Lexington Herald-Leader

Herald-Leader parent company posts $2.1 Million 1Q loss (after upping exec comp. 38% last year)

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April 25, 2012

McClatchy, the parent company of our own Lexington Herald Leader, reported a $2.1 million loss for the first quarter across all its operations:

“We were pleased to see the advertising revenue trend improving throughout the quarter,” said Gary Pruitt, the company’s outgoing chairman and chief executive. “Advertising revenues were down 7.9 percent in January, 6.8 percent in February and 5.6 percent in March.

…One bright spot was a 2.7 percent increase in digital ad sales. Digital advertising now makes up 22.2 percent of the total ad picture at McClatchy.

Last year, McClatchy paid out $10.5 Million in compensation to its own executives, a 38% increase over the year before.

The newspaper biz, like all others in our lovely non-Depression, continues to struggle. There’s a lot of people who knee-jerk a reaction to the news as though the newspapers deserve it or like they don’t provide a truly vital service. I won’t bore you with a discussion of all that at the moment, other than to say folks at the Herald have been generally supportive of their McClatchy overlords (at least when talking to me, I’m not at the water cooler), but I’m not sure anyone can (or should even try to) justify giving your corporate executives a 38% increase in compensation while forcing hard-working reporters into retirement, off to furlough or just out-the-door. The industry needs transformation, and out-of-whack executive compensation is just more of the corporate mess that delivered the country to the place its at… the very stuff these papers report about daily.

Okay. Carry on.

[via Romenesko]

H-L Editorial: Make Two-Way Streets Happen

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November 17, 2011

Git ‘er done!

A search through Herald-Leader archives finds near-universal support for two-way streets in Lexington’s downtown going back over a decade and studies to support the change.

Two years ago the council passed a resolution supporting two-way streets.

The question has remained: So, why hasn’t it happened?

Perhaps Mayor Jim Gray will finally answer that question. Maybe it hasn’t happened because neither the mayor nor the council has drawn a line in the asphalt and said, “make it happen.”


H-L Editorial slams attacks on Consumer Protection, but…

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July 25, 2011

A spirited defense of the Consumer Protection agency from the Herald-Leader on Sunday took aim at Republicans — specifically calling out Mitch and Rand:

The agency has recruited 400 employees, including researchers and examiners. The researchers are watching trends in the lending markets and keeping a close watch over jazzy new products. The examiners will scrutinize the books and practices of financial institutions to be sure they’re playing by the rules.

So far, so good?

Not really. Republicans in Congress, including Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, shiver in their boots when they even think about the CFPB. Their verbiage would lead you to believe that it could do for our economy roughly what Hurricane Katrina did for New Orleans. “I think it could be a serious threat to our financial system,” McConnell said in May.

And then just a bit later…

But the R’s are still on the warpath, complaining that the agency and its director have too much power (to protect consumers? Don’t want that to happen) and they won’t approve any director until changes are made to give Congress more authority over the CFPB, a move that would ensure Wall Street, with its perennial generosity to congressional candidates, would also have more power over it.

All of which is dead true.

The Republicans hate this agency — and the idea of “consumer protection” — and the Herald-Leader is right to call them out.

But why did they give Mitch and Rand a hard time while giving Ben Chandler a pass? That’s a bit disingenuous.

If you don’t know what the CFPB will do, the HL also ran a nice rundown via the Chicago Tribune that lays out the basics.

If, however, you want to just keep on telling yourself that Ben Chandler is a good Democrat and you don’t want to hear anything accurate ever said about him or about his votes, don’t click any of the above links. It’s easier to just not know, right?

Jim Newberry’s New Digital Media Empire laments death of the media it’s trying to kill

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June 17, 2011

Good news, friends! It appears we’ve figured out how to make outbound links to Jim Newberry’s New Media Empire work… and just in time because you’re not going to want to miss this article.

Basically, they’ve got a journalism prof, Mike Farrell, who’s head of the Scripps Howard 1st Amendment Center and a former Kentucky Post editor for 20+ years (so… a longtime pal of Ms. Clabes) dissecting the threats that face traditional media and, specifically, newspapers.

Interestingly enough, the KYForward article came one week after outgoing Herald-Leader honcho Tim Kelly penned a column of his own arguing the exact opposite, that in fact newspapers are not dying.

Regardless of where you stand on this question, one thing is clear: the KYForward article is hilarious.

Let’s dig in!

Farrell’s basic argument is about democracy being in danger from not just war and stuff, but also that the dying of newspapers means there’s no watchdogs on the ass of our government and leaders.

But this is not about jobs lost or new journalism graduates looking for jobs longer than their predecessors. This is about the threat to democracy by this dramatic decline in the ability of the news media to cover government.

And let’s be clear before continuing, it’s not that Farrell is necessarily wrong in anything he’s saying here, or that he himself is being hilarious. As is often the case with Newberry’s New Digital Media Empire, the writers are good and talented… it’s just their unfortunate venue makes their endeavors kinda, well, hilarious. Witness:

The reason we have that precious First Amendment guarantee of a news media independent of government interference is so that journalists can serve both as a watchdog on the activities of officials, elected and appointed, and also as an information channel to the citizens – those who support the government with our taxes and help choose its direction by voting.

Yes. The 1st Amendment! You remember that, don’t you? Of course you do, it’s that durn fickle thing that stopped Jim Newberry from removing a dirty blogger from a debate panel in last year’s Mayoral election — see here and here.

Oh, Jim Newberry, you old card.

His New Media Empire marches on…

At a time when technology allows government to become more sophisticated in its record-keeping, fewer reporters are available to dig below the pat answers and discover what the numbers really mean. Kentucky is blessed with a state auditor, but that office can’t begin to listen to the backroom whispers, match campaign contributions to legislative action and ask the tough questions about why a road to nowhere is needed.

It was around here we began to wonder if this whole article was just satire.

Recall, if you will, the Jim Newberry Administration. What do you remember?

Do you remember the Lexington Airport Scandal? Where the Mayor said nothing was wrong and told everyone to shut up. And the nasty newspaper reporters just kept digging away. Tens of thousands in wasteful spending, a culture of corruption… all uncovered by journalists at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Do you remember the Kentucky League of Cities Scandal? Where the Mayor sat on the executive board and somehow failed to exercise any oversight over a ludicrously wasteful partytime at public expense. And then Jim plead ignorance and tried to look the other way. Again… journalists at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

There was the KACo Scandal. There was the library scandal. There was last summer’s whistleblower scandal that Newberry and all Newberry’s legion of doom attempted to silence in almost comical (yet very costly) fashion.

Kentucky is, indeed, “blessed with a state auditor” as Jim Newberry’s newfashioned media outlet writes, but in each of the cases above, the blessing of the state auditor came only after the Herald-Leader and other muckrakers raked up the muck.

Wirtes Farrell:

Reporting is not as simple as it seems; it involves a lot more than picking up a phone and asking a few questions of a public official eager to tell the reporter everything. It involves building relationships so that officials come to trust reporters and will answer questions; it involves understanding how a process, such as budgeting, works so that reporters understand and can ask the right questions.


Does no one at KyFwd read their own publication? Or do they just know absolutely nothing about Jim Newberry? Or is this a joke?

Or… is it just a backhanded F.U. directed at the Lexington Herald-Leader?

Because that’s Jim Newberry’s mission. That’s what he’s after. That’s why he and his Anonymous Coal Baron buddy set this whole operation up — they want to challenge the existing media structure because they don’t feel they’re getting a fair shake.

Those nasty journalists at the Herald-Leader are mean to poor ol’ King Coal, and those nasty journalists went and investigated corruption in Jim Newberry’s almost totally inconsequential reign as Mayor.

That’s why Kentucky Forward exists. And while they may wish the Herald-Leader disapears tomorrow, it’s still here now and it’s doing actual journalism.

Linda Blackford, Jennifer Hewlett, John Cheves… this hilarious Jim Newberry financed article is just a mean attack on them, on their work, on journalism. Whether Farrell intended it that way or not — that’s the purpose of the venue in which he writes.

Jim Newberry’s New Digital Media Empire turns one month old; Destroys the competition!

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June 2, 2011
“We won’t do what others do enough of.” 
 –stated mission of KYForward.

So Jim Newberry’s new digital media empire turns one month old today.

Or, it would have turned one month old today — it was originally slated to launch May 2nd — if it hadn’t run into some pre-launch bad press and some reported behind-the-scenes conflicts over editorial control and coal baron money. But whatever. It launched.

And in honor of this one month milestone (many people didn’t even think it would get here), we decided to do a little roundup of what this new addition to the local media landscape has given us.

Is Jim Newberry winning his grudge-match with the Herald-Leader?

Is King Coal still running the KYForward show?

Are they covering the stories no one else covers? Are they filling the news void?

Let’s start with advertising.

This is where you’re getting your news, right?

After word leaked that Newberry’s operation was a front group for the Coal Industry, he and his team were quick to stress that the site was actually funded by advertising. One month in, though, the advertising hasn’t changed — it’s still just a collection of interconnected non-profits, for the most part, that share board members with KYForward. So no one seems to be buying the ad-space. Which doesn’t bode well. So if it’s not funded by advertising, who’s paying the bills? The mystery continues, as King Coal Millionaire Funder remains anonymous (which is antithetical to their stated core values) and Newberry & Co. are now claiming they are funding it out of their own pockets.

So the moneybags remains a mystery. How about the content?

Well, they did add a Twitter and Facebook share button. And some RSS functionality.

And they’ve also been shooting a lot of video. Which is pretty cool, as a supplement to stories, and we’d share one with you except… the videos aren’t on YouTube, they are all hosted locally and thus can’t be embedded elsewhere or easily shared. Which maybe makes sense for a large media outlet trying to maintain full ownership of its own content, but, as a bit of friendly advice, doesn’t make any sense for a website no one’s ever heard of. If it can’t be shared, it won’t be seen.

But it’s not just their embeddable videos that make the site a little clunky. For some reason we’ve not been able to figure out, we can’t actually embed any links to the Newberry’s new media empire… they just don’t work. It’s very strange and we’ve never seen anything quite like it. But we have found a work around, so let’s start the review.

KYForward did a lovely story previewing the upcoming Henry Clay tribute featuring John Boner, and since the link doesn’t work, you can check out the coverage from the Herald-Leader, BizLex,  here at B&P, or heck, the Greenfield Indiana Daily Reporter.

KYForward also previewed today’s CentrePointe meeting with Ms. Gang. Since the link won’t work,  you can read Beverly Fortune’s article in the Herald-Leader or a different article written by Tom Eblen.

KYForward wrote up a nice reveiw of Kentucky Proud. Here’s a press release about that group at Ed Lane’s linkable media empire.

KYForward profiled UK’s new president’s wife. Most of the basic details can also be found at North of Center.

KYForward reviewed the results of the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center’s “Re-Imaging Appalachia” photo contest. Here’s the Associated Press’s excellent coverage.

They honored the “Broodmare of the Month” and ran a op-ed claiming that Beshear snubbing the Navy SEALs was actually proof that Kentucky’s economy is on the right track. We can’t find any comparable coverage elsewhere. A void is filled. (Although, there’s this.)

KYForward looked at the “garbage worker remarks investigation,” and so did the Herald-Leader.

KYForward highlighted Pop’s Resale… read all about it at Kentucky.com.

KYForward looked back at Toyota’s 25 years in the Bluegrass. Check it out here, here, and here.

KYForward attended and wrote about Alltech’s recent symposium. Can’t link it, but you can read about at the Herald-Leader and at BizLex.

They also covered a lot of UK softball and minor league baseball — and we can safely say that there is no better destination on the web for those stories than KYForward. And they also did an admirable job over this first month covering Kentucky’s horse industry, giving KEEP and others a strong voice.

And those weren’t the only bright spots. They also entered into cross-publishing partnerships with two local (and great) bloggers, the Kaintuckeean and Unusual Kentucky.

So that’s it. In case you are one of the only people in town who’s not getting your news at Mayor No Consequence’s new media empire, you are now caught up. We look forward to checking back in next month — and hopefully by then we’ll have figured out how to make the outbound links work. We especially look forward to reviewing their new slate of advertisers since that’s how it’s all being paid for and not at all by a millionaire anonymous coal baron.

Also, we forgot to mention that the saddest thing about all this is that a lot of their young writers seem talented and genuine in their journalistic endeavor. It’s too bad that what on the surface isn’t the worst idea for a website is being directed by a grudge against the great local paper and several other outlets and funded by people of unclear motivations.

KRS and Beshear, facts and spin, smoke and fire

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May 27, 2011

Ever since John Cheves’ story on Tuesday about former KRS head Mike Burnside claiming that Gov. Steve Beshear set up two business meetings with KRS and political supporters, both sides of the aisle have been in overdrive spinning it.

One side says that this is corruption of Nixonian proportions and Team Beshear eventually will have to resign or go to jail. The other side says that Mike Burnside is just a disgruntled employee who went out to the press to smear Beshear, doing a sloppy job trying to paint him as an unethical crook. I’ve been trying to shift through this spin over the last few days, because I honestly didn’t know what to make of it.

Well, here are my thoughts. First of all, the charge that Mike Burnside is just a disgruntled employee looking to smear the man who fired him in the media by pushing this story is false. Burnside did not contact John Cheves, John Cheves contacted him. Cheves asked him about those meetings, which he learned from elsewhere, and Burnside answered. Burnside may very well be “disgruntled”, but he’s not shopping this story around to Kentucky media. Burnside may very well have been neck deep in shady practices at KRS, but he only answered the questions asked of him. So a large part of this KDP spin is off base.

On the other hand, there truly is nothing “criminal” that Burnside has revealed in the story (nor did Cheves intend it to be perceived that way, I’m guessing). However, it is kind of shady, perhaps unethical, and does lead to suspicions of what else might have been happening behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Especially since Burnside just answered what was asked of him. But at this point, it’s just that: suspicions.

There is little doubt in my mind that there is a raging fire deep in the belly of Kentucky Retirement Systems, and that it has been burning for a long time now. We’ve been starting to detect the smoke through stories over the last year, and Cheves’ story this week provided a better view of it (the revolving door with lobbyists, political ops, and favors). But at this point, the only people that are going to find out where the fire started and by whom are the SEC, Crit Luallen and Billy Joel. Who’s the villain? Beshear? Fletcher? Burnside? Riddle? Many others? All of the above? Don’t know. The only thing I’m nearly certain of is that something is there, and somebody’s going down. And until then, the spin will most definitely continue.

Daily Yonder: A State With Empty Bureaus

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May 26, 2011

The Herald-Leader is closing its last Eastern Kentucky bureau as the probably profitable paper continues its struggle against the parent company’s debt obligations and the news industry remains in trouble and in transition.

Bill Bishop of the Daily Yonder has a great story up now on Dori Hjalmarson, the last bureau reporter, what the news bureaus meant to the region, and what is lost with their closing:

The reporters who worked Eastern Kentucky news bureaus helped change the nation and brought Kentucky together. The last bureau will close this week.

It’s fitting that Dori Hjalmarson’s story Sunday was about the decline in population in Breathitt County, Kentucky, as people abandon that coalfield county in search of work elsewhere because Dori is leaving, too.

Eastern Kentucky once had five major press news bureaus, but they’ve been closing as the business of newspapering has declined. The state’s largest newspaper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, closed its bureau in Hazard years ago. The Associated Press followed, closing its bureau in Pikeville.

At one time the Lexington Herald-Leader had three reporters living in Eastern Kentucky. Dori Hjalmarson was the last. She leaves her Pikeville office Friday and nobody is taking her place.
At one time, every county in Kentucky had daily delivery of the Courier-Journal and the paper had reporters in both Hazard, in the far east, and Paducah, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

It was hard to advance in management at the C-J unless you passed through the bureaus. That was the way you learned about the state — the whole state. Then — before the collapse of the newspaper business — the Courier-Journal saw itself as Kentucky’s newspaper.
The C-J and, later, the Herald-Leader sent their best reporters to rural Kentucky. David Hawpe worked out of the Hazard bureau, and became editor of the Courier-Journal. Frank Langfitt began at the Herald-Leader’s Hazard bureau and is now a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio.

Rural bureau reporters in Kentucky were journalistic cops-on-the-beat in their territories. If a person (or a community) was a victim of injustice, the bureau reporter would get a call.

There’s more, of course, on Dori and on history and on the disappearing counties of coal country — at the Daily Yonder.

And let’s take a moment here to also recall Jim Newberry’s Coal-Funded Media Death Star, formed to challenge the stories and strength of the Herald-Leader… right at the time the great H-L needs it least. Way to go, Jim. Way to go.

Steve Beshear’s Back Getting Crowded as Herald-Leader Piles On…

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May 24, 2011

Apparently screaming at the top of your lungs into a microphone during the State of the Commonwealth address about how government bureaucrats must be crushed by your immovable political will isn’t always the smartest move.

Here’s the Herald-Leader editorial board wrapping their arms around Governor Steve Beshear’s neck and and their legs around his torso:

Gov. Steve Beshear and his challenger, Senate President David Williams, keep insisting the coal industry is overregulated.

Anyone tempted to believe them should read the first official report on the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia.

Twenty-nine men died because the most basic safety practices were routinely violated by the mine’s owner, Massey Energy, a company seen as “too big to be regulated,” and which also has a huge footprint in Kentucky.

“Most objective observers would find it unacceptable for workers to slog through neck-deep water or be subjected to constant tinkering with the ventilation system — their very lifeline in an underground mine. Practices such as these can only exist in a workplace where the deviant has become normal, and evidence suggests that a great number of deviant practices became normalized at the Upper Big Branch mine,” says a study commissioned after the disaster 13 months ago by then-Gov. Joe Manchin, who is now a U.S. senator.

The Editorial is lengthy — digging through the heartbreaking and infuriating findings of this first official (government bureaucrat) report, all building up to the final part of this piggy-back ride:

Beshear and Williams should also read the report. They should ask themselves if their rants against federal regulation and their defense of an industry that’s hardly defenseless is also normalizing deviancy.

By pretending coal industry abuses are not real and attacking those who only ask the industry to follow the law, Beshear and Williams are endangering those who work in the mines. They are harming the many Kentuckians who live everyday with the effects of mining. And they risk the future with their eagerness to trade Kentucky’s forest land and clean air and water for their own political protection from coal industry money.

But to the Herald-Leader (and anyone who would try to bind the hands of the Coal Kings), Steve Beshear says:

Happy Birthday, Pop’s Resale!

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May 20, 2011

You know what’s great?

Pop’s Resale.

The Leestown Rd. store that has pretty much everything you’d ever need to brighten your own day or the lives of your loved ones is celebrating its 15th Birthday on Saturday.

There will be live music.

Rich Copley at the Herald-Leader has the Pop’s Story:

On Saturday, the shop is celebrating its 15th birthday with a big show featuring The Royal Batfangs, Sundown Service, Spooky Qs, J. Marinelli and His Angry Young 1-Man, Slate Dump, O Leandario Chucrobillyman and DJ Otis Badass.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” proprietor Dan “Pop” Shorr says, walking along an aisle between the store’s bins of more than 80,000 vinyl records. “I’m never going to get rich doing this, so it’s great if we can have fun.”

Shorr says he and his wife, Sharon Shorr, opened Pops in 1996, when he decided to make a career change. He had been in the car audio business but could see that industry was in decline because more car manufacturers were installing high-quality sound systems of their own.
They opened Pops Resale Shop at the height of the CD era, but going against the dominant music media of the time, Shorr dipped into his own collection of 5,000 records and put out a few bins of vinyl.

The festivities start at 11AM and run all day, with food from Indi’s, Goodfellas and the Meadowthorpe Cafe, with sales sales sales all day long.

So obviously you should drop by.

Also, isn’t it nice to have a news publication here in town that covers stories like this? That lets you know what’s going on around town, and brings the remarkable stories of our local businesses to a larger audience?

As KYForward flourishes, the Herald-Leader cuts jobs

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May 10, 2011

Anyone who suggests that Jim Newberry and his deep pocketed coal baron buddies aren’t out to get the Herald-Leader is, well, as far as we can tell, probably working for Jim Newberry and KYForward.

So what would already be terrible news is now also unfortunately timed news:

The Herald-Leader announced more cuts to its work force Monday. Publisher Timothy M. Kelly said the newspaper’s revenue trends “remain negative year-over-year. … As a result, we must continue to look for ways to offset shortfalls by managing expenses.”

The company will eliminate 15 positions, including four that are vacant. According to Kelly, voluntary severance options will be offered in some work groups; others will be involuntary. The affected employees and work groups, which are in the newspaper’s advertising, news and operations divisions, were notified Monday.

It’s a damn shame.

And its downright sad that Newberry has created this KYForward outfit to attack the local paper as though it wasn’t a true treasure.

Better source of news? The man is literally unbelievable.

So our thoughts go out to the folks at the Herald-Leader.

And our congrats, once again, go out to our new neighbors at KYForward.com. Apparently doing the bidding of King Coal really was the smartest way to go.

Victory on this day goes to Newberry, Clabes and all the opposite tenets of good journalism.




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