Sunday, May 31, 2009

A standing ovation for baseball lovers

Tampa Bay finally loves baseball.

Sure, it helps coming off a winning season, and the free 3 Doors Down Postgame Concert might have put a lock on the crowd. But it was obvious at Tropicana Field yesterday that fans are here to stay.

More than 36,000 turned out to watch the Rays beat the Twins 5-2. And our section led the ovation when the announcer declared it was Bradenton Night.

But the real standing ovation went to rookie David Price as he headed to the dugout, as writer Roger Mooney notes in his cover story. The lefty struck out 11 and allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings Saturday against the Twins. (What is it with managers taking out a winning pitcher, by the way? But at least Maddon left him in long enough to get the 10Ks needed for every fan to get a free pizza, courtesy of Kane’s and PapaJohns…)

I still sported my Cardinals jersey, in honor of enjoying a game at Busch Stadium less than a week ago. But it was great to jostle through a sea of Rays jerseys -– and I came home with a free Rays cap, guilt-free.

Now about those dang cowbells…

-- Joan

Friday, May 29, 2009

Get our Hurricane Survival Guide this Sunday

I promise this isn't turning into a weather blog, but here's a quick tease after taking a few days off:

The Bradenton Herald's annual Hurricane Guide publishes Sunday, on the eve of the official 2009 hurricane season starting June 1.

Even as I blog, the National Hurricane Center says a tropical depression has formed off the mid-Atlantic coast. It's not expected to threaten land, but it is the official first of the season.

President Obama is visiting FEMA headquarters today, as outlined in our story today from our Washington bureau. With studies finding that Americans are less prepared than ever before, it seems appropriate that he designated this National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Dig into our guide on Sunday, and bookmark this link for's Hurricane Central. As Capt. Larry Leinhauser, spokesman for the Manatee County Emergency Management Services, told reporter Carl Mario Nudi, “now is the time to put up supplies, get a plan and be ready.”

-- Joan

Thursday, May 21, 2009

'09 hurricane season predictions released

Metro Editor Marc Masferrer just posted NOAA's forecast to "Breaking News." Click through and you'll find his link to NOAA and the list of hurricane names as well.

Get ready for the ever-adjusting numbers -- as of today, it's a wide range of nine to 14 tropical storms they're predicting will strike the U.S. this season.

That's a "near normal year for hurricanes," the lead Atlantic hurricane forecaster says.

OK, so I'm wishing for the low end of abnormal.

-- Joan

What's that ice falling from the sky?

I was scrambling for a blog, but Universal Desk Editor Kelly Lipp shrugged it off as a generational “thing” -- and, by the way, why not just post the immediate conversation?

Fine, she had me. We were discussing weather, coverage of weather, and how we were going to get the upcoming special section for hurricane season produced. Yawn? Probably not, with the hurricane season officially staring at us in two weeks.

We had hail for a few minutes yesterday afternoon, and Manatee natives wondered what in the heck that ice was falling out of their sky. For those of us who have spent time in Texas, we recall without fondness scrambling to get our cars under shelter too many days during spring hailstorms.

Here’s hoping predictions are only fodder to get us prepared. We needed the rain; but hurricane, hurricane go away. Later today, we'll post breaking news on The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's outlook for the 2009 season. Stay tuned.

-- Joan

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Golden Heralds help weave community's fabric

The Golden Heralds Awards were phenomenal again this year, thanks to the stellar cast of candidates, judges and sponsors. I salute all the winners in my column today.

One of the coolest aspects of the Golden Heralds -- they are part of this community's historic fabric, whether 32 years ago or last year. Countless resumes have crossed my desk, proudly listing "Golden Herald finalist" as an accomplishment worth considering.

As this year's event was coming to a close, a young woman approached me, with her mom and sister in tow. It was Melissa Quinn, a 2008 Golden Heralds winner in Journalism. She had recently contacted me about interning at the Bradenton Herald -- she's now a student at the University of Florida, majoring in journalism.

This night, however, was not about her. It was all about her little sister -- Christine Quinn, who had just won the 2009 Golden Heralds' Honorable Mention in Music.

"I'm so proud of her!" Melissa gleamed as she introduced her sister again.

We're proud of both of you. And to all of you who help support the Bradenton Herald's annual recognition of outstanding seniors, thanks for making it a family tradition.

-- Joan

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why that last line is missing

Several of our readers called in this morning, asking about the gun buyback story. It ended mid-sentence in the Bradenton edition of the Herald, lopping off the address. Here's the story in entirety; and here's the truncated address:

The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Sheriff’s Office District 2 location, 407 57th Ave. E.

Unfortunately, you've seen more stories missing that last line recently. Our computer system is adjusting stories after they're on the page, and if the copy editor doesn't catch it -- well, the last line gets eaten.

We're working on getting this fixed immediately.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sending old-fashioned hugs on Mom's Day

Blogging about moms and Mother's Day is quite a non sequitur for me. You see, my mother has never owned or even used a computer. Never had one inside the house, I'd wager. So unless my brother takes her a printout of this, I'm on safe turf.

Never. Moms always know, you know. Whatever I write here somehow reflects on that bond I have with my mom -- the bond every human being has with his or her mom, whether it's joyful, painful, blessed or bewildering. Moms do that to their kids.

That's reflected in the Mother's Day words sprinkled in the Herald today. Columnist Vin lost his mom last year, and he writes a reflective, personal column today about the last journey he has planned with his mom, to Ireland.

Reporter January Holmes captured the sheer selflessness of so many moms, in her A&E feature asking local moms what they wanted on their day. Their wishes are laced with longings for more family time rather than tangible gifts.

And photojournalist Tiffany Tompkins-Condie forces us to pause and think about the unthinkable in her Mother's Day blog this morning. She writes about two moms who have lost their Marine sons in a helicopter crash. That loss redefines the selfless acts of motherhood.

But more than anything, today is a day to celebrate Moms everywhere. Whether their children are near or far (Alissa, I don't think there's a place farther from Bradenton than New Zealand!!), my wish for all moms is a hug and a kiss from a loved one today.

Happy Mother's Day.

-- Joan

(p.s. Thanks to neighbors George & John for the hilarious card from Joey Krauter to his mom!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Readers react to narrower newspaper

This week, the size of the Bradenton Herald's print edition changed. It's now on a narrower page. Little was lost in content, thanks to the wizardry of Presentation Editor Jennifer Conklin, who rebuilt all the templates used to produce each page.

Publisher Bob Turner wrote a short column introducing the changes, noting that the classified section was redesigned into a format that's actually much easier to read. I thought I'd share some of the feedback we've received -- good and bad. The good news: Most of you responded positively, noting that belt-tightening was happening everywhere. And you had some helpful suggestions, particularly on the Money & Markets page. Thanks to your feedback, we restored commodities, foreign exchange and treasuries/bonds starting today. (And that amazingly popular little item – the telephone stocks!) Another frequent question was on the size of type. The answer: It's exactly the same, not any smaller.

Sure, some of the comments were downright nasty, and that always stings. I know we’re messing with a daily habit, which is why we put so much work into making the change as seamless as possible. But hurtful comments don't help; we're listening to your suggestions and will try to accommodate as much as possible.

Here’s a sampling of your emails, including those that helped us revise the markets page.

“I have been a subscriber since moving to Florida from Ohio in 2002, and have
enjoyed the local news coverage as well as business coverage…
With the nosedive of the stock market in the fall of 2008, I sold all my stock holdings
and kept my bond holdings. Accordingly until the stock market recovers, the
primary item I checked on a daily basis was the Interest Rates table. Now with
the new format the Interest Rates table has been dropped. Is it possible to
reinstate that table? I believe many other investors have also dropped their
stock holdings and may also be missing the Interest Rates.”

Just wanted to say that.....I LIKE IT!!!......the new design. It's easier to handle and
hopefully it's saving you money so that you can stick around. I would not like
to lose my BH morning paper.

I miss the section of the world currency the Euro and all the other currencies. We do a lot of traveling thru out the world, and I like to keep up on their currency. Otherwise, nice format of the paper and interesting! Keep up the good work!
An avid reader

Thank you for making ALL the classified ads easier to read.

Ever since you folks have reduced your TV guide to a point where some late movies can be missed because you have not listed them anywhere... I knew more cuts would be coming. When the time comes, I will really consider whether to purchase another yearly subscription to your paper or cut you out.

Over the years I have been a big booster of your paper. It is apparent however that these economic times are taking its toll. Truly the paper is much less of its former self. I for one liked the older version and size and hope that one day you will be able to revert back to it... Please keep in mind what this newspaper looked like a short
two years ago and work to getting back to that standard when times afford.

I really like the size of your new format. It is easier to handle and pictures are more pronounced. Who says adding economy can’t improve something??!! Great Job!


Let us know what you think, too. We are listening.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Anna Maria bridge survey scrutinized

Replacing the Anna Maria Island bridge is one of the more emotion-packed, history-evoking debates in Manatee County. Our island has preserved a lifestyle all its own, yet time marches on -- and change becomes inevitable.

In the past year, the Florida Department of Transportation has conducted three surveys with the stated intent to gauge public sentiment on what to do with the aging drawbridge when it reaches the end of its expected lifespan in 10 to 15 years. But Herald transportation reporter Duane Marsteller questioned the methodology and results.

Who responded to the survey was key. Through a public-records request, Duane obtained PDF copies of public-opinion surveys submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation in March and April. He used property and tax records to confirm residency.

The results don't change: The survey found that a high-level, fixed span drew overwhelming support from island residents, even more than among non-island residents. But what Duane confirmed with his analysis: Those results might mean little, because FDOT used a survey method that has little or no statistical validity, a public-opinion research expert says. Read his story in today's Herald and here online.