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So Long To the Champ?

We’ve had a blog post titled “So Long to the Champ” at the top of the Blog for over a week now but, of course, the champ — Mr. Willie Herenton — isn’t quite gone.

He also isn’t quite back. In fact, it’s really not clear what he is. Where he is. Or why he is doing what he is doing.

So we can’t quite welcome him back. And can’t quite wish him well.

We’re just watching, taking notes, and trying to process the “complexities” of what is happening.

And, of course, we needed a new headline at the top of the Blog.

Northwest, Delta & The Memphis Airport

I spent far too much time in a number of different airports over the last few days, including a number of visits to the single worst airport in the United States: ATL, the Atlanta airport.

I was thinking about this in the context of our recent article on ongoing improvements to the Memphis Airport, a starkly different article in the New York Times today about delayed and canceled improvement projects at many other airports nationwide, and the steady and perhaps ominous (for Memphis, at least) replacement of Northwest Airlines signage with Delta signage that I saw during my trip.

Atlanta is the worst US airport I’ve ever used. It’s not for a lack of amenities: there appear to be a nearly unlimited range of dining, entertainment and retail options throughout the airport. The concourses are architecturally interesting. The high windows offer beautiful, panoramic views.

The problem is that I’m never able to use or enjoy any of these apparently wonderful options or features because, in Atlanta, I’m always sprinting from Concourse A to Concourse D, bag in tow, frantic because, as always, I’ve arrived late.

In all my years traveling, I’m not sure I’ve ever not been late arriving in Atlanta only to find that, after sprinting across the airport, my flight is delayed, be it an official delay that leaves you wandering around the gate hoping for some news or explanation of what’s going on, or the unofficial “we’re 19th in line to take off” delay that gets you in your seat on time but leaves you rolling across the tarmac at a somewhat sub-supersonic 2 MPH.

On one recent trip, the pilot actually announced, “It’ll take longer to get to the runway today than the flight itself will take.” I thought it was an expected but welcome bit of irony from the pilot. It wasn’t. I fell asleep on the plane, woke up thinking we must be in the air, but then realized we were still only number 3 for takeoff.

All this makes me hope that Memphis does in fact benefit from the Northwest/Delta merger by taking some flights from the obviously overburdened Atlanta airport. I’m sure Delta will make its decisions about cutbacks or expansions in service at the Memphis airport entirely on cost and profits, which is fine. But one has to think — or maybe it’s just hope — that all those delays in Atlanta must result in some sort of additional cost, some diminishment of profit, that could be addressed by utilizing Memphis more, not less.

Memphis is an imperfect airport — a number of truly surreal delays in getting luggage from baggage claim come to mind and the airport lacks the amenities and architectural grandeur that swept through so many airports over the last decades. But it’s a perfectly pleasant, thoroughly manageable airport that, for the time being at least, will get you anywhere you want to go. Let’s hope it stays that way — or even gets better.

Posted by Eric Barnes, publisher of The Daily News, The Memphis News and Chandler Reports.

The Week in Review

A quick note that, as of this week, we’ll be publishing our weekly edition, The Memphis News, on the weekend. The next edition will come out this Saturday.

There are a number of reasons for the switch. First and foremost, publishing on the weekend fits the content mix better. To some degree, we’ve always viewed The Memphis News as a kind of week in review, with a mix of the most important events from the prior week along with an in-depth story – one that’s longer and more multi-faceted than we’re able to do in the daily – on an issue or topic of relevance.

Because a portion of the weekly edition’s content is essentially a selection of the key stories from the prior week, when we published on Wednesday, there was a lag between publication and the prior week’s stories. There won’t be now.

In terms of the cover story and editorial page, those elements have always been a better fit on a weekend, I think. They’re more the kinds of stories you want to have time with – my ideal reader picks the paper up on a Saturday or Sunday and takes it to a coffee shop, to their breakfast at home, or even to brunch.

We’ll continue to be distributed in office buildings across town and in or near key business lunch locations. So, our core business readership – if they don’t pick the paper up over the weekend – will still have easy access to the paper.

Thanks to everyone who reads the paper. We appreciate it.

On the CA Story

More about our story on the CA — and Chris Peck’s response — this time from Smart City.

http://smartcitymemphis.blogspot.com/2009/05/clash-of-dailies-elevates-little-guy.html

The praise of Bill Dries couldn’t be more deserved. It’s all true, and more.

One thing the story reflects is a theme I’ve heard in so much feedback I’ve gotten since the story and my column first appeared: people want, desperately, for the Commercial Appeal to be successful, relevant, intelligent. They don’t want it to fail. They want it to succeed.

And when the CA is relevant and intelligent, they can dominate a story, as they have with their recent series of articles on trouble at the rape crisis center. Here’s hoping they keep that sort of reporting going.

The Impossible Dream: A Grocery Store in Midtown?

All I can say is Yes! Andy Meek has the story that Midtown is a big step closer to having a new grocery store, this one at Overton Square. As someone who’s lived and worked in Midtown and Downtown for 13 years now, the prospect of a new, clean, well-organized and properly run grocery store within a short driving distance is almost too much to handle.

The company, Associated Wholesale Grocers, operates different types of grocery stores around the country. If the deal goes through, which isn’t certain, it’s not yet clear which type of AWG store will be built. Let’s hope it’s a Thriftway, though. I’ve been to Thriftway stores up in the Pacific Northwest and they are usually great.

The impossible dream.

The holy grail.

The cliche’s abound.

What’s it say about my age that I’m so excited about this? Sigh.

Regardless, I’m excited. And if a grocery store does go in at the big retail development at Poplar and Cleveland, as is possible, then us Midtowners could actually have options for shopping. The dream, the dream.

(And it’s pretty cool that Andy broke this newest development, since the news itself has over the years sparked remarkably fierce competition among us, The CA and The MBJ — a competitiveness second only to coverage of a possible Target in Midtown. Andy? Any update on the Target?)

Dansette

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