Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ladue News publisher, editor start new paper

A group of Ladue News employees have left the St. Louis-area Lee Enterprises lifestyle paper to start a rival publication.

The new Town & Style will debut Feb. 9. Thirty issues are planned for the first year; a weekly schedule is planned after that. It will be led by former Ladue News publisher Lauren Rechand and editor Dorothy Weiner, and will employee about 15 people. Eight more former Ladue News employees have already joined Town & Style.

Weiner told the St. Louis Business Journal that Lee's corporate structure forced her, and several other Ladue News employees, to leave that publication.

"There's no question that Lee Enterprises, the parent company (of Ladue News), is very bottom-line focused," she said. "Ladue News has always been something of a family business. Even after it was sold to Pulitzer, we were left alone and we were allowed to run independently. Recently, there is more of a shift to (Lee) homogenizing all holdings in St. Louis. That was what people rebelled against."

(Via e-mail; send tips, links and memos to lee.ent.watch@gmail.com.)

Times helping city find investors

The Times of Northwest Indiana is pushing the limits of interest and conflict of interest.

The Times and the Metropolitan Planning Council are leading the Gary and Region Investment Project, or GRIP. The group wants to influence tourism and economic prosperity in Gary and neighboring communities. The Times will be responsible for finding private investors, pursuing state and federal grants and approving development proposals.

Times editor Bill Nangle told the New York Times that his paper's role was not a conflict of interest.
Mr. Nangle described the paper as the “connective tissue” that was letting the public know about development proposals.

The Times has already written a handful of stories about GRIP; some of them quote Nangle and publisher Bill Masterson Jr.

(Via e-mail; send tips, links and memos to lee.ent.watch@gmail.com.)

Lee expects revenue to decline

In a forecast report filed with the SEC, Lee Enterprises says its revenue will continue to improve in the first quarter, which ends Dec. 26, and its total operating revenue will drop 1 percent compared to a year ago.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lee names publisher for Idaho, Nevada papers

John Pfeifer has been appointed publisher of The Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, and the Elko Daily Free Press in Elko, Nev.

Pfeifer previously served as advertising director at the Times-News and general manager at the Daily Free Press.

Times-News editor and publisher Brad Hurd announced his retirement in September. Daily Free Press publisher Rhonda Zuraff left in October. Twin Falls, Idaho, is about 165 miles from Elko, Nev.

Post-Dispatch columnist takes on evaluation system

St. Louis Post-Dispatch employees are completing employee evaluations for the first time, a poorly functioning Lee Enterprises system many have hated for years. Columnist Bill McClellan wrote about his experience, comparing the system to the "Loser Patrol."
I was supposed to rate myself in a number of areas. The rule was this — I wasn't supposed to give myself the highest grade in anything. I don't mean to be egotistical, but I had planned on giving myself a lot of very high grades.

I know what these evaluations are for. I don't want to make it easy to fire me. Especially since the company I work for is not exactly known for being warm and fuzzy. Last week, it told many retirees that their free medical coverage was ending and that they would have to pay the full premium.
Read his full column here.

(Via e-mail; send tips, links and memos to lee.ent.watch@gmail.com.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Times hires PR flak tied to corrupt mayor

The Times of Northwest Indiana has hired Damian Rico as community online director.

Rico, as a source tells me, is "the guy who ran the PR machine for George Pabey, former mayor of East Chicago (Ind.) and now convicted criminal. Rico is going from one corrupt administration to another. Apparently Rod Blagojevich wasn't available for the job."

In February, Pabey and co-defendent Jose Camacho, an East Chicago city employee, were charged in a grand jury indictment with conspiring to embezzle city money and illegally use city workers to remodel a house Pabey bought with his daughter in 2008. Camacho is also charged with trying to persuade other city employees to lie to federal investigators about work the laborers allegedly did on the house while on the clock for the city.

On Sept. 20, the first day of the trial, Rico spoke in Pabey's favor: "We are here to support him. He's done so many great things for the city."

Pabey was convicted on federal corruption charges four days later, and removed from office. Anthony Copeland was sworn in as mayor on Oct. 16 and began making personnel changes, including Rico's role as spokesman. (Read Times stories on the Pabey trial.)

While serving as East Chicago spokesman, Rico also has been a Times columnist and freelance photographer.

The memo from Times editor Bill Nangle:
From: William Nangle
Sent: Friday, November 19, 2010 2:39 PM
To: MUN Newsroom

Effective Monday, Damian Rico assumes the position of Community Online Director. His duties center on content development for “community.com” sites, including contact with the many and varied community organizations throughout The Times market.

Rico most recently served in a contractual consultant role for public relations with the City of East Chicago. In his capacity as a consultant he has served many clients, ranging from industry to education and small business. He holds a B.A. in communications from Purdue University; a Masters Degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University and a B.A. in clinical psychology from Purdue University. He is a graduate of Bishop Noll Institute.

Damian is married with four children and resides in Schererville. Please welcome Damian to the media center staff. Bill

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lee Enterprises eliminates more Post-Dispatch retiree benefits

The retiree health benefit saga continues at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

On Tuesday, St. Louis Newspaper Guild members who retired and accepted buyout offers between June 2004 and March 2010 were notified that their free medical coverage, which was part of their union contract, will be eliminated on Jan. 1; the retirees will have to pay all of their premium costs to keep their health insurance.

A few years ago, Lee Enterprises made the same announcement that affected guild members who retired under a previous contract, between 1994 and 2004. The St. Louis Newspaper Guild filed suit against Lee. The guild won that suit in late September; the judge ruled that those retirees should get to keep their lifelong health benefits that were guaranteed in their union contract. required Lee to go to arbitration with the union. Lee is expected to appeal the decision.

The guild says it will fight the latest benefit cut as well.

(Via e-mails; send tips, links and memos to lee.ent.watch@gmail.com.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Times ad director appointed to corporate position

Lisa Daugherty, advertising director at the Times of Northwest Indiana in Munster, Ind., has been appointed corporate director of classified sales for Lee Enterprises. She will continue to serve in her role at the Times, and will become general manager of the Times' Crown Point, Ind., office. Daugherty and Dave Worstell, sales and marketing director at the Billings (Mont.) Gazette, will direct Lee's classified sales initiatives.