Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Good Work, Sir.

Hey gang,

I've been shamefully remiss in noting the promotion of one of our members to a very important position. If you missed the Unisys message the other day, I'm very happy to share the news that Kevin Modesti has taken a job as LANG Sports Editor, which will give him the challenging task of coordinating coverage of the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, Clippers, UCLA, USC and just about every other sport in SoCal.

It's hard to think of a better man for the job. Not only does Kevin's expertise in local sports date back to his days with the Herald-Examiner, he combines both clear, elegant writing with an easy-going, level-headed persona. He's also been a loyal supporter of the union in his time as a member and has worked hard to keep our Sports section excellent through a challenging few years. This will not be an easy job, but he's definitely up to the challenge.

So thanks for all the good things you've done so far, Kevin, and best of luck to you in your new role. It's always hard to lose a good guy like you from our ranks, but it's even better to see them go on to bigger, more important things. Congratulations all around.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Business

Hi Everyone,

Normally, I'm a pretty kick back guy. I try to find the good in this industry, focus on my stories, enjoy my colleagues' company and enjoy the work. Flipping through the journalism world right now, though, it's tough not to shake your head in frustration.

To the north, we've got the owner of the Santa Barbara News Press going from clueless to downright evil ( Downtown, we've got the Times' corporate overseers further running a fine paper into the ground ( Both these used to be excellent career options for local journalists, but due to catastrophic local ownership at the first and foolish distant ownership at the latter, things aren't looking so hot at either. The Guild is attempting to assist the workers at both job sites, hoping to provide some support where both companies have failed.

At times like this, I'm reminded all the more about how important it is that we hang in together at the Daily News. We survived last fall's layoffs, corporate cutbacks and years of both neglect and starvation as MediaNews focused its energies and dollars elsewhere, but it's not enough just to survive. At times, it feels like the whole industry's cutting its own throat and I don't want to just hang on and fight for the leftover scraps.

I want to see us fight our way out of this. I want to see us figure out what readers want in print and on the Internet. As I've said many times, whether it's over beers at El Torito, riding around on assignment or through these long-winded e-mails, I think we can do it. We've got a staff full of smart, creative, forward-thinking people and if we're going to get through this rough patch, we're going to have to put all that energy to work.

And if we're going to do it, we've got to think of this as more than just a place to spend nine hours a day. This isn't just a job-- for those of us who've ridden out the layoffs, attrition and contraction, it's part of who we are. We could probably make more money waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory and have less stress working in PR. But that's not why we do this-- we do this because, when it's done right, there's no better job in the world.

Right now, it doesn't feel like that at the Daily News. We're getting there. We've made a lot of progress. We've made it more worker-friendly, we've started wading into the video/audio/blog world, we've finally established a productive dialogue with the bosses. But we need more.

Call it a family, a team, a brotherhood-- whatever you want. That's the attitude we're going to need if we're going to survive. We're never going to be the LA Times, so we're going to have to enjoy being what we are. We're the crazy, unpredictable underdog who still manages to get our shots in with the big boys and that's what should make this whole enterprise fun. We've got to work with each other and think about this beyond what's going in tomorrow's paper or what affects just one of us, one department, one category of workers. We've got to pull together, today, tomorrow, every day.

There's no reason we can't do it. If you've got a good idea, speak up about it. If you've got a problem, keep on it until you get a solution. Unlike the folks at the News Press and the Times, we can do that without fear of retaliation. If we work together, we've got a lot of power and if we don't take advantage of it, we'll have ourselves to blame when our jobs disappear.

This may be preachy, this may be overly optimistic, but I believe it's the truth. I'm sick of seeing my friends leave. I'm sick of seeing good people's talent get wasted on ridiculous assignments due to mismanagement or apathy. I'm sick of seeing us get accustomed to crap that should be straightened out with a simple conversation, just 'cause that's the way things have always been. We've got to do better or we're not going to matter anymore.

I'll get off my pulpit for one evening and quit yakking at you. Most of you know this, most of you do it, but I just wanted to get this out there. We may not have the money, we may not have the prestige, but we can make this a great paper. It's going to take time and a hell of a lot of effort, but I have no doubt that we can get there. Thank you for all your hard work and keep at it-- we're going to need a lot more in the months to come. Then, hopefully, we'll be able to look back at what we've done with pride.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Adios, Amigo

Hey guys,

As much as I want to be unselfish and happy for my good friend Brad Greenberg, I've got to say that I'm truly sorry to share the news that he's accepted a job as a staff writer with the Jewish Journal. In his year and several months at the Daily News, Brad has written some fantastic stories on poker, murder and neighborhood nitpicking, created a great niche covering religion and started a thoughtful blog.

He's also been a great asset to this newsroom, speaking up about how to improve this crazy paper and bringing a distinct, clever writing style to its pages. He's been my sounding board for ideas for this union and my stories, a great peer editor and a dear friend. I expect the latter to continue, but he'll be hard to replace in the other capacities. Happy trails and mazel tov, my devout Christian, culturally Jewish pal. We'll miss you.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Night Wrap Up.

Hey Folks,

Greetings, friends. My poor Padres have just been skunked by the Dodgers, so I type this with heavy heart. It being Jackie Robinson Day and all, I will grudgingly say that the Dodgers outplayed my boys and then I'll move on to happier things.

Things such as congratulations... Please join me in saluting our friend, colleague and fellow member John McCoy, whose shot of the fire above the Hollywood sign was named California Picture of the Month award for March from AP. John's always good at finding a different angle on his subject, and though I can't find a link to it, trust me, it was a rockin' shot. In other photo news, I neglected to mention Andy Holzman's win in the APNEC awards alongside Dennis last week-- though Andy's not a member of our esteemed crew of unionistas, he's a heck of a shooter and deserves credit for a job well done. And finally, for photos, Hans Gutknecht did his usual masterful job with the latest in our Ripatti series, both in pictures and helping out in interviews.

I usually just use this blog to recognize our members' work, but a few things have come across my inbox that were worth mentioning, so I also wanted to point out three other cool pieces of work. First, check out Heather Gripp's story on a former CSUN basketball coach: (thanks to Gideon for the recommendation) and also Ramona Shelburne's piece on the Imus flap ( Then, for something that's both clever and outright funny, look to our sister paper, the Press Telegram, for Jeff Gritchen's video on the Long Beach Grand Prix: (

Speaking of good work, in a slightly different way, I just got a card in the mail from our old colleague Jennifer Radcliffe, who, along with her husband Will, has become the proud parent of Atticus Riley Radcliffe, a very handsome young man born March 16. He was 8 lbs., 13 oz. and 20 inches long, with a full head of hair and a thoughtful expression to boot. Fantastic news all around.

Alright, all this congratulation has left me in a festive mood, so let's act on, shall we? I'd say it's high time we met up for happy hour, so let's do so on Thursday, April 19. Just for convenience sake, we'll trot across the parking lot to El Torito at the corner of Canoga and Oxnard, around 6 p.m. or so. We'll chat about the paper, the industry, good times and whatever else suits your fancy. Hope to see you all there.

And till then, keep up the fine work and I'll chat with y'all soon.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ah-hah! The Return of Sunday!

Hey Gang,

The computer demons have finally been banished and I can get back to business. Given the late hour, this will be brief, but hopefully followed up soon.

First, let's look at congratulating some of our comrades in words and pictures--

--Dennis, who always has a great touch for telling the stories that make up this community, picked up an award from the AP for his column on special needs kids at the prom (it almost made me cry, no joke)

--Troy pulled off an unusual feature with aplomb on Friday, telling the tale of a sheriff's deputy with a hump and a badge:

--Alex showed off his range last week up in SAC, landing a front-pager with a Magic Mountain piece one day, then a touching tale of a slain teacher the next,

--and Mr. Blog, Greg Hernandez, took on yet another responsibility with a tennis blog called Deuce. At this point, I think that Greg has stopped sleeping altogether and probably finds a way to blog while standing in line at the grocery store. Check out his latest creation at:

That's it for now. We'll chat soon and don't forget to point out good work that I miss, so's I can spread the word where it's deserved. Thanks, y'all....


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Three More

Hey guys,

I got so caught up in the online side of things, I forgot to point out a pair of other good stories from the good ol' newspaper. First off, if you want to see one of the best quotes I've read in a long time, check Val's piece and then read on for a surprisingly hilarious second take on colonoscopies I never thought I'd be so entertained by this subject. ... nicely done, Val.

In Sports, Steve got me over my heartbreak over UCLA's loss in the Final Four ( with a sensitive, well-written piece on the Bruins' failure to make it to the championship. It did not, however, make me get over finishing behind Naush in the office pool. So (completely honestly) thank you, Steve and (grudgingly), good picks, Boghossian.

And on another front, Alex had a nice one today on the war over whose part of Santa Clarita's nicer (or more meth-ridden) Not living there, I'm not conversant on all the issues raised, but I found myself really getting into it. Cool stuff, dude.

That'll do it for now-- keep me posted if you guys see other good work I'm missing. I know a lot of good stuff slips by and I always want to give y'all credit where it's due.


The Internets

Hey Guys,

This is going to be extremely short, but I wanted to point your eyes to some cool stuff some of our members are doing on the Internet to augment their traditional print work. It's yet another example of the rapidly-changing nature of the business and how we can take advantage of the new technologies.

First off, Jason (and Eugene, as well) have been putting together a hyper-localized look at Glendale/Burbank at East of the Five ( Between Valley News, Daily News and other local media links, they're building an impressive online community there that tells you all the haps of that part of town. It's good stuff.

And speaking of good stuff, Brad's gotten into the action with The God Blog, highlighting religious issues all over the Web ( Well-written, thoughtful coverage of religion's often a rare thing, online or otherwise, but Brad does a good job of finding salient issues from a wide variety of sources. Just as he does in his print reporting, he offers an insightful, clever look at a world that many reporters avoid altogether.

So these are two completely different subjects, but they harness the Web in the same way: bringing together good print reporting of our own, important niches and views from different sources. We all should look at ways to work that into our jobs.

Alright, enough for now and more to follow. I'm still checking on dates for next week, but let's try to get together towards the back end for a happy hour to talk about this and all the other crazy stuff going on in the business.