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 “” 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

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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Albany Democrat-Herald publisher retiring

Martha Wells, publisher of the Albany (Ore.) Democrat-Herald and regional executive for Lee Enterprise's Mid-Valley Newspapers, will retire at the end of the year.

Wells previously worked at the Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle; The Ottumwa (Iowa) Courier; the Globe Gazette in Mason City, Iowa; and the Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald. Lee has published a lengthy press release about Wells.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tucson Newspapers CEO quits

Tucson Newspapers CEO and president Mike Jameson resigned Monday. No reason was given for Jameson's resignation; Tucson Newspapers is the advertising and production agency for Lee's Arizona Daily Star and Gannett's Arizona Republic.

Jameson has been at Tucson Newspapers since January 2004; before that, he was publisher of the La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune. Lee bought the Pulitzer-owned Arizona Daily Star in 2005.

(Via e-mail; send tips, links and memos to

Monday, November 15, 2010

Justice Department settles lawsuit against Lee Enterprises

A year ago, the Justice Department filed suit against the Elko Daily Free Press and Lee Enterprises for publishing an ad that discriminated against families with children in 2008. That ad was a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Under the settlement, which must now be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Lee will screen discriminatory housing advertisements, will post notices informing readers of fair housing laws and monetarily compensate Silver State Fair Housing Council.

Story about the settlement

(Via e-mail; send tips, links and memos to

Monday, November 8, 2010

Times named Lee's enterprise of the year

The Times of Northwest Indiana is Lee's enterprise of the year. A press release from Lee says the Munster, Ind., paper improved its financial performance and led in digital initiatives. (The press release does not mention the 14 people the paper has laid off in 2010.)

The Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch in St. Louis, Mo., were finalists for the award.

Read the press release

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nieman includes Lee Watch as one of the 'still publishing' media watchdog blogs

Nieman Journalism Lab recently included Lee Watch in its roundup of newspaper watchdog blogs. We're flattered. The post also asks if more blogs should set up "water cooler" posts similar to those on Gannett Blog. I can make that happen if you're interested -- leave a comment, and let me know.

Thanks for your help to keep this blog going and report news about Lee Enterprises. As always, send tips, links and memos to

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lee closes 3 papers

Lee Enterprises closed three weekly Illinois newspapers on Oct. 27: The Heyworth Star, Farmer City Journal and LeRoy Journal.

The papers were part of Pantagraph Publishing in Bloomington, Ill.; company officials said the weeklies were not profitable. "We felt we could more effectively serve our readers in those three communities with The Pantagraph," general manager Barry Winterland said in a story on the Pantagraph's website. A week before the weeklies were closed, the Pantagraph introduced a new "Your Town" print and web section "to provide more consolidated coverage" in Heyworth, Farmer City and LeRoy, and other local communities.

(Via e-mail; send tips, links and memos to