Undercurrents

In the "I'm not heavy, I'm your newspaper" department, the May issue of American Journalism Review offers an in-depth look at the Sun-Sentinel and its corporate parent, Chicago's Tribune Co.

At the Sun-Sentinel and other Tribune papers, there is "a business culture that permeates every edition," national media analyst Ken Auletta writes, then quotes Sun-Sentinel Publisher Robert Gremellion as saying he's shifting money from the newsroom into multimedia (read "television") to provide "a promotional vehicle to brand" the paper. While old-fashioned newspeople believe in protecting editorial independence by maintaining strict separation between a paper's news and business departments, Sun-Sentinel Editor Earl Maucker proclaims, "There are no walls," to the point that advertising salespeople are free to call news-bureau chiefs.

Noting that Sun-Sentinel editors attend two focus-group sessions per month to learn what readers want, Auletta continues that Maucker "is thoroughly up-to-date on Tribune Co. philosophy: 'This is in all honesty a reader-driven newspaper.' Maucker says he wants readers to be 'comfortable.' And they won't be if the newspaper 'breaks on the doorstep' because it is 'heavy' with government and investigative news."

Auletta continues that "the Sun-Sentinel owns fast-growing Broward County," quoting Maucker that "People would die for the kind of problems I've got!"

Comfortable problems for a comfortable paper.

With semistraight face we report that those close to Republican Defeated County Commissioner Ed Kennedy -- currently computer guru for Clerk of Courts Bob Lockwood -- are telling political insiders Kennedy wants to run for Broward supervisor of elections in 2000.

As New Times revealed in February, Lockwood hired Kennedy -- a former telephone-company lobbyist -- as a $110,000 consulting "bird dog" on a complex justice-system computer project ("Check the Manual Under Dumb," February 12). But since his clerk's office status seems to rise and fall depending on how much newspaper heat his boss is getting, Kennedy obviously needs long-term job stability. What better place than the elections office, where Republican supervisor Jane Carroll, first elected in 1968, is retiring in 2000.

Of course Kennedy might suffer a pay cut -- the supervisor's job pays only $108,732 -- and, since several term-limited Democrats lust after the job, he must actually win an election, something in which he has as much expertise as operating computers: He lost his 1992 commission campaign despite being an eight-year incumbent.

Although Kennedy didn't return phone calls to discuss his year-2000 vision, political types around the Governmental Center are speculating on what changes Supervisor Ed might bring. As a self-proclaimed "ramrod" of "scenarios," he might actually show up at the office (where these days Carroll is seen as frequently as sunshine in Seattle). More intriguing, after studying Lockwood's cost-effective telephone system -- and unique management skills -- Kennedy no doubt will create long lines of voters, then charge 90 cents a minute for their time in the voting booth.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1572, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbroward.com.

 
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