Friday, September 12, 2008

Reality Check for the Board

Board Members:

Below are the three latest comments from my blog on Ms. Elia.

You should all have a blog to exchange views with the public so that you will have the benefit of that reality check. You enter ROSSAC and become a part of an alternate culture that does not coincide with the real world outside ROSSAC's doors.

I read through the boxes of the Erwin files with amazement.

What is clear was that the board and administration had constructed their own little world and obeyed its artificial reality, not that of the real world, where students, teachers, and the public existed and operated in the larger, truer reality of real life.

Dr. Lennard set the limits of that artificial reality, and all the ROSSAC Klingons obeyed it. If Dr. Lennard said the whistleblower Erwin of the crime going on inside ROSSAC was crazy and was telling lies and that ROSSAC was a perfect world where there was no crime because all the ROSSAC androids were too perfect to engage in or allow crime in their little world, then all the ROSSAC denizens took that template view as reality and acted accordingly.

That's what the present board members are doing in a copy of the previous ROSSAC world: living ROSSAC reality, not the real thing that unfolds outside ROSSAC doors.

Voters did not elect you to go into a ROSSAC trance and not do your jobs to serve the public expectation that you will protect and promote the schools; nor did voters elect you to go into a group trance and pretend that the world is what Ms. Elia's interests says it is and live, act, and breathe that false world.

lee drury de cesare


Anonymous said...

The Superintendent here should step down and leave. It would be better off for everyone. No one likes her except the school board. Parents can't stand her. Teachers can't stand her. Most students don't know who she is, but if they kept up with the administrative decisions they would be mad at her. I suppose one positive in her is that she must have a very thick skin, because it is hard to go through life with everyone hating you. She has that problem.
3:43 AM
Anonymous said...

Elia apologized to a parent at the recent town hall meeting out in Brandon. A little girl was dropped off at a bus stop when she wasn't supposed to take the bus home, and bus drivers aren't supposed to drop off a kindergartener unless a parent is there to meet the child. The mother rushed home after trying to pick her up and found her daughter crying. When the mother confronted Elia at the town hall meeting, Elia actually apologized and said it shouldn't have happened. There are a LOT of things that shouldn't have happened in Hillsborough's schools, and in a way Elia was apologizing for her incompetence. She needs to apologize to everyone in the county, not just this mother, but at least she is starting to realize how incompetent she is. Maybe she will step down one day so that the county will no longer suffer under her care.
5:13 PM
Anonymous said...

Does Elia have a twin? SCARY thought!!!!!
6:26 PM

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Rhetorically Rag-tag Times Issues Its School-Board Picks

Mr. Tash:

I read with dismay that the St. Petersburg Times endorsed Carol Kurdell for the school board in Hillsborough County instead of her opponent Steve Gorham.

I have attended school board meetings for two years after a friend who is a school media specialist suffered Professional Affairs framing because Ms. Elia’s buddy at the county Bean asked her to nail this unfortunate for his speaking out against the gay-bashing ordinance of Rhonda Storms that stifled gays’ county library privileges.

Bart Birdsall, my friend, had written emails from his home computer to the head of the county library, Joe Stines, complaining about Stines’s enforcing the ban on gays in the library. Both Bart and Stines are gay. This cowardly twit Stines complained to his boss instead of responding to a citizen. Elia and Bean colluded to quell free speech by punishing a school employee who practiced it on his home computer.

Ms. Elia uses the Professional Standards office, headed by former home-ec scholar Linda Kipley, to cow such employees as Bart or any who speak up. Ms. Elia does not allow opposition to her thuggish methods as superintendent. She sends anyone’s name who speaks out to the Professional Standards cell block with the object of framing that person so that she can justify firing malcontents. Hers is the kind of personality that delights in firing some subordinate in an economic downturn.

Ms. Kurdell has been a board member for sixteen years and has not opposed anything the administration puts before her to rubberstamp. She is usually entirely silent in board meetings. But she broke her silence recently to jump on April Griffin, the most recent addition to the board, for Griffin’s asking that an item come off the consent agenda for review.

The consent agenda rolls by the board on its conveyer belt unquestioned by any of the board. To ask for review of an item equated in the Kurdell board potted-plant doxology as spitting in the face of the Yahweh superintendent.

As is the case with the teachers, the board knows nothing of Ms. Elia’s surprise moves such as her recent purchase of the $30-million-dollar Spring program without asking for the teachers’ input into the buy since they have to implement it. The board never opposes Ms. Elia but ratifies whatever she puts before them with a bovine docility. They should wear signs saying Bossy, the cow, or “Feel free to kick me, Ms. Elia.”

Kurdell’s jumping on Griffin concerns board policy of approval of no-bid contracts that frees the superintendent to award no-bid contracts to buddies such as the former just-retired school administrator of the contract Griffin asked to examine in the public hearing. Ms. Elia doesn’t give anybody else the chance to bid.

The board attorney, Tom Gonzalez, waxes rhapsodical in favor of this situation because his firm has held the board-attorney sinecure for 37 years after a good-ol’-boy-mutual-slap-on-the-back no-bid contract.

Kurdell barked at Griffin that she was “disloyal” to the staff by asking to review the conditions of the former-administrator no-bid contract parked on the consent agenda. Candy Olson, who vies with Jennifer Falliera for the board’s most inane member, chimed in to applaud Kurdell’s chiding Griffin with the moldy epithet, “You go, girl,” looking around with an expression of self-satisfaction that signaled she thought she had produced the bon mot of the century, at which the Hamlet graveyard clowns would eat their hearts out with envy for her competing repartee fluency were she to know that there were such things as Hamlet graveyard clowns in literacy history.

Susan Valdes was the only board member who defended Griffin’s wish to explore no-bid contracts. The vote was two to four to continue this sluice gate of contract money to buddies and former administrators. Only Griffin and Valdes demurred. The attack from Kurdell did the intended job, however. Griffin has not since uttered a word about reviewing something on the consent agenda.

The worst thing about Kurdell’s sixteen years on the board is her collusion in the torture of Erwin, the whistleblower guy. In that permanent blot on the board’s failure to protect innocent employees, one sees the obscene collusion of the board with the administration to ignore Erwin’s complaints about outright stealing from the schools, bid rigging, and the funding of ill-built schools that leaked and had water incursions from the time the last nail was hammered. The board signed the checks for these. That fact suggests to the inquiring mind that someone on the board was getting bribe money. Dr. Earl the Pearl Lennard retired and enjoys the éclat of being one of the Bay Area’s ornaments of civic life in spite of his being the chief torturer of Erwin.

The St. Petersburg Times’s cavalier endorsement of Kurdell without knowing her history or that of the Hillsborough County schools and apparently not caring about either speaks ill for the concern and competence of the Times in terms of its care for the importance of its recommendation of board members at election time. This endorsement is a blow to the storied rectitude of the Fourth Estate.

The Times Pooh-Bahs in their editorial aeries who made this recommendation don’t appear to know much about the schools, and one doubts that these Olympian ignoramuses have the sense or the humility to talk to the reporter who covers the Hillsborough County school board.

I have always suspected that the flaccid, pusillanimous editors in charge of the reporters who cover the school board rein in any accurate reporting of the situation or any forceful diction in nailing the Didoes of school board. This cowardice and limp prose explain why the print press is going down the tube: its rhetorical gruel in accounts of civic life that wraps the incompetents in office in the cotton wadding of press circumlocution bores readers to death and does the community that expects press vigilance—especially with the schools—no good.

The slovenly execution of the school-board recommendations for Hillsborough County shows that press glory is gone with the wind and that the online news will bury the Times in short order.

I will send a copy of this rebuke to the Columbia Journalism Review along with a copy of the speech of yours that I edited for numerous grammar-punctuation errors.

I understand that you graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Indiana or some such bucolic outback of hayseed scholarship. I graduated summa cum laude , Phi Beta Kappa from a New York university at which most of the students were Jews, who esteem scholarship highly , who thus would cut your heart out for a grade, and all of whom earn or murder for Honor Point Ratios that insure admission to the flossiest universities’ graduate schools. I missed assassination by being the Jewish students’ favorite shicksa because I was able to survive class rigors despite having four children under five to care for clinging to my skirts at the same time I earned my baccalaureate.

I won’t turn you in to Indiana U’s Phi Beta Kappa rubes this time for your snooty habit of not attending Bay Area PBK powwows, but that leniency does not mean that I will not at some future dereliction on your part to the community you are supposed to serve responsibly write a condemnation to your alma mater‘s PBK in the grain basket of the country to strike you off its list of scholarly luminaries amongst the fields of waving grain.

Don’t publish recommendations for the school board unless you and the members of your candidate-review Star Chamber bestir yourselves to acquaint yourselves with the facts about the candidates about whom you fling recommendations around so blithely.

Do that again, and I shall be in contact with PBK Indiana Sweat Lodge.

lee drury de cesare

Mr. Graham, Pulitzer Prize Committee Chair:

Had I known in 2006 that Paul Tash got the nod to join the Pulitzer Committee, I would have protested the appointment on two grounds: sexism and grammar.

Sexism: The committee’s female membership is 5 out of 17: 30 percent. Women are more than fifty percent of the population. They should have nine members on the committee and the guys eight. Fair is fair.

Mr. Tash’s addition increased the disparity and not only that: his newspaper masthead is a male locker room. I ran a study a few years ago, and most of the front-page bylines were male. And this misogyny comes from a man with two daughters.

Besides, Mr. Tash’s essay below shows he has not mastered the basic tool of his trade: writing. He messes up commas, stumbles into subject-verb-agreement felonies, and writes in a rhetorical style that sounds as if he just stepped off the bus from his natal state of Indiana. I don’t know if Le Paul aims to mimic faux Noble Savage or whether he thinks his is a beguiling untutored style.

Mr. Tash graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University. I think that fact does Indiana University no credit. I understand that all you have to do to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Indiana is to pick the hayseed out of your teeth by your junior year.

Indiana University has a Phi Beta Kappa chapter despite its being the site of that movie about the Cutters and the university soi-disant football aristocratic knights of the Indiana Round Table—God knows how it got a chapter with the PBK snoots that infest the national office.

I don’t see Mr. Tash at any PBK hoedowns in the Tampa Bay area with the forlorn souls that stand as the local intellectuals that leaveneth the whole lump in these know-nothing badlands, the denizens of which inhabit Mr. Tash’s readership lists.

I haven’t heard that Le Tash has put in a good word for USF to get a PBK chapter even though one is sure that it deserves one as much as Indiana University does--probably more.

I infer that the PBK leaders went to Indiana in an antic mood and awarded the University of Indiana a chapter as a lark because they were liquored up on a Lost Weekend. PBK refuses pleas from USF for a chapter, the snotty utter toads.

So the area’s university stands bereft of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter because carpetbagger Tash refuses to throw his weight around and lobby for one. What good is it to be the Times publisher and now member of the flossy Pulitzer sexist board if you can’t help the home team get a PBK chapter for Pete’s sake?

Don’t let the LA Times’s Scott Timberg’s pretensions (below) of drama expertise rattle you. Never kowtow to an intellectual-manqué who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow in grammar and punctuation when he lectures you on drama aesthetics. Le Scott is the old miles gloriosus of Greek dramaturgy, the blowhard stock character.

Make a pledge to run any future Pulitzer committee- member appointments by me because I can see from the lopsidedness of the male-female count that you can’t handle this issue.

I infer this sexist statistic is a dimension of male Pulitzer male performance anxiety. I shall forward the dilemma to the CDC for official investigation of Pulitzer sexual malaise and also for a review of the Cialis-Viagra conglomerates, which have an interest in outcomes. These investigations are bound to reveal that if PBK headquarters committee men imbibe Cialis or Viagra p.o, IV, or subq, they will make decisions on the sex of members to induct with more tranquil psyches and thus right the sexual disparity before the ice in the North Pole melts from green gases.

Meanwhile, you must send Le Paul Tash to remedial grammar-punctuation training as a condition of his remaining on the committee, and you must not trust Mr. William Safire to instruct him on commas. I did my best to teach Mr. Safire comma lore when he was the token-conservative columnist at the NYT, where he reigned as in-house intellectual and saboteur of commas. He suffers invincible ignorance in the area, and y’all should kick him off the committee to make room for another woman.

Mr. Tash's wife is an English teacher whom he could have consulted to correct his literacy problems. But men of Tash's ilk think we wimmenfolk are for childbearing, slopping the hogs, and holding up a mirror to them to reflect them twice their size.

I ask that you give a copy of this missive to all members of the Pulitzer committee to fast and pray over.

I expect the five women on the committee to be Aunt Toms as were the legions who joined the male misogynists in calling the suffragists “hyenas in petticoats, ” John Knox's putdown, during the struggle for suffrage. By some miracle, be there one who protests the lopsided sexist count on the Pulitzer committee, she is my girlfriend. If not, she is Phyllis Schafley’s girlfriend and must use Phyllis’s cement-based hairspray for life.

(Ms.) Lee Drury De Cesare (middle Valkyrie in pink at the Women’s March for Choice in Washington, DC, at which she had the thrill of being called a Jezebel by a curbside born-again bigot even though she is a granny of ten.)

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pulitzer Puttering

LA Times' Scott Timberg has more dope on the backstage drama of Drama at the Pulitzers, 2007:

The 17-member Pulitzer board couldn't reach a required majority vote on the nominees and faced a second consecutive year without awarding a prize in drama, Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler said Monday. "Rabbit Hole” had been "mentioned favorably" in the jury's report, Gissler said, and the board, by a required three-quarters majority, Redundant commas: the adverbial prepositional phrase is restrictive. sidestepped the nominees and gave it the prize.

So, to recap, here's what happened. The "jurors" There is no reason to put quotation marks around this word. selected to nominate plays (Ben Brantley, Paula Vogel, two regional theatre critics, and a Haverford English professor) submitted three titles they deemed the best of the year. Surprisingly, and to their credit, the redundant adverb and cliché phrase are wordy: dump both. all three were relatively Wordy redundant adverb. little known, aesthetically and/or politically Jettison clunky redundant adverbs. challenging pieces nowhere near Broadway. They were:

"Orpheus X" by Rinde Eckert
"Bulrusher" by Eisa Davis
"Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue" by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Now some are already chiming in with ho-hum reactions to having seen these. I didn't see them. But I'm still impressed that the jury (a jury that included the New York Times lead drama critic!) went ahead and The exclamation point is excessive; “went ahead and” sounds like a hillbilly verb. Dump. submitted such refreshing and unorthodox Forego one of these adjectives. titles without even making a gesture not only to Broadway, but the comma splits compound adverbial prepositional phrases. even to sanctioned nonprofit "safe houses" for new plays like Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Rep, etc.

So then those three titles had to be voted on Passive verbs vitiate: edit to “So the gang of seventeen had to vote on…” by the gang of seventeen. TimThere is no known mechanics rule that justifies this use of italics. Who are these Pulitzer Board members, you may ask?

In alphabetical order:
Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University

Danielle Allen, Professor, Departments of Classics and Political Science and the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

Jim Amoss, Editor, Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La.

Amanda Bennett, Executive Editor/Enterprise, Bloomberg News

Joann Byrd, Former Editor of the Editorial Page, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President, Associated Press

Thomas L. Friedman., Columnist, The New York Times

Donald E. Graham, Chairman, (Chair, goddamit!) The Washington Post

Anders Gyllenhaal, Executive Editor, The Miami Herald

Jay T. Harris, Wallis Annenberg Chair, Director, Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California

David M. Kennedy, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Stanford University

Nicholas Lemann, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University

Ann Marie Lipinski, Senior Vice President and Editor, Chicago Tribune

Gregory L. Moore, Editor, The Denver Post

Richard Oppel, Editor, Austin American-Statesman

Mike Pride, Editor, Concord (N.H.) Monitor

Paul Tash, Editor, CEO, and Chairman, St. Petersburg Times

I'll tell you something I notice about this list. None of them, not one, could remotely be considered an artist or even an arts specialist. Given the Pulitzers are a Journalism/Media entity--famous for giving certain highly prestigious awards to the arts, the fact not one critic is on the ultimately decisive board is pretty shocking. And insulting to the arts. This insult to the Pulitzer committee is a fragment and comes from an LATimes reporter who probably had two years of sociology and then started his Grub Street career.

Can you really Jettison superfluous adverb "Really" makes writer sound like a California Valley girl. imagine any of these people--let's just say even the New York-based ones--seeing any of the plays nominated? Or is the theatre Hold on: you cannot slip the British spelling in to suggest that your are super refined. going experience of journalist cognoscenti Try "adepts." It's only two syllables, Lord Tim. like Nicholas Lemann and Tom Friedman limited to a token Manhattan Theatre Club subscription?

Ok, I don't know if either of them subscribes to MTC. But it shouldn't surprise us that not even 9 out of this group (that "majority") could get behind any of the three choices of the eminent juror panel. And that a "three-quarters majority" (so, 12?) had no problem completely Redundant adverb overruling them in favor of probably "Perhaps" is two syllables. the only play they had seen all year that fit the qualifications (i.e. it wasn't British, it wasn't Shakespeare, and it wasn't a revival).

Here's another theory: are the scripts of the plays provided for the jurors, and the board, These commas are dead wrong: they cut out the compound object of the preposition "for." to read? Since very Pleistocene redundant adverb few people saw the nominated plays, one would hope "One would hope': now there's a forlorn cliché used by pantywaists that can't discover a muscular substitute. Everyone at least read them. However--while I didn't see them, I know enough about the work of Rind Eckert and Elisa Davis (basically performance artists Is this the same as actors?) and know from the reviews of "Elliot"--that these are profoundly One day you will choke on these redundant adverbs. visual and performative works. This guy knows no more about what’s-his-name's pretentious theory of the performative "Performaative" is far gone in preciosity. arts than he knows about Elliot's objective correlative. Nobody would read his book: it was too show-off arcane. In nominating these titles, the jurors were also taking the bold step of saying the most exciting new plays out there are not necessarily primarily O.K. You can have one of these adverbs. You can't have two. literary.

(I can't help wondering if the same problem is what hurt the two-woman AIDS documentary piece In The Continuum--the play rumored to be the juror's favorite last year.)

I can only Knock it off. imagine these three scripts might have been baffling reads for the board. (Imagine reading an avant-garde theatre text for the first time, Superfluous comma cuts off a restrictive prepositional phrase. without the visual aid/supplement of performance.) At least, a lot more grueling a read than... Rabbit Hole? This is a fragment. Only Proust and Faulkner get the privilege of fragments, not LATimes reporters with delusions of grandeur.

Yes, Rabbit Hole is easy to like, if The superfluous comma cuts off a restrictive trailing adverbial clause. what you ask from theatre is just good story, poignant emotion, and a glamorous lead performance. And, yes, it also hails from both Manhattan Theatre Club and South Coast Rep. (Ok, I dropped those names earlier as a setup. You also pretend to be British and a deep student of modern drama.) So no matter the merits of the play, what a safe, safe Romper Room device of repeating a word for emphasis pick.

Which is probably exactly Superfluous adverb what the board considers its charge to do.

All Pulitzer info from the official
site. (No direct links to specific pages possible. So, happy hunting!)

Posted by The Playgoer

Paul Tash speaks:

Thanks very much for the chance to be with you today at the Inland Press Association, and for Redundant comma dividing compound adverbial prepositional phrases the chance to come home for a short while to the Midwest. I grew up down the road a ways in a place called South Bend, Indiana, and went to journalism school at Indiana University. Indiana produces lots of journalists, many of whom migrate to other places -- like Florida. I tell folks that Hoosiers make good journalists, Comma cuts off a trailing restrictive adverbial clause.partly because after Indiana, everything else is interesting. (But only folks from Indiana can say that.)

It was that connection between I.U. and Nelson Poynter that brought me to the St. Petersburg Times, where I started working as a reporter in 1978. If you'd told me then that I would still be at the St. Pete Times 24 years later, I would have been pretty skeptical, because Comma cuts off a trailing restrictive adverbial clause. that wasn't the pattern of the business or the reputation of our newspaper. At that time, the St. Pete Times was sort of "Nelson Poynter's Finishing School for Journalists." But the grown-ups there kept giving me new things to do that always seemed more interesting than what anybody else was offering. Shift in point of view. Lo and behold, the skinny kid who was a cub reporter now finds himself responsible not only for the news report, Comma separates a correlative. but also for the business operations of Florida's largest daily newspaper.

So, I've One can begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction but can't put a comma after it. seen first-hand how the news and business operations of the newspaper relate to each other. Fragment: We allow Faulkner and Proust these but not Tash until he learns where to put commas and where not to put them. How they can get in each other's way, but mostly how they rely on each other.

Okay, I'm a newsie who was steeped in the hard-charging journalism values of Gene Patterson and Andy Barnes, but let me be the first to acknowledge what some of my colleagues in the profession occasionally overlook: for a news organization to be strong, its business operations must be strong.

Last week, for example, the St. Petersburg Times took an unprecedented step for a North American newspaper by buying the naming rights to a major sports and entertainment center. This is persiflage. Everybody knows this move was to twit the Tampa Tribune because the building is in Tampa. That building had been known as: Passive and wordy edit: Use “was.” the Ice Palace, the home to the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL hockey team and a very Strunk & White’s redundant adverb successful concert venue. Now it's the "St. Pete Times Forum." Starting this year, the Times will pay $2.1-million a year, plus provide some free advertising, to have our name on one of the most busy Clunky modifier: “busiest” is idiomatic. and visible places in the Tampa Bay area. Next spring, the St. Pete Times Forum will host the opening rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament, dear to the heart of any true Hoosier, and Redundant comma splits a compound verb. is in the running for the Republican National Convention in 2004.

That would be a delicious irony, since Redundant comma cuts off a trailing restrictive adverbial clause. the newspaper for which it is named passive: Use “from which its name comes” has never supported a Republican candidate for president. My favorite quote in the coverage about the name change last week came from a GOP bigwig who noted that most Republicans in Florida had started out as Democrats but had been Dump: change to active voice. converted. "Maybe," he said, "we can even convert the St. Pete Times."

But best of all, Comma severs a restrictive prepositional phrase. from our standpoint, the Ice Palace (oops, make that the St. Pete Times Forum), sits smack dab The Hoosier leitmotif that dominates the diction of this lucubration ranks relentless, but “smack dab” goes too far with the Eiron pose and exposes Tash’s hand. Le Tash thinks his forced folksiness fools us that we are his intellectual superiors when he is the brains in the room. in downtown Tampa, at the heart of the metropolitan region. We think this deal both validates and also advances an image of the newspaper we have been building for the last 15 years: the St. Pete Times is the dominant newspaper throughout the Tampa Bay region. As I mentioned earlier, the St. Petersburg Times is already the largest daily newspaper in Florida, and we sell roughly 110,000 copies a day more than any other newspaper in the Tampa Bay region.

But some folks still have trouble seeing the St. Pete Times as the newspaper for Tampa Bay. Mr. Tash is greedy. The bigots are entitled to their newspaper; The Tribune has served that purpose for many a moon. We think this deal will help us make stronger connections with some key customer groups: national advertisers, especially those 20-something media buyers who move restlessly Redundant modifier through the ad agencies. Young readers, who are not connecting with newspapers the way earlier generations, did. Fragment And readers outside St. Petersburg, especially Redundant adverb readers in Tampa, where our circulation is already showing strong gains -- but where we obviously Redundant adverb want more. Fragment

So, Redundant comma this naming rights deal is designed Passive: use “will bolster.” to bolster our long-term business interests, and Wrong conjunction: “but” makes sense. it will cause some complications for our newsroom. Initially, there was some controversy because the financial terms were not disclosed Passive: "The parties did not disclose..." when the deal was announced. Inept sentence Edit: The parties’ not disclosing the financial terms caused controversy at first. were not open. Even though it was a financial deal between two private companies, some people thought it Two “it’s” in a sentence cause confusion. was hypocritical for a newspaper that presses for public disclosure to keep these numbers private. Edit “Despite the deal’s being between private companies, some people called hypocritical a newspaper’s keeping the numbers private with its history of pressing for public disclosure.”So, No comma three days after the deal was announced, Passive. Edit: “So three days after the agreement, the building owners released the financial terms: This colon gets the support of no known use of the colon. Jettison it. with our support and encouragement.

Longer term, my news colleagues will have to demonstrate show that our coverage of the Lightning, of the St. Pete Times Forum and the concerts that play there Dump. remains clear-eyed and Wordy unaffected by the fact that because our name is on the building. Some media critics and our competitors immediately Redundant adverbs subtract from credibility. They say, “Aw, c’mon. You’ve got to believe me.” criticized our decision, saying it would inevitably blemish our reputation for strong ethics and impartial coverage.

Personally, Redundant adverb I've got more faith in our newsroom to base coverage on the readers' interests and not on our business interests. Twice in my decade as editor, our news coverage has cost the advertising department $1-million in lost business -- without a peep of complaint from the ad folks. And even though we have a substantial marketing sponsorship of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, our lead baseball writer irritated the team owner so much once that he pulled all our newspaper racks from the stadium.

I've also got more confidence in our readers than the media critics may have. The readers will be keeping an eye on us, and they'll quickly Redundant adverb know if we're pulling punches or playing favorites.
Some of our critics have noted that until now, no newspaper has Dump put its name on a stadium or an arena, with the suggestion that journalism ethics have held others back. Our critics are right that the St. Petersburg Times broke new ground last week, but I think Wordy throatclearing the reasons have more to do with business than with journalism.

For one thing, there aren't many competitive newspaper towns left in America. As I said earlier, Jettison stocking stuffer. one of the key factors in our

thinking was the chance to help establish the St. Petersburg Times as the premier newspaper for the entire Redundant adjective Tampa bay area. Only one-third of the circulation of the St. Pete Times is in St. Petersburg itself.

But an even bigger factor is that most newspapers would have a hard time taking on a new expense -- especially during tough economic times. Like all of you, we've noticed that business isn't exactly great these days, and if we were trying only Handwringing present-progressive verb and redundant adverb to boost our profits in the short term, we wouldn't be committing Progressive verbs sound dithering. Simple verbs “tried” and “commit” are crisper and more convincing. to this new level of expense -- about $1.5-million a year above and beyond what we were already spending. spent

On the other hand, Dump; "also" is sufficient transition. we also wouldn't have expanded steadily Redundant adverb into new territories outside St. Petersburg over the last three decades, because Comma cuts off a restrictive adverbial clause. getting each of those new editions established cost money that would have dropped to the bottom line. And consequently, Tiresome redundant adverb we'd have been a nicely Another one profitable little Too coy by far newspaper, hemmed Redundant comma cuts off a restrictive past participial phrase. in on three sides by water and by competitors on the fourth, Stop this metastasis here. Start a new sentence. our own fortunes tied to those of a mid-sized city with limited room for growth and a steadily Redundant adverb younger population base. Instead, our circulation area stretches for nearly 100 miles along the west coast of Florida, and we are increasingly Redundant adverb making good on our business goal: to be the newspaper for all of Tampa Bay.

It has taken a long time and a lot of money and effort to establish ourselves as the hometown newspaper in lots of places beyond our original hometown. It has taken a big circulation force, Redundant comma cutting off a restrictive adjectival infinitive phrase. both to sell and deliver the newspaper. It's taken a big advertising staff, with reps selling into part- and full-run sections. It's taken one of the most complex patterns of production and distribution in the business, as Redundant comma severing a restrictive trailing adverbial clause we try to adapt the various editions to the tastes and interests Dump one. of readers in specific areas.

And most of all, it Pronoun reference: a new paragraph should not start with a pronoun with no antecedent so that the reader must plod back through the previous paragraph to discover it or, worse, to provide the reference him- or herself. has taken a huge commitment to journalism. We have devoted dozens of reporters, editors and photographers -- plus the copy editors and designers to pull their work together -- to local coverage. Those local sections may reach as few as 20,000 subscribers, but a story or photo costs the same to create as if we sent it to the full audience. Andy Barnes, my boss and patron, observed wistfully I shall allow this adverb because of its piquant improbability. One cannot imagine Andrew Barnes’s being wistful. The first time I saw him was when he first came to the area and turned up at a community luncheon carrying a tome by Spinoza or Foucault or some such deep thinker under his arm to remind us rubes what a whiz had reified into our midst. He would flag down people in the street to tell them that he came from The Washington Post. once that we probably spend a greater proportion of our budget on local news than any other newspaper our size. Yes, I agreed, and if we didn't spend so much on local news, we wouldn't be a newspaper our size.

At the outset of my remarks, People want to kill you for this locution. It's fusty, pretentious, and evokes the image of a never-ending lucubration of killing ennui. I acknowledged a point that some journalists need to remember: that the news report can be strong only if the business that supports it is vigorous.

But there's an important corollary that often gets overlooked, especially No comma: it cuts off a restrictive adverbial prepositional phrase. Cut redundant adverb. in newspaper publishing circles: that a newspaper ultimately can be strong as a business only if its news report and editorial comment is Subject-verb agreement error: report and comment are. worth reading. Sure, profits can be higher this year if we drop a reporter or two, or Redundant comma: the coordinating conjunction between the items in a series replaces any commas. if we can trim some newshole out of the newspaper, or if Redundant comma splits compound dependent clauses.we can cut back on travel and drop some syndicates. Don't get me wrong: if done carefully, all those things can be accomplished Passive verb Edit: we can accomplish… without any real damage to the news report or reader satisfaction. We've taken our share of austerity measures at the St. Petersburg Times to help get us through one of the coldest and longest winters in newspaper advertising that anybody can remember.

But let's not kid ourselves: readers can tell when we're stretching the soup, This is the first fresh metaphor Le Tash has managed to muster. I like it. and if they stop ordering from our menu, we're not left with much of a business.

Al Neuharth, the former chairman of Gannett, spoke to the Florida state newspaper convention last summer -- and scolded this generation of editors and publishers for letting circulation fall during the last decade. Even during a period of great growth in the state population, the combined daily circulation of Florida newspapers had dropped from 3.1-million daily copies to 2.9-million, Neuharth said, and he called those figures "disgraceful."

Part of the problem, Neuharth said, is that too many publishers are focused too much on the bottom line rather than growing their circulation and their business. I thought some of those in the audience would choke on their chicken dinner, given Neuharth's own role in driving up the profits that most owners and investors have come to expect from newspapers. Al Neuharth complaining Possessive before the gerund that we're too focused on profits? What's next? Hugh Hefner suggesting Possessive before the gerund we're too obsessed with sex?

But I was reminded of another speech I heard this year. At the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Jack Fuller of Tribune Company said Commas to set of a nonrestrictive prepositional phrase that the profit magin Make friends with the spell checker to catch goofy errors such as this. of the Chicago Tribune had gone from roughly 8 percent in 1980 to 30 percent by 2000, 20 years later.

Okay, okay. This isn't supposed to be a speech about the right profit level for newspapers. My assignment is to determine whether newspapers can meet their business and journalistic obligations at the same time. For the record: Dump this shop-worn phrase. I don't see how you can publish a great newspaper without having a strong business, and unless you publish an interesting, entertaining, compelling and provocative news report, you won't have much of a business for very long. So from my standpoint, the question about news vs. business values isn't a very productive question because it often leads to some false choices and dead ends.

Here's the problem, from my perspective. Wordy: Dump it. The editors say they need more reporters and newshole. The publishers dismiss them as fuzzy-thinking romantics who don't have a clue about the demands of the business. The editors dismiss the publishers as mouth-breathing, money-grubbing neanderthals. Capitalize. End of discussion. Only Proust and Faulkner have earned the right to fragments.

Think about how the conversation might change if we framed the issue as long-term business values versus short-term business values. In that context, good journalism is a long-term business value. So is Subject-verb agreement: Are circulation development and growth. So is advertising market share. Profit margins, on the other hand, are more a short-term business value. I'm not knocking profits; I'm very much in favor of them. But they are by no means the only measure -- or even the most important measure -- of the health of our businesses.

As a journalist, and I still think of myself as a journalist, With your frail grasp of grammar and punctuation, you do less harm where you are. Keep away from the news room. I'd welcome some fresh terms and new ways of thinking about this debate within our business. It shouldn't just be editors and reporters who are making a ruckus or stirring the pot Cite one or the other: not both. about cutbacks and the potential damage they cause. I get tired of hearing the familiar laments, and some of them are self-interested, arising at the journalism conventions -- and only at the journalism conventions.

Some good folks at the Poynter Institute and other organizations are trying now to develop the business case for good journalism. At the University of North Carolina, Professor Phil Meyer is exploring the statistical connection between a newspaper's circulation and the size of its news staff. But these issues are much too important to the business of journalism to be left only to the journalists.

Imagine how much more healthy and interesting the conversation could be if we had business-side executives -- circulation and advertising directors -- asking pointed questions about a declining audience, what it means to the business, and No comma between a compound noun restrictive appositive what we can do to shore up our claim on the time and attention of readers.

As an editor, I'd welcome the company. We might even have Al Neuharth standing with us. And if nothing else, that would make many of the editors I know stop cold in their tracks and take a fresh look at their positions.

Thanks very much for your kind invitation and attention today. I'd be pleased to hear your reactions and observations.

Paul Tash is editor and president of the St. Petersburg Times. He delivered these remarks to the Inland Press Association on Sept. 12, 2002.

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Submitted by Lee Drury De Cesare, Grammargrinch Harridan