Follow the Money

Letters published September 6, 2006

'Cause it's not about journalism: Pete Kotz does a great disservice to the talented, hardworking women and men who make up the news-gathering staff of The Plain Dealer ["Wounded Giant," August 23]. It's a tired, hackneyed stereotype that newsrooms -- especially unionized newsrooms -- are stuffed with "dead weight" and "minimalist productivity." Of course, it's a rather predictable stereotype from someone who heads a nonunion newsroom.

But the real danger with that kind of corporate rhetoric is that it's all too often used in our industry to justify layoffs and other assaults on the news product that, in the end, hurt readers and hurt the community. Only the terminally naive and uninformed think that the issue is productivity. God knows it's not about journalism. It's about profits.

Scott Stephens
Plain Dealer reporter
Vice President, Newspaper Guild-CWA

Akron's loss would be Cleveland's gain: In regard to your article about PD editor D. Clifton, I have one small suggestion: The Akron Beacon Journal has just announced the layoffs of many very talented writers, including veteran sportswriter Patrick McManamon.

While I recognize that sportswriting is not an answer to the world's problems, this is a sports town -- particularly a Browns town -- and fans want PatMac. Though most newspaper readers are elderly, I would suggest that one reason younger Cleveland readers pick up a newspaper this time of year is to read about the Browns.

McManamon could be the most talented sportswriter in this area. He writes not only with accuracy and insight, but with sharp wit and humor. Just look at The Orange and Brown Report to see the support being offered to try to save Pat's job.

Your article offers this quote: "'Two things struck me when I started at The Plain Dealer,' says one reporter. 'If you take the premise that we're an average to below-average daily newspaper, I was shocked by how many people here are really talented. But I was also shocked by how many people don't do shit all day.'"

How about getting someone talented on board who will work hard for The PD? The BJ was stupid to not keep him. Somebody in this area needs to get him on board.

Joe Vance
Bay Village

Print first, then put it online: It isn't Doug Clifton's fault or the dead weight at The PD. It's the internet and advertising that are killing print media.

Over the past 10 years, many printers have gone out of business, and the print media have declined along with it. However, they can come back, if the content is initially in print and not on the internet.

Moreover, the content has to be worth reading. PD advertising is targeted at the 'burbs because the advertisers say so. The advertisers do suburban focus groups, and The PD changes to what the focus groups want. Consequently, the rest of us have to read what the high-income bracket wants to read. Doug should ask: "What would Roldo do?"

Dale Hernlund

Logic Gone AWOL
Letter writer was way off base:
Speaking of ignorant: Roger Ellison's August 16 letter to the editor gave me a good laugh.

Mr. Ellison must be a relative of Shaun Cleland's to be that callous. He claimed that 19-year-old David Heinricht wasn't a man because he called his daddy for a ride home from work. No, David wasn't a man; he was a teenager. He also claimed that David was a coward. I think the word "coward" would better define Shaun. Why else would he scale a building, break in, and hide, so he could ambush and strangle an innocent kid?

Does Ellison feel that was a "manly" thing to do? Did Shaun feel like a "man," hiding in the dark and waiting for a kid to walk in the door, so he could catch him off guard and take his life?

If Ellison believes that David's death is justifiable because he had a relationship with Christina before she was "officially" divorced, maybe he should learn how to read. The article clearly stated that Shaun was communicating with his fiancée. If David deserved to be murdered for having a relationship, doesn't Shaun as well?

Ellison also ripped David's mom and dad's parenting skills, saying that they didn't teach him about loyalty or pride. I find that interesting, because it's unusual for a complete stranger to intentionally try to hurt a dead child's parents.

What does Shaun know about loyalty, pride, and honor? He went AWOL from the Army in wartime, thinking he could murder someone and get away with it. Shaun's brilliant defense was that he happened to be in the apartment, but a "masked man" came in and killed David and then threatened Shaun into making a guilty plea. Is he a stellar role model for society? Is he a man? No, he's just as stupid as Roger Ellison.

Andrea Ziemer

Mellow Out
Parrotheads should quit squawking:
Speaking as someone who really did start a new life in the palm trees, let me offer this observation on the article about disillusioned Parrotheads ["Mutiny in Margaritaville," August 16].

I understand their point, but Jimmy Buffett has always billed himself as a "businessman and poet," to quote the Parrothead handbook. His business is escape, and he works hard at selling it. One can't confuse the image we'd all like to have of the guy and reality.

So he's trying to sell some third-rate tequila. Big deal. Don't buy it. If he didn't work so hard to bring his product to a national market, think of all the fun, pleasure, joy, etc., we all would have missed.

Jim Atherton
Vero Beach, Florida

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