Saturday, March 20, 2010

From the Editor: News Journal will look different next week

David Kennard
News Journal

Newspaper newsrooms are typically pretty chaotic places, but in the past week our folks have been especially anxious.

Today’s paper will be the last of its kind — of sorts.
Remodeling a newspaper is a little like remodeling a house — design, demolition and then reconstruction.

The design and demolition phases went pretty well, but it’s the reconstruction phase that takes the longest.

Next Sunday we hope to bring you a thicker paper with more features and news.

Sunday has always been our biggest effort, so this is a project that we hope will follow that model. And for the first time in a long time, your paper will actually grow bigger. That is virtually unheard of in this era of vanishing newspapers.

When you first open the paper, you will immediately notice a bigger A section. This will be filled with local news, opinions and a new feature we are calling our Issue One Page.

From week to week this will contain important news of a national scope, but with local impact.
That will be followed immediately by the Community Conversation section that has become such a popular part of the paper over the last few years.

We are leaving the Sports section alone, although with additional pages, we hope to have an opportunity to bring you more of it.

In the Lifestyles section, you’ll find all the same features you’ve told us you enjoy. Additionally you find some other features that we’ve been working on — some brand new and some we’ve dug from our archives.

That’s a quick overview of what you’ll see in coming weeks. And as we move into this period of slow economic growth, we hope to tweak things even more to make your paper a better value.

David Kennard is managing editor of the News Journal. You can contact him at or 419-521-7204.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Column: Our economic future is what we make it

By David Kennard
News Journal

Success is relative.

It is odd that local businesses consider 2009 a good year based on the fact that they didn’t have to lay anyone off. But these are the times we live in.

In today’s paper you’ll find four sections of VisionQuest that paint an honest and mostly positive picture of the challenges we face.

Mansfield is not alone in its climb out of the economic mire we’ve been thrust into.

Crawford County faces similar challenges.

While both counties are looking at rough years of recovery ahead, each will likely take different approaches.

Richland County’s diverse job base will help in its recovery. And unless a white knight comes to the rescue to fill the chasm left by a mostly gone GM, we can expect that recovery to take years.

Crawford County, on the other hand, has an economy based largely around agriculture.

Agriculture, while seasonal, provides stability year after year. Farmers spend — or invest money — to keep producing annually. Much of that money goes to support other businesses all around the area. Growers also tend to be a relatively stable bunch that like to spend money locally.

The ag industry, however, has been hurt largely by tighter regulations that cut into profit margins. This will force producers to look at new technologies and creative methods.

In Richland County, manufacturing will continue to be a strong part of the local economy, but manufacturers will likely never carry as much weight as they have in the past, not as long as the global economy continues to reward cheap labor and substandard merchandise.

Instead we will see successes on a smaller scale. Those manufacturers who will succeed will be those that capitalize on local assets and adapt quickly to customer demands.

In a roundtable discussion here at the News Journal a couple of weeks ago, Gorman-Rupp president Jeff Gorman showed real insight when he said our community must focus on building on our greatest assets.

“There’s a tremendous amount of positive assets here that other communities would kill for,” he said. “(L)ook at our infrastructure, you look at our logistics location, our low cost of living and housing, our local higher education, our numerous recreation, arts and cultural attractions, water, regional health care center, etc. — the list goes on and on.”

Without question, some of our greatest assets are our workers. We can only hope that in the months and years ahead, employers will find ways to judge their success not in jobs saved, but in jobs created.

David Kennard is managing editor of the News Journal. Call him at 419-521-7204 or e-mail

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

(Editorial) MedCentral setting a healthy example

MedCentral Health System took a positive step last week when it announced it would no longer hire smokers.

At first it may seem odd that an employer would issue such an edict, but after thinking it through, it makes sense that some businesses — especially health care providers — closely regulate the unhealthy habits of their workers.

Employers in highly skilled industries, such as health care services, rely on high functioning employees. These companies depend on employees that meet the physical demands required.

Sick days are reduced. Insurance coverage costs less. And customers are happier knowing health care providers walk the walk.

Plain and simple, hospitals are places of healing, and tobacco does not belong there.

New job applicants at Med- Central Health Systems will submit a urine test for nicotine use as well as drug use.

The 12 percent of the hospitals’ 2,600 employees who admitted to using tobacco will be required to smoke off of hospital grounds, but their employment will not be terminated.

The initiative is part of a wellness plan that began forming in July.

“Tobacco use was not our only focus,” said Brady Groves, co-chair of the wellness committee and manager of the health and fitness center. “There are health benefits to not smoking and we want to show this to other businesses and our patients.”

This move is not unprecedented.

Hospitals around the country have taken similar action. In fact in 2004, Bucyrus Community Hospital became the first hospital in Ohio to establish a tobacco-free campus.

There, anyone who wishes to use tobacco products must step off hospital property. This includes tobacco use in personal vehicles.

At Ashland Samaritan Hospital, employees cannot smoke while on duty, and hospital officials said they are watching the MedCentral policy to see if it is something they would initiate in the future.

Around the state, the policy exists at a handful of hospitals included the Akron-based Summa Health Systems the Cleveland Clinic and Medical Mutual of Ohio.

The main purpose of the policy is to ensure a healthy environment, but the policy brings a host of other benefits that just make sense.