Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paul Bartley, we will miss you

My first phone message early yesterday was from Linda McKinney, daughter of our beloved Paul Bartley. She didn’t leave any specifics, just an urgent request to call her back.

But the news was already laced in the heavy sadness of her voice. Her dad, my friend, our smiling inspiration, had passed away just hours earlier. We have lost an institution, both in the community and at the Herald.

Paul has been part of the fabric of Bradenton since 1956, but everyone would bet that he was here his entire 84 years. The Herald paid tribute to Paul in today’s editions, with a front-page “Then & Now” centerpiece that captures what everyone feels in their hearts:

We’ve lost a friend.

For years since he “retired,” Paul’s daily routine included a trip through our newsroom. He’d stop in my office just to check on me – and then sneak a chocolate fix and warn me not to tell his better half, Ruth. He’d spend most of his time with his golfing buddy, Managing Editor Jim Smith, sharing some rather tall tales.

And then he’d schmooze with everyone in the newsroom, working his way back to His Desk in the photo department. That corner is really a shrine to Paul, capturing years of service and days gone by.

Paul’s newsroom tour always included a stop at the metro desk, where he’d check the obituaries going into the next day’s editions. He knew, better than any of us, who had helped shape this community, and he flagged many a deserving story on those pages.

“Just checking to make sure my obituary’s not here yet,” he always joked, his shoulders shaking with that famous chuckle.

Tomorrow, those pages will include Paul Bartley’s obituary. And our hearts are heavy with the thought he’s not around to check.

Just days ago, Paul gave me a huge hug when he learned I had lost my grandma. He kissed my cheek and told me how lucky my grandma was to be loved.

I’m the lucky one, to have met Paul Bartley and learn from him what “community” means. As I head to Texas this coming week to celebrate Grandma’s 95 years of living, I know Paul is still taking photos of every cherished moment.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oops -- a business teaser jumped the gun

We had a 1A teaser this morning to a special section highlighting some of Manatee County's innovative, diverse businesses -- timed to help commemorate Industry Appreciation Week in Florida.

One big problem: The section publishes in tomorrow's Herald. Our editors jumped the gun in placing that teaser today. I hope you look forward to Monday's "Investing in Business" and its focus on industry. In the meantime, there's plenty more to enjoy and explore in the Sunday Herald and here online.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Media matters to emerging local leaders

Some might think combining communication and culture would be an oxymoron. But Leadership Manatee proves that it works, at least once a year.

I had the honor of joining a luncheon panel today for the 2008-09 Leadership Manatee Communication and Culture Day. We met in the South Florida Museum's board room, where you'd think the toughest competition in keeping the group's attention would be Snooty and his girlfriends swimming in the tank right behind us.

Not today. This media panel was comprised of partners and rivals, all of us in this news hunt together: Susan Burns, editor of the monthly Biz 941; Matt Walsh, publisher of Gulf Coast Business Review and the Observer Group; Summer Smith, reporter for Bay News 9; and this guy from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (OK, in the spirit of things, that would be Bart Pfankuch, their Manatee editor.)

We were there to talk to this year's Leadership class about our media, how we cover news and events in "our community," how we differ, and how these business leaders -- employees and employers -- can get media coverage.

Which subject received the most questions? If I were a betting person, I would have placed my money on "How do I get my story into the newspaper"? How refreshing to be proven wrong! Of course, all the panelists had already assured the crowded room that our focus is on "local" -- and that means their stories are our bread and butter. But the key questions from the audience today focused on fairness, ethics, change of leadership in Manatee County -- and that's music to journalists' ears.

Thanks to Maggie Mooney, a Leadership Manatee graduate, for organizing the luncheon. The passionate interest in how our industry is evolving was food for the soul.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

McCain/Obama coverage: an even hand

Eight weeks and two days until Election Day.

Sixteen e-mails since midnight from Obama supporters.

Fourteen e-mails in the same 11 hours from McCain supporters.

So who's counting?

Coverage of the bid for president (and, increasingly, vice president) will undoubtedly continue to warrant front-page headlines many days in these next weeks. And the Herald will continue to strive for fair balance as John McCain and Barack Obama head toward the finish line. We don't exactly count the headlines, but we do want even-handed coverage, as I wrote in my column today.

But my mailbox is way too full for a Sunday morning. A bench by the beach without a Blackberry sounds like the way to go.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September means football, Pigskin Picks

Despite my protests that it's prime baseball season, there's nowhere to hide from the onslaught of football. The stats are already getting inked for high school and college teams, and the big guys are lined up for this weekend.

And Pigskin Picks are back in the Bradenton Herald, bigger and better than ever. We have lined up our local high school coaches to put their picks out there for college games and the NFL each week. Check out today's sports section on Page 5D for the first full lineup. As of late this morning, the ballots were already starting to come in.

Here is our online component with even more picks. As the promo challenges: Are you ready for some football? Each week, the winnings are $100 for first place,$50 for second and $25 for third. And the coach with the best record this season gets $1,000 donated to their high school from Lakewood Ranch Dental.

Good luck, all!