News Cycle

A look at the news, politics and journalism in today’s 24-hour media.

Archive for April 2010

Taking Time Off From the Blog for a While

leave a comment »


I’m going to suspend posting for a while as family health issues are taking priority with my time. Thanks for all the support and well-wishes! I will return when life becomes normal once again.

For the latest newspaper industry layoff news, please take a look at Erica Smith’s Paper Cuts blog.

— Jeff

Written by newscycle

April 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Obama Sneaks Out of the White House Without the Press, Breaking Protocol

leave a comment »


President Barack Obama broke away from the White House press corps today by leaving the White House without the reporters with him, the Associated Press reports:

About two hours before reporters were supposed to be in position to leave with the president, Obama left the grounds of the White House. Members of the press were told he was attending one of his daughter’s soccer games in northwest Washington, D.C.

The White House press corps traditionally travels with the president anywhere he goes, inside and outside the country, to report on the president’s activities for the benefit of informing the public and for historical record.

After Obama left, a press aide hastily gathered members of the media who happened to be at the White House early or working on other matters. They rushed to a van and left the White House to catch up with the president.

Too late. By the time, the press van appeared to arrive at the president’s location, the press was told he was already departing. Time to go back to the White House.

Reporters and photographers didn’t have a chance to see him or his vehicle to verify his presence at any location.

Although nobody outside the White House or the press may have noticed, Obama broke years of tradition.

The small press “pool” that accompanies the president had been told to gather at the White House at 11:30 a.m. He left about 9:20 a.m.

Asked what happened, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “The president decided this morning to attend his daughter’s soccer game. The pool was assembled as soon as possible to be there as well.”

Obama eventually left the White House again on Saturday for a round of golf. This time, the press was with him.

Written by newscycle

April 10, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Media General Consolidates Copy Editing, Page Design at 3 Metro Papers

leave a comment »


Media General Inc. said today in a press release published on Romenesko that it will consolidate copy editing and page design for its three metro newspapers, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch and Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal.

The consolidated metro editing and design operation will have two groups, one in Tampa, Fla., and one in Richmond, Va. The operation will be led by a single managing editor located at the Richmond facility. Each of the two groups will have primary responsibility for particular sections and pages for all three metro newspapers. The next steps are to select the managing editor, install common production software and establish common design elements that will facilitate production efficiencies. The consolidated operation is expected to start up in the third quarter of this year.

The metro operation will be the third of its kind for Media General. The first became operational in Lynchburg , Va. , in April 2009. The second started up in Hickory , N.C. , in October, 2009. At this time, 12 of Media General’s 23 metro and community newspapers are either part of or transitioning to a consolidated editing and design operation. The company expects to have all of its newspapers in a consolidated editing and design operation by the end of the year. Once all newspapers have completed the transition, Media General expects to realize annualized cost savings of more than $1 million from efficiencies related to this initiative, starting in 2011. The company intends to use a portion of the savings to focus on intensified local news coverage.

“Our consolidated editing and design operations allow our newsrooms to focus on strong local news reporting. Stories will be edited once rather than multiple times, and we can take advantage of economies of scale and centralization of top talent,” said Donna Reed, Media General’s Vice President of Content. “Our customers will be unaffected by this internal process change and all news decisions will continue to be made by our local editors,” said Ms. Reed.

Over the past 10 years, Media General has consolidated and centralized a number of broadcast functions, including traffic, master control and graphics, and newspaper functions, including printing and distribution and various call centers. This approach allows the company’s properties to focus on their local communities while creating resource groups that both increase quality and provide significant process efficiencies.

The Lynchburg editing and design center produces the pages for The ( Lynchburg ) News & Advance, Danville Register & Bee, and the company’s Rockingham, N.C. , community newspapers. The (Manassas , Va.) News & Messenger and The (Waynesboro , Va.) News Virginian are in the process of transitioning there.

The Hickory, N.C. , editing and design center produces the pages for the Hickory Daily Record, Statesville Record & Landmark, The (Morganton) News Herald, The McDowell News, and the weekly Mooresville Tribune. The Florence (S.C.) Morning News and (Concord & Kannapolis , N.C.) Independent Tribune are in the process of transitioning there.

Written by newscycle

April 7, 2010 at 11:22 pm

More Than 3,500 Petition Iran to Free Journalists, Writers

leave a comment »


More than 3,500 international journalists, writers, and press freedom leaders — are petitioning Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, to immediately release dozens of journalists, writers, and bloggers imprisoned in the country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ website.

Among those who have signed the petition are Martin Amis, Jon Lee Anderson, Margaret Atwood, E.L. Doctorow, Jonathan Franzen, Thomas L. Friedman, Nadine Gordimer, Gwen Ifill, Ahmed Rashid, Jon Stewart and Mario Vargas Llosa.

A coalition of free-expression organizations delivered the petition today to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. Petitioners’ names were collected through Facebook and the “Our Society Will Be a Free Society” campaign, a coalition project dedicated to winning the freedom of all journalists jailed in Iran. Additional names of prominent petitioners can be viewed on the campaign Web site.

“We hope those in jail will be heartened by this level of international attention,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, one of the sponsors of the petition drive. “By collecting these names from all corners of the world, we want to convey to our imprisoned colleagues the depth of our concern and to Iranian authorities the depth of our outrage.”

The petitioners urge Ayatollah Khamenei to release all journalists, writers, and bloggers now behind bars and to uphold the pledge of his predecessor, Sayyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, who said in 1978 on the eve of the revolution: “Our future society will be a free society, and all the elements of oppression, cruelty, and force will be destroyed.”

At least 34 journalists were jailed in Iran on April 1, according to CPJ research. Another 18 were free on short-term furloughs coinciding with the Iranian New Year, but were expected to report back to prison this week. CPJ has been conducting a monthly census of journalists jailed in Iran, now the world’s worst jailer of the press.

The petition effort was organized by a coalition of 16 international free expression groups: CPJ; Index on Censorship; Reporters Without Borders; PEN American Center; International PEN; Canadian Journalists for Free Expression; International Publishers Association; Article 19; World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers; International Federation of Journalists; National Press Club; World Press Freedom Committee; Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation; Institute of Mass Information; International Women’s Media Foundation; and Freedom House.

Those interested in joining the petition may still do so.

Here are capsules of those detained.

Written by newscycle

April 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm

POLITICO Arena: Alvin S. Felzenberg’s response to ‘Obama’s nuclear strategy – smart politics or unilateral disarmament?

leave a comment »


I always thought it unwise for presidents to tell actual or would-be aggressors in advance what they would or would not do in a warlike situation. I take it that, unlike Harry Truman, President Barack Obama would have tried to have defeated Imperial Japan — and the barbarism it wrought over so much of Asia and to U.S. troops and prisoners of war — by accepting hundreds of thousands of additional American casualties. What would Tom Hanks say to that?

Interestingly, Truman remains one of the few great presidents to whom Obama has not been compared. I think we now know why.

Alvin S. Felzenberg
Author, “The Leaders We Deserved
:

Written by newscycle

April 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

POLITICO Arena: David Mark’s response to ‘Obama’s nuclear strategy – smart politics or unilateral disarmament?Plus, do the RNC’s troubles matter to voters?’

leave a comment »

Written by newscycle

April 6, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Buffalo News Guild Employees Consider Offer to Buy Out 23

leave a comment »


Guild-represented employees of the Buffalo News are mulling a buyout offer that would have them exit their jobs by the end of this month, as the newspaper best known for being owned by Warren Buffet seeks to reduce head-count by 23, the Newsper Guild Communications Workers of America said on its website yesterday.

The Buffalo Guild negotiated terms of the package over several weeks, improving pension benefits enough that the union hopes will make layoffs unnecessary. Company management said it wants to cut $5.7 million in expenses because of declining profitability.

Employees have until April 26 to seek a buyout, with management looking to cut nine district managers, eight newsroom employees, three in classifieds, two in accounting and one in inside circulation by April 30. Newsroom employees who take the buyout may be offered part-time non-permanent work, and if at least nine district managers take the buyout, the company may offer them an opportunity to return as permanent part-timers.

Guild representatives, noting that the News was not under a contractual obligation to bargain over the buyout terms, said they appreciated the opportunity to negotiate. “While we would prefer if the company was not seeking to cut jobs, I’ve got to give management credit for listening to the Guild’s suggestions on how to structure an attractive package,” said Jim Heaney, who headed up the union team. “This is the most-attractive buyout offer The News has offered in a long time and substantially better than what management originally had in mind. For employees who have been waiting for a better offer, it has arrived.”

Chief among those improvements: Employees with at least five years of experience are eligible to add 10 years of pension credits toward their age and/or years of service. The maximum years of credited service will increase from 30 to 45 years, and employees who already have more than 30 years of service credits will be able to apply those extra years toward their pension calculations. The $40,000 cap on annual benefits remains.

Meanwhile, if the pension buyout offer does not solicit enough interest, the company will offer a second buyout of cash equal to 18 months of base pay and, where applicable, merit pay. That offer would be extended from April 26 to May 10. Seniority will be the determining factor if applicants outnumber openings.

To help members sort out their options, the Guild has retained a financial consulting and retirement planning firm headed by Richard Schroeder, a former Guild president who manages the union’s investments.

Written by newscycle

April 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm

He Is Risen

leave a comment »


The Good News

John 20 (NIV)

The Empty Tomb
1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15″Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas
24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Written by newscycle

April 3, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Posted in Easter

iPad Gets Its Launch With Lines in New York

leave a comment »


And they’re off! The iPad hits the streets, as Agam Shah of IDG News Service reports today:

Lines formed outside the Apple store in New York with customers eager to purchase the product, which is one of the most hotly anticipated devices since the iPhone was launched in 2007. The lines weren’t as long as they were for the iPhone, but buyers seemed ecstatic after getting the iPad in their hands.

An instructor at New York University, Matthew Knell, waited in line for a few hours to purchase the device. He plans to use the it for entertainment and to read e-books to replace loads of print textbooks he otherwise carries.

“It offers the opportunity to mix music, movies and books in one good personal-sized package. It does a lot of things the laptops do well, and it has the opportunity to change the way we consume media,” Knell said.

The iPads that went on sale Saturday include Wi-Fi, and are priced ranging from US$499 to $699, depending on storage capabilities, which range from 16GB to 64GB. Models becoming available later this month will include 3G mobile broadband, and will cost from $629 to $829.

The device should be available worldwide by April, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the device’s launch event in late January.

AT&T will provide no-contract 3G service in the U.S., with a 250MB data plan costing $14.99 per month, and an unlimited plan costing $29.99. International deals for 3G services should be in place by June or July, the company has said.

The iPad has been called a supersized iPod Touch, with a 9.7-inch touchscreen and an on-screen keyboard for typing. The device runs on Apple’s A4 chip and can play back 720p high-definition video. Apple’s iWork productivity application is included for those who wish to create documents, spreadsheets or presentations.

Meanwhile, Serenity Caldwell of Macworld.com reports that NBC is rethinking a decision to stream full episodes to iPad users.

This weekend, developers, consumers, and companies will finally get entry to the iPad party. Unfortunately, there are still those uninterested in the affair–we’ve already seen companies like Random House hesitate. Now, NBC has announced its intention to keep full episodes of TV off the iPad–at least for the time being.

According to The New York Times, NBC last week showed a Times reporter an iPad-friendly version of its streaming-video site. At the end of this discussion, an NBC executive noted that full-episode streaming of popular shows was in the works and would be coming around late April.

But it was not to be. On Thursday, the Times reported that NBC had dropped all interest in full episode streaming “at this time,” according to an anonymous NBC official.

Why the change of heart, especially considering the recent iPad app releases from fellow TV giant ABC and online rental company Netflix? It may be a purely financial decision, but this reporter suspects it may have more to do with NBC’s involvement with Hulu, or its new parent company, Comcast. If Hulu is indeed planning on any sort of iPad paywall trial, it would be bad form to have the same content available elsewhere for free. Similarly, Comcast may want to avoid giving away content for free that it could otherwise bundle with its TV Everywhere service.

Alas, the end result: if you want to watch NBC on your iPad, you’ll have to resort to alternative means such as iTunes for now.

Written by newscycle

April 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Comcast, iPad, NBC

200,000 to Lose Unemployment Benefits for at Least 2 Weeks Because Congress Failed to Act

leave a comment »


Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project, tells The Hill that 200,000 unemployed people will lose their benefits for at least two weeks because Congress is on its Easter recess until April 12.

As the two-week recess began, Congress was at an impasse over how to extend the emergency unemployment insurance program and other expiring provisions, including increased COBRA health insurance subsidies for the unemployed, the Medicare doctor payment rate and federal flood insurance.

Senate Republicans said the $9.3 billion, 30-day extension preferred by Democrats should be paid for, while Democrats said the bill’s cost didn’t need to be offset because the program was “emergency spending.”

Under the jobless benefits program that ends Monday, Americans out of work are eligible for up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. The program, aimed at helping jobless Americans stay afloat when new jobs aren’t readily available, gives an unemployed worker more than the 26 weeks of unemployment insurance normally available. But with the program ending, those out of work for as few as six months will see an interruption in their benefit checks.

“Odds are they have burned through savings, already asked for loans and gifts from family and friends if needed, so going for two weeks without a paycheck, especially if those two weeks are a time when rent or mortgage is due, is going to be hard,” Conti said.

Those who will miss unemployment checks may see them in the future.

Senate Democrats said they’ll try to pass an extension of the program that can be applied retroactively once Congress is back in session. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a vote on cloture to end debate on the short-term extension for April 12.

Written by newscycle

April 3, 2010 at 11:59 am

Posted in Congress, Unemployment

%d bloggers like this: