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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Special Report: Making Small Business Work

Looking for signs that the economy is on the mend? So is the Herald -- and we are finding some in our small businesses throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties. That's the focus of the new series we launched today, "Making Small Business Work".

As I wrote in my column, small businesses are developing extraordinary ways to deal with the economy and be successful. We can learn from their stories -- both from their failures and from their victories.

Business/Enterprise Editor Jennifer Rich outlined the series:

The stories will focus on what makes these businesses different from their competitors — how the change is working out in generating new revenue, customers, etc.; inject some of the owner’s personality and how that impacts his or her company; what big issues have they tackled along the way; what possible other changes were tried and didn’t work; what future plans or changes are being considered.

From a national perspective, McClatchy's Washington Bureau, working with the Herald and other McClatchy papers, will be paying attention to the role that small businesses are playing in creating jobs, innovative products and services and other value as the American economy climbs out of the recession, says Bureau Chief John Walcott.

-- Joan

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Facebook asks fans to "like" us instead

Go figure -- just when I urge you all to become "fans" of the Bradenton Herald's Facebook page, Facebook changes its terminology. As of Monday, you now can follow our Facebook page by indicating that you "like" us.

Here's the announcement from Facebook:

If you want to add more connections to your profile, just click "Like" on any Facebook Page. We've replaced the expression "Become a Fan" for Pages with "Like." Clicking "Like" on a Page adds that connection in the related area of your profile's Info section.

You can read more about Facebook's logic in this change, and in creating community pages at this link to their blog.
As of this writing, 180 of you have decided to like Facebook/ -- we have some work to do!
-- Joan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Editor's multitasking is name of the game

At the risk of embarrassing our features editor, Jana Morreale, I thought I'd share the email she just shot me. It's great insight into how everyone in the Herald's newsroom is multitasking in this multimedia world.
Don’t know if you saw it, but I managed to take pictures and shoot video of the film festival party on Wednesday ( Then I figured out how to download the video onto my computer and post it to our website. Not that I’m patting myself on the back or anything :)
The video is 29 seconds of fun flashes of color. (Full confession from Jana on how she became a videographer: She hit the wrong button on her new camera. We love it!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Become a Facebook fan of the Bradenton Herald

We want you as a fan on our new Bradenton Herald Facebook page.

To better adhere to Facebook's guidelines for businesses, we had to recreate our fan page and remove the "friends" page. (Good grief, this sounds far more human and painful than for some basic computer coding!)

Anyway, even if you were a friend or fan before, you need to re-sign to become a fan of this new and improved page. Click in through the widget on our home page, or go to and search for "Bradenton Herald".

We have updated our news content so that users will receive the latest news headlines filtered to your personal facebook feed. The Herald's fan page is the best place to find out what's happening in the Bradenton area, and to weigh in with your comments.

-- Joan

Monday, April 12, 2010

Feel-good story tops's list

We had a pleasant surprise this morning in checking the online traffic for The top story on Sunday was extraordinarily atypical as traffic drivers go: It was the non-crime simple feel-good story announcing the winners of the Bradenton Herald's Easter egg hunt.

With the headline "Egg hunting pays off with trip to Disney," reporter January Holmes wrote about this year's winners. The smiling faces of 6-year-old Eric, 3-year-old Caitlynn and 2-year-old Chloe Beavers, and of 7-year-old Kali Kuntz will make your day.

The Beavers' mom, Christine, says they've entered for three years. If only you could bottle their healthy ecstacy in learning they were going to Disney. And Kali greeted her news by making sure we knew she plans to take her mom, dad and brother along.

We bent the "random winners" rule just a tad by adding a "most-creative bonus" this year for Destiny Wade's entry. Her egg carton is art with a heart.

-- Joan

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ghosts of Bradenton's field of dreams

So who were the Bradentown Growers?

Bradenton Herald columnist Vin Mannix has captured that piece of history in his story today. If you haven't read it yet, and you have that all-American love of baseball, you owe it to yourself to spend 10 minutes to walk through historic memories of the first minor league baseball team to call Bradenton home.

Today, the festivities have started as the Bradenton Marauders get ready for their first official game. The spirits of 90+ years at McKechnie are gathering with pride and nostalgia. We'll have full coverage later this evening and tomorrow -- photos, stories, columns and videos -- here at and in the Herald.

Back to Vin's tale today. The favorite passages for this St. Louis Cardinals' diehard fan, and newspaper person to boot? Check out the true origins of McKechnie Field, revealed at about 30 inches into the story:

The Growers played at Ninth Street Park, where McKechnie Field was built four years later for the St. Louis Cardinals...

The atmosphere of a Growers’ opening day victory over Lakeland was captured in the April 12, 1923, Manatee River Journal by attorney Dewey A. Dye, who moonlighted as a sports writer:

“The gayety of the afternoon was contributed to by fair attendance, a concert by the Bradentown Band prior to its departure for the April Follies in Jacksonville, and splendid weather conditions. The park was bathed in sunlight and flooded with warmth of the variety that fills the soul of a ball team with delight.”

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?!

-- Joan

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to contact your state legislators

Florida clerks of circuit courts are warning that a proposed $23 million slash in their state funding will have dire effects on the judicial system, as outlined in today's story by East Manatee Editor Jim Jones.

Chips Shore, Manatee County clerk of circuit, wrote an impassioned letter to the Bradenton Herald, beseeching legislators to reconsider. He closed the letter asking the public to contact members of the Manatee County legislative delegation and express their concerns about the proposed cuts. Our story reported that -- but we didn't supply the contact numbers to make it easier for you. And several of our readers have pointed that out already this morning.

Here's their contact information (which often is published on the editorial page). And the list is attached to the story online now.

State legislators
Sen. Mike Bennett, 21st Senatorial District, Republican, (941) 727-6349;

Rep. Ron Reagan, District 67, Republican, (941) 727-6447,

Rep. Bill Galvano, District 68, Republican, (941) 708-4968,

Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, District 69, Democrat, (941) 955-8077,

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, 18th Senatorial District, Democrat, (813) 233-4277,

Sen. Nancy Detert, 23rd Senatorial District, Republican, (941) 480-3547,

Rep. Darryl Rouson, District 55, Democrat, (941)708-8570,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Census widget tracks your neighborhood

Stand up, sit down, lay down -- but be counted.

Politicos across the nation reminded us yesterday that it was "Census Day" -- and it sent me scrambling to find my form. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 54 percent of the nation's estimated 134 million households so far have mailed back their census forms for the 2010 count. That sounds encouraging, considering a good turnout for a local election is far less than that -- we're lucky if we get in the high teens for too many Manatee ballots.

The U.S. Census is tracking progress, and so can you. On, we've added a widget so you can track your neighborhood and the rest of our communities. Just click here on the Local page, then scroll down below the blogs and find the link to the "2010 Census Participation Rate" form. Click in and you'll be able see how we're doing in Manatee County -- even how your ZIP and neighborhood are tracking.

The stakes are high: The more residents who declare Manatee County as their home, the better we will fare in getting what we need to ensure that our residents get their fair share of the future. Our population's base and its needs are key in getting funds we need to grow and flourish.

You owe it to yourself to report yourself.

-- Joan