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News Briefs 10.1.03

Kodak breaks eggs for omelet

Eastman Kodak's big news broke too late for us to outline the company's "Digitally Oriented Strategy to Accelerate Growth" last week. But we'd already carried the story in essence. (See City Newspaper, September 24-30, "Hocus Focus: Will the Company Town Lose Its Magic?") Now we all wait for Kodak to achieve its goal of generating $20 billion in revenue by 2010 through its newly "diversified business portfolio."

            For the Rochester area, the portfolio will become progressively lighter as the company snips away its paper film business and lots of jobs. The local workforce has dropped about two-thirds from its high point --- more than 60,000 in the early 1980s. But we suspect we ain't seen nothin' yet.

            Part of Kodak's September 25 bombshell news release reads like a product warning label. "Actual results may differ from those expressed or implied in forward-looking statements," says the release, in boilerplate meant to satisfy federal regs.

            The boilerplate tells of various "risk factors." Yes, we all realized the company wasn't immune to "general economic, geo-political, public health, and business conditions," not to mention the cupidity of competitors and fickleness of consumers. But Rochesterians probably aren't so understanding of "personnel reductions" as Kodak pursues "development of [its] business in emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia."

Conspiracy theory

Some readers are accusing the Democrat and Chronicle of initially downplaying the Bob Lonsberry episode.

            The newspaper broke the story that the WHAM 1180 AM radio host made racially charged remarks about Rochester's black mayor on its September 20 editorial page. City resident John Borek says the newspaper, prior to the editorial appearing, refused to run his letter about the incident, citing a policy that it doesn't break news on its editorial page and that a larger story was forthcoming.

            Instead, the paper gave Lonsberry a "thumbs down."

            "They buried it," Borek says. "They put it in with 10 other items."

            Borek is president-elect of the Sector Four Common Council, made up of five neighborhood associations in southwest Rochester.

            "This issue is larger than Lonsberry," Borek says. "If this isn't reported in the Democrat and Chronicle, what else wouldn't be?"

            A representative of the Democrat and Chronicle says that every story is judged on its merits and there was no attempt to bury this one.

            "Thumbs up, Thumbs down is one of the most popular features in the paper," he says. "You don't bury it by putting it in Thumbs up, Thumbs down."

            He admits, however, that the editorial page is "not the traditional place to find breaking news."

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