Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Check out our e-newsletters

Here’s an update on the e-newsletters we’re sending out regularly from –- and a nudge to sign up for the regular blasts. (I didn’t even know we had already launched a couple of these, so consider this a shared nudge.) Here's a link to register.

The e-mail blasts are a gentle reminder to check on the latest news or business headlines -- or take a break and think about food and wine! Before I signed on for the news e-letters several months ago, I thought they might feel too much like a chore every day. But they actually end up saving time by saving me a search for the links to stories or blogs I should read.

What we offer today:

The 8 a.m. Morning News e-letter:
It contains all the local news from that day’s edition of the Bradenton/LWR Herald.

The 4 p.m. Update:
This offers you a roundup of the day’s local news, and a preview of some key local stories that will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Breaking News alerts:
These are sent by our metro editors throughout the day, alerting you to developments in key local stories, significant new local stories and, sometimes, national/international breaking news.

Daily Business E-Buzz
This is a collection of the day's local business news, stocks, the latest local columnists and new posts on Business Reporter Brian Neill’s blog, Taking Stock.

Taste Newsletter
A weekly look at food and wine coverage highlighting local events, local tips from our staff, and insights from local foodies and connoisseurs.

Stay tuned, too, for three more that will launch soon:

Moms of Manatee
When we launch our new website, the related e-letter will include all the advice, questions and information from local women about becoming a mom and being a mom.

Real Estate Newsletter
This will include local real estate news updates from reporters and reports from industry insiders. Blogs, photos and more.

Have ideas for other e-letters you’d like to receive from Let us know.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just a thought...

I spent the past week visiting my family in St. Louis, and found it almost too easy to keep up with the local news via Almost everyone in the world but my mom has a computer.

But there's still something quite comforting to come home to this stack of newspapers, packed with short and long stories that either didn't catch my eye or that I didn't do more than scan online. And, just maybe, I took a vacation from the news for a bit.

Here's hoping a lot of you are making this a lazy Sunday, catching up on news, family and friends.


(Oh, yes, I witnessed my Cards get swept away by those darn Brewers...)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday's headlines, and a bit of hope

Good morning, it’s Sunday, July 20.

A week ago, I could have written "it's Bloody Sunday" for the streets of Bradenton that day. That reality is reflected throughout the Herald today -– in my "Letter from the Editor", in Jim Jones’ column, in Tiffany Tompkins-Condie’s Military Moms blog, in Beth Burger’s coverage of William White’s funeral…

Thank goodness there's Snooty. We're celebrating our county's mascot on his 60th birthday with unabashed glee. As our story says this morning in the Herald, at least 5,000 strong turned out for Snooty's party yesterday. Now, for a guaranteed smile, check out Herald videographer Paul Videla's Snooty video. Turn up the sound and sing along.

There is hope for the streets of Manatee County. But there have to be a lot more gentle souls like our favorite manatee among us.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stop the vulgar commenting

As you peruse this week, it would be almost impossible to avoid seeing some of the cruel commenting on our coverage of two horrific tragedies. We have deleted the most offensive, and continue to try monitoring the others.

I've blogged here before, beseeching these commenters to show some decency. And I know this challenge is shared by Web sites worldwide. But it really hits home when it's about our neighbors, their families, their friends.

Yes, there also is some really sensible, thoughtful commenting on the stories. But the nasty ones drown out those voices. It's not the comments about our coverage, either, that anger me. It's some of the comments about these young men and their families.

Johnny Gordon and Travis Fricke died when their speeding car crashed and cartwheeled this weekend. And 19-year-old William White Jr., a former Bayshore High School student, was shot to death Sunday evening. Arrested in connection with his death are two 18-year-olds, Timothy Brooks and Cody P. Rogers.

East Manatee Editor Jim Jones wrote a column this morning in the Lakewood Ranch Herald, questioning how the commenting could be so harsh about such unspeakable loss. In part, he writes of the comments:

Many were sensitive, wise and insightful.

Others were crude, vulgar, racist and stupid. Shockingly so.

I won't dignify the lowest of the low by repeating those postings here, but there is nothing funny about someone losing their life in an accident or homicide.

I hope you all can help us weed out the cruelty before it permanently damages free speech.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

We need a hunger to share

One of our tougher story choices these days is not if we’ll publish a story about someone needing help, but choosing which agency or individual should get the headline. The abundance of these stories is too telling, and the number of people in need is mounting.

Reporter Donna Wright found a measure of this need in her 1A story today, “Making it stretch.” In the past year, the number of households using food stamps in Manatee County has gone up almost 50 percent, Wright learned. She also wrote about efforts to help stem that hunger, particularly a food network that operates through Cornerstone Ministries.

Manatee County has eight host sites for SHARE sponsored by local churches and community centers. Participants place orders for food packages once a month, ranging from meat to vegetables and fruit. As Donna notes in her story, the only requirement to participate is to volunteer either for the network or in some other community capacity for two hours a month, wherever participants choose.

I think we ought to all fulfill that requirement, regardless of whether we need the food package. That might help turn the tide.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kids having fun on Page 1A? You bet

When I arrived at work yesterday morning, my voice mails included a rather terse (that's being polite) message from a reader. For the life of him, he couldn't understand why Samoset Elementary's space camp would be on Page 1A in his Bradenton Herald. He didn't identify himself or leave a number, so I couldn't return his call.

It gnawed at me -- why not showcase local kids having a joyful learning experience? Why not have that "galactic good time" displayed front and center for a change of pace?

Well, thanks to Margi Nanney, Manatee School District's PIO, the best answers came from a parent. Margi e-mailed me this note to reporter Tiffany St. Martin:

Dear Tiffany St. Martin,

Your article on Samoset: “Galactic good time” was an absolute thrill for our students when they heard and saw their pictures in the newspaper and on the internet.

Thank you for all sharing your time with our Samoset family and making this summer a thrill for the children. As a teacher there is nothing more exciting than seeing our students thrills on their faces when they have done something positive especially while learning. You have given the students an experience they probably will never forget and may well be one of the most successful times for them. My son worked very hard on the music part of the project and was extra rewarding for him to get such great recognition. It was also very exciting and made me very proud of him and his dedication and to be recognized for his work was wonderful.

Again thank you for time and consideration for Samoset.

David M. Leppek

That one thank-you makes it all worthwhile. Here are links to Tiffany's story and Grant Jefferies' photo gallery, in case you missed them. There's also three audio soundbites attached, thanks to Tiffany.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday morning's headlines

Good morning, it’s Sunday, July 6. (Dang it, I just had to carry on the tradition…)

The sun is shining, and we’re celebrating a long holiday weekend full of joys, challenges and some heartache. The pages of the Bradenton Herald capture some of that today: a slice of history recorded from the Cortez Family Reunion, a whodunit in a cold-case story by Natalie Nesa Alund, and a good ol’whistle-stop campaign in Parrish.

There’s developing news on the salmonella front, and Jessica Klipa came in on her day off to report on the latest suspects and growing frustration for many of our farmers. County reporter Nick Azzara delved further into Manatee County’s efforts to make development pay for itself and the struggle with impact fees.

And, yes, thank goodness, there’s baseball. I promised a Letter from the Editor about our love of the game and growing love of the Rays. And we woke up to another winning score from baseball’s No. 1 team. Added bonuses: The Cards won 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth and my brother was there to celebrate, and the Brewers edged the Pirates 2-1 in another cliffhanger.

We’re nipping at your heels, Cubbies!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Here's a boost for the economy

Forget foreclosures and impact fees for a bit. It's baseball season. And we have a winning home team -- what joy!

As Roger Mooney noted in his blog, the Tampa Bay Rays ended the first half of the season Sunday with the best record in baseball, not to mention the best record in team history after 81 games. And that was before they started this winning series with the Boston Red Sox (more on that in Sunday's column).

Reporter John Lembo tapped into the growing excitement again today with his 1A story on the merchandizing of the Rays, as well as his notes on attendance:

"The locals are starting to take notice -- in their (the Rays') past 12 home games, an average of 28,026 fans have attended the Trop, as compared to the average of 17,671 fans who attended the Rays' first 32 home games," Lembo wrote.

It's amazing what a winning team can do for the economy...