Friday, February 29, 2008

Former TL sports writer Doug Pape named new Luzerne County manager

Doug Pape, a onetime Times Leader sports reporter who ended up in county government, has managed to become the top non-elected official in Luzerne County government. Pape will be paid $72,000, quite a bit less than his predecessor ($85,000) but quite a bit more than his old TL salary. Kudos.

The Scientologists are coming! (Maybe)

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But the breathless top story in Thursday's Times-Tribune of Scranton could have used some context. The story, by Sarah Hofius Hall, starts like this: "Rome, Brussels, Scranton? Yes, Scranton. The Electric City will follow those world-class cities in hosting dozens of global leaders this fall for an annual international conference. That event is a prelude to the permanent relocation of a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated human rights and religious freedom center to Scranton from the nation’s capital."

Um. "Nobel Peace Prize-nominated," indeed. Here's the thing. About a third of America, from Ray Angeli at Lackawanna College to Chris Carney, can send in Nobel nominees. Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini are all Nobel Peace Prize nominees. It's kind of like when you read "Pulitzer Prize-nominated," which is always a sign of a bullshitter since anyone can submit a Pulitzer nomination. Being nominated to one of the service academies (like West Point) is substantially more difficult then being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And Joseph Grieboski's "Institute on Religion and Public Policy" seems to have existed out of the media's view until Thursday. If The New York Times and Washington Post archives are any clue (nothing in the Times and a couple squibs in the Post), the Times-Tribune story was more ink than every previous story about the "institute" combined. That's not a reason to kill the story, but it is a reason to give restrained treatment to what amounts to "tiny group no one has ever heard of to have annual meeting in Scranton."

It's hard to tell if is affiliated with the Church of Scientology. Some folks on the Internet sure think so. It really doesn't matter, but the affiliation would have been nice to note in the story somewhere.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Charges dropped against Times-Shamrock owned Orlando Weekly staffers

"All sides claimed victory" in the case of three Times-Shamrock employees accused of aiding prostitution through ads in the T-S-owned Orlando Weekly.

Towanda carrier killed in auto crash

David Mingos, 40, died Wednesday morning after his van hit a tree outside Towanda. The Windfall man was on his way to deliver Wednesday's Daily Review, the Towanda paper reported. Condolences.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Times-Tribune story on Sorvino makes Defamer

Gretchen Wintermantel's story about Paul Sorvino's "film" The Trouble With Calia story detailing tens of thousands of dollars in questionable expenses – was picked up by Gawker Media's Defamer site tonight. Kudos.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lou Kirchen named regional VP of Local TV LLC

Lou Kirchen, the general manager of WNEP, has been named regional vice president for parent company Local TV LLC. Kudos.

Monday, February 25, 2008

An ode to Dave Konopki and Jerry Kellar

Chris Hine, a sports writer for the student newspaper at Notre Dame and a NEPA native, writes about how he learned to be a pro by seeing how Kellar and Konopki handled the story of his father, a high school coach forced to retire. A nice piece.

Whaddya expect for a quarter?

The daily Citizens' Voice will be a quarter until further notice. "The change will make The Citizens’ Voice the best buy in Luzerne County," Publisher Scott Lynett says. Right.

Former WYOU reporter John Nugent gets a job in South Carolina

From the News Blues Web site: "WCIV-4-ABC in Charleston, SC (Market #100), has hired John Nugent as sports director. Nugent, you may recall, worked at Gannett's WTSP-10-CBS in Tampa (Market #12), until several DUI convictions led to his contract not being renewed. His new boss at WCIV is News Director Jim Church, who originally hired Nugent in Tampa in 2001."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Frank Andrews Shimkus, Gabrielle Prutisto and Joe Pilchesky

A strange story keeps getting stranger. Former WYOU reporter Gabrielle Prutisto told Throop police that she found funny footprints outside her house and also found a cracked window and "blames Joseph Pilchesky’s Web site for inciting the suspected trespassing," according to Dave Falchek's Scranton Times-Tribune Sunday. Except that the cops told the paper that the double-paned window was cracked on the inside, not the outside.

Prutisto is engaged to former WYOU anchor Frank Shimkus (who used the fake name Frank Andrews during his journalism career), who is running for re-election to the General Assembly but has been accused by Pilchesky of not really living at the Scranton home cited on election papers as his residence.

Low production value video battle of the entertainment weeklies

Not to be outdone by the crazy kids at, the Weekender has posted a meet-the-staff video. We offer it without further comment.

Renee Puchalski named regional ad sales boss for Times-Shamrock

Renee Puchalski, a longtime sales rep for Times-Shamrock, will coordinate buys across the T-S chain, The Sunday Review of Towanda reports. Kudos.

Rich Connor of the TL: The New York Times sucks

Times Leader Editor Richard Connor on the NYT McCain story: "The paper’s staff is laden with reporters and editors whose work shows them to be haughty, aloof and smitten with an institutional ego that borders on insufferable.... Over the past 10 years The New York Times has repeatedly embarrassed itself due to poor supervision of reporters and inept work. It has been plagued by plagiarism, among other problems." Got it.

In Fort Worth, Connor writes about Texas Republican politics

Friday, February 22, 2008

Times-Shamrock Shamokin employee charged with theft

Christine Zablosky, late of the The News-Item in Shamokin, has been charged with theft after she allegedly pocketed $43,000 (!) in subscription renewals.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Photoshopping images at for fun and profit

An eagle-eyed reader of the new Times Shamrock entertainment site noticed that a picture of singer Nate Hosey of the band Maybe Someday was Photoshopped. Specifically, the "Weekender" on his t-shirt was turned into "Meekender." The image disappeared off the site this afternoon, though what appears to be purposeful blurring of the Weekender shirt appears in other images. Click on the "How About Today?" gallery. Stay classy,

Scott Wasser returns to the TL

Scott Wasser, onetime Wilkes-Barre Times Leader sports editor, is coming back into the fold – as managing editor for news and business. Joe Butkiewicz will be overseeing features and the weeklies. Not that the TL was going to get Joe Pulitzer to run the newsroom, but Wasser seems to have spent the last few years writing quasi-puff auto and home electronics stories for bottom feeders like Curtco's Digital TV and Electronic House. Wasser had also been doing PR for Wesley College in Dover, Del. It's not clear if the comment shown nearby – found among the comments in a Google cache version of a story Wasser wrote for Electronic House – has anything to do with his availability in Wilkes-Barre.

John Plucenik writes about how Scott Wasser helped get him started on the TL sports desk

Dave and Vicki Iseman are related, heyna or no?

12:27 p.m. Friday update: Iseman replies, "Ouch! I am her."

11:44 p.m. update: The point was made that we should ask Iseman (Dave, that is) rather than engaging in baseless speculation. So the question has been posed in an e-mail; Dave's answer will be posted here without attitude or comment.

The question of the day: Is Washington lobbyist Vicki Iseman, a native of Indiana, Pa. who is accused of having too close a relationship with John McCain, related to former Times Leader managing editor Dave Iseman? Discuss.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WNEP back in the day

Two NEP posts in a row: Through the magic of Google News Alerts, we came across this somewhat strange blog by a dude who used to work at WNEP. One of his posts is titled, "Bob Dole was raping me but Jerry Ford stopped him." Not sure who the author is. Enjoy.

You, too, could be the WNEP webmaster

WNEP of Moosic is looking for a new webmaster, a job that the station interestingly didn't advertise on The station asks that the successful applicant "reinforces the strategic image of WNEP-TV The News Station." Good luck with that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Farewell, Beale's Bites

As many people have already noted, Howard Beale of Beale's Bites – a most excellent blog that covers broadcast journalism in NEPA – posted a farewell and an explanation of why he disappeared last year. Farewell, Howard.

Wilkes student wins prestigious j-scholarship

Carlton Holmes, a junior at Wilkes from Newark, N.J., is a winner of the NCAA Freedom Forum Sports Journalism Scholarship. Holmes has worked at WBRE and is sports editor of the student newspaper. Kudos.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The best Web site in the world

Why didn't we think of this? will allow you to channel your inner NEPA for the whole world to see. Enjoy.

>> Read Gawker's take on

Groundbreaking "blue" headlines debut in TL Web redesign

The Times Leader ran a story last week about the newspaper's Web site redesign. "Web-master" Mark Sowers spent "days, nights and weekends" working on the changes, TL exec John Baldino (oops) (not Tom) (pictured) said. Changes include a) blue headlines, b) police briefs and c) the ability to comment on stories. That is certainly a handsome shade of blue.

Rich Connor of the TL: I can't print the bad word an anonymous friend called Hillary

Times Leader Editor Richard Connor writes he needs Hillary to be the Democratic nominee to fire him up about voting for McCain. She is also an "untamed shrew." Um. Well. Next week: Connor writes that Barack is clean and articulate.

Cutbacks at WBRE/WYOU?

A tipster passes this along from the pay NewsBlues site. "NEXSTAR CUTBACKS: Nexstar Broadcasting Group, a publicly traded company that controls 47 TV stations nationwide, is the latest broadcast group to order system-wide budget cuts and layoffs. Tipsters report the elimination of overtime and part-timers and a 10% across-the-board cutback at WJET-24-ABC in Erie (Market #142) and other Nexstar outlets.

Most of Nexstar's stations were acquired through the acquisition of Quorum Broadcasting in 2003. And many of these stations are licensed under the Mission Broadcasting brand, operated under Local Service Agreements with Nexstar to get around comply with current FCC ownership rules."

You, too, could be a summer intern at the Citizens' Voice

The summer job ad from Larry Holeva is making the rounds in university journalism departments. Interns get paid (an unspecified amount) but are responsible for living and transportation expenses. Operators are standing by.

James J. Haggerty Jr. to speak at Friendly Sons dinner

For you Lynett/Haggerty family groupies, be sure to catch James J. Haggerty Jr. when he speaks March 16 at Genetti Manor in Dickson City. The former Scranton Times employee later embarked on a career as basketball coach.

Matthew Kemeny, formerly of The Scranton Times, has a story picked up by Jim Romenesko's Obscure Store site

Read the tale of the kid who crashes his car on the way home from taking his driving test in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Former NEPA TV newser JoAnn Pileggi: Sharing tape is for suckers

Seacaucus, N.J.-based WWOR-TV's JoAnn Pileggi checks in with Jersey blog readers and shares how getting not getting her contract renewed in NEPA was the best thing that ever happened to her. Since moving, she's even gotten to cover Springsteen! And Bon Jovi!

Occasional TL op-ed columnist Mike Burnside nabs job (not a county job)

Correction: The Cultural Council of Luzerne County is a private nonprofit organization, not an organ of Luzerne County government as earlier reported in this space. According to the council's form 990s at, the council gets precious little money from the county. Mike Burnside, editor of Wilkes University's book-publishing operation and an occasional Times Leader op-ed columnist, is the county's new Cultural Council executive director. The press release issued by Wilkes does not say how much Burnside will be paid to "run museum trips and guided kayak tours for artists to facilitate en plein air creations."

Read a recent Burnside TL column

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Express-Times reporter found dead in his apartment

Russ Flanagan, the 33-year-old cops and courts reporter at The Express-Times of Easton, was found by an editor dead in his apartment early Wednesday. The main story (linked above) contains links to a number of other pieces about Flanagan. No word on a cause of death.

Luzerne man convicted of harassing WBRE hit with new charges

Edward Lewis of the Times Leader reports that Thomas Concert, 44, of Luzerne, has been charged with harassment after allegedly bugging the shit out of a CYS caseworker. Concert was convicted by a judge last year of harassment after bugging the shit out of WBRE.

You, too, could be a summer intern at The Times-Tribune

Attention University of Scranton students: Operators are standing by to take your application to be a summer intern at The Times-Tribune of Scranton. For details, talk to Matthew Reavy or other folks in the journalism department at Da U.

Times Leader pats self on back with Book of Dreams story

The Times Leader raised $38,000 to help needy people, Mark E. Jones of The Times Leader reported recently. Kudos.

Former WBRE afternoon news producer Tanya Brown in the news

Tanya Brown, the former afternoon news producer at WBRE, was the peg for a Times Leader story yesterday about a medical records management company that allegedly stopped paying some employees, including Brown.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Towanda editor to reader: Drop dead!

Towanda editor Ronald Hosie gets a little prickly when he responds to a letter from Orwell's Judy Russell, a reader who complained that a recent front page was filled not with Towanda news but with news from Scranton Times-Shamrock reporters. "I appreciate Mrs. Russell's point of view. But, if there is a perception that "local" is fading from The Review, that is not at all the case," Hosie writes. "The record needs clarification." A small-town daily filling page one with the equivalent of wire copy? Never! Read Hosie's lengthy reply – twice as long as the original letter.

Pocono Record source: The Lynetts are frontrunners to buy the paper from Rupert

Our Pocono Record correspondent reports: "After a long time trying to sell the Ottaway Newspapers as a group, Murdoch's people have given up because none of the potential chain buyers wanted all of the papers. So now Murdoch is selling them off one by one. Groups of investors, local and on Wall Street are being put together bids for each paper. That means that the Lynetts have a very good chance at the Pocono Record. Although the Record will be expensive, the Lynetts are in a position to save bundles as owners of the Record. They can combined their accounting and payroll at Scranton. They can sell a powerful combo into the fast growing and prosperous Monroe County. They can print the paper in Scranton and truck it to Stroudsburg saving millions, and the list goes on. This means they will be a position to bid higher than any other group for the Record. For months word was that Lee and Gannett we on the short list, but now each Ottaway paper will be sold one by one to the high bidders. Ofcourse the chains will still be in the running for individual buys. The Lynetts have express great interest, and they held a large meeting this summer with Monroe biggies to scout the territory. The Lynetts don't like to pay top dollar usually, but the Record is such a good prize for them that betting is they would pay up for the paper whose market value is some $33 million. None of this bodes particularly well for upper management in Stroudsburg."