Posts Tagged ‘Ledger-Enquirer’

Escape Radio, TV, Books, and Movies

March 4, 2015

When I was young, fiction interested me more than non-fiction.  Since my family subscribed to both the Columbus Ledger and the Columbus Enquirer, I did see the front page headlines on the way to  the  comics and movie ads, and I did  see the newsreels when I went to a movie, so I did  have an idea of what was going on in the world. But it was the feature films and the cartoons that I cared about.

Then, as I got older I became more interested in reality.  A highlight of the year was radio, and later, TV coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  And when, as a teenager, I got into radio broadcasting, announcers did a little of  everything back then. They read commercials, newscasts, and hosted disc jockey shows. It was the disc jockey shows that I wanted to do the most. Still, reading wire service radio news copy served me well when I matured enough to specialize in news, first on radio and then on TV. I learned to interview news subjects, edit audio tape for radio, and shoot and edit film and video for TV news. 

I basically stopped reading fiction, concentrating on non-fiction.  But, I never stopped going to  the movies,  watching entertainment TV,  and listening to music, live and recorded. All of us need some escape from the real  world. And now I find myself escaping even more when I watch TV and go to the movies.  There is so much distressing news in the world.  Fortunately, there are enough quality TV programs and movies to hold my interest. A prime example of quality TV programs is Downton Abbey.  The British are especially good at producing period series and movies for TV. Downton Abbey is over for  this year, but Selfridges, another excellent period series follows it, so I won’t complain.  




August 11, 2014


As I read George Will’s latest column in the Sunday Ledger-Enquirer , I had to reflect on the experiences I  had in Dr. Craig Lloyd’s Columbus College’s (now Columbus State University) historiography class. When I researched for a paper on the role that yellow journalists William Randolph Hearst’s New York  Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World  newspapers played in starting the Spanish-American War, what really stood out was that, generally,  histories written contemporaneously could not be trusted as much as those written years or decades after the events depicted.

That doesn’t mean that contemporary history doesn’t have value. Many historians believe it  is very valuable, but new information revealed over the years can revise what was believed to be factual when written contemporaneously.

Now, forty years after Watergate, we learn why former President Richard Nixon risked his presidency by ordering that notorious burglary.  George Will reported in his column that ran in the Sunday Ledger-Enquirer that  Ken Hughes, who studied the Nixon tapes for more than ten years, points out in his book, Chasing Shadows: the Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate, that “Nixon ordered the crime in 1971 hoping to prevent the public  knowledge of a crime he committed in 1968.”  Will says Nixon’s prior crime in 1968 was to interfere, as a private citizen, with U.S. government diplomatic negotiations concerning the Vietnam War.  He said Nixon was worried that supposed documents in a safe in the Democratic headquarters would reveal “his role in sabotaging negotiations that might have shorten the war.” 

A lot of historical documents are sealed by public figures for opening at a future date after the owners of those documents have been dead for, say,  50 yearsSo, historically, the microscope of  time plays a big role in giving us the  whole truth about  historical events.

“The Phenix City Story” Packs the Springer

July 30, 2011

Why did the Springer almost sell-out for last night’s showing of the 56-year-old movie The Phenix City Story?  No doubt the front-page Ledger-Enquirer story about Rachel and Becca Wiggens, the twin babies in the picture, now adult women, being at the showing had something to do with it.  But, I think it was more than that, even more than the fact that the movie is about the murder of attorney Albert Patterson by the Phenix City mob, and how his son John and the good people of the city overcame the crime bosses.  Probably the chance to see the “film classic” on the big screen in a theater had a lot to do with it. The first time I saw the movie was in 1955 at a U.S. Army theater at McGraw Kasern in Munich, Germany.  What an impression Phenix City and  Columbus made on my Army buddies!

Now, I can watch movies on my HDTV, and do, but I still enjoy going to movie theaters.  It’s a different dynamic when you are a part of an audience, sharing the same experience with hundreds of others – well, some of the time, since the last time I went to the Screening Room at the Ritz 13 there were two of us in the theater –  who are  reacting to what they are seeing on the screen.

And last night at the Springer, the audience reaction was the strongest I have seen in a long,  long time.  No doubt the old black- and-white 1955 movie had strong camp appeal, with people laughing at some of the corny over-acting in some serious scenes not meant to be funny. Still, the story, with its heroes and villains, pulled everyone into it, and the audience broke into enthusiastic applause when the good guys overcame the bad guys. It was really loud when Richard Kiley, portraying future Alabama Attorney  General and Governor John Patterson,  decked some mob goons, and loudest when Albert Patterson finally gave in and decided to run for Attorney General.  That decision was probably the thing that eventually brought down the crime bosses.

And the audience enthusiastically applauded the movie when it was over.  Rachel and Becca Wiggins, the twins in the movie, along with Columbus-Phenix City historian Fred Fussell, took the stage after the movie.  The charming ladies were immediate hits.  They were witty. Although, too young when in the movie to remember anything about it, they learned about it from their parents.

The movie was unique for its time, opening with interviews with some of those involved in the Phenix City clean-up.  It wasn’t totally accurate, for instance,  as clean-up leader Hugh Bentley’s son Truman told me after the movie,  the part about the little African-American girl being run down by a mob car and thrown in the Patterson’s yard was “Hollywood.”  It never happened. Nor were any real names of the gang’s bosses used.  However, overall, in essence, it did, with a little of Hollywood’s coloring,  tell the true story.

Thanks to the folks who run the Springer for keeping alive the Springer as a live performance center, but also for remembering that the grand old opera house was also a movie theater for a while.   The Film Classics series will continue with a showing of Jaws next month.

The Oasis Goal Sounds Good to Me

March 21, 2011

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Executive Editor Joseph Kieta (File photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

  Now we know how the new management of the Ledger-Enquirer is changing the paper.  Proclaiming the changes with the lead article on today’s front page – incidentally, that’s where it should be, in my view, since a daily newspaper still has a tremendous responsibility to and influence on a community – Executive Editor Joseph Kieta  explained the changes are in response to reader calls for an improved paper.

Instead of commenting on the details of the changes, because you can read that story for yourself easily enough, I will just lift out the one paragraph that is the most significant to me: 

“We want to create a daily newspaper that is an oasis from the noise of the daily news cycle – a deep breath and exhale that adds depth, relevance and context and answers the questions ‘why’ and ‘how.’ If we do our jobs the right way, we’ll probe deeply into local affairs and thoroughly explain community issues.”

If the paper can accomplish that, it will indeed provide an extremely important service that is sorely needed.  There is a big problem though. The public’s attention span is probably its shortest ever.  In-depth analytical writing that is succinct, incisive, insightful, and easily and quickly read has always been a daunting challenge, and it still is. 

The L-E folks have my best wishes in meeting that challenge because for many years I have been troubled by the egregiously superficial news reporting so common to  TV,  which, according to Pew Research, is still where the largest number of people get  their news.  That’s why I have always said that newspapers are extremely important because of their ability to report in-depth.  Still, being in-depth is no substitute for being clear.  


November 8, 2010


When I took a picture of the Ledger-Enquirer press in September, 2009, I had in mind not only the subject of that blog post, but also of the one to come, this one.

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer presses

I figured it was just a matter of time before the Ledger-Enquirer’s press would join a lot of others around the country in passing into history. I must say it came a little quicker than I thought it would.

The L-E’s sister McClatchy paper,the Macon Telegraph,had already shut down its production department, being printed by the Ledger-Enquirer. Starting in January,  the L-E, according to the story in the paper Friday, will be printed by the Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery.

A lot of people still like to hold the paper in their hands. I think it is probably mainly older people, people like me. Well, I’m 80, and I read it online every day but Sunday. The Sunday paper isn’t offered online so I read the hard copy.

Former President George W. Bush isn’t as old as I am, but at 64 he is old enough to collect Social Security, and he gets his news online, saying he watches no television, and the only newspaper he reads is the Wall Street Journal, and he reads that online. He told NBC’s Matt Lauer on Nightly News that he has an iPad. He surfs the web and reads political websites, with the only one he named being Politico which he thinks is good.

Naturally, I have to reflect on my past association with a Ledger-Enquirer press. I first came in contact with one when I was 12-years-old in 1942. I got a Columbus Ledger route on 2nd Avenue. It was the afternoon paper. I would watch copies coming off the press being swooped up by a circulation department worker, who passed them through a window to me. Then I would have to fold each one, put it in the bag on my bike’s handlebars, and then push the bike up the steep 12th Street hill, and then hop on and start peddling when I got on level ground on Broadway.

People had porches on 2nd Avenue then, so I could throw most of the papers from my moving bike. That was the fun part. But, I had to stop and climb three flights of stairs at an apartment building that had previously been the Southern Bell building, and I also went upstairs at boarding houses, and the YMCA to deliver papers there.

The paper wasn’t published on Saturdays so that was collection day. Most people paid by the week… when they paid. Sometimes they just wouldn’t come to the door, and sometimes they would come to the door and ask if I could wait until next week. Most of 2nd Avenue was not affluent. There were some old- money families still on the street, and they paid by the month. I decided to cut one of them off when no one would answer the door for a whole week. Back then, the paper boy bought his papers and if subscribers didn’t pay he would have to eat the loss. When I turned in the cancellation notice, the circulation manager almost had apoplexy and urged me to continue delivering the paper, saying that the problem was the rich old lady had been out of town, and that he would personally collect from her and give me the money. Eventually he did, but I got fed up with the whole thing and, after I broke my leg in a playground accident, I quit.

I’m thinking about getting an iPad. Have they come down in price yet?

Media in Transition: The Presses Continue to Roll, but for How Long?

September 17, 2009

As you know, some  newspapers in America have shut down their presses. One of them is Macon, Georgia’s the Macon Telegraph, but the paper still has a print edition. That’s because the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer prints it as well as its own paper.

The Ledger-Enquirer Press, Columbus, GA

The Ledger-Enquirer press, Columbus, GA

I went by the paper recently to get a shot of the press for this blog report.  I knew it might not be running because it prints the Ledger-Enquirer during a night run that lasts until the wee hours of the morning.  But, lo and behold, it cranked up, printing something else, while I was there in the afternoon. I can remember the press running during the afternoon when I was kid.  I “threw” the afternoon Columbus Ledger– which no longer exists – from my bicycle on a 2nd Avenue route.  That was during World War Two. I was 12.   (I hated it.  Too many adult deadbeats wouldn’t answer the door when I came to collect. Folks paid the “paper boy” weekly then. Well, some folks.)  This definitely was not the same press.  The one that ran back in my childhood made a lot more racket.  I couldn’t believe how quietly today’s presses run. 

Ledger-Enquirer newsprint storage room

Ledger-Enquirer newsprint storage room

It takes a lot of paper,  or, as the newspaper folks call it, newsprint to get out the old hard-copy edition.  Just think how many trees will be saved if newspapers go totally online.  Will that ever happen? It’s already happened in some places.  Can it happen here?  It can happen anywhere.

 However, I would think there will always be a niche for some specialized hard-copy newspapers. There are a lot of people now who simply want to hold the paper in their hands while they read it. They don’t like to read it on a computer screen.  That could be a generational thing, though.   

One of the big reasons we hear that presses are shutting down is because of the migration of people to the Internet for news.  We’ll look at that phenomenon next.

Answer the Phone, Darn It!

March 26, 2009

I couldn’t beleive my ears when I called the Ledger-Enquirer, WTVM and WRBL  newsrooms and got an answering machine.  An answering machine in a newsroom for crying out loud!  I could have been calling in a hot tip about a disaster that was happening at that moment, and by the time someone got around to listening to the call, the action could have been over.

Crystal Johnston,  who served as a receptionist at WTVM for more than 18 years,  wrote in a comment on the post about Dee Armstrong’s take on the state of local news about the time she called in a hot tip: 

“I will give you a prime example of an experience of mine. That is, when the two homeless guys fought under the bridge in Phenix City about a year and half ago. One of them was killed. I tried to call the station several times, but no one answered. All I got was a voice mail. Yes, voice mail. That is what is taking over these days. I remember that an assignment editor used to always be at the desk all the time. It wasn’t until after the fact that they did a blurb on the story. If someone had answered my phone call, the station would of been on top of it as it was going on. I placed that call around 7:45 p.m. that night.”

I realize  it’s all about economics.  Answering machines are a lot cheaper than a real live human being, but using one to anwser calls to a newsroom seems penny wise and pound foolish to me.

At least you get a real live person at the TV stations if you call the main number during business hours,  but not the Ledger-Enquirer.  I called the other day on a subscription matter and I got a person in the Philippines.  When I told that person what I wanted,  she said she couldn’t handle it, but gave me another number for someone who could.

“Is that person actually in Columbus, or am I going to get another person in the Phillipines?”

“Oh, it’ll be in Columbus.”

I called the number. You guessed it,  a Philpino answered the phone.  However, she did take my message, and I did get get a call today, two days later, from someone actually in Columbus.  It took a little while to get to the right person, but once I did she took care of the problem.  

Oh for the days when people just answered the darn phone!

My answering machine

My answering machine

Time Tells Us How to Save Our Newspapers

February 12, 2009

The Time magazine article on “How to Save Your Newspaper”  by Walter Isaacson,  has a simple solution: charge for online content.   But, not just for a subscription,  but buying one paper at the time,  or even one article at the time.  Sounds complicated, but Isaacson assures us it can be done now. He uses the example of I-tunes,  where you can buy one record at the time,  or one album a a time.

Would I be willing to pay for an online subscription?  The Ledger-Enquirer’s E-Ledger is being offered at $4.95 a month, which is quite reasonable,  and the E-Ledger edition gives you a copy of the print edition,  but, so far, I haven’t subcribed. Why?  I can still  get the regular online edition free.  Would I pay for it if the free online edition were discontinued?  Yes.   But, only if the paper  continues to provide comprehensive, in-depth coverage,  especially in areas that local  television stations either ignore or cover cursorily.

“Voices” Shrinks … Well, the Printed Version

February 11, 2009

  Right after I read the cover story in Time on “How to Save Your Newspaper,”  I learned that the Ledger-Enquirer is ending the “Voices” opinion section of the Sunday paper.  Well, as Editorial Page Editor Dusty Nix told me,  it’s not totally ended, but it will be shortened from four to two pages and won’t be a section of its own.  But, there will continue to be an editorial and the regular columnist will continue to be published.

This is not only a way to cut expenses,  an effort that has been underway for some time now,  but it also accents the trend away from print to online.  While Dusty is losing a couple of print pages on Sunday, he is gaining just about all the space he wants online, including space for the pictures he wants to run.  He says the online version will be greatly expanded over the print version, with room for reader comment and videos.

As the Time article points out,  newspapers are not losing their readers. They are, in fact gaining more, many more.  But, that gain is online.  People are reading more than ever,  but they are abandoning print. 

Now, about Time’s solution for saving the newspapers.  We’ll look at that tomorrow…if I feel like posting tomorrow.

Ben Holden and I Both Got it Wrong

January 16, 2009

When I read Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Executive Editor Ben Holden’s column this morning about his conversation with his daughter about the election of an African-American president,  I had to reflect that I had said the same thing to a number of my friends.

Ben said he was doing the same thing his father had done for him when he was child,  trying to protect his child from being hurt by unrealistic expectations.   He told his daughter that Barack Obama could not be elected president because no African American would achieve that accomplishment in his lifetime.

When I first got the feeling that the Democrats might actually nominate President-elect Obama, I told friends that the Democrats had once again  figured out a way to lose an election.  It wasn’t that I was against Obama, because I wasn’t.  I just thought America was not yet ready to elect an African-American for president and wouldn’t be in my lifetime, especially since I am  78 years old.   (Should 78-years-old be hyphenated?  I need an editor.)

I was wrong and glad I was wrong.  The election of Barack Obama is a huge historical event.  The rest of the world is ecstatic over it.  Remember, he drew an incredible crowd of 200,000 people when he spoke in Berlin.  Frankly, I think President Bush likes him,  as evidenced by the smooth and helpful transition he is facilitating – that luncheon at the White House for him and the living presidents  was especially noteworthy – and I think a lot of other Republicans like him and understand what his election means.  He is reaching out to them and does appear to want a bi-partisan effort to get this country out of the monumental mess it is in.   

Ben said he will be in Washington for the inauguration. I won’t, and that suits me fine.  It’s going to be cold,  and I had just as soon not be in a crowd that is projected to be 3-million strong.  I am going to be watching the event with a crowd at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.  There will probably be over a hundred people there for the Inauguration Celebration Luncheon,  hosted by the Working Excellence Ministries, Inc.  I don’t know if any tickets are available, but you could call Adam or Pat Parkman at 706-563-7298 of 706-289-9304 to find out.   By attending that you get to experience a crowd reaction to the swearing-in ceremony on big-screen TV and stay warm at the same time.  Actually,  I think you get to see such events a lot better on TV, anyway.