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Editorial Results (free)

1. Culture of Collaboration -

Despite tremendous advances in technology that yield nearly infinite access to information and the Internet’s connectivity of the world’s greatest experts, many companies continue to look inward for new product development and innovation.

2. Buffett May Face Questions About Performance -

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Warren Buffett's failure to beat the stock market in four of the past five years has raised the issue of whether Berkshire Hathaway's 83-year-old CEO has lost his touch.

3. February Has Stock Market ‘Reboot’ -

Frustrating. A word often used to describe computers, smartphones, tablets and, quite often, the stock market.

Sometimes we can press the exact same button on our computer as we did the day before and something completely different pops up on our screen. What do we do? Do we call the IT person or reboot?

4. Restivo Group Moves to New Midtown Digs -

The Restivo Group Realtors has expanded into new offices at 1861 Madison Ave. in the landmark Gilmore Building.

5. Industrial Portfolio Sells for $43 Million -

4550 Swinnea Road6005 Freeport Ave., 3399 E. Raines Road
Memphis, TN
Sale Amounts: $10.1 million; $14.8 million; $18 million

6. Mill Creek Apartments Owner Files $7 Million Loan -

The owner of the 448-unit Mill Creek Apartments at 4461 Millbranch Road in Whitehaven has filed a $6.8 million loan on the property.

7. White House Promotes Economic Issues Facing Women -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Add pay equity to President Barack Obama's 2014 do-it-himself wish list.

The White House is launching a campaign to promote a host of economic issues facing women, a key voting bloc in this year's midterm election.

8. Attorney Pierotti Joins Thomas Family Law Firm -

Nicholas J. Pierotti has joined Thomas Family Law Firm PLC as an attorney, marking the firm’s expansion to include probate issues. Pierotti, a third-generation attorney, joins founder Justin K. Thomas in the Memphis-based practice and will work with clients on both family law and probate matters, including wills and estates.

9. CTSI Stays Competitive by Adapting to Client Needs -

It might take a freight train to hold all of the services offered by CTSI-Global, the Memphis-based global supplier of supply chain management expertise and technology to the logistics industry.

With innovative technology and offices located worldwide, CTSI works with shippers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to manage their business through a database 150 terabytes strong.

10. Highland McDonald’s Proposal Withdrawn -

The developers behind a proposed McDonald’s on Highland Avenue near the University of Memphis withdrew their request for approval from the Land Use Control Board Thursday, Nov. 14.

The developers, Century Management Inc., have withdrawn their plan completely after initially signaling they were withdrawing for 30 days.

11. Suburban Prospects -

Walker Taylor’s business philosophy is a simple one, and it’s helping keep his Germantown-based restaurant a must-visit for diners from around the world.

12. Square Roots -

Breakaway Running owner Barry Roberson was blown away by the crowds who visited his new Overton Square store, which opened Oct. 30.

13. African-American Execs Needed -

The expertise and connections of African-American corporate executives can help chart a sustainable future for historically black colleges and universities. Historically black colleges and universities are amongst the largest African-American-controlled businesses in America. Many date to the 19th century. They have educated generations and built the black middle class. They are major employers in communities across the country. They also face challenges as they operate in an increasingly competitive educational marketplace.

14. Air Traffic Control Modernization Hits Turbulence -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Ten years after Congress gave the go-ahead to modernize the nation's air traffic control system, one of the government's most ambitious and complex technology programs is in trouble.

15. Community Oasis -

A visitor walking the winding, sun-dappled paths of Memphis Botanic Garden past stands of maple trees and beds of hydrangeas might never guess that there was a time when a black cloud hung low over the East Memphis attraction.

16. Beale Street Deal Would Pay Handy Park Debt -

The settlement of the last remaining item in the bankruptcy petition of Beale Street developer Performa Entertainment hasn’t gone by any of the scripts the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. has written and rewritten.

17. Council Approves Beale Deal, Delays Highland McDonald's -

Memphis City Council members sent a plan Tuesday, Oct. 15, to settle the last barrier to direct day to day city control of the Beale Street entertainment district to a federal bankruptcy judge.

The council approved a resolution that would use $400,000 from a dormant city fund related to the abandoned Midtown interstate corridor and $100,000 in revenues it has collected from the Beale Street district to pay off a loan Beale Street developer John Elkington took out for improvements he made to Handy Park.

18. Career Shift Lands Fish in Financial Planning -

To hear the way she speaks of Memphis, and to know the many ways in which she works to better her community, one would never guess that Kathy Fish was not born and raised right here.

19. Southeastern Asset Management Buys Stake in News Corp. -

Memphis-based Southeastern Asset Management Inc., the investment firm that along with activist investor Carl Icahn opposed the proposed buyout of Dell Inc., disclosed that it has taken a nearly 12 percent stake in News Corp.

20. Southeastern Asset Management Buys Stake in News Corp. -

Memphis-based Southeastern Asset Management Inc., the investment firm that along with activist investor Carl Icahn opposed the proposed buyout of Dell Inc., disclosed that it has taken a nearly 12 percent stake in News Corp.

21. Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck Rolls Along With Changing City -

The accounting firm of Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck PLC has been around since 1916, when it was known as Shannon Reynolds & Bone.

22. Winchester Court Sells for $6 Million After Foreclosure -

6740 Winchester Road
Memphis, TN 38115
Sale Amount: $6 million

Sale Date: July 31, 2013
Buyer: WBCMT 2007-C31 Winchester Court LLC
Seller: Harris P. Quinn, substitute trustee
Details: The Winchester Court retail center at Kirby Parkway and Winchester Road in Hickory Hill has sold for $6 million following a foreclosure.

23. Loeb Enjoying Strong Demand in East Memphis -

Pomp & Poise, a new gift store concept specializing in home and garden items, has signed a new lease at Park Place Center.

Pomp and Poise will occupy 1,400 square feet at the East Memphis retail center at the southwest corner of Park Avenue and Ridgeway Road.

24. Boyle Honors Past at 80th Anniversary Celebration -

If it seems like the Boyle family has played a key role in Memphis since the city was founded, it’s because it has.

A Boyle family ancestor, John Overton, founded Memphis in 1819 along with James Winchester and Andrew Jackson. In the early 1900s, Edward Boyle developed Belvedere Boulevard, which remains one of the city’s most elegant arteries.

25. Boyle Celebrates 80 Years, Sponsors Art Exhibit -

Boyle Investment Co. turns 80 this year, and has partnered with the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art to celebrate.

26. Koury’s Success Defined by Partnerships, Programming -

Heather Baugus Koury has been executive director of the American Institute of Architects Memphis chapter for more than a decade, and although she was just named to the distinguished status of Honorary AIA, she’s never considered becoming a practitioner.

27. Events -

Nike Inc. will host construction symposiums for locally owned small, women-owned and minority businesses Thursday, Feb. 7, and Friday, Feb. 8, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the U of M Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, 1 N. Front St. Attendees will learn about construction opportunities at Nike’s Memphis expansion. R.S.V.P. to Brenda Montgomery at bmontgomery@memphischamber.com or 543-3500.

28. AP IMPACT: Deficient Levees Found Across America -

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Inspectors taking the first-ever inventory of flood control systems overseen by the federal government have found hundreds of structures at risk of failing and endangering people and property in 37 states.

29. Business Workshop Will Stress Strategy Alignment -

Talk to author, business coach and strategy expert Michael Synk long enough, and not only will a few images and themes make an appearance, but they’ll do so repeatedly.

Synk will talk a lot, for example, about the importance of a single piece of paper, and the word “alignment” will come up frequently. That’s because they are among the key ingredients in his recipe for business growth, which he shares with executives from companies of all sizes, something he’s also doing this week at a workshop sponsored in part by The Daily News.

30. Workshop to Remind Leaders Cash is King -

Author, business coach and strategy expert Michael Synk has a three-word phrase that he describes as the most important rule about growing a business: Growth sucks cash.

“Cash is the fuel of the business,” Synk said. “You run out of cash, the race is over, no matter how good your people, strategy and execution are.”

31. Business Workshop to Highlight Execution -

Successful businesses, it probably goes without saying, build and execute actionable plans for growth. But to get to that point, they have to be the opposite of those razzle-dazzle professional athletes who are said to have “a million dollar move, and a 10-cent finish.”

32. Business Growth Workshop Will Talk Strategy -

It’s one of the first questions people often get asked when meeting someone for the first time – “So, what do you do?” – and a business owner is liable to get straight to the point.

“Some people might say they’re in the lawn care business,” said Jay Healy, president of Memphis-based Century Wealth Management. “But that doesn’t quantify what you do, who you do it for and how you do the business you have. There’s too much left unsaid.”

33. Business Growth Requires People Focus -

Steve Jobs was famously meticulous about building out a certain kind of leadership team at Apple, with a view toward ensuring the company would be able to thrive long after its visionary co-founder was gone.

34. Workshop Looks To Put Goals Onto One Page -

Author, business coach and strategy expert Michael Synk has a metaphor he uses to distill some of the most important elements of what he shares with business owners in need of a focused growth plan.

35. Growth Streak -

Andrew Holliday and Daniel Brown, the founding partners of Memphis-based branding and marketing firm Harvest Creative, used to joke about one day making the Inc. 500|5000, the list published each year by Inc. Magazine that honors the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

36. People at Heart of Patterson’s Dominance in 3PL Industry -

Founded in 1856, Patterson Warehouses Inc. is one of the leaders and most respected players in Memphis’ robust third-party logistics (3PL) industry.

37. History for Sale -

Three historic properties in the Midtown and Downtown areas are on the market, all listed with major Memphis commercial real estate firms.

The most recent listing is the Hunt-Phelan house at 533 Beale St., priced at $2.9 million with Henry Stratton and Andy Cates of Colliers International Memphis. The mansion has hosted guests including Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson.

38. News Corp. Announces Plans to Split -

NEW YORK (AP) – Calling it the next logical step in an evolution over nearly six decades, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said Thursday that it will split into two publicly traded companies.

39. Mentoring Group Announces Men and Women of the Year -

The 110 Institute, a Memphis-based youth development and research firm, has announced its 2012 “Men of the Year,” and for the first time two “Women of the Year”.

This year’s recipients are: Fred Tillman, CEO of Century Management; Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich; Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong; and News Channel 3 Morning Anchor Markova Reed.

40. Gather at the River -

About a year ago Memphians were drawn to one spot in particular on the city’s riverfront.

At the foot of Beale Street, the Mississippi River had risen last May to a level where the muddy water covered the intersection of Riverside Drive and Beale, offering a view of an uninterrupted river stretching three miles from the intersection to the levees in West Memphis.

41. American Queen Makes Historic Comeback -

When the American Queen pulls into its Memphis home port Thursday morning, April 26, it will be the second time the world’s largest steamboat has stopped in the city.

The first time was 17 years and several lifetimes ago in the domestic overnight river cruise business.

42. Cherokee Arms Undergoes Rehab -

It wasn’t long ago that the Cherokee Arms Apartments complex in Midtown was on the market with a note of “in need of repair.”

But thanks to Memphis native and current Los Angeles resident Dana Gabrion, the three-story complex will soon breathe new life to 1508 Madison Ave. Under the entity Gabrion Properties LLC, she acquired the 30-unit, Class C investment-grade multifamily building for $455,000 in fall 2010 and hopes to have it ready for occupancy come June.

43. Irish Stories -

Throughout the nation’s history, millions of Irish men and women – in an effort to escape poverty, famine, joblessness and English oppression at home – made the journey across the Atlantic seeking fresh starts in the “land of opportunity.”

44. Home Away From Home -

While some visitors to the Bluff City prefer soaking in the classic Southern grandeur of The Peabody hotel or staying close to the King in an Elvis-themed suite at the Heartbreak Hotel, other travelers are choosing more intimate accommodations off the beaten path.

45. Draw Line To Prevent Overloading -

What if by simply drawing a line you could reduce the suffering and anguish of thousands and save lives in the process? Wouldn’t you think it was a good idea?

In 1874, seafarer Samuel Plimsoll did just that. Plimsoll found a way to prevent ships from being overloaded and sinking under the weight of excess cargo. Literally thousands of lives were saved because Plimsoll Lines, indicating the maximum vessel load capacity, were painted on the sides of ships. Given today’s overloaded workplaces and lifestyles, we can learn a lot from Plimsoll’s approach. We can learn to draw a line indicating our maximum capacity and prevent the negative effects of personal overloading.

46. Design 500 Finds Passion Preparing Museum Exhibits -

Scott Blake’s home office in a historic building at 671 Jefferson Ave. is clearly the abode of a man with a deep love of art, history and design.

47. 2 Centuries After New Madrid Quakes, What's Next? -

MEMPHIS (AP) – The United States was still a young nation when three major earthquakes rocked the central Mississippi River valley in the winter of 1811-1812.

Chimneys fell, the earth heaved and church bells rang hundreds of miles away, set off by the powerful vibrations from what is now called the New Madrid Seismic Zone. As farmland rolled and shuddered, the shock waves spread as far as New York and the Carolinas.

48. Welcome Addition -

The four-story office building at Court Avenue and Second Street in Downtown Memphis was built in 1903 as the home of The Commercial Appeal and later became the longtime headquarters of the Welcome Wagon Corp.

49. White House to Review Energy Department Loans -

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday ordered an independent review of clean-energy loans made by the Energy Department, its latest response to questions and criticism over a half-billion-dollar loan to a California solar company that eventually went bankrupt.

50. Recorded History -

It began as a handwritten single piece of paper hand-delivered to 25 people in what was once the city of Memphis.

It was 125 years ago that the publication now called The Daily News was founded.

51. Former French Village Apts. Sell for $2.8 Million -

4055 Summer Ave.
Memphis, TN 38122
Sale Amount: $2.8 million

Sale Date: June 30, 2011

52. Trinity Place Sells For Third Time In Five Years -

A Cordova retail center is under new ownership for the third time in five years. Atlanta-based Altus Real Estate Advisors LLC has purchased Trinity Place, 7990 Trinity Road, for $2.8 million.

53. Darkened Doors Speak To Industry Challenges -

“We couldn’t make the space work. We tried, but we couldn’t get over the hump to get the numbers.”

Those sad words could have been pronounced by many chefs, managers and owners back in 2008 and 2009, when restaurants were closing right and left at the height of the recession, but no, that was Richard Saviori speaking last week after he decided to close Thyme Bistro. The restaurant served its last meals on June 25, having been open just over a year.

54. End of the Road -

Not long after the Federal Reserve announced a controversial program in November 2010 to buy $600 billion in U.S. government securities, Tennessee’s junior senator found himself besieged by incredulous voters at a town hall meeting in Memphis.

55. Darkened Doors Speak To Industry Challenges -

“We couldn’t make the space work. We tried, but we couldn’t get over the hump to get the numbers.”

Those sad words could have been pronounced by many chefs, managers and owners back in 2008 and 2009, when restaurants were closing right and left at the height of the recession, but no, that was Richard Saviori speaking last week after he decided to close Thyme Bistro. The restaurant served its last meals on June 25, having been open just over a year.

56. End of the Road -

ot long after the Federal Reserve announced a controversial program in November 2010 to buy $600 billion in U.S. government securities, Tennessee’s junior senator found himself besieged by incredulous voters at a town hall meeting in Memphis.

57. Post Office Suspends Retirement Contributions -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The financially troubled Postal Service is suspending its contributions to its employees' pension fund.

The agency said Wednesday it is acting to conserve cash as it continues to lose money. The post office was $8 billion in the red last year because of the combined effects of the recession and the switch of much mail business to the Internet. It faces the possibility of running short of money by the end of this fiscal year in September.

58. Cable Service Provider Signs New Lease -

A Madison, Tenn.-based cable service provider is taking advantage of lower rates in a competitive leasing environment.

FTS USA has signed a 4,002-square-foot lease in East Pointe Business Center, 3915 S. Mendenhall Road.

59. Northeast Submarket Bolstered By Trio of Deals -

A handful of industrial deals in recent weeks hit Northeast Memphis in full force, significantly tightening the already solid submarket.

Mattress Firm has signed a 23,500-square-foot lease in Century Center, 1590 Century Circle, for a new retail and distribution space.

60. FedEx to Receive Sustainable Award -

FedEx Corp. is to receive the first annual Green Hard Hat Award at the upcoming Conference on Sustainable Real Estate

61. Commercial Council Has Shaped CRE Landscape -

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors’ Commercial Council is often the first trade organization that comes to mind when considering the local commercial real estate industry.

Something perhaps less commonplace, however, is the history of the group’s founders, and their vision to connect professionalism with the community.

62. Shifting Gears -

Memphis has long been a real estate town.

Family names like Belz, Boyle, Clark, Fogelman, Loeb, Snowden and Wilkinson – to name a few – have become synonymous not only with local commercial and industrial development but also with the city’s business fortunes and cultural identity.

63. Pacific Logistics Picks Olive Branch for Hub -

Pacific Logistics Corp. has signed a lease for its first Memphis-area location, which will serve as a regional hub for the company’s growing shoe and retail business.

64. After Interning at Mayo, Fountain Brings Neurosurgical Skills Home -

Memphis surgeon Dr. Todd Fountain jokes that in Rochester, Minn., where he was an intern and resident at the Mayo Clinic, the weather was always 70 degrees and fluorescent.

65. Lasting Legacies -

Consider the continent as it was when Memphis was founded in 1819. No railroads crisscrossed the land and Tennessee roads would not be paved until after World War I.

For a city to thrive and prosper, transportation would be paramount. For Memphis, the Mississippi River, an integral artery of commerce and communication in America, would be its gateway to greatness.

66. Blockbuster’s Chap. 11 Won’t Impact Memphis -

NEW YORK (AP) – Blockbuster Inc., once the dominant movie rental company in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, reeling from mounting losses, rising debt and competitors that have better catered to Americans' changed media habits.

67. Century Wealth Named Among Top Firms -

Century Wealth Management has been recognized as one of the top wealth management firms in the country in Wealth Manager magazine’s 2010 rankings.

The report ranks firms by average client size and features Century Wealth Management as one of the top 50 firms in the nation and the top firm in Memphis and in Tennessee.

68. Established Entrepreneurs Lead Memphis Workshop -

Budding entrepreneurs and established business owners alike will get the chance to learn tips from two of the best, as entrepreneurship experts Larry Farrell and Bridget DiCello lead the three-day Energize Memphis Biz event Monday through Wednesday.

69. Construction Activity Declines 1 Percent in July -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Construction spending tumbled in July to the lowest level in a decade, as the housing market struggles in the weak economy and without a popular home-buying tax credit.

70. Glankler Brown Departs Downtown -

Glankler Brown PLLC, a law firm that has been a Downtown mainstay for nearly a century, won’t renew its lease at One Commerce Square and will move to East Memphis.

71. Glankler Brown Departs Downtown -

Glankler Brown PLLC, a law firm that has been a Downtown mainstay for nearly a century, won’t renew its lease at One Commerce Square and will move to East Memphis.

The firm on Friday announced a 10-year, 32,000-square-foot lease with Highwoods Properties at Triad Centre I at Poplar Avenue and Shady Grove Road near Interstate 240, in the heart of the most desirable office corridor in town.

72. Rum Boogie At Heart of Beale’s Growth, Future -

The oldest bar and restaurant on Beale Street marks its 25th anniversary in June with more of the same – live music.

The stage at Rum Boogie Café has featured live music seven nights a week since it opened on the northwestern corner of Third and Beale streets in 1985.

73. Airport Officials Prepare For Beijing -

In a few weeks, 10 Memphians will board an airplane for Beijing to represent this city at the Airport Cities Conference and Exhibition.

The event, which has been held in faraway places such as Athens, Greece, and nearby places like Dallas, is expected to draw 500 to 600 airport executives from facilities large and small across the globe.

74. Customer Always Right Doesn't Necessarily Apply Here -

At the bottom of the menu at Bari Ristorante e Enoteca is printed this sentence: “Every ingredient in every dish makes the dish complete, so we will not make substitutions or exclusions to any dish.”

75. Brown Taking Over Late Sen. Kennedy's Seat -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Scott Brown said fixing the nation's ailing economy would be his top priority as he prepared Thursday to take his Senate seat a week earlier than he had planned.

76. Buena Vista Apartments in Frayser Foreclosed, Sold to Atlanta Company -

3431 N. Trezevant St.
Memphis, TN 38127
Sale Amount: $1.3 Million

Sale Date: Jan. 12, 2010
Buyer: Tritex Real Estate Advisors Inc.
Seller: Emily Bowman, successor trustee

77. SEC Accuses 3 Ex-New Century Execs of Fraud -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal regulators on Monday accused three former top executives of collapsed mortgage lender New Century Financial Corp. of fraud, saying they misled investors as the company's subprime loan business was failing in 2006.

78. Hidden Pockets of US Elderly Said to be in Poverty -

WASHINGTON (AP) - The poverty rate among older Americans could be nearly twice as high as the traditional 10 percent level, according to a revision of a half-century-old formula for calculating medical costs and geographic variations in the cost of living.

79. The Politics of Rape: What went wrong at MSARC -

There’s no such thing as a textbook rape victim. There are, however, some very thick and detailed textbooks on how medical and legal authorities should come to a victim’s aid.

Those two realities collided violently in March inside an examination room at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center.

80. Report: Times Co. Will Take Bids to Sell Globe -

BOSTON (AP) - The New York Times Co. appears interested in getting rid of The Boston Globe, hiring investment bank Goldman Sachs to manage a potential sale of a newspaper that has plummeted in value since its purchase in 1993, the Globe reported Wednesday.

81. AIG Sells Japan Headquarters for $1.2 Billion -

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) - Embattled insurer American International Group Inc. said Monday it is selling its Japanese headquarters to Nippon Life Insurance Co. for $1.2 billion in cash.

82. Bernanke: Expect Growth Later This Year -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Tuesday that the economy should pull out of a recession and start growing again later this year.

But in testimony to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, Bernanke warned that even after a recovery gets under way, economic activity is likely to be subpar. That means businesses will stay cautious about hiring, driving up the nation’s unemployment rate and causing “further sizable job losses” in the coming months, he said.

83. BancorpSouth Eludes Economic Snares -

Not every bank these days is confronted with sagging or nonexistent profitability, a souring loan portfolio and relying on Uncle Sam’s charity.

Tupelo, Miss.-based BancorpSouth Inc. almost doubled its net income in the first quarter compared to the end of 2008. The 133-year-old regional bank, which operates a handful of branches in Memphis, saw a pickup in its mortgage business and is one of the few in the area taxpayer money isn’t supporting.

84. Manufacturing Declines at Slower Rate in April -

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. manufacturing activity contracted at a slower-than-expected pace in April, raising hopes that a steep plunge that began last fall may be moderating. The performance was driven by a rise in new orders reflecting higher business and consumer spending.

85. Deadline: What it's Really Like Inside the City's Big Daily - EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill Dries was a reporter at The Commercial Appeal from June 1997-October 2005. This story is based in part on his experiences there and more recent conversations with other CA staffers.

The fall evening six years ago when Chris Peck became the editor of The Commercial Appeal was treated with utmost secrecy inside the newspaper at 495 Union Ave.

Then-publisher John Wilcox was determined to prevent leaks of that night’s decision to any other media outlets. So not only would the choice be a secret to those outside the building, but inside as well.

Then-Metro editor Charles Bernsen camped out in his small office at one end of the newsroom with the blinds drawn across its large window. He emerged just before the regular 11 p.m. deadline to tell editors on the copy desk he was sending the story, written from home by a trusted reporter.

The article by Tom Charlier in the Oct. 9, 2002, edition described Peck as “a veteran journalist who built a national reputation for innovative leadership and unblinking coverage of difficult topics” as the editor of The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash.

Otis Sanford, the CA’s deputy managing editor and the other finalist for the top job, was promoted to managing editor. It was the first of many changes in the past six years to the newspaper’s masthead, where its top leaders are listed.

New era dawns

Peck arrived in Memphis shortly after the article and, although he would officially take over in January after Angus McEachran’s retirement, there was a great deal of anticipation – and, uncharacteristically for a floor full of reporters – not much background checking on Peck.

Before selecting Peck, executives of the CA’s parent company, the E.W. Scripps Co., had set up a committee of CA employees and solicited their opinions on what they wanted to see in the next editor. Many said they wanted a new direction at the newspaper.

Peck came to Memphis from a short stint as the Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He had served as editor at the Spokane Spokesman-Review just prior to the academic post.

Peck left that paper on the heels of a journalism controversy that got little play outside the Northwest and continued to linger as recently as two years ago. It concerned financing for a large public project involving the newspaper’s owners.

Meanwhile, hopes were high among some CA staff members that Peck would change the dysfunctional management style at the paper. Others believed no creative undertaking the size of a newspaper is possible without some level of dysfunction. And still others were leery about any optimistic assessment for any reason.

Bernsen was among the first to leave the CA after Peck’s hire. Louis Graham, who had been expected to head the Metro desk even if Sanford became the new top editor, replaced Bernsen.

Six years later, departing and current staffers describe the CA’s management style and newsroom atmosphere as “toxic.” They also complain that little has changed in terms of who runs the newspaper on a daily basis despite a frequent shuffling of the management chart.

None would talk with The Memphis News on the record for fear of reprisals. Even past staffers didn’t want their names used because of the prospect of doing freelance work for the newspaper. Those still in the newsroom and on the payroll wouldn’t talk on company phones.

Profits and losses

What ails The Commercial Appeal has a lot to do with what ails the newspaper industry in general these days. But that’s a black-and-white version that misses large colorful splotches unique to the institution.

Decisions made during the past six years to pursue a growth strategy targeting “suburban” readers, as well as longstanding practices for managing talent, have also helped bring the newspaper to where it is today.

Managers at the newspaper, in separate interviews with The Memphis News, insist it is stable, profitable and will remain a seven-day-a-week operation despite recent moves that severely cut the reporting staff, eliminated classified ads from the already thin Monday and Tuesday print editions and an admission that the newspaper probably won’t be covering less urgent topics in the future.

Asked if the demise of classified ad sections in the Monday and Tuesday editions could be a sign that the Monday and Tuesday print editions might vanish entirely, publisher Joe Pepe was unequivocal.

“No. That’s not going to happen, at least under my tenure here,” Pepe said. “A lot of the transactional classified business is done online anyway. Everything that you see in the paper every day of the week is also online. So putting the Monday and Tuesday (classifieds) online was essentially just a way for us to save on some newsprint costs while not taking away from the advertising.”

The CA is profitable, Peck and Pepe insist, although they won’t release any numbers.

“We’ve projected a profit for 2009,” Peck said. “We were profitable in 2008. So, I fully expect we’ll be profitable in 2009.”

Pepe responded, “Absolutely,” when asked if the CA is profitable. When asked if he would be more specific, he replied, “No. Good try.”

Doing less with fewer

The newspaper is not alone in its reluctance to give out specific financial data. Most businesses consider such information to be proprietary.

The optimistic assessment is in contrast to a letter subscribers got this month from Karl D. Wurzbach, vice president of circulation, saying subscription rates would go up by $2 a month effective Nov. 1.

“This is the only way we can continue to deliver to your home every day,” he wrote. “This increase is across the board, for everybody, with no exclusions.”

Wurzbach’s letter also noted that the CA had dropped home delivery to 11,600 subscribers in outlying areas during a five-month period. The weekday newsstand price had already increased from 50 cents to 75 cents.

“It was costing us more money to print and deliver than we earned in revenue,” he said in the letter. “No company can survive using that business model. … Simply put, we are making very difficult decisions to help our business survive.”

Both moves in the appearance and delivery of the paper came in the week after 20 reporters and editors faced the ultimate “difficult decision.”

The newspaper made the decision of whom to fire using a controversial system that ranks reporters in the particular section of the paper they work for. The key to the ranking is not reporting ability or even a byline count; it’s how a reporter gets along with his or her editor. It had already been a key to longevity at the CA before Peck arrived in Memphis and made it a formal part of employee evaluations.

“You have to grieve those who are no longer with us in a genuine way because they were great contributions,” Peck said. “But you really at that point also have to rather quickly turn your attention to the task at hand. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

But the veteran employees “grieved” by management are the same employees management had ranked as the least valuable in their respective departments.

That included Jimmie Covington, the longest-serving reporter at the paper until his dismissal in March after years of being shuffled from one suburban bureau to another. Covington was a veteran of the county government and Memphis City Schools beats.

The layoffs also included Frederic Koeppel and Christopher Blank, who provided much of the newspaper’s arts coverage and who apparently won’t be replaced with full-time reporters.

There’s now no mention of the “master narratives” Peck once included in his “blueprint” for the CA. They included long-form stories on race, the city’s musical heritage, barbecue and the river. It was to be a departure from the newspaper being what Peck referred to as a “news utility,” or all-purpose paper of record.

“What we have to do is prioritize our staff resources,” Peck said just weeks after 20 people in the CA newsroom either resigned or were fired in the latest series of cutbacks – the deepest to date for the editorial staff. “I think where that’s going to lead is making sure that we have the nuts and bolts of hard news coverage. That’s probably police reporting, court reporting, government reporting, school reporting. We want to make sure we’ve got those bases covered.”

Whatever is left of a full-time reporting staff will be devoted to issues and institutions such as FedEx, the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies, the economy and the medical center.

“If we run out of people at that point, then we’re going to turn to freelancers and more community-generated content,” Peck said. “I think we’ll be able to fill a lot of holes there if we need to and I think it will work out fine.”

Wanted: free (or reduced) labor

Pepe offered a basic definition of citizen journalism.

“All blogging is citizen journalism,” he told The Memphis News. “In a lot of cases it’s unsubstantiated. It’s not objective. It’s not edited content. It leans more toward opinion and subjectivity. Anytime we have citizen journalism, it’s still going to get edited. It’s still going to get verified. It’s going to get checked for facts before we post it. We apply the same rules to citizen-sponsored journalism as we do to our top line reporter.”

Sanford said citizen journalism “has its place” and has been discussed since the early 1990s. It shows up in the pages he governs in the form of opinion pieces and letters to the editor. Non-newspaper employees also serve on the CA’s editorial board.

“Now, I am a traditional, old-fashioned journalist,” Sanford said. “And I believe that while citizen journalism has its place, I’m not one – and maybe this is an old-fashioned view – but I’m not one to think that citizen journalism can ever take the place of the traditional journalism that I know and love. I just don’t believe that.”

The names of reporters and photographers cut in the most recent round of layoffs are already turning up in CA coverage as freelancers. Instead of a straight name with “The Commercial Appeal” below it, their names now appear with the phrase “special to The Commercial Appeal” and, of course, they receive no health benefits or regular paychecks from the newspaper.

Worldwide wakeup call

Before Peck’s arrival in Memphis, the CA was more than out of touch with the need for an Internet presence. The newspaper was hostile to such a move.

Posting a story on the Web site that was anything more than a teaser paragraph before the actual newspapers rolled of the presses and into delivery trucks was seen as handing the story to the competition.

It was a philosophy that had served the newspaper well in competing with television news, even with the rise of 24-hour cable news channels.

However, there have been consequences for being late to the Internet party, and financial consequences for not taking the Internet seriously.

“Right now all the revenue is generated off advertising,” Pepe said of print journalism’s gradual realization that it needed to be in the Web business as well. “Until search engines are firewalled – until all local media either together or individually start charging for content online – it’s going to continue to be a source of non-revenue in terms of content. That then means that revenue for all Internet ventures will be based on advertising.”

After Peck arrived, the move to unique content for the Web site was still slow in coming.

Editors exerted the same multi-tiered control over copy that might mean a story was not edited for Web or print until later in the day, closer to the print deadline.

Scraps often erupted over how copy was edited after it left the editors and went to the “new media” department. It might be a change in a few words or a new, snappier lead (first sentence), but some editors clearly didn’t like having their work changed as much as they might have imagined reporters liked having their work rearranged.

Reporters are expected to take such changes without protest, and protests are rare even when edits distort meaning. Reporters can always fall back on the excuse that the story got messed up after it was out of their hands.

But that brings into play another rule for newsroom survival – always, always make a hard copy of the story you turn in to your editor.

The anonymity of snark

The comments section on www.commercialappeal.com, where readers may post their thoughts at the bottom of stories, has been wildly successful if you look just at the number of comments some stories generate in a short amount of time.

But success isn’t the word that comes to mind if you start to read the comments on a regular basis.

They routinely crackle with racial tension and even racial slurs. When some staffers complained about the slurs and called for better policing of such comments, Peck reportedly asked for a list of what slurs should be considered cause for removing comments.

Sanford had a different take in March as he spoke at a University of Memphis panel discussion about race and the media.

“Please stop reading those comments,” Sanford told a crowd of 100 people on campus. “You’ve got … anonymous people who go on our stories … and make unbelievably goofy and stupid comments. And then that becomes, unfortunately, the reality. And we have to stop that. We can’t stop the comments because the Web people have told us, ‘Well, that’s how you get people in there.’ But please don’t listen to that.”

To civic groups and even individual citizens who contact the paper with complaints and concerns, Sanford is its face, voice and ears. When the CA participates in media forums, chances are the speaker will be Sanford.

For the past two years, Sanford has been in charge of the paper’s editorial board and Viewpoint section. It’s a position that evolved after editorial page editor David Kushma’s departure, when Kushma’s duties came to be included in Sanford’s.

“That just didn’t work right,” Sanford told The Memphis News. “We had a lot of discussions about this. Corporate was even involved in it. We agreed that the editorial pages, Viewpoint, the editorial board – we would sort of restructure the newsroom operation and the editorial board and the editorial opinions of the paper so that would fall directly under the publisher and I would be running that. I think that was a good thing to do.”

That means that Sanford works for Pepe, not Peck, as he did when he was managing editor.

Gum-popping good times

Peck met with each reporter in his office shortly after he arrived in Memphis. He appeared to be taking notes on a legal pad as he listened to their comments and suggestions.

However, trying to find Peck’s strategy over the years has been no simple matter. There wasn’t much beyond slogans that included “rebuilding the jet while flying it” or “building a 21st century newspaper.” The latter phrase was still being used six years into the new century.

One reporter who tried to get into Peck’s head in terms of management philosophy hit a brick wall with a thud, although he is still employed at the CA.

On that occasion, Peck was in no mood to discuss philosophy despite a casual-sounding e-mail asking if the reporter had a few minutes to talk. Instead of a dialogue, Peck gave the reporter $50 in cash and a list of books he could buy to read. He also sent the reporter back to the night cops beat for objecting to how a story was edited.

The editorial page and op-ed page were the first parts of the paper that changed. Peck wanted more letters to the editor. He also wanted to stop the practice of rigorously fact-checking letters.

This drew dissent from Kushma, who was eventually overruled and left in the first round of buyouts in 2003 that followed Peck’s arrival. Some of the other changes were in the Metro section – the hard news engine of the paper.

Reporters were switched around, which is a normal part of life at the city’s daily newspaper unless you are declared immune from such changes. The six or seven Metro editors were immune for the most part from the changes.

The newspaper’s home office in Cincinnati had long maintained that the paper was top heavy with such editors. Peck talked a lot about change, but didn’t change that.

At one of Peck’s first meetings with the Metro staff, a reporter asked Peck when there would be changes for the editors as well. Peck’s answer was to talk about Dentyne gum and how the company that makes it had allegedly improved its sales figures by repackaging the gum.

The analogy was that the CA was going to undergo a similar repackaging: What was under the wrapper would remain the same.

For weeks after the meeting, fellow reporters left numerous packages of Dentyne on the questioner’s desk.

Before Peck answered the question, some staffers remained hopeful because they saw most of the problems with the new management as a result of Peck having to answer to John Wilcox, the CA’s publisher. It was a key difference in the management structure.

Before Wilcox’s arrival, McEachran had served as editor and president – a title that gave McEachran near absolute power over everything the newspaper did, editorially and otherwise.

The Dentyne story showed that if there was a struggle between Wilcox and Peck, it wasn’t much of a difference of opinion. They essentially agreed on a newsroom strategy that continued to unfold.

Neighborly gestures

Of those at the top of the masthead, only Sanford has seen all of the changes unfold from one regime to the other.

“In terms of news, certainly the newspaper has changed dramatically under Chris,” Sanford told The Memphis News. “There have been significant changes in focus and really in newsroom culture.”

Asked to characterize whether the change has been good, bad or indifferent, Sanford said, “I’m not going to say. I’m going to let others decide that. The readers can determine that.”

Peck’s take on newsroom culture at the CA is almost as neutral.

“The culture is not one where people are necessarily beaming with big smiles every day because it’s a difficult time in the industry,” he told The Memphis News. “I think that I have tried to be very realistic with people with what’s going on in the business – and very realistic about our expectations of what we need from our staff, from my office all the way down to the last person who leaves at night.”

The Neighbors sections were abolished with Peck’s settling in – sections included every Thursday for each zone of the city that also contained honors rolls of all schools in and out of the zone, and other such listings. It had the kind of items that readers might like to cut out and post on their refrigerators. No matter where you lived in Memphis, you got a Neighbors section.

Peck wasted no time in making the refrigerator postings a rallying cry for what was to replace Neighbors. They would be hyper-local sections that would contain only news about that part of the county. Some would be written by a staffer, but most often written by citizens in that area. Often, the citizens were members of a group or organization that was the focus of the piece.

Soon the philosophy began to apply to the news that appeared in other parts of the particular delivery zone.

Not every section of the city got a suburban edition. Vast sections of North and South Memphis as well as Frayser and Raleigh were out of the loop.

Peck first pleaded ignorance to and has since repeatedly denied a central tenet of life in Memphis. Memphians often have family that might live in another part of town. Thus someone Downtown might want to see the honor roll of Tara Oaks Elementary School in Collierville or someone in Bartlett might be interested in what is happening in Arlington.

This often led to readers wondering what they missed in other parts of the city, and being suspicious of only receiving certain news.

New suburban bureaus were opened as full-time postings in Mississippi and Arkansas and state Capitol coverage from Jackson and Little Rock, respectively, was abandoned. Meanwhile, the newspaper’s greatest success in a suburban edition was being changed to make it fit the cookie-cutter mold of the new suburban bureaus.

Escape hatch

The newspaper’s DeSoto County edition opened late in McEachran’s tenure. It was one of the few times McEachran talked about marketing studies as he explained a concept to the newsroom. But it was because the data were clear.

DeSoto County readers wanted a newspaper that covered North Mississippi and did not mention Memphis, at least on the front page. The DeSoto County bureau had a separate sales and management staff. And the CA edition delivered in DeSoto County had its own front page that was DeSoto County-centric. It was even called The DeSoto Appeal. And it was a hit out of the box, with plans to duplicate the model in Tipton County while maintaining a different model within Shelby County because of the differences in attitudes clearly shown in the marketing study.

Peck wasn’t interested in the distinction.

When Pepe arrived as publisher in late 2005, the CA got someone with experience in such suburban editions. Pepe came to Memphis from St. Louis, where he headed the Suburban Journals – a collection of 38 weekly community newspapers.

Pepe said the CA’s suburban business strategy as modified several times over has worked. That strategy is to get advertising from small businesses in the community receiving the directed section – businesses whose reach and revenue can’t sustain a pitch to the paper’s larger audience.

“In St. Louis, they’ve been in place for 50 years,” Pepe said. “So they were humming. Here, we’ve had them in place for three or four years. I would suggest that if we’d not done this, that we would have even greater financial problems, only because the dependency on the larger advertisers would have been even greater than it is.”

“Zoning,” as it’s called, is now a three-day-a-week proposition.

“We still do zoning Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. We have a suburban, urban and a DeSoto zone. I think that’s where we need to be,” Peck said. “What we’re trying to do is balance the best of both worlds. Make sure our readers have the best of what’s going on in greater Memphis, but that we also provide a degree of zone content that is either geared toward the metro area, the suburbs or DeSoto County.”

But the practice has been much different than the theory behind the advertising and the needs of news consumers. As valued as the suburban coverage has been throughout Peck’s tenure, the bureaus have been places where reporters with troublesome attitudes toward editors have been exiled.

It was the next destination for many of those summoned for personal meetings with Peck as the first round of buyouts began in late 2003. In some cases, reporters have welcomed the assignment to be able to get out of the Downtown newsroom.

In the doghouse

The first round of buyouts under Peck in 2003 was brutal – even more ham-handed and graceless than anyone imagined possible. And the CA is not an organization noted for having an optimistic outlook.

All employees who were older than 40 and had been at the company 20 years or more got packets outlining the terms of the buyout. But within that group, Peck singled out about a dozen copy editors, reporters and photographers, including some of the most senior reporters and photographers in the organization. He had already begun discussions with several in the group who had been ill or had surgery.

Each got an e-mail from Peck asking if they had a few minutes to talk in his office. Peck would later quarrel with an assertion that he had threatened those in the group in the one-on-one talks. But he did tell each of them that if they didn’t take the buyout, they would be assigned more onerous duties.

One was told that if he didn’t take the buyout, he would be working nights and weekends. When the employee said he already worked nights and weekends, the meeting ended abruptly. A features reporter and another reporter each were told they would be working the night cops beat if they didn’t accept the buyouts.

The night shift started at 4:30 p.m. and ran until 1 a.m. or so. It involved listening to a police scanner and checking for such news that had to be written on deadline. The night cops reporter is the only news reporter on duty at the paper after 5p.m. unless there’s a late City Council meeting or someone on dayside decides they are on a roll and continues working.

Most papers have the night cops beat, and it is usually where beginning reporters start. It’s a good way to learn the basics of print reporting and determine whether a reporter can hold up under deadline pressure. At the CA, it is a beat assigned to reporters who are out of favor – firmly, decisively and usually terminally out of favor.

Under Peck, even summer interns don’t have to work night cops.

The Newspaper Guild, the union that represents reporters, photographers and copy editors, took the unusual move of passing a resolution that complained about Peck’s singling out employees. The same day the union passed the resolution, Peck called into his office the reporter who had made the proposal. I was that employee.

“I would really like for this not to find its way to Cincinnati,” was his reaction after he quarreled over whether his other talks with employees had amounted to threats.

The guild membership had voted unanimously for the resolution to be sent to Scripps management in Cincinnati. Peck later talked union leaders out of sending it, despite the membership vote.

Some of the squeezed employees took the buyout. Others stayed and were shuffled out to the suburban bureaus the following August, and were among those laid off this past March.

‘Treacherous ground’

The guild’s idea of a protest was to have reporters in the newsroom wear green on certain days of the week. This signaled that contract negotiations weren’t going well or weren’t going at all.

It’s been six years since the last labor contract expired that included guaranteed annual raises. Then the guild went to the idea of wearing green buttons – no words on the buttons, just green buttons that Scripps brass in town would see during their visits to Memphis. The brass never got near the newsroom. Still later, the guild kept the idea of the green color scheme but added the wording “We All Merit A Raise” to protest the company’s proposal of merit pay raises instead of a percentage raise guaranteed in the contract.

At one point, the guild was optimistic that the company was getting the message. So the guild urged members not to file grievances against management to keep the goodwill going.

In October 2007, the most visible sign of dissent in years came outside the framework of the guild and stalled contract talks. As the CA prepared to publish a series of articles on the impact of Memphis businesses around the world, a lead piece about FedEx to be sponsored by FedEx was ordered rewritten and the reporter, Trevor Aaronson, refused. The newspaper had approached FedEx about sponsoring that particular piece. Dozens of staff members, in a rare public move, signed a petition objecting to the practice Peck referred to as “monetizing content.” They felt it crossed the line separating the editorial part of the newspaper from sales. National trade magazines and blogs, which normally overlook the CA, took note of the flap.

Peck retreated, telling Editor & Publisher, a print trade magazine, “I went to our publisher and said, ‘We have probably gone half a step more than we should have gone on this project.’ It is treacherous ground when you start talking about having an advertiser in a section that has them in the reporting.”

Aaronson later left the CA, but has been quoted as saying he enjoyed the freedom he was given to pursue his own interests.

“I don’t care to talk about my experiences there,” Aaronson wrote in an e-mail.

The favored few

The stage for the latest round of layoffs that came in April was set with the release of fourth-quarter figures for Scripps.

Profits were way down. The chain ended the year with its share prices down 51 percent or $22. The chain announced it would freeze the pension plan, cutting 401(k) matching funds from the company. At the CA, the 401(k) match has always only applied to managers.

Mark Watson, head of the triumvirate of labor unions at the CA, including The Newspaper Guild, broke the news about the layoffs, calling it a “crisi-tunity.” He was among those laid off weeks later.

The weekend after the announcement, Peck in his Sunday column once again lectured about the hard economic times.

From the start, Peck’s quest was to garner favorable attention within the city and in journalism circles across the country by winning awards. At first, he touted every award the paper won, which, for writing and reporting, were usually the monthly Scripps awards from the home office in Cincinnati.

But he later reversed that and said the paper should note only awards of national stature. Photographers regularly won those, but reporters didn’t.

When some reporters complained their work was always excluded from consideration, Peck directed that reporters submit on a monthly basis any work they wanted to be considered for award entries.

Those suggestions were then forwarded to the very editors who had been excluding their work in the first place and who remained in control of contest entries.

Like other newspapers, the CA’s approach to awards is sometimes to deem a story to be eligible for an award, possibly before the first interview is done or the first word is written.

But a contest entry had to have the right byline as well – the right reporter doing a story for a contest was usually not the one covering the beat from which the story arose.

Pamela Perkins, who left the paper voluntary in the November 2008 round of layoffs, along with music writer Bill Ellis, who left in 2005, won a national award in 2004 from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri for their continuing coverage of the return of Stax Records and the surrounding Soulsville neighborhood in South Memphis. Their writing won first place in the arts and entertainment category of the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards.

There was no companywide e-mail congratulating them as there had been for awards in the monthly Scripps competition.

Stephen Price’s work as one of several reporters working on the deadly shooting of a child on Rosamond Avenue in 2002 caught the attention of Florida’s Poynter Institute, a leading journalism think tank. Other reporters deemed more worthy were praised the next day in the inevitable self-congratulatory e-mail in which management separated those it favored from those it didn’t.

Price had blended into the neighborhood crowd as police cleared reporters from the area, came back with the story no one else had and wrote it on deadline.

The Poynter Institute carries a lot of weight in Peck’s newspaper philosophy. Several times, he’s used Poynter fellows to mediate discussions with community leaders about the newspaper’s policies. But when Price’s account of the shooting aftermath in the Rosamond neighborhood was reprinted in Poynter’s annual anthology of the nation’s best journalism of the past year, CA management once again did not acknowledge the accolade.

Curious ideas

As the 2004 presidential season began, Peck revealed an important part of his views on political coverage to an editors’ forum in Washington. It was the same night as the Iowa caucuses.

The remarks to the American Press Institute gathering didn’t get much publicity, even after they showed up on an industry blog. It took a few more months. He never said anything about it to anyone who worked at the CA.

Peck said having reporters cover campaign events was a waste of time and resources. Instead, he said citizen journalists should cover the events – those who were already going to attend the rallies anyway.

“We have to get over the notion that we have to do it all ourselves,” he told Chad Capellman of API as he talked of having editors find volunteers to write summaries of what was said. “It’s not doing the democracy any good to send out a reporter to write down a regurgitation of what a candidate is saying in a staged event.”

Peck also said newspapers should compete with comedy shows such as “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live” as a source of political information. Also, Peck called for focus groups of readers to determine what issues should be discussed.

“Don’t let the candidates drive coverage of the three issues they want to ride to get elected,” he told the API group.

Being the newspaper’s political reporter had been a difficult posting for some time, even before Peck arrived in Memphis. Bernsen had a checkered history of political coverage that turned into a deep distrust and contempt for politics when he became the head of Metro.

Each election season he would dutifully call those assigned to political coverage to his office and haul out a set of his own news clippings, which he said illustrated the kind of reporting he wanted. Under no circumstances, he insisted, would the candidates be setting the agenda for the newspaper’s coverage.

Such tension is normal in the planning of most media coverage of politics. It’s a game candidates, their representatives and the reporters who cover them play constantly.

Bernsen’s decision was not to play the game at all. He did not want coverage of campaign events and rallies. And the end of an election meant the end of political coverage. Any attempt a candidate made to establish or give voice to an issue was uniformly rejected even if it obviously hit a nerve with voters. To him, the whole process was rigged and the newspaper’s view was the only valid one.

There was supposed to be a wall between the reporting that was allowed on the political process and the endorsements of candidates that the CA editorial board made. Most candidates interested in the newspaper’s endorsement never believed there was a wall. If there was, they reasoned, editors not on the board would still find a way to limit or tilt coverage of those who weren’t endorsed.

Prism of perception

The CA began 2009 with a curious 15-part series that recapped the public life of Mayor Willie Herenton.

Herenton has had problems with the newspaper throughout that public life. And similarly, the newspaper’s leadership has had problems seeing straight when the subject was Willie Herenton.

The paper’s until then consistent political coverage was missing in action when Herenton launched a surprisingly strong-willed bid for mayor in 1991. Editorially, the newspaper had strong reservations about the People’s Convention that Herenton took by storm, clearing the first political obstacle in what became a historic campaign.

His willingness to participate in the convention, whose goal was to come up with a consensus black challenger to incumbent Dick Hackett, put off those in the newspaper’s front office. It translated to next to no coverage of a campaign effort that was on the streets every day, while Hackett pursued the local equivalent of a rose garden strategy of speaking to small groups at select backyard parties.

When Herenton won, the ambivalence turned into hostility.

Herenton had a good relationship with several reporters who had covered his tenure as city schools superintendent – even through the sexual harassment lawsuit that came near the end of his tenure there and just before his entry into the 1991 mayor’s race. (The harassment case stemmed from a relationship Herenton had with a teacher.)

Those reporters had to walk a fine line. A favorable comment by Herenton in public that got back to editors could mean that reporter would be perceived as biased toward Herenton. The problem many reporters had with walking the tightrope was editors increasingly viewed a reporter’s duty to the paper as a requirement to shank their sources in print to show where their loyalties lay.

The editors were convinced a 2005 recall petition mounted by radio talk show host and blogger Thaddeus Matthews would succeed. They considered it a foregone conclusion that Matthews would gather more than enough signatures on the petitions and do it well before the deadline to file with the Shelby County Election Commission.

The newspaper’s planned coverage moved past the recall drive itself. The editors ordered up a piece on who was likely to run in the recall election that followed. They approached at least two reporters with the task before the effort flagged just enough for the piece to become an article on who might run for city mayor in 2007.

The fact that politicos across the city were still waiting to see if the 2006 county elections would offer any opportunities didn’t cross their minds. Calls to those politicos were met with widespread laughter and wonderment at the eccentric methods afoot at the CA. The petition drive failed and Matthews backed Herenton’s 2007 bid for re-election.

Distance learning

By this past February, CA management signed off on a content-sharing agreement with fellow Scripps paper The Knoxville News Sentinel, as well as The Tennesseean newspaper in Nashville and the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Feb. 5 agreement was already in effect by the time an internal memo from News Sentinel management surfaced in early March in Editor & Publisher.

The CA and the Knoxville newspaper had used such a strategy for years in covering politics. The result was that the CA continued to do without any local political coverage beyond biographical pieces introducing candidates.

Statewide races for governor and the U.S. Senate were covered from Knoxville or by the CA’s Nashville bureau chief, Richard Locker, or in some cases by Bartholomew Sullivan, a former CA reporter who now works for the Scripps News Service’s Washington bureau. That meant candidates for statewide office coming to Memphis were usually covered before they got to the city or after they left.

The agreement was most visible during the 2006 U.S. Senate race between Republican Bob Corker of Chattanooga and Democrat Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis. One of the campaign’s crucial events was a showdown between the two at Memphis International Airport.

Corker had called a press conference there. Ford crashed the event ahead of time and the two faced off in the airport parking lot – a few inches from each other with television cameras and microphones surrounding them.

There was no CA reporter in the press pack. Sullivan covered what became known as the “parking lot debate” from the D.C. bureau.

...

86. GM to Cut 21,000 US Factory Jobs, Shed Pontiac -

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors Corp. could be majority owned by the federal government under a massive restructuring plan laid out Monday that will cut 21,000 U.S. factory jobs by next year and phase out the storied Pontiac brand.

87. Researcher Speaks About Elbow Replacement Woes -

Every Wednesday “the bad elbow club” meets at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, joked Timothy Wright, professor of applied biomechanics in orthopedic surgery at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

88. Transportation Background Readies Loveless for CAIT Post -

The career path Keith Loveless has taken is a familiar one in this city. The Memphis native started as a package handler for FedEx, eventually working his way up the company ladder through a variety of management positions in numerous divisions.

89. Consumer Spending Rises in Jan., Unlikely to Last -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Consumer spending rose in January after falling for a record six straight months, pushed higher by purchases of food and other nondurable items. But the increase is expected to be fleeting given all the problems facing the economy.

90. No Pink Slips for Bailed-Out Bank Execs -

WASHINGTON (AP) – They’ve been bailed out, but not kicked out.

At banks receiving federal bailout money, nearly nine out of every 10 of the most senior executives from 2006 are still on the job, according to an Associated Press analysis of regulatory and company documents.

91. Productivity Growth Better than Expected in Q3 -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Worker productivity slowed in the summer while wage pressures increased, but both developments were better than expected and are unlikely to raise inflation alarms at the Federal Reserve.

92. Racquet Club’s New Owners To Make Improvements -

5111 Sanderlin Ave.
Memphis, TN 38117
Sale Amount: $4.4 Million

Sale Date: Aug. 29, 2008
Buyer: Tennis Club of Memphis LLC
Seller: Racquet Club Inc.
Loan Amount: $3 million
Loan Date: Aug. 29, 2008
Maturity Date: N/A
Lender: Regions Bank

93. Whitehaven Apartments Sell for $1.3 Million -

1033 Whitaker Drive
Memphis, TN 38116
Sale Amount: $1.3 Million

Sale Date: July 30, 2008
Buyer: Geoffrey Sinckler
Seller: Whitaker Place Associates
Loan Amount: $1.5 million
Loan Date: July 30, 2008
Maturity Date: Aug. 1, 2011
Lender: Regions Bank

94. McDonald’s to Build Restaurant in Arlington -

McDonald’s USA has filed a $1 million permit for application with the city-county Department of Construction Code Enforcement to build a new restaurant at 11610 U.S. 70 in Arlington. The property is at the intersection of U.S. 70 and Airline Road, north of Interstate 40 and east of Tenn. 385.

95. Le Bonheur Files $180M Permit for New Hospital -

Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center has taken another step in its plans for a new hospital by filing a $179.8 million permit for application to build a 613,512-square-foot, 12-story facility at 848 Adams Ave., adjacent to its existing campus.

96. Blockman Joins Keller Williams -

Harold Blockman has been named the new vice president & principal broker of the Memphis Central Market Center for Keller Williams Realty.

Blockman serves as director of the board of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors and was selected for the 2007 Community Service Award by MAAR. Blockman is also president of the Tennessee GRI Association and a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Club.

97. Credit Crunch Crimps Commercial Development -

With a vision of transforming downtown Seattle, the Clise family spent more than a century buying up key pieces of land. But the credit chaos has forced Al Clise to postpone his plans for a grand, 13-acre commercial and residential development.

98. AT&T Makes Improvements To South Memphis Facility -

4787 Weaver Road
Memphis, TN 38109
Permit Amount: $4 million

Project Cost: $4 million
Permit Date: Applied April 2008
Completion: September 2008
Owner: AT&T Inc.
Tenant: AT&T Inc.
Contractor: Vega Corp. of Tennessee
Details: Chattanooga-based contractor Vega Corp. of Tennessee will perform an interior renovation to an AT&T Inc. facility on Weaver Road; the building is south of Shelby Drive and north of South Third Street in South Memphis.
An AT&T public affairs spokesman said the interior renovation at the facility is “part of normal network maintenance. Every time we do any kind of maintenance or upgrades on our network, we file a building permit. It’s part of the normal broadband network upgrade that we do and have been doing across the state.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy Griffin, project manager for Vega, said the renovation is strictly interior work, with network equipment being installed.
“A lot of the big dollar value is the equipment,” Griffin said. He added that his company will mobilize soon to begin demolition on the inside.
Vega is waiting on permit approval and expected to begin work in the next 10 to 15 days for the build-out. Griffin said the projected completion date is Sept. 8. Vega has performed other interior renovations for AT&T, formerly BellSouth. The general contractor needed just six weeks to overhaul 16,000 square feet of office space on the 27th floor of AT&T’s state headquarters building in Nashville.

99. New McDonald's Set ForSouth Perkins Road -      A new McDonald's restaurant will replace the old one at 3068 S. Perkins Road this year, said the Memphis-based marketing manager for the company's great southern region. McDonald's USA earlier this month filed a $1.1 mil

100. Events -

The Society of Entrepreneurs' lunch and discussion will be held today at noon at The Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave., ninth floor. Attorney Alan G. Crone will speak about "Non-competes, Trade Secret Prohibition and Intellectual Property." The cost is $25 and reservations should be made by contacting Pearson Crutcher at 682-9920 or pearson@soememphis.com.