Monday, December 31, 2007

Corbett gets it up the ass

WILK talk-show host Steve Corbett holds forth on his blog about his recent trip to the doctor and about the importance of the regular colonoscopy.

Rich Connor of the TL on immigration and on Christmas

Times Leader Editor Richard Connor writes about immigration in his Sunday Times Leader column. Immigration = good. Fear = bad.

  • In Fort Worth, Connor writes about the joys of parenthood
  • Thursday, December 27, 2007

    The Scranton Times-Tribune is looking for an assistant sports editor

    Do you have a creative approach to the Web? Then apply to become an assistant sports editor at The Times-Tribune of Scranton!

    Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    "The cheapest man in the whole world:" Bill Lynett

    So writes V. Scott Beddome, a Wisconsin radio guy quoting fellow radio guy Lee Arnold. Beddome is publishing - on his blog - the story of how a group of Milwaukee radio guys tried to trick The Who into playing in Milwaukee. Surely an item of interest to broadcast people.

    Monday, December 24, 2007

    Randy Shemanski named new Electric City editor

    Times-Tribune assistant sports editor – and University of Scranton pitching coach and recruiting coordinator – Randy Shemanski will take over the entertainment weekly Electric City from Matt Smith, who is working on the new site

  • Read Shemanski's linkedin page

  • Check out the Web site Electric City Editor Matt Smith has been working on
  • The TL's Connor writes about his little girl, Santa Claus and a kid named Buster

    Times Leader editor Richard Connor tells readers about Santa, Virginia O'Hanlon and the old New York Sun. Merry Christmas.

    Former WBRE weather guy contemplating run for elected office

    Vince Sweeney, who used to do the weather on WBRE, is apparently making noise on his blog (click above) about following the paths of Keith Martin and Frank Andrews Shimkus to Harrisburg and/or going on to Washington. Judging by the blog – “I never saw a chestnut roasting on an open fire until I was probably in my 20s. It made for a great lyric in a marvelous song, but chestnuts roasting was never part of my reality” – he'll fit right in.

    Connor: Debit card guys are innocent until proven guilty

    In another rousing defense of vigorous journalism, Times Leader Editor Richard Connor writes that "the presumption of innocence in these matters would be a refreshing return to values of the past and gentler, less skeptical times." Skepticism. Who needs it?

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    “We pay overtime. We are very scrupulous about paying overtime."

    UPDATE: Joe Strupp wrote a story published this afternoon in Editor & Publisher. Read it here. Also, Romenesko linked to the TL story.

    It's go time. In Tuesday's editions, the Times Leader reports on the federal investigation of overtime practices in the newsroom of The Times-Tribune of Scranton. Editor Larry Beaupre says the newspaper is very scrupulous about paying overtime. Former reporter Sarah Molina told TL reporter Sherry Long that "Times-Tribune reporters often worked 14-hour days and 50-to-60-hour weeks without receiving overtime pay or additional days off."

    Um. So. Either Beaupre (who also called the story a "rumor") (?) or Molina is lying. Kudos to Molina for being willing to go on the record, though she'll probably be crucified for her courage.

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Federal probe of Scranton Times-Tribune widens

    Former reporters of the Times-Tribune of Scranton have started getting phone calls from U.S. Department of Labor investigators inquiring into how the newspaper handled overtime. Letters had been arriving in mailboxes for a few weeks. The letters, from investigator Joseph Sabol in the department's Scranton office (570-961-2636), begin: "We are making an investigation of this firm to determine if it is complying with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.... In doing so, it is customary to ask some of the present and former employees for certain information by direct correspondence. The fact that we are asking for this information does not imply that this firm has violated any law."

    The letter asks the respondent's duties, regular hours, and place of work. It also asks how often the person worked overtime and whether the person was paid for overtime.

    Click above to see scans of the letter.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    BREAKING: Feds investigating overtime practices at Scranton Times-Tribune

    Letters have started landing in the mailboxes of former Scranton Times-Tribune staffers -- letters from the federal government inquiring about how the newspaper handled overtime. At least two former reporters have received letters, we're told. More as it happens.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Welcome Roja Heydarpour to the Scranton Times-Tribune

    Well. The New York Times to The Times-Tribune of Scranton isn't a career track you see every day. But welcome to Roja Heydarpour, a Columbia University grad school product who has her own real Wikipedia page. Kudos.

    Update: Lest anyone think Heydarpour was exiled to Scranton, read the glowing memo circulated in the Times newsroom upon her departure:

    Roja Heydarpour is jumping from the NYT ship to become a full time reporter at the Scranton Times-Tribune. Today (Nov. 16) is her last day.

    As Sewell Chan pointed out in an e-mail, "Northeastern Pennsylvania had better watch out."

    Roja came to us almost two years ago, while still pursuing her master's at Columbia, and has been a rock solid anchor on the Metro desk ever since. No matter what chaotic news event broke out around here, she was there to calmly keep the desk humming along, providing a patient, steady presence for Metro reporters and editors. You never saw her sweat.

    Take a moment to reflect on just how many phone calls Roja has answered during her dayside Metro tenure.

    Most recently, she began contributing blog postings to City Room and moderating reader comments, gracefully incorporating new web duties into her often hectic day. "Roja has been a vital part of the city room blog since it launched in June," Sewell said. "She juggles blogging and comment moderation with her other duties in a way that seems effortless."

    True. So let's toast her, shall we. Come raise a glass in her honor today at 4 p.m. in the conference room near my office. Just wander over toward Margaux's desk and you'll find it.

    And that's just the appetizer. Roja asks that you join her afterwards, any time after 5:30, at Cafe Andalucia on Ninth Avenue between 39th and 40th. She'll be there into the wee hours.


    Christopher J. Kelly goes to Wal-Mart

    Have you heard of these "Bratz" dolls? They are dolls that look slutty. They are called "ghetto dolls" by some, Christopher J. Kelly reports in his Times-Tribune column. Crazy! We stopped reading at the word "anyhoo."

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Richard Connor: Debit-card story is overblown, competition is overrated

    Rich Connor's Sunday column is a keeper. How would you like to work all week on the big story in town, pick up the Sunday paper and read this from your boss?

    • "We lost focus."

    • "My fear has been that we might rush either another story or an editorial into print to avoid being “beaten” by other media.

    • "It is difficult and perhaps unfair to criticize debit card users when there was no set of rules to follow."

    Slurp. Guzzle. And so on. The accompanying staff editorial minimizes the story, and includes this gem: "Skrepenak should think back to his football days. Right now, the county’s in the fourth quarter with little time left on the clock. Will he retreat to the sidelines? Or will he make the big play and lead the county to fiscal responsibility?" Calling Joe Pulitzer!

    Open thread: Advice for Jeff Sonderman

    Sunday's Times-Tribune carried a story (click above) announcing Jeff Sonderman's promotion to metro editor. For no reason, an assemblage of such stories:

    "Jeff Sonderman has an outstanding track record as a reporter and editor and will do a great job as The Times-Tribune continues to expand its local news coverage in print and online at" – Larry Beaupre on Sonderman, 12/07

    "Stephen Daily is an outstanding journalist who has been instrumental in the development of one of the best newspaper business sections in the country.... We look forward to his leadership as The Times-Tribune and Citizens’ Voice continue to expand business and personal finance coverage in Northeastern Pennsylvania." – Beaupre on Daily, 4/06

    "We were looking for someone with experience in business news and strong editing skills with imagination and leadership ability." – Beaupre on Fred Reinecke, 1/05

    "It is a pleasure to turn over responsibility for local news coverage to an editor with the experience, background, talent and integrity of Ken Knelly." – Beaupre on Knelly, 10/04

    "Mr. Knelly comes from a newspaper with a distinguished business section and he, himself, has an outstanding reputation as a business editor and journalist." – Beaupre on Knelly, 9/03

    Any management advice for the new editor? Career advice? Job leads?

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Scranton Times-Tribune names new metro editor

    Jeff Sonderman has been named the new metro editor of The Times-Tribune of Scranton. Kudos. His linkedin resume (click above) has already been updated. Impressive. His Wikipedia page (!) (click below) has already been deleted. No word on a successor for business editor.

  • Jeff Sonderman's Wikipedia page
  • Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Hazleton is en fuego

    First, the penis on the high school football field is picked up by Gizmodo, Gawker Media's gadget blog. Then Gawker's consumerist blog inexplicably runs an awful vintage commercial for the Game Store at Laurel Mall in Hazleton.

  • Watch the commercial at
  • Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Corbett: I love, love, love the TL

    We understand that Corbett posted this blog piece a cool two weeks ago. But "I’ll always be part of the Times Leader" is too good to pass up. Corbett blogs about his love for the paper at the same time as the big birthday party, though it seems he didn't attend.

    Joe Sylvester leaves Scranton for the Times Leader

    Longtime Pittston reporter Joe Sylvester, who had recently been covering Old Forge and surrounding towns, has left The Times-Tribune of Scranton for the copy desk of the Times Leader. Kudos.

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Kudos to the Voice and reporter Michael Buffer

    Kudos to the Citizens' Voice, which broke the story this week of the prison official who put his trip to a Vegas nudie bar on a county debit card. Reporter Michael Buffer has been on the case from the beginning, and in Monday's editions writes about how another $2,700 in charges from the same guy - Sam Hyder - are also suspicious. The story has been on the state wires.

    It's been funny to read the CV lead the story, read Steve Corbett credit the Voice, and then read the TL credit Corbett.

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Court upholds firing of Scranton Times-Tribune source

    A state attorney general's agent who fed information about a grand jury investigation to the Scranton Times-Tribune has failed in his bid to get his job back. The Commonwealth Court ruled that James Kolojejchick -- who was fired and later jailed because of information he shared with newspaper editor John Murphy -- knew what he was doing when he told investigators that he hadn't been in contact with the newspaper. The contact was about a story the newspaper wrote that generated a still-pending libel suit.

    The court writes: "The newspaper editor needed a second source to confirm the story
    published in January 2004 in order to mitigate the newspapers’ exposure in the
    lawsuit. The newspaper editor met with [Kolojejchick] in December 2004. [Kolojejchick] told the editor that he had heard from the OAG attorney conducting the grand jury investigation that the Commissioners had testified in an evasive manner. In response to a further plea from the editor, [Kolojejchick] put this information in the form of an affidavit."

    Kolojejchick was fired, and his union took the case to arbitration and lost. This case was an unsuccessful appeal of that arbitrator's ruling.

  • Read the Commonwealth Court ruling in full
  • Hazleton penis made famous by Google Maps

    Has everyone else noticed that Google recently upgraded their northeastern Pennsylvania images -- and now you can see the penis vandals created on high-school football field in Hazleton a few years ago. The Standard-Speaker wrote about this in a story Saturday that will undoubtedly make it's way through the Internets in the coming days. A tipster passed along this item.

  • Read the S-S story
  • Richard Connor on what makes a good publisher

    The only reason we're posting this three-week-old column from Fort Worth is because Times Leader Publisher Richard Connor holds forth on newspapers and publishers. Regarding the new publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Connor writes: "The first test of common sense and business acumen for new publisher Gary Wortel will be to see how long he puts up with the lunacy emanating from the newspaper’s third-floor newsroom." Nice!

    Richard Connor sees dead people

    The Times Leader editor writes (in a rerun of a 1994 piece) about how his first news job was writing obits. Why do these columns run in Fort Worth but not Wilkes-Barre?

    A little story about little WGBI-AM of Scranton

    While hunting for art for the WEJL item (see below), we found a wonderful item from the radio site about radio station WGBI, which started broadcasting in 1925 from a tiny building on Davis Street in Scranton -- between Colliery Avenue and McCarthy Street. It's a fun read by a guy who clearly knows about and loves radio. He visits the top of the Times-Tribune building in the process.

    Ode to the antenna atop the Times-Tribune building

    Cheryl Kashuba of the Lackawanna Historical Society writes a nice piece about the history of the Christmas lights on the WEJL tower. Did you know: Santa used to arrive atop the Times building in a helicopter?

    Photo: Erin Nissley's flickr page

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    How lazy is too lazy?

    At the outset we'll say that we don't think this is plagiarism per se. But. Still. The Times-Tribune's Christopher J. Kelly wrote today about how the vintage Sesame Street episodes coming out on DVD carry a parental-warning label. Kelly, like many people, read this in the Sunday New York Times magazine a week ago. Kelly pretty much credits The Times and reporter Virginia Heffernan when he lifts a few lines from one of Heffernan's interviews.

    But he goes on to write generally about the news -- and hits most of the same points Heffernan does in her writing.

    Heffernan: "Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes."
    Kelly: "Cookie Monster is not exactly a model of healthy eating and self-control. [...] And his diabetes risk? Let’s not even go there."

    Heffernan: "Gordon just wanted Sally to meet his wife and have some milk and cookies, but... well, he could have wanted anything. As it was, he fed her milk and cookies."
    Kelly: "The “Sesame Street” of yore was a place where a nice neighborhood man might ask a young girl to come to his house for milk and cookies. Imagine such a scene being judged anything but sinister these days."

    Heffernan: "The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating."
    Kelly: "What about Ernie and Bert? Two guys living in a basement apartment for 40 years with no signs of girlfriends is the kind of thing that raises eyebrows...."

    Like we said. This doesn't constitute plagiarism per se. But it's lazy as hell.

  • Read the NYT piece in full
  • Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Son of Wilkes-Barre goes on to fame in media and academia

    There should be a Northeastern Pennsylvania Journalism Hall of Fame for people who got out. Former Scranton Times reporter Jane Jacobs could be one. Sanford Ungar would be another. The W-B native has worked as a reporter and book author and host of National Public Radio's All Things Considered before taking over a small college in Baltimore. Today's Sun has a lengthy profile of the guy.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Times Leader sets world record for self-aggrandizement

    Jesus. Where do you start? There's the relentless reminding of readers that the Times Leader loves Wilkes-Barre so much that it's giving away $100,000, $25 at a time. There's the over-the-top Web coverage -- one story, two video clips, three photo galleries. There's reporter Bill O'Boyle, whose "story" is the biggest wet kiss yet for the man who signs his paycheck, Richard Connor. And, finally, there is the lead art both online and above the fold: Connor blowing out birthday candles. This dude makes Allison Walzer look like the most humble motherfucker ever.

    Times Shamrock weekly drops racy back-of-paper escort ads

    Orlando Weekly, the Florida alt-weekly owned by the Lynetts, has dropped the "escort" ads from the back of the paper. Three Orlando Weekly staffers are facing prostitution-related charges after undercover cops allegedly placed prostitution ads in the paper. Question: What effect, if any, does this have on similar-looking ads in Electric City?

    The Citizens' Voice is looking for a sports writer

    You, too, could be covering Wyoming Seminary field hockey and the occasional King's College wrestling match. The CV is advertising on that they'll consider "entry-level reporters with strong journalism backgrounds." Call today!

    Electric City is looking for an editor

    Times Shamrock's Electric City is looking for a new editor after Matt Smith took a promotion overseeing Times Shamrock's weekly and alt-weekly Web operations. Smith actually announced this in his column at the end of October, but we missed it amidst the wall-to-wall Office coverage.

    Correction: We first wrote that Smith would be running all TS Web operations. A commenter pointed out the error. Apologies.

    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    Charlie Weiss is dead

    We're embarrassed to have missed this, but Wilkes-Barre homeless man Charlie Weiss died in early October at a Hazleton nursing home. Charlie was perhaps Wilkes-Barre's best-known homeless resident. Steve Corbett eulogized him on his WILK blog last week.

  • Corbett: When Times Leader colleagues mocked me for writing about Weiss, "I felt like I was being eaten alive by rats in the newsroom."

  • Photographer Gary Clark's memorial page

  • A powerful 2004 All Things Considered piece about Clark's work shooting Wilkes-Barre homeless men

  • Photo by Gary Clark

    Only in NEPA: Folks confuse Stacy Brown with Al Roker

    We've been meaning to pass this along, but Electric City noted a couple weeks ago that during the Office convention people had a hard time keeping Times-Tribune reporter Stacy Brown and NBC Today weatherman Al Roker straight. Classic.

    Frank Andrews Shimkus: "I can't even get a pencil"

    Former WYOU news director and current state representative Frank Andrews Shimkus denies to Electric City (!) that he's living in sin with wife-to-be Gabrielle Prutisto or that he got her a job in Harrisburg. Crazy talk, he says. P.S: She'll be wearing a Vera Wang dress, the ceremony will probably be at St. Luke's in downtown Scranton, the reception at the Scranton Cultural Center, and Fast Eddie will be on the guest list.

    Welcome Charles Schillinger to the Times-Tribune

    The York Newspaper Company has completed their recent trade with the Times-Tribune of Scranton by sending reporter Charles Schillinger to the Times-Tribune. Schillinger, a 2003 graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, later reported on The Daily Review in Towanda and the Hanover Evening Sun -- isn't that where the potato chips come from? -- as well as The York Dispatch (not the YDR as reported here earlier). Schillinger was recognized by the PNA for his reporting on the shooting deaths of two Bradford County sheriff's deputies in 2005. Welcome.

    Chris Kelly talks with a guy who showed up at the newspaper to talk about a piece of wood that looks like E.T.

    "Journalists wait their entire careers for a story like this to stroll through the front door," Kelly writes." Since there were no journalists around, I went down to the front desk to talk with the man."

    Connor: Merry Christmas, you broken-down old Public Square

    More from Times Leaderr Publisher Richard Connor who writes -- again -- about the newspaper giving away 100 grand to local charities. Kudos.

    Times-Tribune doing something or other with

    We've been getting Google news alerts about this for days. Something about T-T house ads going on Zillow. Yawn.

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    U. of Scranton j-prof's blog on Merrill flap picked up by Romenesko

    Matthew Reavy, who teaches journalism at Da U, blogged about the John Merrill flap this week, and his thoughts were posted on Jim Romenesko's Poynter Institute site. Kudos.

    Times-Tribune looking for a Web producer

    Ed Pikulski of the Scranton Times-Tribune is advertising for an "online content producer." Hiring is immediate. E-mail to apply.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Times Shamrock employees on undercover video

    The Orlando Sentinel has video of Times Shamrock employees at Orlando Weekly talking about alleged prostitution ads. Not exactly the Pentagon Papers, but whatever.

    Frank Andrews Shumkus and Gabrielle Prutisto make it official

    Former WYOU reporters Frank Shimkus -- who went by a fake name, Frank Andrews, much of his working life -- and Gabrielle Prutisto spent $370,000 (!) on a house at 61 Schoolside Drive in Throop, the Times-Tribune reported in the agate type last week. The very Rev. Andrews, or Shimkus, got elected to the House a year ago. Not long after, Gabrielle got a job in the House Democratic PR office. Crazy how that happened.

    The funny thing is that the same day The Times reported the real-estate transaction in the court notes, it ran an item in the main news pages:

    It’s BBC Day

    "Today is Baptist Bible College & Seminary Day in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and in Lackawanna County.

    "A statewide designation, sponsored by Rep. Frank Andrews Shimkus, D-South Abington Township, created the day in the Keystone State.

    "The resolution comes as BBC&S marks its 75th anniversary this year and was passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives. The day comes “with respect for Baptist Bible’s leadership cultivation and community outreach,” according to the resolution."

    Connor gets Jann Wenner, Ulysses S. Grant and Public Square all into one piece

    Times Leader Publisher Richard Connor talks about the newspaper's scheme to give money to charity and also about George W. Bush. Word.

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Open election thread: Who carried the coverage?

    Comment here about election coverage both Tuesday on the Web and on Wednesday in print and online. Kudos to The Times-Tribune for monitoring the clusterfuck ballot-counting operation in Lackawanna County -- and kudos to reporter Dave Singleton, who played along with making the de rigeur "nothing's going on" video for the paper's Web site.

    Who wants to buy The Morning Call?

    Romenesko is reporting that The Morning Call is reporting that the New Yorker is reporting that someone wants to buy the Allentown newspaper from new owner Sam Zell, though no one is saying who.

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Cordaro/Munchak campaign goes after Times-Tribune objectivity

    The Cordaro-Munchak campaign is circulating a letter to Times-Tribune Editor Larry Beaupre complaining that a newspaper executive has donated to the Washo-O'Brien campaign and that a co-owner of Times-Shamrock is law partners with O'Brien's uncle. Didn't this come up in the primary? Anyway, click above to read the letter to Beaupre from Munchak-Cordaro campaign boss Damon Bowen.

    Rich Connor of the TL sends off a longtime downtown W-B merchant

    Times Leader Publisher Richard Connor continues his love-in for the golden early 80s in Wilkes-Barre with his eulogy for a former South Main Street corridor merchant who died recently.

    Mark Sowers joins Times Leader Web team

    Welcome Mark Sowers to the Times Leader Web team. Sowers had been working in weather and doing Web work at WNEP. No word on his dope remote control helicopter skillz.

  • Check the Sowers blog at WNEP

  • Check Mark's desktop wallpaper site
  • Sunday, November 04, 2007

    Ed Christine lands at the AP

    News for the doubters and haters: Ed Christine is working as an assistant sports editor for the AP. Watch this video of Ed sharing his take -- or reading from a script -- on today's Colts-Patriots NFL game.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Check out the U. of Scranton journalism blog

    University of Scranton journalism professor Matthew Reavy has been blogging about journalism in northeastern Pennsylvania. Read on for details of... The Office convention.