The New York Times Co. has named William M. Abrams, 48, a former newspaper reporter and ABC News executive, as the new head of its television unit, NYT Television. The division produces documentary and other non-fiction programs, mainly for cable channels such as Discovery Channel, Showtime, and The Learning Channel, according to The Associated Press. It recently started a science news program with the National Geographic Channel, and has co-produced “Frontline” with PBS. Abrams most recently worked for 1France, a Web site about French travel and culture. He also worked as vice president of business development at ABC News, where he founded a production unit that made documentary programming for cable networks.
Paul Anger, former publisher of the Broward County edition of The Miami Herald, has been named vice president and editor of The Des Moines Register, a Gannett newspaper. Anger succeeds Dennis Ryerson, who became editorial page editor and a vice president of the San Jose Mercury News in September. Anger, 52, began his career as a sports copy editor for the Miami Herald in 1972 and then became sports editor in 1976 and the editor of the newspaper’s Broward County edition in 1995. He became publisher of the Broward County edition in 1998. Anger opted to take a buyout in July as the Herald reduced its staff size. Since then he has worked temporarily as Knight Ridder Newspapers’ Washington bureau news editor.
Bobbie Battista, 49, has left CNN after 20 years. For the past three years, she hosted “TalkBack Live.” Battista was one of the original anchors on CNN Headline News and later was an anchorwoman on the CNN prime-time newscast and CNN International. “You want to go out on top,” she said Oct. 31. “I didn’t want to make that mistake where I stayed too long. I’ve seen anchors who did that.” Her last appearance on the live daily talk show was Nov. 2. Meanwhile, CNN launched what it is calling its flagship news program, Newsnight, with Aaron Brown. A former ABC correspondent, Brown was being groomed for the role since last summer but was thrust into the spotlight earlier than expected when terrorists attacked Sept. 11. Newsnight evolved out of reporting on the nation’s terror crisis and will be a “showcase” for enterprise reporting and contributions from overseas and domestic correspondents, CNN said. Brown joined CNN last year after being at ABC News since 1991. He was one of the original anchors of World News Now and reported for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Nightline and other ABC News broadcasts.
Lorrie Baumann, a newspaper editor in the small community of Battle Mountain, Nev., lost her job after she was quoted in a humorous Washington Post Magazine story that dubbed the Nevada mining town ‘’the armpit of America.’’ According to The Associated Press, local residents interpreted her comments as agreeing with the label. Baumann, former editor of the twice-weekly, 1,700-circulation Battle Mountain Bugle, said she was fired after local merchants threatened to pull advertising because of her comments in the magazine’s Dec. 2 issue. ‘’I lost my job because of this,’’ Baumann told The AP in mid-December. Bugle Publisher Lee Denmark said he would not comment and that Baumann’s departure was a personnel matter. Gene Weingarten, the author of the article who grew up in the South Bronx in New York City and had never visited Nevada before his assignment, said he was stunned by Baumann’s firing.
Mary Bitterman, 57, president of San Francisco’s KQED-TV and KQED-FM, resigned Nov. 8 to head a California grant foundation. She will become president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based James Irvine Foundation. Bitterman, chief executive at KQED, pulled the public broadcasting operation out of a financial nosedive, according to The Associated Press.
Steve Brill has signed what is believed to be a $1 million deal with Simon & Schuster to write a sweeping saga about the terrorist attacks that shook the nation on Sept. 11 and their aftermath. Alice Mayhew, editorial director of Simon & Schuster, reached an agreement with Brill in early December, according to the New York Post. The deal was handled by Bob Barnett, the same high-stakes lawyer who snagged big deals for everyone from Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton to Lynne Cheney and Bill Bennett. The publisher, the author and the lawyer all declined to comment on the dollar amount. The working title of the book is “Homefronts,” which also is the name of a column that Brill will write for Newsweek, under a recently signed one-year contract. Brill, the founder of American Lawyer, Court TV and the now defunct journalism watchdog magazine Brill’s Content, is going to take about 14 months to write the book, which will be out sometime in 2003. “I think this will be the book of record on the aftermath of Sept. 11,” Barnett said.
Ted Fang, San Francisco Examiner editor and publisher, has been ousted by his mother, who says she will take over the job. Florence Fang issued a four-paragraph statement saying she will become the newspaper’s publisher while Ted Fang remains on the newspaper’s board of directors, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Oct. 27. Meanwhile, Ted Fang has threatened to sue his mother over his ouster, claiming Florence Fang breached an oral agreement to grant him an employment contract and a 51 percent interest in the newspaper, according to the Chronicle. Florence Fang is chairwoman of the Examiner’s corporate parent and the family business, ExIn LLC. Ted Fang vowed to preserve a “second daily newspaper voice for the city,” though the afternoon paper has lost readers to the Chronicle during the first year of his management. The Fangs acquired the Examiner’s name and some other assets in 2000 from the Hearst Corp. for a token amount. The deal also included a subsidy from Hearst of up to $67 million over three years. Hearst had to give up the newspaper it founded in 1887 to satisfy antitrust concerns raised by its purchase of the Chronicle.
Doug Floyd was appointed to the new position of ombudsman for The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review, effective Dec. 1. On behalf of readers, Floyd serves as a watchdog on the newspaper’s reporting and editing practices to assure the highest standards of fairness, accuracy and journalistic independence, said W. Stacey Cowles, publisher of The Spokesman-Review. The Spokesman-Review joins about 50 other newspapers in the country that have ombudsmen, according to the Organization of News Ombudsmen.
Vicki Gowler, managing editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press since 1997, was named the newspaper’s editor Nov. 21. She has been with Knight Ridder since 1978, starting as a reporter at the Miami Herald. In 1988, she became assistant news editor in Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau and ran the 1992 presidential campaign coverage. Gowler’s appointment came five days after the departure of Walker Lundy, who left after 11 years as editor in St. Paul to become editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive of the Washington Post Co., has been named to the additional post of co-chairman at The International Herald Tribune, which is jointly owned by his company and The New York Times Co. He succeeds his mother, Katharine Graham, who died in July. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, chairman emeritus of the Times Co., is the other chairman at The International Herald Tribune.
Michael Holley has left the Chicago Tribune to return to The Boston Globe as sports columnist. Holley left The Globe in September to take a similar position at the Tribune. In January 2002, he resumed the spot he had held for the last two years at The Globe. According to Chicago Magazine, sources said the Tribune culture was a constant source of frustration to Holley, who graciously tried to avoid a public spat with the Tribune. Among his complaints, sources said, were editors who lacked communication skills, inter-department fiefdoms organized around each sport, and unwelcome editing changes made to his column. Two other sports columnists left the Tribune in the past 16 months.
Mindi Keirnan, 45, The (San Jose) Mercury News’ general manager, has retired. Keirnan, 45, oversaw business operations of the newspaper as well as some strategic planning. She said she is departing to ‘’seize a long-held dream of retiring early to explore the world.’’ Keirnan’s decision came as a surprise during a difficult financial time for The Mercury News, its parent company Knight Ridder and the newspaper industry in general. Keirnan had been at the paper since September 1999. Previously, she served as vice president of operations at Knight Ridder, where she had financial oversight of 10 of Knight Ridder’s 32 newspapers. She had worked in various business and editorial positions at Knight Ridder for more than 21 years.
Lisa Baird, 44, a former New York Post associate metropolitan editor, died Oct. 27 after a long illness. Baird mentored many of the Post’s young reporters from 1994 to 2001 and was known for her love of the written word. She began writing part-time for The Indianapolis Star at age 18. Born and raised in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Baird graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis and went on to work for several newspapers, including Newsday and The Record of Bergen County, N.J., where she became a columnist.
Casimir “Casey” Banas, 64, whose four decades of reporting on schools for the Chicago Tribune made him one of the city’s best known and most respected education writers, died after being struck by a train Nov. 18 in Naperville. Banas chronicled an era of unparalleled change in urban schools as he covered the civil rights sit-ins at Chicago schools in 1964 and repeated teachers’ strikes in the 1970s and ‘80s. He retired in 1999. In 1986, he founded the Chicago Tribune Illinois High School All-State Academic Team, a project he directed until 2000.
Tom Whalen, 84, a former SPJ chapter president and Texas news anchor, died Nov. 22. He covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and died 38 years to the day after Kennedy’s death. Whalen was part of the Dallas/Fort Worth Channel 5 news team that won a Sigma Delta Chi award in 1963 for their work. As SPJ chapter president in 1959-60, Whalen came to Fort Worth after World War II and worked for the Star-Telegram as a reporter, then for WBAP radio. He retired from WBAP as radio news director. Whalen also was active in the Gridiron Show. Colleague Phil Record recalls Press Club poker games between Gridiron rehearsals, and Frank Perkins remembers an honest, forthright newsman who enjoyed a good argument. “He loved it so much that he would change sides in mid-argument and then giggle at the discomfiture of his opponent,” Perkins said.
Richard Borwick, 93, a former Washington newspaperman, died Nov. 5 at his home in Washington after a stroke. He retired in 1987 as executive vice president of Newmyer Associates, a public affairs and government relations firm in Washington. Borwick, a native of Elmira, N.Y., was a 1929 graduate of Harvard University, where he also did graduate work in philosophy. In the early 1930s, he was a staff writer for The New York Times and for such magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s and Scribner’s. In the mid-1930s, he settled in the Washington area as a staff writer for the Washington Herald. From the late-1930s to 1942, he was a financial columnist for the merged Washington Times-Herald. After that, he spent a year at the Hearst-owned Philadelphia Record.
David Brumbaugh, 93, a former executive vice president of Time Inc. and former chairman of the Magazine Publishers Association, died Nov. 17 in Glen Cove, N.Y. Brumbaugh joined Time in 1933 and worked there for 38 years. He was instrumental in the planning and introduction of Life magazine in 1936. He also was known within Time Inc. as Mr. Zip for his role in representing the company in a long struggle with the government over postal rates. The company received a merit award from the Post Office Department for its influence of the development of Zoning Improvement Plan (ZIP) codes.
Patti Burns, 49, former KDKA-TV anchor, died Oct. 31 in Pittsburgh. Burns, who had one of the most recognizable faces in broadcasting in the Pittsburgh area, died after a seven-month battle with cancer. In the 1970s, she anchored the noon news on KDKA with her father, Bill Burns, a newscast many Pittsburgh residents called the “Patti and Daddy show.” It was the highest-rated newscast in the nation at one point, sometimes attracting as much as 90 percent of the local audience. After failing to reach a new contract with station management, Patti Burns retired in January 1997 to run her own media training and video production company.
Roy W. Cummings, 88, founder of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, died Nov. 24 in Honolulu. After graduating from the University of Missouri, Cummings moved to Hawaii in 1936 and went to work for The Honolulu Advertiser. He was fired in 1938 for his union activity. Cummings and other employees formed the Hawaii Newspaper Guild in 1937, but the group lost its charter after he and other leaders were fired. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin hired Cummings in 1943, where he worked as a war correspondent in the Pacific. After the war, he served as a copy editor. In 1949, Cummings reorganized the guild, using his home as its headquarters, and recruited the editorial staffs at the Star-Bulletin and The Advertiser. By 1956, membership had doubled to more than 200. Cummings went to work at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1963, retiring in 1983.