Saturday, June 6, 2009

An idea for young families

My stepdaughter sent this along from ABC News and if you are just starting out with a family, kind of a cool idea. (Click on the link near the top of the page for the ABC News report.

A little 'cool' for a Saturday

One of my favorite songs, from my favorite play - "Phantom of the Opera" - done as I haven't seen it done before.

Help me on the comments

1.) No comments will be posted here on personal issues related to family leaves or employee's children. That is out of bounds. So please refrain from leaving any more of those.

2.) When you leave a comment on a post that is more than 4-5 days old, please put a note in the comment about what post you are commenting on. Today someone posted about the Flint Journal pulling Doonesbury back in 1995 or 1996. They wanted to know the reason. I posted the comment, but it had to be from a post two or three weeks or more old because I couldn't find it.

I remember some controversy back in the 1990s over Doonesbury's rather tough treatment of Bob Dole and his war record during the 96 campaign and also the use of a sexually explicit term in relation to a situation about then President Bill Clinton. If the cartoon was pulled in 95 or 96 it could not have been related to Bill Clinton's situation.

If anyone remembers why the Flint Journal pulled Doonesbury, please feel free to respond.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A couple more new hires at

One of the new hires at can't be all bad, she's a graduate of Michigan State University.

Not quite sure what they will be doing, but it looks like part-time blogging, plus more.

One more acorn video

Offline I received a link to this because someone thought they saw something that resembled the new logo.

Some Flint Journal notes

Came home from the gym this morning (I ride a bike for 40 minutes and do some light weight work) and there was my Flint Journal in the box. Again, a decent design effort, but it is really light on breaking news. Nothing from the overnight cop or fire beat and nothing from the day before either.

Some good local court coverage, but my wife was complaining last night (she's the Journal dead tree reader in the house) about the lack of any "new" news. The deadlines must be horrendously early not to allow for some overnight (or at least late night sports and cops news).

No Red Wings game news either, which in this case was a welcome thing. (They lost 4-2).

In another unrelated item, a former Flint Journal advertising employee will now work for the new chain of weekly newspapers in the Thumb and Genesee County. I believe Tom, a nice person, may have taken the same buyout that I did, but I could be wrong about that.

His connections in Genesee County will not bode well for the "new" Flint Journal and its competition with the View newspapers in Genesee County.

I wrote about the View purchase of The County Press in Lapeer and other Thumb newspapers on Wednesday.

A new defense tactic: The spray tan did it

A man in Florida is pleading his innocence by claiming that his wife died from an overdose of "spray tan" and not by asphyxiation.

Thanks to my sister, Pam, the newest, biggest Free From Editors fan. Not all are fans, however, a former editor (a really good one, by the way) has decided she is going to start a blog called: Freefromthatd*** blog.

Here's some local news coverage on the case. He seems to be eyeing the television camera and maybe even blowing the reporter a kiss.

Leopard versus rat: A peaceful coexistence

My stepdaughter sent me an article that has some incredible pictures with it. In the Bible there is the story of the lion being friends with the lamb. Here's a leopard that, at least for a time, is living in peace with a rat.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This one is going to leave a mark

Someone named William Fagan is not happy that his company was evicted from their downtown office space by Here is the comment he left on the following post.

William Fagan in June 4, 2009 8:17 PM
Hi Stephanie,
I have 7 "local professionals" who would be interested in being on the advisory panel that you mentioned. All seven are staff members of my company- Fuji Arts. We're being displaced by's take over of our downtown office. We were told that refused to share the floor and made an "all or nothing deal" that forced us out. So, my first bit of advice would be- if you want to be a part of the "community" don't start by forcing successful companies out of their spaces.
William Fagan
Fuji Arts Inc.
301 E. Liberty Suite 725

Not that I like acorns, but here's my idea

If you are going to use an acorn as a logo why not incorporate it into your name, like this.

Acorn logos that are better than's

Just a quick check of companies and businesses with cooler Acorn logos than

Acorn Landscaping.
Acorn Recycling.
Vanderbilt coffee mug logo. (Click on picture for larger version)
Acorn Partnership.
Acorn Award.
Acorn Interactive.
Acorn Electron Computer. (This looks like an upside down acorn)
MWS League Logo (acorn).
Acorn Media.
Acorn CS.
Acorn Alternative Strategies.
Stone Acorn Logo.
Squirrely's Nuthouse.
Acorns Children's Hospital.
Acorn CRO.

Acorn vs. Buckeye, a logo too far

Someone pointed out offline that an acorn is not much different than an Ohio buckeye, which may explain why the new logo may not be getting rave reviews on the site. Not much love for the old Buckeye in Ann Arbor.
Top photo: Buckeye, Bottom photo, acorn (squirrel at left)

Flint Journal arrives early, an improvement

OK, I was critical last week of the new Flint Journal design and some obvious copy editing problems and spelling errors, but I have to give them a little credit for today's paper.

Not as many problems, and although I still don't like the font styles, the paper looked a lot better today than the first attempts last weekend.

No breaking news to speak of, but some decent features in the front section of the paper. Still, I don't understand why Midland, Bay City and Saginaw news are included in my Flint area paper, but it must be a function of a central copy desk.

The Sports section continues to carry the motto: "MORE THAN JUST THE SCORE AND WE MEAN IT." As one of the posters here said, it is sophomoric. If you must have a motto, how about "More than just the scores." Says the same thing without the snarky add on. Or maybe they had the same design company that came up with the Acorn logo for come up with the motto.

It will be interesting to see if people arranging funerals delay the services until days when the paper is publishing. I only saw a couple of instances in the obituaries where people who died last weekend or Monday had funerals that had already occurred. It might be that people will delay services a day or two to make sure people see the notices in the paper. I could very well be wrong, but we'll watch it.

Some times you feel like a nut, sometimes you pick it for your logo

I don't know whether to laugh or cry with the selection of an acorn as the new logo for the new

Most of the people responding - and this has by far been the most commented on post yet - are flabbergasted that the new company ("by and for the residents of Ann Arbor") picked a New York firm to come up with a logo so colorless and uninteresting as to be a joke.

Once again, the poor quality, the inside-the-box thinking, does not bode well for the future of this enterprise. This is so bad you have to believe it is a joke meant to garner a lot of comments and then create a change.

Can I get a witness?

Where have all the magazines gone?

At the time I left the FJ there was much excitement and talk about a new era of "niche" publications that would help rescue Booth/Advance.

In recent weeks it appears that the new era is over. After spending a lot of money to remodel and furnish a new office in the Journal building for the magazine operations, I'm told that the experiment has ended.

I only saw a couple copies of the slick magazine called YOUR Magazine and it looked good, but obviously must not have fed the Advance coffers enough to continue its publication although the website is still up.

The fare in the magazine was light, and much of it written by former colleagues which was very good for them. Sorry that another venue for colleagues to keep writing for money has ended.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This is who I wanted to be when I was in high school

For some reason Ricky Nelson popped into my head today. When I was in high school in the early 1960s more than anything else I wanted to be like Ricky Nelson. All the girls I knew loved his "dreamy" eyes and I just knew if I could just be like him, I might have a chance to get a date. Of course, he died way too young in 1985 in a plane crash. One of my favorite songs of all time is "Garden Party" because it so perfectly expresses what I believe that "you've got to please yourself." Which means to me you do what is right no matter what others think about you or expect.

The embedded song is probably half the reason I ended up joining the Navy. You can figure it out.

JRC sells off my hometown weekly and several others

Not everyone has given up on newspapers. A relative newcomer to the newspaper business in Lapeer County has purchased the venerable longtime Lapeer weekly - The Lapeer County Press.

Bob Myers, whose family owned and operated The County Press for 60 years, sold the paper to Capital Cities/ABC in 1990 (which also owned my former employer The Oakland Press). Bob and I became friends during my time as a beat reporter for The Flint Journal here in Lapeer.

Bob once told me the biggest mistake he ever made was selling the love of his life, The County Press, to Capital Cities. I think Bob would be somewhat happy that the newspaper was back in the hands of local folks and not some corporate entity.

The View Newspapers group, which began just a few years ago, has swallowed up more than a dozen of the Thumb area newspapers owned by Journal Register Co., which is currently in bankruptcy.

The purchase was announced tonight on the View website.

This will be huge news here tomorrow when the LA View comes out. Looks like the sale won't officially occur until July and it's hard to say what the new publishing schedule will be.

I'm sure the View Newspapers got a good price for the papers, considering that JRC is holding a fire sale for many of its assets.

I'd love to see this work and prove all the naysayers wrong who say newspapers no longer work.

Apocalypse hits MLive site, unknown origin

Some of us thought that maybe MLive was running a test of a new site when it posted a strange message a little before noon today.

When you logged onto MLive there was a message "Apocalypse begins. Four Horsemen spotted in Otsego."

Don't know what happened after that, but obviously the gurus of the site got it fixed. If anyone knows what happened (the site doesn't acknowledge the message) drop a note here (anonymous, if you want).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Detroit Free Press reporter tries to buy octupus in Pittsburgh

I don't usually like gimmicky news stories, but this video on the Detroit Free Press site was kind of cool. For those not familiar with the Detroit hockey tradition, fans throw octupus on the ice before (during and after, sometimes) playoff hockey games. The story is that the eight tentacles of an octupus signified the eight games it used to take to win the Stanley Cup. Now it takes 16 wins, but haven't seen anyone throw two octupi yet. Red Wings play the Penguins tonight at 8 p.m.

I'm taking this video down because it launches automatically and that is annoying many folks.

Conan hits it out of the park with this one

Gotta love this funny compilation from the new Tonight Show.

One more newspaper article for today

This from Fading to Black about newspapers which are still making money.

Forwards: The fastest rumor mill in the history of the world

I get lots of forwards. Many of them are interesting and a few contain interesting information, but most are simply what the cow leaves behind in the pasture.

When I get an outrageous forward I always check it with When I find one that is simply not true, I usually send a polite message back to the person who sent it to me with a link to the post that debunks it.

Last night I received a forward about a "Hotelicopter" which included photos of the alleged flying hotel. A quick check with Snopes yielded this information.

I imagine most people are familiar with, a site I used frequently when I was a working reporter. E-mail forwards may be contributing to a dumbed down America, one that believes anything it receives in the mail.

By the way, I never forward, even when it has one of those "please send this back to me to show me that you like me too" things. Nothing personal meant. I wish all of us would check out these ridiculous forwards and do our part to stop the spread of false information.

A profile of S. I. Newhouse Jr.

Lots of interesting insights into the head man in the Newhouse empire are found in this article. It's long, but worth the read, especially if you are a Booth/Advance person. Not much on the newspaper side of the business, but a good look at the Newhouse empire, both present and future.

Two articles worth the read

Thankfully, this blog, which gets an average of 480 hits per day (about 20 percent of them new visitors) has very informed readers who often send along links to really good stories about journalism and newspapers.

Here is one of the best summaries I have read so far.

Just a small excerpt, but the rest is worth reading as well:

"When you hear a newspaper executive claiming that his industry is an essential bulwark of society and that it stands threatened by a new technology that is, as of yet, unready to shoulder the same responsibility, you may be inclined to empathize. And indeed, that much is true enough as it goes.

But when that same newspaper executive then goes on to claim that this predicament has occurred through no fault on the industry's part, that they have merely been undone by new technologies, feel free to kick out his teeth. At that point, he's as fraudulent as the most self-aggrandized blogger."

Here's another from the Huffington Post.

Thanks to the two readers who supplied the links.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Home again, home again jiggety jig, the end of a FJ era

Made it home from Buffalo in almost record time. Thanks to our Nexus passes at the border we do not have to wait in long lines at the customs stations there.

Settled in, got ready to catch up on the Detroit Red Wings game last night in my Sunday Flint Journal and, voila!, no game coverage at all. And with no Monday paper, no coverage of either Saturday's game or tonight's game until Thursday. (Go to and see how poorly displayed - read not displayed - game coverage is there). Go to and and see the difference between online game coverage.

Update: Here's the deal. If you have set your to the Flint Journal page as a favorite you won't see any of the Red Wings coverage. But if you go to the overall site - - You'll see some coverage. It only took me 20 minutes to figure this out. Why wouldn't you put a link at the top of the Flint Journal page for Red Wings coverage for folks who are going directly to your site. This is why the MLive format may just be the worst newspaper website design in the country.

Also whoever designed Page (Sports) B6 may have put together the ugliest newspaper page I have seen in a long time. No photos, no graphics and a major league bumping headline at the top of the page. Get a clue.

The new Executive Editor who wrote a glowing column about "A new era for your paper" didn't bother to mention new deadlines that didn't allow a Stanley Cup Finals game that ended before 11 p.m. on Saturday to be in Sunday's paper. Looked for a link to his column on and couldn't find one.

What are the new deadlines anyway? I could find no breaking news (maybe the GM bankruptcy story qualifies, but it stands alone) in Sunday's paper, lots of features, including a Page 2 story out of Duluth, Minnesota about a voyage to discover if lake temperatures in Lake Superior are changing.

The new executive editor suggests going to to keep up-to-date. Apparently, the new executive editor hasn't been to to realize how impossible it is to find anything there. I like reading my old column, now Bryn's column "Off Beat." Try and find that anywhere on Oh, I'm sure it's there, but finding the most recent one is difficult, too difficult to waste much time doing it.

Look through the list of columnists and check out how old some of those columns on the home Flint Journal page are. One of the columns featured is still talking about how there is still time to research candidates for the early May city elections.

So while it may be a new era in the Flint Journal, I think I'm going to miss the old era, a lot. The old era actually had news and sports. And I mean it.

Newspaper slogans draw attention

The "More than just scores and we mean it!" slogan in the new Flint Journal has garnered a few pointed comments on my post about the new FJ design. Points I agree with, by the way.

The famous New York Times slogan "All the news that's fit to print" was often modified to "All the news that fits we print." But there were some bad slogans for real.

But it got me thinking about the old (don't know if it is still in place) Oakland Press motto that was at one time plastered on the building in downtown Pontiac.

"Delivered to a door step near you."

Of course, the jokes were that you would have to walk over and take it from a doorstep "near you" and brought a lot of pointed jabs at such a stupid slogan.

So if you have any more silly newspaper slogans, put them right here. Here's a funny site to get you started.