Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A new look in the newsroom

The night desk at The News-Herald used to look like this:

As of Tuesday, the night desk looks like this:

The first image was after some initial dismantling, though parts of the unit had been dismantling on their own. General Manager Brian McCloskey located some unused desks in the building and configured an arrangement that provides all of us more drawers and more space to work in. We still have some unpacking to do, but I imagine we'll all settle in pretty quickly to our new digs.

-- Cheryl Sadler


Thursday, December 23, 2010

A very special trip to the post office

I was among many area residents standing in a long line at the post office one recent afternoon.

Of course, I expected to wait a while as people rushed to send last minute packages to loved ones around the globe. But, my package was important, and hours-long lines could not hinder me in my quest to send it.

Some of my fellow comrades in queue were also waiting patiently. Other seemed more frazzled, and one post office employee was trying to help us all get through the process as quickly as possible. This employee, a woman, was offering to teach us all how to use the automatic postal machine, a rather handy device that allows patrons to skip the wait and process their parcels electronically. This is limited, not surprisingly, to domestic use. My package was destined for a more far away land, and therefore I was resigned to my wait.

When the helpful employee came to me in line to ask if I would like to use the automatic machine, I merely smiled and pointed to the address on my package. When she saw where it was headed, she asked if I had filled out the proper customs forms. Not knowing such forms were necessary, I told her I had not, and she gave them to me.

The woman in front of me in line turned to see what I was doing. She must have known I had never filled this form out, and she offered to help.

"Are you sending this package to a brother or a boyfriend in Afghanistan?" she asked after helping me navigate the customs forms.

I told her I was not. In fact, I have never met the young man who will receive my package. I know very little about him beyond his name. He is my adopted soldier.

The woman told me she was sending her package to her son in Iraq. I told her all about my adopted soldier, and how some of my colleagues here at The News-Herald generously donated to his (yes, late) Christmas care package. We sent him a bunch of snacks and other goodies as a way to thank him for his service.

I told her about Adopt a Soldier, a program that matches volunteers with brave men and women stationed around the world. Volunteers are encouraged to send letters and packages to these soldiers whenever they can, offering support and thanks. This cause is one I can appreciate because my big brother spent a year in Iraq while I was in college.

My new friend and I talked more about our soldiers. I told her that mine, Alex, turned 20 shortly before his deployment. I told her that I knew he liked country music and once worked as a ranch hand in Nebraska. I told her that it was pretty neat that he found me on Facebook, and how it was exciting to put a face with his name. And I told her that I hoped he liked the package and that it wouldn't be a big deal that I probably missed Christmas.

She assured me that he could hardly be disappointed in the package, late or not, and she knew from experience that soldiers were usually so excited to get mail that it rarely mattered what it was--any piece of home is comforting.

We were finally at the head of the line, and I approached the counter to have my packaged weighed and processed. As the woman was ready to send her own, she came over told me she would like to pay for the shipping on mine.

I was shocked. This kind woman was already sending her own soldier a Christmas package, and she was going to pay for another young man's gift.

I regret that I never got this woman's name. Her overwhelming kindness was moving. I already felt good having donated my time to supporting this unknown soldier, our adopted hero, and this woman's generosity made me feel that much better.

If she is reading this, and I hope she is, I just want her to know that her gesture will not soon be forgotten.

For more on Adopt a Soldier, click here.

--Danielle Capriato


Monday, December 13, 2010

Yikes, time to think about county, state fair dates

Good grief, it's still 12 days until Christmas, we are in the midst of a major winter storm and the Ohio Department of Agriculture has just released the schedule for Ohio's 94 county, independent and state fairs.

The fair season kicks off in Paulding County on June 13. It wraps up Oct. 15 in Fairfield County.

As for locally, Ashtabula's county fair dates are Aug. 9 through 14; Lake County's fair dates are Aug. 16 to 21; and the Great Geauga County Fair dates are Sept. 1 to 5.
All, of course, are for 2011.

Oh, one more thing. The dates for the Ohio State Fair in Columbus are July 27 to Aug. 7.

For a complete roster of fair dates visit the department's web site at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, December 6, 2010

*NSYNC in the newsroom

That's right, folks: The legendary 90s boy band has been spotted in the newsroom here at The News-Herald.

Well, maybe the *real* Justin, Chris, Lance, Joey and JC weren't here, but Executive Editor Tricia Ambrose brought in her daughter's old bobbleheads to show me and Cheryl since we're such big 90s pop music fans (examples A, B and C). They currently stand in a place of honor on the copy desk, next to Cheryl's desk.

Isn't it amazing how well the features of the figurines match up with the actual pop stars? Justin is probably my favorite of the bunch, as far as likenesses go. Although Lance and JC are pretty true-to-life as well.

--Danielle Capriato

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fear keeps Muslim story out of print

A pervasive atmosphere of fear has begun to affect my stories, notably one intended for the News-Herald's Religion page on Saturday. It was an interview with the two Muslims who will be speaking on Sunday at East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland. Both are proud U.S. citizens and work with interfaith  organizations to explain elements of Islam and answer questions from their audiences. It is their hope that with knowledge and solid information many misconceptions can be put to rest.  But they are afraid of being targeted by hate-mongers, especially in the light of some current events.. At the conclusion of our fine interview they asked that their full  names not be used.
Affi and Sahid

That's something The News-Herald does not permit. It's a policy rooted in the belief that readers have the right to reach their own conclusions about what others say.  Attribution of statements to those who make them also causes the speaker to choose his or her words carefully,  and hopefully accurately, knowing  they will have to live with them once the story has run..We don't use just first names, fake names or run stories with nameless sources in them.

Until I began to read the anonymous comments on the online versions of stories the paper has published, I hadn't appreciated how a cloak of anonymity causes some people to say cruel things. Perhaps that very anonymity is one of the reasons for the widespread fear that seems to be everywhere these days.

One of my Muslim subjects once experienced a death threat against her then 8-year son after she spoke out. And both know how easily an address can be found on the internet once a name is entered.   .

One of the points both made was the recent tendency by many to equate Islamic principals with the words and actions by various governments of the Middle East. Both came here from Iran several decades ago, a country where women had the right to vote, own property and be paid equally long before our own equal rights amendments. The woman made the point that the wife of the Prophet Mohammad was a business owner and the prophet worked for her. "He married the boss," she said. The rights afforded women in Islam are believed descended from that fact, she said. A woman who inherits money or property from her father or mother keeps that property and never has to share it with her husband.   The local woman is a widow after a longtime happy marriage to an Irish Catholic.She's retired now but often volunteers as a translator from Farsi, the most widely spoken Persian language and her native tongue.  The man is married, the father of a young child and works as an an engineer. Both came to this country as students. 

When they are introduced to the audience at East Shore Unitarian Church only their first names will be used. Their fear goes with them even when they speak to those coming the hear what they say..  

 The session follows a noon vegetarian luncheon at the church, 10848 Chillicothe Road in Kirtland. Reservations for that are needed by today and the cost is $5. Call 440-256-3400. The presenters, members of the Unity Mosque in Strongsville, will not cover the history of Islam but instead will discuss how they see their religion, addressing why they have been hesitant to speak out in today‚Äôs world of 24-hour news showing the radical side of Islam.
It should be a real eye opener.
Janet Podolak