Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mourning the Morning Call

Have you noticed?

The Morning Call just got a little smaller. Today's slim edition is a far cry from what we saw this time last week. Editorial page editor Glenn Kranzley tries his best to explain changes to his section of the paper, but some readers are upset.
Cut local news. Cut the editorial board's workload in half. Solicit free content from any jerk who can wield a keyboard, and act as though you're doing the community a big favor. Chop out half the comics. Reduce the size of the paper itself. Reduce the "news hole." Fire 25% of the employees (but keep all of top management). Do away with syndicated columnists. Turn global news coverage into a half-page wrap-up.

Then sit and wonder why readership continues to drop.
Nineteen Morning Call employees voluntarily left the paper, preferring to be bought off than laid off. The rest had to sit by their phone on Sunday night, waiting to learn whether they still had a job.

Easton-based reporters evaded the axe. Some will now be writing in Allentown, but they're still employed. Others were less lucky.

Pam Varkony mentions a friend who thought he/she had escaped, only to hear that phone ring on Sunday at 7:30 PM.


Bill White mentions going out and whooping it up with several colleagues on Friday night. On Sunday night, the bell tolled for two of them as well.


Can blogs replace them? Above Average Jane, a Philly blogger, has her doubts. "A robust press is necessary in a democracy and hobbyist blogs just can't fill the gaps."


Bill said...

This is a really sad state of affairs.

I don't think blogs can replace the newspaper, there is little accountability in blogs, and it is even harder for people to discern fact from fiction in a blog.

Another giant leap into the post reality world!

Anonymous said...

"content from any jerk who can wield a keyboard."

Bernie, look how far you came!

Mrs. Dottie said...

I don't think the blogs can replace the newspaper either. I have started watching 69 News in Spanish, they seem to cover more local news. I'm so tired of having to spend so much time searching for information. I read the news today, and Oh Boy it was lame.

Anonymous said...

The Morning Call always sucked as a newspaper.

Now it is just becoming what it has always been -- a slightly juiced up Penny Saver.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:13, Amazing, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Let me be a contrarian here - the MC has sucked (to quote Anon 756am) for years now. And the way they've handled their employees on this process sucks worse than anything else.

But they're now doing something completely different. Sure, it's likely to suck even worse than before, but we don't know that yet. And we have to move on in that they're not going to do what we want them to do (this point has been covered 1,000's of times).

Should we at least give it a shot before condemning it?

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'll agree to wait and see. The signs are not promising.

Anonymous said...

Agreed - and I sure hope we're wrong.

The Banker

hayshaker said...

The local section is like 2-3 pages now. It looks like USA Today.

Anonymous said...

(unless I'm missing it up there), it appears The Morning Call has done away with its "Staff Listings" section at its web site. It used to be located under "Contact Us." Here, one used to be able to find the phone number and e-mail address of all/most Morning Call staffers (with the notable exception of recently canned MC Editorial Board member Eric Chiles who never wanted to be bothered, or questioned, apparently, and thus was never listed). Now, nobody wants to be bothered I guess, nor (and this is very clever) can one use the former Staff Listings page to discern who got fired last Sunday. Amidst all the "big changes" at the "newspaper" recently, it's comforting to know that TMC's slippery and underhanded way of doing things will likely never change. It's business as usual at The Morning Call.

Michael Donovan said...

Good morning,

I awoke today and discovered that an entry from my blog was used in their paper. I guess I should be honored that they chose something I authored. However......

While I do not have a copyright notice or legal "do not use without permission" language on my blog site, I found it strange that I was not given the courtesy of notification for its potential use, nor was I given the right to review edits that they made from the original.

The deed is done, but the paper is earning revenue off of my writing. By not asking permission, they might be opening themselves to future legal challenges made by other writers.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

A.J.C. said...

Blogs are our escape from the crap published (and usually not published) in the papers. Bloggers weren't meant to replace the papers. Most of us don't want to.

A.J.C. said...

(unless I'm missing it up there), it appears The Morning Call has done away with its "Staff Listings" section at its web site.

They're probably sick our (my) e-mails.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Donovan is raising excellent questions that deserve to be answered by The Morning Call.

No notification!

Editing at will!

No compensation for the author!

This is outrageous.

Bernie O'Hare said...


First, the paper exhibited very good taste in choosing to include you and MM in its first blogosphere foray. You and Michael can both be very proud to know you were the first.

Second, the MC can use a blog entry w/o your permission so long as it only uses a portion of it and then links to your blog. That would be a "fair use" exception to copyright laws. There are numerous blog aggregators that do that, including KP, Blognet News, etc.

But your claim to have been edited is puzzling. Did the paper edit your blog entry w/o your permission and then attribute it to you? That would be improper. Did it post your entire blog w/o permission? That may be a copyright violation. Perhaps not. Perhaps the use of one blog that is part of a much larger work is considered fair use. I don't know.

I have a creative commons license at the foot of my blog and suggest you might want one, too. Under my license, people are free to share my work, in its entirety. They are also allowed to include it into some derivative work. My only condition is attribution. You can set up your own license in such a way that it protects you from this sort of thing.

But even without a license, a copyright is presumed. It's a foggy area. I'll use pics that I see everywhere or will change a pic and think that it is covered by fair use.

The attribution I saw is problematic. For some reason, the online version of MM's post does not contain a hyperlink. That would be a better way of making attribution, at least in my view.

I'd suggest you make your concerns known to Glenn Kranzley. I'm sure his intention was to compliment you and get your message out to a wider audience, but your concerns are justified.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Michael Donovan,

OMG, I just compared your blog w/ the hard copy and it was edited. That is sooooo wrong.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, The Morning Call just DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO TREAT PEOPLE PROPERLY.

Kari Holmes, Mr. A., Mr. Villa, their own employees, TMC Forum, how many more examples do we need?

The way they've grabbed Donovan's and Molovinsky's work is indicative of their 'business as usual' arrogance, hubris, and total self-absorption.

Of course a local blogger would be "honored" to have been chosen for publication in The Morning Call.

But how freakin' difficult would it be to ...

* notify them of their selection and/or ask for their permission to re-print it (?)

* re-print it as it was originally authored, or, again, ask for the author's permission to edit it (?)

Come on.

How can TMC be defended in any way.

Glenn Kranzley is the #1 problem there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have emailed Glenn Kranzley to ask for an explanation.

I'm not sure permission is needed to re-publish a blog. I'm sure permission is needed to edit someone's work.

Michael Donovan said...

Hello again,

As I said, I am honored that something I wrote was published, and I do not have "do not use, or else" statements (to be humorous). However, a "head's up" would have been nice (my various emails are readily available), and I worry that there may be problems for both the paper and others in the future.

As always, I am focused on the city and its various relationships. We need to work together, which means maintaining mutual respect in all our endeavors.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

ps...I did write Mr. Kranzley to explain my concerns.

Anonymous said...

... somebody ask Glenno what happened to the MC Staff Listings web page, thanks ...

Bernie O'Hare said...

His name is Glenn, not Glenno. If you want respect, please give it. If you want the MC to treat people properly, why not treat Glenn Kranzley properly?

I emailed my concern about the edit w/o permission. Michael emailed his concern. I suggest you email your concerns.

Donovan is right when he says we need to maintain mutual respect.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, balancing out any "criticisms" you might appear to be leveling at The Morning Call from time to time, you always gravitate back to a highly, and almost fawningly respectful demeanor toward Glenn Kranzley and the rest O' the gang at The Morning Call.

For example, whenever you "go after them," that critical post is sure to be followed by a yuk yuk post that engages Bill White and John Micek, as if to say, hey, MC guys, it's all in good fun .. see.

In return, The Morning Call has ignored all your overtures that they do something about The Morning Call Forum, a cesspool of racism and hate, or to even meet with you to discuss it.

So exactly how well does "maintaining mutual respect" work when dealing with The Morning Call?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I can distinguish between criticizing a policy or what someone is doing or not doing and criticizing the person.

I admire and respect most of the people who work at both papers. I don't agree with many of their stands or policies. I feel that getting personal will only diminish myself.

So far, I have effected no changes in the policy w/ respect to the MC reader forum. You're right about that. But getting nasty about it just marginalizes us.

I don't see how the nasty approach has worked, etiher.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to see you make up your mind and take a stand, or, not. Your good cop/bad cop routine re: TMC is confusing ...

Bernie O'Hare said...

There's nothing confused, except in your own mind. As I said, you are incapable of distinguishing constructive and destructive criticism. That's a leap I'm unwilling to take.

I am willing to (1) condemn the misogyny at the reader forum; (2) argue that the MC should have an audience w/ Bill Villa; (3) criticize the MC when it calls us apathetic while writing about trivial issues; (4) condemn the decision by upper management to delete Bill Villa comments or those of others like Retired ASD; (5) condemn the decision to lay off 25% of its newsroon; (6) condemn the classless manner in which it was handled.

I am unwilling to condemn individuals I have grown to admire and respect. I have to go by my exxperience, not yours.

When I first started this venture, a Northampton County councilman was threatening me w/ libel and all his lackeys jumped in. It was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that, and it was intimidating. That's when reporters like Paul Muschick and columnists like Bill White cast a very public spotlight on what was going on. I have found, over the years, that they are the only thing standing between us and some form of aristocracy. With all their flaws, they are the defenders of democracy. Perhpas I'd like to see them cover this or that, but that's why I have a blog. I have seen the reporters especially, and know how seriously they take their role.

So yes, I will criticize the MSM. But on an individual level, I have respect and admiration for most of them.

There is nothing inconsistent or confusing about this, except for those who have a personal vendetta. I do not.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

As far as I am concerned, ANY blogger's words can be passed on by the Morning Call in their entirety, but with all due credit to the author.

For the Morning Call to edit those words, without the original writer's approval is OUTRAGEOUS, bold, in bad form, disgusting, etc.

However . . . .

that's been the Call's M.O. for years with its Letters to the Editor effort. The Call does do a phone check with everyone who submits a letter for publication, but DOES NOT read the edited version that will actually appear before getting approval. That's the risk one takes with dealing with them. The current management believes it is their duty to determine what is relevant in everything that comes their way.

Bernie is correct in saying some of my posts have been removed from the Call's Forum. Those posts usually expressed support for public education, for Allentown teachers, particularly. I was not surprised. I posted knowing my thought's were contrary to the Call's posture.

The Call's Forum gets lots of hits. To me, it's focus is to allow the worst of the Lehigh Valley to be heard on a large stage. Guess that's America.

Go there, read there, just realize what you read there is not ALL that was actually submitted.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, about my earlier comment about giving it an opportunity? I'm trying, but it's not working. It's is awful...

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're right about trying to keep it an open mind. I think it will be impossible to produce a quality product with 75% of the staff that was there before. So far, it has been a disaster, but I'll give it a few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm with you. Sure hope it turns out well.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Bernie, Banker, and others of interest, don't you think the Call's redesign in an attempt to be appealing is STILL WRONG?

I'm in my late 50's and like to think I have about 25 years left to enjoy my longstanding habits. I am a baby boomer. Aren't there a ton of me out here?

I believe there is STILL a huge market in place that will have interest in a traditional, hard copy, paper.

The Call management seems to think it can attract the interest of anyone under 40 by emulating what is happening online. That's not gonna happen!

That demographic is not going to start doing what their parents do, not going to start something they haven't really grown up doing themselves.

The Call (if it can, under Zell) would be better to focus on what I believe still to be many thousands of traditional and loyal customers who are still out there.

The Call needs to first serve those who are ALREADY purchasing their product!

Providing a bare bones daily paper as I have seen for the past 3 days to persons who have receieved more for their dollars over many years is DOOMED to failure.

Perhaps it is management that needed to be let go!

If the Call MUST be what it is right now, the subscription price needs to be dramatically cut.

When my subscription is up, I will refuse to pay the same for half the product. What I see at my door right now should cost no more than $150 per year for seven day subscription. This amount should be fine, assuming advertising rates are based upon number of subscribers, and the real income to a newspaper comes from advertising purchase, not subscription purchase.

I visit a senior high-rise almost daily (for Mom). They're ALL talking about dropping the Call.

This is NOT good.

Anonymous said...


The newspaper industry as it currently exists is dying. The demographic shift is slowly but surely eating away at readership, advertising, profits, etc. Talk to anyone who finances or invests the communications industry (and I have, many times), you get the same story.

What we are seeing now is a dying industry trying anything they can to survive.

Does the style the MC has gone to appeal to me? So far, no it does not. But I'm hopeful MC management is working things out with the new format and it'll improve over the next few weeks. Call me nuts, but I really want it to work, we need an effective local paper.

I agree w/ you in what would work at the MC. Obviously the Tribune Company does not. I don't believe for a second that MC management is doing this on their own - the parent company at a minimum approved it, and if I were a betting man I'd say Tribune is directing what is happening.

My subscription hangs by a thread at this point. But remember - Sam Zell didn't get to be a billionaire by being stupid. He's got a plan, I just hope it delivers what we want it to.

The Banker

Bill Villa said...

"Michael Donovan, OMG, I just compared your blog w/ the hard copy and it was edited. That is sooooo wrong ... I emailed my concern about the edit w/o permission [to Glenn Kranzley] ... Michael [Donovan] emailed his concern [to Glenn Kranzley] ..." -Bernie

Bernie, has there been any word back from Glenn Kranzley on this matter, to Michael Donovan, or to you ...

Bernie O'Hare said...


I heard from Mr. Kranzley yesterday and am still all a-quiver. Obviously, a mistake was made. I will discuss it in a post that will publish tomorrow.

Michael Donovan said...

Hello Bill,

I did hear from Mr. Kranzley. However, I will stand by my policy about discussing private discussions on a blog. Suffice it to say that the discussion was constructive.

I will look forward to Mr. O'Hare's discussion. I suspect that it will be professional and objective.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

Bernie O'Hare said...

Michael, Professional and objective? Moi? You'll see,

Bill Villa said...

Hi Michael, thanks for responding. And certainly I respect your need for confidentiality with respect to your discussion with Mr. Kranzley.

Like you though, I am greatly looking forward to reading about Mr. Kranzley's explanation, as will be reported on tomorrow by Kranzley's new Press Secretary, Bernard O'Hare ;) oh I'm kidding.

But seriously, Mr. Kranzley does have some explaining to do, regarding how & why your work was used without notifying you, and edited without your permission.

While maintaining the highest degree of mutual respect, I'm sure we can all agree that how TMC used you was wrong.

I hope Mr. Kranzley (through Mr. O'Hare) provides us all with an explanation we can believe in.

Anonymous said...

I"m waiting to hear what he said before passing judgment - I am very curious as well - Bernie, feel free to post it soon!

The Banker

Ivan Denisovich said...

They are just following the Bethlehem Steel model. A casino and a Lord and Taylor would look good at 9th and Linden. Dang it, craps again...

ivan denisovich said...

oops, 6th and Linden, my bad.