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Date Posted: 20:15:52 04/29/16 Fri
Author: Smoker and boozer
Subject: Fine answer. Here's another question
In reply to: Former PGer 's message, "Re: DK partners with WPXI" on 12:50:21 04/29/16 Fri

He would be perfect giving babbling, pseudo-intellectual lectures and hosting seminars at the Kennedy School at Harvard. That would give him the chance to work with David Gergen, who has more intellect, insight and sense in his fingernail than the Beltway Boy has in his whole diminutive physique. After all, Dave has the experience of hosting these pointless "Town Halls" the PG does with PNC Bank on various lofty topics of the day.

Or he could probably become a Lecturer at his beloved Dartmouth.

A question, Former PG'er, since you obviously have a good sense of the place. How much longer do you think the PG has? Most people I know give it a couple years and about the same amount of time to the Trib, upGruv or not.

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[> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- Former PGer, 15:50:12 05/02/16 Mon [1]

I have no insight as to how long both Pittsburgh dailies will continue to publish. It's like picking lottery numbers, your guess is as good as mine.

There are some facts, however, that I don't think anyone with a background in journalism would argue -- too loudly:

* The PG, while but a shell of what it was under Bill Block and John Craig some 15 years ago, remains the better of the two dailies. In recent years, I've come to think the Trib tries harder than the PG, but the PG still has the edge, overall, in (upper-middle) management and writers/reporters/columnists. The Trib has some good editors and reporters. The PG, however, still has more of both.
* While the Trib reportedly had funding in place to guarantee the paper's future for several years after Dick Scaife's death, I suspect all bets are off since Scaife's two kids sued to get an accurate accounting of their father's foolish spending ways.
If forced to chose as to which paper will fold first, I'd say the Trib. But, that's nothing more than a educated guess. Personally, I'm a old newspaper guy and I hope that both continue. Two mediocre papers are better than one -- or none.
Yeah, things have been bleak financially at the PG for several years, but one thing most people predicting the PG's eminent demise don't take into account, or aren't aware of, is the resolve of the guy calling the shots at the PG: John Robinson Block.
While I'd say John's people skills are below average, his ability to ID and attract top-notch talent is no better than average, his intelligence is perhaps a 7 (on a 1-10 scale), his resolve to continue the PG is 9-10. John is the newspaper owner's version of the proverbial ink-stained wretch (writer). Newspapering is in his blood. For that, I was always thankful.
In reality, John could be a poster boy for much that is wrong with too-many American newspapers. He is top dog not because of any journalistic or biz acumen, but because of his genes. He's the proverbial spoiled rich kid who inherited the family business, and has spent much of his time searching for survival solutions while bailing water.
The Block family has controlled the PG since John's grandfather, Paul Sr., purchased the paper in 1927. At the time, Paul Sr. was one of America's most influential journalistic movers and shakers. He rubbed elbows with American presidents and the giants of the newspaper industry, William Randolph Hearst, et al.
His two sons, Paul Jr. and Bill, inherited in the 1940s the PG, The Toledo Blade and more than a dozen other papers, from New Jersey to California. When Bill died, the chain had shrunk to the PG and Blade. Bill included the Block-owned Red Bank, NJ, paper and the Monterey, Calif., Herald as partial payment to Scripps Howard for the Pittsburgh Press, which Block folded into the PG in 1992.
The next generation of Blocks to control the family's shrinking media empire, consisted of Bill Jr., who was always more intrested in the bottom line than journalism, and the twins, Alan, who took control of the families electronic media (cable and TV interests), and John, the only one of the three with a sincere interest in newspapers.
John has always strived to maintain his father's newspaper legacy. That has been paramount since the day he walked into the PG a summer intern in the late 1970s. The early days of the PG's slash and burn efforts to cut costs began six months after the merged with the Press in the early 1990s and began to take its toll on the overall product about 10 years ago. While the cuts began under Bill Block and began to escalate seemingly out of control under the next generation of Blocks, John was, at least in the beginning, always a relucant participant.
So to those who predict and or wish the Blocks would sell or fold the PG, hear me out on this one point: It would be folly to underestimate John Block's resolve to continue operation of the Post-Gazette.
That said, John is only one vote on the Block Communications board. These days, I don't know the identities or how many voting members there are today on the Block Communications board.
For several years, I've suspected that the family took profits from its cable and commercial television interests to keep the Blade and PG afloat. And, only a fool would continue to operate a business that continues to operate in the red with no relief in sign other than more cuts in staff.
My guess is, and it's just a guess, Dick Scaife's son and daughter will get their hooks into Trib Total Media and fold its newspapers interests before any talk begins in earnest on the Block board to pulling the plug at the PG.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- North Shore Drive-Through, 21:56:12 05/03/16 Tue [1]

A fascinating mini-history of the PG under the Block family. It's pretty much agreed the late Bill Block, Sr. loved Pittsburgh and the PG staff. He cared enough to set up meetings in the neighborhoods of PG circulation areas to meet with everyday readers about what they liked or disliked about the PG. Imagine nephew JR Block or his pal Dartmouth Dave doing that. They'd rather skinny-dip in the Point Park fountain.

Call him Kid Robbie, JR, John R, John Robbie or whatever. You make a good case for his commitment to keeping the two remaining family newspapers. He wants to be the next Punch or Arthur Sulzberger, down to the "courtesy titles" meant in his view to show "respect" that are snotty and pretentious instead. His vision of the PG is like a regional NYT, playing to Western PA elite and no one else. Dartmouth Dave (or Beltway, or Big Shrib or the Shribster) has his own fixation: using his dull, wonkish Sunday column to define himself as Walter Lippman 2.0. That's a name few remember (look it up on Wikipedia) or care about in 2016.

Spoiled rich kids can afford such fantasies but you caught the big point: JR is but one vote on the board of a family-owned corporation. About the time the others say, "Family legacy or not, we can't and won't absorb any more losses, so either sell or close them both," things will hit the fan quickly here and in Toledo. Buyers would be tough to find. Who folds first? It's a good bet your predictions are going to be right since two other spoiled rich kids with the last names of Scaife may be the downfall of their late dad's Trib Total Media hobby project if the courts rule their way.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- Former PGer, 10:33:16 05/04/16 Wed [1]

The neighborhood meetings were the idea of editor John Craig, not Bill Block. Bill was actually pretty hands-off when dealing with the staff, which, yes, respected the man greatly.

It was common to see Bill eating lunch in the basement coffee shop, sitting in one of the booths talking with a pressman or driver.

Craig, who always thought he was the smartest man in the room, even when the room once included Edward Teller, would never break bread with any of the PG's unwashed. BUT, he was obsessed with the PG being part of the community. The name AND the telephone number of each editorial department head was was always listed each day at the bottom the editor's repective section front. For a few years, Craig even had an annual one-hour telephone session in the evening, in which the department heads were available to discuss anything with the readers.

And, the call-in sessions were well advertised in the paper and each editor had the phone glued to his/her ear for the entire 60 minutes. Good luck finding a telephone number, or an e-mail address, for Shribman, ME Sue Smith or any of the PG department heads in Beltway's PG.

His failure, or even to give an honest attempt, to connect with the community is Dave Shribman's most egregious failure since arriving in Pittsburgh.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- Cookies 'n Coffee, 01:48:47 10/11/16 Tue [1]

Not one of the top PG editors could do neighborhood meetings now. Not Beltway, not Sue Smith or John Allison.

The Trib may be down for the count no matter what Bertetto and her bumbling "all's well" contingent say about the place, but the PG better not get too cocky. Sending Shrib back to New England would be an improvement.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- 4th Floorer, 19:22:21 10/20/16 Thu [1]

Yeah, John Craig was obsessed with P-G being part of the community. He was so passionate about it that first chance he got, he bailed out of the Mexican War Streets and headed for Sewickley.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- Community Journalist, 23:28:06 10/20/16 Thu [1]

Isn't that still part of the newspaper's community? It's 10 miles from Downtown, not like he moved to Morgantown.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- 4th Floorer, 16:10:54 10/21/16 Fri [1]

Yeah. It's not like he wanted to get out of the city and away from all them scuzzy people.

All he wanted was the spiritually and academically enriching and varied experience of the suburbs. Just wanted to save you the trouble of having to offer that explanation.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fine answer. Here's another question -- Real Journalist, 07:43:54 10/21/16 Fri [1]

So the people pooh-poohing Craig's era believe John Robbie Block and Beltway Dave, are better stewards of the PG, and more concerned with the paper's relationship with the region it serves?

If so, excuse me while I laugh.

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