Friday, September 28, 2007

Newseum hosting nation’s newspaper editors

The yet-to-be-opened Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., will provide a preview Wednesday, Oct. 3, to the nation’s newspaper editors.

The events and tour of the Freedom Forum's interactive museum of news and news history help open the 2007 Associated Press Managing Editors Conference (schedule). The sessions are packed with recent print and online innovations and provide direct interaction with major newsmakers.

Last year’s conference in New Orleans (last year’s schedule) stoked national dialogue on Hurricane Katrina.

· Read more about the Newseum’s creation and mission.
· Explore the events planned for this year’s conference.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Foster Campbell Channels Robin Hood

Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Foster Campbell (D) was easy to follow today, stumping on tax reform in a session with The Times' editorial and community boards. His platform to eliminate state income tax comes with a revenue replacement plan taxing foreigners getting rich off Louisiana oil in a Robin Hood-esque “scheme.”

Campbell contends the 40K miles of oil transmission pipelines statewide are an infrastructure stronghold. He plans to leverage them against oil companies for “fair share” contributions to state issues such as coastal erosion. He argues those pipelines are gold that will keep oil companies here despite new taxes being excised. (Listen to streaming audio.)

Campbell also wants to eliminate severance taxes on state-based oil production replaced by the new flat tax approach to oil processing. A local company would see a 50% reduction in taxes with Campbell's math. By his calculations, a $2B surplus would result.


Campbell blew off Bobby Jindal’s flag waving on ethics reform as ineffective and ironic. He believes allowing lobbyists on the Senate and House floors are a bigger problem than some issues touted. Lobbyists' access to legislators during sessions is “too much influence, too close.” To force priority setting and reduce time on “trivial” local matters, Campbell would limit the number of bills legislators introduce. (Listen to streaming audio of the session.)

Other highlights:

  • Forewarned losses of gaming revenue if Texas gets gaming within 6 years.
  • Voiced unwavering support for “charity” hospital in New Orleans.
  • Said PhD programs at LSU-S are a must.
  • Picked on Entergy’s energy rates, saying they are dampening economic development in eastern parts of the state

As we closed, he expounded a little on Jena news saying it “got out of hand” and would not have developed into a national news event under his watch.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Times Weather Map Tweak

Click weather prototype (left) and current feature (right) to enlarge.
The Times is planning to add the national weather map to the daily feature found on the back of the B-section. The prototype shares the change planned for October. By placing a few national cities from the list to the national map, it can be added within the allotted space.
Send your thoughts.
Also, explore the weather report for radar images, satellite images and up-to-the-minute forecasts. The weather site provides one-stop shopping for various weather-related information needs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ballooning Accident Eyewitness

Having the presence of mind to shoot photographs as horrendous events unfold can be hard to fathom. Sometimes it happens when a journalist is collecting feature ballooning images. A Sunday morning ballooning game turned dramatic for Times contributing photographer Tim Eddington. He witnessed an accident and runaway balloon near Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City (image right).

Right before Eddington’s lens, Texan Rick Ashby tried to hold onto a balloon rope after a hard landing playing the game, going up and up. From one view, it was a heroic effort to weigh down or to climb in a runaway balloon that could cause havoc hitting a highway. A passenger was not seriously injured in the accident. Ashby was rushed to LSU Hospital after letting go of the rope after rising over 20 feet.

Eddington called photo editor Mike Silva immediately.

“He told me that there had been an accident at the Balloon Rally and he thought he had some good shots,” explains Silva. “Because we did not know the extent of the injuries I decided not to post the close up shots of the man falling.” They worked together to post the accident images quickly that morning, adding more images after feeling sure Ashby would recover.

Silva worked to inform editors and to request a reporter follow up with a story. Heidi Hausmann, deputy news editor, juggled the planned 1A line-up to display Eddington’s dramatic photograph. KTBS will be airing more about the accident and Eddington's work on the evening news at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m today.

Eddington is an accomplished photographer and contributor to The Times. Usually, you can find his byline next to Evangel football (new Evangel Gallery being added today) and some pro football events.

Former Times Reporter Covers O.J. Simpson Arrest

Former Times reporter Francis McCabe covered the O.J. Simpson arrest for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He moved from here to there in 2006.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pedaling Fast To Slow Down

Roaring through the trees, I was enjoying and disturbing the quiet.
On the mountain bike trail at Lake Bistineau State Park, my thick tires cracked fallen limbs and skidded through pine straw on a solitary Sunday morning. The challenges of twisting a bike around trees and riding through culverts required complete focus.
While wiping away cobwebs collecting on my face, a deer sprang from the brush. The surprise jolted my chest and stopped me long enough to really soak in a moment found miles into the woods.
Lake Bistineau is a beautiful, serene place to take a break from cell phones and the pace of everyday life. A bit of paradise is around many corners in Louisiana, if you slow down a little to take a look.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cyber Command Moment Excites

The exuberance of local officials, the community and military folks to Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne's confirmation of a “provisional” Cyber Command at Barksdale Air Force Base is understandable. Many have been working toward the promise of thousands of related jobs and the potential boost to Louisiana’s economy. The higher education infusion could be substantial (La. Tech, BPCC and LSU-S and more).

From U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu to Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker, confidence about the pending announcement abounds. The idea that Cyber Command is a “done deal” may not be too premature for people in the know. All of us see the incremental news leading us to the same conclusions they profess. The Air Force secretary’s comments Wednesday about hatching the next phase leave less to the imagination.

But the words “provisional” and “interim”, once again, are a necessary component in the process. They depict the stage as accurately as possible knowing that Defense Department and congressional reviews are to come. These entities hold some say over what will happen.

Yes, revel in news moments that secure less doubt about the ultimate home of Cyber Command (read Air Force Times article). We all await the "official" words that seal the "deal" on a new cyber-based future. Washington D.C events on the 60th anniversary of the Air Force Sept. 18 may bring more news.

It does seem time to buy bottles of champagne and to put them on ice. But don’t pop the cork too soon. And don't count your chickens before they've hatched.

Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr.
Tech. Sgt. John Webb and Staff Sgt. Clinton Tips update anti-virus software for Air Force units to assist in the prevention of cyberspace hackers July 12 at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. The Air Force is setting up the Air Force Cyber Command soon and these Airmen will be the operators on the ground floor.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cyber Command Incubates at Barksdale

The crowd at the local U.S. Air Forces 60th birthday party Wednesday celebrated five days early at Horseshoe Casinos Riverdome – was buzzing after Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne (at right) mentioned Barksdale Air Force Base would house the “provisional” and interim Cyber Command (audio).

Air Force brass explained that the words “interim” and “provisional” are necessary because the Defense Department has yet to review many details before all the pieces can be put in place. From doing requisite things akin to soil samples to reviewing the full investment of personnel, the “interim” designation sets the command to materialize at Barksdale.

People leaving the party, including businessman Tem McElroy and Bossier Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Johnson, all were talking about how excited they were to hear the surprise announcement from Secretary Wynne. While the word “interim” might have taken an edge off, it was U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu who gave it back.

It seems Landrieu knew something was up as the mention of the designation came together.

"It took a combination of extraordinary coordination and effort on the part of many local officials and the congressional delegation," she told Times reporter Margaret Martin. Landrieu praised Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder’s vision and shared, "All the stars were aligned."

The civilian and military audience rejoiced in the afterglow of the surprise announcement about the command taking shape here (photo gallery). "Provisional" home designation is the nod we needed.

Gen. Elder clearly was a hero for many Wednesday night, heralded for his leadership in putting Barksdale in the catbird seat for this military mission. When all is said and done, Cyber Command's birthplace is tasked with being the incubator for the formative years.

Our community has plans to build on that dream.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Business Reporter Starting

Please join us in welcoming Tarah Holland to The Times and as our business and general assignment reporter. She takes reporter Velda Hunter's previous assignment. Hunter shifted to the Shreveport City Hall beat in late July.
Education: B.S. in journalism and mass communication from North Carolina A&T in 2004.
Previous assignments: News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) sports and general assignment reporter and The Roanoke Times government reporter (Virginia).
Local connection: Brother stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Take Time To Remember 9/11

Images of 9/11 flashed through my mind at the same Ellerbe Road intersection I was at 6 years ago. Reports of the 9/11 terrorist attacks were ringing through the radio the same way memories of that day were today.

As the enormity of the news registered in 2001, I was talking with former Times editor Judy Christie. She was scheduled for a morning flight. I vaguely remember saying, "You aren't going to Washington D.C. today." went into overdrive as we confirmed President Bush would address the nation from Barksdale Air Force Base (photo right) . 6 years ago...

Take time to remember:

  • Remembrances around the nation.
  • A photographer reflects.
  • An archive to review.
    September 11, 2001 photo: President George W. Bush walks with Lt. Gen Tom Keck, Commander of the 8th Air Force, at Barksdale AFB . Bush later departed Barksdale AFB for an undisclosed location after making a statement on the recent terrorist acts. Photo by Win McNamee/REUTERS

Friday, September 7, 2007

School Peanut Restrictions

St. Joseph Catholic School in Shreveport sent a letter home to parents discussing restrictions on peanut-laced foods. St. Joseph School Council Chairwoman Theresa Murphy explains the letter was sent to protect children who are deathly allergic to peanuts until a policy can be formalized. Her e-mail to me explains they'll finalize details during their monthly board meeting Sept. 18.

This piqued my interest because I am the father of a child with a peanut allergy. Going back to school raises fears because one missed peanut is a sure trip to the hospital. Our doctor explains that minutes matter, don't delay. It is a life-changing experience to witness a child going through a peanut reaction and shock.
Several schools in our community have set up areas where children with allergies can sit away from the general population. Others closely monitor lunches and desk pairings to mitigate risks. Most public schools simply don't offer the products.
This move by St. Joseph Catholic School is getting some impassioned response from both sides at the school.
Some may see it as an annoying inconvenience (and absurd) to create a policy protecting the few, but consider the leadership and lessons demonstrated. Should we sacrifice a convenience (or pleasure) for the good of a few? Should a majority ever be asked to sacrifice for a minority?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Coaches Offer Grueling Headlines

The summer heat wave is not as grueling as the recent coaching headlines. The reasons for removing Huntington High School football coach Mike Green (photo at right) are tough lines to fathom and consider. Sports should be about discipline, respect and performance on an even playing field. The violations pile on to a trend of malfeasance and misguided acts by people we entrust as leaders to our children. I won’t even get into recent admissions by politicians, a former Red River Radio manager and a few bad apples in the Shreveport police department.
We wish Coach Green’s LHSAA violations list and former Southwood High School teacher and assistant football coach Joseph Barbee's admission to molesting female students are the last harsh sports headlines for the rest of the season. Sadly, there is at least one other coach case on the docket.
Thank goodness we aren’t penalizing the kids. The sooner we can get past these headlines, the sooner we can back to the wonderful lessons embedded in high school football.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

B-52’s Bark Warns Real Bite

It is hard to escape the reach of Barksdale Air Force Base forces. The re-creation of a 70-year-old mission flying 1950s era airplanes (three B-52s) equipped with new technology demonstrates how old dogs with a big bark can still bite. Fancy flying of the behemoths over 4,000 miles detailed by Times Military reporter John Andrew Prime underscores, “Threaten us and you will pay the price, for we can find you even in the vast emptiness of the ocean and destroy you.” The B-52 continues flying past predictions of its retirement. “The airplane is a bundle of contradictions,” he writes. Multimedia: Audio; Video; Photo galleries (1 and 2); And B-52 links (1, 2 and 3).

Rotary Club of Shreveport speaker
Colonel Michael R. Shoults, director of staff of Air Combat Command’s 8th Air Force, offered an overview of Cyber Command at today’s lunch: What it is, what it means and how partnerships with the community might work. He explained how the re-created mission – mentioned above –helps demonstrate cyber ops already undertaken by the 8th Air Force. He relayed a sense of hope that the major command might land here, and explained how that looming decision probably won’t impact the already-engaged cyber ops work at the base.