Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Manatee's parks: new photo galleries

We launched "Our Parks" this week on Bradenton.com and in the Herald -- a nature lover's dream, we hope.

I asked Metro Editor Marc Masferrer for three words to help craft an intro. His choices: pastoral, rustic, wild.

That's the essence of our photojournalists' project at Bradenton.com/ourparks/:
Manatee County offers dozens of wildlife habitats, rustic parks and pastoral gems of nature. Here, Bradenton Herald’s photojournalists will take you on a virtual tour through these havens.

Our first entry: Grant Jefferies' spectacular 40+ images from Emerson Point Preserve, a 365-acre preserve at the tip of Snead Island in western Palmetto. Here is one of my favorites: An osprey is perched high atop a tree at Emerson Point Preserve.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Season of giving finds plenty of need

One glance at Bradenton.com makes it clear: This needs to be the season of giving. And this was before new (higher) unemployment numbers came out today .

Here's a sampling:
-- Southern Manatee Fire Rescue is asking the community to help the family of six who lost almost everything in a house fire. Reporter Beth Burger's coverage brought calls offering that help almost immediately.


As told in this story and photos by reporter Paradise Afshar and photographer Paul Videla, Kingdom Life Christian Church and the Bradenton Police Department helped 100 families in the third annual Honoring the Badge -- a shopping spree that helps kids in need, and helps build a much-needed bod between officers and our community's youth.

-- Southeast High students created a special Christmas for developmentally disabled youngsters attending Manasota ARC, as chronicled in reporter Angeline Taylor's story here.

-- Downtown Bradenton merchants and non-profits have organized a charity drive to help people in need -- and their four-legged friends.

Here at the Herald, HR director Holley Pauley organized a drive for the Community Coalition on Homelessness in Bradenton. Hearty piles of donations were stacked in our conference room this morning. Here's a list to keep handy -- all year.

Here are a few items that are desperately needed.

Dog food/treats – The shelter is completely out of dog food.
Children’s clothing all sizes boys/girls
Baby diapers
Small bottles of Shampoo
Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss
Deodorant
Lip balm
Lotions
Small stationery kit with notepaper, envelopes, pen, stamps
Comb, hairbrush, and small hand mirror
Soap and washcloth
Disposable razors
Warm gloves
Underwear all sizes (male/female/children)
Warm socks
Knit caps
Blankets and sleeping bags (can be used if recently washed)
Non perishable snack foods
Deck of cards or small games
Hand can openers
Duffle bags (easy to carry)

Recycled clothing items
Tops and jeans of all sizes
Sweaters and jackets
Shoes in good condition

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bradenton.com is giving away an iPad


Does your Christmas wish list include an iPad? Sign up for any or all of our newsletters and you could win an iPad from Bradenton.com.

Dozens of you have already entered for a chance to win. The countdown is at nine days. The deadline to sign up: 12:01 a.m. Dec. 23.

Click here for the details.

To register to become a member of Bradenton.com, go here:
http://www.bradenton.com/reg-bin/int.cgi?mode=register


If you already subscribe, now's a good time to update your account:
http://www.bradenton.com/static/insite/login.html

You're already in for the random drawing, but who knows? It might improve your odds. Click on the Newsletters link in the right column to add email newsletter subscriptions.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Live, from Manatee vs. St. Thomas Aquinas

Live, from tonight's Manatee vs. St. Thomas Aquinas game:

Sports reporter Alan Dell will be sending live updates right from the field in Fort Lauderdale. (The fun has already started, as you can see from this gallery as the Canes left at noon.)

You can check out these updates on our sports home page (http://www.bradenton.com/sports)
On Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/BradentonSports)
On our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/BradentonHeraldNews).

You'll also find updates on our Sports Blogs:
brsoundingoff.blogspot.com
preprallybradenton.blogspot.com

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m., so join us online and you won’t miss a thing during the game.

-- Joan

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Editor's multitasking all in a night's work

Today's story on the arrest of Willie Lee Shannon, an Ellenton resident, in a 20-year-old cold case out of Las Vegas is a great opportunity to highlight how much newsroom jobs have changed.

You'll notice the byline: Brent Conklin. Notice the photo credit as well: Brent Conklin. What most of you don't know: Who was the Night Metro Editor? Brent Conklin.


Brent's evening, albeit a bit more hectic than others, really wasn't out of the ordinary anymore. We got the tip on the story late Tuesday afternoon, when our night cop reporter Paradise Afshar was already covering the ceremonial cutting of the metal beam from Ground Zero. Southern Manatee Fire Rescue is transforming the 3,000-pound beam into a 9/11 monument here in Bradenton.

So Brent picked up a reporter's notebook and a camera and headed to Shannon's neighborhood, looking for leads and background information on the suspect. He spent the rest of the night tracking down the story from Manatee and Las Vegas law enforcement officials. He found the online story by the Las Vegas Sun, and called the editors there. He posted the story and photo to Bradenton.com, updating throughout the night. He wrote the 1A story for today's editions, and shared it out to the Sun.

And Brent still was the night editor, editing all the late copy, proofing all the pages and setting up coverage for today.

In his nitenote, Brent humbly wrote:

"Phew. It was a wild night with writing that Shannon story and having to read two stories each from Paradise and Beth, and Lembo’s MANATEE story. Apologies in advance if any typo(s) got through."

And my Bradenton Herald was still on my driveway by at least 5:30 a.m., when I first checked.

Wow.

-- Joan

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Did 'Noles get cheated? Watch this video

Congratulations to the Manatee Hurricanes, the top-ranked team in Class 5A, as they beat Palm Bay Bayside 35-32 to secure a date in Fort Lauderdale next week with St. Thomas Aquinas. But what has ended up even more a talker is the Southeast Noles' 28-21 loss to South Fort Myers in the Class 3A-Region 3 championship game.

Our coverage was superb, from John Lembo's detail-packed game story on the 'Canes winning march to the state semifinals, to Alan Dell's deadline story on everyone questioning that last-minute call against Noles' Antonio Ray.

Did he catch the ball for a touchdown? You decide, thanks to this video, courtesy of the Fort Myers News-Press.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Herald's Cookie Exchange starts today


Get ready to give your sweet tooth a workout.

We launched our yummy Cookie Exchange today, heralding the arrival -- already!! -- of December. You can post your favorite recipe to this searchable database, or find a new one as others share. As of this writing, there are already 23 recipes to peruse.

And if you sign up for our Taste newsletter, you'll get a new recipe every day between now and Christmas.

An added bonus this year: The Herald's own Down-Home Cook Diann Greene will be showcased twice by Publix in Bradenton, demonstrating holiday cookie recipes:
9-11 a.m. Dec. 8 at Beachway Plaza Publix, 7310 Manatee Ave. W.
9-11 a.m. Dec. 15 at Lakewood Ranch Gateway Publix, 1755 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

Read more in Diann's column today.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Still giving thanks on this holiday weekend


I'm just returning from a long Thanksgiving weekend up north, where the temps actually dipped to 8 one morning. But the warmth of friends and family made that impossible to believe as we celebrated the holiday. And you know, pulling out the heavy sweaters and mittens only added to the festive spirit. (Sure, it probably helped knowing that mid-70s awaited here in Bradenton, but...)

Before we gear up for end-of-the-month reports, the traffic jams as work on Manatee Avenue drags on (check out this photo gallery by Grant Jefferies), and a full week after that blessed holiday break, there's still plenty of time to revel in the joys of Thanksgiving.

As features writer Wade Tatangelo reflects in his column today, being home for the holidays -- whether it's immediate or extended family, new or old friends -- is an unparalleled joy. And if you didn't make it home -- especially for the men and women serving our country overseas -- thoughts and prayers of thanks were sent to embrace you.

-- Joan

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Free tickets to check out Harry Potter


What does Draco Malfoy name his son?

The trivia question was posted yesterday on Bradenton Herald's Facebook, and Will Hefner was the first to list the right answer (Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy). He scored himself two Carmike Cinemas tickets for the latest movie craze, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

Every day this week, we'll be posting a Potter trivia question. And usually the first Facebook pal to answer correctly will win another deuce of tickets. "Like us" on Facebook, get the right answer and you might find yourself with a date to the theater.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What's in the stars for you today

We noticed that many of our viewers are searching for 'horoscope' -- yes, we study those SEO lists religiously.

But we didn't make it easy for you to find. Now, thanks to Bradenton.com Web Developer William Winter, you can click to our daily horoscope page from the home page's dropdown menu, or from Bradenton.com/horoscope.

A glance back at Friday: I should have read mine way sooner!

-- Joan

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Salute our Veterans with photos, tributes

A friend recently sent me a must-read opinion piece about the defeat of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who often was labeled the Senate's conscience for the past 17 years.

Whether you agree or not isn't why I point you there. The column launches by taking you back to the days after 9-11, when patriotism was fierce throughout America.

Bring yourself back, if you can bear it, to October, 2001. Remember flags ubiquitous, tears irrepressible. There were a good many of us who declared at the time that we were afraid not only of the threat of violence from abroad but also of the domestic danger that our liberties would be revoked in the name of security.

I thought again about this as I read our 1A tease today for Veterans Day events. The list is long, but the patriotic trumpets don't sound as loud. We hope our advance stories stir more reverence for all our veterans. We've launched a photo tribute page here at www.bradenton.com/veteransphotos. And on Thursday, your Bradenton Herald will include a full-page American Flag for your windows and bulletin boards.
A salute to veterans like Hurb Thompson, who took the story behind his Purple Heart to Braden River middle-schoolers yesterday.
Photo by Grant Jefferies

Friday, October 29, 2010

What a sweet treat for our fans

We've had fun picking among our Facebook fans for Hunsader tickets these past few weeks. But none has been sweeter than our grand prize winner, Lucille Skidmore.

And in today's story, columnist Vin Mannix talks to Skidmore, who knows how much her autistic grandson Jacob Shahinian will enjoy himself at the Hunsader Farm Family Pumpkin Festival.

“Walking through the maze, playing in the bounce house, sitting in the pumpkin patch with his sisters, he loved all of it,” Skidmore said. “I can’t wait to see the look on his face when we go back.”

That will be this weekend — a fourth birthday present for Jacob and his 14-year-old sisters, twins Samantha and Savannah.

Sweet treat. Congratulations to all of our winners.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Early voting proves to be plenty patriotic

I voted today, joining the ranks of early voters for the first time. And it was, surprisingly, just as rewarding as voting on Election Day.For some reason, I hadn't expected that feeling of good ol' patriotic pride that comes with walking into the polling place on the first Tuesday of November each year.

But the line was actually longer today at the Supervisors of Elections office than it typically is at my neighborhood church/polling place.

The glut of campaign signs, the banter of the latest opinions surrounding various races and the earnestness of the elections workers provided quite a lift. It felt a lot more significant than the state Legislature's dry definition of early voting: "casting a ballot prior to election day at a location designated by the supervisor of elections and depositing the voted ballot in the tabulation system."

Manatee Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat says the line has been steady all week. As of day's end Tuesday, 5,690 of the county's 202,710 registered voters had cast their ballots. Early voting continues 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday & Friday; 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. More details can be found on the supervisor of elections site.

We all left today emblazoned with "I Voted" stickers. We just have to wait a bit longer to see if our choices prevail.

-- Joan

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Going pink: Manatee makes time to care


Throughout October, Manatee County residents have been raising awareness of the toll that breast cancer takes on women -- and men. In the Herald's coverage today , you'll see the statistic: More than 240,000 women and men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the United States. And 12,000 of those live in Florida.

At least that many men, women and children walked somewhere in Manatee County over the weekend to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.
I think we all know someone who has been stricken with cancer. Many of us have had at least a scare. What better reason to take that sticky note on the front of today's paper and get a free cancer screening if you haven't already? And read through the stories we recently published in "Pink," a special section dedicated to breast cancer awareness.

Take time to care.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Journalism Next: working with our future


We're constantly being asked about the future of journalism -- newspapers in particular. One of the best ways to help define that answer is to work with the next generation of journalists.

The Bradenton Herald has renewed that effort this school year, working with students at every high school in Manatee County. The project, Journalism Next, is being led by Presentation Editor Jennifer Conklin. Leading the way among our high schools is Manatee High, which has published the student newspaper The Macohi for almost a century.

The Macohi and the students are lucky to have Erica Weiffenbach as their Macohi adviser. She met with me last year to brainstorm on applying for the Student/Newspaper Partnership Grant from the Newspaper Association of America Foundation -- a prestigious nod to only four high schools each year across the nation.

Well, she won the grant. With that brings $5,000 in funding and a yearlong commitment to working with the Herald as the area's local daily newspaper, as Jennifer wrote in her story here Sunday. Newsroom staffers meet at least once a month with Macohi students, helping them edit stories and produce the student newspaper.

On Monday, we launched the Journalism Next series in print -- weekly stories written by local high school students about something relevant in their world. Our first entry was reported and written by Manatee High student Jaina Patel, who showcased a new program by the University of South Florida that encourages high school freshmen to build a path to college.

We'll be building a section on Bradenton.com soon. Please send your ideas -- and students, if you want to get involved, let us know!

-- Joan

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For Ringling: returning byline & our own dancer


A byline from years past has rejoined the Bradenton Herald, and he couldn't have picked a better week.

Wade Tatangelo is our new features writer/columnist, joining us just in time to cover the Ringling International Arts Festival. In his opening 1A story today, Wade took us to opening night of "Southwest Florida’s most highly anticipated arts event."


Wade almost begged to review the world premiere of Florida's own Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz's “Hurricane,” staged Wednesday night at the Historic Asolo Theatre. He interviewed Cruz as well, who describes the play as an examination of the displacement of the soul.


Another noteworthy insight into a Herald staffer: Photojournalist Tiffany Tompkins-Condie was a classic ballet dancer in her life before newspapers. And while she is a truly gifted photographer, she also has a wonderful way with words. So she combined all those diverse skills to provide us with an authoritative review of the festival's main attraction, dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov performing with contemporary artist David Neumann.

Coming Friday: the inside scoop on Bonnie and Clyde. You also can follow Wade on his blog, Buzz Worthy.

-- Joan

Sunday, October 10, 2010

True, half true or on fire? Check out PolitiFact


"Did you just hear that political commercial? Are his pants on fire, or what?"

Welcome to PolitiFact. With elections just three weeks away, PolitiFact Florida, the fact-checking website that’s a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald, has made all of their copy available to the Bradenton Herald's print editions as a public service.

PolitiFact Editor John "J.Bart" Bartosek has been sending us these self-described "thoroughly reported, well-sourced and smartly written Truth-O-Meter items" each day. The claims are then rated by the Truth-O-Meter – True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True and False. The most ridiculous falsehoods get the lowest rating, Pants on Fire.

On Bradenton.com/politics, we also have posted a widget linking to the ratings and updated items each day.

Here's the explainer on PolitiFact Florida, courtesy of St. Pete and Miami:

PolitiFact Florida is a partnership of the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald to help you find the truth in politics.

Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times and the Herald examine statements by Florida elected officials and candidates and anyone else who speaks up on matters of public importance. We research their statements and then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter.

In Sunday's editions, the Herald published PolitiFact's examination of the GOP's latest ad against Alex Sink, which states “Newspapers say Florida made bad investments, lost hundreds of millions of dollars, billions in pension funds lost. Who was in charge of Florida’s investments? Alex Sink.”

The Truth-O-Meter ranks it "Half True." See Page 13A of the Herald, or check it out at the PolitiFact site.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

'Like' us -- you might win free movie tickets


Our 1,000th fan has arrived on Bradenton Herald's Facebook. That's a minuscule milestone when you consider that Facebook's homepage has 20,696,049 fans as of this writing.

But we've had some fun getting the most recent fans to sign on, offering a chance to win free movie tickets.

To coincide with the release of "The Social Network" -- the Facebook movie -- the Bradenton Herald/Bradenton.com each day through Oct. 15 is giving away two pairs of Carmike Cinema tickets to two of our Facebook users who "like" the Bradenton Herald. Metro Editor Marc Masferrer and Community Relations Manager Jill McGarry are doing the contest's heavy lifting, coordinating the daily picks and contacting the winners.

Current and new "fans" are eligible. You can find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BradentonHeraldNews.

No purchase is necessary. Winners will be contacted via Facebook daily. You can pick up the tickets at the Bradenton Herald, 102 Manatee Ave. W., or we'll mail them to you.

So if you haven't signed on, like us and get a chance to a free visit to the silver screens. And you'll then be linked into our top-of-the-news picks every day.

-- Joan

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bradenton.com changes commenting service

Dear Bradenton.com commenters,

We're introducing a new article-commenting service today called Disqus. That's pronounced “discuss,” and it offers new ways to watch, follow and share comments — and, according to the provider, promotes greater accountability among contributors to boost the quality of comments. You'll find the new commenting style on all stories created after 10 a.m. today.

Like any change, it will take some getting used to. But the basics remain the same. If you're already registered, your existing login should still work. But you can also use Facebook and Twitter logins to access the comments. You'll have to reintroduce your avatar. For more details, here's a full Q&A we published today.

The old comments were posted through a service called Pluck. For the next week, you'll be able to view those comments. Starting next Thursday, those comments will be retired and no longer on our site.

Problems with the new system, or want to share feedback? Please e-mail the web team (and I'll see those e-mails) at webdesk@bradenton.com.

Let's keep talking!

-- Joan

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Palmetto fight video ignites community debate


Do we or don't we post the video?

That was the debate in the newsroom last week as a quick scan of the web -- and YouTube in particular -- surfaced videos of two 16-year-old girls fist-fighting in that vacant Palmetto lot and one of their mothers urging her daughter on.

We decided to provide the link, as long as it was available on YouTube. We did not put a download of the video on Bradenton.com, because we didn't film it ourselves. But that video is very much a part of the news story.

As reporters Beth Burger and Paradise Afshar outlined in their story today, the videos shot by some of the almost 100 teens watching that fight have catapulted the incident into an international news story.

Neither girl was apparently seriously injured, which the Herald editors also discussed before posting the video.

One of the girls' mother, April Newcomb, has been charged with child abuse. Her attorney acknowledges that the video catapulted this case into high drama.

From today's story:

“The actions of a high school student getting into a fight is not necessarily news. That’s been happening for years,” said Newcomb’s defense attorney, Kevin Hayslett, of Clearwater.

“Part of the snowball effect of this story is that it was beamed around the world within 24 hours,” he said. “Had it not been for the power of the Internet, this would have been a fight the kids talked about at school, but would not have had any lasting consequence for the participants or spectators.”


The Herald will continue to push for community conversation on this case. As columnist Vin Mannix notes in his column today, we're lucky no one was killed in this fiasco.

-- Joan

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Calling us for the rest of the story

The top call this morning: Our readers were rightfully irritated by a story in the Bradenton Herald that abruptly ended mid-sentence.

The story: Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. "Dick" Etchberger's courage, posthumously recognized 42 years later. President Barack Obama on Tuesday posthumously recognized Etchberger for service "beyond the call of duty" by giving him the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor. Obama said those three words can now be etched into a granite monument to Etchberger's memory at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana.

You can read the complete story here. For those who wanted a hard copy, I've promised to mail them a printout.


AP Photo - President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor posthumously to the sons of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger, right to left, Richard Etchberger Corey Etchberger, and Steve Wilson during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Manatee Beaches -- a lasting tribute


This e-mailer sent words to live by this morning:

Dear Mr. or Ms Jefferies,

I have never written before but felt compelled to write you regarding the photos in today's Bradenton.com website. I moved to Bradenton 11 years ago. I always thought that if I moved close to a beach that I would visit that beach as often as possible. Alas, due to work, family, etc., I find myself lacking in "me" time. After viewing your beautiful photos of Holmes Beach, I will be visiting the beach more often!

Thank you for the excellent photography!! I wish you much success in your career!

Sincerely,

Hazel F. Griggs


This week marks the final gallery entry to "Our Manatee Beaches", Bradenton.com's special summer project that was spurred by the fear of oil on our beaches. The pages and galleries have been extremely popular with our viewers -- we set new daily records for online visitors with each one.

As Ms. Griggs recognized, photojournalist Grant Jefferies took ownership of this project, producing stunning galleries for the past three months. As a result, "Our Manatee Beaches" provides beautiful insight into Manatee County's natural resources. We plan to keep these live for plenty of viewing in the future. Thanks to all of you who added photos, viewed Grant's work, and sent them to friends via e-mail and Facebook.

-- Joan

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never forget: 9/11 is our history


"... can you believe nine years since 9/11?"

In that simple e-mail, my friend captured the moment. "9/11" is a noun, an event, a day that shook us and changed us. How can we forget? Because we're human. And time heals. Or helps pain fade. Or just makes us numb.

The words "Never Forget" still reverberated through the memorials and observances that laced yesterday and today. But the crowds have thinned; the tears brush away more quickly; the shock of seeing a plane smash into a building has eased into history.

In our coverage of the "Tribute to Heroes" events, columnist/reporter Vin Mannix found many voices determined to honor the memories of those lost on 9/11, and their faces of resolve were captured in these photographs by Grant Jefferies and Paul Videla.

They need our help. Each of us needs to take a long moment today and remember -- and then resolve to hold our neighbor's hand, help someone in need, make a plan for tomorow. Nine years ago, we clung to that ability as we tried to make sense of the senseless. Time heals. Let's just not forget.

-- Joan

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Speaking of tweets...

Odds are that tweeting will eventually morph into some other social media fad. But Twitter has continued to grow since it was introduced in 2006, and those 140-character texts are often the first tease to breaking news.

The Bradenton Herald is using several Twitter feeds, including Sports' new Twitter feed, @bradenton designed to bring followers the latest breaking sports headlines and links to other coverage.

Taking feeds from sports writers and sports fans alike, News Editor Jason Bartolone (jbartolone@bradenton.com) and other editors are posting interesting local sports tidbits –- from prep sports, Marauders, IMG, local golf, and more. Jason's key focus for tweets: live events, especially Friday Night Football.

You also can follow news headlines @bradentonherald and entertainment headlines @accentbradenton .

All tweets and our Facebook at www.facebook.com/BradentonHeraldNews eventually lead you to Bradenton.com. And that, dear readers, takes you full circle, 24-7, from our beloved print edition every day.

-- Joan

Thursday, September 2, 2010

'Canes cheer card, Twitter and podcast


We're all things 'Canes.

As the Manatee Hurricanes head to Turtle Creek, Pa., to play Woodland Hills at Wolvarena on Saturday, the Herald is cheering them on.

Get this cheer card in Friday’s Bradenton Herald, or stop by the office at 102 Manatee Ave. W. (The ad in today's paper jumped the gun -- sorry about that.) Put your cheer card in the window -- or, better yet, take it to the game with you.

Herald sports reporter John Lembo is heading to Turtle Creek to bring you live coverage. He'll be tweeting -- sign up at @bradentonsports and we'll be posting score updates on Bradenton.com.

Jason Dill and Jason Bartolone preview Manatee High’s trip to Pennsylvania for another football showcase in their podcast this week.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night Football is King in Manatee


The headline on today's story says it all:

Lights. Camera. Action.

It's Friday Night Football. Probably should be in ALL caps. The season hasn't even started, and the pitch is at a record frenzy in Manatee County.

ESPN is in town to broadcast the Manatee Hurricanes' Kickoff Classic tonight against Tampa Plant. John Lembo gives us the inside scoop in his column today.

And Florida State University and -- more to the point -- the Collegiate Licensing Co. have challenged the longstanding logos and nicknames of the Southeast Seminoles. (Oh, right -- now, after a day after the news hit the headlines, they want to negotiate.)

OMG, what a season this promises to be. Good timing by the Bradenton Herald, too, if I must say so: Today's print edition includes our annual football sections, packed full of insights for the 2010 high school, college and pro seasons (see the covers below). Here online, you can find all the local schedules and sign in for all the game highlights tonight.

Countdown to kickoff is on!

-- Joan

(P.S.: My heart hasn't sold out. It's still baseball season. Albert Pujols hit his 400th home run last night, even though the Cards lost in the 13th inning... )

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Women, we must celebrate -- and we can!

We excel in every field of higher education.
We hold top professional jobs.
We have a voice.
We vote.

Baby, we really have come a long way. And Susan B. Anthony was in our midst this weekend to remind us of that.

The Manatee and Sarasota Commissions on the Status of Women, along with the Manatee and Sarasota Leagues of Women Voters, hosted the 90th Anniversary Celebration for Women’s Equity on Saturday.

The Bradenton Herald was a sponsor of the event, founded 15 years ago by Dr. Mona Jain and Dot Ridings -- the first female publisher of the Herald.

The Polo Grille’s ballroom was filled to capacity with the sold-out luncheon crowd of more than 430 -– mostly women, but men were welcome, too. And Susan B. Anthony -– aka actor Barbara Rowe -– was guest speaker, and she stole the show.

Through Rowe’s gripping monologue, we were honored to have a glimpse into Anthony’s amazing biography -– abolitionist, education reformer, labor activist, temperance worker, women’s rights campaigner. All of this served as a poignant reminder of how much she and other women suffragists sacrificed for the women of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

The audience was a stunning representation of these women -– a crowd of diverse age and ethnicity. Our table was a great snapshot, with six young women who have bright promising futures – thanks in large part to the women before them who fought for their rights. (See the photo below, courtesy of Jim Jones, who also turned this story today.)

The event was a less-than-gentle reminder that women couldn’t always be doctors, lawyers, politicians -- or executive editors. In fact, Susan B. Anthony chided us, newspapers decried the suffragists’ efforts as immoral in the 1850s!

Take a moment this week on Women's Equality Day, Aug. 26, to reflect on what all the women like Anthony have done for us -- and remember them with gratitude.

-- Joan

At the Herald table, from left: Alanna Culver of Pineview Elementary, Juhi Mirchandani of Southeast High School, Olivia Ogles of Haile Middle School, Nupur Mathur of St. Stephens Episcopal School, Snreya Patel of St. Stephens Episcopal School, and Ruchi Ramamurthy of Southeast High School

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Facebook fan notes 'good news' was buried

Facebook gives readers another way to critique both the Bradenton Herald and Bradenton.com. One of our fans made a good point today:
(name) is extremely disappointed in the Bradenton Herald for choosing to run Bill Evers' complaining as a front page story. And making the fact that City Council voted to extend the CRA to include the Players & Rossi Park (a hugely positive move for our community) merely a footnote at the end of the column. Sensationalism over substance? C'mon guys...you're better than that.

We agree -- reporter Tim Wolfrum was under the gun with two other stories, and ended up including the CRA's news with the election story. So here's the headline now broken out separately, and a link to January Holmes' previous story.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Arrivederci, Carl Mario Nudi

Today marks the end of an era in the Bradenton Herald's newsroom. Veteran journalist Carl Mario Nudi is retiring after 44 years -- to the date -- in this biz.

Carl walked into our newsroom in 1986, with 20 years already under his belt at the Detroit Free Press. But he didn't start in a newsroom. Carl was a printer in the days of hot lead and Linotypes, when the backshop rightfully ruled. If you didn't have a good printer, you could kiss those deadlines and good-looking pages goodbye. My guess is, Carl was the best.

We had a little farewell shindig for Carl last week in the newsroom, with a lot of Italian food, good memories and more than a few tears. In his typical self-deprecating style, Carl had begged us not to make a big deal of it. But he had been loudly counting down the days for, oh, at least a couple years. We owed him the hot seat, one last time. Carl knew better, and he came prepared with a touching farewell, which we published today as his column.

We presented him with this keepsake front page, designed by news editor Jason Bartolone, who captured the essence of Carl in this handsome cover. The well-wishes of current and past coworkers flowed through two entire pages, memorializing everything from his salty retorts to, well, his days as an artist's nude model. That's our Carl.

I chose the conservative route:

You can count on Carl Mario Nudi. Period.
He’s the guy who will ask the tough question when the bosses call a meeting.
He’s the guy who will reach out to every new person and make sure they feel welcome.
He’s the guy who will rush to help without asking for anything in return.
And he’s the guy who makes us smile on even the toughest days.
Carl has made the Bradenton Herald a much richer home for journalists.
And we will miss him.

All the best to you, Carl. Your adventures have just begun.


-- 30 --

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Here's looking at Bradenton.com


We monitor traffic on Bradenton.com constantly, moving and updating stories and images accordingly. Each day, we generate reports on "page views" and "unique visitors" that have shown healthy growth for Bradenton.com.

Here's a welcome trend: Our photo galleries rock. In recent weeks, especially since we launched "Our Manatee Beaches," staff galleries have knocked a lot of petty crime stories out of the Top 10.

Monday's top stories and galleries are a good example:

Bradenton tells condo residents to move out (with photo gallery)

PHOTO GALLERY: Anna Maria Beach

Gallery: Condo residents told to move out

Story: Concerned neighbors clean up vacant Bayshore house

PHOTO GALLERY: Coquina Beach

PHOTO GALLERY: The Birds of Anna Maria Island

Woman dies in I-75 traffic accident

Gallery: 2489110Saving Myakka history

BIRDS OF PARADISE

PHOTO GALLERY: Lionfish found off Anna Maria

What a treasure trove!

-- Joan

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Herald goes to Washington

This very cool e-mail came this week:


Dear Ms. Krauter,

Today as my family and I were touring Washington DC we discovered that the front page of today's Bradenton Herald(August 2nd) was on display in front of the Newseum. The Newseum is a museum in DC focusing on the 1st Amendment. Each day they display a different front page from a newspaper from each of the 50 states, and the Bradenton Herald was the front page today for Florida. I am attaching a picture of my children (Miranda, Gabrielle and Andrew) in front of the newspaper.

Thank You,

Kristi Lim
Fifth Grade Teacher
Wakeland Elementary

-------------------
I haven't had the pleasure of visiting the Newseum yet, but it's an amazing statement to the value of journalism. According to its Web site, the 250,000-square-foot museum of news "offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits."

The website is especially cool if you've lived in other towns and miss your former hometown newspaper. Each day, many front pages from around the country are posted at this link -- it's a great bookmark.

Kudos to Kristi Lim for highlighting the value of our First Amendment with her children -- and for sharing.

-- Joan

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tell us about your claim against BP

The best news on the oil spill front today, Day 103, is that we may be in the "cleanup phase" of this disaster. Leading off a three-part McClatchy series on all aspects of that challenge, Bradenton Herald reporters Grace Gagliano and Sara Kennedy examine in today's story how everyone who works or lives along the Gulf Coast must work to clean up the image damaged as much by perception as the actual oil residue.

But the damages are real. More than 100,000 claims against BP have already been filed, according to national accounts. How will these be paid? President Obama has appointed an independent claims administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, to oversee the claims process.

Starting today, the Bradenton Herald/Bradenton.com and other news media are partnering with ProPublica in a watchdog project monitoring the BP claims process.

As ProPublica -- "an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest" -- writes in our story today:

We could take BP at its word that it will pay all “legitimate” claims, and trust the administration’s assurances that the people of the Gulf will be made whole. We think it’s better to shine some sunlight on the process.

If you’ve filed a claim with BP, please share details of your experience with the Bradenton Herald’s and ProPublica’s reporters using this form. If you need help in filing a claim, ProPublica has compiled important guidelines for you.

Keep this out in the open. You have a right to know.

-- Joan

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Herald staffers shooting video

For at least two years, Herald staffer Paul Videla has split his journalistic duties here between photography and videography. Several other staffers, particularly East Manatee Editor Jim Jones, have also dabbled in video.

But photojournalists Grant Jefferies and Tiffany Tompkins-Condie held fast to their love of still photography, dedicating all of their time to print and online images and galleries. Well, that love isn't changing, but they also are foraging into the video world today.

Tiffany turned her first official video (see below) for today's package on the Innocence Project's motion to have rape convict Derrick Williams' sentence overturned, based on a new DNA test.

We plan to have more daily videos at Bradenton.com for those viewers who prefer that medium. Send us your ideas on what you'd like to see. (And I wish I could share Grant and Tiff's hilarious farce in testing out the video equipment last week, but you'll have to find that on Facebook...)

-- Joan

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Best grouper in town? That's easy


Welcome to Week Two of "Our Manatee Beaches" -- the Bradenton Herald/Bradenton.com's lens on the beaches along Anna Maria Island.

This week's focus: the Rod & Reel Pier.

The pier, according to island history sites, dates back to at least 1947. The Rod and Reel Restaurant is the most northern eatery on the island, with its unimpeded view of Tampa Bay and the Skyway Bridge. And it has the best grouper sammies in town (in fact, it's the first restaurant I was taken to during my job interview 12 years ago!).

Here's a link to the gallery by Grant Jefferies. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The best line of the day

Herald reporter Tim Wolfrum captured today's best line -- and most inspiring -- in his story about Amputees Across America. The cross-country bicyclists were visiting HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota Friday on their way to Vero Beach, marking the end of a 3,500-mile journey from California.

In his article, Tim portrayed the cyclists' mission: to show other amputee patients that they can have a meaningful, active life after the dark days of rehabilitation.

A sense of humor, it seems, goes a long way. Tim saved that best line almost for last, offering us insight into cyclist Doc Milligan, who lost his leg to bone disease. The 63-year-old from Spring Hill, Fla., was on his second cross-country ride. And it seems he would have been on his third ride, but he had collided with a stray dog and broke his hip during training.

Doc later reconciled with the dog and adopted him.

“I didn’t get mad at him for breaking my hip,” Milligan said, “but I did get even. I had him neutered.”

Now, how can you not go out and do something wonderful today? Thanks, Tim, for capturing that moment.

-- Joan
Doc Milligan visits 39-year-old Robert Kent of Sarasota/photo by Herald photographer Paul Videla

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Life's a beach -- let's celebrate

On Day 89 of the oil disaster in our Gulf, reports show that the well's new cap continues to hold. Not to jinx ourselves, but that brings increasingly strong indications that Tampa Bay's shoreline will be spared.

So while we decry the untold damages to the Gulf's ecosystem, we celebrate our good fortune while it lasts. And we hope that's for years to come.

We may have gone a little over the top today in the Herald and on Bradenton.com, but the focus on sunshine, white beaches and clear water feels wonderful. In my column today, we point you to Bradenton.com/ourbeach, where each day we will bring you snapshots, videos and factoids about our beaches.

That news is worth bookmarking.
-- Joan

P.S. Here's a view from our favorite bench at sunset

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two 1A stories cut short in some print editions; we'll reprint

Ouch.

In today's Lakewood Ranch Herald, our earliest print edition, the "jumps" for two 1A stories did not appear. The news desk decided late that they needed space on Page 5A for both continuations of the stories, but that remake didn't get on the press until the Bradenton Herald -- our second edition -- started printing.

Both were strong local stories, and we will reprint or update them in Thursday's editions. We received dozens of calls from upset readers. (Glass half-full take? There are still a lot of avid readers out there!)

Both were law enforcement stories:

One was reported and written by Robert Napper, examining the county's and state's lax oversight of home day cares after a 13-year-old boy was charged with beating and possibly raping a 22-month-old child in such care. You can read the full report here, as well as find a checklist of questions to ask if you're looking for a day care.

The other story is Beth Burger's on-the-scene report about the shooting death of 22-year-old Kyle Schweitzer, gunned down at his brother's home along Manatee Avenue. Here is today's story, and we will update with any developments Thursday.

-- Joan

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird turns 50

If you've read any books at all, you likely have been mesmerized by Harper Lee's only novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird." The classic turned 50 today, and Katie Couric took us through the pages of her favorite book -- and one of mine -- just now on CBS' Sunday Morning.

She returned us to Maycomb, Ala., Lee's Southern town steeped in segregation and disrupted by a white woman's charge of rape against a black man. Enter Atticus Finch, a fictitious lawyer made larger than life by both Lee's words and by Gregory Peck.

Still, the story is told through Scout, Finch's 6-year-old daughter. The images and words are those of my youth, even though we grew up in the Midwest instead of the deep South. "To Kill A Mockingbird" cut to the core of racism in every American town.

How far has America progressed? That's the question our guest columnist, Ericka Dow from the Manatee County Library, poses in her column today.

She writes:

How far from the atrocities of lynching, separate water fountains, and denying citizens the ability to vote or attend a good school? There are too many stories to tell that will answer these questions from either side of the spectrum.

The youngest generation has grown up in a culture more inclusive than ever before; many young people perceive the world as a place where a person’s identity is determined from what is within, not what society decides they are from without.


That seems far too idyllic for a world that seems to become more superficial by every online moment. Take a few minutes today and find a copy of Lee's novel. Revel in its wisdoms that decry prejudice and celebrate tolerance.

Even if you have to Google it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

32 pelicans saved, but how many lost?

Please take 49 seconds to watch today's video at this link on Bradenton.com, shot by our summer intern, J. Hunter Sizemore. He went along with reporter Sara Kennedy and photographer Grant Jefferies to film the release Wednesday of 32 pelicans -- all rescued from the BP oil spill -- at Fort DeSoto Park. You can see moments of the release in this photo gallery as well.

As Sara quoted one tourist in her story, "Every animal matters." The unfathomable thought: the ratio of how many are perishing to those being saved.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Next worldly stop: Cartagena, Colombia


This just in from Tom O'Neill, former Herald photo editor who's about to launch a new career with the University of South Florida (kudos, Tom!!).

He's visiting loved ones in Cartagena, Colombia, where he has ventured several times before on mission trips. He nurtures children there who might not have any other chance at a link with educators, and helps keep alive the knowledge that helping others heals the soul.

Anyway, he happened to trip upon home sweet home while there:
Hola,

Checking my e-mail today on yahoo from Cartagena, Colombia and what do I notice on the home page? Man reunites with daughter from Bradenton, Florida. Nice work, small world.

Saludos,

Tomas

A salute to all things noble and true as we start this Fourth of July weekend.

-- Joan

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bradenton Herald circles through Paris

A belated Happy Anniversary to our Armchair Traveler and blogger, Martha Jansen.

She and her husband, Jim, are wrapping up a grand 10-day trip to Paris to celebrate their 50 years together. And what a trip it has been! She has been blogging throughout on Bradenton.com's Armchair Traveler.

I got an email this week from the "other" traveling twin -- twin sister Mary, who's reading from home in Palmetto this time.
Enjoyed seeing Martha's article in Sunday's paper... I held the paper up to my camera so Martha could see it on Skype then took several pictures and e mailed them to her in Paris... Check out her pictures on the June 28th (Renewal of Wedding Vows) the picture of the Bradenton Herald Sunday Travel Page made the trip to Paris and back via the internet!
.

And there we are, posted on her blog from Paris. We love to be a world traveler!

-- Joan

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hurry up and wait for Tropical Storm Alex

Night Metro Editor Brent Conklin pulled together a quick storm update last night to greet us this morning with the news that Tropical Storm Alex is forming.

“The tropics are bubbling and the lid is about to pop off for our first (Atlantic) threat of the season,” hurricane expert Joe Bastardi announced.

Now we wait. Welcome to summer in Florida.

I just returned from a too-brief hiatus up North, and what a difference! There, summer was officially welcomed with the Midwest version of hurricane season -- storms that sent all but the hardiest (or sleepiest) scurrying into their basements for cover.

A tornado gives scant -- if any -- warning, yet can wreak the same level of destruction as the winds of a hurricane. More compact, to be sure, but tell that to a community where a funnel cloud has flattened trees, homes and businesses.

Such severe weather is humbling -- or should be, as scientists everywhere wonder what will happen to the oil spill when a tropical storm enters the Gulf. And we wait, with more dread than usual.

-- Joan

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Link to the Top 10 features of the day

Metro Editor Marc Masferrer is trying a new Top 10 feature online in the mornings. He is compiling the top-viewed links from the past 24 hours and posting them as a story.

I cringed a bit at the idea, knowing those popular headlines are usually the grittiest offered each day. But I was pleasantly surprised by the No. 1 offering today: Herald photojournalists' photo gallery of our beaches, which they shot more than a week ago.

It's been in the Top 10 for days. We'd like to think our viewers are relieved to take a break from the horrifying images that are documenting the catastrophic damage being left by the oil spill. Herald photojournalists Paul Videla and Tiffany Tompkins-Condie also have posted a stunningly beautiful gallery of Manatee County's ecological treasures.

We hope Paul's, Tiffany's and Grant Jefferies' photos don't become history -- that we can walk on our beaches and enjoy the splendor for years to come, without oil spills and oil rigs ruining our most valuable assets.

-- Joan
A typical weekend day on Manatee County's public beach/photo by Paul Videla/the Herald

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tell us how you'd clean up this oil disaster


We started today with the news (not surprising, sadly enough) that oil has been projectile-vomiting into the Gulf of Mexico at least twice as much "as previously thought." Thought by whom? Delusionary BP management? Please -- they know.

But what they still don't seem to know, after 52 days of disaster, is how to stop this. Why not try everything feasible? Even the wacky ideas deserve to be heard.

That's what this story by Bradenton/Miami Herald writers pointed out in Friday's editions. There are thousands of theories, inventions and proposed solutions. One of them has to work.

We want to hear your ideas. Send us an e-mail at communities@bradenton.com. We'll publish them next week.

-- Joan

Photo above by INSTITUTE FOR MARINE MAMMAL STUDIES:
A young hawksbill sea turtle before it was cleaned in Gulfport, Miss.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paul Bartley award brings proud memories

The 31st annual Manatee Small Business of the Year Awards Luncheon wrapped up just about an hour ago at the Renaissance on 9th, and it was filled with reminders of how much members of this community support each other.

The event, co-sponsored by the chamber and the Herald, also was filled with talk about finding new ways to survive the economic hardships plaguing everyone. Almost without exception, acceptance speeches were framed by talk of survival. The key? Focusing on people, family and being part of the community. (Here's a list of all the finalists.)

My favorite award, though, is the Paul Bartley Community Award. Named after our dearly beloved ombudsman, photographer, humanitarian and long-time Herald staffer, the award honors one small business that goes above and beyond their community service. They are chosen, the chamber states, based on their corporate contributions to the community and volunteer work, "a shining example to all businesses."

In his introductory remarks to announce the winner, John Vita made us proud to have known Paul Bartley:

Today's winning company exemplified the many attributes of Paul Bartley. A hard worker, includes the customer in the business, grew up in the business, a community servant, very professional, knowledgeable, courteous, troubleshooter, stands behind their work.

As Gator Plumbing's Bill Smock headed toward the stage, Paul Bartley was surely watching on, sending the winner his hearty congratulations. Here's to many, many more recipients of this award.
******

Paul Bartley throws beads in the 2005 Children's Parade.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reminders packed in Hurricane Guide


What's in a name? For the 21 (plus Alpha) listed in our Hurricane Guide in Sunday's Herald and here online, we hope very little.

But as the 2010 hurricane season officially starts Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted "an active to extremely active" season.

Since NOAA began predicting in 1998, this is the toughest forecast yet: 14 to 23 storms major enough to be named, eight to 14 hurricanes (74 mph winds or greater) and three to seven major hurricanes with winds exceeding 111 mph.

Enter a new manmade threat to this list -- the worst oil spill in U.S. history -- and the fear for our paradise's safety multiplies. Images of oil-soaked birds, clogged Louisiana marshes and ever-growing plumes choking the Gulf have crowded our online galleries and 1A centerpieces for more than a month now.

The combination has me packing a bag -- a beach bag, that is. It's a grand holiday weekend to enjoy Anna Maria Island beaches, among the best in the world. (We don't mind that they never make the national list. That's our secret.)

Then sometime this week, I promise, I'll pack up the emergency supply bag. 'Tis the season.

-- Joan

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Babies 'r us, every Tuesday afternoon


As I was returning from lunch a few minutes ago, at least three moms were leaving the Bradenton Herald with little ones in tow. I didn't need to look at my Cardinals watch to know what time it was:

The 1-year-old birthday babies are getting their portraits taken in our photo lab.

Every week, from 1 to 2 on Tuesday afternoons, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters line up with their favorite just-turned 1-year-olds for their place in Neighbors history. And it's a time-honored tradition, begun long before I arrived in 1998. Every Friday, we publish their extremely cute photos in our Neighbors section. We've seen many a scrapbook with that clipping proudly entered over the years.

Even so, it still catches me offguard when the occasional camera-shy baby makes it known on a Tuesday afternoon that he considers this punishment. A baby's sobs are pretty much a show-stopper in the newsroom, where honestly the buzz is usually a lot less dramatic.

But it also helps us remember that we truly are our community's newspaper. And, we hope, just maybe it'll help hook some of those 1-year-olds on the newspaper in the years to come.

-- Joan

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Herald veterans launch historic blog

Two Herald staff veterans have teamed up to launch a new blog:
As Time Goes By.

Chief photographer Grant Jefferies was born and raised in Palmetto; staff reporter Carl Mario Nudi has worked just about every job in the newsroom since he moved to Manatee County in 1981. Their idea: preserve historic moments in Manatee County through their words and images.

Here's how they've branded their blog:
"As Time Goes By" looks at people, places and events inspired by pictures in the Bradenton Herald archives or in the Manatee County Library online historical photo archives. Each week the reader will take a step back in time to remember what made this area such a great place to live.


Send Carl an email at cnudi@bradenton.com if you have specific scenes for them to explore.

-- Joan

Friday, May 14, 2010

Golden Herald winners = awesome, again


One of the most important events we do came around again last night -- the 33rd annual Golden Herald Awards Banquet. Wow. Every year, I'm reminded that our community is filled with truly amazing, gifted, bright and dedicated teenagers.

This year was no exception. It might have been a record crowd, too, as the audience filled every seat on the Bradenton City Auditorium's floor and throughout the balconies. And they stayed until the last award was announced, almost three hours later.

We've listed the top winners and the runners-up here and in today's Herald. The Herald's Michele Slaughter took tons of photos, including these posted in this gallery. And on Sunday, we'll publish special tribute pages in the Herald with all nominees.

Congratulations to each of you, your families and your friends. And thank you for sharing your accomplishments with all of us. You have touched so many lives already.

-- Joan

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Afternoon newsletter captures hectic day

This afternoon's e-newsletter from Bradenton.com reflects a whopper of a news day -- and the Herald's staff was on top of it.

Take a glance at the top of the local headlines -- only a fraction of what all was posted:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GOP picks Tampa for 2012 convention
The Republicans have picked Tampa for their 2012 presidential convention.

Trooper: Passenger said Hunter was driving at time of fatal wreck
SARASOTA -- A Florida Highway Patrol trooper testified this morning that a passenger in a pickup truck that crashed on Interstate 75 in March 2009 told him shortly after the accident that the vehicle was being driven by Josh Hunter at the time of the wreck.

Villages of Lakewood Ranch South gets green light
SARASOTA -- In an historic vote, Sarasota County commissioners gave their consent today to the massive Villages of Lakewood Ranch South project.

Judge declares mistrial in Manatee tobacco trial
BRADENTON - A judge this morning declared a mistrial in a lawsuit against major tobacco companies after a juror complained she could not go on with deliberations because her fellow jurors "are mean."

Crist asks BP to pay for oil-spill tourism ads
Gov. Charlie Crist asked BP PLC on Wednesday to pay nearly $35 million for an emergency ad campaign to assure the world that Florida's beaches and coastal waters are untainted by the company's Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Haven't signed up yet? You're overdue -- here's your ticket.

-- Joan

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday's updates on oil spill coverage

Here's an update on the Herald's and McClatchy's oil spill coverage, as outlined in my column:

Herald reporter Robert Napper explores how officials throughout our region are using the St. Petersburg Area Contingency Plan as a template to prepare for the worst should the Deep Horizon oil spill come to Florida’s west coast.

Reporters Rich Mauer in Anchorage and Anna Tinsley in Fort Worth dig into BP’s past, exposing a years-long history of legal and ethical violations.

Biloxi reporters Donna Melton and Patricia Mazzei wrote from the frontlines in Mississippi, covering how efforts to cap the well suffered a major setback Saturday after ice-like crystals clogged the inside of the containment dome.

And Miami's Curtis Morgan and Scott Hiaasen report on how "industry safeguards to prevent or minimize spills have failed to keep pace with the increased dangers of exploration, despite a series of warnings, malfunctions and near-misses over the years, federal studies and interviews show."

Throughout the day, reporters will be following developments on the installation of the cofferdam atop the biggest of the two oil leaks. Officials still hope the device will become functional by Monday.
-- Joan

Friday, May 7, 2010

McClatchy newsrooms team up on oil spill

The Gulf Coast has been gripped with fear since the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and blowing open the well 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. It has been spewing an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day that now cover almost 4,000 square miles.

As the oil is already lapping Louisiana shorelines, and images of oil-soaked wildlife multiply, the Tampa Bay area is obviously taking precautions in the event the oil slick heads toward our shores. But even if we avoid a direct hit, the economic and environmental impact is likely to be felt for years. Even Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has described the spill as a “unique and still-evolving and potentially an unprecedented disaster.”

Recognizing the enormity of this story, McClatchy editors are coordinating all of our newsrooms' coverage, which you'll find daily in the Herald and on our home page. The Bradenton Herald has created a special report here at Bradenton.com/oilspill, with an interactive map of the Gulf where you can click on icons for incident reports.

Led by Miami Herald Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal and Washington Bureau Chief John Walcott, this effort is allowing a far deeper report for all of us.
Journalists at the Biloxi Sun-Herald are on the front line in Mississippi and Louisiana. At the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, expertise is being gleaned on the oil industry. Staff at the Anchorage Daily News have enormous institutional knowledge from the Valdez oil spill, the largest in U.S. history until this disaster. The Miami Herald has sent reporters to the Panhandle, and along with the Bradenton Herald are examining every possible angle of potential impact to Florida. The Washington bureau is digging into political ramifications, environmental enterprise and more. The Kansas City Star, Merced Sun-Star and most all of the other McClatchy properties are contributing.

All in all, we plan to bring you the most thorough coverage possible as this catastrophic event unfolds.

-- Joan
Here's one of the most recent images off the coast of Louisiana:


Oil from the Deepwater Horizon well swirls in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Columnist, editor spin out of control (on video!)


Today's post is literally some insider baseball with some strange bedfellows: a Herald baby shower, a Marauders game and the infamous Hooters Dizzy Bat Race Game.

Baby Savannah Lilly Conklin is due in a few weeks, so we were on deadline to throw a surprise baby shower for her parents: newsroom staffers Jennifer and Brent Conklin. And the dad-to-be unwittingly gave me a great idea. When gigging him about not attending a Marauders game yet, he quipped, "I just don't think I can get Preggie there."

Ha -- the challenge was on. And, thanks to the Pirates' Trevor Gooby and Rachelle Madrigal, we secured the Marauders suite for last night's game.(MAJOR bonus -- they were playing the Palm Beach CARDINALS!)

The night was grand. As Jennifer noted proudly, she might have the only baby girl serenaded by the National Anthem at her shower. The Marauders mascot paid a visit; dogs, peanuts and suds (for the non-pregnant and non-working, of course) were topped off by baby cake; and then came the grand finale.

Father-to-be/news editor Brent and columnist Vin Mannix were tapped for the Hooters Dizzy Bat Race Game. Anticipation built as we waited for the bottom of the sixth -- especially after an excruciating fifth inning where the Cards got pounded (hey, I admitted my bias up front).

Finally, Vin and Brent were on the field. They spun and spun and... Well, this video should go viral. Check it out in full-screen view. (Clue: Neither won. Neither will never live this down.)

They'd better keep their day jobs!

-- Joan

Lifelong Mets fan Brent Conklin is saved by a Cardinals player.


Mom-to-be compares tummies with the Marauder.


Some of the gang