2007 in Review: Nebraska’s Newspapers

2007 included farewells to many familiar faces in Nebraska newspapers.

On June 21, Lincoln Journal Star cartoonist Paul Fell was revealed to be among those discovered to have contributed to political campaigns in an MSNBC report. Journal Star editor Kathleen Rutledge acknowledged the report and officially announced the end of Fell’s relationship with the paper, which had spanned more than 20 years.

Several days later, MSNBC published Fell’s response (pdf | html), which includes reference to his pornographic cartooning career and how the Journal Star insulted him by bringing on another freelance cartoonist a few years ago.

Rutledge announced she was stepping down on October 26, moving on to retirement.

Another Nebraska newspaper mainstay, Harold Andersen, saw his post-retirement career come to an end in 2007. After retiring as Omaha World-Herald publisher in 1989 in the middle of the Franklin scandal, Andersen went on to become a part-time columnist in the paper’s opinion pages until late this summer.

While he attempted to present the situation as a desire to enter the world of cyberspace with his website, HaroldAndersen.com, his repeated efforts to start a Harold newsletter and his attempts to have his columns printed in other Omaha newspapers post-World Herald made it fairly evident that Andersen was forced off the OWH’s daily double-page opinion spread.

The year wasn’t a total loss for Andersen, however. He was able to continue his quest against Malcolm X, helping block X from the Nebraska Hall of Fame. His rationale included the fantastic line, “[Malcolm X] denigrated Christianity.”

Andersen’s successor as World-Herald publisher, John Gottschalk, also announced he was stepping down. The World Herald covered his accomplishments after the announcement. Rumor has it that as soon as he’s out the door, the newspaper will finally do something about its website.

Omaha.com took on a heap of criticism when it failed to handle the visitor load brought about by Steve Pederson’s termination as well as the subsequent football news; that was nothing compared to the barrage of people desiring information after the Westroads shootings on December 5. Unfortunately for the World-Herald, the website’s failure was well-documented and publicized by attentive bloggers, also known as “those people who aren’t real journalists.”

2007 wasn’t all about departures, though.

The Journal Star beefed up its 402 section with new recruit Micah Mertes in its latest attempts to figure out how newspapers can be hip and cool for the kids.

Actual young people aren’t entirely on board yet, but at least Chief Casady is.

Please feel free to share other big events in the past year of Nebraska newspapers in the comments below. I’m sure there were more than 5.