Thursday, February 14, 2008


I owe you an explanation.

When I started this blog back in 2005, I did so as a way to point out the flaws in my profession, and to let people know what goes on behind the scenes in local news, whether it was WNEP using Wikipedia as an on-air source, the firings of veteran WBRE personnel, or WYOU's Dialing for News. I never set out to make anyone look bad; I've worked alongside many people here, and most are wonderful people who love to do what they tell the stories people want to know, and need to know.

For better or worse, I did that here. Beale's Bites attracted a lot of attention, namely from current and former journalists in the area, who shared their stories and their experiences, both good and bad. Unfortunately, some of that drew in the people who wanted to do nothing more than mindlessly grind axes and call people names. Even the best moderation couldn't keep that away.

The negativity got to me, and I had to back off. So I did. One day, I logged out of the blog and my e-mail account, and stayed away for about three months. I hope you could understand that, even if you wondered why I never responded to any e-mails. Time passed, and I thought about returning, so I checked my e-mail, and found plenty of supportive messages, urging me to keep it up, provided I didn't end up like Jimmy Hoffa.

So I returned, rested, refreshed, and ready to go. All would be well, except for the fact that the negativity returned, perhaps twice as bad as it was. Endless comments to wade through, calling people names, bringing personal matters into the discussion, etc. But that wasn't the spark that made me, once again, log out, and drop out.

One day, I received a phone call from an acquaintence who works in the "business." The message I received from a family member was regarding a matter at the station, and that the person specifically wanted to let me know about it. I took that as a sign. "You're busted, Howard." The fact that the call was placed to my home, and was given to a family member, troubled me. I was not about to lose my friends and my career over a blog, and let that affect my family in any way.

I logged out, and never returned, not even to check e-mails.

I do hope you can understand why I did what I did. Regardless, I felt I owed an explanation to everyone who read Beale's Bites or e-mailed me. You are the people who helped make this site what it was intended to be, an open and honest discussion about the state of journalism in this area. I can't thank you enough; this site was never about me, it was about you (at the risk of sounding like WYOU's promotions department!).

But I will not be able to continue Beale's Bites anymore, for the various reasons listed above. I've retired, turned in my press pass, gone to that great newsroom in the sky (where the water cooler always works), whatever you want to call it. There's still a few blogs around here where you can get your insider fix, such as NEPA Media. A former news director also has a VERY excellent blog about his experiences in journalism. I won't link to it, because I don't know if he'd want the attention, but I'll bet a lot of you already know about it. E-mail me if you'd like the link.

As for the title of this post, it was used to signify when a story ended. One of my former editors told me this was used back in the newspaper era (sometime before computers, but after stone tablets), so a reporter who filed a story had a way to let the editor know when the story was done, as opposed to, "Did I miss the last page of this story? I don't know!" I've used it ever since, as a tribute to the days when journalism was in the interest of the public, and not in the interest of the shareholders. Hopefully those days will return.

Thank you all.