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Monday, October 31, 2005

IPFW Cross-Country Does Well - Div. 1 Independents

From the UC-Davis California Aggie today comes the word that the UC-Davis Women's Cross-Country team was not quite able to reclaim the top spot in the Division 1 Independents Championships at Corpus Christi, Texas. UC-Davis was topped by the women's team at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, which finished third. The D-I Independents is a postseason race for cross-country teams in NCAA Division Division 1 who are not affiliated with a conference.
While some Aggie women had the best race of their career, the improved competition proved to be too much for UC Davis as they were narrowly defeated by Indiana-Purdue-Ft. Wayne. The top four women’s teams all finished within 20 points of each other while the next best team, Utah Valley State, finished far behind them.

The New Power of Blogs

John Fund, writing for the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal, has a great commentary today on the great changes being wrought in politics through the new media of blogs. He uses the Miers nomination as his exemplar.

Granite Broadcasting - Do the Math

Granite Broadcasting certainly has had its financial woes. Those woes have been well chonicled by Indiana Parley, Fort Wayne Observed, and Linda Lipp at the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly.

The stock now trades in the neighborhood of 25 cents per share. A year ago it was delisted from NASDAQ and is now traded on the Over the Counter (OTC) market.

How badly would your own investment in Granite have performed over the years? Well, let's say that you had decided to invest in Granite during the boon years and you held on to the stock through...well, thin and thinner. Maybe you made the investment when 21Alive was in its prime. The fine folks of Granite Broadcasting have put a handy investment calculator on their website to help you do the math.

Here's a sample: If you had invested one-thousand dollars ($1,000.00) two years ago today, your stock would be worth one-hundred nineteen dollars and a little bit of change ($119.05) now. That's a drop of 88.10%.

(Figures based on use of the Granite calculator at 8:36 AM EST October 31, 2005)

Better Indiana Voter Registration System On The Way

Secretary of State Rokita Checks Out New System in Whitley County
NEW - Allen County to be Online November 28th

Todd Rokita, visited Columbia City last week to talk with the County Clerk's office about implementation of the new Indiana computerized voter registration system by First Vote. Rokita told the Columbia City Post & Mail that 83 counties of the 92 were already online with the system. He said that the most populous counties will be be implemented last.

NEW: Barry W. Schust, head of the Allen County Voter Registration office told Indiana Parley today that Allen County expects to be online with the new system on November 28, 2005.

One of the goals of the new system is to reduce incidents of voter fraud.
One way the system helps reduce fraud is by keeping track of old addresses and raising flags at both ends of the system when a repeat name occurs.

A Global Information System is also part of the new program, which allows the clerk's office to pinpoint a voter's residence and helps with instances of fraud.

“It's a little clunky sometimes,” said Deb Fairchild, with the clerk's office, about the GIS part of the program.

Most GISs are not updated until after a census, so new roads or subdivisions may not be able to be automatically mapped, requiring someone in the clerk's office to manually enter the location.
Rokita held out the possibility that the Secretary of State's office will organize a mock election to test out the new system before the 2006 election. Indiana Parley's observation would be that voter turnout will be so light for the 2006 Republican and Democratic primary election that it will effectively be a "mock" election.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Indiana Parley Right to Raise Issue

All week I've looked askance at the Fort Wayne-Allen County Board of Health's recommendation that flu shots be restricted to high-priority persons as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. Here's the link to the original post on Tuesday where I raised concern that the policy was going in the opposite direction of Monday's recommendations by the CDC, the Health and Human Services Department, and the Lung Association. My concern was that the anomalous Fort Wayne-Allen County policy would have the effect of discouraging people from getting flu shot when it is important for the general population to be building herd immunity.


I know that WANE-TV monitors this blog. I was pleased to see on Wednesday that WANE-TV News had gone back to the Board of Health to ask about the restrictions. The Director told WANE-TV that the Board of Health was sticking with the CDC recommendations. HOWEVER, THE CLEAR WORDING OF THE CDC RECOMMENDATION WAS THAT FLU SHOTS BE MADE AVAILABLE STARTING MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2005.

Indiana Parley has continued to work on this story. We had contacted several of the continguous county health departments to see whether they had such restrictions. We had not yet completed that survey with all the counties. We had yet to find a restriction. This was important because a recommendation by the Fort Wayne-Allen County Board of Health is carried across the whole northeast Indiana media market.

We had also contacted other entities and physicians in tracking this story in preparation for an additional report for Monday and Tuesday. I am glad - and relieved - that the need for additional reportage has been lessened.

Mark Souder on Miers


The Annual Allen County Right to Life Banquet was held at the Grand Wayne Center on Thursday evening. Presidential adviser Tim Goeglein was the featured speaker of the evening. Goeglein, pictured above, talked about pro-life issues but did not comment on the failed Harriet Miers nomination other than to remark that it had been a difficult week.

However, 3rd District Congressman Mark Souder had prepared a message for the audience of over 600 persons. Diane Souder, wife of the Congressman, delivered his statement. In part, Souder said:
I believe [that Harriet Miers], based upon what appeared to be her dedicated conservative Christian commitment, ... would have been pro-life. I believe that she worked hard and achieved honors when it was hard for female attorneys to do so.

But what I - and other conservatives - were hoping for was someone we knew had a pro-life record. As a practical matter, I believe - ironically - that Harriet Miers would not have been confirmed in part because she is now perceived as too pro-life and also potentially too Christian on other issues like faith-based grants, prayer in school and intelligent design.

What I am saying, actually, is this: I question whether an openly pro-life judge can be confirmed in the present U.S. Senate. But we in the pro-life movement are asking this question: if that is the case, why not nominate an experienced judge with a pro-life record and have a clear battle?

Pro-lifers in Washington and across America are as upset about the underlying assumption - that we should hide our views to win - as we were about Harriet Miers.
Photograph © 2005 by Mitch Harper

State Libertarian Party Has New Executive Director

Indiana State Libertarian Party Chairman Mark Rutherford announced that Brad Klopfenstein has stepped down as Executive Director of the State Libertarians to become head of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association. His replacement is Dan Drexler (pictured left).

Photo courtesy of The Libertarian Party of Indiana.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dissatisfied Investors in Granite Broadcasting Exert Power

"We are very concerned about the direction of Granite"

Those were the words of Philip A. Falcone, senior portfolio manager at Harbert Management Corporation.

Peter Passi reports in a story today for the Duluth News Tribune that a group of investors has become so dissatisfied with the performance of Granite Broadcasting Corporation, parent company of Fort Wayne television station WISE 33 and operator of WPTA 21 that they have exercised their power to add two outside directors to the Granite Board.

It's a telling development when a firm named Harbert Distressed Investment Master Fund starts buying up a corporation's stock.

Lately, Harbert has taken an increasingly active role in the affairs of Granite Broadcasting Corp., owner of KBJR-TV, Duluth's NBC affiliate.

Granite repeatedly failed to make dividend payments to Harbert and other holders of its preferred stock, and this week, those investors flexed their collective muscle.

Harbert joined forces with the John Hancock High Yield Fund and Somerset Capital Advisers to form a block of shareholders controlling a majority share of preferred stock in Granite. Together, they asserted their right Tuesday to appoint two members to Granite's board of directors.

Passi also quoted Falcone as saying:
"Selling assets to fund interest payments and continuing losses is not a viable business plan.Granite is highly leveraged and, with its current capital structure, we do not believe that it will be able to meet its ongoing and long-term obligations."
News Release from Harbert.
Related: LIN Broadcasting, parent of WANE-TV reports third-quarter earnings.

Want to see the Fort Wayne Newspapers' new press?

Newspapers & Technology reports that Fort Wayne Newspapers and TKS (USA) have signed the contractural agreement for the new ColorTop 7000 CDH press. The press is to be operational in 2007. An illustration of the press is included with the story.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Big Charitable Tax Break in Katrina Bill

Take a 100% Deduction of Charitable Giving Until End of Year

The New York Times' Stephanie Strom is reporting today that a little noticed provision in the bill just passed for Hurrican Katrina relief will be a big boost for charities.
It allows donors who make cash gifts to almost any charity by the end of this year to deduct an amount equal to virtually 100 percent of their adjusted gross incomes, double the normal limit of 50 percent of income.
The provision extends the 100% deductibility to all income levels. While universities and large charities have been promoting the provision, many smaller charities are unaware of the provision.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Judge Eschbach Dies

Funeral Arrangements set: A memorial service for the Honorable Jesse E. Eschbach will be held at 2:00 PM Monday, October 31, 2005, at the Titus Funeral Home of Warsaw, Indiana. Reported by Indiana Parley at 5:42 PM Wednesday October 26, 2005.

Federal Judge Jesse Eschbach, who retired from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2000 died Tuesday. Judge Eschbach had been appointed by President Kennedy to the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in 1962. President Reagan appointed the Judge to the 7th Circuit in 1981.

Judge Eschbach died in Florida. He had a home in West Palm Beach, Florida.

In addition to his service on the bench, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Indiana University by Governor Roger Branigin. Judge Eschbach served from 1965 to 1970, when he was succeeded by another Warsaw attorney, John D. Widaman II*. As Trustee, Judge Eschbach served with Harriet Inskeep of Fort Wayne. Mrs. Inskeep is an owner of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.

The Journal-Gazette was the first news outlet to report the news of Judge Eschbach's passing.

Judge Eschbach's father, Jesse Eschbach, was Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives in the 1917 and 1919 sessions.

View the tributes published on the occasion of his retirement in 2001.

A fascinating and detailed evaluation of Judge Eschbach as 7th Circuit Judge prepared by the Chicago Council of Lawyers.

Terry Eastland wrote in the Weekly Standard on how Judge Eschbach learned of his 7th Circuit appointment directly from Ronald Reagan.

Biographical brief:
Eschbach, Jesse Ernest
Born 1920 in Warsaw, IN

Federal Judicial Service:
U. S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana
Nominated by John F. Kennedy on March 12, 1962, to a seat vacated by Luther Merritt Swygert; Confirmed by the Senate on April 2, 1962, and received commission on April 13, 1962. Served as chief judge, 1974-1981. Service terminated on December 11, 1981, due to appointment to another judicial position.

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Nominated by Ronald Reagan on October 20, 1981, to a seat vacated by Luther Swygert; Confirmed by the Senate on November 24, 1981, and received commission on December 1, 1981. Assumed senior status on November 4, 1985.

Indiana University, B.S., 1943

Indiana University School of Law, J.D., 1949

Professional Career:
U.S. Navy Lieutenant, 1943-1946
Private practice, Warsaw, Indiana, 1949-1962
U.S. Office of Price Stabilization, Washington, DC, 1951
City attorney, Warsaw, Indiana, 1952-1953
Deputy prosecuting attorney, 54th Judicial Circuit, Indiana, 1953-1954
President, secretary, general counsel, Dalton Foundries, Inc., 1959-1962
President, Endicott Church Furniture, Inc., 1960-1962
(Information from the Federal Judicial Center)

*Indiana University Trustee John D. Widaman II and his wife, Marjorie, were killed in the explosion of a Cathay Airlines aircraft over Viet Nam in 1972. The Widamans had been flying on Indiana University business.

Pence Says Shield Law to Protect News Bloggers

Mike Pence Pronouncement Differs From Dick Lugar's Recent Remarks

US Representative Mike Pence of Indiana told the Inland Press Association Monday that certain bloggers would be protected under the Free Flow of Information Act that he has co-authored with Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana.

It was reported in
Editor & Publisher that Pence's interpretation of the Act would shield bloggers from being compelled to reveal sources if the blogger was a person engaged in original reporting.
Pence said bloggers would likely have to be considered on a "blog-by-blog" basis.

"Frankly, there are some that are out there gathering news," Spence (sic) said at Inland's 120th annual meeting. "There are many people though, who just link to your newspapers. It would be hard to argue to anyone that privilege applies to those people just because they have a Web site."
Two weeks ago, Lugar stated that his assessment was that bloggers would probably not be considered as protected under the proposed legislation. However, Lugar thoughtfully noted that the discussion over the interpretation of who was protected was an ongoing one as the legislation was being considered.

MORE: View the full webcast of Mike Pence speaking Tuesday on the topic "Should Journalists Have a Federal Shield Law?". He delivered The 2005 Distinguished Journalist Lecture at the Heritage Foundation.

Pence, who has a law degree, represents several townships in Allen County. The communities of Monroeville and Hoagland are in that area.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Are The Alarm Bells Too Loud in Fort Wayne?

Fort Wayne Appears Alone in US in Urging Restriction for Flu Shots

Could it be that Fort Wayne-Allen County Board of Health officials are depressing the numbers of people who should be getting flu shots? The Journal-Gazette and the News-Sentinel both carried stories on Tuesday reporting that the Board of Health on Monday recommended that medical providers should restrict flu shots for highest-risk patients.

Yet the national news was all flowing in the opposite direction. Norman Adelman, chief medical officer of the National Lung Association was quoted in the Washington
Post Tuesday that there was plenty of vaccine. USA TODAY carried a story Tuesday headlined "Seasonal flu shots now available for all." The story cited Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for its story. USA TODAY's lead was:
Starting this week, flu vaccine is available to anyone who wants it, health officials said Monday. Until now, the vaccine has been prioritized for people at highest risk of serious flu complications, including the ill and elderly.
Dr. Gerberding was not the only one of the nation's health officials speaking out Monday to encourage vaccination for all. She was joined in a joint press conference by Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, Acting Director of the Food and Drug Administration Andrew von Eschenbach, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Washington
Times, in a United Press International report, carried this further explanation:
U.S. government officials expanded their recommendations for annual influenza vaccinations Monday while trying to dispel public confusion over the vaccine's ability to fight avian flu.
The heads of the four top public-health agencies said annual flu vaccinations -- which last year became the subject of rationing caused by vaccine shortages -- are now available for all age groups. For the past month they have been attempting to discourage vaccinating anyone except senior citizens, infants, adults with chronic diseases and others at high risk of flu complications because of continuing uncertainties about supply.
Leavitt said that
[s]till, some patients have not been able to obtain recommended shots, because companies have fallen behind in delivering ordered doses to smaller doctors' offices and clinics.
Leavitt called the reports "anecdotal" but said they could encourage patients to be persistent in seeking flu shots.
Earlier today, I was at the office of a health care provider. I overheard the receptionist take a telephone call from a patient. Although I only heard one side of the call it was clear that the patient was asking whether vaccine was being restricted. The receptionist urged the patient to come to the office; that there were plenty of doses. This was confirmed when I talked to one of the medical professionals in the office.

Leavitt is urging persistence; Fort Wayne-Allen County officials are urging a wait. A Google news search indicated that Fort Wayne was the only city in the country where restraint was continuing to be the recommendation. Will patients who could be getting protection at this time be too discouraged to get the vaccine before full flu season hits? Will there be enough herd immunity if flu strikes this area hard?

Comments: Fort Wayne Observed cited this post by Indiana Parley on its website. Two readers of FWOB posted comments that deserve some additional in-depth documentation and response.

First Comment-
The first person to comment wrote that:
This is a great use of blogs - to ask these sorts of questions. Theoretically the "regular" media could ask them, of course, but they don't often seem to.
And on the specific topic at hand - there have been studies done that the best use of vaccine is on 2-5 year olds (rug rats, in technical public health parlance). This makes sense since it's the snotty noses that spread flu among everyone else. So why doesn't the Board of Health focus resources on that age group? I'm sure there is a reason - I'm not accusing, but it does seem like something they should think about. # posted by Anonymous : 10/26/2005 8:00 AM
Indiana Parley response- Great comment. Here is link to one study courtesy of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The NCBI is part of the National Library of Medicine operated by the National Institutes of Health.
Highest attack rates for influenza occur in children. Immunization of schoolchildren with inactivated influenza vaccine in Michigan and Japan was associated with decreased morbidity and mortality, respectively, in older community contacts.
Second Comment- The second person wrote:
Snotty noses don't spread flu. The flu doesn't cause snotty noses. It's an ailment of the lungs. In shortages, vaccine goes to those most likely to die of flu, which includes the elderly.
Nevertheless, that's a good question, about why the vaccine is restricted here and nowhere else. # posted by Anonymous : 10/26/2005 8:46 AM
Indiana Parley response-Given the studies cited above which do show that vaccinating the young is a powerful way to get herd immunity in order to effectively limit transmission to those at-high-risk such as the elderly and chronicaly ill this comment may have already had an adequate response. However, it is important to correct the mistaken notion that "snotty noses" can't transmit the flu virus. The following is from the Dr.Greene.com website.
Classically, the flu begins abruptly, with a fever in the 102 to 106 degree range, a flushed face, body aches, and marked lack of energy. Some people have other systemic symptoms such as dizziness or vomiting. The fever usually lasts for a day or two, but can last five days.

Somewhere between day 2 and day 4 of the illness, the "whole body" symptoms begin to subside, and respiratory symptoms begin to increase. The virus can settle anywhere in the respiratory tract, producing symptoms of a cold, croup, sore throat, bronchiolitis, ear infection, and/or pneumonia.

The most prominent of the respiratory symptoms is usually a dry, hacking cough. Most people also develop a sore (red) throat and a headache. Nasal discharge and sneezing are not uncommon.

...Is it contagious?
The flu is very contagious. It can be spread by airborne, droplet, or contact transmission and by fomites.

How long does it last?
Inhaling droplets from coughs or sneezes is the most common way to catch the flu. Symptoms appear 1 to 7 days later (usually 2 to 3 days). Symptoms (except the cough) usually disappear within 4 to 7 days. Sometimes there is a second wave of fever at this time. The cough and tiredness usually lasts for weeks after the rest of the illness is over.

City Pays New Jersey Paper to Print Only 'Good News'

The Newark City Council is going to pay a start-up weekly $100,000.00 under a contract to only publish "good news." One assumes it will be a very thin publication.

This report is from
Editor & Publisher.

Monday, October 24, 2005

IvyLeagueSports.com picks Fort Wayne Player as Rookie of the Week

IvyLeagueSports.com picked Columbia University freshman Jon Rocholl, an R. Nelson Snider High School graduate, as "Rookie of the Week."
ROOKIE Columbia freshman kicker Jon Rocholl [Fort Wayne, Ind.] hit two field goals of 39 yards to account for all the Lions' scoring at Dartmouth. He improved to 10-for-12 for the season and is back on pace to break the school record for points in a season by a Columbia kicker (58 by Joe Aldrich '96). After having his school record-setting string of seven consecutive made field goals snapped at Princeton, he has hit his last three.
Rocholl had been cited earlier in the season by The Sports Network as a national player of the week for special teams in football. The Sports Network is the leading news service for Division I-AA.

Photo from Columbia University Athletics website.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Huntington Church of Christ Split Now in Court - TRO Issued

St. Peter's Voted to Disaffiliate from the United Church of Christ Over Same-Sex Marriage

The Huntington Herald-Press reports that a temporary restraining order was granted Friday by the Huntington County Circuit Court concerning St. Peter's United Church of Christ.
The split follows a Sept. 18 congregational vote by the to leave the 1.5-million-member United Church of Christ after the church's General Synod voted July 4 to allow congregations to hold same-sex marriages. By 115-92 margin, a faction led by Royer carried the day, and a vote was set for last Sunday to change the name of the church to reflect its separation from the UCC denomination. The restraining order delayed that vote.

Huntington Superior Judge Jeffrey Heffelfinger, sitting as judge pro tem of Huntington Circuit Court, granted the order forbidding anyone from changing the name of the church, altering its constitution and bylaws, or doing anything to jeopardize the church's tax-exempt status or convert any of its assets. The order also requires that any collections or gifts to the church be placed in a trust.

Public Relations in the Blog Environment

Doug Davidoff of Indianapolis has a comment on his blog, Straight Talk PR, about the nature of public relations and the blogosphere. He uses the recent experience of the News-Sentinel initiated by Derick Gingery's story in the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly as a mini-case study.

As an afternoon newspaper, the Fort Wayne(Ind.) News Sentinel is prone to being the subject of rumors. Circulation is dropping, in many ways the Internet has replaced the need for afternoon newspapers (morning newspapers, watch out!), and newsrooms rarely keep secrets well.

Stir it all together and you get a business problem that becomes the subject of intense community interest, even as the community -- by any objective standard -- is in the process of rejecting the product, no matter how good it is. When I was at the Indianapolis News and before that at the Raleigh (N.C.) Times, both now-defunct afternoon dailies, I'd tell people, "I work for the smaller but better newspaper in town." And I believed it, which made their demise hard to take.

But this post is not so much about sentimentality toward newspapers. It's about the free-wheeling nature of the Internet, especially about the rise of blogs, and how your business can be under the microscope -- if not under attack -- before you know it.

In Fort Wayne, the story started with a no-attributed-sources story by the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly speculating that the News-Sentinel would convert to a multi-media online publication. It was picked up in the blogosphere by two blogs (click for Fort Wayne Observed - click for Indiana Parley). The editorial page editor of the News-Sentinel entered a blog entry to loudly deny the stories. His counterpart at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, while admittedly not privy to his competitor's plans, contributed a useful post on his own blog setting the whole matter in perspective vis-a-vis the newspaper industry nationally.

Doug Davidoff is an old acquaintance from his days as a Statehouse reporter. I had already been thinking about the public relations aspect of this when I sent an earlier comment to the (so far) anonymous blogger at TRIB. My thought was that, from an objective view, the News-Sentinel had engaged in some clumsy initial public relations in regards to the Gingery story. My comment, in part, from October 16:
Part of my purpose ... is to put some issues in a larger context. I think I did that in relation to the News-Sentinel story. [In fact] I think I did a better job of relating what the News-Sentinel is going through to larger trends within the newspaper industry and within Knight-Ridder than the N-S did.
Note: Straight Talk PR has been added to the Indiana Parley link list

Ohio and Michigan in Battle; Indiana Outside the Fray

The classic division between conservatives and liberals is often described in terms of pie. Liberals believe the pie should be cut into equal slices; conservatives believe the answer lies in creating a bigger pie.

Indiana Parley has scanned the regional news and found news of two groups who really do believe in making a bigger pie. One is just over the line in New Bremen, Ohio, and the other is in Michigan. The groups are contesting the title of "World's Largest Pie." Each pumpkin pie was made earlier this month.

The Lima News covers the battling claims. The Celina Daily-Standard has the original New Bremen story.

So enjoy a little light reading this weekend. But to bring this back a bit to our mission Indiana Parley takes note that these efforts occurred in our neighboring states.

So, what is Indiana doing to make a bigger pie?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dooley Gets Fired Up

Veteran journalist Mike Dooley wrote an excellent follow-up in Friday's Fort Wayne News-Sentinel about the Three Rivers Apartments fire.

As an afternoon paper, The News-Sentinel can distinguish itself - and does - in stories that are forward-looking or, as in this case, in stories that provide more information in a follow-up that is not possible to provide in day-to-day coverage of breaking stories.

Dooley brings some valuable experience to this story that was not mentioned in the coverage. He had more than a nodding acquaintance with the Muncie (IN) Fire Department in his younger days.

Journalist Sued by Former Employer for Talking Out of School

Sinclair News Central LLC is suing former Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan S. Leiberman in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Why? As Caryn Tamber reports in the
Daily Record: "[i]n a lawsuit filed late last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court, Sinclair accuses Jonathan S. Leiberman of violating the terms of his contract by speaking about the inner workings of the company without permission...".

Tamber quoted directly from the initial complaint:
"Leiberman spoke to the media without permission and divulged confidential and proprietary NewsCentral information to individuals outside of the organization," the suit reads. "In fact, Leiberman admitted to the media after his termination that he violated Company policy, and knew that termination of his employment was a possible consequence of his breach of his Agreement."
Sinclair's employment contract has a particularly severe liquidated damages provision in its employment contract for employees who are terminated for cause. Sinclair is seeking recovery on that provision from Leiberman. The liquidated damages consist of a percentage of the employees compensation.

Anyone want to weigh in on the provisions in the employment contracts of Indiana news media employees and the willingness of employers here to seek after-dismissal enforcement?

Great Charts, Great Statistics on the State of Newspapers

Take a look at Journalism.org's State of the News Media 2004, An Annual Report on American Journalism here. The report contains great charts and copious historical data on the decline of American newspaper readership.

Dana Cuts in Detail

Where Dana is cutting jobs the sword has been swift. Bristol, Virginia, found that to be the case.

Lima, Ohio, will be losing 100 jobs at its Spicer Axle Plant. Tim Rauscher of the Lima
News reports on that cut as well as listing the remainder of the job cuts and shifts.

Not even local officials were notified before the announcement in one Virginia city. Dana said it will be closing its Bristol, VA, driveshaft plant. The closing process will go on through 2006 and "possibly even 2007." The closing will cost about 270 jobs. Much of the production is expected to be shifted to Mexico.
"They never contacted us," Mayor Doug Weberling said. "We were never in the mix to see if there was anything we could have done to change this. "I know the city, state and Congressman (Rick) Boucher would have done anything in our power to keep those good jobs here. It’s just another loss due to NAFTA, with jobs going to Mexico instead of staying here. It’s a sad day for Bristol."
That Bristol plant is near the Tri-Cities area on the Virginia/Tennessee border. The closing will affect a metropolitan area containing the cities of Kingsport, Johnson City, Elizabethton and Bristol in Tennessee as well as Bristol in Virginia. Another plant primarily making axles will be closed in Buena Vista, VA,near Roanoke and Lynchburg, VA. Its production will be shifted to Dry Ridge, Kentucky near the Cincinnati OH area. The Buena Vista plant closing will affect approximately 275 jobs.

The Buena Vista plant is the largest property tax payer in its county.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pitino Says Kentucky Should Spend and Borrow Like Indiana

Coach Rick Pitino blasted Kentucky's legislature for not wanting to pony up for a new arena. The cost of a new arena in Louisville is estimated at $299 million. Local government officials in Louisville have pledged one-third of that; Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher wants the state to borrow $72 million of the cost.
Some [Kentucky] legislators have not expressed support for the project because they don't believe their home regions would see any economic benefit from a downtown Louisville arena. Some say there are more pressing needs, like education, health care, Medicaid and highways.
Pitino said that Kentucky legislators were not "visionary" and that they should look to states like Indiana and Tennessee as models. Presumably Pitino sees these two states as places of vision, sunshine and lollipops.

No word yet from the Club for Growth as to whether they will be designating the Governor as a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Podcast University. Will Purdue be Renamed?

Purdue lecture missed? No problem, just catch it on a podcast. Today's Chicago TRIBUNE carried a front page story by Jodi S. Cohen that featured Purdue Senior Marcos Kohler and his iPod.
When Purdue University senior Marcos Kohler skipped a physics class to attend a concert in Chicago, he didn't have to borrow a classmate's notes to catch up.

Instead, he connected his iPod to a computer, downloaded the lecture, and from the comfort of a campus coffee shop, listened to the two-hour discussion on particle physics.
"It re-creates the entire class experience," said Kohler, 22, who missed another lecture at the West Lafayette, Ind., campus when he overslept for the 1:30 p.m. class.
Our colleague at The Dogwood Files noted a USA Today story on the decreasing percentage of males attending college. Women now make up 57% of underclassmen. Maybe there needs to be a college for men consisting of podcast lectures recorded by the female students. Wabash College needs to think about this.

South West Area Partnership: Burglaries Big Concern

The South West Area Partnership met Wednesday evening at Study School on Brooklyn Avenue. While the new Buckner Farm Park was to have been the featured topic, burglaries were of primary concern.

A rash of questions were directed at Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mike McAlexander and Fort Wayne Deputy Police Chief Doug Lucker regarding the large jump in burglaries in the neighborhoods near Foster Park on Fort Wayne's south side.

Lucker said that the Fort Wayne Police Department has drastically increased the number of uniformed officers and detectives patrolling the areas affected during the times the burglars have been most active. He detailed a number of steps that have been taken to identify potential suspects. He stated that one of the further steps will be contingent on a request he has made to Chief Rusty York to suspend some of the union rules regarding police officers.

Lucker also said that the FWPD believes that the burglaries are not the work of one group of burglars.

When one attendee asked whether the Police Department could share some of the specific information known so as to aid citizens in identifying vehicles or suspects who may be in their neighborhoods, the Deputy Chief and several neighborhood officials said that information is shared with those involved with Citizen's Crime Watch groups. The Chief urged concerned citizens to consider joining.

However, he related that committment of neighborhood residents following increased crime can be fleeting. Lucker said that following a shooting at Harrison and S. Seminole Circle a few years ago, 41 people signed up to participate in Citizen's Crime Watch at a well-attended neighborhood meeting held immediately after the crime. Several weeks later, when the next training session was held for Citizen's Crime Watch volunteers, none of the 41 showed up.

Jeff Baxter of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department made the presentation regarding the proposed development plan for Buckner Farm Park. The new Park is located on the north of Bass Road adjacent to the west side of I-69. Plans for the park include a paved trail, a sledding hill, a nature center, and restoration of a tall-grass prairie.

The South West Area Partnership is one of four area partnerships in Fort Wayne consisting of neighborhood association presidents.

Jeff Baxter is shown in the photo above. We may not have video cameras yet but we do have digital photography. Photo credit: Mitch Harper

© 2005 by Mitch Harper

More: Leo Morris comments on this story.

Leo Morris' New Song Favorites?

Leo Morris' posting of his five favorite songs the other day provides an opportunity for some good-natured ribbing. His fab five are:
1."Imagine" by John Lennon
2. "Secret Gardens" by Judy Collins
3. "The Dutchman" by Michael Smith
4. "Shelter From the Storm" by Bob Dylan
5. "From a Distance" by Julie Gold
He wrote that his list was subject to constant change.

So, in that vein, Indiana Parley has a modest recommendation of an album Leo might find matches his contemporary thinking. The album of this group of Japanese artists is pictured above.

Wabash based Escalade Inc. Announces Increased Earnings

Escalade Inc., based in Wabash IN, released its third-quarter earnings report today. Net income rose 26% over the prior year's comparable quarter to $5,452,000. Year to date net income is 29% ahead of third-quarter 2004 net income. Net income is already greater than all of 2004.

Year to date net sales are 13% behind those of 2004.

Escalade is listed on NASDAQ under symbol ESCA.

The maker and distributor of sporting goods and office supplies is based in Wabash IN. Its Martin-Yale Division, a maker of office equipment, is based in Wabash. The larger operations of Escalade Sports are based in Evansville IN. The company is the leading manufacturer and distributor of billiard tables, table tennis tables and game tables. It also has a substantial presence in archery supplies, portable basketball goals and other sporting goods.

Supervalu Enters Fight; Fresh Market Loses Round To Marsh

Indiana a Battleground in Specialty Food Store Fight

Supervalu has just announced this morning that it will be launching a new specialty food store brand called "Sunflower." The first store is planned for Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, the Northern Indiana District Federal Court sitting in South Bend has denied a request for a preliminary injunction sought by The Fresh Market in its trademark infringement battle with Marsh Supermarkets over the store branded "Arthur's Fresh Market."

The Fresh Market operates a store at Covington Plaza in Fort Wayne as well as a store in the Indianapolis market. It is planning an additional store in Indianapolis within the year. The first Arthur's Fresh Market was opened in Syracuse, Indiana. Marsh also operates Arthur's Fresh Market in the Indianapolis metro area.

Supervalu operates a distribution center in Fort Wayne as well as the Scott's Foods and Pharmacy chain in northeast Indiana.

Marsh is a publicly traded company based in Indiana.

More: TRIB cites Indiana Parley

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Follow-up: DOT Issues Emergency Order on Train Switches

US Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta issued an emergency order Wednesday night directed at all US railroad companies to improve track switches. The Federal Railway Administration has set a November 22, 2005 for the railroads to be compliant. It is unknown, at this time, whether any such switches are located in Indiana.

From the DOT release:
Mineta said his department's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has set a Nov. 22 deadline in an emergency order mandating all railroads take specific and immediate steps to end the problem, which has led to nine serious train crashes, ten fatalities and injuries to more than 600 people since January.

The accidents have occurred when employees working in areas not equipped with remote electronic signal monitors failed to follow track-switching procedures, Mineta said. In every case, the failure to reset the hand-operated switches has led to trains running onto the wrong tracks and derailing or colliding with locomotives or rail cars or both, he added.

“Railroads must put an end to these avoidable and deadly mistakes,” Mineta said.

Any railroad company, supervisor or employee who violates this emergency order may be liable for a civil penalty of up to $27,000, according to the order.

“There is absolutely no excuse for a switch to be left in the wrong position,” said FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman. “This dangerous, preventable, and increasingly frequent situation must stop, starting now.”
Such errors caused the Graniteville, South Carolina, train derailment that Indiana Parley cited in its October 13 posting.

Update: Ash Borer in Adams County

The Journal-Gazette finally covered the story of the Emerald Ash Borer found in Adams County in today's October 19th edition. And this was by publishing an Associated Press story.

You would have found out sooner by reading Indiana Parley coverage on Sunday, October 16. That is the day you would have seen the link to the Decatur Daily Democrat story from last Friday.

WANE-TV picked up the item on Monday, October 17, with original reporting by producer/reporter Matt McCutcheon on the reaction of the City of Fort Wayne Arborist.

Indiana Parley and WANE-TV both recognized the wide news value of the story and made available the information by the Decatur Daily Democrat with added information or comment. This is of interest state-wide and throughout the Midwest.

The Indiana Parley commentary is that the Emerald Ash Borer is likely to be confirmed in Allen County within the next two years. Residents of Fort Wayne, where Ash trees, have been planted extensively in the last fifteen years by the municipality of Fort Wayne, may see an impact on the urban forest approaching that caused by Dutch Elm disease starting two generations ago.

Just Think of Blogging as a Big Fish Fry

Despite the growth in blogging, few elected officials have ventured into the sphere. In Indiana, it’s a miniscule number.

That seems odd. These are folks who wouldn't turn down many opportunities to speak or do a meet and greet. It used to be said of one elected office-holder in Allen County that he would even go to a garage sale to campaign. Maybe they just need to start thinking of blogging as the equivalent of a big fish fry.

Credit needs to be given to State Representative Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) for creating a weblog. It's a good quality effort.

You would think that many elected officials would embrace weblogs. It would give them a way to communicate directly with constituents without the mediating institutions of newspapers, radio or television. It would allow them the chance to address issues in real time. It would allow them to address misperceptions and misunderstandings. It would give constituents a glimpse into the personality of the people they elect.

Government websites are already eliminating one of the common constituent refrains heard by elected officials – “Why wasn’t it in the newspaper?” The explanation that the government official can’t control what goes in the newspaper was often inadequate for people who felt they hadn’t been properly informed of an issue.

However, a long catalogue of meetings and minutia can’t perform the function of a well-functioning news organization. That is an editing function that informs the reader, viewer or listener what is regarded as important in the community. As the newshole shrinks and news organizations consolidate that function is declining in its impact.

The weblog of an elected official can at least inform the public what that official is seeing as important.

And a good weblog can give readers a glimpse into the elected official's point of view. The elected official has access to many sources of information; he or she would be able to share those sources with their readers. It would be fascinating to know what journals, studies, news sources or academics influence a particular official.

So, why aren’t more doing what Representative Dvorak has done? Part of the answer would be a lack of familiarity with the technology. Others would be a little unsure of their written communication skills. Many are comfortable in having their views somewhat vague or obscured; it's a trait part and parcel of how they approach their duties. Others would be unwilling to have a written record that a future opponent might gleefully mine at the next election.

And we should be lucky some officials don’t take up blogging. Some of the efforts would be painful to read. Many would be boring, particularly those that would be outsourced to a public information officer or intern. Pick up an Indiana weekly during the legislative session and you are likely to find an example. By the way, the fault isn’t with the staff person or intern; it’s the canned style that seems to be a requirement.

But there are many officials who could do them well. These would probably be the same sorts of people who wrote candid columns for newspapers years ago. Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm (D) would be a national example. Former Indiana State Representative Jeff Linder (R) was well-admired for his candid writing and observations about the Statehouse.

Who today would be good? That is, folks who would be both candid and informative. Congressmen Mark Souder and Mike Pence come to mind.

And you know you would HAVE to read a daily Mitch Daniels blog, don’t you? The Governor already does quite a bit through his website and email. It wouldn’t be that big of a transition to a daily blog. And I think if the Governor went daily each morning before the legislative session it would drive a fair number of legislators to start blogging, too.

Thanks to Masson's Blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Breaking - Steel Dynamics announces $237 Million purchase


It's good to see a Fort Wayne based company making acquisition.

Steel Dynamics has just released information that is purchasing Roanoke Electric Compan of Virginia. Keith Busse said it would spend $50 Million to $80 Million to upgrade Roanoke's facility.

CBS's "Close to Home" Has a Familiar Ring

The CBS Network will be broadcasting the third episode of the new series "Close to Home" tonight. The series was created by New Haven High School graduate Jim Leonard, Jr. It is set in Indianapolis and its suburbs. The reviews have been almost uniformly favorable.

I didn't see the premier episode but got a chance to catch the second one last week. My opinion agrees with the favorable reviews. What really struck me, though, is that one of the characters has the same name (with one letter change) of Jim's high school debating partner.

Both are bright, driven and creative people. Jim couldn't have picked a better name to emulate for one of the key characters in the show.

A related note: While at Hanover College, Jim wrote "The Diviners." That play won the 1980 National Student Playwriting Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

The play is still frequently staged and it is still winning awards. The latest nomination for an award in Atlanta was recently noted by Playbill.

Granite Broadcasting News

Granite Broadcasting, owner of WISE-TV and former owner but now operator of WPTA-TV, has hired Kevin O'Brien as a consultant for its broadcast properties. O'Brien was formerly the head of Meredith Broadcasting Group.

The Des Moines Register published a small item about O'Brien's appointment. The full news release regarding the consultant's hiring can be found here.

On the ocasion of O'Brien's release from Meredith last year, the IMDb summarized the termination this way:
The president of Meredith Broadcasting Group, whose 13 stations reach 10 percent of the U.S. audience, was abruptly fired Friday for what was described as "violations of Meredith's Equal Employment Opportunity policies." The company declined to provide further specifics about the dismissal of Kevin O'Brien. News reports suggested that O'Brien had instituted a reign of terror since taking over the broadcast division three years ago, forcing the resignations of five general managers and six news directors within a few months. O'Brien has also been under relentless attack from some TV critics in Meredith markets for sensationalizing the news and knocking down the traditional wall between news and sales. A Nashville newspaper recently accused O'Brien and the local station of defying basic journalism standards.
Addendum: Journal-Gazette story on resignation of WPTA News Director.
Adweek story on O'Brien's termination from Meredith Broadcasting.
Column by Richard Prince of the Robert C. Maynard Insititute for Journalism Education.

Monday, October 17, 2005

If Newspapers are Failing - It Ain't the Cost of the Newsprint

Jack Shafer, over at the online magazine SLATE, says of all the factors newspapers publishers may cite for cutting staff and slashing newsroom budgets, rising newsprint costs shouldn't be one of them. He reports that newsprint costs in constant dollars have been holding steady.

Shafer writes:
Dow Jones isn't the only publisher scapegoating "pricey" newsprint. This week, Knight Ridder, Media General, and the Tribune newspaper chains all sobbed about how increased newsprint costs are contributing to declining profits. Tribune, the New York Times Co., and Knight Ridder are using newsprint costs, along with falling circulation and advertising, as justifications for recent newsroom layoffs.

Okeson Named to State Post, Wyss Gets Appointment

1) Paul Okeson, formerly of Fort Wayne, has been appointed as Deputy Secretary of State of Indiana and Chief of Staff in the Secretary's office. The announcement was made this morning by Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita.

Paul now lives in Fishers, Indiana, and replaces Heather Willis, who is leaving to head a non-profit. He is the brother of John Okeson, former Clerk of the State Supreme and Appellate Courts. And as an aside, Paul completed his first triathlon earlier this year.

2) State Senator Tom Wyss of Fort Wayne was appointed as Vice-Chair of the Permanent Committee on Transportation by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Wyss, a 20-year veteran of the Indiana Senate, has been involved in transportation and public safety issues from the start of his legislative service. Drunk driving and seatbelt and child restraint use are several areas in which he has focused his attention. Senator Wyss chaired his chamber’s Transportation Committee for several years and has served on it for the past 10 years. He is also currently the chair of the Indiana Senate’s Homeland Security, Utilities and Public Policy Committee. He has utilized his expertise in these areas at NCSL as well, serving on the organization’s Transportation Committee for a decade, and its Task Force on Homeland Security.

New Yorker Mag: Fort Wayne Company Making Hip Structures

New Yorker Likes The Style of Rocien Romero -
Architect and Branstrator Corporation Make Camp Structures

Paul Goldberger, writing in the Skyline column of a recent issue of The NEW YORKER magazine, highlights the work of cutting edge architect Rocio Romero. She is the designer of prefab houses with great style.
She started off with a house called the Laguna Verde. However,she joined forces with Branstrator Corporation of Fort Wayne this year to design, make and market two smaller buildings, the Base Camp and the Fish Camp. The new company is called Rocio Romero Branstrator.

Goldberger wrote,
The L.V. is an exceptionally beautiful house. Other designers, such as Charlie Lazor and the firm Resolution: 4 Architecture, are building innovative prefabricated structures, but Romero’s designs stand out for their clarity, simplicity, and grace.
Further, he wrote,
Later this month, she plans to erect a sample of her third design, the Base Camp, a medium-sized guest house, as soon as it rolls off the assembly line at a factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Wall Street Journal gives more depth to the modern prefabricated trend here. Prefabs.com is another good source for more context to the story. Branstrator Corporation of Fort Wayne has its website regarding patio rooms here.

Jim Kelley - a giant here; a giant in Moldova

Jim Kelley was a giant presence in Fort Wayne. He was also a giant in the struggling country of Moldova. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jim Kelley devoted his time, his talent and money to helping the people and the economy of Moldova.

It was just a few weeks ago I was talking with Mick Lomont of New Haven about his brother, Jim, who heads the Kelley Grains operations in Moldova.

The Journal-Gazette covered Jim Lomont in a story from 2003 when he had returned to Allen County for a few weeks. He had invited Kelley Grains employees, some Moldovan farmers and agricultural specialists to accompany him back to the United States to look at American agricultural practices and to purchase needed farm equipment.

Additional: Jim Kelley talks about Moldova, business success, and passion at Tri-State University in 2002.
1999 story regarding the Kelleys, Moldova, and the start of Kelley Racing.

MORE: Released October 17, 2005

U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar made the following statement on James E. Kelley, of Fort Wayne, who died Sunday at age 87:

“Jim Kelley embodied that special Hoosier spirit of entrepreneurial and civic leadership. During a long and successful career, and an equally fulfilling life, Jim never ceased to explore new and different opportunities to create jobs and better opportunities for people in Indiana, and throughout the world. Jim Kelley will be missed, but his life of risk-taking, friendship and helping others lives on as a roadmap for all of us who follow his dedication to the future.”

Contact: Andy Fisher (Office of Senator Lugar) 202-224-2079 andy_fisher@lugar.senate.gov

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Quick Hits

Emerald Ash Borer in Adams County - Embassy's Lori Lobsiger Praised - Nobel Economics Winner Suggests I.U's Elinor Ostrom Worthy of Nobel

First up -The Decatur Daily Democrat reports the State has confirmed the Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Adams County. Indiana may be losing the war against the tree destroyer. It was first found in Steuben County; the borer has also been confirmed in Hicksville Ohio. Although not found yet in Allen County the Adams County news is not good. The City of Fort Wayne has used Ash trees extensively for planting in park strips along streets.

Meanwhile, Michigan gets tough on the smuggling of firewood. A man was arrested trying to smuggle wood across the Mackinac bridge on Wednesday. Michigan DNR has plans for a UP infestation but they have lost over 15 million trees in lower Michigan already.

Second - Lori Lobsiger, Director of Fort Wayne's historic Embassy Theatre suddenly resigned this week. Bluffton News-Banner legend Jim Barbieri wrote a tribute to Ms. Lobisiger's work.

Finally - Indiana University Professor Elinor Ostrom was cited by 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics Vernon Smith as one of the persons deserving of possible Nobel recogition in the future for her "contributions to the study of behavior" and her "pioneering contributions to political economy." Smith, professor of economics and law at George Mason University, was writing for the editorial page of Saturday's Wall Street Journal . Smith wrote approvingly of the choice of 2005 winners Robert Aumann and Thomas Schelling for their work on game theory.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Well, Leo, What About JOAs?

T. Craig Ladwig, formerly an associate editor of the News-Sentinel and now of the Indiana Policy Review (IPR), has some interesting thoughts on the topic of newspaper JOAs over at the IPR website. You can access his writing here. Mr. Ladwig has been published on the topic of the effect of large chain ownership of newspapers on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

At the beginning of the month, I posted a piece on Indiana Parley titled "Museum on Main Street" that referenced an article by Denny Wilkens that appeared in Editor & Publisher. The article concerned Mr. Wilkens' views about the changes wrought by the publicly traded newspaper chains.

Several comments on the piece were posted. Leo Morris of the News-Sentinel asked:
Corporations try to balance making a profit that makes their shareholders happy and making a useful product that keeps their customers happy. Are you saying: 1)that no longer applies or, 2) the rules should be different for newspapers?
# posted by Leo Morris
My reply was:
I assume Leo is addressing me and not Mr. Wilkins. I'll respond by addressing the general Indiana Parley readership.
I don't believe corporations should try to BALANCE making a profit that makes their shareholders happy and making a useful product that keeps their customers happy.
It is an imperative that a corporation does both.
There is an implication in the phrasing of Leo's question that HE views the two things as mutually antagonistic.
As for the comment that the rules should be different for newspapers; my goodness, the rules ARE different NOW for newspapers.
To address Leo directly -
Your employer operates under a Joint Operating Agreement. That's a specific federal law to exempt newspapers which are organized following certain procedures from the regular federal anti-trust laws. I'm well aware that Fort Wayne Newspapers had one of the first JOA's in the country; it predated the arrival of Knight-Ridder by decades. So, it's not really a matter of publically-traded corporate ownership.
Leo, are you suggesting that the rules SHOULDN'T be different for newspapers?
Would you support Congressional repeal of the JOA Act?
# posted by Mitch Harper
Leo never replied to that question. So I'll ask again: Well, Leo, would you support Congressional repeal of the JOA Act?

Greensboro News-Record Editor Weighs In On The News-Sentinel

John Robinson References Indiana Parley
Says Transformation to Online Publication Would Be Bold and Exciting

What the Editor of the Greensboro(NC) News-Record wrote today on his blog:
Alum in the news

I haven't spoken with Linda Austin lately, but I should. She was the managing editor here from 1999-2002, and then she went to The News-Sentinel in Ft. Wayne, Ind., as executive editor. Now she's in the middle of a media/blogosphere dogpile.

The local business weekly there published a story saying "a plan has been discussed to turn the 172-year-old afternoon newspaper into a predominately online publication." Both Linda and her publisher denied such a plan exists.

Some bloggers weighed in, and today the editorial page editor strikes back on his blog.

We are having a series of meetings -- small groups, led by Executive Editor Linda Austin -- to talk about what the future might hold for us. The idea is to have lively discussions to get the best ideas from all staff members. What use will we make of the Internet? How can we make the best use of our information-gathering capabilities? How will we integrate the print product with all the other technologies we need to be experimenting with? What will that print product look like? These are the same kinds of conversations going on in newsrooms across the country.

Indeed. We've certainly been having them here.

I don't know anything more about it than I've read and cited here (thanks, Romenesko). But I know that Linda is sharp, thinks deeply about the future and isn't the least bit duplicitous. For the record, I hope there's some truth to it. Transforming an afternoon paper into a rich and dynamic online publication would be a bold and exciting opportunity for a newspaper company, if you ask me.

PR Week Lists Major Trends in News

Interesting analysis from PR WEEK.

Some key observations:

Media transparency
It is no secret that traditional media have suffered in credibility and reputation over the past few years. While promises by public editors and apologies by editors-in chief for publications' transgressions have become far too common, some outlets are now considering other ways to regain readers' trust.
Business woes for newspapers
With a host of circulation scandals, a series of layoffs at some of its largest companies, and indications that readership is down, the newspaper industry has seen better days. The New York Times Co. and Knight Ridder were the latest to announce layoffs, a significant amount of which will be in editorial operations.
Digitalization of print media
When The New York Times announced in August that it would merge the operations of its digital and print news, it signified the latest step in the evaporating line between print and online content. Trylon Communication's Trufelman says that such an evolution will likely impact newspapers the most.

"There will be more of an impact on newspapers in [the next] two to five years than has happened in the past 100," he says. "Online news is going to impact the traditional newspaper much quicker and faster."

While online content has served as an adjunct to print for many years now, Trufelman believes that in the future the inverse will be true.

Couple to Challenge Indiana's Hunter Harassment Law

Two Northwest Indiana residents who were convicted of violating Indiana's hunter harassment statute are appealing their convictions. Attorneys for the couple plan a challenge to the statute's constitutionality. This is apparently the first legal challenge to the law.

Bob Kasarda of The Northwest Indiana TIMES reports on the Beverly Shores (IN) couple.

Readers Become the Reporters

The Future is Now at The State in South Carolina

Former News-Sentinel Executive Editor Lou Heldman has been appointed as the publisher at Knight-Ridder's flagship in South Carolina. What he will find there when he takes over January 1st is TheColumbiaRecord.com - a site that bestows "Knighthood" on blogging readers. Readers aren't just readers; they are the reporters too. This from the press release of the company supplying the technology to Knight-Ridder.

Related: Heldman gets new post.
State Columnist C. Grant Jackson blogs about Heldman
State Columnist Brad Warthen blogs about Heldman

Ed. note: I was pleased to see that one of the "beKnighted" columnist/bloggers at TheColumbiaRecord.com is ultramarathon runner Ray Krolewicz. I've read Ray K's posting to a running ListServ for years. Ray also writes a column for The Running Journal, a sports publication which covers running in the South.

Newspapers - A 'Legacy' Business?

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the long - or short - horizon of the daily newspaper business in this recent report.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Knight Ridder Third Quarter Earnings Release on Friday

Third Quarter Earnings Expected to Show 20% Drop

Knight Ridder will be releasing its third quarter earnings report on Friday, October 14th. The company has told investors to expect a 20% earnings drop.

The company (traded under symbol KRI) will announce its third quarter financials in a conference call at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. The announcement will be available to the general public by telephone or by webcast.

LATEST RELATED FRIDAY: Financials released.
Revenue and Linage.

More On What May Be In Store at News-Sentinel

Knight-Ridder's Tony Ridder writes about new web initiatives and praises News-Sentinel Publisher Mary Jacobus in a recent letter to employees:
Something else that's gratifying - at least to me! - is the way a number of our newsrooms are reaching out to the Web to try new and interesting ways of delivering news and information digitally. In Kansas City, it's the use of video to break news online, pioneered by veteran Kansas City television reporter Mark Hellig, recently hired to teach our staff how to shoot and edit video for the Web site. Other examples? In San Jose, it's Jon Fortt's A+E Interactive (edgy combo of Web page and weekly arts-and-entertainment print section, designed for young audiences).
Targeted publications have become a buzzword in the industry because readers are voting with their eyeballs: They want all kinds of content. We're giving them what they want. Our Circulation, Content and Readership Task Force (CCRTF), led by Fort Wayne News-Sentinel Publisher Mary Jacobus and Kansas City Star Executive Editor Mark Zieman, and involving approximately 80 people, is well launched.

It has resulted in about a dozen projects including: segmentation and data mining, "totally relevant" content focus, new approaches to newspaper marketing shared content with focus on a shopping section (under discussion), a compact - a.k.a. tab - conversion and several others. Just listing them, however, hardly does justice to the work that has gone into the CCRTF. Each project begs careful analysis with regard to resources required and proper market fit. Dozens of people have spent hundreds of hours making those assessments. If there is a better way to manage circulation, the CCRTF will find it.

Full content of letter from Tony Ridder to employees here.

Allen County Council Member Running for Re-election

It was confirmed yesterday at the Allen County Republican Luncheon Club that incumbent Allen County Council member Calvert (Cal) S. Miller will seek re-election.

Miller represents the 4th District.

The End of the News-Sentinel As We Know It?

Derrick Gingery has a provocative article at the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. Gingery is reporting that the Executive Editor Linda Austin has talked to staffers about a plan to convert the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel to an online edition with occasional - meaning less than daily - special sections over the next two years.

Could it be that it won't just be Leo Morris blogging at what once had been Fort Wayne's largest daily circulation newspaper. Is the Kevin Leininger blog far behind?

Some observers had wondered whether the Knight-Ridder investment in the massive new printing plant for Fort Wayne newspapers wasn't part of a plan to get the property "detailed for retail." The speculation stemmed from the recent sale of the KRN-owned Detroit Free Press after completion of a new printing plant for that paper.

What Gingery doesn't cover - and probably won't - is some speculation around town that KPC Media Group, Inc., the parent company of the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, might someday launch a daily to serve Allen County.

Wall Street and Dan Quayle

Business Week has profiled former Vice-President Dan Quayle who is Chairman of Cerberus Global Investments, a part of Cerberus Capital Management.

Former Senator John Edwards, who unsuccessfully ran for the vice-presidency, will be following in the footsteps of the former Indiana Senator and 4th District Congressman.

Business Week also reports that Edwards is joining Fortress Investment Group.

The Emergency We Do Need To Prepare For

What would Columbia City, New Haven or Fort Wayne Do?
Lessons learned from 2004 rail disaster in South Carolina.

Last Sunday, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette asked local emergency officials what evacuation plans exist for Allen County. Good questions.

But the most likely disaster scenario for many communities in northeastern Indiana is a rail collision or derailment that causes a toxic chemical spill or a toxic chemical cloud. Norfolk Southern and CSX operate major rail lines through the area. Norfolk Southern has a major yard and offices in New Haven. There are numerous short line railroads.

Today's Virginian-Pilot has a story today by Georgina Stark that talks about the emergency response to last year's rail collision in Graniteville, South Carolina that left nine people dead and another 500 requiring medical care. There was a seminar held yesterday in Norfolk, Virginia that examined what happened, how the response occured, and what others should do who face similar circumstances in the future.

This was a Norfolk Southern rail accident. It was the second worst rail disaster in U.S. history. Presenters yesterday at the seminar included representives of the company. Perhaps this seminar ought to be repeated in Fort Wayne or New Haven or somewhere in northeast Indiana...soon.

Thom Berry of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control was one of the presenters. According to the story by Stark, he urged those at the seminar to “awfulize.”
“Imagine the most awful things that could happen, and know it can get worse.”
More: Listing of train derailments 2000-2005

More: TRIB cites Indiana Parley

Stainless Steel Imports to US Rise

Fort Wayne's Valbruna Stainless Steel One of the Affected Producers

The Specialty Steel Industry of North America released a study this week prepared by the Georgetown Economic Services. The study examined the amount of specialty steel imported to the United States.

Fort Wayne's Valbruna Stainless Steel, the successor to Slater Steel, is one of the American producers affected.

The study reported that
[i]mports of total stainless steel (comprising [all] product lines) YTD through July 2005 were 399,708 tons, a 13% increase; U.S. consumption was 1,361,595 tons, a 4% decrease; seven-month import penetration was 29%, a four percentage point increase.
The importation of stainless steel bar showed an increase of 72% although that was somewhat offset by an increase in United States consumption of 27%. Even so, import penetration in stainless steel bar is now over 50%. That represents a 13% increase over last year.

The press release from the Specialty Steel Industry of North America was released on Monday.

This strikes me as one of those stories affecting the Fort Wayne and Indiana economy that should be reported by the "regular news media." However, a Google news search indicates that no regular media outlet in Indiana has yet to cover this story of increasing import pressure. The last story done by Fort Wayne media was on September 21, 2005. That was a "soft" story carried by WPTA/WISE TV on September 21st and the Fort Wayne Newspapers on September 22nd regarding a sizeable donation by Valbruna to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

If someone can show me an earlier report by an Indiana news outlet other than this humble blog posting let our readers know.