Sunday, April 16, 2006

'Docile in D.M.' Underwhelmed By Register's Early Tornado Coverage; In the Old Days, They'd Have 'Gotten Reporters Out Of the Office Lounge'

"Docile in Des Moines," a man who spent many a day and night in the Des Moines Register newsroom, had some things to say about the newspaper's early coverage of the mess in Iowa City:


"Thanks for providing the NPR thing [on how bad the Register has gotten under Gannett Co. ownership]. It’s worth $2 to me should you need reimbursement!

"Did you notice the 'coverage' of the Iowa City tornado today? Not too bad, all things considered, since only one reporter worked it out of the Des Moines office. But in the old days, the Register would have had 10 people working the phones from Des Moines. If they didn’t have 10 folks in the newsroom when the twister hit, they would have gone to the Office Lounge and hustled the folks back to work. And they would have come willingly. (I know that, because I have witnessed it!) They would have rousted the Iowa City bureau chief and hustled [photographer] Harry [Baumert] down from Cedar Rapids. With 25,000 plus students, tons of alums and more folks interested in Iowa City than just about anyplace in Iowa, it would have taken an act of God to keep The Register from having a line story on that calamity. And you can bet your ass City edition would have been on the streets of Iowa City this morning. My guess is that Iowa City didn’t know about a tornado if they relied on the Register for coverage today."

Docile in Des Moines

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Dear Docile, this was another prime example of how they don't do things the way they used to at 8th and Locust. Old-timers keep hoping things will change, but they won't. That's why National Public Radio became the latest to criticize what's going on at the paper. By the way, Docile, I didn't have to pay the $4 fee to get a transcript of the National Public Radio report. An understanding reader sent me the text. So save your $2. I'd tell you to spend it at the Office Lounge -- if it was still there.].

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"Hawkeye from Harlan," a man who gets around, also had the Iowa City tornado on his mind when he sent this e-mail to Jim Zabel:

"Hey, Z, you'll love this story. As I told you on the phone yesterday afternoon, we dined as planned with [some folks] at a new downtown restaurant called Joseph's in Iowa City.

"After we had finished eating, and a storm was raging outside, we were all sent to the basement because a tornado had been spotted south of town by the airport.

"Some of the diners had too much to drink. One came over to [former Iowa play-by-play announcer] Ron Gonder and said, 'You look just like Ron Gonder!' When told that he was, she said, 'My God, I can't believe I'm talking to Ron Gonder.'

"Steve Alford and his new coaching staff were standing about 10 feet away, and I asked if she was an Iowa basketball fan. Her husband snarled, 'Let me tell you what I think about that."\'

"I put an arm around his shoulder and said, 'Not too loud because Alford is right over there.' His wife said, 'My God, I can't believe I'm here with Steve Alford!'

"Then someone smelled gas, and we decided it might be safer outside than in the basement. When we got out the door the town was dark and looked like it had been hit by . . . well, a tornado.

"But after a fair amount of astonishment and confusion, we managed to find my car in a darkened ramp and got home OK. We survived to eat another day.

"And the best part of the story is, in all the confusion WE NEVER PAID OUR BILL ! ! !"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Zabel [right] became a legend when he was the Iowa football and basketball play-by-play announcer for WHO-radio in Des Moines. He'd wander around a dining room until he found someone to buy him a drink [or several] and a meal. Indeed, he'd be proud of what happened to "Hawkeye from Harlan" and his group. "Z" will probably be at the restaurant next week].

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I see Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker is talking like outfielder Felix Pie of the Iowa Cubs might be called up after the injury last night to Angel Pagan.

Baker made his comments to Chicago reporters after the Cubs' 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh last night.

I think bringing Pie to the bigs at this time is a dumb idea. Jacque Jones is due back in the lineup Monday at Los Angeles. How much playing time is Pie going to get when that happens?

Leave Pie with the I-Cubs and bring him up when the Cubs fall out of the race -- something that'll happen sooner rather than later as long as Baker is the manager.

[AND FINALLY....Baker is obviously reading everything I write. The Cubs didn't call up Pie today, but promoted right-handed relief pitcher David Aardsma from the I-Cubs. Aardsma hadn't allowed a run in seven innings for Iowa. The addition gives Chicago 12 pitchers].

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A Joyous Easter to everyone!