Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy retirement, Jim Jones!

Jim in his office Thursday, after a day of celebrating his retirement.
Happy Easter! What a glorious day we've had here in Bradenton...

As we wind down from celebration, family and totally awesome Easter dinner, East Manatee Editor Jim Jones is busy in the newsroom, slugging away to get Monday's edition in shape. He volunteered, of course, for the Easter holiday editor gig. Let's see, he started with Easter Sunrise service along the new downtown Riverwalk, and will probably wrap up just around midnight after he checks the last page proof. A mere 18-hour day, give or take a few breaks...

James A. Jones Jr. is going out in style -- his style, and his alone. For today is his last official day with the Bradenton Herald. He humbly announced his retirement in his column this morning, with a lede that took him at least a year to write. That's how much notice he gave me -- a whole year! But I still can't imagine our newsroom without him.

I have never met a kinder, stronger, more sincere man in this business. Jim believes in people –- all shapes, all sizes, all creeds. Everyone. And that’s what makes him such a damned good journalist. He finds a story in every corner, then reports it, writes it, shoots the photos and video, then publishes it to the web and to print. And nowadays, he tweets, builds galleries, posts to Facebook...

For the past 14 years, Jim has led our coverage of East Manatee and Lakewood Ranch and helped define its legacy. And we will continue to emulate the standards he has set for us as editor Jim DeLa takes over and editor Terry O'Connor joins the newsroom.

Jim, you will always be one of my most treasured friends. It has been an honor to work with you for these past 14 years. May your next chapter be as rich as this one has been for all of us.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Local young weather artists in the spotlight

You'll find one of my favorite bright spots every day in the bottom right corner of the Bradenton Herald's front page:

Our youngest readers' weather art. For several years, we've gathered some fabulous art from Manatee County's elementary school students for this feature. It adds a touch of young talent, imagination and sometimes humor to our 1A report -- and the kids love to find that we've chosen their art.

It's such a popular feature that we get far more than 365 drawings every year. So, starting this week, we're creating online galleries so you can view all of the entries. Herald news designer Jon Sachtjen has taken on this project, and he launched the first gallery today -- everything we just received from Blackburn Elementary School.

Weather art gallery on

Make that 76 inspired pieces of art -- so many that Jon hasn't tagged them with the students' names yet. But we love the concept and hope it inspires you.

If a local youngster you know hasn't had this chance in their classroom, perhaps their teacher would be interested in the project. Or you can contact us directly -- one very proud grandpa recently hand-delivered his grandson's masterpiece! And yes, it made Page 1A that week.

They never run out of ideas with Florida's crazy weather, either. These are two of my favorites from Blackburn fifth-graders: Jacob Soob, above, at the beach; and Manny Reyes, left, in the eye of our recent tornado warning.