As I mentioned in two previous posts here and here, Leadership Toledo Media Day, was packed full!
Today, I'm going to share a few of my observations about our visit to the one daily paper we have in Toledo, The Blade.
We were first met by Kevin Cesarz, who oversees the online presence of The Blade. Kevin feels that this is the way newspapers of the future will exist -- that most of us will read our news online. He asked for a show of hands from our group as to how we read our news. Overwhelmingly, I would say 90% are online readers.
Kevin explained that the online group both leads and follows the "paper" news. They can give later-developing details on a story after the printing deadline and overnight, they can add breaking news to the website, so that early readers get news up to the minute.
One Leadership Toledo classmate asked Kevin what would happen to The Blade if it did indeed become a paperless paper. Kevin smiled and said, "Well, there is a whole production crew that would not be needed. Paper delivery people would also lose their jobs. At this union-based paper, I am sure that there would be a huge howl of protest when and if that happens in the future.
Our next speaker, Dave Murray has been at the paper for 28 years, half of that time in the union and half in management. He gets a call daily from John Robinson Block, the publisher, asking him to give John the news of the day. Dave reads the highlights from a handwritten scrap of paper.
Dave regaled us with stories of his work demonstrating his no b/s personality. He shared that he's only been fired twice by Mr. Block. Obviously, I guess the firings were soon rescinded, but that shows that Dave is willing to stand up to Mr. Block, something not many people do.
Block may be the reason many people don't like the Blade. His news seems to always shine a negative light on Toledo. Dave Murray would argue that the statistics would prove that they have just as much (or more) positive news, but the perception out there is that John Block is not a nice man.
Dave did go to Block's defense by telling us that we would not have The Medical College of Ohio, now part of the University of Toledo, if it hadn't been for Block. Block's mother died when he was five. Years later he read a statistic that people with a teaching hospital nearby were healthier. Knowing how his mother's death had affected him as a child, that one small statistic launched him into action. That year, Ohio was electing a new governor. The two candidates were DiSalle and Rhodes. DiSalle was from Toledo. Even so, Block told Rhodes that the paper would come out in support of his campaign if Rhodes would promise funding for the teaching hospital. The Blade did come out in support of Rhodes and Toledo has a teaching hospital.
The above story is a wonderful report of how Block has done good for the community. But I had to admit that as I was sitting there, I wondered how many times Block has used that power in a less than savory way.
If you had the power of John Block, how would you use it?