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Undated (AP) _ A summary of developments in the news industry for the week of Dec. 12-19: Investor Buys Big Share of Gannett Stock
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - A group owned largely by billionaire investor Warren Buffett purchased 4.9 percent of the outstanding stock of Gannett Co. Inc.
The stock purchase by Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s investment conglomerate, was announced Dec. 15 by Gannett.
The move was seen by one prominent newspaper stock analyst as an investment rather than an effort to take over Gannett.
″Warren Buffett never makes unfriendly takeover attempts. I imagine he is buying the shares because he thinks they are a good value,″ said John Morton.
Neither Buffett nor other Berkshire Hathaway officials at the company’s headquarters in Omaha have commented on the Gannett purchase.
Gannett is a nationwide news and information company that publishes 82 daily newspapers, including USA Today. It operates 10 television stations, 11 radio stations and the largest outdoor advertising company in North America.
Gannett has 139.7 million shares of common stock outstanding.
″We are delighted that Berkshire Hathaway has shown this level of confidence in Gannett,″ a company announcement said.
Buffett, who owns 40.3 percent of Berkshire Hathaway, recently was named the second-richest American by Forbes Magazine, with a net worth of $9.2 billion. He came in behind Bill Gates of Microsoft.
Buffett’s firm also is a financial participant in the Washington Post Co., and he has had a seat on its board.
Berkshire Hathaway also has an interest in Capital Cities-ABC and in Coca Cola, GEICO, Gillette, Wells Fargo and USAir.
--- Seattle Times to Offer On-line Service
SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Times will start a subscription-based on-line news and information service, beginning next month.
The newspaper said Dec. 12 that the service, called The Seattle Times Extra, will be accessible through personal computers, without having to subscribe to a national on-line service such as CompuServe or America Online.
Extra will include Seattle-area news, business, sports, features and classified advertising from the Times; restaurant and movie guides and reviews; recipes, and information on schools, transit, local government and community events.
Users also will be able to order products and services electronically from advertisers.
No price for the service has been announced. The Times is producing the service through its subsidiary, Times Information Services Inc.
--- Student Newspapers Flock to Internet
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Using technology unknown to their predecessors, editors at college newspapers are now delivering their news each day over the Internet, a computer network that links millions of users worldwide.
About 30 college newspapers nationwide have jumped onto the Internet and are helping to define journalism in the information age.
North Carolina State University’s Technician published its first electronic edition this summer. The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Old Gold and Black at Wake Forest University went on line this fall. The Chronicle at Duke University is scheduled to debut on the Internet next month.
All of these papers still publish printed editions and will for the foreseeable future. But their forays into the on-line world have captured a new, larger audience that’s not bound by time or space.
″What we’ve done is increase our readership,″ says Colin Boatwright, editor of the NCSU newspaper. ″We reach a lot of alumni who are interested in keeping track of what’s going on at N.C. State.″
By Boatwright’s estimate, the electronic edition of Technician was viewed more than 5,000 times in a recent 3 1/2 -week period. Most of those readers are already on campus, he acknowledges. But a growing number of far-flung alumni also are becoming on-line subscribers.
College newspapers are able to provide this service with relative ease. Because most universities are already linked to the Internet, students get for free the kind of access that costs professional newspapers big bucks.
Most college editors don’t even have to buy equipment. Their only expense is the salary of the computer student who loads the stories onto the Internet each morning.
″I think the people running student newspapers are freed by not having a real understanding of what a newspaper is,″ says Paul Jones, who works in the UNC-Chapel Hill office for information technology and also teaches journalism. ″They don’t carry any prejudices with them when they come in, so they can invent it as they go along.″
--- Columnist Becomes News When Neighbor Reveals Secret
PITTSBURGH (AP) - When a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette learned her neighbor and close friend was a fugitive, she didn’t run to her editors with the story. She stood by her friend.
Columnist Sally Kalson said she never wavered after Donna Willmott, alias Jo Elliott, confessed she was one of the FBI’s most wanted.
″As a journalist, I would have had a thousand questions,″ she wrote in a column Dec. 12. ″As a friend, I could only see a family hanging on by its fingernails, preparing to let go and hit the ground hard. I didn’t feel curiosity or drama. All I felt was sick.″
On Dec. 6, Donna Willmott and Claude Marks, accused of plotting to set off an explosion at a prison to free a Puerto Rican terrorist, surrendered to federal authorities in Chicago.
They have agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges. Marks could serve up to 10 years in prison for conspiring to transport explosives; Wilmott could face up to five years for conspiracy.
The two went into hiding in 1985 after the FBI foiled the plan. For about seven years, they lived in Pittsburgh under assumed names with their spouses, working, doing volunteer work and raising children.
Willmott and Kalson met as mothers at a day-care center. Their preschool daughters are both named Zoe.
The girls became playmates and the families became close. This year, they shared Independence Day and Halloween.
On the night before Thanksgiving, Willmott asked Kalson and her husband over for a serious talk. That was when Kalson learned the truth.
Willmott asked her to write a character reference to U.S. District Judge James Moran, and Kalson did.
Post-Gazette editor John G. Craig Jr. said he did not object to the letter, signed by Kalson and her husband, attorney Ed Feinstein. Craig said he would have preferred that Kalson had informed an editor, but he declined to say whether the columnist will be disciplined.
Kalson told The Washington Post she never considered going to her editors.
″What kind of a person exploits friends in misery?″ Kalson said. Georgia to Appeal Ruling Protecting Those Who Falsely Report Rapes
ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia’s Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s shield law also protects those who file false reports of rape.
The court ruled 5-4 on Dec. 1 that the shield law blocks the identification of those who lie about being raped. The court said the law is an exception to laws governing open records.
The state attorney general’s office is appealing the ruling.
″If there is a stalemate between the Open Records Act and the confidentiality statute, it must be resolved in favor of providing the shield rather than the sword,″ Presiding Judge Dorothy T. Beasley wrote in the decision.
The ruling came in the case of a University of Georgia employee, identified only as Jane Doe, who told police she had been attacked and raped on campus. She later recanted the story.
The university’s student newspaper, The Red & Black, filed suit to force University of Georgia police to release the false report and woman’s name.
The court ordered release of the report, but without the name.
″We feel it’s an open record, and we should have access to it just like any other interested party,″ said Harry Montevideo, publisher of The Red & Black. ″And we’re happy to see that the state is asking for reconsideration.″
Beasley wrote that the victim should remain anonymous because the law does not require the allegation of rape to be proved before the victim’s identity is protected.
The dissenting judges held that lying about an alleged rape strips the accuser of the shield law’s protection.
--- Magistrate Dismisses Virginia Publisher’s Antitrust Suit
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - A federal magistrate has dismissed a $52 million antitrust suit filed by the publisher of The Daily Progress of Charlottesville.
Worrell Enterprises Inc., owner of the newspaper, claimed that four real estate firms and four officials of the firms conspired to withhold advertising from the newspaper. The suit was filed in Albemarle County Circuit Court last year and moved to U.S. District Court in January.
Magistrate Judge B. Waugh Crigler said Dec. 13 that Worrell Enterprises had no standing for the suit. He said the defendants’ attempts to stop advertising in The Daily Progress and launch their own weekly paper of real estate advertisements in February 1992 was a business decision, not a boycott.
″Folks, that’s competition,″ Crigler said.
″Never, never is there any hard evidence that it was done to harm the (newspaper),″ Crigler said.
A counterclaim by the real estate firms and their officials, charging Worrell with filing sham litigation, also was dismissed.
--- Executive Director of Center for Investigative Reporting Resigns
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting resigned after he and the board of directors could not agree on goals.
Fredric N. Tulsky resigned Dec. 14 after five months in the post.
″There are some differences in style between Rick and some members of the board,″ said Raul Ramirez, the newly elected president of CIR’s board of directors.
Tulsky will stay on while the center searches for a replacement.
″Some of what made people uneasy about me is the world I come from, the mainstream journalism world. I thought mainstream journalism was too limited. But I thought, and think, many of its values are necessary, such as shedding politics and being somewhat detached observers,″ Tulsky said.
Tulsky won a Pulitzer Prize at The Philadelphia Inquirer before taking over as CIR’s managing editor in July 1993. He was later promoted to executive director.
Since its founding in 1977, CIR has been a major crusading presence in San Francisco Bay area journalism.
Among its achievements, the center has created special reports for ABC’s ″20/20,″ developed hard-hitting documentaries on toxic dumping, General Motors, campaign financing and other subjects for PBS’s ″Frontline″ and generated numerous published stories. The center’s co-founder, Lowell Bergman, is now a producer for CBS’s ″60 Minutes.″
--- Cambodian Army Officer Charged with Murder of Journalist
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A high-ranking army officer has been charged with the murder of a journalist, the justice minister said.
Chan Dara, a reporter for the Khmer-language newspaper Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace), was fatally shot Dec. 8 in the province of Kompong Cham, 75 miles northeast of Phnom Penh.
The provincial court on Dec. 12 charged Lt. Col. Sath Soeun with murder and sent him to a prison in Phnom Penh.
Twenty-eight police escorted Soeun from Kampong Cham to Phnom Penh. He is to stand trial in two weeks, said Justice Minister Chem Snguon.
Chan Dara was the third journalist this year to be murdered or die under suspicious circumstances.
His editor and officials of the Cambodian Press Association said they believed Chan Dara was murdered because he wrote articles implicating provincial officials in corruption.
Chan Dara fled to Phnom Penh after the articles’ publication because the governor’s men were hunting down the journalist responsible, according to his editor, Thong Uy Pang. He was killed two days after he returned to Kompong Cham.
Foreign and Cambodian human rights organizations and journalists groups have criticized the government for not supporting freedom of the press. Critics say officials try to intimidate journalists, and that a proposed press law is very restrictive and would have a chilling effect on reporting.
--- Microsoft, AP Disavow Role in Hoax on Internet
NEW YORK (AP) - To some cyber-prankster, it was a match made in heaven: A fake story on the Internet announced that Microsoft, the world’s largest maker of personal computer software, was to acquire the Roman Catholic Church.
The unknown prankster used a fake dispatch from The Associated Press, the world’s largest news-gathering organization, and circulated it on the Internet global network of computers.
″If the deal goes through,″ the story intoned under a Vatican City dateline, ″it will be the first time a computer software company has acquired a major world religion.″
Under the terms of the supposed deal, Microsoft would get exclusive electronic rights to the Bible, Pope John Paul II would become the senior vice president of the combined company’s new Religious Software Division, and two Microsoft senior vice presidents would be invested in the College of Cardinals.
Microsoft, the world’s largest maker of personal computer software, disavowed the hoax on Dec. 16 after receiving calls from people who thought it might be true.
″Given the seriousness of the issue, it’s not something we wanted to be associated with,″ said Christine Santucci, a spokeswoman for the Redmond, Wash.-based company.
While the tone of the story was serious, the claims were anything but.
The fake story included a promise from Gates that he would use a Microsoft computer network to ″make the sacraments available on-line for the first time.″
Officials at Microsoft and AP headquarters in New York said they didn’t know where the fake story originated.
MORE BROADCASTING: CNN Agrees to Admit Error on Air in Broadcasting Noriega Tapes
MIAMI (AP) - Faced with a large fine, Cable News Network agreed to tell viewers it made a mistake by broadcasting taped jailhouse conversations of Manuel Noriega in violation of a court order.
As he prepared Dec. 19 to sentence the network for contempt, U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler gave CNN a choice: paying a fine of up to $100,000, plus the cost of the prosecution, or broadcasting an admission of error and paying only the prosecution cost.
After a short recess, CNN agreed to admit it made a mistake and pay the lesser costs, $85,000.
CNN President Tom Johnson said the broadcasts would start the evening of Dec. 19.
″I simply wanted to do the right thing based on all of the available information,″ Johnson said.
Four years ago, the network quoted from leaked tapes of the deposed Panamanian leader’s telephone conversations with lawyers. Noriega was later convicted of drug charges and is serving a 40-year sentence.
The Atlanta-based network had argued it was legally entitled to broadcast the tapes, even though the judge had ordered it not to, because it had a journalistic responsibility to show what it suspected was government misconduct for taping Noriega’s calls.
But Hoeveler, who presided at Noriega’s trial, convicted CNN of contempt.
CNN agreed to broadcast a statement saying that the network ″realizes it was in error in defying the order of the court″ instead of just appealing it.
″Our justice system cannot long survive if litigants take it upon themselves to determine which judgments or orders of the court they will or will not follow,″ the statement said.
The conversations were recorded as a matter of routine by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and the ousted general’s prosecutors denied having access to the tapes.
The judge said that he believes CNN operates ″at a high level of ethical conduct″ and its officials believed they were defying an unconstitutional gag order. Unfortunately, he said, Johnson ″was badly advised.″
Hoeveler lifted his gag order one month after the CNN broadcasts, deciding that the content of the tapes did not violate Noriega’s right to a fair trial.
Nonetheless, he asked prosecutors to pursue a contempt investigation. No CNN employees were charged in the case. Only the corporation was named.
Noriega was on the CIA payroll in the 1980s but became a target of President Bush’s drug war and the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989.
--- Company Unveils Interactive System for On-Demand Movies, Shopping
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Time Warner Inc. unveiled the nation’s first interactive TV system that is completely run by computers.
The system, dubbed the Full Service Network, is being set up in 4,000 homes in northwest Orlando and provides electronic shopping and movies and other programs on demand. Time Warner set up the system to test how much people will use it and what they will pay for it.
″It’s been a great experience already,″ said Karl Willard, whose home was one of the first to be connected.
For now, the Full Service Network offers 35 movies, 13 video games and eight shopping retailers who offer 300 products.
Viewers get a computer printer to print out coupons and other information. On-screen graphics preview movie options and give a representation of a town for shopping.
Time Warner eventually hopes to offer music, computer data and telephone service through the system. The company operates the nation’s second-largest cable TV system along with the Warner studio, Time-Life publications and other media.
The Full Service Network ″is the most powerful instrument ever devised for giving consumers direct, immediate, on-demand access to our libraries of print, film, programming and music,″ Gerald M. Levine, chairman and chief executive officer of Time Warner, said Dec. 14.
The company would not discuss the cost of the system.
Other experiments by phone and cable companies with video-on-demand have simply involved videotape recorders connected to a viewer’s home. In the Time Warner system, movies are stored on disk drives on a computer at a distribution facility.
The start of the Full Service Network was delayed six months by its technical complexity. The company had hoped to provide the network to 4,000 homes shortly after turning it on but said that will take a while longer.
Time Warner is upgrading its cable systems across the country to use both fiber-optic lines and cable so more signals can go into a home. PERSONNEL: Mazzarella Named Editor of USA Today
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - David Mazzarella, president of USA Today’s international publishing division, was named editor of the paper.
He succeeds Peter Prichard, who resigned after six years as editor to take a new executive role at the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan, international foundating supporting freedom of the press.
Mazzarella, who retains his position with the paper’s international publishing division, is USA Today’s fourth editor.
″Foremost he brings an understanding of USA Today and its potential role in the emerging global media scene,″ publisher Thomas Curley said Dec. 16.
″None of us knows exactly what that means,″ he added. ″Simply, we are trying to get prepared.″
He said Mazzarella has worked for many years with the newspaper’s parent company, Gannett Co. Inc., and ″embraces our approach in terms of collegiality, teams and reallocating resources.″
Curley said Prichard would miss the day-to-day editing functions but not the extremely long hours.
″There is no question that Peter elevated this newspaper and helped us win respect and boosted our readership,″ Curley said.
Mazzarella was an Associated Press newsman for 10 years beginning in 1962. He was news editor in the Rome AP bureau when he joined the Rome Daily American. He joined Gannett as foreign news editor of its news service in 1976, became editor, then publisher, of The Courier-News in Bridgewater, N.J., and moved to Gannett’s flagship paper in 1983.
--- Washington Post Names Jones New President
WASHINGTON (AP) - Boisfeuillet Jones Jr. will take over as president and general manager of The Washington Post when Thomas H. Ferguson retires next month.
Jones, 48, a former Rhodes Scholar and longtime friend of Post publisher Donald E. Graham, has been the newspaper’s vice president and counsel since 1980. The promotion will put him in charge of business operations, including production, circulation and advertising, the newspaper said Dec. 15.
Ferguson, 58, managed those operations for 15 years, after joining the Post from Parade magazine, where he had been president.
″I’m a believer in self-imposed term limits,″ Ferguson said in announcing his retirement. ″I expect to retire for about two weeks to a month, and then I’m going to go on to do new and different things.″
Before presiding over Parade, Ferguson worked for American Brands, American Cyanamid Co. and Berol Enterprises.
In other changes in the news industry:
-Elise McMillan, associate editor and general counsel for the Nashville (Tenn.) Banner, will leave the paper next month to become a senior lecturer in human resources at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. McMillan, 41, also will be in charge of development at the college and a Vanderbilt research center on education and human development.
-Nancy Tracewell, head of the electronic services division at The Kansas City Star, has been named vice president of electronic media for the newspaper.
-Lincoln Millstein, a features editor at The Boston Globe, has been promoted to the new position of managing editor-new media. Millstein, 44, will supervise the Globe’s new electronic ventures and will work closely with a new Globe subsidiary that will develop an on-line service by 1995.
-Will F. Corbin, managing editor of the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., for the past seven years, has been named editor. Corbin, 44, succeeds Jack W. Davis Jr., who became president and publisher of The Daily Press Inc. in September.
--- DEATHS Carl R. Baldwin
COLUMBIA, Ill. (AP) - Carl R. Baldwin, an author and journalist, died Dec. 12. He was 86.
Baldwin worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 48 years, covering crime and corruption. He retired in 1973.
His books included ″Echoes of Their Voices,‴’Captains of the Wilderness″ and a collection of historical essays titled ″St. Louis: Its Neighborhoods and Neighbors, Landmarks and Milestones.″
Baldwin also taught journalism at various universities.
He is survived by his wife and a daughter. Jeanne E. Derbeck
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Jeanne E. Derbeck, the South Bend Tribune’s longtime arts writer and founder of the newspaper’s consumer advice column, died Dec. 12. She was 74.
She joined the newspaper in 1967 as a proofreader and then became an obituary writer. She became a reporter in 1970, covering the women’s movement, historic preservation and urban redevelopment issues.
In 1971, she started the Action Line consumer advice column and served for a time as the newspaper’s Youth Page editor. She retired in 1988 but continued to write about the arts for the paper.
Survivors include a daughter. Leo J. Ring
CLEVELAND (AP) - Leo J. Ring, a labor negotiator who helped The Plain Dealer become one of the first newspapers to work out a technology agreement with composing room employees, died Dec. 16. He was 85.
Ring began his career at the Newark (N.J.) Sunday Call. He then worked with the Newark Evening News and became active in the typographical union.
Ring joined The Plain Dealer in 1967. The contract and buyout agreements he helped negotiate became models for newspapers nationwide.
Ring also worked at The Star-Ledger of Newark, the St. Louis Globe Democrat, the Long Island Press in Queens, N.Y., and The Birmingham (Ala.) News.
Survivors include his wife and a son.
--- NOTES FROM EVERYWHERE: The Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times celebrated its 125th birthday on Dec. 15. The morning newspaper was founded in 1869 and now has a circulation of about 42,500. ... Vincent Canby, the Sunday theater critic of The New York Times, was named chief theater critic. He succeeds David Richards, who held the chief critic’s job since 1993 and is returning to The Washington Post as national cultural affairs correspondent. ... Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko was charged with drunken driving after a two-car accident in Winnetka, Ill., police said. Royko, who writes a syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune, is scheduled to appear in court on the charges next month.
End Industry News Advisory