Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Floridians in the front row for Obama's speech

Many of you watched President Obama's address last night, if viewing numbers are any indication. In case you missed these Floridians of note:

Our Washington correspondent Lesley Clark was quick to note in her political blog that Rep. Vern Buchanan, the Republican who represents Manatee and Sarasota in Washington, got himself settled on the aisle to shake hands with Obama's cabinet and the President himself on the way in, and then snag a signature on the way out. (But we don't think he switched his vote on the stimulus package...)

And Leonard Abess Jr., the Miami banker who quietly gave $60 million of his own money to his loyal staff, was hailed by Obama as a symbol of hope in uncertain times. Here's the full story from our sister paper, the Miami Herald.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Just one more thing about Syesha...

If you're a regular reader of the Bradenton Herald or, you might be Syesha'd out by now. She came to town last week and threw a benefit concert for Amer-I-Can, and we covered the tar out of it. It was great fun, good turnout and a welcome change of pace from all the economic news we've been exploring.

And Syesha's surprise visit to her sister's class at Sugg Middle School gave us another day of coverage.

One more dose for you in my column today -- and a tip of the hat to all of you who showed your support last week for Amer-I-Can and one of Manatee's own stars.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How will stimulus package help Manatee?

Trying to get your mind around $787 billion can be stimulating -- at least if there's a chance some of it makes its way to your needs. And that's what every local leader is hoping.

As details spill out on the plan now signed by President Obama, the Herald's reporters are digging into what will make its way to Manatee County. In today's report, Donna Wright looks at how the law could make child care, housing and nutritional services for the elderly more accessible for Manatee families. Reporters Duane Marsteller and Sylvia Lim are analyzing the impact on transportation and education. And our Washington and Tallahassee reporters are keeping watchdog on how our elected officials direct Florida's allotted money.

This needs all of our questions, thoughts and analysis. We're posting many of the stories and databases here at Send us your questions -- we'll help you ask our officials for the answers.

Here are numbers projected for Florida (Source: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office):

206,000 -- Jobs created or saved
6.89 million families -- Eligible for new tax credits
$2.7 billion -- To help the state budget
$1.8 billion -- For transportation projects
169,784 -- Unemployment recipients receiving extended benefits
$100.1 million -- Potential increased funding for enforcing child support payments
$65.7 million -- New funding to help homeless families

-- Joan

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Warming up for spring training


That's the 1A tease in the Sunday Bradenton Herald's "skybox" -- what we call the teasers at the top of the page each day.

Joyous words, those. As John Lembo tells us in today's story, Pittsburgh’s pitchers and catchers have officially ushered in spring training. So for the next several weeks, the crack of bats, shouts of "Ice cold beer here!" and traffic jams in front of McKechnie Field will be welcome additions to the heart of Bradenton.

The Herald will have its annual crush of coverage for spring training here, with stories, columns, photos and daily blogs. This year, though, the hype is even more exciting, with the return of the local American League champs. As Roger Mooney notes in his column today, the Tampa Bay Rays, who opened their first spring training in Port Charlotte this weekend, fell three wins shy of winning the World Series. And "the Rays, players and management, feel there is some unfinished business."

And my Cards have arrived across the state, as my hometown paper's site proudly boasts. More Rays' baseball means even more good fortune for me: My friend has scored tickets to the Cardinals-Rays game in Port Charlotte next month.

Play ball!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Herald's wine columnist debuts today

A toast to our newest columnist, wine enthusiast Jim Rawe. We introduced his column, “Off the Vine,” on today’s Taste cover and here online.

Jim, a local attorney who has a practice of one here in Bradenton, is an astute student of all things wine. He says his wine cellar is home to hundreds of bottles of fine wine, varying from the affordable to -– well, luxurious. He hopes to someday turn his hobby into a full-time career, but for now, he’s still practicing family law.

We hope you enjoy -– send your thoughts. To reach Jim, email him at, or send me your comments here or to

Another cool result from adding “Off the Vine": our Down Home Cooking star, Diann Greene, will be our local centerpiece on Taste most weeks. We have heard from many of you who are enjoying her cooking insights, and we think you’ll love the bigger splash.

Stay tuned for a blog from each of our Taste experts soon on

-- Joan

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Technology doesn't stop the news

CBS Sunday Morning is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and the lookbacks have been wonderful. Each Sunday, the show has a "then & now" perspective that captures how much we've changed.

This morning, commentator/humorist Bill Geist sat with his granddaughter, telling her just how "difficult" it was in the dark ages of 1979. Why, he was working with a typewriter at his newspaper job then! No computers, no Internet, no cell phones, no e-mail. Just a typewriter, encyclopedias, a wall phone and a mailman.

In 1979, I was working at the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune, an afternoon paper. We, too, had typewriters and a scanner system that we used to edit stories for publication. Each of us was reporter-editor-photographer-backshop pasteup artist, wearing whichever hat was needed that day to get the paper out. The wire news came in by ticker-tape, and photos were developed in the dark room. There was one constant: We focused on local news in that college town.

Fast-forward to today. Technology has drastically changed how we bring you the news, and how you look for it. But, just like the old days, journalists are far more likely to multitask than they were just a couple years ago. And we focus on local news.

As I said in my column today, the news keeps on coming, and we keep on finding faster and better ways to bring it to you. Technology will continue to change our world -- but not the need to know.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Get local National Signing Day news here

It's National Signing Day, as sports reporter John Lembo previewed in today's preview story. At least eight of our local football players are signing up with college teams throughout the day.

Our sports writers and photographers have been with the players since 8 this morning, and we've posted the first news here.

Keep checking for updates, photos and video throughout the day, and we'll have a full recap and profiles in Thursday's print editions.

Let's celebrate these teenagers' success today. If only these stories could get as much traffic as the murder stories.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

What's so super about Super Bowl Sunday?

All the hype and buildup to Super Bowl Sunday can bewilder and tire a non-football fan. Trust me, I know too well.

But a good story is a good story, and the Herald's sports staff has been churning them out with Super Bowl XLIII in our backyard. I think my favorite remains Roger Mooney's early story about Joe Madden and his severe addiction to the Cardinals -- rooted, of course, in his adoration of everything St. Louis, including the real Cardinals.

In today's Sunday Herald, Roger has a great setup piece for the 43rd Super Bowl, including all the anomalies of the day:

Super Bowl parties and Super Bowl pools.
Fewest weddings for any weekend.
Fewer crimes.
Emptier churches.
Fatter waistlines -- 3,000-plus calories consumed by every football fan.

In summation: A lot of swearing, swilling and silliness.

We'll be covering all these sensations throughout the day on, capturing the coverage here in our Super Bowl section. Roger will be joined by reporters John Lembo, Nick Walter and Ryan Boyd as they cover the game, scene and atmosphere as the Cardinals and Steelers take the field. Their live reports, quarter-by-quarter, will have local regular updates -- even tracking the performance of Lakewood Ranch's Dominique

So when you need a break from the TV or those obnoxious live fans, check out the Herald's storytellers here and in print tomorrow.