Mayor Ford visits MED as a patient

Interim Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford revealed Thursday that he chose The Regional Medical Center at Memphis for treatment and was hospitalized overnight when his blood pressure spiked two weeks ago.
Ford said he had worked a 14-hour day on county business and had forgotten to take his blood pressure medicine when the spike occurred. He shared the story at a meeting of The MED Task Force, a group of community leaders who have been meeting regularly to devise new sources of revenue for the financially struggling hospital.
Ford said he did not call ahead to the hospital, which is owned by the county, to let anyone know he would be arriving.
“I don’t think they treated me any different than anybody else in the emergency room,” he said.
Ford said he had no complaints about how doctors and other hospital staff cared for him.
The story compelled Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz to share a joke.
“The word on the street, at least down on the fourth floor, is Commissioner Malone called ahead to get a room for you,” Ritz said.
Ford and Deidre Malone are opponents for county mayor in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.
Ford said he had “MED Fever” and pointed out he had a personalized Elvis Presley car tag. Proceeds from the sale of the tags go to support the hospital’s trauma center, which is named in honor of Presley. He urged others to purchase the tags.

Paddle the Mississippi? Try Swimming It

While writing a story about this weekend’s Outdoors Inc. Canoe & Kayak Race, I remembered an Outside magazine article I read a few years ago by Memphis-born Hampton Sides about swimming the Mississippi River.

Yes, swimming the Mississippi.

Sides (in town this week to promote his new book, “Hellhound on His Trail”) swam from the Arkansas side of the river to Memphis under the watchful eye of river rat John Ruskey, who followed Sides and a couple other swimmers in a boat.

Sides admitted that swimming the river was a “subversive, if not suicidal idea” because of the river’s reputation as being dangerous and dirty.

“Growing up in Memphis, I was told it was sure death to go in that nasty, stinkin’ river,” he wrote. “It was a big drainage ditch swirling with the country’s foulest waste—Our National Colon. Every category of danger lurked in there: snags, whirlpools, menacing big-a** catfish, industrial sludge, burning chemicals, snarled trotlines, and cottonmouths, not to mention a wicked current intent on sweeping away everything in its path.”

I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a great read. Anyone up for a dip?

When Does The Daily News Go Live?

Readers may have noticed a change in the timing of our Web edition today. As of today, we’ve started publishing tomorrow’s print edition on the Web at roughly 4 pm the day before the print edition is distributed. (Email Edition subscribers have had early access to tomorrow’s edition for a few years.)

In the past, we waited to update the editorial until midnight. In other words, tomorrow’s print edition would go live at midnight tonight. (Breaking news has always gone online as soon as possible.)

There are a number of reasons for the change, but the simplest is that we have the news ready and done so we should publish it. I could use a lot of buzzwords to describe this philosophical strategic shift, but I can maybe best summarize this change with the phrase: “Uh, like, duh.”

Put another way, why didn’t we do this sooner?

The main reason for waiting is that I was concerned that publishing the news early on the Web would hurt print subscriptions. This is one of those callous, cautious, monetary decisions that publishers are forced to make (and which cause me no small amount of consternation, given that I’m neither callous nor cautious.)

However, over time, I’ve become convinced that we are best off publishing our news as quickly as possible — in every format possible — and not worrying about one format hurting another. Readers will choose the format that suits them best.

My best example of this is my 72-year-old father, who reads three newspapers every day, all in print. He will never, ever, read a paper online. Meanwhile, his 42-year-old son (aka, me) reads four newspapers every day, all online. The publishers of these papers make money off both of us. (See callous and monetary considerations, above.) They just make that money in different ways.

To my surprise, a part of what has convinced me to make this change has been the growth in the number of our Twitter followers. I don’t particularly like Twitter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize it’s very obvious power to publish content widely, quickly and cheaply. We crossed 1,000 followers this week. We have nearly 800 fans on Facebook. And we’ve done very little to make this happen — little in the way of marketing those avenues, I should say. We have done one thing to promote Twitter and Facebook: We’ve produced many consistently interesting and smart articles about Memphis business, politics, and the issues in between.

There is one thing that will not change on our Web site, however: We continue to publish actual distinct editions of the paper online. If you look down the left side of the Web site, you’ll see links to every day’s edition of The Daily News. The links, if you follow them, go back years. Very few newspapers do this. Instead, they constantly update their home page with new articles, creating an ever-changing yet largely amorphous representation of the current news.

I understand why CNN does this. Breaking news is their schtick.

I don’t understand why The New York Times — and virtually every other newspaper in the country — does it.

Why? Because, since the first newspaper was published, I believe firmly that readers have reserved the right to stack up their newspapers — on their desk, their hearth, or their nightstand — and “get caught up” when they have time.

We make a point of offering you that option. If you miss a day, it is there for you, on the Web or in email, in it’s entirety.

Put another way, go to The New York Times — or The Wall Street Journal or the CA — and try to figure out what the most important news of April 26th was.

So enjoy your news at 4 pm. I keep thinking there’s a name for a newspaper that publishes an edition every afternoon. It’s a radical idea, after all. I might even start calling us an “afternoon paper.” It’s kinda catchy, I think.

Eric Barnes, Publisher

Dear Heavenly Father

I’ve covered a lot of corporate annual meetings. BancorpSouth’s annual meeting this week included something I haven’t run into much.

At the beginning, a prayer. Asking the Lord’s blessings on the bank as it navigates the recession.

There’s got to be a metaphor in there, somewhere.

Social media results for nonprofits pondered

Many nonprofit organizations are considering how much time and effort should be devoted to social media.
Recent articles in two respected publications in the nonprofit community are casting doubts about the effectiveness of the communications tools.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports “Social Media Yet to Bring Big Money to Charities.”
philanthropy.com/blogPost/Social-Media-Yet-to-Bring-Big/23533/
Also, a column by James David Morgan in Nonprofit Newswire, an online feature of The Nonprofit Quarterly was recently posted entitled “Four Reasons Your Nonprofit Should Reconsider Facebook.”

Dansette

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