Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Althea Goodwin Made a Difference at The Times

It’s so hard for any of us who work with her to imagine a day at The Times without Althea Goodwin.

But so she can spend more time with her family and enjoy life “away” from the daily responsibilities of the newspaper, executive assistant Althea Goodwin is retiring after 17 years of putting out fires, soothing egos, solving problems and making all of our lives better, both inside and outside the walls of The Times.

We worked with Althea, but it is you she worked for.

This voice for The Times and internal advocate for readers bids farewell August 31st.

From fielding calls on a tough election nights to transcribing donors to the Joy Fund, her customer service is hard to match. She soldiers through daily tasks -- like birth and death notices -- proud to help chronicle the communities’ lives. She is always ready to lend a hand and is compassionate for those in need. She touches many lives in the community by caring for so many details.

She sees it all, helping veteran journalists work through tough assignments and ushering others on their way through our newsroom. She began her time here working for The Shreveport Journal, working for 7 editors in all (one was here twice). All have mentioned her as an essential, critical player in the operation.

Her departure is a loss for us, but we are happy for the reward she’ll find in plans she is making for a happy retirement. Congratulations are in order for a dedicated and dependable journalist.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bonds, BALCO & The First Amendment; The Story Behind The Story

Baseball fans lived in a world of fantasy watching Barry Bonds eye the home run records of Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755). The soon-to-be-hit ball marking a new record will come painted with a BALCO asterisk. Watchdog print journalism revealed the uncomfortable reality that a pure pastime may be tainted with impure achievements.
The story behind the story shows the role of the press being tested.
Click “read article” to find out: “How one book called “Game of Shadows” about legendary Giants slugger Barry Bonds and allegations he was a drug user made problems for two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle and nearly landed them in jail. Kristi Funderburk on the scandal’s aftermath and just what this has to do with the First Amendment” – The American Editor, summer 2007
Bonds is one homer away from Hank Aaron’s epic record of 755. The San Francisco Giants are off tonight and open a series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers Tuesday night.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cheese Heroin Leads Headlines

"Now that we have seen this, we're very concerned." -- local Drug Enforcement Administration agent Gary W. Hill referring to confiscated cheese heroin.
Given its appearance in Dallas, it was just a matter of time before the drug cocktail containing heroin and
over-the-counter antihistamines surfaced in Shreveport. The appearance of "cheese" in northwest Louisiana is today's most read story at shreveporttimes.com.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bigger, packed Preview hits stands

The changes to our Friday feature sections are launched.
The shift of traditional Living content into the already successful Preview section invests in our newspaper's future.

Preview Editor Stephanie Netherton is leading this must-read guide.
A highlight is the new on-the-town photo feature for young people. Send your party moments to preview@gannett.com for consideration.

See "click" in today's Preview section.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Have you hugged your Hummer lately?

Speed is of the essence in creating more efficient cars. As we turn the corner though, we don’t need the government pressing the accelerator.

Local General Motors plant manager Dave Gibbons points to flawed logic in lawmakers forcing higher fuel efficiency standards. The senate-backed push to raise CAFE standards in Washington may harm American workers.

Let the drivers drive the market force instead of a political deadline on technology. The BIG 3 hope for a compromise.
A repeal may be in order.

Being good to the planet makes sense, but we should examine the true impact of the logic we follow. Consider George Will's April column offering that a Hummer truck may be better for the environment than a hybrid.

"Speaking of Hummers, perhaps it is environmentally responsible to buy one and squash a Prius with it, " Will quips. His points are compelling.

Federal fuel efficiency requirements reject that consumer choices might apply just the right amount of pressure on the pedals of change. As a former GM SUV owner with a three-year-old hybrid in my driveway, I say leave the power to the consumer instead of the politics of Washington D.C.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Preview Changes and New Assignments

This Friday’s Preview section is juiced with new features. Plus, all of your Friday Living features are packaged inside the weekly tab.

New assignments

City government reporter Joel Anderson is shifting to our Sports team.
Soon, you’ll read Anderson’s byline on
sports pages and blogs. You’ll hear his commentary in podcasts. For iTunes downloading, copy and paste http://www.shreveporttimes.com/external/freeforall.xml into the field. Anderson e-mail: joelanderson@gannett.com

Business reporter Velda Hunter replaces Anderson on the city beat. Hunter's previous experience reporting and editing at several newspapers in Texas -- Clute most recently -- has served many stories. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Hunter e-mail:

We hope to announce a new business reporter in the coming weeks -- to be posted here. These changes take place as we close the month.

Coming August 12th:
--The comics are headed back to a broadsheet format.
--The TV Book will be tucked inside in a tabloid format.
--Celebrations/Weddings features are being incorporated into a bigger Sunday Living section.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Potter's appeal fuels reading

An 8-hour power outage could not stop our daughter from reading the final page of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows on Saturday. The neighborhood outage set a fine mood for scary prose.
Fans dedicated their weekend to the book in Shreveport, LA. At a gas station on Youree Drive, a young woman held her book with one hand while pumping gas with the other.

Mounds of photos from Potter events at Sci-Port, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million are available for view.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Enchanted evening with Potter

SAFE READING: Decidedly one of the biggest literary events of the century culminates tonight in the release of the final book in the Harry Potter series. Be part of the fun, but beware. As millions around the globe wait for the unveiling tonight at 12:01 a.m., some have already finished the book. Some just wonder about the madness. Avoid the spoilers. Get your book and run. Run, Harry!
Tonight: We will have “live” coverage and post massive photo galleries of people at the events. All will be ready for Saturday viewing. See you muggles then. Don't read or click past here... Death awaits...

SPOILER ALERT & DANGEROUS LINKS: There are reviews posted. (YIKES! Major spoiler).

Green and Great Go Together

Curbside recycling? Holy Cow! Sealing the deal for the recycling mill to locate at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier has MAJOR appeal. Decision-makers at major companies might just believe we’ll become the “next great city of the South” and pave our streets with green See the Sunday Times for more on this environmental and economic boon.

FEMA’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy

"It is impossible to read the FEMA documents and not be infuriated." -- Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) on information about unhealthy levels of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers used in the aftermath of 2005 hurricanes. Hurricane victims testified Thursday. FEMA trailer inspection documents were reviewed. More...

“Honestly officer, I was just tryin’ to help New Orleans”

Drink up Louisiana. It could be for our own good. Absolut Vodka celebrates the hypocrisy of Louisiana by introducing a special-edition liquor blend to raise money for hurricane relief efforts. What could be more apropos than drowning your sorrows to bring back New Orleans from drowning in… I guess we are supposed to drink ourselves to restoration, absolutely.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The State of The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News is full of journalism to emulate. But some work has not paid dividends, yet. They have been dealing with the effects of grave circulation losses at proportions greater than most newspapers. After a 14% circulation drop, here is Columbia Journalism Review’s Damage Report.
Note: Remember The Times longtime food columnist Carolyn Flournoy? Her son Craig co-authored the CJR article.

You can’t tax Cryer

Shreveport attorney Tommy Cryer shakes off tax evasion charges and is acquitted of two misdemeanor counts of failure to file. It has been the top news story on shreveporttimes.com since last Thursday. Did Cryer find the income-tax-loophole Holy Grail? It'd be helpful if the U.S Attorney would call our reporter back...

Second place goes to a combination of U.S. Sen. Vitter stories: 1, 2, and 3 (no surprises here).

Here are some other headlines receiving top clicks since July 12:
Mansfield woman held in jail on rape charges
Accused killer admits to 2nd slaying (along with the original breaking news post)
Speeding tickets are a large source of income for some area towns
Two feature stories vying for a spot:
Mother's perseverance leads to diagnosis for son
Cushing's survivor hopes to make others aware of illness

Top 3 photo galleries:
Car Show
More Celebrity Sightings
Battle Cage 360 ( Beautiful Babies gallery gaining ground)
Top Times staff blogs:
Louisiana Movies Blog
Out and About with Maggie Martin
Bayou Bengals Blog
Top Community blogs we list:
Trudeau on the Arts
Shreveport Faces
Mom on the Move

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back to the Future at The Times

We have a few changes to The Times in the works.
1. Our Friday Preview section is being injected with more content and more pages -- and being combined with the Friday Living section. Preview becomes a 32 to 36-page tabloid section. New features and favorites will be found:
--Video game reviews.
--Photo page of local faces out on the town. Click.
--Daily TV grid with weekend highlights
--Harriet Cole, Annie’s Mailbox and Billy Graham columns
--Puzzles and games
Preview editor Stephanie Netherton is leading this change. All this and more in Preview, coming July 27.
2. The old format for Sunday Comics (broadsheet) will return August 12.
3. We expect to make a few staffing adjustments to ramp up for high school football. I'll share more when we finalize. We are kicking our preps coverage up another notch this year.
4. The TV Book will return as a standalone section, but not with daytime listings. This is part of pulling the comics back out to a broadsheet.
5. Our Celebrations section is moving inside Sunday Living (part of making some of the aforementioned possible).

Rough days in newspaper world

Highlighted earlier today in the Romenesko newspaper industry blog, newspapers are slogging through some tough revenue numbers. The Gannett earnings release reflects this as well. The newspaper business model is undergoing radical change amid growing pressure. We can't just wade through rough waters thinking lost circulation will return and a sudden boost of advertising revenue will flow (although an LA election season looms).

News audiences are getting their information from multiple streams (The 2005 Scarborough report offers a view of the next generation), pressing us to reduce redundant efforts and focus on reinvent. The book Good to Great by Jim Collins details consequences of resisting needed change. Adjustments in the The Times can be compared.

Our local-local approach (launched April 2), ramped-up focus on multi-platform storytelling (online, video, weekly newspapers , niche Websites, magazines and mobile news) are part of the strategy. Our internal conversion from a traditional newsroom structure to an Information Center is being refined now to harvest deeper and richer local content.

We will not survive duplicating information readily available elsewhere. We are concentrating on improving local coverage. We will be local, local and local in the years to come.

In today's climate (see WSJ report), breaking the resources free to experiement creates a disturbance. Remaining profitable while investing in the future can cause headaches inside and outside of the newspaper - to all who love newspapers. (See what Savannah Morning News (GA) is doing, focusing even more of the core.)

We are building a strategy to serve our home communities in great times of need -- as we have during disasters, business ups and downs and sorrow.

Note: Good news for Times readers coming up. Sunday Comics will return broadsheet August 12. Celebrations will be incorporated into Living to make this possible.

Perfect storm: Lewinsky, Livingston, Hustler and Katrina

Maybe it wasn't the water and wind setting Louisiana up for a hard recovery from hurricanes. Consider Monica Lewinsky. Next, the fall of Congressman Bob Livingston (R-LA)... John Maginnis gives us perspective on Vitter headlines.

Jindal into the vacuum

"We're not a poor state. We've simply had poor leadership." -- U.S Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) (VIDEO)
"As governor, my very first special session will be to set the gold standard for ethics right here in Louisiana." -- Jindal's campaign kickoff in Shreveport.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Text messaging out of control

Just glance inside a Louisiana car to see our electronic gadgets driving us to distraction. This is a fatal habit. And our wake up call came in last week’s news of five young people killed in a New York accident. It is enough to make us all heed: “Put the BlackBerry down!”
Consider a Utah study comparing the cell phone driver to the drunk driver (PDF).
When it comes to "texting," LA Parenting offers other points. Maybe this is a topic for redrivermoms.com to consider.

Excuse me, Senator Vitter. One question, please?

When U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) refused to take questions in his press conference Monday, he did more than ruffle a few journalists’ feathers. He snubbed the people electing him and taxpayers wondering if he can re-establish the trust they easily lent to him in 2005.

There are still some points regarding the lost trust and the hypocrisy of his “sin” to be addressed.
Did you break the law?
Have you been interviewed or contacted by law enforcement officials related to the DC madam revelations?
How about the prosecutors in the Palfrey case?
And how did you get the phone number? Was it a lobbyist or one of your staff members?

Yes, citizens want candor and frankness -- unscripted responses. This serious revelation puts voter trust in question, as he agrees. The answers are not often found in one-way bits of stagecraft. The answer is candor.

It is understandable that Vitter wants to get back to work and move on, but journalists of all walks tend to be taxpayers too, seeking answers that could help him re-establish the trust he desperately wants to earn back. He indicates he believes doing the hard work on Capitol Hill will regain him ground lost by his misdeed? Are we to believe his DC madam adventure was an isolated incident? We don’t want details; we just want to know what exactly he is asking forgiveness for.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007