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Depth, research separate media

March 2, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
Some notes from around and about the Mirror newsroom to help keep you abreast of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do:

Because of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle, newspapers have been forced to change maybe more than others in the communications industry.

That’s why you have altoonamirror .com and document posting, breaking news, blogs and material typically reserved for Web sites. (You even can get school cancellations and delays).

Newspapers find themselves simultaneously challenged and energized to complement their Web sites as well as posting the news of the day.

But there’s at least one aspect of storytelling that the electronic media can’t do as well as their print brethren, and that’s depth.

While we strive to prove and achieve that daily, sometimes there are examples that further illustrate the point.

We hope you took the time to read Jay Young’s fascinating story and research last Sunday about the local family still seeking closure from the death of their brother, Sheldon Chambers, a co-pilot whose Army aircraft crashed in 1944 during World War II.

Remains from the plane were discovered in India more than a year ago, but the family still is waiting for the government to conduct a recovery mission.

On a much lighter note, we hope you’re enjoying Buck Frank’s wonderful series on the biggest 20 shots in Blair County high school basketball during the last 50 years.

Frank combed through old clippings and microfilm and reconnected us with many of the greatest moments in the county’s scholastic sports history.

The series is running through March 16 and, perhaps ironically, comes at a time when the Mirror sports staff, with help from our graphic and photography aces, received five awards from The Associated Press.

Part of a local newspaper’s job is to chronicle history, and sometimes you don’t fully appreciate it until many years, maybe even 50 or more, have passed.

Coveted paper

With respect to the above two subjects, almost nothing drives the Mirror’s single-copy sales better than the annual Baby of the Year tabloid, which ran Feb. 21

In part to avoid customers fighting over the Mirror at Sheetz, we bumped our press run by about 6,000 copies (or 43,000 total) that day.

There’s only one other time of the year we crank out that many papers: Thanksgiving/Black Friday.

The babies’ ballot box closes Friday.

Fond memories

Condolences to the St. Francis University community on the passing of former school president Father Vincent Negherbon.

Father Vince was instrumental in leading St. Francis through its richest basketball era and was the person who informed Maurice Stokes of the school’s intentions to name the new campus basketball arena after him in 1970. Stokes cried.

Since then, Father Vince sat in about the same red seat every game. During the past dozen years or so, we’d make a friendly preseason, over-under lunch bet on the number of games the Red Flash would win.

I called Father Vince last March to settle up. He was just starting to slip but agreed to meet at our favorite location (not Spanky’s).

About an hour before lunch, word came down that Rene Portland was resigning/surrendering. I lost all track of time.

Feeling awful, I called Father Vince the next morning.

“Father, I’m so sorry. I forgot about lunch yesterday.”

There was a delayed pause on the other end before he said, “So did I!”

Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or His Web blog, “once a sports guy,” can also be found at

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