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!

84 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well sucked, Rich.

Anonymous said...

That should shake those last few TL kool-aiders who think he's doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

What a morale booster. To my staff, you suck. Merry Christmas, Mr. Connor.

Anonymous said...

Mark the date. It's over. After decades of strife, the Citizen's Voice has finally emerged as the only daily newspaper in town. What used to be the T-L is now nothing more than a "Penny Shopper," or a chamber of Commerce handout.

So sad, so sorry, so long.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice Fennick rips the debit card holders in her column but the TL won't run that online?

Anonymous said...

Rich, stop mumbling. I can't hear you. Maybe if you removed Skrep's dick from your mouth...

Anonymous said...

The CV should make an offer to the few good journalists left at the TL, reporters, editors, and it could be over by Jan. 1.

Anonymous said...

"The county has an enormous budget problem with a nearly $15 million deficit. And now there is a crisis looming over a challenge to proposed bond borrowing that threatens to shut down much of the county’s operations. But so far, much of the media’s attention has been focused on possible misuse of the county’s debit cards. Why has this commanded so much attention?

"Sex. Naked women."

He asks the right question, but he comes up with absolutely the wrong answer.

People are interested in the story not because of "sex," but because this is a microcosm of the kind of mismanagement that led Luzerne County to a $15 million budget deficit.

The image of the county officials running up $800 meal bills and partying with strippers in Vegas while the hiding a multimillion dollar budget deficit back home is a concrete image for the "systematic problems" Connors talks about.

This whole story is a journalist's wet dream. It could be the opening to finally shine some light into county government operations. If Connors truly doesn't see that, he doesn't belong in the profession.

Anonymous said...

If the county was $15 million to the good instead of in the hole, this "sex" story would not be nearly the big deal it is now.

Anonymous said...

The column that streses accuracy is not accurate.
Actually, two policies existed.
Time for a retraction, boss. Accuracy does indeed make for a better newspaper.
Yippietieiayyy, get along little Richard.

Anonymous said...

Of course I mean stresses.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich.

Anonymous said...

Let's hear it for the secret investors.

Anonymous said...

well, at least any lingering fears he had that he'd ever be mistaken for Ben Bradlee have been put to rest....

Son of Burke said...

Well, at least Connor and Beaupre are even now. That column was the moral equivalent of "The congressman beating up his girlfriend is not news."

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Beaupre came around eventually.

Conner not only doesn't get it--he's made it clear he doesn't think he has to get it. It's YOUR job to toe HIS line. Clip the 50-cents-off orange juice coupons and shut up.

Anonymous said...

I don't see anyone here sticking up for RC. How about it, Times-Followers (now that you're not "Leaders" anymore). Let's hear a ringing defense of Rich and the People's Right to Be Kept in the Dark.

Anonymous said...

Connor believes in the "Mushroom Theory:" keep people in the dark and pile on the shit.

Anonymous said...

Face it, Connor does not think it's a worthwhile story because the TL was playing catch-up. He also does not have his facts straight about the whole thing. A very self-destructive column for the TL courtesy of Connor.The only hope here is that he gets the message through his advertisers setting him straight. Surprised they ran Fennick's column if management feels so strongly it's not a story. At least there are still some with integrity there.

Anonymous said...

I read the column and felt so sad for the staff. What a kick in the teeth for the staffers who worked on the story.

What's the saddest commentary here is that Rich doesn't step foot in the newsroom 'cept to schmooze with Van Rose. He doesn't attend one planning or budget meeting. He doesn't even know members of the staff.

Thanks, Joe Butkiewicz and Anne Woelfel. Go back to writing and designing the Guide.

It's so obvious no one has the balls to stand up to Connor.

Anonymous said...

"no one has the balls to stand up to connor"

That's unfair. The staff is not to blame here. You expect them to put their jobs on the line over this? What's the point of that?

Anonymous said...

Connor has egg on his face now.

U.S. Secret Service to investigate Luzerne County debit card use
An official with the U.S. Secret Service confirmed today the agency has agreed to take a look into allegations of misuse of debit cards by Luzerne County officials.

Anonymous said...

Connor should listen to Corbett

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Flack, Sordoni and Martz think of their boy now? Thanks for helping out the jackass!

Anonymous said...

"It's so obvious no one has the balls to stand up to Connor."

I didn't mean the staff. I meant the managing editor. No one's expecting the staff to say anything, it's not their place.

Anonymous said...

Where's Connor today? In the newsroom? At work? In Texas?

Anonymous said...

The managing editor, in this case, might as well be regarded as staff. It's still unfair to expect him to take a stand on this. There is no point to it. My job or the debit card story? Please. Get real. That's an idiotic stance that makes you newspaper types think you are more important than you really are. You want everyone to move out to Minnesota or Wyoming or wherever you are Iseman?
Trust me, Connor is going to have to write a fine editorial on this one that apologizes for his own stupidity. Either that or kiss several advertisers and subscribers goodbye. He crossed the "we are the paper of positivity" line on this one. People don't like it when it looks like you're in bed with people who are frivolously spending their tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

Does the TL depend on county advertising in any way?

Anonymous said...

What an embarrassment! A public official put a nudie bar payment on a county debit card and Connor thinks it's overblown???? Why is he in this business? The TL is officially done being a watchdog newspaper. What a disgrace. He should own a PR firm, not a newspaper.

Anonymous said...

"The managing editor, in this case, might as well be regarded as staff. It's still unfair to expect him to take a stand on this."

Are you kidding me?

John Mitchell said...

I'm afraid my brain would explode if I tried to catalog all the stupidity in that Connor column -- like him not understanding there's a difference between the Times Leader's shoddy credit-card policies and someone using taxpayers' public dollars for lap dances.
But this says it all: "Being 'first' is not high on my list of priorities for this newspaper."
I'm afraid it's come to this:
1) The Citizens Voice is now the best newspaper in NEPA;
2) and The Citizens Voice sucks.

Anonymous said...

The TL is actively courting the county for its lucrative legal advertising. The bottom line on this situation is the bottom line. Thread ended, closed, finis.

Anonymous said...

Well said, 5:18. Connor totally threw out the window one of the main duties of a newspaper -- it's capacity to act as a watchdog on local government. The column not only was idiotic. It loses all credibility with its readers now. They will forever be asking what the motive is behind the reporting (or lack of reporting) of a story.

Anonymous said...

Connor has damaged the credibility of the TL more than poor Sembrat ever did.

Anonymous said...

To say this column was a disgrace is a massive understatement. Connor should take several steps to correct this. First, an immediate printed retraction. I know you can't really retract an opinion, but when it is so clearly the viewpoint of only one nefarious man who's trying to keep the image of his deep pocketed cronies squeaky clean, he must differentiate that view from the views of those who work for him. Secondly: a personal apology to his news reporters, especially Jenn Learn. He basically bitch slapped her in the column and needs to make an immediate ammends for that. Third: he should offer up some type of resignation. I know he owns the darn thing and can't really resign fully, but at least step down from the editor position, thus making it clear that he is solely a bottom-line man, not someone interested in the integrity of journalism in this county.
I call for an e-mail inundation to Connor from all blogspot readers. The Sherwood endorsement was ridiculous. The WMD column was propaganda. The county debit card column was very simply put an unprofessional disgrace!

Anonymous said...

someone please post connor's address.

Anonymous said...

If a newspaper publisher can't figure out that his paper should be first AND accurate, he should go back to the cow ranch in texas. Hopefully, the paper is at least making more money now. People in his line of work usually get paid by the act....

Anonymous said...

At 1:10 p.m. the T-L web page trumpeted the fact that the Secret Service is looking into debit-card-gate.

Was the blurb approved by Connor in advance, or were the troops trying to run one by him? More details were promised in Tuesday's edition. Will RC let them keep that promise?

tm said...

I can't believe I'm reading this. How quickly the Times Leader changed from watchdog to lapdog. Makes you wonder if the "Sherwood beats mistress" story would make it past Connor if he was in charge back in 2005.

Anonymous said...

6:09 PM:
Connor's email address is listed as rconnor@timesleader.com.
But I'll bet he has a lackey or a stooge or a flunky read it, and I'll bet only the suck-ups get answered.

Anonymous said...

"I was reminded of something about people in glass houses. And not throwing stones." - Richard Connor

So Connor is admitting to having used company debit cards to pay for titty bar visits?

Anonymous said...

Heard from someone at TL newsroom. He said everyone is just pushing ahead to be competitive and first no matter what.

Anonymous said...

Why did he even write the column? What point was he trying to prove? Did he really think the majority of his readers would agree with him and say "Carry on, good fellow! That's right folks, nothing to see here, move on..."

He should have done the smart thing and not gone public with his real thoughts on this. The TL still will not get the county legal ads. Major misstep on his part. I'm betting he did not think that whole Enron thing was such a big deal down thar in little ol' Texas either.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Jennifer: how's the view from down there under the bus?

Anonymous said...

Forget the shitty column and look at the rest of the paper. No matter what the little old man says, the TL is still the better paper. Maybe the CV wins in the publisher race but the news pages do not reflect Conner's views.

Anonymous said...

He looks even more idiotic now that the Secret Service is investigating.

Anonymous said...

Beaupre never said "The Congressman beating up on his girlfriend is not news."

What he said was accusations that are not followed by 1/ filing charges via police or 2/ filing a lawsuit, will not be reported. That's standard policy at MOST newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Not to defend Don "Juan" Sherwood or assert Beaupre made the right call at the outset, but the original story was NOT "Sherwood beats mistress." It was "Woman calls police, attempts to file report, dismissed as a nut by DC cops."

A fine point, but fine points often seem lost in this crowd.

Anonymous said...

It's funny. the man who thinks he saved the TL in the 80s is destroying the TL today. Of course, he didn't save the TL. What saved the TL was -- journalists like Janoski, ABC was willing to spend $$$ to save face and not go under, and the competition sucked -- machinists were pretending to be journalists at the CV in the 80s. Connor is struggling without the backing of a big corporation. He's a joke. Go back to your glorified penny shopper in Texas.

Anonymous said...

It's over Connor. You want to be Golias and Fred Ney. It won't work. You are surrounded in Scanton WB and Hazleton. Times-Shamrock is starting to figure out how to kill you. Look at the improvement in Hazleton already. They shuffled the deck and there's already improvement. Change has been slow to come at the Voice. But the Voice is becoming the real deal. The losers are gone -- and some are now at the TL.

Anonymous said...

Fair and balanced -- who does he think he is? Roger Ailes. Is he courting Fox News watchers to read his rag?

Anonymous said...

What a douche!

Anonymous said...

But Connor is using the most expensive newsprint ink and it's bright, crisp and looks great. That should count as something!

Anonymous said...

And he throws nice parties on the square.

SNT said...

That column was a disgrace to the whole staff at the TL. I don’t know how they can remain working for the paper when the Mickey Mouse editor/publisher totally bashes everything the paper appeared to be striving for, being the watchdog of local government. Although this blog is usually a bunch of bullshit coming from mad journalist who obviously don’t make enough money in NEPA, this blog has some merit. Connor should retract his statement, or if he still agrees with it, express his views a second time. If I were a TLer, I’d be out and searching for some work at TS. Like one blogger said, the TS has surrounded the area, and soon that Texas tight-lipped moron will be pushed out. I honestly can’t wait for that day. I read the TL and the CV everyday, and although the CV has a lot to catch up on with local news, they’re moving in the right direction. Soon the TL will be a thing of the past, and not because of the staff, but because of that cucumber cunt from Texas! And as another blogger had said, Joe B. should get some balls and say something, that’s if Connors is actually in the area someday.

Anonymous said...

IT'S AN OPINION!!!

Anonymous said...

It's his opinion, and you're entitled to it: especially if you work for him--today--and want to work for him--tomorrow.

Be careful what you say, kiddies, the Thought Police are EVERYWHERE!

Anonymous said...

So what else is new? Could anybody trust Iseman? He even sold out his old pal Walzer.

SNT said...

Thought Police? You're obviously more involved in making a NEPA living than making it as a journalist. Get used always working at shitty daily! Remember, while you're saving every last nickel to buy Christmas presents, that douche Connor is buying his young wife a new Lexus!

Anonymous said...

the only reason why he is softening on the side of government is because he is doing the same thing. someone should look at all of Connor's expenses run through the TL ..limos..chaffeurs...trips to texas, nyc, etc..anyone look at that?

Anonymous said...

It's a private company now, Connor doesn't have to show anybody anything. The TL is his toybox, get used to it.
It would be cool if the CV caught with Hyder checking out Wilkes-Barre's best at Toppers.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention Toppers 9:54 PM. I do recall Skrep being a bouncer there for one of his summers away from Michigan...connection? Hmmmm?

Anonymous said...

what is Connor using limos and chauffeurs for?

Anonymous said...

What for? Fun.

Why? Because...he...CAN!

Anonymous said...

Connor is not a journalist. Connor is nothing but a pint-sized money hungry machine. It is what it is. As long as he has the paper he will use it as a m-o-n-e-y maker; journalism comes second (or third?). Connor is not from here - he's not committed to our area. We can knock each other all we want - but we know our area; we were raised here; and we belong.

He doesn't. (But I do love his parties!)

Anonymous said...

It's unfair to say that because he does not live here he does not care about journalism. The TL has had some good publishers from outside the area who cared about NEPA and real journalism. By the way it doesn't seem that the staff is backing down. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Connor takes his marching orders from Rusty Flack and the other secret investors.

Anonymous said...

Joe B: Oh, Hi Rusty, you want what in the paper. OK.

Anne W.: Hi Joe B., what does Rusty want now? OK, I'll get someone on it.

Anonymous said...

"Connor is not from here - he's not committed to our area. We can knock each other all we want - but we know our area; we were raised here; and we belong."
What a stupid comment. One thing NEPA doesn't need is more local yocals complaining about those damn outsiders.
NEPA is not exactly booming and the biggest thing holding it back is the locals who keep their head in the sand.

Anonymous said...

Other than Contreras name one outside publisher that cared about journalism or anyhting for that matter. I hope you don't mean McHugh or you'd be the biggest asshole in the world. Well you work in NEPA so you're halfway there already. All you people should just get the fuck out.

Anonymous said...

those publishers were just publishers. connor is publisher/editor in chief and weekly columnist.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh. That's right!

Still, he doesn't care about our area - just what he can suck out of OUR area and then leave.

I think NEPA has some booming going on - or doesn't the Arena, Arena Hub Plaza, downtown's new restaurants, Mohegan Sun, Mt. Airy, (and the soon to be announced Back Mtn. construction) count?

How about some examples of "caring" that did NOT equal front-page-multimedia-look-at-me-everyone follow-up?

Anonymous said...

You would NEVER see Contreras hog the front page for himself. He shunned the spotlight as a good publisher should. How many times have you seen Lynett's pic in the paper? Not a lot and when you do it's small and in the community section.

Anonymous said...

I heard Healey hangs out with Connor at the Twist.

Anonymous said...

Back on December 10th, at 1:11 PM, I posted...

"I don't see anyone here sticking up for RC."

Six dozen posts so far and I haven't seen a single ringing defense of the Connor regime.

Going...going...

Anonymous said...

OK 7:09 here it is...
Rich Connor is the greatest natural leader I have ever known and worked for. I would follow him into battle. He is not without flaws, but he has tremendous passion and conviction, and a natural ability to cut to the things that are really important...he is a risk taker, and that includes taking risks on people when he senses their real potential.
He is usually right. He is never boring.
My life is better for having known Rich Connor.
Let me pre-empt your petty, snipey comments by inviting you to shove them up your pathetic asses.
Long live King Richard.

Anonymous said...

Rich, you ARE a pretty decent writer. Thanks for posting here.

Anonymous said...

I think there's little question as to why people spew hatred toward Connor on this board. He obviously is an evil, cold-hearted man who only cares about his image and his pocketbook. His defenders try to spin it by saying the people on this board are vindictive. I do not believe that to be the case. Were it, then these people would tear apart good, decent wholesome newsroom folk like Mary Therese Biebel and Mark Jones. But not a word is said of these types because there is a chsracter consensus on these pople that they demonstrate a recognized good in just about everythuing they do. Connor, on the other hand, demonstrates a recognized self-serving motivation. It's obvious to so many people, that's why all the negativity. You can't fool people if you're not genuine. Everything Connor does, even his charitable endeavors, smack of selfishnesh and pomposity. And it's so transparent to the rest of us because in general, the rest of us are good, decent folk. That's wha he and his very few supporters don't get.

Anonymous said...

What supporters? He probably lost his last one.

Anonymous said...

I have not lived in WB in several years and occasionnally follow this site. It is sad to hear that the TL is sinking to all new lows. Thought things were bad when McHugh was there, but at least there was still some journalistic integrity. Based on these postings sounds as if that has gone out the window too. Was home over Thanksgiving and shocked to see that the Voice has as much if not more ads than the TL. Could the end be near for the TL? How ironic... The man who saved the TL in 1978 may be the one who puts the nail in the coffin in 2008. What a difference 30 years makes.

Anonymous said...

Before Times Shamrock bought the Voice, the Voice The CV was a laptog because that's how it survived. Now Connor is the lapdog. He's trying to survive without a big corporate chain backing him. So cut newsroom costs, make nice, run every piece of fluff sumbitted, kiss up and lose journalistic integrity.

Anonymous said...

Is it really necessary to copy and paste the same damn comment into like 10 different threads all with the same spelling mistakes?

Oh yeah, Connor sucks.

Anonymous said...

I'm a TL reporter who reads this blog every couple weeks or so. I rarely post a comment, but some of the slanted attacks on Connor's column just push my buttons as a journalist.

First off, the headline for this post is inaccurate and misleading. Connor never used the word "overblown," nor any synonym, to describe the coverage. Nor did he say the competition was "overrated."

And to 8:05 AM Dec. 10, Connor never insulted the staff. The closest he came to an insult was when he said "At that point, we lost focus." To his detriment, (and the newspaper's), I don't think he explained that comment well enough. Maybe his point was that the newspaper, through an editorial, should have AT THAT POINT reminded readers of the "big-picture" issue - the lack of a GOOD and consistent debit card use and oversight policy.

Connor's point in the column was directing readers to what he thought SHOULD be the focus - the lack of and need for a good policy.

And 11:47 AM Dec. 10's comment that "Connor and Beaupre are even now. That column was the moral equivalent of 'The congressman beating up his girlfriend is not news,'" is ridiculous. Connor never said the debit scandal wasn't news.

Same goes for the person who said Connor didn't think it was a "worthwhile story." Posters such as these are clearly intent on smearing the guy. I find it hard to believe they're journalists. I shudder to think about what kind of a news analysis story they'd write.

Poster 9:50 AM Dec. 10 makes some good points. He/she describes and analyzes well why the coverage commanded and should have commanded readers' attention. However, saying that Connor is wrong about why coverage commanded "so much" attention is wrong in itself. Can anyone possibly believe that the coverage would have drawn "as much" attention if Hyder spent $200 on a 2-person dinner than if he spent $71 at a strip club? I thought not.

And as for "no one having the balls to stand up to Connor," what do you expect people to do? Say he shouldn't write a column expressing his opinion? Talk about hypocritical! Connor didn't axe Renita's column on the issue, now did he? And as for her column not being put online, that's a common problem with columns in general. I couldn't find a Mark Guydish column when I was looking for it. Under the Opinion Columnists link, the only two listed are Connor's and Mooney's. I believe this is a glitch that Soprano needs to straighten out. But I doubt anyone has pointed it out to him.

The comment/quote about being first not being high on Connor's priority list was taken out of context. His next sentence - "Being accurate, fair and balanced are on the top of the list." - was omitted. He should have written that being first was not "the highest" of his priorities for the newspaper, for accuracy's sake. And for the record, reporters are not being pushed to put breaking a story over accuracy. At least I'm not, and I've never heard any rumors or complaints to the contrary.

In summary, Connor never said coverage was too agressive. He said a frenzy could be dangerous if people lose sight of the bigger issue. His column was about focus and directing readers to the points made in that day's editorial, which I thought were put forth well and on the money.

And if Connor was kissing Skrep's ass and pandering for county advertising, would the following two paragraphs have appeared in that editorial?

"Commissioner Greg Skrepenak – who had $10,324.75 on his card – has said that he accepts responsibility for the entire debit card debacle. In total, that’s about $42,000 in charges, some of which are legitimate.

"Although Skrepenak’s intent is admirable, his inability to keep tabs on seven county-issued debit cards illustrates his lack of expertise in overseeing the county’s $147 million budget."

Anonymous said...

Only Guydish can post something that boring.