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Behind the Headlines: Time for some engineer humor
« Reply #30 on: November 18, 2009, 09:44:46 AM »

Time for some engineer humor
18 November 2009, 9:19 am

Engineers DO have a sense of humor.

Martin Klein, an engineer for Compact Power Inc., which makes lithium ion automotive batteries, was  a speaker at the recent SAE Detroit chapter meeting at Monroe County Community College.

Commenting on a fellow speaker’s remark that nowadays batteries are “sexy,” Mr. Klein said it didn’t seem so when he told his dad he was getting into the field.

Then he told this “story” about a subsequent encounter with his dad:

“He said I got a new battery for my hearing aid and it’s one of your competitor’s.

“I said, Oh really. What kind is it?

“About 3:30,” his dad reportedly replied.

–Charles Slat

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Behind the Headlines: Remembering Warren LaBeau
« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2009, 10:58:46 PM »

Remembering Warren LaBeau
22 December 2009, 10:17 pm

Long-time Monroe County Clerk Warren J. LaBeau died Dec. 21, but for most who knew him, memories of him will live on for a long time.

Warren was a Democrat but, as county clerk, always strove to be fair and even-handed when discharging the duties of his office.

My association with him goes back to the late 1970s when I reported on the doings of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners. I clearly recall being unwillingly pressed into service by Warren one year when the county board was choosing its chairman and vice chairman. If I recall correctly, there was a lot of maneuvering and lobbying going on behind the scenes for the vice chairmanship. The position was to be decided by secret ballot during a county board organizational meeting. All the commissioners wrote the name of their preferred candidate on scraps of paper.

Warren dutifully collected all the folded scraps, turned to me and announced that I would tally the results and determine the winner.

I knew Warren didn’t even want to see the handwriting on the scraps and that he also wanted to assure the new commissioners that his politics would have no bearing in the matter.

Reluctantly, I sifted through the ballots, realizing that I could call out any name and that person would be the vice chairman. I played fair, determined the winner, and gave Warren one of the slips with the winner’s name on it.

As I suspected, Warren read the winner’s name and then crumpled and discarded all the ballots without looking at them.

As a public servant, he was beyond reproach.

–Charles Slat

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: A reporter’s nightmare: breaking news on a holiday
« Reply #32 on: December 27, 2009, 10:10:46 PM »

A reporter’s nightmare: breaking news on a holiday
27 December 2009, 10:03 pm

By Paula Wethington

The Christmas Day attempted terrorist attack on an incoming airplane to Detroit Metropolitan Airport didn’t break within The Monroe Evening News local coverage area. Romulus is the next county over from Monroe.

But there were local residents on board that aircraft. My co-worker Danielle Portteus was able to report on the local connection for today’s paper.

There was some chatter on the MonroeTalks forums as to how the details were “not very clear” even several hours after the incident. I saw similar frustrations voiced elsewhere.

Count my family among those anxious people. As soon as my husband caught an Internet headline that this was an attempted terrorist attack, we’ve paid close attention to the developments on the story. After all, my daughter was preparing to leave on her flight out of DTW when we learned of the suspected terrorism angle.

Were the Detroit and national news media prepared to cover such an event on a holiday? After all, the media coverage on Friday night and early Saturday had limited information. Today, the newspapers, radio bulletins and TV shows have a lot more details.

My response to that question is: breaking national news on a holiday is a reporter’s nightmare.

Yes, most local and national news media DO have people in the newsroom or at least on call during holidays and holiday weekends. I’ve done my share of holiday shifts and on-call hours at the newspapers I’ve worked at in Ohio and Michigan. And on the national level, CNN’s news team did break into its Christmas afternoon holiday features to give news bulletins even while details were sketchy.

But there is no reason to fully staff any newsroom on major national holidays.

Reason: A lot of the sources that journalists rely on every day for news and feature sources are unavailable or out of town during holiday weekends. Specifically in late December, the government agencies, schools, and non-profit offices that reporters stay in contact with on a regular basis may be shut down for several days at a time.

As a result, the only tasks that holiday news teams can possibly handle are breaking news, special events or interviews that were booked in advance, and any details that HAVE to be done every day regardless of what is going on. That’s why you see so many Christmas and New Year’s week news pages and air time taken up with features that were produced days or weeks in advance.

A routine news item such as a house fire or weather emergency can be handled by a short-staffed holiday crew. I’ve done that myself.

But how many times has southeast Michigan been the location for a story that was an international incident from the start? I’m not talking about local stories that bubbled up through the wire services to get national attention a day or two later. How many Michigan headlines can you think of were IMMEDIATELY of interest well beyond our region?

Then on top of the logistical problems for short-staffed holiday newsrooms, the Christmas Day reporters were dealing with official sources who said very little, and civilian witnesses who scattered quickly to the care and concern of their families.

Could anything have been done better on the news coverage Friday? Personally, I would have liked to seen a headline earlier than I did that an incident happened at the airport.

But it looks to me that the Detroit and national news teams who were working, or on call, on Christmas Day did the best they could once they realized what was going on.

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Happy happenstances
« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2010, 10:02:45 PM »

Happy happenstances
22 January 2010, 8:03 pm

By Charles Slat

I could fill a book with the weird or odd coincidences that have characterized my many years of working at newspapers.

Today, one of those weird episodes happened.

I have been trying to connect with a source for the better part of three weeks. I don’t know this guy, but was told he could supply all the info I needed for an article. I made several calls to him over a period of a couple of weeks and left detailed messages. I left a message with his administrative assistant, just to make sure he still was alive.

About three days ago, he called me back — when I wasn’t in the office. He left a message that said I could contact him between certain hours the next day. The next day and the appointed hours came and I got his voicemail. I called back a bit later and got his voicemail again.

Today, I was in a day long meeting in the office. During a 10-minute break, I went to the bathroom, chatted with a co-worker for a few moments while there and then went briefly to my desk. The message light on my phone was blinking. I checked the voicemail and there was a message from another person I had call the day before. I hung up the phone, got out of my chair and started to walk down the hall back to my meeting. I heard my phone ring, stopped and turned around and answered it. It was the guy I had been trying to reach for three weeks. I got the info I needed. Only later did it occur to me that if we hadn’t had a meeting break at that particular time, if I had gone to the bathroom after checking my phone instead of before, if I had left my desk to return to the meeting 45 seconds sooner, I might once again have missed connecting with this guy. I mean, really, if you had tried to coreograph this ballet, it probably wouldn’t have been better timed. How weird.

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Watching the winter storm
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2010, 10:20:51 AM »

Watching the winter storm
9 February 2010, 8:58 am

By Danielle Portteus

I will be monitoring the storm today and hope to hear from readers! Photos and updates will be posted throughout the day.

There are already links on the Evening News Web site sending folks to this blog. So send me info often. I’ll be checking my e-mail: danielleportteus@hotmail.com, so send me photos and anything you see from your neck of the woods.

To talk more about the winter storm, visit Monroe Talks under the “Monitoring the storm” thread.

As of right now, Bedford Public Schools, New Bedford Academy and Stateline Christine Schools has closed.

While driving in this morning, Secor Rd. was snow covered because of the blowing snow. Drivers were fairly cautious driving about 10 to 15 mph.

I’ll be checking back soon!

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: City of Monroe declares emergency
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2010, 10:20:51 AM »

City of Monroe declares emergency
9 February 2010, 9:52 am

From Monroe City Hall a few minutes ago: Due to more than 4 inches of snow expected within the next 24 hours, the Monroe City Manager has declared a SNOW EMERGENCY beginning at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, February 9, 2010.  All parking is prohibited on designated snow emergency routes until they are plowed from curb to curb.  Further, property owners will have until Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 8:00 A.M. to clear snow from their abutting sidewalks.

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Ida Twp. meeting rescheduled
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2010, 10:20:51 AM »

Ida Twp. meeting rescheduled
9 February 2010, 9:57 am

Ida Township Planning Commission has rescheduled its meeting, normally 7 p.m. second Tuesdays, to Feb. 16 because of today’s snowstorm.

– Paula Wethington

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Winter update 1
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2010, 10:22:35 AM »

Winter update 1
9 February 2010, 9:59 am

Cleaned off my car for the third time today. Gonna be a frustrating one. Posting photos in a sec.

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Behind the Headlines: Snow pics 1
« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2010, 10:22:35 AM »

Snow pics 1
9 February 2010, 10:05 am

By Danielle Portteus

Here’s what Secor/Monroe Rds. looked like at 9:45 a.m.

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Behind the Headlines: Road commission out on the roads
« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2010, 11:14:39 AM »

Road commission out on the roads
9 February 2010, 10:23 am

From Howard Penrod, managing director of the road commission, a few minutes ago:

“We prepared for the storm in advance and have all MCRC resources available and  are engaged in snow and Ice control as we speak including 32 trucks (day crew) on the road until 7:00 p.m. The night crew will replace them with 17 trucks on the road from 7:00 pm. to 7:00 a.m. This will repeat until the event is under control.  If the snow and wind comes as predicted, it will be difficult for the traveling pubic during the rush hour around 5:00 p.m. today.  We would advise the public drive safely according to the existing conditions which are expected not be good as the storm progresses.”

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: GreenPath library program rescheduled
« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2010, 11:14:39 AM »

GreenPath library program rescheduled
9 February 2010, 10:34 am

Bettina Pearch, financial counselor at GreenPath Debt Solutions, was scheduled to speak about how to avoid foreclosure and deal with mortgage modifications at noon Wednesday Feb. 10 at Summerfield-Petersburg Branch Library, 60 E. Center St., Petersburg.

Because of the weather, her program has been rescheduled for noon March 10.

– Paula Wethington

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Monroe County Commissioners cancel meeting
« Reply #41 on: February 09, 2010, 11:14:39 AM »

Monroe County Commissioners cancel meeting
9 February 2010, 10:48 am

Because of the weather, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners have canceled the finance committee and board meetings that would have been held today, Feb. 10.

– Paula Wethington

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Winter photos 2
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2010, 11:29:06 AM »

Winter photos 2
9 February 2010, 11:25 am

Danielle Portteus

While driving around, the snow is blowing and drifting, but most of the roads don’t seem too bad at this point. Just a few that have some blown over snow.

Makes me wonder: How fast do you drive in the snow? I seemed to manage okay going 5 mph under the speed limit. How about you?

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Measurement 1
« Reply #43 on: February 09, 2010, 12:20:55 PM »

Measurement 1
9 February 2010, 11:29 am

Danielle Portteus

On my first measure about 15 minutes ago, I had 1 1/2 inches.

What’s it like in your neck of the woods?

Source: Behind the Headlines

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Behind the Headlines: Reader submitted
« Reply #44 on: February 09, 2010, 12:20:55 PM »

Reader submitted
9 February 2010, 11:37 am

Danielle Portteus

Here’s a photo from my co-worker Michelle Reed from her drive up Telegraph to Monroe this morning. Keep photos coming to Danielleportteus@hotmail.com

Source: Behind the Headlines

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