scares.

I believe in informing and even warning folks, but what we have seen over the past two weeks is over the top.

If you want to see another good newspaper website, I really like the Buffalo News' site because it has a newspaper look and feel.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Former editor is talking advertising

Here is the new model of online advertising for as explained by the new content czar.

Admittedly, I know little about the advertising end of the news business so I'm not even going to offer an opinion on whether this will work or not.

But in just a quick read it seems like what the new is offering is a service for businesses that they could easily do for themselves online. In a sophisticated, connected town like Ann Arbor it would seem, but I could be wrong, that most businesses would already know how to get the word out about their businesses online.

This sounds a little like those ads selling people a book on how they can find "free" money from the government. The information is already available for free by anyone who knows how to 'google.'

But I'd love to hear what the advertising folks think of this new idea.

Store clerk takes me back 40 years

Because we arrived a day early for our trip to Buffalo due to my mother-in-law's stroke there are a number of chores that need to be done.

With 'Smiley' in the hospital we divided up the chores and mine was to gas the folks' car and do some shopping.

The gas stop was easy, but the trip to Wegman's grocery store was a little more eventful. I'm a terrible shopper so you know how desperate my wife was to send me to pick up a few items.

My father-in-law was close to being out of his Sam Adams beer and his two daughters went through the refrigerator and decided the 3-year-old peanut butter and old milk (expiration date - April 20th) had to go.

So a few rolls for sandwiches (the rolls in Buffalo are like nowhere else) and some new lunch meat with expiration dates in the current year were also on the list.

It's Wegman's policy to "card" everyone who buys alcohol and for the first time in 40 years I got carded for buying beer. Heck, I don't even drink. The lady was very apologetic and said she was appreciative that I had a good attitude about the small inconvenience. (By the way, Wegman's have the vest salt and vinegar potato chips made by anyone, anywhere, well at least in Michigan and Western New York.)

"Many people aren't," she said.

Heck, I may even go back tomorrow and get carded again.

Thanks to all of you who have expressed your concern and prayers offline, we very much appreciate it.

Someone says they are making online work

Haven't had time to check out the site, but over on Reflections of a Newsosaur there is an example of this hyperlocal site.

If you have time, go over and take a look and let me know what you think.

Another laid off award winner, with a twist

A FFE reader forwarded this column with a pretty strange story about a woman reporter who won a journalism award just two days after she had been laid off. There is a twist I won't spoil here, but you'll see it.

There is also a funny comment about the journalism awards won by the columnist writing about the award winner who got laid off.

Funny to me, because in 30 years I collected a few awards myself, but my favorites were the Associated Press plaques because my wife and I find they make great table trivets for hot dishes.

The brass face plaque helps keep the dish warm while the wooden base protects the table.

Like the columnist, all of my journalism awards are in a box in the attic. I was never motivated by awards and, as many of my former editors will attest, I resisted taking the time each year to submit any work to various contests.

Not being overly modest here, I just didn't care about the whole awards thing.

The dirty little secret is that there is kind of a formula for winning journalism awards:

1.) Sad stories about people with disfiguring injuries/burns are almost guaranteed award packages.

2.) Maudlin columns about dead relatives are top contenders.

I'll do a little more thinking about this and make a more comprehensive list.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A note about comments

Today I received a comment which started with this statement:

"Most likely, this comment isn't going to see the light of day, but here it is anyway ... the salaries are going to be what the salaries are. There's too many people who are out of work and need a job. It will be a personal decision as to whether they want to work for X wage or not. We'll go through the process and make our own decisions."

That's a rookie letter-to-the-editor trick to make sure a letter gets published. This blog has rarely, less than ten times in more than 1,000 comments, rejected comments submitted. For the record here is the criteria that will get your comment rejected:

1.) Obscenity
2.) Using someone's full name (there have been a couple exceptions)
3.) Direct or implied threats of violence to any person
4.) Comments so far off topic as to be ridiculous (so far, not happened)
5.) If you want more latitude to make outrageous statements, sign your name.

One new rule, as of today:

If you write something like: "I know this comment will likely never see the light of day..." it won't.

Back in Buffalo

We had to make an emergency run to Buffalo today. My wife's mother suffered a stroke this morning and while she is OK, there is a great deal of rehabilitation to be done.

We were planning on coming this weekend (leaving Friday, not Thursday) so it was just a small change of plans.

I post this to let you know that blogging will be infrequent for the next few days, but the hospital has wireless and there is going to be some down time, so who knows.

If you are a praying person we would covet your prayers for Joan and also for Red, her husband.

As my father always says: "Getting old is not for sissies."

More postings on

The latest listings (again no salary range) are up on Because I know many employed or unemployed journalists read this blog, I'm just doing my part to spread the word. (Do yourself a favor and don't tell them I sent you).

I did love this line from the posting for the new sports "director":

"Act as a true champion for digital journalism..."

A little cliche, unless of course the writer meant to capitalize "Champion" because it referred to the proper last name of one of the bosses.

It also appears that there is a conscious effort to not use the same titles as in the print world. In other words, "Editor" has become "Director."

Can't wait to see what they call a "reporter." Maybe a "content producer" or something sexier like, "digital information provider" or maybe, "digital word champion."

But if you are looking for work and are willing to wearing a ball cap on backwards....

'Portfolio' magazine bleeds money, newspapers blamed

An article about the demise of the Conde Nast/Portfolio magazine partially blames Advance's newspaper division for bleeding so much money that the company could not afford to continue pouring good money after bad into the magazine.

The article also refers to the negative management style of the magazine editor and a failure to understand the online world.

Sound familiar?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine flu panic, I'm not participating

Once again, we are being subjected to over reach and panic over a potential health threat.

I have no objection to information about such a threat being reported, but the loudness of the panic and the extent of the coverage is, well, too much.

A few years ago we went through the same panic over the avian "bird" flu and it amounted to little if any problem. And let's not forget the Y2K panic either.

Currently there is one (1) reported death in this country related to the swine flu. Annually, there are hundreds of thousands of deaths from influenza and we don't have this kind of panic.

We should already know to "wash our hands" and "cover our mouths when we cough." A reminder to do so is not completely out of line, but come on.

Please, no more reporters at the airport meeting incoming flights from Mexico.

This morning the President of the United States is on television telling me I should stay home from work if I am sick. Thank you, Dad. has posted its first employment ads has finally posted its first employment ads.

"Jobs for advertising and marketing positions at are still be defined, and those descriptions won't be posted until early May."

Hopefully they will fill that copy editor spot quickly so missing words like "still (to) be defined" won't slip by in a post.

No salary range is included in the first ads, which include three full-time and one part-time job. Below is the description for the part-time job. A kid with a bachelor's degree, probably college loans, is being offered a part-time position. Great.

Job Title: Community Assistant
Company: AnnArbor.Com
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Work Experience: 1 to 3 years
Education Level: Bachelor's degree
Date Posted: April 28, 2009
Job Type: Part Time Employee

As soon as someone has applied and gets an idea what the salary range is feel free to post it anonymously here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Plastic owl becomes perch for a dove

Over on my Grandma's Recess blog I wrote some additional information about our crazy Robin and leaky roof.
In case you don't want to follow the link, let's just say my bird-loving wife purchased a $14 plastic owl at Home Depot to scare off the suicidal Robin who kept dive bombing our windows because he saw his reflection.

The instructions (yes, there are instructions with a plastic owl) said to keep moving the owl so that birds wouldn't realize that the owl wasn't real.

(Aside #1: When my wife called her mother to tell her we purchased an owl to scare off the Robin, she asked my wife, 'what are you going to feed it?' I wanted to tell her plastic mice, but my she is my mother-in-law, after all).

(Aside #2: My friend Kim called over the weekend to tell me he had just left a hardware store where they were selling a $32 plastic owl that had a head that swiveled and made the traditional "Who-Who" sound of an owl).

Anyway, I came home for lunch Monday and saw a Mourning Dove nuzzling up to our leaning and lifeless plastic owl. I took a picture which is next to this paragraph.

Guess we didn't move him quite enough. now a blog

If you go to today, you will find missing that awful podcast that announced the launch of the site last month.

In its place is a blog, apparently written by the former Flint Journal editor. In his first real post he is giving folks a taste by reference of what will be.

Well, wait a minute, he gives a list of online sites thate will pattern itself after, but then takes it back by saying it won't be like any of them.

Again, they are short on specifics, on what the staffing will be and plans for the site. The clock continues to tick, the expectations are high and they appear to be still trying to figure out what they are going to be.

And if anyone wants to, I'd love it if you would suggest they follow this blog.

A $70,000 an hour photo-op

What brain dead public relations guy in the Obama administration decided it would be a good idea to buzz New York City with a back-up Air Force One in order to take in flight photos from a military jet of the plane passing by the Statue of Liberty?

With most of us watching every penny right now, wouldn't it benefit the White House to not spend this kind of money on some public relations stuff?

The quality of this YouTube is not great, but you'll get the idea. I found a better version and replaced the previous one.

Subscription deal: Same for three days or Sunday

The Flint Journal has its offer up for the 3-day a week paper. Interestingly, the cost per month, no matter what deal you choose, is the same whether you just want the Sunday paper or the three-day delivery.

Customers in Saginaw and Bay City get a worse deal. I don't see an offer for a Sunday-only delivery there.

By comparison you can receive a whole week's worth of newspapers in Grand Rapids for $1 or $2 more.

OK, here are the rest of the chain: Jackson, Kalamazoo, and Muskegon. Ann Arbor is still advertising its rates even though it ceases publication at the end of July.

The home-delivered price will now be about $1 an issue, which right now is more than buying it at a newspaper box. If anyone has heard whether the box price is going up please leave an anonymous post. Of course, if you only get the Sunday paper the price will be about $3 an issue for a home delivered Sunday paper.

And yes, my wife and I will continue our subscription after the paper collapses to a three-day delivery schedule. As long as I have friends working there we will continue to buy and support the paper.

Lately, the Detroit News has been sending us copies of their paper for free, which is nice.

Here is the Detroit News offer and the Detroit Free Press offer. (They look to be the same). You will have to click on the appropriate box to see the offers.

A hat with a message

As a former U.S. Navy man, I was proud of the work done by the Navy in freeing a merchant captain from some Somalie pirates recently.

My sister sent me the attached photo, which I share with you. If you are old, like me, the hat says: "I tried to hijack a US ship and all I got was this hat."

Go Navy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

What to do with that buyout: Start a competing website

A poster provided this link to an Editor and Publisher article about an online news service started by some Star-Ledger refugees.

A few of my buyout buddies will attest that there was some preliminary attempts to do a Flint online news service made up of Journal refugees, but none of use could figure out how it could make money.

Unless, like the Star-Ledger folks, you are willing to work for free starting up another website is not a profitable venture, at least at this point.

New circulation numbers out; another big drop

Here are the top 25 numbers from Editor and Publisher.

Here's the E&P story.

A tale of two reporter lay offs

In February 2008, a reporter was shot while covering a story for his paper. This April the paper showed its gratitude by laying him off.

The NY Times compares the story of the wounded reporter to that of the Arizona reporter who was laid off just a couple months before winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Here's the NY Times story.

NY Times: The new journalism school curriculum

A reader sent this link to a NY Times piece about what journalism schools are teaching now that the old model is quickly fading.

Newsosaur offers another perspective: Raise the single copy price

Not sure I agree completely with this idea floated by Reflections of a Newsosaur, but it's worth a read.

Federal government dismantling the U.A.W.

Being neither a Republican or Democrat I find it amusing when I find hypocrisy in either party. Of course, there is plenty.

But the instant case is the pressure the Obama administration and Congress is putting on the car companies and the unions to restructure. This has apparently resulted in what promises to be huge concessions by the U.A.W. to meet the conditions for a bridge loan.

Can you imagine the hue and cry that would be going up today if it was George W who was demanding these concessions from the unions?

I feel badly for the unions who gave enthusiastic and financial support to the Democrats to put them in office only to have them work behind the scenes to basically break the union. Not a good return on your political donation dollars.

Instead of demanding these huge concessions from American car unions, why isn't the government demanding a fair and living wage and benefits from the foreign car makers now in this country?

In the meantime, our government has handed the banks and insurance companies gifts of many more billions of dollars with no strings attached, little or no pressure to perform and with no demand, as they have with the car companies, for some kind of definitive plan for the money.

The payment on these huge "investments" will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren.

If you're not ready for a third party now, one that actually listens to the electorate, you must love what is going on.

And, by the way, where are our two long-serving Democrat U.S. Senators in all this? They have been and are absent and impotent in supporting and defending our car companies and the unions that make them work.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Forgot one of my favorite cars

Don't know how I forgot this vehicle, but my little Mustang, which I bought from another reporter at the Oakland Press was squeezed in between the Chevette and Pontiac Station wagon.

It had one annoying feature. Whenever the car was wet on the outside, from either a cold rain or wet snow, and if the temperature dropped while you were driving it, you might be sealed in the car by a frozen driver's door and passenger door.

That meant you might have to call someone (if you had a cell phone, which in those days was rare) or roll down the window and enlist someone to take your keys, unlock the hatchback and let you out the back.

Anyway, that was one more car that I wore out driving the beat.

A sad story about the Sun-Times Media Group

Found this on Facebook. It's a story of the last day of the reporters at the Sun-Times media group.