Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More to read

Another column worth your perusing is this one by Jonah Goldberg in today's Los Angeles Times.

Goldberg appears on the Freeman's Opinion page twice a week. Here's a sneak peek at what will run on Friday.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hammond on health care

Bill Hammond of the New York Daily News is often linked from this blog for his on-target analysis of the state's dysfunctional government. Today he shifts focus to "scaremongering" and the health care legislation.

Check it out here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Worth reading

I commend your attention to two pieces on wildly different subjects.

First is Frank Rich's Sunday New York Times column in which he opines that health care isn't behind the anger in the nation.

Second is Frank DeFord's wonderful "Confessions of a Sportswriter" in Sports Illustrated magazine's March 29 issue. Sorry, it doesn't appear this one can be linked. Go out and buy it, you know, the old fashioned way people used to get their reading material.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Changing the channels two nights ago. I came across the film "The Pelican Brief", which featured, among others, actor Robert Culp. Got me to wondering if Culp, best known for TV's "I Spy" and the movie "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" was still alive.

Last night, I came home just in time to hear NBC's Brian Williams report that Robert Culp had died a few hours earlier from a fall near his Hollywood home.

Flash forward to this morning. I'm driving to Albany, listening to a radio podcast recorded yesterday. The host played a snippet of the long-ago hit song "16 Candles" by a group called The Crests, fronted by singer Johnny Maestro. He then played "The Worst That Could Happen", a hit for Maestro when he was lead singer of a group called The Brooklyn Bridge. It prompted the host to wonder if Maestro was still alive. He was alive, a co-host assured him after looking it up.

A couple of hours later, back in the office, I read that Johnny Maestro had just succumbed to cancer in Florida.

Here's hoping I'm not thinking of you, at least for the next 24 hours. It might be bad luck.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

O'Reilly, Biden, Tiger and us

*I don't know how to tell you this, but Bill O'Reilly is beginning to sound like a moderate in comparison to his Fox News colleagues, as well as to some of the talk-radio screamers. Last night he suggested the radio reactionaries are going too far in their ratcheted right wing rhetoric. His guests, John Grambling and Mike Gallagher, the latter in particular, said, in effect, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

*Speaking of which, I can't find an excuse for VP Joe Biden's dropping of the F-bomb at the health care signing ceremony; he ought to know about microphones, after all. But at least he thought his colorful language was only for the president's ear in which he whispered it. Then there's Rush Limbaugh, who bellowed into the microphone for the edification of millions of listeners that his followers have to "go after the bastards" who pushed the health care bill into law. How's that for reasoned discourse? Sadly, more so than ever, it's SOP for extremists of all stripes.

*When Tiger Woods made his initial public mea culpa, he acknowledged having operated within his own set of rules, the suggestion being that it would stop then and there. Wrong! When he offered himself up for interviews Sunday, he didn't impose a subject limit, but he did restrict the questioning to five minutes. ESPN and The Golf Channel took the bait. CBS did not. Woods is all about control. As long as journalists let him get away with it, he will.

*If you're reading this blog, you're already on the Freeman's Website. We're happy to have you. And we encourage you to invite those who haven't discovered our evolving and expanding for breaking news, updates, weather alerts, news videos and lots more. And by all means, if you're into Twitter, check us out there, too. And surely you'll want to be a Daily Freeman fan on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health care scorecard

Winners and losers in health care reform?

Here's the way Chris Cillizza sees it in the Washington Post.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mr. Tony

If you read my recent blog (Feb. 24) about broadcaster Tony Kornheiser, you know he's one of my favorites and that I thought his recent suspension from ESPN was nonsense.

If that holds your interest, check out these two pieces, the first on ESPN's ombudsman saying Kornheiser's suspension was inappropriate, the second critical of those, including Lance Armstrong, whom Mr. Tony PO'd this time.

Steve Levy

A couple of weeks ago, as I was heading upstairs to my office, I noticed a guy entering the Freeman's first floor conference room. He vaguely looked familiar: short, mustache, middle-aged. I'd seen him someplace, but couldn't remember where. It happens.

Later in the day, when reading the managing editor's story budget for the next edition, I saw the name Steve Levy ... not the sports broadcaster, but the Suffolk County executive. That's why the aforementioned visitor was familiar. I'd seen him on the New York TV news.

Levy, it turns out, was making the rounds of newspapers and communities up and down the state as he pondered entering the gubernatorial contest. Considered a longshot at this early stage, he wasn't given the editorial board treatment by us. But a reporter was assigned to interview him. In case you missed it, the story and a video are here.

But things can change quickly in politics. With Democrat David Paterson out, fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo encountering a bit of criticism and Republican Rick Lazionot setting the world on fire, Levy's stock has risen.

Today, there he is on the front page of The New York Times as he officially throws his hat in the ring. The twist? Conservative-Democrat Levy will run as a Republican who vows to take on Albany.

Maybe it won't be a dull campaign season after all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Same old story

The latest round of state legislative nonsense is chronicled here by New York Daily News columnist Bill Hammond.

Will there ever be light at the end of Albany's tunnel?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Raines on Fox

Good rainy day reading is this analysis in the Washington Post by former New York Times editor Howell Raines on the damage to journalism done by Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The new Journal Register Co.

On Feb. 5 and 10, I blogged about the digital revolution that had belatedly come to the Freeman and our parent organization, the Journal Register Co.

Six weeks into the game, it's worth saying more, because after a long period of unrest and uncertainty in our shop, there's renewed enthusiasm as we plunge head-first into digital.

In doing so, we're not leaving print behind. Hardly. It's still the bread and butter of the industry. But likely not for long. Times are changing and so must we, with increased emphasis on our Website, in terms of both the immediacy and uniqueness of its content. It also means embracing and participating in social networks, thus our links to Twitter and Facebook, as well as others to come.

Our parent company has new leadership committed to doing what it will take to move the Freeman and its sister newspapers along. New CEO John Paton has built an impressive resume in print and digital. A career journalist, Paton has pledged to provide employees with the hardware and software required to advance into the new world. (Given that much of our current computer technology is relatively ancient, that's no small undertaking.) His first step - as much symbolic as it is practical - was to provide all reporters at all the newspapers with Flip video cameras. About the size of a pack of cigarettes, the Flips are easy to use and produce HD quality images. We've already posted dozens of videos on our Website and they've helped make otherwise stagnant stories come to life.

Paton also has ushered in a new era of open communications at Journal Register Co. He's blogging and talking directly to the employees and the public. You have to be a Journal Register veteran to understand the groundbreaking nature of this new atmosphere.

Equally as exciting as Paton's arrival and goals is the announcement of Bill Higginson's promotion to president and COO of Journal Register. Those of us who have worked with Higginson during his decades as a hands-on vice president can't be more pleased to know we'll be working with him side-by-side to make the company's new vision a reality.

Understand this: Journal Register Co.'s efforts are being closely watched in our industry. The company has been much maligned over the years, sometimes with justification, and its new direction already is turning heads among our colleagues. That's what happens when a John Paton - a one-time Editor & Publisher magazine Publisher of the Year - gets behind the wheels.

Many believe newspapers are dying. Journal Register Co. and the Freeman are out to prove otherwise.

Paton likes to say Journal Register is "changing the tires while the car is moving." I'll add another one: In Texas Hold 'em terminology, we're going "all in" on the digital future.

We believe this will prove just as interesting, rewarding and exciting for Freeman readers and advertisers - those we have and those we will attract - as it will for those on the inside. I hope you'll be along with us for the ride.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Countdown on Paterson

What's the over-under on David Paterson?

With the accusations mounting and his support crumbling, who'd be surprised if the accidental governor yielded his keys to the Executive Mansion by the close of business Friday?

Regardless of how the Paterson matter sorts out, New Yorkers have to be humiliated by the many bad characters they've sent to Albany. Then again, maybe not. What's Abe Lincoln's old saying about fooling some of the people, some of time ...? New Yorkers keep electing bad guys and then they're surprised to learn they really are bad guys. Fooled again.

Spitzer, Bruno, Hevesi come to mind. Paterson's on the brink. The list is long and growing. And we're only talking about the ones with legal and/or ethical problems. This doesn't even begin to account for those of the rest of the Albany establishment who put the dys in dysfunction.

No, New York isn't the only state with corrupt pols and do-little lawmakers. But somehow that doesn't make me feel any better.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Required reading

Several particularly interesting pieces in Sunday's New York Times "Week in Review" section.

On health care, there was a good analysis here by Reed Abelson.

On climate change, there was Thomas Friedman here on Lindsey Graham. Yes, Lindsey Graham. And, there was Al Gore here. Yes, Al Gore. Read it with an open mind if you're a skeptic.

On the political climate, there was Frank Rich here. Again, read it with an open mind. And there was solid backgrounder on David Paterson here by Sam Roberts.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Frozen in time

I know a lot about hockey.

I've watched and enjoyed it for a half-century. I spent more than my share of Saturday nights when I was a kid staying home to view the local games of the week on Channel 11. (This was long before hockey was all over the cable networks.) Old-timers might remember those games, with Win Elliott calling the action.

I remember when WCBS radio broadcast Rangers games, but only the last six minutes of the first two periods before doing all of Period 3.

I'd used my G.O. card in high school to buy cheap tickets in the side balcony at the old Madison Square Garden, where you'd literally have to stand the entire game because the overhang blocked half the ice if you were sitting. When I had enough spending money, I'd pay $2 a game for tickets in the end balcony, where there was a clear sightline.

I attended the first hockey game in the new Garden (an exhition game, no less).

Years later, as a professional sportswriter, my National Hockey League press card gave me access to games at the Garden and Nassau Coliseum. And when my sons started getting interested, we made a number of forays to New Jersey Devils games at the Meadowlands.

In recent years, I've been less engaged in hockey, as with other sports. But I still tune in from time to time.

Sunday was one of those times.

My distaste for the Olympics has been well-chronicled here. But yesterday's Gold Medal game between Canada and the U.S. was worth catching, less for what was at stake, and more because it promised to be a first-rate game between the best two teams in the world.

And the game didn't disappoint. It was a thriller, right to the closing seconds of regulation, when the U.S. tied the score and sent the match into overtime.

It was at that point when I got confused.

Not having seen any of the other Olympic games, I wasn't sure how the tie would be broken.

In the NHL, there's a five-minute sudden death period, each team playing with one fewer skater. If no goals are scored, they resort to a gimmicky shootout to settle the contest.

That's what I thought we were in for yesterday, because NBC's announcers didn't tell us otherwise. Instead, as we now know, it was supposed to be a 20-minute sudden death period, followed by a shootout, if necessary because no goals had been scored. We learned that only after Sidney Crosby's goal sparked a wild celebration in the Vancouver arena and across Canada.

To the best of my recollection, play-by-play man Mike Emrick never said "sudden death" and didn't explain to hockey fans (and the millions of non-hockey fans who were attracted to this match) any of the rules particular to the Olympics.

What could be more important than explaining the rules?

So count me in as one of those disappointed by the outcome - not that Canada beat the U.S., but that I didn't know it until the game-ending celebration.

As I said, I know a fair amount about hockey, and if I was in the dark, millions of others were, too.


One more note, while I'm at it:

Emrick is generally considered to be the finest hockey announcer alive. I'd agree if he did the games on radio.

The man is unbelievably good at painting the pictures, often with phrases that are uniquely descriptive.

Problem is, he's a TV announcer, and he talks too much. The pictures tell the story. The announcers shouldn't interfere.

Indeed, that makes his failure to tell us how overtime worked all the more glaring. Here was a time when I wanted him to tell me something I didn't know, and he didn't.