Friday, April 14, 2006

More Sad Reading for 'People Who Grew Up With the Des Moines Register Spread Out On the Floor of the Living Room Every Morning'

"Doug from Davenport," a man who knows his newspapers, provided some interesting reading with this e-mail:

"Ron, go to and do a search for Des Moines Register. There is a segment in morning edition about how the quality of the Register has suffered under Gannett and how newspapers, in general, have lost their way because of changing society, including the Internet, blogs and 24-hour TV news. Very interesting and kind of sad for people who grew up with the Des Moines Register spread out on the floor of the living room every morning. But, I have to say, the Register is hammering the heck out of the CIETC mess and people should be going to jail soon."

"Doug from Davenport"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Same old story, Doug. Everyone takes his or her shot at the Des Moines Register these days, and now it's National Public Radio's turn. Greg Allen writes that "Iowa's largest newspaper, The Des Moines Register, used to be nationally recognized for its excellence. A lot has changed at the paper since it was bought by Gannett, a national media company, 20 years ago. A disgruntled reader has begun a campaign aimed at forcing the Register to raise its standards." As is the case with most other newspapers nationally, the Register's circulation is on a steady decline, with the end nowhere in sight. A guy who knows about newspaper circulation told me a couple of years ago that he expected the Register to eventually level off at a daily circulation of about 90,000. The Gannett Co. has put unreal pressures on the Register's newsroom bosses, many of whom weren't equipped for their jobs in the first place. As "Doug in Davenport" points out, the Internet and cable TV can deliver the news better and quicker than a daily newspaper, and young people quit buying and reading newspapers a long time ago. I was fortunate to be in the newspaper business during its golden age, and I don't envy anyone who is trying to be happy in a newsroom these days. By the way, Bud Appleby of Des Moines also called my attention to the National Public Radio item about the Register. "This is an audio. You have to click on 'listen,'" Appleby said. I asked him if there was a way that I could get a printed version of the story. "There is, but you have to buy it," Appleby replied. "There is a button to click to buy a transcript. I think it's about 4 bucks." No thanks. I'm not spending $4 to find out again how bad the paper is].

* * *

From Iowa fan Mark Robinson:

"Hi, Ron;

"Well, the exodus of Iowa basketball players continues, for one reason or another. Today's announcements pretty much decimated a whole class of recruits.

"Alford keeps telling us in the media that things are going very well. He's happy with the direction of the program.

"So much so, that he's releasing an assistant and the sirector of basketball operations, and two recruits are bolting. Perhaps Alford, like the Iowa fans, feels that the next basketball season could be brutal.

"And then there is the small matter of Tim Buckley announcing that he may be going to Iowa before the Iowa athletic department mentioned that there was a job opening. In Buckley's defense, the job postings already were up on for the world to read.

"I'm not so sure that Alford's UI PR machine is doing him any favors nowadays. That, and the fact that he never does any PR favors for himself is troubling.

"Keep writing,"

Mark Robinson

* * *

Robinson followed with another e-mail about Hawkeye basketball after Jim Ecker of the Cedar Rapids Gazette interviewed Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby. Here it is:

"Sorry to keep bothering you, Ron.

"Ecker got Bowlsby to, apparently, go nuts.

"If you can access the C.R. Kazoo's article in which Jim quotes Bowlsby, it will be worth the trip.

"Bowlsby, on the record, used the words Bullshit AND Horseshit in response to an Ecker question.

"When he further pressured Bowlsby, he replied by saying: 'Why don't you go ask Steve?'

"Yikes! There's got to be some sort of meltdown going on. Perhaps Bob is giving Steve all the rope he needs to hang himself. Who knows?"


[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: It's good to know that Ecker, who has always been a hard-nosed reporter, hasn't crawled into a cave. I've always liked his work, and he's had his share of run-ins with coaches and other athletic department officials over the years. Former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry tore into him a number of years ago at a Tuesday press conference that was a classic. But it wasn't a one-way street. Ecker shot back at Fry as often as the coach tore into him. In a Wednesday story in the Gazette this week, Ecker wrote, "It was a bizarre day at the university, and it included Bob Bowlsby, the school's director of athletics, using barnyard epithets in response to questions from The Gazette.....Bowlsby declined to explain why [Iowa assistant coaches] [Greg] Lansing and [Rich] Walker were fired.....If you want to talk with somebody about it, talk with them. The coaches report to Steve. Just as the football coaches report to Kirk [Ferentz]. If you want to talk with Steve about it, call Steve.....Bowlsby declined to explain why Alford decided to make major changes in his staff after a successful year, and also declined to say if he's going to give Alford a contract extension, a topic that's been lingering for months. When we have any news to give you, we'll give it to you," he said tersely.....Bowlsby disagreed that fans who pay $26 a ticket are entitled to know what's going on with the head coach and the program. And he stgrongly disagreed that institutions partially funded by taxpayer money have an obligation to tell fans if the head coach's contract will be extended or not. "Don't give me that horse[shit]," he said. "That's a bunch of bull[shit]."

* * *

Al Schallau checked in with this e-mail:


"I have to take issue with your description that Iowa was upset in the NCAA tournament by "lowly Northwestern State." That was a good team that beat Iowa. They also pulled off one of the most gutsy second half comebacks in NCAA basketball history.

"Northwestern State finished the season with a 26-8 record, and a 15-1 record in the Sunland Conference. They also won all three games in the Sunland Conference tournament.

"Northwestern State beat Iowa, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Oregon State, and gave West Virginia a very good challenge for about 35 minutes before losing, 67-54, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.


Al Schallau

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Al, the reason I called Northwestern State "lowly" was because it was seeded No. 14 in the NCAA's Big Dance and Big Ten tournament champion Iowa was seeded No. 3. The Hawkeyes' loss to Northwestern State was the biggest shocker of the first round. No. 3 seeds are supposed to beat No. 14 seeds, and Iowa failed miserably. There was no excuse for the embarrassing loss].

* * *

After I wrote about the front-page advertising in the Des Moines Register, Rev. David P. Mumm sent this e-mail:

"Hi, Ron,

"I enjoyed your article today. I looked at the advertising on page 1 question as simply a business decision made by the paper. As with any decision they make, some will like it, others will not. As to my not subscribing to the paper, I do read some sections every day online. But, by reading online I don't end up having to bundle and carry out a stack of papers every week or two.

"Have a great Holy Week."

David P. Mumm
Senior Pastor
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and School

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Lots of other people are doing what Rev. Mumm is doing -- reading the paper on the computer. That's one reason daily circulation is falling so fast].