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American Journalism Review
Bylines  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   April 1994


By Chip Rowe
Chip Rowe, a former AJR associate editor, is an editor at Playboy.     

The Growing Old Beat

Debra Gordon , a reporter at the Virginian-Pilot/Ledger-Star , takes over the aging/elderly beat. The Norfolk daily joins a growing list of papers that have added the assignment in recent years, including those in St. Petersburg, Minneapolis, New York, Richmond, Atlanta, Orange County and Milwaukee. There are enough new faces, in fact, that Paul Kleyman , editor of Aging Today , has organized an informal group of those covering the beat. Why all the interest? Laura Muha of Newsday, assigned to the beat last year, suggests that editors have been looking at the numbers: Kleyman says 20 percent of the residents in most urban areas are 60 and older.

Truth vs. Fiction

Former New York Post Editor Jerry Nachman , who left the paper last year to move to Santa Fe and write a novel, will host a new syndicated talk show this fall called "Truth or Tabloid." Brought to you by the producers of "The People's Court," the half-hour program will feature Nachman and his audience trying to sort out which of two contestants with preposterous stories to tell is lying.

Guy to Foreign Service

Pat Guy , who has covered the media at USA Today for the past seven years, leaves the paper to join the Foreign Service. A former reporter at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin , Guy says she got into the "rhythm of moving" while growing up in an Air Force family. "I've been in the business for 20 years," says the reporter, 44, who completes 11 weeks of training in May. "I'd rather do something else for the next 20." Only about 200 of 4,000 applicants who pass the qualifying exam each year are selected for service.

On the Defensive

A reporter at the Frederick News-Post in Maryland gets a scolding from her editor after she talks publicly about assault charges she filed against a source. Jessica Gregg , 23, a one-time news aide at AJR , says she was harassed by a local political gadfly for months because she didn't quote him in a story. After a Washington news service interviewed her about the complaint, a newsroom source says the reporter was chastised by Managing Editor Michael Powell and General Manager George Randall . Gregg says in court papers that Francis William Ashton , 43, who has been leading a call for citizen input on a local airport commission, told one of Gregg's editors that he was going to "get her" and at one point bumped the reporter repeatedly at a public meeting. Ashton declined comment, as did Powell and Randall.

The Reconstruction Era

Griffin Smith Jr. , executive editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , lures three top guns to Little Rock. Mary Hargrove , who joined the Miami Herald after the Tulsa Tribune shut down (see our December 1992 issue), now oversees investigations as associate editor. Kirk Montgomery , formerly at the Philadelphia Inquirer , takes over as assistant managing editor for graphics. And Guy Unangst , most recently at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram , comes aboard as Sunday editor, a new position. Since Smith became top editor two years ago, he has made 66 other hires for his staff, which now totals 190. "The conventional wisdom during the war [with the Gazette, which folded in 1991] was that the Democrat would sit on its laurels and rake in the money," Smith says. He notes that the newsroom budget has increased 73 percent during the past three years.

SI's Technical Foul

Sports Illustrated prints a page-long correction to a story about a prep basketball star in Virginia sent to prison after a brawl. Managing Editor Mark Mulvoy told readers that staff writer Ned Zeman 's story contained "significant errors," "exaggerations" and "editing lapses," such as identifying a white prosecution witness as black. In an interview, Mulvoy said that Zeman was not entirely to blame because there had been a "general breakdown in procedures" at the magazine. The writer, who has left the magazine, did not return phone messages... Elsewhere at Time Inc., Margaret Carlson leaves the White House beat at Time to become a columnist for the magazine, the first woman to hold that position in its 71-year history.

Tech News

The Vanderbilt Television News Archive, which has been recording and indexing CBS , ABC and NBC newscasts since 1968 (and more recently, CNN), promotes John Lynch to director. The archive's current project: transferring its index to a database that may soon be available via the Internet... The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette name Howard Finberg to the new position of senior editor for information technology. Formerly a Republic assistant managing editor, Finberg will plan online services, among other duties.

Cryer Retires

Gene Cryer , 58, editor of Ft. Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel , plans to retire June 30 after a 38-year career. Cryer, a one-time executive editor of Illinois' Rockford Register-Star , was editor of the Ft. Lauderdale News before it joined with the Sun-Sentinel in 1982 and he became editor of the merged papers. Cryer will continue to work on special projects with the daily and parent Tribune Company.

More Magazines

Forbes FYI hires James Fox , who recently retired after 31 years with the FBI (the last six as New York bureau chief), to write a security column. His first report advised executives worried about being kidnapped to "at bare minimum" hire a driver and buy a gun, and to never use your title when making reservations. We'll keep that in mind... All but 32 of 178 senior employees offered early retirement at the National Geographic Society take the money and run, including 29 staffers at the magazine. It's the latest in a series of cutbacks that have resulted in a workforce reduction of 700 people since 1989. Asked about the state of the editorial budget at flagship National Geographic , Editor William Graves would only say that "we've had cutbacks like everyone else, but the magazine is in great shape.".. Kurt Andersen , newly aboard as editor of New York , begins assembling his staff. He hires Michael Hirschorn , formerly articles editor at Esquire ; John Connolly , a stockbroker-turned-investigative reporter; Lynn Hirschberg , who leaves Vanity Fair ; Tad Friend , formerly at Esquire ; Mark Stevens , most recently art critic at the New Republic ; and media writer Walter Kirn .

Inside Newspapers

Jonathan Larsen resigns as editor of the Village Voice , saying he wants to take a break after five years of weekly deadlines. The weekly also loses Managing Editor Sarah Jewler , who takes the same position at New York ... Former New York Times photographer George Tames , who photographed 11 presidents, dies at 75 (for a sampling of his work, see our December 1990 issue)... Jane Shoemaker resigns as executive editor of the Charlotte Observer , citing differences with Editor Jennie Buckner Both Shoe- maker and Buckner, who was vice president/news at Knight-Ridder before joining the daily last fall, declined to elaborate. Frank Barrows keeps his title of managing editor but assumes Shoemaker's duties... Newsday nabs Mike Lupica from the New York Daily News , where he had been a sports columnist since 1977 except for 14 months he spent at the now-defunct National sports daily... Viveca Novak leaves the National Journal , where she covered the federal budget, to become a reporter at the Wall Street Journal .

Spy Dies

Spy , which defined celebrity attack journalism, joins National Lampoon and WigWag in the dustbin of humor magazines (see our October 1991 issue). Even what the eight-year-old magazine says was a 20 percent increase in advertising and circulation during the past year wasn't enough to climb out of the red. Deputy Editor Joanne Gruber , the only staffer to work at the monthly from beginning to end, says "almost everyone had seen it coming, but that doesn't mean it was any less devastating."

More Newspapers

The Oakland Tribune promotes Managing Editor Tim Schreiner to editor. He replaces Pearl Stewart , who resigned in December... The Chicago Sun-Times names Gail Bronson , formerly managing editor of Bloomberg Business News , as business editor. Bronson joins the paper at the same time Canadian publisher Conrad Black purchases the daily and two suburban chains from a group of investors for $180 million.... The Oregonian in Portland names Robert Caldwell as public editor, a new position. Caldwell, who had taken two months off as metro editor last year to teach in Romania, will write a Sunday column and investigate reader complaints.

Television News

Alan Weisman , most recently executive director of CBS' "Street Stories," joins Sports Illustrated Television to oversee features and documentaries... Diane Sawyer stays on at ABC for a reported $5 million a year, or $13,700 a day, nearly doubling her salary.

Changes at Reuters

Reuters America promotes Andrew Nibley to executive vice president to oversee both editorial and marketing. He's succeeded as editor by Paul

Eedle , who had been bureau chief in Egypt. News Editor Don Nordberg becomes financial editor. Reuters also transfers chief U.S. political correspondent Irwin Arieff to Paris. Arieff says he discovered he had gotten the plum assignment when he answered his beeper to a serenade of "April in Paris" sung by incoming News Editor Brian Williams . Arieff's wife, Common Cause Editor eborah Baldwin , leaves the magazine after 12 years.



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