Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Editor Means the Local Paper Has Women in 3 Key News Jobs

I’ve been on the verge of being absolutely overcome with happiness ever since Bud Appleby e-mailed me with the news.

I had just come home late this morning after spending a couple of hours at what was supposed to be a 15-minute appointment with one of my orthopedic doctors.

Not that anything the doctor told me about my sore left foot was complicated. It’s just that the waiting room was full of people, and I think he was the only M.D. on duty. And, yes, we did spend a lot of time talking about tomorrow night’s Drake-Northern Iowa football extravaganza, too.

I sat down at the computer to check my e-mail before heading to my normal Wednesday lunch at the Oriental place with Raff, Buck and the other other guys.

The e-mail from Appleby, a former editor and reporter at the local paper, immediately got my attention.

It concerned a story that was on the Idaho Statesman website.

Oh-oh, I thought. This has got to have something to do with the editor’s job at the local paper.

After all, local paper humor columnist Ken Fuson had prepared local paper retirees for this one a while back.

“I’ve heard this from nobody, but why has that ever stopped me?” Fuson said at the retirees’ lunch. “The word is that [the Gannett Co.] is very high on the editor at Boise. So there is some speculation that a woman in Boise might be considered here.”

I used that information in an earlier column.

The local paper has been looking for an editor ever since Paul Anger left after three years to take a job at the Detroit Free Press. A couple of people—probably Anger and one of his kids—considered that a job upgrade.

It turns out that Fuson knew what he was talking about.

The Idaho Statesman reported that executive editor Carolyn Washburn will become the new vice-president and editor of the local paper.

That, folks, is the best news I’ve heard since Dennis Ryerson, a former editor, was sent packing, and Randy Brubaker was dumped as the local paper’s sports editor.

So why, you ask, is it good news that an executive editor from Idaho is moving her act to Des Moines?

Because that now means the local paper will have women in three key news jobs, and one of them isn't Diane Graham.

My good friend Mary P. Stier is the president and publisher, Washburn is the vice-president and editor, and Carol Hunter is the editorial page editor.

It’s about time something like that happened.

With these highly-intelligent women in place, I fully expect the local paper to finally regain the prestige it lost when guys with beer guts and stupid clip-on suspenders and bow ties ran the place.

I mean, how ridiculous was it that an empty cab pulled up at 8th and Locust a few years ago, and Mike Townsend got out?

With women in charge, I predict that the local paper’s circulation will immediately increase. People in Manning won’t be going to the coffee shop and saying, “What’s new in the World-Herald?” And I expect the major league baseball results to be in the local paper’s sports section the next morning--when both copies are in the vending machine in Iowa City.

And maybe—just maybe—all of the Valley and Roosevelt football results will be in the local paper’s city edition.

Come to think of it, that may be asking too much. After all, there’s still not a woman running the sports department.

A little more about Washburn from the Statesman website…..

She’s 42 years of age, or close to it.

She’s married and has three children. [Well, there’s the answer to that question].

She’ll start running the newsroom at the local paper next week.

She’s been executive editor of the Idaho Statesman since 1999.

She was managing editor of the Statesman from 1993-1995.

She is immediate past-president of the City Club of Boise. [That’s something I really wanted to know].

Washburn “will miss Idaho, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grow professionally.” [In other words, move up the Gannett chain. Who knows, maybe her next stop in the rent-an-editor game at Gannett will be Indianapolis].

“Idaho is in my soul—but that’s not saying anything that Idahoans don’t know. It is a special place on the earth and it will be with me forever,” Washburn said. “The newspaper is a special place that cares so much about the community, and it took something big to draw me away.

This is big for me professionally. It’s a great new responsibility. It gets my kids and my family closer to their grandparents, and that ended up being a pretty strong combination.” [Washburn is an Indiana University graduate].

Washburn told staffers at the local paper at a meeting today that Iowa readers “are very lucky that they have a newspaper that delivers on their high expectations like this one does.”

She emphasized story-telling and watchdog journalism. [Every good editor emphasizes watchdog journalism].

“I want to break news,” she said. “My favorite kind of breaking news is the kind that readers wouldn’t know if they didn’t learn it from us.”

Something I can’t figure out, though, is why the news of Washburn’s appointment wasn’t in this morning’s local paper. Instead, my web page and the local TV stations were able to have the news before it could be in tomorrow’s local paper. Talk about getting scooped!

Oh, well.

I guess miracles don’t happen overnight.

Good luck, Carolyn.

As they say in the sports business and the Gannett offices, you’ll need it.

Vol. 4, No. 368
Aug. 31, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005

Burlington Hawk Eye Sports Editor Bohnenkamp Defends State's Newspapers

There's some thoughtful follow-up e-mail today from readers to the message sent to me a few days ago by Barry Crist of West Des Moines.

Crist, you may recall, called Des Moines Register sports columnist Nancy Clark "gallactically stupid" while making the point that Internet sites are doing a much better job than newspapers of covering football news at Iowa and Iowa State.

Coming to the defense of newspapers in one e-mail is John Bohnenkamp, sports editor of the Burlington Hawk Eye. He says "there's good journalism going on in this state at a lot of newspapers."

Transplanted Iowan Mark Robinson, now of Valencia, CA, says Clark "once again is confused" in what she wrote about bloggers and the Internet.

Both e-mails make for good reading as the collegiate football season quickly approaches:


"A few things, since I probably won't see you at a game for a while:

"I enjoy reading your Web site. You've been around the sports in this state a lot longer than I have, and I think you have some dead-on takes about a lot of things.

"That said, I cringe a little bit when there's a lot of newspaper bashing on your site, mostly from people you know and mostly from people who are angry at the paper you used to work for.

"That's fine, I understand that. Where I'm concerned is that a lot of people these days take shots at the newspaper business because the Internet is the next big thing.

"I think the Internet sites that cover Iowa and Iowa State do a great job. What concerns me are the message boards, and I have written about those in the past. A lot of stuff gets thrown out that isn't true, a lot of opinions expressed that have no logic or facts.

"Frankly, there's good journalism going on in this state at a lot of newspapers, and I think sometimes people overlook that because what we do doesn't fit their idea of what we should be doing.

"It's easy to praise Internet sites, they have a lot to work with, they have an immediate impact, they serve their purpose. If people want to get their news from there, great.

"But the newspapers should serve a purpose too, and I think too many people are overlooking that. I think we do good work, I think the [Cedar Rapids] Gazette and Quad-City Times do as well. Waterloo has a great section with good people working there, the Press-Citizen has good writing and reporting. The Dubuque Telegraph Herald wins awards all of the time, and they have a good staff. And I think there's good writing at the Register. I enjoy working with all of the people from those papers.

"Someone complained to you in an e-mail about the 'pups' working at the Register. I don't work there, but does the fact that I'm not older than 40 make me a less-than-adequate journalist? About a year ago I had an older man call and tell me I had no business being in my position because I wasn't old enough to do the job. I'm 39, been in the business 17 years, and I'm still not 'old enough?' Trust me, I was offended.

"You're right, we are still offering a 20th-century product. But I think in a lot of cases, it's still a product people can depend on. I wish more people would recognize that."

John Bohnenkamp
Sports Editor
The Hawk Eye
Burlington, IA

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Thanks for your thoughts, John. The Hawk Eye has been doing a good job of covering sports in this state for a long time, and is following in that tradition under Bohnenkamp's direction. Newspapers aren't going away, nor are some of the people who buy them. The problem is that fewer and fewer young people are reading papers these days, and a shocking number of them are turning to the Internet for their news. Unless newspaper owners and editors can find a way to change the way they deliver the news--such as putting more of it on the Internet themselves--the trend is expected to continue].


Here's Mark Robinson's e-mail about Nancy Clark, bloggers and the $2 newspaper [the price the Des Moines Register now charges for its Sunday product]:

"Hello Ron:

"Re: The Nancy Clark column mentioned in your most recent post.

"I did read the article the day it was published and, as I recall, she kept making references to 'bloggers,' and not those premium sites like Hawkeye Nation and Hawkeye Report.

"And once again, Nancy is confused. In her lone example [that I can recall], she mentioned the rumor of Drew Tate's broken leg prior to the recent bowl game. Nancy should know better; that rumor was not started by bloggers. In fact, I know of no dedicated Hawkeye weblog sites. No, that particular rumor, like most rumors in the Hawkeye cyberspace, first showed up on a Hawkeye fan message board.

"Apparently, Nancy doesn't know the difference between a blog, such as yours, Ron, and an open message board where casual fans swap stories and discuss their favorite sports teams, Food Network personalities, or rock musicians.

"As for the new 2-buck price tag on the Sunday paper; the last two times I bought a Sunday L.A. Times at the local supermarket, I paid a quarter. That would be...25 cents.

"Keep writing,"

Mark Robinson
Valencia, CA

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Obviously, there's plenty of confusion about what a blog is or isn't these days. Call it a blog, call it a column on the Internet, call it a chat line. Frankly, I don't care. It's a way of communicating, and that, after all, is what newspapers and the rest of us are trying to do. Now I hope there isn't a mass exit from the state of Iowa so people can start buying the Los Angeles Times for 25 cents on Sundays at the supermarket. I do wish somebody would tell the Gannett Co., though. That $2 price for the Sunday paper in Des Moines is too damn much. The $2 price is bad enough, but more shame should be placed on publisher Mary P. Stier and other bosses at the paper who tried to sneak the higher price past readers without announcing it].


Gordy Scoles of Bennettsville, S.C., a coach-turned-author, says some interesting things in this e-mail:


"I just watched on the Internet your interviews by the University of Iowa. They
are really interesting and go a long way toward explaining why the Register 'ain't what it used to be.' I guess we have been gone from the state long enough to not realize it's not a state newspaper any longer. When we were in Iowa this past June, staying with friends in Cedar Rapids, we commented how the Gazette was better than the Register. That wasn't true when we lived in Cedar Rapids from 1980-1983.

"Anyway, I enjoyed the interviews. We are in week two of high school football
down here [in South Carolina], and it's finally starting to cool off a little bit. Of course, next week we're supposed to get a ton of rain from the hurricane, butthat's what you get when you trade in your snow shovel."

Gordy Scoles
Bennettsville, S.C.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: The University of Iowa interviews Scoles is referring to were part of the "Iowa Journalists Oral History Project." A number of us were interviewed separately in no-holds-barred fashion for a couple of hours in front of a video camera. I felt honored to be among those chosen for the project. Thanks very much for your comments on what I had to say, Gordy. And the folks at the Gazette will appreciate what you said about their newspaper. J. R. Ogden, Mike Hlas and the others in the Gazette sports department are turning out an excellent product in Cedar Rapids these days. The Gazette is where I began working as a teen-ager while attending old Wilson High School in Cedar Rapids. I stayed at the Gazette as a part-timer before graduating from the University of Iowa in 1958. The Gazette sports editor and columnist then was Gus Schrader, who was one of the best. Scoles is the author of "Best In The Land--The First Half-Century of Nashua High School Football," and is now in the final stages of publishing "Onward To Victory: The First Half-Century of Greene High School Football." Keep up the outstanding work, Gordy].


A woman identified as "Central Iowa Reader" sent this e-mail after I wrote in a column that former Iowa State basketball standout Fred Hoiberg should be the next Cyclone athletic director:

"Ron, what an outstanding idea. Hoiberg for the job!"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: As far as I'm concerned, Hoiberg is still the best name out there as Iowa State and the high-priced "headhunter" firm that will provide candidates to the school look for Bruce Van De Velde's successor. Hoiberg has been playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but I think his NBA career should be over because of the recent heart surgery he underwent. He shouldn't risk playing again, and I can't imagine any team wanting to try putting him in uniform].


A reader's e-mail includes mention of Hoiberg, the local paper, weblogs, Nancy Clark and irony:

"I don't know if you noticed it, but in [a recent] Des Moines Register sports/Hoiberg headline, a sidebar referred to 'weblogs' [your site?] that nominate The Mayor for ISU's athletic director.

"Isn't it a bit ironic that it appeared not one week from Nancy Clark's
anti-blogger diatribe?

"Keep up the great work!"

Twenty-Twenty Vision
Des Moines

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Great hearing from you again, Twenty-Twenty. As you can tell by all of this, my column has become required reading in lots of newsrooms. With this robust rise in readership, I'm about ready to ask The Boss for a pay raise. I may want to celebrate and take My Editor to lunch one of these days].


Travis Simpson, one of the millions of frustrated Chicago Cubs fans, sent this e-mail:

"On Nomar Garciaparra going to the DL again and Ronny Cedeno coming back up:

"Triple-A Iowa shortstop Ronny Cedeno is expected to replace Garciaparra in the long term, but [manager Dusty] Baker gave no indication that Cedeno would play much down the stretch, meaning he'll back up Neifi Perez again.

"It depends on where we are in this [wild-card] race," Baker said. "He's most likely the shortstop of the future. I've got a pretty good idea of what he can do, and I like the young man. But as of right now, it's hard to take Neifi out of there, the way he's playing. You've got to reward the guys that busted their butts for you. That's how it is."

"Cedeno is hitting .357 [at Iowa]. He hit .259 with the Cubs in two stints, while getting only 54 at-bats.

"I was at the I-Cubs game Saturday night and Cedeno made an outstanding defensive play that resulted in an improbable double play that he threw from shallow left-field to pick off the runner at 1B to end the inning and would have easily been a top Web Gem play on ESPN had it happened in the big leagues. The crowd gave him a roaring standing ovation for the great play. Every time I've seen him play at Iowa he always seems to have a great game in some aspect, which makes you wonder why management doesn't force Baker to play him to see what he can do considering whether to bring Nomar back is a big question.

"And I knew that impressive stretch against St. Louis and Houston would not carry over. They win a few meaningful games,then they usually lose a few to terrible teams. Baker is fooling no one right now thinking that this tendency will change the rest of the season.

"Cyclone football starts in 10 days, so I will finally get to watch a team that plays with a lot of heart for a change and put the Cubs on the back-burner."

Travis Simpson
Des Moines

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Be glad you've got the Cyclones to fall back on, Travis. Some people aren't that fortunate].

Vol. 4, No. 367
Aug. 26, 2005

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Columnist Ken Fuson Says, 'Some Kids Collected Baseball Cards. I Collected Bylines. I Was a Strange Kid'

From: Ron Maly
To: Mary P. Stier, Publisher and President
Sent: Thursday, Aug. 18
Subject: Ken Fuson

Hi, Mary,

It’s me, Ron.

I haven’t seen you for a while, and I know you’re a busy lady. In fact, these days you’re really busy. I know you’re looking for a new editor at the paper, and you’ve probably been sweating at the State Fair a lot this week. I guess publishers and presidents sweat once in a while, don't they? Maybe you’ve even been interviewing candidates out there in the paper’s booth at the fairgrounds. Nothing like giving those would-be editors from Idaho and wherever a taste of corn dogs and pork chops-on-a-stick and a look at tank-tops that show off the girls’ tattoos, plus the rest of the stuff that tells what 21st-century Iowa is really like.

Anyway, I thought I’d write to tell you about Ken Fuson, the guy from your newsroom who put on such an entertaining performance at the Register retirees’ lunch the other day at Baker’s Cafeteria. I knew Ken could write funny stuff, but he displayed a side of himself that I wasn’t aware of until he showed up to talk to us.

I’m telling you, Mary. This guy is hilarious.

If I were you, I wouldn’t be afraid to send Fuson out to represent the paper at any public event, whether it’s in Brooklyn, Ia., or Brooklyn, N.Y. He can put old people at ease, he can put old people who still think they’re young at ease, and I hear he’s marvelous in front of people who are really young, too. What you’ll like best about him, though, is how genuine he sounds in his praise of the paper, both past and present. And you know, of course, it’s the “present” that’s got some of us so worried.

What I’m getting at, Mary, is that I think you should do all you can to keep Fuson on the staff. Don’t let him get out of the newsroom. Let the guy write a column three or four days a week instead of just once, if that’s what he wants.

The paper needs people like him these days. Fuson left Des Moines once, you know. He went to the Baltimore Sun, and then knew he made a mistake. He found out they had the same problems in Baltimore that there are in Des Moines. So he came back, and I’m glad he did.

Now I hope he keeps writing and saying funny things forever at 8th and Locust.

Fuson is unlike some other people I’ve observed over the years. I’ve seen plenty of guys [and women] who wrote humorous newspaper columns and humorous books, but couldn’t say anything funny when they got in front of a crowd.

I found out that Fuson can be just as funny behind a microphone as he is in print.

I sat next to Walt Shotwell during Fuson’s talk. I like to get Shotwell’s take on things every once in a while. He’s a smart guy who used to be a columnist and reporter for the paper. Actually, he still writes a lot. He and his intelligent observations show up in the paper’s letters-to-the-editor section occasionally, and he has written several books. In fact, he’s got a new book coming out soon titled “The Rainbows Often Wane—An Autobiographical Ego Trip.” It’s something I want to read because he’s had an exciting life.

Shotwell’s friends call him “Shottie,” and I find myself doing that more and more these days. I wished I had ordered the chicken noodle soup, chocolate pie and coffee he had for his lunch at the cafeteria. I didn’t order anything, joking that Baker’s had nothing that was on my diet.

It was smart for me to sit next to Shottie in the front of the room. A number of years ago, he always clobbered me whenever we played tennis at the Racquet Club, and now I was able to find out who he was clobbering these days. Besides, I think the batteries in my tape recorder were old, so I didn’t want to miss anything Fuson had to say.

Being close to Fuson also enabled me to notice how well he was dressed for an appearance before a bunch of retirees. I was wearing knee-length cargo shorts, sandals and a short-sleeved shirt. Fuson was wearing navy blue slacks, a patterned navy blue shirt, a purple tie and a sharp pair of dress shoes that didn’t show any scuff marks.

A while back, Fuson made his debut as the paper’s humor columnist after Dave Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning and nationally-syndicated writer, decided to retire—at least temporarily.

If Fuson keeps writing the funny pieces he’s been cranking out, Barry may decide to make it a short retirement.

I can hear Barry now, saying, “No St. Louis Cardinals fan wearing a purple tie is going to replace me at any paper—local or otherwise!”

Mary, you’ll get a kick out of how Fuson explained his rise to once-a-week columnist.

“I’d like to say they did a national search for a humorist,” he said. “The fact is, they had a space to fill, and the editors were sitting around trying to figure out how to fill it. Somebody said, ‘Fuson is probably sitting around, not doing anything. He’s a smart-ass, so make him do it.’”

Fuson’s column appears on Mondays. The rest of his time is spent being a reporter. Or, more specifically, what he calls being the paper’s “tragedy writer.”

“I’m telling you, you can only cover so many funerals and horrible events before readers catch on,” he said. “I’d call somebody and say, ‘This is Ken Fuson of the Des Moines Register. The person on the other end of the line would say, ‘We’re fine. Just leave us alone. Nobody is sick here. Call somebody else.’ Then they’d hang up the phone.”

Fuson got everyone’s attention right away at the cafeteria.

“I’m here to announce the death of my career,” he told us.

I’m telling you, Mary, that drew a lot of laughs.

“I can’t remember what bar I was at, or how drunk I was when Lorraine Keller asked me to be here,” Fuson continued. “I’d like to point out that Lorraine isn’t here today. She always was one of the smart ones.”

Fuson then took a long look at the people seated in the audience, most of whom were still awake or at least finishing their chocolate pie.

“So this is what I have to look forward to, huh?” he said. I’ve decided against retiring. I’m leaning toward a different option—the sudden coronary.”

Laughs. Lots of ‘em, Mary.

“I look out there today and I see a lot of familiar faces,” Fuson said. “You are the people I read and appreciated while growing up in Granger. It was your bylines, your stories, your photographs that made me want to work at the Register, and only the Register, since I was old enough to write.

“You are the reason I fell in love with a great newspaper, and someday I hope to forgive you…..”

Laughs. Lots of ‘em, Mary.

You’ll love this next one.

Fuson said he has “nothing but complete admiration for the Gannett Company, my publisher [that’s you, Mary] and my editors. And if Ron Maly would like to quote me in his blog, that’s OK with me.”

I then interrupted Fuson and said, “Ken, you’re going to be quoted.”

Then Ken said, “The more I read Ron, the more I think he is probably not going to be asked by Mike Gartner to throw out the first pitch [at the local Triple-A baseball park, sometimes called No-Name Stadium].

“Buck Turnbull has a new book out, and Ron has a book out. It’s called, ‘Even More Ways The Register Sucks.”

Laughs. Lots of ‘em, Mary.

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Ron,” Fuson said. “Not anymore. He works too hard.”

[Ken was kidding about some of that stuff. Both Turnbull and I do have books on the market, but they’re about football at the University of Iowa. Buck’s is a new one, titled “Stadium Stories: Iowa Hawkeyes,” mine is a second edition, paperback version of “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines” that was first published in 2003. I may write one about the newspaper, but I want to see who the new woman editor is first].

As long as we’re on the subject of editors, I asked Fuson what he’d heard about who the successor to Paul Anger might be. Anger is the editor who left here after three years to take a job in Detroit. Some people—well, one or two anyway—are trying to call it a promotion.

“I did the story [when Gannett moved Anger from Des Moines to Detroit],” Fuson said. “Mary [that’s you, Mary S.] said there was no time-frame [on naming a new editor]. I know they’re interviewing people already.

“The rumor is…..and I’ve heard this from nobody, but why has that ever stopped me?.....the word is, they [Gannett] are very high on the editor at Boise, Idaho. Boise is one of the papers they gave up, so she’s out of work.

“There is some speculation that a woman in Boise might be considered here. I don’t know if it’s Mary’s choice or I don’t know if it’s Gannett’s choice. I just try to keep my head down and cash a paycheck.”

Still on the subject of editors, Fuson said, “You remember the time when the Register’s editor and managing editor resigned at the same time.”

[NOTE: I have a hunch Ken might have been referring to Geneva Overholser (she was the editor) and Dave Westphal (he was the managing editor). They’re married to each other now].

“I think you’re like me,” Fuson continued. “You’re not going to have the wool pulled over your eyes again, are you? When you see that Paul Anger leaves, then a couple of days later, Iowa State athletic director Bruce Van De Velde resigns, you’re probably thinking, ‘Fool me once, shame on me.’ I’m expecting to see a follow-up story any day now.

“For God’s sake, Ron, leave that out! I may need a job in Detroit someday.”

Laughs. Lots of ‘em, Mary.

[Hey, Ken, that was too good a story to pass up. And let me stress right now to the publisher and the company lawyers that you were just kidding. Everybody in the cafeteria—even the busboys—thought it was funnier than hell].

Fuson mentioned that the news sometimes doesn’t reach him as quickly as it does others.

He commented, “John Carlson [another columnist] called me aside and said, ‘Did you hear the latest?’

“I said, ‘What?’

“He said, ‘Paul Anger is going to Detroit.’

“I said, ‘Who?’

“He said, ‘You know, Paul Anger, the editor.’

“I said, ‘What the hell happened to Ryerson?’”

Fuson also mentioned what he called “another surprising day in the newsroom when a memo was posted on the board announcing that Arnie Garson was replacing the team of Dave Witke and Bill Maurer as managing editors.

“I don’t know if the rest of you saw that coming. I certainly didn’t, and I wasn’t alone. I remember Carlson and Gene Raffensperger talking later that afternoon.

“’What do you think?’ Carlson asked.

“’Well, Johnnie,’ Raff said, ‘I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to go home, pour myself a stiff drink, put my feet up on the couch and think of all the ways I might have pissed off Arnie Garson.’”

Laughs. Lots of ‘em, Mary.

“It’s an interesting time in the newsroom right now,” Fuson said. “There’s a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety and trepidation. Is it about the new editor? Nah. That’ll take care of itself. The trouble now is that nobody knows exactly whose rear-end to smooch. You never know who ends up with a promotion out of all this. So you have to be nice to everyone.

“I’ve had 10 editors offer to buy me lunch in the past week. It’s not easy eating three lunches a day.

“The only thing that disappoints me so far is that we didn’t name [former governor and former lots-of-interim-this and that] Bob Ray as the interim editor. That would mean he’s held every job in Iowa.”

Fuson said he can predict a couple of things that the new editor will do.

“Within three months, the new editor will announce a re-design of Datebook,” he said. Every editor I’ve ever worked with has re-designed Datebook. I don’t know why, but it keeps Lyle Boone employed, so I don’t ask questions.

[NOTE, from Ron to Mary: The next re-design of Datebook should probably be to kill it. I mean, with “Juice” being such a riveting weekly publication (that's a joke, of course), what’s left for Datebook to do]?

“I’m also pretty sure the new editor will somehow screw over [business editor and columnist] Dave Elbert,” Fuson said. “I know it’s going to happen.”

Growing up in Iowa, Fuson said he was like lots of other kids.

“I read the Register’s comics,” he said. “I also was attracted to the more sensational news stories. One of my earliest memories was when Richard Speck killed all those nurses in Chicago. I could not sleep that night. I was absolutely positive his victim would be some chubby third-grader in Granger, Ia.

“Mostly, though, I was a sports nut. The Big Peach was my Sports Center. I particularly looked forward to the Sunday Register when they showed the little lines tracking the football [in the photos]. Buck, Maury White and Ron were like my personal friends, telling me what [former Iowa football coach] Francis X. Lauterbur was really like. Remember the ‘X’—Maury would appreciate that.

“[Those sportswriters] told about Dan Gable’s amazing wrestling career, they took me to the arena when tiny Drake nearly upset mighty UCLA in the NCAA tournament. But I’ve got to tell you that, when I was a kid, the sportswriter all of us wanted to meet was Chuck Burdick because he was the guy who knew all the stud young athletes and wrote about them.

“We wanted to be one of those stars. I was a sophomore in high school when it dawned on me that Chuck Burdick wouldn’t be calling my house. Then I figured there was another way I could meet Chuck, Ron, Maury and Jim Moackler. I intended to become a sportswriter. I studied the Register. I kept a list of the verbs. You didn’t just hit a baseball in my world—you spanked it, you slapped it, you swatted it, you smacked it. And those are just the ‘s’ verbs.”

Fuson said he later “got hooked on the entire paper—I loved Donald Kaul and Frank Miller. I also knew names like Gene Raffensperger, Virgil Oakman and Richard Wilson. I’d wonder about them and their lives. I thought about how great it would be to cover stories for the Register. Some kids collected baseball cards; I collected bylines. I was a strange kid.”

Fuson said that “changed my life and got me thinking beyond sports was written by Frances Craig about a little baby in Woodward, which is where I went to high school. The baby was undergoing open heart surgery. It had drama. I could feel my own heart racing as I read it.

I called Frances and told her she was going to win an award for that story, and she did. I also told myself that ‘I’m going to write stories like that, and I’m going to write them for the Register.’”

Fuson mentioned the name of Ken Pins, a former Register reporter.

“Ken and I talked often about how Dave Witke called us and told us we’d been hired by the Register,” Fuson said. “We both cried. That might sound like an odd thing to admit, but it’s the sort of connection we had to the newspaper. Other than the birth of my children and maybe the Cardinals going to the World Series, and maybe that one night in high school at the Perry Drive-In [lots of laughs, Mary], that was the happiest day of my life.”

Fuson talked about his first day on the job at the paper.

“I covered a city council meeting with Jim Healey,” he explained. “Jim took me to the T&T Lounge and said in a whisper, ‘I’m going to tell you the most important thing you’ll ever know about the Register.’

“I leaned in closer. This was what I had been waiting for.

He said, ‘When you’re on the company clock, you pay for nothing!’”

Laughs. Lots of ‘em, Mary.

In his first week at the paper, Fuson said he was sitting at his typewriter when he suddenly heard “an incredible, ear-piercing scream from the back of the room, followed by a long string of the most amazing original profanity I had ever heard in my life.”

Someone told Fuson to not be alarmed.

That’s just John Sotak,” the other person said. “He’s thinking of becoming a priest.”

At the time, Sotak was a sports news editor at the paper. He now is a Catholic priest.

Fuson said he has other memories.

“Meeting [retired editorial department chief and reporter] Jim Flansburg was one of them,” he said. “Jim could be an intimidating guy to a young reporter or to a high school kid. With Jim, I never knew when to start nodding. It always seemed like the more I agreed with him, the more he disagreed with me.”

Then there was the Flight 232 crash in Sioux City, and what happened to reporter George Clifford III, who was assigned to cover it.

George Clifford III was a young guy from the D.C. area who went to a nice school,” Fuson explained. “They put him on a small plane with a photographer, and George threw up on the entire trip. The pilot ended up having to give him one of his dirty shirts to wear. George didn’t skip a beat and covered the entire story, which made him a hero in the newsroom. But the pilot never forgave him.

“Tom Suk, a police reporter, showed up at a parade to do a feature story. A guy said, ‘Who are you?’ Suk said, ‘I’m Tom Suk of the Des Moines Register.’ Then the guy hit him in the mouth. You know what, I don’t tell anybody I’m Tom Suk anymore.”


Fuson said, “I remember Tom Knudson’s Pulitzer Prize party. We learned that you could pour two beers on [editor] Jim Gannon’s head, but not three. I remember that sunny day when Arnie Garson removed his sports jacket….OK, you caught me. I made that up. Arnie never removed his sports jacket.

“I remember April 15—tax day—when an editor came over to Jim Pollock and said, ‘Jim, it’s tax day. Why don’t you go interview homeless people about how great it is not to pay taxes.’ Jim looked up at him and said, ‘If you’re trying to get me to quit, it won’t work.’”

[In the end, something, or someone, convinced Pollock he should quit as a reporter. He’s no longer at the paper].

More Fuson…..

“Pollock also wrote the greatest lede in the history of the Register,” he said. “He was asked to cover a women’s defense class. Jim’s lede was, ‘Never before has the male groin seemed like such a bad idea.’

I remember Gary Heinlein, a medical reporter, standing in front of the newsroom on his last day and saying, ‘I always wondered what this would feel like. [Pause]. It feels pretty damn good!”

“I covered a fire and there was a debate about how it started. Jimmy Larsen uttered the immortal words, ‘We’ve got nine company lawyers. We’re calling it arson.’”

“There was the time Charlie Capaldo assigned me to cover an NAACP meeting at a local church. As usual, I got lost. I couldn’t find the church. I came back and sheepishly told Charlie that I got lost. He said, ‘Come here’ and walked me to the back of the room. He pointed out the window and said, ‘See that steeple. That’s the church!’”

“Who here remembers the day the Register won the first Best of Gannett Paper of the Year Award? There was a newsroom gathering. Val Monson [a very good reporter] said, ‘This is like being named the best lineman at Northwestern. And Northwestern wasn’t good then. I’ve never seen Gannon angrier than he was at that moment—not even when three beers were dumped on him.”

Fuson talked of the numerous changes at the paper.

“The [afternoon] Tribune closed, bureaus closed, we were sold, state circulation was cut back,” he said. “I was sad and angered by those changes, and I took it personally. How dare they change the paper I fell in love with, without asking my approval? So I left.

“I went to the Baltimore Sun and learned two things—you never know when you need to come back, and it’s no different anywhere else. I had a great time in Baltimore, but missed the Register greatly. I’ll always be grateful to Dennis Ryerson for offering me the chance to come back.

“I realized I didn’t run the paper, I worked for it. What I can control is the quality of my own work, for better or worse. If they decide to print the entire paper in limericks, I’ll reach for my rhyming dictionaries.

“It’s healthier for me. I don’t sit there all day and complain anymore. For one thing, it’s forbidden. And I’m pretty sure they have surveillance cameras. Just kidding.

“Do I still wish we had all the state bureaus and had a larger news-hole and that we didn’t worry as much about money? Of course. But I also wish I could hear Raff’s laugh every day and that I could go over and give Diana Shutts a hug, and that I could still read Bob Hullihan’s marvelous feature stories.”

Fuson said he’s “still enormously proud to say I work for the Des Moines Register. I may get fired for saying this, but I like Mary Stier—as a person and as a publisher. Believe me, Clark Kauffman is the kind of investigative reporter that Clark Mollenhoff and Jim Risser would have admired.

“Jennifer Jacobs is a talented young reporter who has the kind of energy I haven’t seen since George Mills left. Mike Kilen is a very talented storyteller in the [category] of Dan Pederson, who was one of my heroes. I realize I may get some of my sportswriting friends here to walk out on me, but I admit I actually like Sean Keeler’s columns. I think he’s written some sharp, tough columns.

“Do we still make stupid mistakes? Do we still miss stories? Do we still misspell names? Yup. You know what, we always have. That’s a nature of the business, just like it’s a nature of the business to think that the golden age was about 10 years before. Some people see things the way they are and ask why, some people see things the way they could be and ask why not. Some people pick up the newspaper and say, ‘Who’s stupid idea was this?’ Those people are newspaper writers.

“I will always admire the people in this room. You set a standard of excellence and creative reputation that some of us are still trying to live up to. Notice, I said ‘trying.’ Don’t blame us if we’re not always as good as you were. It’s hard to do. You were pretty damn good.”

[So long until the next time, Mary. Thanks for sending Ken over to talk to us. –-Ron]

Vol. 4, No. 366
Aug. 18, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Warrior Has Returned

Cole and Claire welcome their dad, Mark, home from the long journey.

Monday, August 15, 2005

E-Mailer Rips 'Stupid' Columnist, Sports Pages; Sunday Paper Soars to $2

My correspondents have found a couple of emotionally-charged topics regarding the local paper to write about in recent days.

The first e-mail:


"Less than a week after the nasty remarks about Internet sports sites that the gallactically stupid Nancy Clark wrote in her Register column, she is shown to be the dinosaur she is. Compare the Register's three or four stories on Iowa football since media day on Monday to the all-out coverage Jon Miller has provided on Hawkeye Nation. Hawk fans are treated to photo galleries of players, numerous audio interviews, and several times as many print stories than have appeared in the Register. The recently announced acquisition of Hawkeye Nation's parent company,, by FOX ensures resources will not be a problem.

"The choice is simple for Iowa football fans. Internet sites represent the future of sports coverage while Nancy Clark lives in the past. Perhaps the Register will now send a reporter to cover the Des Moines Roosevelt-Ottumwa football game. That is now their market....and it's in the Golden Circle.

"Barry Crist
"West Des Moines"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Crist is correct. There's no way the local paper or any other newspaper can keep up with the massive and thorough sports coverage of Internet sites these days. Newspapers are trying to survive in the 21st century with a 20th-century product. Newspapers are attempting desperately to compete with the Web by saying they're beefing up their Internet sites, but it's a case of too little, too late. Hawkeye Nation and Cyclone Nation are among the very best in the business. I'm told that Hawkeye Nation cranked out more than 70 items and published more than 200 photos last week. A man close to the scene tells me, "Were I at a paper last week, and saw what [Hawkeye Nation] did, I would feel a bit uncomfortable."]


The other e-mail:

"Without any notice or announcement, the Des Moines Register raised the newsstand price of the Sunday paper to $2. That's a 33 percent increase.

"It is still $1.50 in the vending machines, but that is likely to change soon because the cost now listed on the front page masthead is $2.

"I wonder how many other papers in the country charge $2.

"Bud Appleby
"Des Moines"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Two bucks for the Sunday paper is a crime. In the old days, the bosses would at least put a note on the front page of the paper to inform readers of the price increase and the reason for it. I'd like to think the people who run the place are embarrassed by the price-gouging, but the word "embarrassment" isn't part of their vocabulary these days. It appears to me that the folks in charge tried to slip the price increase past everyone, hoping they could get their hands in your pockets before you noticed their dirty fingernails. I'd guess the newest price bump is meant to cover the latest drops in circulation or to pay for the transportation costs of job-seekers coming into town to interview for the mess Paul Anger left of the editor's position].

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Fred Hoiberg Is Already The Mayor; Now He Should Be The Director

You know me. I say what I think.

That’s why they pay me all this big money to write these columns.

So I’d like to say right now that I’m not being knocked over by the names I’ve been hearing of people who might be Iowa State’s next athletic director.

Knowing that unimaginative search committees and high-priced “headhunters” often interview the folks that reporters put on a list 5 or 10 minutes after someone else—in this case, Bruce Van De Velde—has quit, or been told to quit, that’s pretty scary.

I mean, you’re trying to tell me that Rick Hartzell of Northern Iowa could be the guy who comes into Dan McCarney’s football office at the Olson Building in December and says, “I’d like to be at your Big 12 playoff game against Oklahoma at Houston, but I’ve got a Northwestern basketball game to officiate that night.”

Or imagine the reaction if Hartzell strolled into the office of Cyclone basketball coach Wayne Morgan at Hilton Coliseum and said, “I can’t be here tomorrow night for your game against Kansas. I’ll be at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, working Iowa’s game against Purdue.”

Hartzell seems to spend more time officiating major-college basketball games than he does finding out why people in Cedar Falls and Waterloo prefer to drive down I-380 and watch Iowa’s football and basketball teams instead of watching UNI play.

Hartzell had better show me that he’s getting the job done at his own school before he displays any interest in moving to Iowa State. The first thing I’d insist on if Hartzell demonstrated any desire to get the Cyclone job would be that he quit—and I mean absolutely stop—running off to officiate basketball games in the middle of the winter.

UNI has been embarrassed enough already by critics on ESPN, who say Hartzell shouldn’t be assigned to officiate games that have a bearing on which teams are picked for the NCAA tournament.

But now to my point.

I think Iowa State’s search for a new athletic director to replace Van De Velde should start and stop with Fred Hoiberg.

He’s already been The Mayor for lots of years.

Now it’s time for him to be The Director.

The timing is perfect. Hoiberg, who will turn 33 in October, had heart surgery recently, which will likely end his NBA career. The Minnesota Timberwolves or any other pro team would be foolish to try risking his health any further.

It’s time for Hoiberg to retire from basketball.

It’s time for him to show some direction to Iowa State, his alma mater.

There are those who think an athletic director should be a backslapper, a handshaker, a guy who can join a group of fans before a football or basketball game and get them feeling good about their team and themselves.

Hoiberg could do that.

He also could convince those same fans that they should be contributing money to the program, which—after all—is a big part of being an athletic director these days.

Hoiberg would be the perfect front man. He knows college athletics and he knows people. Best of all, he knows Ames. He knows Iowa State and Ames can be big-time, and with McCarney and basketball coach Morgan he knows that time is now.

There are plenty of associate and assistant athletic directors at Iowa State to do the nuts-and-bolts work that’s required.

Don’t say Hoiberg is too young.

If Barry Alvarez had enough confidence in 35-year-old Bret Bielema to make him the next Wisconsin football coach, Iowa State should have enough confidence in Hoiberg to make him the next athletic director.

This is not to say that people like Bobby Elliott at Kansas State and Fred Mims at Iowa wouldn’t be able to do the job.

But Hoiberg could do it better because he knows Iowa State better. It’s time for The Mayor to be The Director.


The first Iowa State athletic director I interviewed was a man named Gordon H. Chalmers.

His friends called him “Slim.” I didn’t know him long enough to call him “Slim” because Iowa State fired him shortly after I wrote a newspaper story about him that appeared on Christmas Day. In the story, he said some nice things about the University of Iowa and made a comment about how the “Big Ten will always be the Big Ten.”

I guess some people at Iowa State didn’t want to hear that.

Chalmers, who had come to Iowa State after being an assistant football coach at Army under the legendary Earl “Red” Blaik, was at Iowa State from 1959 through 1966.

He was followed in the athletic director’s job by Clay Stapleton, who had been the Cyclones’ football coach from 1958-1967. McCullough showed more balls than your typical football coach-turned-athletic director, and lasted in the job from 1967-1970.

The smartest things he did were to hire Johnny Majors as Iowa State’s football coach and Maury John as the basketball coach.

Lou McCullough, who had been a Cyclone football assistant and later was on Woody Hayes’ staff at Ohio State, was Iowa State’s athletic director from 1971-1982. A number of people disliked McCullough, but I got along all right with him, and I think he did a pretty good job.

Max Urick succeeded McCullough and stayed in the job from 1983-1993. He was a friendly, outgoing, approachable guy, and he did an excellent job. No one could have done any better at the time.

Gene Smith followed Urick. Smith seemed to have a lot going for him and was one of those guys whose name was on a headhunters’ lists of promising athletic directors. Iowa State swallowed the bait.

It turned out that Smith was someone who would look you squarely in the eyes and tell you what you wanted to hear, whether it was true or not. He also didn’t believe in doing background checks on people he hired.

Smith, whose years at Iowa State were 1993-2000, is still fooling ‘em. He went from Iowa State to be the athletic director at Arizona State, and now is the athletic director at Ohio State.

Van De Velde’s first year at Iowa State was 2000. I had left the newspaper scene by the time he got the job, so I had no reason to deal with him.

My only one-on-one conversation with Van De Velde was a year ago. I wrote in an Internet column that I found it strange he wasn’t present for McCarney’s appearance with reporters at football media day.

Someone sent Van De Velde the column, and he called me—explaining that he had other responsibilities that day and was unable to attend McCarney’s press conference.

He said that maybe he and I could have coffee sometime, either in Ames or Des Moines.

Unfortunately, we still haven’t had that coffee. I guess Bruce has been busy.


Years Name Notes

1903-1914--S.W. Beyer [Iowa State's first faculty representative; also world renowned geologist; Beyer Hall was named after him]

1914-1919--Clyde Williams [Coached football from 1907-12; started Iowa State basketball program in 1907; Clyde Williams Field was named after him]

1919-1923--Charles Mayser [Coached football and wrestling]

1923-1924--Hugo Ottapalik [acting]; [Long-time Iowa State wrestling coach]

1924-1931--T.N. Metcalf [Left Iowa State to be athletic director at University of Chicago, replacing Amos Alonzo Stagg]

1932-1945--George Veenker [Iowa State football coach 1931-1936; golf course on campus was named after him]

1945-1958--Louis E. Menze [Iowa State men’s basketball coach 1929-1947]

1959-1966--Gordon H. Chalmers [Came to Iowa State from West Point as assistant football coach under Earl Blaik]

1967-1970--Clay Stapleton [Iowa State football coach 1958-1967]

1971-1982--Louis G. McCullough [Was a former Iowa State assistant football coach]

1983-1993--Max Urick [Former Iowa State associate athletic director]

1993-2000--Gene Smith [Now athletic director at Ohio State]

2000-2005--Bruce Van De Velde [Came to Iowa State from Oklahoma; Iowa State graduate]

Vol. 4, No. 365
Aug. 11, 2005

Monday, August 08, 2005

Column on Hansen Brings Feedback from Jack Hovelson, Jane Burns

Jack Hovelson and Jane Burns are talented writers who once worked very hard for the local paper.

After reading my recent column on Marc Hansen's appearance at a lunch meeting of Register retirees, Hovelson and Burns sent e-mails to me that recalled how things were once upon a time at the place.

Hovelson spent more than 28 years as a one-man Waterloo News Bureau for the paper, when there was once such a thing. Now there isn't. I assume there also are very few Registers sold in Waterloo these days--one reason being Hovelson is no longer busting his butt to research and write the stories.

Burns had a number of jobs at the paper. I don't know if I can remember all of them, but sports copy editor, sports news editor, sportswriter and movie reviewer [maybe even reviewer of stage performances] were some. Only Jane knows, but my guess is that the bosses kept piling more and more responsibility onto her workload, so she finally fled to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she became a sports copy editor.

Now she's moved again. Burns tells me she has taken a job on the news desk of the Madison (Wis.) Capital Times. Whatever she's doing, and wherever she is, Jane will do an excellent job.

Here are the e-mails, the first from Hovelson:

"Hey, Ron.....fellow ex-Register-type,

"Jack Hovelson, here.

"A friend of mine in Cedar Rapids was nice enough yesterday to e-mail me a copy of your column regarding Marc Hansen's talk to Register retirees. It's great to have friends who recognize something of interest to you and then take the time and effort to see that you get it. Anyway, I really enjoyed your Hansen coverage [of all the speeches I had to cover and write about, I doubt I had any as compelling as Marc's].

"I'm glad Hansen feels safe enough to say some of the things he does, knowing it all will get back to the big office downtown. I'm not so sure they wouldn't jump on some of it as an excuse for showing him the door. After all.....'Look at the money we could save by getting rid of Hansen.'

"Your comments [rather, Hansen's, I guess] regarding the Register's sports coverage, or lack of, hits me at a time when I'm particularly pissed at them regarding the recent Waterloo Open golf tournament. The Waterloo Open still ranks as one of the two-to-four biggest golf tournaments in Iowa, big enough that it always brought Buck Turnbull up here every year [with a photographer] to spend two to three days covering it.

"I, on occasion, would help him with getting results, etc. transmitted to Des Moines before deadlines. This year's Waterloo Open was a dandy--a chip-in eagle to win the $30,000 first prize in a playoff, but even better: A 21-year-old college student gets a hole-in-one on a 367-YARD PAR 4 hole, a 6 million-to-one shot. In golf parlance, they call that an 'albatross.' Even my wife realizes this is something newsworthy.

"So, I'm looking all over the Sunday and Monday sports pages in the Register for news of the Waterloo Open. Would you believe? Of course, you would. Not one word. Not one 6-point result. Not one photo. Not one anything. I can understand the Register not staffing the event anymore; that's been the case for years. But ignoring it completely? I'm appalled, even in the jaded state I've eroded to about the Register over the past decade or so.

"Anyway, it's nice to have someone to relate this to.....someone who appreciates Register-screw-up tales. This has been therapeutic. Keep up the good work.



[COMMENTS: I enjoyed Hovelson's e-mail so much that I asked him if I could use it in a column. I also asked if he minded if I identified him. Here was his response: "Hell, yes, use my name. If you need more of my feelings regarding today's Register, let me know. My main complaints deal with their disregard of us outside the Golden Circle. It takes me no more than 7 minutes to read all I want of each day's state edition. Thanks." I then asked Hovelson to tell me how long he worked for the Register, as well as anything else he cared to write about. Here was that response: "I started at the Register on Jan. 15, 1968 and retired Jan. 31, 1996---28 years and 2 weeks. All of that time was spent at the Register's Waterloo News Bureau, which I opened for the Register when I began, and closed when I retired. I was the only one ever to have that job with the Register. My only absence from the bureau was for four months in the fall of 1993 when I volunteered to be a loaner at USA Today in Washington. It was a good experience. At the Waterloo Bureau, I covered every type of story imaginable [at one time, I did a personal assessment of all the things I had covered and conclued that the only one I hadn't covered was an earthquake. Some time after that Iowa had a tremor that, among other effects, did something to someone around Traer or somewhere down there and I wrote about it. Thus, I added earthquake to the list]. I even chipped in with a few sports assignments, which I enjoyed, but that really wasn't part of my job description. Job description! What's that? There never was one for any of the state bureaus, and that was fine with us. I suppose we spent one-fourth to one-third of our time covering stuff assigned by editors in Des Moines, the rest of the time coming up with our own stories. We [other bureaus were in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City, Ames and Sioux City, but not all in operation at the same time] always felt that our stories were much better than what Des Moines dreamed up for us to do. Of course we would feel that way. I really enjoyed my job. I joke about editors, but most of them were fine people and good newspaper men and women. A couple who will go nameless were not. David Witke was absolutely super. I'd walk through fire to cover something for him. Damn near did that one day when a gas pipeline blew up near Hudson, killing five guys. Randy Evans is an ex-Register state bureau chief who, because of that experience, could relate to our circumstances. I most enjoyed spot news -- cops and courts, etc. -- and those were the stories I'd jump on. I groused when D.M. would put me on some bong-clank story that interested hardly anyone and took me away from the action stuff. Times change. We geezers get more disgusted and grouchier by the day when we see what some newspapers, the Register especially, are doing these days, much of it I see as futile attempts to lure young people to the daily printed pages. I say, good luck with that, but wake up, publishers and editors: Traditionally, younger people have never been great newspaper readers, with some exceptions [those of us who always wanted to work for papers. I feel that newspapers need to go back to doing what they used to do, namely, simply telling readers what's going on out there. The Register -- at least, its state edition -- isn't doing that. Example: Recently, on a Monday I think, four Boy Scout leaders were electrocuted in Virginia at the international Scout jamboree. It happened in the early to mid-afternoon, Iowa time. The next morning's Register had not one word on this tragedy. The following day there was a lame follow-up leading with the fact that counselors were at the scene. This is newspapering? Hardly. Occasionally the Register does come up with a flicker of its glorious past [I strive to be fair] with in-depth investigative pieces and series. Witosky and Kauffman are great investigative reporters, as is Lee Rood. They come up with really fine stuff, but I have this nagging feeling that there are restrictions [monetary, of course] that inhibit their efforts at times. Also, Marc Hansen, Carlson, Borsellino, Yepsen and, of course, Fuson, do good work that I always look forward to reading. As far as I'm concerned, they're carrying the paper. But, a good newspaper has to have more than words typed by columnists. It needs good, solid, complete, timely and interesting coverage of, again, what's going on out there. I don't see a whole lot of that in the Register these days. At least, not in the Register that lands on my porch in Cedar Falls every morning. I used to think that while the Register's state edition is woefully lacking, its city edition must be a really fine product. I'm told that's not the case most of the time. As you well know, there is a number of us who worked many years -- sometimes even 'worked hard' -- at making the Register a damn good newspaper. In my case, I was concerned that it contine to be a first-rate 'state paper,' a reputation it had and deserved for decades. No other paper covered an entire state like the Register did. Of course, it cost money to do that -- having four or five state bureaus, for example, didn't come free despite the starvation wages paid to its chiefs. No, no, no.....just kidding about that. I always felt adequately compensated, and never complained about the pay. Now, of course, profit means everything. Good journalism be damned -- how much money can we make sending papers to Waterloo? Not all that much? Well, then, screw them. Close that bureau out there. Drop the second edition; put everyone beyond the Golden Circle on that early-deadline first edition, the one that has Tuesday's news in Thursday's or Friday's paper. I get furious when I think about all that [thanks a lot, Ron, for kicking up my blood pressure], but I'm really more sad than mad. It's a shame, a criminal shame no less, that the Register has been allowed to deteriorate to its present state. I know some of the editors today are proud of its appearance. No argument from me: The paper is prettier. But, as that little old lady used to say on TV, where's the beef? The Register, of course, is only following in the footsteps of many other once-great papers which now are locked into the cadence of "Make more money, make more money..." No one of us ever wanted the Register not to make money. Fools that we are today, I guess, we somehow think a profitable paper also can be a journalisticly good product. How naive can we be? I just scanned this rant and rave.....I'm betting you're wishing you'd never asked. It's been fun communicating with you, Ron. Would love to sit down with you sometime and do all this over a beer or martini. Let me know if you're ever headed this way.....maybe we can do it. --Jack]."


Here's Jane Burns' e-mail:


"Your comments about the newspaper biz of old with smoking and drinking and all made me think of a story you might enjoy. [And I'll add that I'm old enough to have set foot in the Office Lounge, but too young to have directed the composing room from there.]

"When I was in the hospital with my fun little Guillain-Barre Syndrome a few years back, the doctors were trying to find the virus that triggered it. My liver counts were screwed up and a liver specialist was called in to examine me. He returned the next day and said:

"'I should have asked you this yesterday when you told me you work at the
newspaper: Do you have a drinking problem? I know a lot of your co-workers.'

"[Incidentally, I responded that while I liked my beer, I didn't like it so much
that it would have destroyed my liver by age 34.]

"By the way, I'm back home in Wisconsin these days. I just took a job on the news desk at the Capital Times, the newspaper I grew up reading and one of the few independently owned, proudly progressive daily publications in the country these days. I have only been here a month, but I'm loving it.....

"Take care,



A couple of TV guys who are the best in the state and surrounding areas at what they do teamed up on this one. One man noticed something in a sports column written by Nancy Clark, and another sent me this e-mail about it:


"I like Nancy Clark, but in her rant against the accuracy of bloggers, she misused--or the editor did--the word 'voracity' when she meant 'veracity.' It
definitely equals 'irony.' Thought you'd get a kick out of that."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Thanks, guys. I do get a kick out of it. If I were Clark, I'd blame it on an editor, and obviously she did. The paper admitted the editor changed the word and the meaning of what Clark was trying to say. It's always the editor's fault!]


An e-mail from Marv Hiddleson of West Des Moines:

"Great article on Marc Hansen. I really hated to see him leave the sports
department. I got to know him at the Iowa basketball games, because he sat
about six rows behind our seats. He was always on the aisle of press row.

"I think of Marc often at work. When I sign on my computer, of course, I
type in my name, Marv. Many times in haste, it comes up as Marc. I have
often thought I should send an e-mail about this to Marc.

"Keep cool. Keep writing good articles on how the newspaper has lost its
zip. Hardly any good local coverage, in any length, anymore.

"--Marv Hiddleson"


A Quad-Cities man wrote this about Hansen:

"One of the best remaining things about the Register."


An Iowan vacationing in France had these thoughts on Hansen:

"Greetings from France. I am here with my entire family......our daughter is studying/working here this summer and so we used it as an excuse to visit her. We were in Paris five days and now have come to the Normandy area, where today we will visit the beaches and cemeteries.

"In the meantime, I was up early checking my e-mail and found your column about Marc. Ron, it is a very special column....even by your standards. And it is about a very special guy. Marc has produced as many quality inches as anyone in the last three decades. I still think of him as a fresh-faced young man with a keen intellect, and now only half of that remains!

"I often think of certain people as 'community treasures.' In this column we have one of them writing about another."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Both Marc and I thank you very much].


Bud Appleby of Des Moines writes:

"The Des Moines City Council voted on June 6 to turn the city animal shelter over to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.

"That switch took place on July 23.

"The Register reported it on Aug. 3.

"The paper's motto should be 'All The News That's Fit To Print -- Eventually.'"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: I guess it says something when the e-mailers write funnier stuff than what's in the paper].


A Central Iowan who is a Hawkeye fan sent this e-mail:


"The Iowa Shrine All-Star fotball game was played [recently] at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. I was looking forward to reading a report of the game in the Sunday Register to see how the University of Iowa recruits fared. However, after scouring all 10 pages, I could not find a story on the game. So I turned to the Sports Roundup page to get the stats and a score. But, there was not a stat recap or score of the game.

"If there had been a gay parade in Des Moines on Saturday, the news department would have covered the faggot fest with a blow-by-blow account, so to speak.

"How much further could The Newspaper That Iowa Used To Depend Upon degenerate?"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Actually, the paper did have an account of the game buried--as former Drake football coach Chuck Shelton used to say--"back by the tire ads." It turned out that the Iowa fan who complained that there was no story at all on the game had been delivered a paper by the circulation department that, for some unknown reason, didn't contain that page. That, folks, is unbelievable].


In an e-mail, a sports-savvy Iowan writes:

"The group of pups putting out the paper now don't even have a sense of Iowa traditions. One of the deepest baseball traditions in the state is Granville Spalding. In [a recent] listing of state baseball pairings, it lists Spalding [Greenville].

"Nice column on Hansen. God, I wish he were still doing a sports column. Keeler just irritates me.

"Peterson, Brown and McCool seem to be the only real 'pros' left."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Tradition? What's that anymore in the newspaper business--especially in Des Moines?]


It's easy to take a fungo bat and start whacking manager Dusty Baker and the pitiful Chicago Cubs these days, and that's exactly what Travis Simpson of Des Moines did in this e-mail to me:

"Hi, Ron,

"I love the Corey Patterson bits on your website. He's a big disappointment and he doesn't even realize that himself. The way the Cubs have played without him I don't think anyone would mind him spending the rest of the season in the minors. What is even more disappointing at times, though, is the excuse-of-a-manager the Cubs seem to have in Dusty Baker.

"My opinion of him has nearly done a 180 since that magical 2003 season as he's finally being exposed as somewhat of a fraud. How can a team with this much talent [even with all the injuries] look so bad at times? I've come to the conclusion it has a lot to do with Dusty and his constant lineup shuffles and in-game management. Why would you sit a rookie [Matt Murton] for two games after he went 4-for-5 at the plate against the Marlins the other week? Murton went 3-for-4 with a walk [recently] and I'll bet he sits again today. I realize he's doing a lot of it against lefties, but sometimes you just have to let the kids play and learn otherwise he'll never improve against right handers. It's not like he's playing behind a great player, as Todd Hollandsworth is far from adequate as a starter. Just like Jason Dubois before him and Ronny Cedeno currently, Dusty loves to play his journeyman veterans over capable young kids who need consistent time to be effective and it does no good for their confidence to play a good game and then sit the next three. Of all the playoff-caliber teams in the hunt right now, I can't think of another team that shuffles their lineup around as much as the Cubs seem to do. A running joke I've heard a few times on a Cubs message board I check up on once in awhile is it's almost as if Dusty spends half his time trying to find a way to get Jose Macias into the game just for him to basically contribute nothing.

"Keep up the great work!

"--Travis Simpson"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Dusty Baker is a hopeless case, and so are the Cubs. The only thing keeping the Cubs alive in recent weeks has been a faint hope of making it into the playoffs as the National League's wild-card team. Forget that now. Look for the Cubs to go into a tailspin that will have fans at Wrigley Field booing Baker and his troops. It's going to turn into a very, very ugly August and September at the old ballpark. Baker is an idiot when it comes to knowing or teaching fundamentals, and it's going to cost him his job--hopefully sooner rather than later].


Gordy Scoles is a former Iowan who now lives in South Carolina. He was a coach who now writes books. Here's his latest e-mail:


"I remember working at Iowa State when Earle Bruce was coaching and the physical education department went nuts when his salary was raised to $38,000. That was around 1978 or so. But salaries are just part of the supply and demand equation. Are Larry Brown or Phil Jackson worth $10-12 million a year? Supply and demand. I'm kind of glad that an old North Central Conference player like Phil Jackson makes that kind of dough. I also remember the late Pete Spoden [of State College of Iowa, now Northern Iowa] kicking his butt in a game at the old West Gym in Cedar Falls. Of course, Spoden kicked everyone's butt in those days. Sixty-five bucks for a [college football] game in Iowa? What happened to getting in for a dollar and sitting in the end zone? I watched a great Hawkeye-Kansas game in 1960 that way. That was a bargain to pay a dollar to watch John Hadl play. I had a personal technical breakthrough with the computer and the Greene football book is close to being finished. Two months ahead of time--maybe.

"--Gordy Scoles"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: College football has done a great job of eliminating Joe Six-Pack from the ticket-buying business. When a guy knows he has to spend $60 or $65 for a ticket, and wants to take his wife and three kids to the game, guess how many times he's going to Iowa City, Ames or any other place in the Big Ten or Big 12? Zero. Fortunately, ESPN and some of the other TV networks have done a fine job of providing plenty of football on the tube on Saturdays].


Former Iowan Richard Hayman sent me another thoughtful e-mail:

"Hello, Mr. Maly,

"The following thoughts came to mind after I stayed up late last night watching [again] the 2005 Capital One Bowl:

"I've been metering my reviewing of The Game, lest I become jaded. But it's interesting to note that despite knowing the outcome and having watched The Game at least 20 times [and the last play countless times], I still find myself near to tears with joy and pride with the accomplishments of last year's Iowa football team.

"You know, there are just a few reasons why I watch football. One, I am
fascinated by the dynamics of crowd behavior. There's nothing quite like
hearing 70,000-plus people screaming their heads off...contrasted with the
silences during which you can almost hear yourself breathe...the ebb and the
flow...just fascinating! Two, I like football. Personally, I stopped
playing football [defensive end] when I found myself turning into somewhat
of an animal. I mean, when I hit someone, I felt disgusted if they were
able to get up on their own. While I'm sometimes troubled by my enjoyment
of others acting out my throttled aggression, there is something about the
game that just keeps me coming back for more. And finally, I love the rare
breakout performances [team and individual], which are testament to our
competitive spirit and the amazing things we can do with these bodies of
ours. I'm almost certain it is this last element which inspired the great
world competitions of old. We're not as far removed from the Coliseum as
some would like to think. No matter what the sport, I find myself with a
profound appreciation for those moments when we can really experience the
'thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat'...those times we can sit
back and marvel at the athleticism and/or skill of a finely tuned human machine. I think of some NBA days gone by with Vinnie 'The Microwave' Johnson.

"Everyone knew when Vinnie came in the game he was going to get the ball and shoot, repeatedly. Yet, time after time, he stepped into the game and quickly heated things up.

"In much of the business world, focus tends to be more on managing expectations rather than on exceeding expectatiions. We do it because we don't want patrons to get accustomed to a level of service/quality which is not sustainable. But, breakout performances don't conform to the managing expectations methodlogy.

"What I'm really trying to say is -- and I hope it expresses the thoughts of
at least a few other fans: We recognize last year, and especially the Capital One Bowl, as one of the all-time great moments in sports, let alone college football. Thank you, Iowa [and LSU] for a classic. Our appetite has been whet for more. We will struggle for some time with managing our expectations.

"This is a new year and the Big Ten appears to be loaded. The Rose Bowl is
the BCS national championship game. What a year it would be to win the Rose
Bowl. Oops! See what I mean about managing expectations?

"Best regards,

"-Richard Hayman"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Good hearing from you again, Richard. I'd say you're doing a better job of managing your expectations than are a lot of Hawkeye fans who are confident Kirk Ferentz will automatically have his team in the national championship game. Some other teams--Iowa State, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin among them -- will have a lot to say about those expectations].


John Cavanaugh is a longtime Wisconsin fan who is surrounded by Iowa and Iowa State followers in central Iowa. He asks a question about the recent announcement that former Iowa player and assistant coach Bret Beliema will succeed Barry Alvarez [also an ex-Iowa assistant] as the Badgers' head coach in 2006:


"I would think he is a clone of Alvarez, don't you?

"--John Cavanaugh"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: John, I know that both Alvarez and Beliema are big-time competitors. At 35, Beliema is getting quite a break being named the next coach at a football-crazy place like Wisconsin. Even though Bret doesn't have head coaching experience, he's learned under some of the best (Hayden Fry, Bill Snyder and Alvarez). I expect him to do well].

Vol. 4, No. 364
Aug. 8, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Lofty Expectations 'Not Worth a Damn Thing;' Is It 'Adios, Bruce?'

Ames, Ia.—It was Dan McCarney’s day with reporters, and my question to him had to do with the high expectations a number of people have for his Iowa State football team.

I wondered how he felt about those expectations and if he had a handle on how his players would react to them.

“Good question, Ron,” said the man in his 11th year as the Cyclones’ coach. "How the players will react, I don’t know. People still aren’t sure about the Cyclones, and I shared that with the kids yesterday.

“I pulled out a couple or three [preseason football] magazines and showed them to the players. We talked about it, then I threw the magazines behind me on the stage up here [in the Jacobson Building].

“You know what it’s worth? Not a damn thing. This is the preseason.”

I’m picking McCarney’s team to win the Big 12 North title and to have an 8-3 regular-season record after going 7-5, including a 17-13 victory over Miami of Ohio in the Independence Bowl, last year. Eight-and-three will certainly land Iowa State in a nice bowl game in December.

“We’ve seen the magazines picking us as high as winning the Big 12 North, just as you mentioned,” McCarney said. “I’ve seen magazines listing five different teams winning the Big 12 North, which means they think we’re all mediocre and there isn’t a real good team up here yet in the North.

“I’ve seen magazines mention five, six and seven of my guys for people to keep their eye on. I’ve seen magazines that list the top 35 players, and no Iowa State player was even mentioned.

“People just aren’t sure. It’s not like the whole country has a groundswell of support that ‘you’d better get your butt to Ames and watch the Cyclones because they’ve got it all figured out.’ That’s not happening yet.”

But McCarney is confident his team will be improved.

“Should we be a better football team?” he said. “ There’s no doubt in my mind we should be. Do we want to pick up where we left off last year when we were the second-most improved team, in college football? No question. Do we have some question marks? No question.

“Do we have some guys who everybody in this room can put their paycheck on and say, ‘If I was a betting man or woman—which you may not be and I’m not…..don’t get me with a [Rick] Neuheisel. I don’t bet, but I know who I’m going into game-day with at a number of positions.

I like the leadership, chemistry, accountability, togetherness and heavier on this football team.


A man -- a very smart man, by the way -- called this afternoon to ask if I'd "heard anything about Van De Velde."

I assume he meant Bruce Van De Velde, the athletic director at Iowa State.

"No, I said. "I haven't heard anything. I was in Ames yesterday for football press day, but I didn't see Van De Velde. However, I can't say I was looking for him, either."

Van De Velde reads my columns--or at least someone sends them to him, especially when I ask why he wasn't at one of McCarney's press conferences--so I'm sure I'll be hearing from him now that he knows I'm looking for him. He called me last year at about this time, and we had a nice chat.

Then, again, it's Friday. Sometimes Friday is a good day for news to occur.

Obviously, nothing happened on the Van De Velde front Friday. But this e-mail showed up on my computer at 10:30 p.m. Sunday:

DATE: AUGUST 7, 2005


Interesting timing.

The Iowa State press conference, which certainly could be to announce that Van De Velde will be leaving as the Cyclones' athletic director, will be on the same day coach Kirk Ferentz will be showing off his University of Iowa football team a couple of hours east in Iowa City.

Hey, it's got to be something big when Iowa State hurries to schedule a press conference on the same day the coach and the star player--quarterback Drew Tate--of the nation's 10th-ranked football team are trying to take center stage in Iowa City!


Iowa State defensive end Jason Berryman, Iowa State's troubled defensive end, has been cleared to practice with the team--starting Friday. McCarney confirmed that Berryman had met the necessary academic and personal criteria he needed to achieve to earn a spot on the Iowa State roster.

"He'll start out as a fifth-stringer and see if he can work his way up," McCarney said of Berryman.

"This is not about Jason Berryman and Dan McCarney, or Bret Meyer or Stevie Hicks or Nick Leaders. This is about a football team. A lot of people don't realize that."


Iowa, which was picked as high as second and third in some early preseason rankings, is a more-sensible No. 10 in the first USA Today coaches' poll. The Hawkeyes were No. 8 in the final poll last season after their sizzling victory over Louisiana State in the Capital One Bowl.

Iowa State is among the teams receiving votes in the coaches' preseason poll. The Cyclones received six votes.

Iowa State's Dan McCarney is listed as one of the coaches who vote in the weekly poll. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz doesn't vote. He said he has never been asked to vote in the poll, adding that he would turn down the opportunity if asked.


Rank Team (first-place votes) Record Points Final 2004 rank

1. Southern California (60) 13-0 1,547 1
2. Texas (2) 11-1 1,405 4
3. Tennessee 10-3 1,259 15
4. Michigan 9-3 1,242 12
5. Oklahoma 12-1 1,223 3
6. LSU 9-3 1,109 16
7. Virginia Tech 10-3 1,090 10
8. Miami (Fla.) 9-3 1,080 11
9. Ohio State 8-4 1,033 19
10. IOWA 10-2 1,014 8
11. Florida 7-5 910 25
12. Florida State 9-3 879 14
13. Georgia 10-2 838 6
14. Louisville 11-1 758 7
15. Auburn 13-0 723 2
16. Purdue 7-5 616 NR
17. Texas A&M 7-5 366 NR
18. Arizona State 9-3 304 20
19. Boise State 11-1 303 13
20. California 10-2 293 9
21. Texas Tech 8-4 247 17
22. Boston College 9-3 237 21
23. Virginia 8-4 210 23
24. Alabama 6-6 194 NR
25. Pittsburgh 8-4 193 NR


Fresno State (9-3) 188; Oregon (5-6) 145; Utah (12-0) 103; Georgia Tech (7-5) 88; Wisconsin (9-3) 79; North Carolina State (5-6) 69; Bowling Green (9-3) 63; Penn State (4-7) 44; Colorado (8-5) 40; Minnesota (7-5) 34; UCLA (6-6) 24; Texas-El Paso (8-4) 22; Nebraska (5-6) 21; Kansas State (4-7) 20; South Carolina (6-5) 16; Notre Dame (6-6) 13; West Virginia (8-4) 12; Wyoming (7-5) 12; Clemson (6-5) 9; New Mexico (7-5) 9; Arizona (3-8) 8; Northern Illinois (9-3) 8; Southern Mississippi (7-5) 7; Toledo (9-4) 7; Washington State (5-6) 7; IOWA STATE (7-5) 6; Michigan State (5-7) 6; Memphis (8-4) 5; Washington (1-10) 4; Miami (Ohio) (8-5) 3; Maryland (5-6) 2; UAB (7-5) 1; Duke (2-9) 1; Kansas (4-7) 1.


The USA Today Board of Coaches is made up of 62 head coaches at Division I-A institutions. All are members of the American Football Coaches Association. The board for the 2005 season: Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin; Chuck Amato, N.C. State, Gary Barnett, Colorado; Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech; Mike Bellotti, Oregon; Phil Bennett, SMU; Jack Bicknell, Louisiana Tech; Larry Blakeney, Troy; Bobby Bowden, Florida State; Tommy Bowden, Clemson; Jeff Bower, Southern Miss; Gregg Brandon, Bowling Green; Art Briles, Houston; Rich Brooks, Kentucky; Mack Brown, Texas; Watson Brown, UAB; John Bunting, North Carolina; Lloyd Carr, Michigan; Larry Coker, Miami (Fla.); Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State; Darrell Dickey, North Texas; Bill Doba, Washington State; Randy Edsall, Connecticut; Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M; Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee; Joe Glenn, Wyoming; Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State; Walt Harris, Stanford; Ken Hatfield, Rice; Dan Hawkins, Boise State; Pat Hill, Fresno State; Terry Hoeppner, Indiana; Brady Hoke, Ball State; Skip Holtz, East Carolina; Brian Kelly, Central Michigan; Rocky Long, New Mexico; Sonny Lubick, Colorado State; Dan McCarney, Iowa State; Andy McCollum, Middle Tennessee; Shane Montgomery, Miami (Ohio); Joe Novak, Northern Illinois; Houston Nutt, Arkansas; Tom O'Brien, Boston College; Gary Patterson, TCU; Bobby Petrino, Louisville; Mark Richt, Georgia; Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia; Greg Schiano, Rutgers; Howard Schnellenberger, Florida Atlantic; John L. Smith, Michigan State; Frank Solich, Ohio; Steve Spurrier, South Carolina; Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Jeff Tedford, California; Joe Tiller, Purdue; Dick Tomey, San Jose State; Jim Tressel, Ohio State; Tommy Tuberville, Auburn; Bobby Wallace, Temple; Randy Walker, Northwestern; Charlie Weis, Notre Dame; Tyrone Willingham, Washington.

The AFCA prohibits coaches from voting for schools on major NCAA probation.

Vol. 4, No. 363
Aug. 4, 2005

As Long As We're All Having Fun, Let's Name Witosky the Editor

Hey, the fun just keeps happening at the local paper.

Last week, it was s bicycle ride. Today, people are taking bets on who their next boss might be.

In the old days, the betting would have taken place at the Office Lounge across the alley.

"I'll take my Pulitzer Prize-winning editor over your Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter anytime," a guy nursing his second bottle of Miller's would tell a woman on her third Bud Light.

Today's wagering might be in the restrooms, where there'd be lots of whispering going on, from one urinal to another.

"How many 'Best of Gannetts' does your guy have?" they'll be asking.

The new editor, whomever he or she is, will be replacing Paul Anger, 56.

Anger, who has been the Register's editor for just three years, has been named to a similar job at the Detroit Free Press.

Tell me now, is going to Detroit your idea of a promotion?

Hell, maybe it's a joke.

After all, Ken Fuson--the guy who wrote the local story--is the paper's humor columnist.

All I can say is good luck to ol' Paul in Detroit. My advice to him is to watch where he walks. He certainly wouldn't want to step on Jimmy Hoffa's grave.

Or into it.

I'll be sending get-well wishes.

The local paper is going to paint as bright a picture of Anger as it can to make this move to Detroit sound like a nice deal.

But they can talk all they want about the local paper winning "Best of Gannett" awards. Old-timers who remember the Pulitzer Prizes picked off by Clark Mollenhoff, Jim Risser and others would like to see the local paper occasionally be just the best in Iowa.

Let's be truthful. Circulation at the local paper kept nosediving while Anger was the editor, and the bleeding is expected to continue under the new boss.

And it's been nosediving, and will continue to nosedive, in Detroit, too.

The questions newsroom people here are asking now are, "Who's my next boss going to be?" and "Will I be around to work for him or her?"

All I can say is, check your pension plan and your 401-K. Maybe Cityview is hiring.

I'm sure there will be a movement to hire a woman for Anger's job. The local paper hasn't had a female editor since Geneva Overholser. She finally got fed up with Gannett and sought greener pastures in more ways than one.

Where's Diane Graham when the local paper needs her? She quit [or was told to quit] her four-day-a-week job as managing editor/staff development [whatever the hell that was] a few months ago. Maybe they can wake her up and see if she wants Anger's job.

Rekha Basu?

Get serious.

Nancy Clark would be a much better choice. Smart. Caring. Level-headed thinker. Has held a number of newsroom jobs here and elsewhere.

Dennis Ryerson, of course, was a flop in the editor's job. He's now in Indianapolis, and that's a great place for him.

Don't worry, they'd never bring him back.

I'm thinking columnist Marc Hansen would be a good candidate for the job. He made a lot of sense and had a lot of the answers when he spoke to the local paper's retirees a while back. He could be the editor and also write columns.

Hell, why not Fuson? Good writer, smiles a lot. He could make it fun, which is a word that hasn't been used on the fourth floor for a long time.

Sports editor Bryce Miller might have a shot at it. They tell me he applies for all the other jobs in the newsroom.

A better candidate than him, though, would be investigative reporter Tom Witosky. He's got both newsside and sports experience, knows where a lot of bodies are buried and would run a tight ship.

He deserves an interview, and right now is my leader in the clubhouse.

Stier told Fuson that managing editor Richard Tapscott, 57, who has worked at the paper since 1998, will take over Anger's role in the newsroom until a new editor is named.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Tapscott.

Don't look for him to be on the short list of candidates.

The editor at the Iowa City Press-Citizen [another Gannett paper] has a better shot at getting an interview.

Maybe the Press-Citizen editor and sportswriter Pat Harty can be sent to the local paper in exchange for two people from the farm department and a reporter from "Juice" to be named later.

Rumor has it that interviews for the job will be held in the newsroom, starting next week. Further interviews are scheduled to be conducted in the local paper's booth at the State Fair. Telephone calls are being accepted, as long as they're not collect. To be helpful to job-seekers outside the paper's Golden Circle area, I suggest you call 1-800-247-5346, which is a toll-free number.

Meanwhile, a memo to Anger: Have a great time in Detroit. And keep an eye on who's following you.

It might be Big Daddy from Gannett. He casts a long shadow.