Posted tagged ‘St. Joseph News-Press’

Mayor requests Sunshine reading

February 6, 2009

The St. Joseph City Council met behind closed doors in December with the city manager and a representative of the state auditor’s office to discuss the state of St. Joseph’s finances.
The mayor asked a St. Joseph News-Press reporter to read out loud the Missouri Sunshine Law provision that allowed the meeting to be closed. He said he asked for the reading so council members could explain the reasoning to citizens who were concerned that the meeting was not open.
Todd Schuler, an audit manager for the state auditor’s office, said he would not discuss the audit unless the council voted to close the meeting.
All but two of the council members and the mayor voted to close the meeting, at which point the reporter and another visitor left the room. One council member abstained from voting, another was absent.
—St. Joseph News-Press


Trustees even in hard times

January 13, 2009

by Ken Newton
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Joseph Charless knew a trade and understood the problems of a start-up business. He also knew about causing a ruckus.

Mr. Charless fled Ireland in 1795 as rebellion took hold, and he settled in America, first in Philadelphia, then in Kentucky and finally in St. Louis of the Louisiana Territory. A printer, he established the first newspaper west of the Mississippi River in 1808, the Missouri Gazette.

According to the State Historical Society of Missouri, Mr. Charless contended with “shortages of paper, unpaid subscriptions and irregularities in mail service.” But he also stirred up the local populace with his anti-slavery sentiments. A subsequent newspaper in St. Louis, the Western Journal, countered with the anti-abolitionist writings of Thomas Hart Benton, an oak-hard character who once shot Andrew Jackson in a duel.

These newspapers came into being before Missouri got statehood, a squabbling and illuminating addition to the frontier landscape.

Missouri newspapering arrives in its third century with some problems heading forward and a documentary looking back. The hour-long program, “Trustee for the Public: 200 Years of Missouri Newspapers,” airs Thursday at 8 p.m., on KCPT (Channel 21 on St. Joseph Cablevision).

The documentary notes writers who worked for state newspapers before broader renown. Ernest Hemingway credited his time at the Kansas City Star as tutelage for the crisp language that would become his trademark. Eugene Field, who labored for the St. Joseph Gazette and took a bride in this city, used the experiences here in his later poetry.

Samuel Clemens worked as a “printer’s devil” at the newspaper in Hannibal, apprenticing as a typesetter but, “surreptitiously and uninvited,” editing the paper from the back shop. Nearly six decades later, known to the world as Mark Twain, he wrote to the hometown paper, “I hope the Courier will long survive me and remain always prosperous.”

One hundred and two years after this letter, the Hannibal Courier-Post indeed survives.

The documentary includes this story without dwelling on the well-known. Rather, the program, with origins in a Missouri Press Association oral history endeavor, focuses on smaller experiences — street corner hawking, press breakdowns, journalism teaching — that add to a fuller view of an industry built daily.

Newspapers find themselves now on shaky ground. They face economic problems in a world of warp-speed information and changing consumer demands.

The nation’s largest publications land too often in their own headlines, usually in strife with creditors. Smaller journals work to stay an essential part of lives caught in news cycles briefer than a yawn.

What remains unchanged in the upheaval is the newspaper’s role in a free society. Publications still perform watchdog roles, still follow the public’s money through a maze of governments, still supply depth and perspective to the day’s issues.

At this newspaper, founded just 37 years after Mr. Charless’ Gazette, earnest souls work in the continuum of reporters who covered the Pony Express, the killing of Jesse James, the Greenlease kidnapping and any of thousands of historical moments preserved in first-draft form.

The word “trustees” proves instructive. It implies a faith, in this case between newspapers and their readers. And 200 years of history suggest the relationship endures even in tough times.

x x x

Ken Newton’s column runs in the St. Joseph News-Press on Tuesday and Sunday.

News Press restructures, cuts staff

June 5, 2008

News-Press & Gazette Co. of St. Joseph is implementing a new strategic plan that has resulted in cutting staff at the News-Press and the community newspapers it publishes in Kansas and Missouri.
Among the positions eliminated was that of longtime reporter and opinion page editor Mark Sheehan. His last day with the paper was March 21.
The company offered severance packages to those who lost their jobs.
Executive editor Dennis Ellsworth has the added title editorial page editor.
Publisher David Bradley said the changes being made are an effort to reduce costs during a period of economic slowdown, declining advertising revenue and increased costs for newsprint and fuel.

Obit – Phyllis Wright

May 6, 2008

St. Joseph
Phyllis Wright, 80, who joined the St. Joseph News-Press at age 17, died of Alzheimer’s disease on March 13, 2008.
Mrs. Wright took time off from 1947 to 1962 to raise her three children, then rejoined the newspaper as editor of the society page. She remained there until 1993. For years she wrote the Brevities column filled with chicken dinner news, family visits, vacations and hospital patients.