Creative ideas for school newsletter titles

May 31, 2010

So many schools start school newsletters with the aim of covering the school activities. This way anyone who wants to stay updated on the school activities can do so by grabbing the newsletter. When starting a school newsletter, one needs to choose a title for it. There are several ways to come up with creative ideas for school newsletter titles. You can search the Web to get some cute school newsletter heading ideas. Equally, you may collect a group of student and do some collective brainstorming. Either way you can end up with some great ideas to use for your school newsletter title or heading.

Hello world!

March 27, 2009

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Detroit Papers Face Three Tests with Delivery Cuts, Digital Editions

March 15, 2009
On Monday, all eyes in the journalism world shift to Detroit, where the Free Press and The News will cut home delivery to just Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Free Press publisher Dave Hunke, who also heads the JOA with The News, says he’ll measure success three ways:

  • Replacing steep losses with positive cash flow
  • Converting customer disruption to customer satisfaction
  • Discovering a digital platform that that attracts the paid loyalty of a mass market

“If we do all of that stuff,” Hunke said in a telephone interview Wednesday, “then I am going to be a very happy person.”

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As radical as the cutbacks sounded when Hunke announced them Dec. 16, several more dramatic developments have hit the newspaper business in the three months since. They include the death of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, the conversion of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to online-only and this week’s announcement that The Ann Arbor News will dissolve its current operations in favor of a new AnnArbor.com this summer.

But the Detroit moves are still critical because they represent the sort of hybrid approach that more and more news organizations are considering. And no one has done it before.

“We’re doing some things in Detroit that are going to be stunning,” Hunke said, “and we know we’re going to be watched.”

I confess to more than professional interest in what happens. I worked for the Free Press for nearly 20 years until 1992, and a relative has spoken out about his dismay about the delivery cutbacks.

Key to the plan’s success, Hunke suggested on the Lehrer News Hour last week, will be shifting the Detroit story from cutbacks in print delivery to the exploration of new ways of putting journalism in front of readers.

“You can’t negatively market your way into anything,” he said. “But by mere fact of some scarcity and I guess you could call it deprivation, “We think there is a hybrid business solution to this.”
– Detroit Media Partnership CEO Dave Hunke
I think we’re going to find out a lot very quickly about the mass market’s adaptability to digital delivery of edited, written — meaning with a beginning and end — news content.

“And our goal is very much to stay in the newspaper business. We think there is a hybrid business solution to this. I think the public will begin giving us feedback about information they’re willing to pay for and how might we deliver it to them.”

Beginning March 30, the newspapers will print smaller editions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and will distribute only to 18,000 vendors and newspaper boxes — no home subscribers. The idea is to cut costs on those days and to maximize revenue on the days most popular with advertisers and readers: Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

On non-home-delivery days, the papers plan to print about 200,000 copies, down from the current press run of nearly 500,000. He said he’s not sure how The News and Free Press will divide the press run. Currently, the Free Press accounts for about 60 percent of daily sales, but he said the new arrangement will mean that “the best newspaper will win every day.”

Hunke said he has become such a believer in the hybrid delivery plan that he wishes he “would have done it a year ago.” He said the plan required extraordinary collaboration among the organization’s 2,000 employees: “Barriers in this place have never been down as much as they are now. And it’s paid off.”

As part of an arrangement with the Teamsters union, the papers have agreed they will no longer be involved in the business of distribution on those days. But Hunke added: “I’m not naive. I could easily see somebody buying 10 papers at a gas station — or more — and distributing them to their neighbors.”

Hunke has told colleagues that The News and the Free Press must achieve positive cash flow by the end of 2009.

“I’m going to begin to eliminate news print, gasoline, manufacturing and infrastructure costs, and we are going to preserve our news, our marketing, our finance functions.”
-Detroit Media Partnership CEO Dave Hunke
“If we are not a viable business, carrying our own weight, we will have proved nothing,” Hunke said Wednesday. “It might have been better to have risked nothing and hide behind Michigan’s economy.”

Hunke said advertising is sold out for the first two weeks of the scaled-back editions, which will include 32 pages in a single section for the Free Press. The News plans a two-section paper.

The papers have committed to a 50-50 split of news and advertising on the non-delivery days, compared to a share that now approaches 60 percent advertising. That, along with fewer pages and cheaper ad rates, may yield the kind of scarcity the papers hope will intensify demand among advertisers.

Sounding a bit like public official seeking sacrifice in hard times, he suggested that achieving customer satisfaction will require readers to accept a “shared burden” of getting the news delivered. He added: “We are going to disrupt one of the most traditional, good-morning parts of anybody’s life and I need readers to tell me, ‘You know, in the end, this works for me.'”

The public is beginning to understand, that “traditional newspapers may be in very serious trouble,” he said. “People are far more ready to talk about different and more flexible and exciting forms of delivery of our content.”

Since announcing the plans, the paper has heard from more than 30,000 readers, most of them by phone, according to Hunke.

“In the very beginning it was a mix of anger, sadness — then it began to move quickly to, ‘What about my bill?'” and other logistics questions, he said.

The most popular delivery option has been the $12-per-month combo that provides Thursday, Friday and Sunday delivery and access to a special digital edition (separate from the papers’ Web sites) all seven days.

Many staffers argued that the papers have an obligation to serve longtime readers who are not comfortable with digital delivery. As a result, 200 senior centers were added to the list of drop-off spots on non-delivery days.

He said he was surprised that about 6,000 people have opted for a $31.13-per-month deal that involves postal delivery four days a week. He doubts the long-term viability of such delivery, guessing that it might involve a lot of “adult children buying subscriptions for elderly parents.”

Hunke described the third test facing his plan as the “need to see some very concrete evidence that a mass market … begins to show tremendous appetite to transact news and information in some form of digital platform. And I mean different from our Web sites that are free.”

He acknowledged that the four-day switch from print to digital delivery is a long way from achieving wholesale acceptance, with about 20,000 subscribers opting out of getting the digital edition so far.

Hunke said he will make a major announcement Monday about the paper’s new e-reader, an 8 1/2-by-11-inch device produced by Plastic Logic. He estimated the papers have about 100 of the e-readers but added, “we haven’t decided how we’re going to roll this out.” A blog item posted Monday to a New Jersey newspaper’s site includes photos of the device and a YouTube video describing its use.

Readers who do manage to track down a print edition on Monday will discover a significantly redesigned newspaper. Among other things, the reduced news hole has prompted a “no-jumps” rule for the Free Press — not only on non-delivery days but throughout the week.

“The Free Press has viewed itself as a writers’ newspaper,” he said, “but if you sit in front of any group of readers you’re going to hear them say you’ve simply got to get me to the point as fast as you can.” He said he expects the newsroom will figure a way to “fudge” the rule one way or another as needed.

The Free Press has won several awards for its investigation of recently-released-from-jail former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and Hunke insisted investigative coverage would not suffer. “We will find a way to fit it into these formats.”

Acknowledging that no one knows how the Detroit experiment will turn out and that other newspapers are trying other approaches. “I see Atlanta today announced massive layoffs as a way of climbing that mountain. My speech has been I’m going to begin to eliminate newsprint, gasoline, manufacturing and infrastructure costs, and we are going to preserve our news, our marketing, our finance functions.

“We will sell our way out of this, but our principles of maintaining our journalism and our ability to produce intensely local content is going to be what we are fighting for. And I’ll see whether that becomes a good business model shortly.”

Page One Today / The New Christian Science Monitor

February 23, 2009

<i>The Christian Science Monitor</i>, March 27, 2009
The Christian Science Monitor
March 27, 2009, Newseum Image


March 27, 2009: Two messages from Page One of the last daily print edition of The Christian Science Monitor:

The New Monitor

This issue of The Christian Science Monitor represents a significant moment in our 100-year history. As of today, the daily Monitor makes its transition from print to online. Follow us 24/7 at CSMonitor.com and subscribe to our new print weekly. The Monitor move, which was announced last fall, is being watched by other news organizations, many of which are weighing changes of their own.

Editor’s Message
John Yemma explains how our new formats — Web, weekly print, e-mail — will make Monitor journalism more relevant.
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<i>News & Observer</i>, March 26, 2009
News & Observer, March 26, 2009
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March 26, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Raleigh News & Observer:

Franklin was a creator of black history

By JANE STANCILL

John Hope Franklin crafted the foundation of African-American history. He lived it, too.

Franklin, 94, who died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at Duke Hospital, was one of the 20th century’s most influential historians and found himself at the forefront of some of the nation’s key civil-rights struggles.

His book “From Slavery to Freedom,” first published in 1947, was a seminal work and has sold 3.5 million copies. Over a lifetime of scholarship, the professor helped ensure that no American history book could be complete without the story of African-Americans, and that America could not be whole until it confronted its past of slavery and segregation.

Franklin helped NAACP lawyers with research for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case in 1953. He joined historians who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery in 1965. And five decades after his masterpiece was published, Franklin was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 to lead a national initiative on race.
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<i>American News</i>, March 25, 2009
American News, March 25, 2009
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March 25, 2009: An online story from the Aberdeen, South Dakota newspaper, the American News :

Westport: Officials calling for voluntary evacuation

By EMILY ARTHUR-RICHARDT

Brown County emergency management officials are calling for a voluntary evacuation of the town of Westport.

Water levels continue to rise at the Elm River, said Scott Meints, Brown County emergency management director.

Sandbagging isn’t helping, he said.

The Red Cross is helping anyone who needs a place to stay, Meints said.

Check back online for more updates throughout the day.
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<i>The Baltimore Sun</i>, March 24, 2009
The Baltimore Sun, March 24, 2009
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March 24, 2009: An excerpt from a story on The Baltimore Sun Web site:

Analysis: Geithner scores points, faces more risks

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The White House says it does not live or die by the ups and downs of the stock market. But others do. And on Monday, that was good for Timothy Geithner.

With credit markets frozen, a public in high dudgeon and a Congress on a populist crusade, President Barack Obama’s Treasury secretary needed a bit of an uptick. He got it Monday when the Dow Jones industrial average shot up nearly 500 points after he unveiled his private-public partnership to help relieve banks of the toxic assets that have plunged the financial system into its crisis.

But Geithner still has lots to prove — to financial markets, to Congress and to Americans seething over executive bonuses and diminished 401k retirement accounts.
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<i>Billings Gazette</i>, Mar. 23, 2009
Billings Gazette, Mar. 23, 2009
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March 23, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Billings Gazette:

14 to 17 killed in Butte plane crash
Children on ski trip believed to be aboard

By The Associated Press

BUTTE — A small plane – possibly carrying children on a ski trip – crashed Sunday as it approached the Butte airport, killing 14 to 17 people aboard, a federal official said. The single engine turboprop nose-dived into a cemetery 500 feet from its destination.

The aircraft crashed and burned while attempting to land, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike Fergus. The plane crashed in Holy Cross Cemetery.

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board offered few details at a press conference in Butte Sunday night. No cause of the crash was given.
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<i>The San Diego Union-Tribune</i>, March 19, 2009
The San Diego Union-Tribune,
March 19, 2009, Newseum Image


March 19, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The San Diego Union-Tribune:

Union-Tribune sold to Platinum Equity

By THOMAS KUPPER

SAN DIEGO — The parent company of The San Diego Union-Tribune announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement to sell the newspaper to a Beverly Hills investment firm for an undisclosed price.

The buyer, Platinum Equity, specializes in acquiring businesses in difficult circumstances and turning them around. Since its founding in 1995, the firm has completed more than 100 acquisitions in a range of industries.

Louis Samson, the Platinum Equity principal leading the Union-Tribune acquisition, called the newspaper “a good fit.”

“We have a long history of creating value by helping established companies navigate difficult market transitions,” Samson said in a written statement. “The Union-Tribune is more than a business. It’s an institution in San Diego.”

La Jolla-based The Copley Press Inc. had been seeking a buyer since July, when it hired investment bankers to explore “strategic options” amid a nationwide decline in newspaper advertising and circulation.
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<i>Seattle Post-Intelligencer</i>, Mar. 17, 2009
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mar. 17, 2009


March 17, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the final print edition of the Seattle P-I:

The pioneering P-I slips into the past
Over 146 years, we grew up with Seattle

By CAROL SMITH

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the region’s pioneer newspaper and the city’s oldest continually operating business, a newspaper that both shaped and was shaped by the community it covered, prints its last edition Tuesday — nearly a century and a half after its forebear first rolled off a hand-cranked Ramage press promising to be “the best and cheapest promulgator of all sorts of useful information.”

The print P-I was irreverent and unpredictable, a long-shot survivor from the start. It persisted through 11 moves, and more than 17 owners. It didn’t miss an edition when its building burned to the ground along with its press in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. It outlived some 20 scrappy competitors before the turn of the 20th century, an era described by Clarence Bagley, one of its 19th century owners, as a time when newspapers “lived hard and died easy.”

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Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Front Pages Through History

(from SND, Flickr)

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….The P-I has been a common denominator not just in our lives, but in hundreds of thousands of others for more than a century.

Print is what we posted on refrigerator doors, and hung on walls — tangible documents of our rites and passages, of what entertains, informs or outrages us. Clippings of births and deaths — and the deeds and misdeeds in between — fill thousands of family scrapbooks.

Now, like Polaroids and slide projectors, Kodachrome and coin phones, we slip into that foggy part of memory reserved for things whose absence we haven’t really registered yet.

The print newspaper is going away and with it, its varied afterlife. You can’t sop up your basement with your computer, or wrap a fish. And what is the paper mache — that miracle sculpting media that must have launched a million budding elementary school artists — without newspaper?

Beyond the actual, physical newspaper, however is the newspaper as an institution, or more precisely, as the people who put it out. This newspaper was still the place many people contacted when they didn’t know where else to call — to right a wrong, to find a phone number, to get someone to listen to their stories.

We know because we picked up the phone.

And when our lives changed overnight — when President Kennedy was slain, or the Twin Towers fell, or President Obama was elected — it was the next day’s newspaper that people thought of saving.
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<i>The Telegraph</i>, March 16, 2009
The Telegraph, March 16, 2009
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March 16, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Calcutta, India newspaper, The Telegraph:

Rebellion rattles Zardari

By NASIR JAFFRY and Agencies

The Pakistan government is said to be preparing to reinstate former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the main demand of Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif who is leading rebellious caravans of supporters towards Islamabad.

“Revolution” on lips, Sharif today smashed through barbed barricades in his home and headed to Islamabad on a so-called “Long March”, the complexion of the protest changing with many law-enforcement officials inexplicably disappearing from the streets of Lahore.

Two hours past midnight, Geo TV reported that Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who had a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Parvez Kayani, would address the country “in a little while”.

The channel quoted sources as saying Gilani would announce the reinstatement of Chaudhry, who was sacked as chief justice by Pervez Musharraf.
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<i>Newsday</i>, March 12, 2009
Newsday, March 12, 2009
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March 12, 2009: An excerpt from a story in Newsday:

Bernard Madoff pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme

By JAMES BERNSTEIN and ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO

It’s official. Bernard Madoff is guilty of pulling off the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history.

Madoff stood up at the defense table in the U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan and answered a series of questions put to him by the judge in the case before entering a plea of guilty to all 11 fraud charges against him.

Madoff’s voice was so low that District Judge Denny Chen interrupted.

“Try to keep your voice up so I can hear you,” Chen said.

Madoff then coughed slightly.

“Are you feeling all right under the circumstances?” Chen asked.

“Yes I am,” Madoff said.

Chen then proceeded to ask Madoff if he understood that he was waiving his right to a trial in taking the guilty plea.
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<i>Dothan Eagle</i>, March 11, 2009
Dothan Eagle, March 11, 2009
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March 11, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Alabama newspaper, the Dothan Eagle:

Spree began in Kinston, officials say

By JIM COOK

The gunman, identified by eyewitnesses and a former high school classmate as Michael McLendon, 27, began his mad, violent rampage in Kinston, where one victim was found dead in a burned house, according to authorities.

McLendon then went to Samson where he rampaged through a neighborhood.

Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers said the gunman’s mother was found dead inside her burning house in Kinston, according to the Associated Press.

He then went to Samson where he shot and killed five people — four adults and a child — in one home. Then he killed one person each in two other homes. The identities of all the victims were unknown, but Preachers said they included other members of the shooter’s family.
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<i>National Post</i>, March 10, 2009
National Post, March 10, 2009
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March 10, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Toronto, Canada newspaper, the National Post:

William Shakespeare, age 46 (we’re 90% sure of it, anyway)

By BRAD FRENETTE

Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters.
� from Macbeth by William Shakespeare

After years of scientific analysis and infrared, experts have agreed that the painting below is likely the only surviving portrait of one Mr. William Shakespeare. Of it, Professor Stanley Wells, chair of the Shakespeare Birth Trust remarked: “My first impression was scepticism – I am a scholar. But my excitement has grown with the amount of evidence about the painting. I am willing to go 90 per cent of the way to declaring my confirmation that this is the only life time portrait of Shakespeare. It marks a major development in the history of Shakespearian portraiture.”
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<i>Irish Examiner</i>, March 9, 2009
Irish Examiner, March 9, 2009
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March 9, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Cork, Ireland newspaper, the Irish Examiner:

Real IRA attack was an attempt at ‘mass murder’

By PAUL O’BRIEN, DERIC HENDERSON and DAVID YOUNG

The attack on an army base in Co Antrim in which two British soldiers were shot dead was an attempt at “mass murder” by the dissident republican group, the Real IRA, police in the North said last night.

In a call to the Sunday Tribune newspaper, the organisation, which killed 29 people in the Omagh bomb massacre in August 1998, claimed responsibility for the gun attack on Saturday night at the Massereene Barracks in Antrim.

The attack left two other soldiers badly wounded, and two delivery men were also hit, one critically.
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<i>Bozeman Daily Chronicle</i>, March 6, 2009
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, March 6, 2009
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March 6, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Montana newspaper, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

Blast zone

By JODI HAUSEN

One woman is missing after a natural-gas explosion on East Main Street shook downtown Bozeman Thursday morning, leaving several historic buildings demolished.

No other casualties or injuries were reported, although local historians said the destruction was the largest from a single incident in Bozeman in a century.

The explosion was still under investigation late Thursday, and authorities speculated it would be days before they would be able to pinpoint a cause.

“My heart goes out to the missing person and their family,” Bozeman Mayor Kaaren Jacobson said Thursday night. “We need to divert our thoughts and prayers toward them and also to the property owners who have suffered a tremendous loss today.”
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<i>The Beijing News</i>, March 5, 2009
The Beijing News, March 5, 2009
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March 5, 2009: Page One from the Chinese newspaper, The Beijing News

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<i>St. Petersburg Times</i>, March 3, 2009
St. Petersburg Times, March 3, 2009
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March 3, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the St. Petersburg Times:

As three friends slipped away, Nick Schuyler clung to an overturned boat in the Gulf of Mexico

By LANE DeGREGORY

They were anchored about 38 miles offshore Saturday afternoon when high waves flipped their small boat.

The four football players, who had been fishing for amberjack, were thrown into the frothy Gulf of Mexico. Frigid, 6-foot seas crashed over their heads.

Struggling in their life jackets, they somehow managed to make it back to the boat. But the 21-foot Everglades fishing craft was upside-down. And though the men were in their 20s and strong — two played for the NFL and the others had played for USF — they couldn’t right the boat.

So the four friends clung to the slick, white hull.
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<i>The Tampa Tribune</i>, March 3, 2009
The Tampa Tribune, March 3, 2009
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March 3, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Tampa Tribune:

1 Boater Rescued, 3 Still Missing

By NEIL JOHNSON, STEPHEN THOMPSON and KEITH MORELLI

TAMPA — The odds were low, almost nonexistent, and Marcia Schuyler knew it. Her son had been missing for two days in the open Gulf, and though the Coast Guard was continuing its search, his chance of survival dropped with the passing of each chilly, windy hour.

Finally, a phone call. The Coast Guard had found her son sitting on the hull of the upside-down boat about 40 miles southwest of Clearwater. He was dehydrated, scraped and bruised and his body temperature was dangerously low, but he was alive.

“I passed out,” she said. “I went down.”

Nick Schuyler, a former University of South Florida football player, was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was admitted about 1:15 p.m. in serious but stable condition, more than 48 hours after he and three friends went out on what was supposed to be a fun fishing trip.
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<i>Newsday</i>, March 2, 2009
Newsday, March 2, 2009
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March 2, 2009: An excerpt from a story in Newsday:

Rare snow covers South

By the Associated Press

A potent March snowstorm blanketed much of the Southeast with snow Sunday before barreling toward the Northeast, where officials prepared snowplows and road-salt for a wintery assault.

The icy blast threatened to drop up to a foot of snow in the Philadelphia area, 13 inches in New York and 15 inches across southern New England late Sunday.
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Rocky Mountain News
Rocky Mountain News


February 27, 2009: Page One from the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News:

FINAL EDITION
Goodbye, Colorado

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to you today. Our time chronicling the life of Denver and Colorado, the nation and the world, is over. Thousands of men and women have worked at this newspaper since William Byers produced its first edition on the banks of Cherry Creek on April 23, 1859. We speak, we believe, for all of them, when we say that it has been an honor to serve you. To have reached this day, the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News, just 55 days shy of its 150th birthday is painful. We will scatter. And all that will be left are the stories we have told, captured on microfilm or in digital archives, devices unimaginable in those first days. But what was present in the paper then and has remained to this day is a belief in this community and the people who make it what it has become and what it will be. We part in sorrow because we know so much lies ahead that will be worth telling, and we will not be there to do so. We have celebrated life in Colorado, praising its ways, but we have warned, too, against steps we thought were mistaken. We have always been a part of this special place, striving to reflect it accurately and with compassion. We hope Coloradans will remember this newspaper fondly from generation to generation, a reminder of Denver’s history — the ambitions, foibles and virtues of its settlers and those who followed. We are confident that you will build on their dreams and find new ways to tell your story. Farewell — and thank you for so many memorable years together.

(See Also:  Page One Today / Final Edition: Rocky Mountain News)

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<i>The Washington Post</i>, Feb. 25, 2009
The Washington Post, Feb. 25, 2009
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February 25, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Washington Post:

‘Day of Reckoning’

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and ANNE E. KORNBLUT

President Obama offered a grim portrait of America’s plight in an address to a joint session of Congress last night, but he promised to lead an economic renewal that would lift the country out of its current crisis without bankrupting its future.

Striking an optimistic tone that has been absent from his speeches in recent weeks, the president said his stimulus plan, bank bailout proposal, housing programs and health-care overhaul would work in concert to turn around the nation’s struggling economy. And while he bluntly described a country beset by historic economic challenges and continued threats abroad, he said the solution lies in directly confronting — not ignoring — those problems.
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<i>Hospodarske Noviny</i>, Feb. 24, 2009
Hospodarske Noviny, Feb. 24, 2009
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February 24, 2009
Page One from the Czech Republic newspaper, Hospodarske Noviny

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<i>Los Angeles Times</i>, Feb. 23, 2009
Los Angeles Times, Feb. 23, 2009
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February 23, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Los Angeles Times:

‘Slumdog’ strikes it rich with 8 Oscar wins

By JOHN HORN

“Slumdog Millionaire” — a love story that combines artistic ambition with broad commercial appeal — won a leading eight Oscars on Sunday night, including the best picture trophy.

While the film’s triumphs at the 81st annual Academy Awards marked an amazing outcome for a movie filled with subtitles, scenes of torture and a Bollywood dance sequence, the wins also cemented the reputation of distributor Fox Searchlight, which has become Hollywood’s top advocate of the kind of daring works that movie studios have all but abandoned.
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<i>Ottawa Citizen</i>, Feb. 20, 2009
Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 20, 2009
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February 20, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Ottawa Citizen:

Obama, Harper talk war and trade in friendly visit

By MIKE BLANCHFIELD

OTTAWA — As they affirmed a friendship steeped in history, Barack Obama and Stephen Harper presented a sweeping agenda to tackle climate change, right the world economy and fight shoulder to shoulder — at least until 2011 — in Afghanistan.

“I love this country,” the U.S. president said on his first foreign trip, and thousands of onlookers who tried to catch a glimpse of him returned the adoration.

Harper also briefly surfed the wave of emotion as the prime minister gave an impassioned defence of Canada’s long, undefended border with the U.S. — a message aimed squarely at those Americans who still think Canadians are soft on security.
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<i>The Arizona Republic</i>, Feb. 19, 2009
The Arizona Republic, Feb. 19, 2009
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February 19, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Arizona Republic:

Obama unveils housing plan in Mesa

By DAN NOWICKI

President Barack Obama delivered hope Wednesday to millions of uneasy homeowners in Arizona and around the country by promising relief from paralyzing mortgages, looming foreclosures and freefalling property values.

Obama hopes to instill confidence in economically anxious Americans under a sweeping $75 billion plan that would let those struggling with monthly mortgage payments refinance at lower rates and help keep folks who lose their jobs from losing their homes, too. The plan would help up to 9 million homeowners nationwide.

“This plan will not save every home, but it will give millions of families resigned to financial ruin a chance to rebuild,” Obama told the more than 1,000 people crowded into Dobson High School’s gymnasium in Mesa.
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<i>The Denver Post</i>, Feb. 18, 2009
The Denver Post, Feb. 18, 2009
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February 18, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Denver Post:

Obama signs stimulus bill
Denver ceremony sets in motion $787 billion in stimulus aid for Americans

By KAREN E. CRUMMY and ALLISON SHERRY

President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday a $787 billion economic stimulus package, a historic, multifaceted rescue plan aimed at creating millions of jobs, sparking consumer spending and stopping the country from sliding into what he has called an economic “catastrophe.”

Characterizing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the “most sweeping economic recovery package in our history,” Obama said the bill’s mix of tax cuts, infrastructure projects, energy and education investments, and aid to the unemployed and poor would create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, including roughly 60,000 in Colorado.

“We have begun the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time,” Obama said just before signing the bill at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in front of about 250 people.
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<i>Times-News</i>, Feb. 16, 2009
Times-News, Feb. 16, 2009
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February 16, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Twin Falls, Idaho newspaper, the Times-News:

One fades to black
KMVT, sole M.V. station, to stop analog broadcasts this week

By NATE POPPINO

The federal government has delayed the date that broadcast television stations switch from analog to digital broadcasting from Tuesday to June 12. But Twin Falls’ CBS affiliate, KMVT-TV, plans to shut off its analog signal anyway.

That means that anyone relying on over-the-air antennas to receive the station needs to have a digital converter box or a digital-ready TV after about 1 a.m. Tuesday or they won’t pick up the signal. The station already broadcasts in digital, and is holding to the original analog deadline because of aging equipment and the fact that most people expected the change this week, station manager Lee Wagner said.

“We have had a few (viewers) upset because they’re not ready yet or haven’t gotten ready. That’s to be expected,” Wagner said on Friday. “I don’t think it’d be any different in June.”

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<i>The State Journal Register</i>, Feb. 12, 2009
The State Journal Register
Feb. 12, 2009, Newseum Image


February 12, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Springfield, Illinois newspaper, The State Journal Register:

Obama’s words suggest he’s thought a lot about Lincoln

By Staff Report
(GateHouse News Service)

“I’m left then with Lincoln, who like no man before or since understood both the deliberative function of our democracy and the limits of such deliberation.” Barack Obama, in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope

Much already has been said and written about President Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln.

It’s not all Obama’s fault. Being the first black president made the discussion inevitable. But it is also one Obama has more than encouraged.

Two major campaign events at the site of Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech. Being sworn in as president with his hand on Lincoln’s Bible. The inaugural train ride. The “New Birth of Freedom” inaugural theme, a phrase straight from the Gettysburg Address.
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<i>Maariv</i>, Feb. 11, 2009
Maariv, Feb. 11, 2009
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February 11, 2009: The Tel-Aviv newspaper, Maariv, reports on Israel’s election gridlock. Here is an excerpt from a story on the BBC News Web site:

Israel’s horse-trading begins

By PAUL WOOD

At both the Kadima and Likud election centres, the party workers had the same chant: “Here comes the next prime minister.”

The Israeli electoral system has thrown up a most confusing “split” result.

Centre-left Kadima is projected to be in first place but the right-wing parties together get the biggest bloc of seats in the Knesset.

Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu may both end up inviting each other to join governments they would respectively head. It would be comic if it were not so serious.
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<i>Newsday</i>, Feb. 10, 2009
Newsday, Feb. 10, 2009
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February 10, 2009: An excerpt from a story in Newsday:

A-Rod admits using steroids

By KEN DAVIDOFF

He came off as partly combative, partly confused and partly contrite. But the style didn’t matter Monday for Alex Rodriguez anywhere as much as the substance.

A-Rod, regarded as one of the best players in baseball history, is now on record that he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

In an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons, the Yankees’ third baseman essentially confirmed Saturday’s SI.com story that he tested positive for two illegal PEDs in 2003. Rodriguez indicated that he used illegal PEDs during the entirety of his time with the Texas Rangers, from 2001 through 2003 – and not before, 1995-2000 with the Seattle Mariners, and not since, from 2004 through now, with the Yankees.

(See also:
Page One Today /  Mitchell Report on Steroids
Dec. 14, 2007)

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<i>The Border Mail</i>, Feb. 9, 2009
The Border Mail, Feb. 9, 2009
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February 9, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Albury-Wodonga, Australia newspaper, The Border Mail:

Roar of wall of flames

By BRAD WORRALL

Survivors of the fatal firestorm that ripped through Barwidgee on Saturday night, yesterday fought back tears as news two of their neighbours had been killed defending their home, spread through the community.

Many of the residents of the small district on the outskirts of Myrtleford had stayed to defend their homes, as they did in the 2003 and 2006 fires.

None knew of the fury that was about to be unleashed on them.
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<i>News Sentinel</i>, Feb. 6, 2009
News Sentinel, Feb. 6, 2009
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February 6, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Knoxville, Tennessee newspaper, the News Sentinel:

Adams: Contract adds to new riches for Summitt

By JOHN ADAMS

The game ended, and the show began at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday night.

First came the photographers, who raced across the floor so fast you might have wondered if they had been tipped that Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt was planning a sudden getaway after winning her 1,000th game. Then came the confetti.

Up next: dignitaries bearing gifts.
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<i>American News</i>, Feb. 4, 2009
American News, Feb. 4, 2009
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February 4, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Aberdeen, South Dakota newspaper, the American News:

Daschle withdraws name from health post consideration

By the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Faced with problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest, Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary.

“Now we must move forward,” Obama said in a written statement accepting Daschle’s request to be taken out of consideration. A day earlier, Obama had said he “absolutely” stood by Daschle.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader and an Aberdeen native, said he would have not been able to operate “with the full faith of Congress and the American people.”

“I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction” to Obama’s agenda, he said.

His stunning statement came less than three hours after another Obama nominee also withdrew from consideration, and also over tax problems. Nancy Killefer, nominated by Obama to be the government’s first chief performance officer, said she didn’t want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to be a distraction.
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<i>The Times</i>, Feb. 3, 2009
The Times, Feb. 3, 2009
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February 3, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the London, England newspaper, The Times:

Britain to stay in grip of cold snap after heaviest snow storm for 18 years

By DAVID BROWN and JENNY BOOTH

Britain faces a week of paralysis as the heaviest snowfalls for at least 18 years led to the closure of 2,800 schools, chaos on the roads and the widespread cancellation of bus and train services.

Forecasters warned that the Arctic blizzards would return to the South tomorrow, with sleet and patches of snow continuing until at least the end of the week.

Temperatures were predicted to fall below freezing overnight, meaning conditions could become even more treacherous as the slush turns to ice.
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<i>Pittsburgh Post-Gazette</i>, Feb. 2, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 2, 2009
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February 2, 2009:
An excerpt from a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

They’re the Lords of the Rings

By ROBERT DVORCHAK

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s one for the other thumb.

Santonio Holmes made an acrobatic touchdown catch with 35 seconds remaining in a heart-stopping comeback, allowing the Steelers to become the first team to win six Super Bowls. It earned Holmes a ring and the trophy as the game’s MVP.

“It’s going down in history,” Holmes said after his catch gave the Steelers a dramatic 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. “All I did was extend my arms and use my toes.”
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<i>Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</i>, Feb. 2, 2009
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Feb. 2, 2009
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February 2, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

MVP Holmes comes up big on final drive

By KEVIN GORMAN

TAMPA — Santonio Holmes was surrounded by red jerseys, trapped in the back right corner of the end zone with only enough room to stand on his tiptoes and stretch out his arms.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s pass was thrown to a spot where only Holmes could catch it. And the third-year receiver did just that, making a grab that stood up to video review and clinched the Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl win.

“My feet never left the ground,” Holmes said. “All I did was extend my arms and use my toes as an extra extension to catch up to the ball.”

Holmes’ 6-yard score with 35 seconds left in the game earned him Most Valuable Player honors and lifted the Steelers to a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals Sunday night in Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium.
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<i>The Arizona Republic</i>, Feb. 2, 2009
The Arizona Republic, Feb. 2, 2009
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February 2, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Arizona Republic:

Cards fall just short in Super Bowl

By KENT SOMERS

The ball hung in the air for what seemed like 61 years, spinning with the potential to break the Cardinals’ hearts immediately and haunt their dreams forever.

And that’s exactly what it did. The pass landed in the hands of Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes for a 6-yard touchdown with 35 seconds left, giving the Steelers a 27-23 victory in Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

The Cardinals, who haven’t won an NFL title since 1947, were within a fingertip, a couple of toes and a few seconds of pulling off what seemed inconceivable a month ago when they entered the playoffs.

The improbability of their postseason run makes losing no easier to take.

“It was like getting a chair pulled out from under you,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “It just hurts to be able to get so close and fall short of your ultimate goal.”
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<i>Chicago Tribune</i>, Jan. 30, 2009
Chicago Tribune, Jan. 30, 2009
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January 30, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Chicago Tribune:

Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office

By RAY LONG and RICK PEARSON

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Sweeping aside six years of scandal and crippling political infighting with a historic impeachment vote, the state Senate on Thursday ousted one governor for abusing his power and anointed another who built his political career around having no power at all.

Senators voted 59-0 to remove Rod Blagojevich, who walked out of the silent chamber after delivering an impassioned plea for mercy. Within hours they applauded his former running mate and lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn, who was sworn in as the state’s 41st governor vowing a new course for Illinois.

“The ordeal is over,” said Quinn, long viewed as an unwelcomed outsider by the state’s political establishment. “In this moment, our hearts are hurt. And it’s very important to know that we have a duty, a mission to restore the faith of the people of Illinois in the integrity of their government.”

He replaced a defiant Blagojevich, 52, the first Democratic governor in a quarter century and the first governor in Illinois history to be impeached. After racing back to his Chicago home before the vote could deprive him of a ride home on the state plane, Blagojevich once again said he was the victim of a rush to judgment.
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<i>The Philadelphia Inquirer</i>, Jan. 28, 2009
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 28, 2009
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January 28, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

John Updike, Pa. son, literary giant, dies at 76

By CARLIN ROMANO

John Updike, 76, the bookish, prolific, Berks County-born novelist, poet and critic whose extraordinary and exquisite six-decade body of work made him Pennsylvania’s greatest contributor to contemporary American and world literature, died yesterday of lung cancer.

He died in a hospice outside Boston. He had lived for many years in Beverly Farms, Mass.

Like Joyce Carol Oates, Mr. Updike enjoyed a reputation for prolific creativity across almost every genre known to literature. Like an American Flaubert, he astonished the literary world with the pointillist precision of his sentences, the pleasing, surprising lilts and twists of his lyrical diction.
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<i>The News & Observer</i>, Jan. 27, 2009
The News & Observer, Jan. 27, 2009
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January 27, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Raleigh News & Observer:

Employers slash deep and fast
‘Severe measures’ taken as economy deteriorates

By JACK HEALY (The New York Times)

Employers have tried to nip and tuck their labor costs by reducing overtime, shortening the workweek and freezing wages, but now, they are reaching for the saw.

On Monday alone, companies across the employment spectrum announced at least 62,000 job cuts around the world, including 47,000 in the United States, a stark sign that the economy continues to deteriorate.

Monday’s toll included 5,000 new cuts at Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining machinery; 8,000 jobs at the wireless provider Sprint Nextel; 7,000 workers at Home Depot, and 8,000 from drugmaker Pfizer.
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<i>The Southtown Star</i>, Jan. 26, 2009
Southtown Star, Jan. 26, 2009
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January 26, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Tinley Park, Illinois newspaper, the Southtown Star:

Impeachment trial to proceed without Blagojevich
Governor heads to New York for interviews

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS
(The Associated Press)

SPRINGFIELD — If there’s such a thing as a “normal” impeachment trial, the one that starts today in Illinois doesn’t qualify.

The defendant, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, won’t participate. He’ll be talking to Whoopi Goldberg and Larry King instead of facing the state Senate. And while the Democrat acknowledges his conviction is certain, he refuses to resign.

Blagojevich complains the trial rules are unfair, but he and his lawyers didn’t try to influence the rules as they were written or challenge them afterward.

After weeks of near-silence, Blagojevich has begun an energetic public relations campaign, comparing himself to the hero of a Frank Capra movie and a cowboy being lynched for a crime he didn’t commit.

He told NBC’s “Today” that when he was arrested on federal corruption charges, he took solace from thinking of other jailed leaders – Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. He also said his 5-year-old daughter, Annie, has asked whether he’ll still be governor on her birthday in April.

Late Editor Blames Three Key People for Newspapers’ Demise

February 11, 2009

Editor’s note: The following essay was written by the late John Walter, who served as executive editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was a founding editor of USA Today. A few months after Walter died due to complications from surgery last September, his wife, Jan Pogue, found this essay on his computer. With her permission, Poynter has reprinted an edited version of it here.

I read today that big-city newspapers are dead. Well, actually, I didn’t read it. I heard it from my friend George, who read it in a blog referencing a St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times article about the topic.

The fact that newspapers are dying discourages me; I will miss the sound of the blue bag hitting the porch, even though it hasn’t hit the porch anytime recently. The carrier stopped porch delivery long ago, and for a while the blue bag had been hitting the stones at the end of the driveway.

Of course, the blue bag hasn’t been hitting the stones at the end of the driveway for a couple of weeks now; I canceled my subscription. This was because I discovered that I foolishly had been paying full price for a home-delivered subscription and didn’t know that if you started a new subscription, you actually got 50 percent off for 12 weeks. So, we canceled our subscription and then started it up again, and had 12 good weeks at 50 percent off.

John Walter
John Walter

Then I called to cancel my subscription at the end of the 12 weeks, and they said they really didn’t want to lose me as a customer, so I could have another 12 weeks at 75 percent off, and I realized what a fool I had been to take the paper for 50 percent off.

So I signed up for 12 weeks at 75 percent off, and when those 12 weeks ended, I called up to cancel, and they said, sorry, they weren’t offering the 75 percent off subscription anymore, but I could have the Wednesday through Sunday papers for the same price that I had been paying for the full week at 75 percent off, so I took that for another 12 weeks.

Then, just the other week, when they said I now had to pay full price again for whatever subscription I wanted — Sundays only, or five weekdays, or Thursday and Monday, whatever — I said the hell with it. So there hasn’t been any blue bag in the driveway now for several weeks, except, of course, on Easter, when the paper gives free copies to apparently anybody with a driveway.

When we were growing up, it never occurred to anybody that newspapers weren’t meant to go on forever, and it never occurred to anybody to think of them, like cars and stereos and Wonder White Bread, as consumer products that could outlive their usefulness and become, well, old and dead. But now that seems to be what has happened.

So newspapers are going to go out of business. Journalism will survive, no doubt, but we’ll just have to figure out the economics of it as we go along. Some of it will be painful, and some of the business people who are buying the big newspaper companies these days will undoubtedly help figure out the way.

But big metro newspapers themselves? They are out of here. I want to say that there are three people in the world responsible for their demise, and — because I have always loved newspapers, even when they weren’t on my porch or in my driveway — I want to say I’m mad at them about it. And, therefore, I want to record for posterity who they are, and why we should be mad at them.

First, there is A.J. Liebling. He is responsible because on Feb. 18, 1949, he wrote a famous column in The New Yorker called “Toward a One-Paper Town.” In this column he called attention to the fact that the number of newspapers in New York was dwindling, and that competition among newspapers was becoming a thing of the past.

At the time he wrote it, there were at least 10 cities in America with three or more newspapers each, and many more cities beyond that with two newspapers — one in the morning and one in the evening.

These newspapers more or less competed with one another (although some of them were owned by the same company), and it was a healthy thing. A reporter for The Middletown Blat-Times would be at a city council meeting, as well as a reporter for The Middletown News-Press. If the reporter from the News-Press fell asleep at the meeting and missed the debate about the relocation of the city landfill, then he at least stood the chance of being embarrassed by the fact that the next day the Blat-Times seemed to have been at the meeting he had missed.

But once the Blat-Times went out of business (actually, it merged with the News-Press and became The Middletown Blat-Times-News-Press), there was no other reporter at the meeting to embarrass the fellow about the fact that he fell asleep, and this was bad for newspapers.

Liebling was responsible for this merger mania because it was possible to extrapolate from his column that in many of the American cities where competition still existed, it really wasn’t a close race at all; the dominant newspapers were the ones getting the ads and readers, and it was inevitable that the second and third newspapers in those towns were going to die.

The existence of these monopolies was a first step in making newspapers as dull as dog poop because when they became monopoly papers there was no chance of offending anyone, and they became bland. Plus, they had too many comic strips because the surviving papers absorbed all the comics from the competition, and now they had three pages of comics and all of them were printed too small.

So Liebling is the first one who killed newspapers.

Second, there was a layout editor at The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal.

John Walter
John Walter

This was in the late 1960s, when newspapers were still fairly individualistic and didn’t all look like they came out of the same meat grinder.

There was, for example, the Chicago Tribune, whose front-page format had not changed in 50 years, and always, every morning, consisted of one large headline in two-inch-high type, and then eight columns of skinny, one-column headlines, wedged around a color cartoon of striking imbecility.

And there was the San Francisco Chronicle, which had large headline type, too, and a sports section printed on green paper and a classified section printed on bright yellow paper. It also had lots of quirky short stories from around the world, printed in boxes with squiggly lines around them.

When you saw the squiggly lines, you knew you were in for a treat, a hilarious story about the one-eyed sloth from Madagascar that had been bitten by a local resident and died in spite of a blood transfusion. And so on. In those days, individuality ruled, in both look and content of the papers.

Well, in the middle of this individuality came Arnold, who one day decided that though newspapers had been printing stories in vertical columns for 200 years, there was no particular reason to do so, and he took out his line gauge and talked to the people in the composing room — who thought he was crazy — and laid out his newspaper full of horizontal rectangles. Stories stretched over four columns, or even five, with lots of white space thrown in.

And suddenly people were saying the Courier-Journal was one of the best-looking papers in America. “Just like a magazine!” everybody said. And, just like that, newspapers started to abandon the ugly, hodgepodge look of their vertical columns and went into the magazine business.

They lost, thereby, a sense of urgency, and the thing that made them look like, well, newspapers. And it got worse; eventually layout editors were replaced by something called design directors, and design directors took to running pictures of large vegetables, first in black and white and later in color, and newspapering went all soft and squishy as hell.

So that is why that layout editor is the second person responsible for the death of newspapers.

Then there is Al Neuharth, who was general manager of the Rochester, N.Y., newspapers when I worked there in the late 1960s. Soon after that he was head of the Gannett chain of newspapers, which had recently gone public.

Neuharth was a super-slick salesman of the first rank (I say that with absolute affection and admiration; I myself had two or three long and happy careers at Gannett), and pioneered the idea that a public newspaper company could show increased earnings every quarter and result in Wall Street loving you.

He achieved a remarkable string of quarters with increased earnings; I think the string ran up to 22 or more. He did it by buying new newspapers until Gannett owned dozens and dozens of them. He applied tough financial constraints on their budgets and got them to contribute to this ever-increasing bottom line.

It was brilliant, it made perfect sense, and — particularly if you were going to retire in time — it carried no threat of ever having to face the day when maybe there wasn’t going to be any more growth, a day when Wall Street wasn’t going to love you.

Soon everyone wanted to imitate Neuharth, and almost every newspaper company in America went public. The public companies gobbled up more and more papers and created more and more monopolies and stretched their earnings to 20 or 30 percent and … we know the end of this story. So Neuharth is the third person responsible for killing newspapers.

This morning I heard that Sam Zell, the new owner of the once-mighty Tribune Company, says he doesn’t know much about the newspaper business yet, but will know the business inside and out by the time he’s done.

Memo to Zell: To know the business, start by reading up on the three guys above. Newspapers are dying. Journalism will go on, but the thing in the blue bag is over. These guys did it.

How News Outlets Can Benefit from Kindle 2’s Text-to-Speech Function

February 7, 2009
I’ve made a discovery about Amazon’s Kindle e-reader: It’s a pretty good “news radio.” That is, its text-to-speech function does a surprisingly decent job of reading news content aloud.

I currently subscribe to The Wall Street Journal on my Kindle, and I’ve gotten in the habit of letting it read me some interesting articles as I go through my morning routine. I like it. The automated text-to-speech reader is a bit flat for fiction, narrative and essays that require significant emotional or rhetorical inflection — but it’s great for news. I’ve starting considering it my “robotic NPR.”

(Ducking the reflexive outcry from all my friends at NPR…)

Of course, my point isn’t only about the Kindle. It’s about how any text-to-speech service or tool can interact with text-based news and information content — and why creators of text-based news content should start to take that into consideration.

Like e-reader display technology, text-to-speech technology has improved significantly in the last few years. It’s still far from perfect, but of all the versions I’ve heard, the Kindle’s is one of the clearest, and others are catching up. This is good for people who have a preference for audio news because now we can experience news produced for text in a format that works with our preferences.

Don’t get me wrong, I love news specifically produced for audio — either radio broadcast or audio/video news podcasts. I listen to a lot of it. (By the way, if you haven’t tried the Public Radio Tuner iPhone application, get it — it’s killer.)

But it’s pretty cool to be able to have stories from WSJ.com read aloud to me while I cook my veggie pesto omelet, or articles from the newly online-only Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which I can quickly “Kindlfy” via the free Instapaper service, which I recently wrote about.

As text-to-speech technology continues to improve and proliferate, I’d suggest that text news publishers consider how well their online and Kindle content “reads” in the audible sense. One thing I don’t like about listening to WSJ stories via Kindle is that it reads aloud all the navigational context at the top of the story: word count, etc. This is just a minor and fast irritation, but it bugs me. There’s got to be a way around that.

So, as I recommended in an earlier piece I wrote about the Kindle 2, when your newsroom gets a Kindle (or when you get to try out someone else’s for a bit), try listening to some of your news stories.

You can subscribe to many newspapers and magazines via the Kindle store for a free, two-week trial, or buy an individual article or two. Play with the settings for speed, gender of voice, etc., and realize that you’re listening to a stepping stone technology that presages a potentially important channel for your news in the future.

Some Used Cars Now More Expensive Than New Ones

January 25, 2009

Because new car dealers are offering rebates and discounts, and the demand for used cars is higher, buying a new car may actually be cheaper than buying a used one.

The Associated Press reported:

“Consider this: The average cost of a used 2008 Honda Accord EX sedan, certified by the dealership, was $21,544 earlier this month, according to Edmunds.com, a car-buying Web site. A new 2009 model cost $80 less.

“It’s simple supply and demand. With new car sales at a 27-year low and desperate dealers piling on rebates and incentives, prices are plummeting. At the same time, demand is up for used cars and their values are rising.”

At the same time, you can get a better interest rate on a new car, making it an even better deal:

“Automakers are subsidizing zero-percent or low-interest loans on new cars, while the average rate on a three-year used car loan is about 7.5 percent, according to Bankrate.com. Factor in the lower cost of financing and the total cost of the new car can be less.

“For example, a $30,000 car with an annual percentage rate of 2.9 perc

Benefits, Drawbacks to Nonprofit Newspaper Bill & Government Help

January 5, 2009
I look at Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin’s “Newspaper Revitalization Act,” to allow newspapers to operate as tax-exempt nonprofits, as the first pitch in a long season. The dissents are already coming in from those who see the proposal, introduced Tuesday, as well-intentioned but flawed. There also are likely to be additional or alternative legislative ideas for helping newspapers through their current financial plight.
Here are some thoughts on how bringing government into what Cardin calls “newspaper preservation” will play out:
  • I have already heard, privately and publicly, comments from smart people who are not so sure these desperate times call for the desperate measure of turning to government for help. What government gives, government can and will threaten to take away, they say. Fair point; I can remember not so many years ago a Republican administration bringing some heat to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to serve up a mix of documentaries that were more, let’s say, “fair and balanced.”
  • I would not expect a rush of conversions to nonprofit organizations even if Cardin’s bill passes quickly. It could, however, help individuals or groups who want to acquire and revive a waning newspaper in their city. Contributions would be tax-deductible, whereas investments in a for-profit — such as those made by Brian Tierney’s group in Philadelphia — were not. There will not be such a group in every city, but I wouldn’t underestimate the civic pride that could be mobilized as metros vie for the dubious distinction of being the first without a newspaper.
  • Groups that are serious about acquiring papers and converting them to nonprofits will face a series of practical challenges. How do you reach a reasonable price in this climate? What are the tax consequences and the impact on labor agreements in such a sale? Are you ready to run at a loss for a while and underwrite exploration of new media and new revenue options?
  • Other approaches to helping newspapers will emerge. Marcus Owens, a tax attorney with the Washington law firm of Caplin & Drysdale, is an advocate of the limited liability, low-profit structure known as an L3C for newspapers. Currently, this is authorized in just three states (Vermont, Wyoming and Montana), but Owens and others would like to see a federal equivalent.
  • Easing antitrust regulations would be a third approach, whether by allowing Joint Operating Agreements in extended metro areas, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, or other industry-wide business ventures. Newspapers are no longer potent monopolies in their hometowns, nor is the industry especially consolidated compared to radio or non-media businesses.
  • Don’t look for any move that could be tagged as a bailout. Direct subsidies such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s free subscriptions to young readers would be a non-starter here. Widespread use of Cardin’s options could take taxable income out of IRS reach — but that’s spare change compared to the billions going to financial institutions and the auto industry.
While there are significant counterarguments and practical difficulties to what Cardin proposes, I’m not from the preemptive “don’t-even-go-there” school. This is a time for exploring lots of options — and nonprofits are an option that could help.