Joe Strupp’s ‘ASNE Confidential’ for Friday

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By: Joe Strupp

Before leading his panel on the importance of watchdog journalism and investigative reporting, David Boardman, managing editor of the Seattle Times and president of Investigative Reporters and Editors, compared the ASNE conference with most IRE events.

?Walk through a bar at an IRE conference and you?re likely to hear different jokes than you hear here,? he told the roomful of editors. ?What?s black and brown and looks good on an editor? A Doberman pinscher.?

And, of course, ?what?s the difference between an editor and God? God doesn?t think he?s an editor.?

***

USA Today founder Al Neuharth believes the current newspaper stock drop is just a temporary downturn and predicts stock prices, and investment, will increase. ?Wall Street just has the newspaper blahs,? Neuharth said during a break Thursday morning between sessions. ?The stock prices are taking a dive, but I think it will come back.?

Noting the growth and opportunity of the Internet, Neuharth declared that ?newspapers are going to find more and more ways of distributing the news.?

When asked about the current state of his former paper, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, Neuharth said it was ?far better than ever before. Far better than it has ever been in its history.? Noting that it is not trying to compete with The New York Times or The Washington Post, Neuharth said it has a successful ?broad-based interest.?

He then went on to praise Editor Ken Paulson, who took over two years ago after the Jack Kelley scandal. ?He?s running it better than anyone else ever has,? Neuharth said. Paulson was standing next to him at the time.

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While Wednesday?s expected announcement that MediaNews Group would buy four former Knight Ridder papers from McClatchy was not a surprise, the unusual involvement of Hearst Newspapers remained a point of puzzlement for many editors Thursday.

While none of those who spoke to E&P would be quoted on the record, several, including some Hearst editors, were art a loss to explain what the deal meant. ?When you find out, you explain it to me,? one editor said after being asked for an explanation. ?I do not know what it means.?

Another was miffed that none of the companies had offered a clear explanation of the deal, or its next step. ?What is the next shoe that will drop?? said one Hearst editor, who spoke with several others between sessions Thursday. ?It is a little disturbing that they are not explaining it to the newsrooms or the readers.?

Another put it bluntly this way: ?What the hell is Dean Singleton doing??

***
Shelby Coffey, editor of the Los Angeles Times from 1989 to 1997, entertained fellow luncheon attendees Thursday with a story about Otis Chandler, the Times? respected former publisher who died earlier this year.

Over a spiced meat and rice dish, Coffey offered a tale told years ago by former Times Sports Editor Bill Dwyre, who offered to drive Chandler ? an avid car buff ? to a closed-circuit viewing of a heavyweight boxing match in the early 1980s. As Coffey tells it, Chandler was less than enthused when Dwyre picked him up in a Pinto. ?Chandler had every Corvette ever built,? Coffey told others at the table. ?So you can imagine his reaction.?

Still, the then-publisher got in and off they went. But they didn?t get far before the car broke down on the trip across Los Angeles, Coffey said. Chandler, who went on to own and run his famed auto museum, quickly got under the hood, made some adjustments, and off they went.




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