Monday, May 19, 2008

Of missing bodies and handsome bachelors

Some nights here in the newsroom, we dig and dig and finally find gold.
But some nights, we dig and dig and all we end up with is a great big hole.
Tonight was a whole lot more the latter.
Court reporter Brad Dicken picked up a lawsuit during late afternoon court checks that had him breathless.
The suit seemed to say that three brothers were suing the City of Amherst for digging up their deceased mother's body from a cemetery and selling it to a man for $70.
Well, after Brad went to Amherst and talked to a few people, the story became: Amherst dug up a woman's ashes from a potter's field in Crownhill Cemetery because a man -- presumably the woman's boyfriend -- wanted to move the ashes closer to family.
It's still an interesting story you can read about in tomorrow's Chronicle ... it just wasn't quite what we thought it was going to be.
But then, neither was the story of our bachelor, Jesse Csincsak, vying for the affections of "The Bachelorette."
Jesse, an Amherst grad, is a professional snowboarder -- and he dresses like one (think skater). He had on a multi-colored jacket and neon sneakers and his hair hung in his eyes.
But, no matter, The Bachelorette not only kept him in the running, she gave him one of the first three roses (which means he's safe from elimination). Steve Fogarty watched the show at home and e-mailed in a story when it was over.
Well, those were the two most interesting stories we were working on tonight.
And the good news is, they're not over yet.
Stay tuned.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Slow night except for the Cavs

The most exciting thing that happened in the newsroom tonight -- besides the Cavs tying up the series, of course -- was a phone call I got from an extremely angry woman.
"I want to talk to the person who puts the ads in the paper," she said to me through what sounded like clenched teeth.
"Ads or stories?" I asked as calm as she was uncalm.
"Whatever. Did you see today's paper? Despite imposters, wild child, Cavs beat all (that was the headline that ran on the Cavs story on Monday's front page)," she asked, her words dripping with disgust.
"Does that belong on the front page?"
"What offends you about it?" I asked her.
"It's sports!"
Hmmm. I tried to explain to her that every day every story is relative. That's the way the news goes. Sometimes a really great story will end up inside the paper because there just happens to be -- on that particular day -- half a dozen even greater stories.
Other days, a cute squirrel or a Cavaliers preview story winds up on Page 1 because there just isn't anything better to knock it out of its lofty front page spot.
I think I settled her down a little but all that means is she wasn't quite as angry. She didn't stop her sports-on-the-front-page complaint.
I don't know. I think the Cavs are pretty big news right now.
Aren't they?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Workin' on the night shift

I have new hours custom-made for those upcoming sunny summer days but not so much for an old girl like me.
In a recent downsizing, the paper eliminated the assistant managing editor position and the top three newsroom managers all got jockeyed around.
I kept my title and as many of the management duties as I can perform on the late shift while the assistant managing editor was bumped to metro editor and the metro editor was bumped to a reporting position.
But, seriously, it's kind of nice to be with the night people. The pace is much slower and the aggravations a lot fewer.
Gee, I might even have time to blog ...
Here's what was going on tonight in The Newsroom: My favorite story we were working was the one about the 23-cent pizza sale going on at 86 Papa John outlets dotted around the Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Youngstown areas.
Bruce Bishop, our always photographer and sometimes reporter, wrote a short story based on what he saw when he went to one of the two Papa John's closest to us on Detroit Road in Westlake to take photos about 3 this afternoon.
When Jason Hawk, our night police reporter, got in, he updated the story and filed it around 6. At that time, the manager of nine Cleveland-area P.J.s said they had enough pizza makings to go the duration -- which was supposed to be 12:30 Friday morning.
Well, guess what? They didn't. Both the Westlake and North Olmsted P.J.s stopped answering their phones before 9 p.m. and reporter Cindy Leise, who stopped in for a late night pizza snack after shopping in North Olmsted, called us with an update just before 10 p.m.
"The cops just came by and told us all to go home," she said. "And, we heard the Westlake one is closed, too."
So I pulled the story off the page and gave it back to Jason for an update. It changed considerably with the thrust now being that they ran out of pizzas before hungry LeBron fans ran out of the desire for them.
We also were finally able to report that it looks as if the victim of Tuesday's heinous abduction and shooting at the Carlisle Reservation will probably be paralyzed from the wound to her back.
We had known and reported that the bullet hit close to her spine but we were not able to get the family to tell us any more. But they told the sheriff's department and that's who we are attributing it to in tomorrow's story.
The Cavs game was on the TV out in the newsroom and although I can't see it and can hardly hear it from my office, I can usually hear hoopin' and hollerin' coming from the sports desk.
But not tonight.
"The Cavs lost?" I asked Assistant Sports Editor Scott Petrak.
"They got killed," he said.
And other than that, it was a pretty quiet night.
Unless, of course, you count the unannounced visit from our former co-worker Matt Westerhold, who is now the managing editor of The Sandusky Register.
And, if you think there are sordid tales here in Lorain County, you should hear what goes on in Sandusky.