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Editorial Results (free)

1. Last Word: MIM Numbers, Feeding 700 Teenagers and Elvis Week Arrives -

The honored country tradition of the Memphis In May International Festival is one of those things that gets called into question whenever there is some thought about changes to the city’s biggest party. And the keepers of the festival’s flame always defend the tradition against the notion that they should just go straight to the party and not worry about anything profound.

2. Concern in Arkansas Town Highlights Trade Fears Across U.S. -

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (AP) — A Chinese company's announcement two years ago that it would spend more than $1 billion and hire hundreds of workers for a paper mill on the outskirts of this rural college town was seen as a much-needed shot in the arm for the region's economy.

3. GOP Congressman from New York Charged with Insider Trading -

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins of western New York state was arrested Wednesday on charges he fed inside information he gleaned from sitting on the board of a biotechnology company to his son, helping family and friends dodge hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses when bad news came out.

4. To Get Around Pharmacy Gag Rules, Ask About Drug Costs -

WASHINGTON (AP) – "Do you have prescription insurance?" It's one of the first questions consumers hear at the pharmacy counter, and many hand over their insurance cards in the hopes of getting a good price. But sometimes using insurance can actually cost more – and even prevent the pharmacist from saying so.

5. Few Teeth in Trump's Prescription to Reduce Drug Prices -

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump's long-promised plan to bring down drug prices, unveiled Friday, would mostly spare the pharmaceutical industry he previously accused of "getting away with murder." Instead he focuses on private competition and more openness to reduce America's prescription pain.

6. Last Word: Corker & The Senate Poll, Memphis BBQ in Texas and Chandler Numbers -

The new owner of the city’s tallest building has bought two parcels next to the 100 North Main Building as the other part of the plan to bring the 37-story tall building back to life as a combo apartment-hotel building with the Loew’s hotel brand. The row of older buildings on the south side of 100 North Main all the way up to Jefferson would give way to a 34-story tall office tower.

7. Last Word: Saturday In The Parks, The Citizen and Kroger Backlash -

No protest or march permits applied for at City Hall as of Thursday morning in anticipation of a Saturday Confederate monuments protest, according to city chief legal officer Bruce McMullen at Thursday’s taping of “Behind The Headlines.” Our discussion included lots about the city’s move toward taking down the monuments Dec. 20 and what could happen next. Also, McMullen tells us there were some other nonprofits that talked with the city about Health Sciences and Memphis Parks before Memphis Greenspace. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO TV.

8. Last Word: Early Statewide Poll, New Chandler Numbers and Lyfe in East Memphis -

Vanderbilt has a new statewide fall poll out that shows a few things – most of them very preliminary other than this is still early for voters who don’t live and breathe politics. Diane Black and Randy Boyd are tops in terms of name recognition in the Republican six-pack running for Governor. And the Marsha Blackburn-Phil Bredesen November general election matchup for the U.S. Senate is rapidly becoming a lock before Christmas 2017.

9. Memphis Redbirds’ Playoff Tickets on Sale -

Single-game tickets for the Memphis Redbirds’ playoff games at AutoZone Park are now on sale starting at $9, and fans can also purchase specialty tickets that include a favorite promotional item or an all-you-can-eat buffet.

10. Redbirds’ Playoff Tickets on Sale -

Single-game tickets for the Memphis Redbirds’ playoff games at AutoZone Park are now on sale starting at $9, and fans can also purchase specialty tickets that include a favorite promotional item or an all-you-can-eat buffet.

11. Boyd Says Luttrell Endorsement is ‘Partnership’ -

Republican contender for Tennessee governor Randy Boyd says his endorsement this week by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is more like a partnership.

12. Joyful House Republicans Vote to Repeal Reviled 'Obamacare' -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Delivering at last, triumphant House Republicans voted Thursday to repeal and replace the "Obamacare" health plan they have reviled for so long, overcoming united Democratic opposition and their own deep divisions to hand a major win to President Donald Trump.

13. Justices Hear Dispute Over Lower-Cost Biotech Drugs Sales -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday considered a drug company's fight to keep a generic version of its biotech drug off the market for an additional six months that would mean billions more in sales and higher costs to the public.

14. Last Word: Mike Rose, Bartlett High Options and Memphis-Nashville Talk -

Mike Rose transformed Memphis-made Holiday Inn from a single brand to multiple brands and a corporation that transformed the hospitality industry as casino gaming spread beyond Las Vegas and Atlantic City in the 1990s. During his time at the helm of Holiday Inns and Promus Companies, Rose was also one of the city's most influential corporate leaders with the money and ability to raise money and set terms that made possible the transformation of St. Jude into a research institution and pointed the University of Memphis in that direction as well. Rose died Sunday in Nashville of cancer.

15. Norris Presents Amended Fuel-Tax Bill With Larger Sales Tax Cut -

NASHVILLE – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris pushed a revised fuel-tax bill through the Transportation Committee on Monday, March 13, making a sharper cut in the grocery tax to offset phased-in increases at the gas pump.

16. Norris Presents Amended Fuel-Tax Bill With Larger Sales Tax Cut -

NASHVILLE – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris pushed a revised fuel-tax bill through the Transportation Committee on Monday, March 13, making a sharper cut in the grocery tax to offset phased-in increases at the gas pump.

17. Existing US Home Sales Reach Highest Since February 2007 -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans bought homes in November in the fastest pace in nearly a decade. But rising mortgage rates, a deepening shortage of houses and higher prices are likely to weigh on the market next year.

18. After The Vote -

If you stood in certain places during the last days of the 2016 campaign in Memphis you could see the 2018 elections even if you couldn’t see Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s national victory over Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.

19. US Home Sales Fell in July Amid Inventory Shortage -

WASHINGTON (AP) – US homebuyers pulled back in July, as sales declined amid a shortage of available properties and steadily rising prices.

Sales of existing homes fell 3.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The decline marks a reversal from rising demand that pushed sales in June to their highest level since February 2007.

20. Trust Creates Sales Advantage -

I find myself inspired today by a book, recommended by a colleague, called The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey. You are probably familiar with Covey’s father, who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

21. Life Without Marc? Yes, and Grizz Still Have Something to Play For -

In their first game after learning their franchise player had fractured his right foot and would be lost to the team indefinitely – and yes, perhaps for the rest of the season – the Grizzlies reacted just the way that was needed: They went out to Brooklyn and demolished the hapless Nets before starting their All-Star break.

22. Last Word: SOTU React, OPEB Comeback and NFL Nostalgia -

The day after the last State of the Union address by President Barack Obama here's a breakdown of the reaction from our delegation to Washington.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen emphasized Obama's references to criminal justice reform.
"I know he is also committed to criminal justice reform and I hope my colleagues will work together to put meaningful reform on his desk," Cohen said.
Republican U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher tweeted, "We need a plan to keep America safe and make America strong. I did not hear that from the President tonight."
Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander: "If Pres. Obama focuses on what he agrees on with Congress instead of what we disagree on, there's quite a bit we could get done in 2016."
Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker urged the "swift release" of U.S sailors being held overnight by Iran in a border dispute just before the speech.

23. First Tennessee Again Eyes Sale Of Downtown HQ Building -

One of Memphis’ tallest buildings could come under new ownership as First Tennessee Bank looks to sell its Downtown tower at 165 Madison Ave.

24. House Votes to Kill Health Care Law's Medical Device Tax -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House defied a White House veto threat and voted Thursday to abolish a tax on medical device makers as a group of Democrats uncharacteristically joined Republicans in moving to kill part of President Barack Obama's health care law.

25. Media Heads Rule Ranks of Best-Paid CEOs -

NEW YORK (AP) – They're not Hollywood stars, they're not TV personalities and they don't play in a rock band, but their pay packages are in the same league.

Six of the 10 highest-paid CEOs last year worked in the media industry, according to a study carried out by executive compensation data firm Equilar and The Associated Press.

26. On Trial: Tigers Basketball Has Much to Prove -

Down by 11 points to Stephen F. Austin with less than two minutes to play, the final result probably was inevitable. But inside an emptying FedExForum, there were a precious few Tiger fans hanging on to the last strands of hope.

27. Amazon, Hachette End Monthslong Dispute -

NEW YORK (AP) – One of publishing's nastiest, most high-profile conflicts, the monthslong standoff between Amazon.com and Hachette Book Group, is ending.

28. Thinner iPads, Sharper iMacs in Apple's Lineup -

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) – Apple unveiled a thinner iPad Thursday with a faster processor and a better camera as it tries to drive excitement for tablets amid slowing demand. The company also released an update to its Mac operating system and introduced a high-resolution iMac model that might appeal to heavy watchers of television over the Internet.

29. Middle-Class Squeeze: From Day Care to Health Care -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Three years ago, Jason Prosser was stunned to discover the cost of child care for his newborn son – so much so that he and his wife postponed having a second child.

30. A Perfect Union -

Union Ave Books buzzes with activity on a Tuesday afternoon as families from San Francisco and Paris browse the shelves in the children’s section.

A local customer, owner Flossie McNabb explains, has brought the travelers to her store during their East Tennessee visit.

31. Microsoft Cutting 18,000 Jobs, Signals New Path -

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its history Thursday, saying it will cut 18,000 jobs as it streamlines its Nokia mobile device business to focus on using the Windows Phone operating system.

32. Malone to Challenge Luttrell In August Mayoral Showdown -

Former Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone will challenge incumbent Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in the August county general election after winning the Tuesday, May 6, Democratic mayoral primary.

33. Roland ReElected At Filing Deadline, Two Countywide Races Set For August -

One of the six Shelby County Commission incumbents seeking re-election this year was effectively elected to a new four-year term in a new district with the noon Thursday, Feb. 20, filing deadline for candidates in the May county primaries.

34. More Than 30 Seconds -

It’s official. Super Bowl advertising is no longer a one-night event. The marketing strategies that reigned supreme in Super Bowl XLVIII took the better part of January to accomplish and are still unfolding online even this week.

35. Super Bowl ‘Ad-stravaganza’ Preview -

With one of the most watched television broadcasts in history just days away, buzz is building to a frenzy over which big brands will take home Best in Show in this year’s Super Bowl advertising competition.

36. Social Security Benefits to Go Up by 1.5 Percent -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Social Security benefits will rise 1.5 percent in January, giving millions of retired and disabled workers an average raise of $19 a month to keep up with the cost of living.

37. Critics Revive Past Promises to Knock Obama Budget -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Advocates for seniors say President Barack Obama is breaking his promise to protect Social Security, while conservatives say he is breaking his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class.

38. US Wholesale Prices Fell 0.2 Percent in October -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Wholesale prices fell in October as a big drop in gasoline and other energy prices offset a rise in the cost of food.

Wholesale prices dipped 0.2 percent last month, the Labor Department said Wednesday. It was the first decline since May and followed big gains of 1.1 percent in September and 1.7 percent in August, increases that had been driven by spikes in energy.

39. Kroc Center on Target for January -

The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center is on track to open in January, almost two years after its groundbreaking.

Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC is scheduled to complete the construction of the 104,000-square-foot learning, recreation and worship center on 15 acres adjacent to the Mid-South Fairgrounds by the end of December.

40. Limits on Class-Action Lawsuits at Supreme Court -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court appeared divided Monday in two cases in which businesses are trying to make it harder for customers or investors to band together to sue them.

The justices heard arguments in appeals from biotech company Amgen Inc. and cable provider Comcast Corp. that seek to shut down class-action lawsuits against the businesses.

41. Oil Inches Up to $86 as Storm Pounds US Coast -

The price of oil recovered slightly Tuesday, rising to above $86 a barrel, even as a massive storm was pounding the heavily populated U.S. East Coast, reducing demand for fuel by keeping drivers off roads, closing businesses and silencing activity in New York City and other metropolitan areas.

42. Social Security Benefits to Go Up by 1.7 Percent -

WASHINGTON (AP) – More than 56 million Social Security recipients will see their monthly payments go up by 1.7 percent next year.

The increase, which starts in January, is tied to a measure of inflation released Tuesday. It shows that inflation has been relatively low over the past year, despite the recent surge in gas prices, resulting in one of the smallest increases in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.

43. Shelby Oaks Red Roof Inn Sells for $1.6 Million -

6055 Shelby Oaks Drive
Memphis, TN 38134

Sale Amount: $1.6 million

Sale Date: Sept. 19, 2012

44. Midtown Utopia -

Of Memphis’ tales of humble beginnings, of which there are many, the fluctuating renaissance of the Cooper-Young neighborhood is certainly compelling throughout.

The area has cycled from its 19th century roots to 1970s crime and neglect to its present-day status as one of the largest historic districts in the Southeast, a magnet of all ages and walks of life. All thanks to individuals and organizations that wouldn’t settle for sub-par quality in their tiny town within the bustling Bluff City.

45. Oil Sinks on Reserve Release Talk -

NEW YORK (AP) – The price of oil fell Monday as the threat to production from Tropical Storm Isaac appeared to lessen and traders speculated about a release of oil from U.S. reserves.

Forecasts for Isaac have moderated, easing concerns that the storm could damage key oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

46. Europe Shaken by Fear Spain Will Need Full Bailout -

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Europe is on the brink again. The region's debt crisis flared on Monday as fears intensified that Spain would be next in line for a government bailout.

A recession is deepening in Spain, the fourth-largest economy that uses the euro currency, and a growing number of its regional governments are seeking financial lifelines to make ends meet. The interest rate on Spanish government bonds soared in a sign of waning market confidence in the country's ability to pay off its debts.

47. Feds: For-Profits Could Lose Federal Student Aid -

Former students in career-training programs at dozens of for-profit institutions have had so much trouble paying off their loans that the schools could lose access to federal student aid if they don't improve, new data from the U.S. Department of Education finds.

48. Typical CEO Made $9.6M Last Year, AP Study Finds -

Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs.

The head of a typical public company made $9.6 million in 2011, according to an analysis by The Associated Press using data from Equilar, an executive pay research firm.

49. Regulators Probe Bank's Role in Facebook IPO -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Regulators are examining whether Morgan Stanley, the investment bank that shepherded Facebook through its highly publicized stock offering last week, selectively informed clients of an analyst's negative report about the company before the stock started trading.

50. Pump Prices Drop 5 Percent Since April -

NEW YORK (AP) – Gasoline prices have dropped 5 percent since peaking last month.

The national average fell to $3.739 per gallon on Thursday, down nearly 20 cents since hitting a high of $3.936 on April 6. And compared with a year ago, regular unleaded is 21 cents cheaper.

51. Natural Gas Prices Dip Below $2 -

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of natural gas has dropped below $2 for the first time in more than a decade.

A mild winter and production boom have left the U.S. with more natural gas than Americans can consume. Storage facilities are quickly filling up. The glut has pushed down the futures price of gas 59 percent since it peaked at $4.85 last summer.

52. Privatization Thoughts Highlight Changes -

Here’s a roundup of what some of the city’s banks and bankers, investment professionals, mortgage brokers, asset management firms and other financial services shops have been up to in recent weeks.

53. TVs are Hot Sellers This Holiday Season -

NEW YORK (AP) – In an unexpected twist, TVs are topping many Christmas shopping lists this year.

Wal-Mart says TVs are among the top gifts people are putting on layaway at its 3,000-plus U.S. stores during the holiday season. The Westinghouse 46-inch LCD HDTV that was on sale for half off at Target for $298 was a top seller during the start to the season last weekend. And Abt Electronics already has sold out of 55-inch Samsung LED TVs that were marked down by half to $1,099.

54. Occupy Protests Cost Nation's Cities at Least $13M -

NEW YORK (AP) – During the first two months of the nationwide Occupy protests, the movement that is demanding more out of the wealthiest Americans cost local taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by The Associated Press.

55. Shocker: Power Demand From US Homes is Falling -

NEW YORK (AP) – American homes are more cluttered than ever with devices, and they all need power: Cellphones and iPads that have to be charged, DVRs that run all hours, TVs that light up in high definition.

56. Oil Settles at Lowest Level in Weeks -

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil tumbled Monday to the lowest level in nearly a month after a drop in Greece's credit rating added to concerns about a slowdown in the European economy.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude dropped $1.99, or 2 percent, to settle at $97.30 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil is now at its lowest level since May 17.

57. Rich Spend, Others Scrimp, Retail Reports Show -

NEW YORK (AP) – High gas prices are driving a wider wedge between the wealthy and everybody else.

The rich are back to pre-recession-style splurging: Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom customers are treating themselves to luxury items like $5,000 Hermes handbags and $700 Jimmy Choo shoes, and they're paying full price.

58. State House Approves Foreclosure Bill -

Tennessee lawmakers have moved closer toward cutting back the number of foreclosure notices lenders have to publish in newspapers before borrowers in default lose their home.

Legislation drafted by the Tennessee Bankers Association and amended in legislative committees would allow lenders to reduce the current mandate from three foreclosure notice publications to two. The new notices also likely won’t include the lengthy descriptions they feature now.

59. Good Deals on New Homes to be Had This Spring -

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The spring home-selling season is under way, and homebuyers have more leverage this year to get price discounts and other perks on new homes than in years past.

It's the busiest time for homebuilders, which means they are under less pressure to lower prices. They typically reserve the best bargains for the fall, when they look to thin their slate of unsold homes.

60. Stamp Prices Going Up Again -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Buy those Forever stamps now. The cost of mailing a letter is going up again.

Fighting to survive a deepening financial crisis, the Postal Service said Tuesday it wants to increase the price of first-class stamps by 2 cents — to 46 cents — starting in January. Other postage costs would rise as well.

61. AIG Won't Accept Lower Prudential Offer for AIA -

LONDON (AP) - Bailed-out U.S. insurer AIG reported Tuesday it won't accept a lower offer for its Asian insurance business from Prudential, which proposed a $5 billion cut to calm rebellious shareholders who thought the price was too high.

62. AIG Sells Alico Unit to MetLife for $15.5 Billion -

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) - American International Group Inc. said Monday it will sell its American Life Insurance Co. division for $15.5 billion to MetLife Inc. The government-approved deal, AIG's second big asset sale in two weeks, will give the insurer more cash to repay the billions of bailout dollars it still owes the government.

63. Former Indy Mayor’s Advice To Local Government: Cut Red Tape -

Combining city and county governments is not the issue, the former mayor of Indianapolis told the Metro Charter Commission last week.

Stephen Goldsmith said the group drafting a consolidation charter for voters on the November ballot should be more focused on efficiency.

64. Treasury Receives $936M for JPMorgan Warrants -

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Treasury Department has received $936.1 million in the sale of warrants it had received from JPMorgan Chase & Co. as part of the support it provided the bank during last year's financial crisis.

65. Housing Slump Makes Self Known In October -

Shelby County homebuilders continue to feel the brunt of the housing slowdown, as October saw builder sales plummet and housing starts reach a seven-month low.

Homebuilders filed just 38 permits for new homes last month, the worst period for starts since the March total of 30. That marked a 9.5 percent decline from 42 starts in October 2008 and a 33.3 percent decline from 57 starts in September, according to the latest from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

66. Citi Raises Salaries for CFO, Global Markets Head -

NEW YORK (AP) - Citigroup Inc. reported its chief financial officer and co-head of global markets are getting raises, while CEO Vikram Pandit will continue to collect a salary of $1 per year.

67. AIG Shares Jump after Talk of Bailout Revamp -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Shares of American International Group Inc. jumped more than 20 percent Monday after the head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said that panel will examine a plan to reduce the company's massive bailout package.

68. Pera Appointed Special Adviser For ABA Strategic Communications Committee -

Lucian Pera of Adams and Reese LLP has been appointed as a special adviser of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Strategic Communications for a one-year term.

69. Calipari Home Sells For 16 Percent Below List Price -

Former University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari’s home at 220 E. Galloway Drive sold Aug. 6 for $1.425 million, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

That sales price is $275,000 – or 16 percent – less than the home’s listing price of $1.7 million with Hobson Realtors. It also is $70,000 less than what Calipari and his wife, Sue Ellen, paid for the home in 2000.

70. Calipari’s House Fetches $1.425 million -

Former University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari’s home at 220 E. Galloway Drive sold Aug. 6 for $1.425 million, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

That sales price is $275,000 – or 16 percent – less than the home’s listing price of $1.7 million with Hobson Realtors. It also is $70,000 less than what Calipari and his wife, Sue Ellen, paid for the home in 2000.

71. Calipari’s House Fetches $1.425 million -

Former University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari’s home at 220 E. Galloway Drive sold Aug. 6 for $1.425 million, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

That sales price is $275,000 – or 16 percent – less than the home’s listing price of $1.7 million with Hobson Realtors. It also is $70,000 less than what Calipari and his wife, Sue Ellen, paid for the home in 2000.

72. MAHBA Insurance Program To Soothe Skittish Buyers -

The Memphis Area Home Builders Association is launching a mortgage protection insurance program that will cover a homebuyer’s principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) for one year if the buyer becomes involuntarily unemployed.

73. AIG Annual Meeting a Short, Relatively Calm Affair -

NEW YORK (AP) - American International Group Inc.'s annual shareholder meeting ended without drama Tuesday after a handful of shareholders voiced disappointment over the embattled insurer's near-collapse last fall.

74. Vesta Home Show to Kick Off in Arlington Today -

This year’s Vesta Home Show will achieve a couple of “firsts” – the first show in Arlington and the first to feature all “green” homes.

The eight-home show, set for the fall, kicks off today with a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Villages of White Oak, a $24 million, 326-acre, 700-home development just north of Interstate 40 near the Shelby-Fayette county line.

75. BofA Delays Release of Votes on CEO Lewis -

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) - Ken Lewis is keeping his seat on the Bank of America Corp. board, but his job title is less certain.

76. 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.

...

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92. OPEC Considers Cutting Oil Production -

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - With oil prices off nearly 30 percent from their highs of almost $150 a barrel, OPEC oil ministers are considering what was unthinkable just a few weeks ago - cutting back output to prop up the price of crude.

93. Drug Price Hikes Draw Scrutiny from Lawmakers -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly hiking the prices of specialty medications by 100 percent or more - sometimes much more - attracting scrutiny from lawmakers who have pledged to lower health care costs.

94. With JPMorgan Deal to Rescue Bear Stearns, Market Wonders Which Investment Bank May Fall Next -

NEW YORK (AP) - With a deal in place to save Bear Stearns from bankruptcy, the company's shares traded above the offer price Monday even as investors began turning a critical eye to other investment banks amid worries about how far the credit contagion could spread.

95. With JPMorgan Deal to Rescue Bear Stearns, Market Wonders Which Investment Bank May Fall Next -

NEW YORK (AP) - With a deal in place to save Bear Stearns from bankruptcy, the company's shares traded above the offer price Monday even as investors began turning a critical eye to other investment banks amid worries about how far the credit contagion could spread.

96. American Home Mortgage Files For Bankruptcy Protection -

NEW YORK (AP) - American Home Mortgage Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, the latest casualty of a mortgage industry that has plunged into distress.

The Melville, N.Y.-based company's request for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - filed in bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Del. - caps a tumultuous 10 days for what was in 2006 the nation's 10th-biggest home lender.

97. Blackstone Cements StatusWith Hilton Purchase -      Fresh off a $4.1 billion initial public offering, private-equity house Blackstone Group solidified its position as a power to reckon with on Wall Street with a multibillion dollar deal that gives the company control over

98. BBAC Slated to Buy Back Yard Burgers Chain For Almost $40M -

Back Yard Burgers Inc. will be acquired this year by the Atlanta-based private equity firm BBAC LLC and its wholly owned subsidiary BBAC Merger Sub Inc. for $38 million, the companies announced Monday.

99. Stained Glass Business Relies on Word of Mouth For New and Repeat Customers -

The client list at Laukhuff Stained Glass reads like a Who's Who of venerable Memphis institutions.

From St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to Rhodes College, from Graceland to a multitude of churches, Laukhuff has designed or restored thousands of stained glass windows locally and beyond.

100. Archived Article: Lead - Turgeon interview

More Condos to Join Downtown Mix

South Front project adds 34 units in growing arts district

LANCE ALLAN

The Daily News

As Downtown housing growth continues at a strong clip, another project is gearing up to join the ...