It's going to be a memorable month for longtime Washington Bureau reporter Jerry Zremski, who is one of The News' most accomplished and productive staff members. Zremski has been elected president of the National Press Club, based in Washington, D.C., and will be inaugurated Jan. 20 at a "Black Tie and Snow Boots Ball," the title of which is, of course, a nod to Buffalo, Zremski's adopted hometown.
Zremski also takes over as bureau chief of The News Washington Bureau, as Douglas Turner -- who has held that top post since 1989 and distinguished himself with his energetic, hard-nosed reporting -- has decided to reduce his work schedule somewhat.
Turner, who is the former executive editor of the Buffalo Courier-Express as well as a former Olympic rower, takes on the title of senior correspondent and will continue to write his well-read Monday column as well as continue reporting from Washington.
Zremski, who joined The News in 1984 as a business reporter, became a Washington reporter in 1989. He was embedded with U.S. troops during the beginning of the Iraq War and is a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
"It's going to be a big, busy year, but I'm looking forward to it," Zremski said. "Doug and I will be covering Washington as aggressively as we always have, but I'll also have this Press Club role, where I plan to be a strong advocate of press freedom."
Sister act, Part 2
A Viewpoints piece I wrote last month about the influence of Catholic nuns -- and the sharp decline in their numbers -- generated a great deal of response. Many readers wrote to tell of their own experiences with sisters who taught them in school, sharing my sense of sadness at their waning influence.
I also heard from many sisters, some of whom, quite understandably, objected to being seen as part of an endangered species. Several sent me a recent article from Time magazine, noting the decision of some young women across the country to become sisters. Others told me of the important work they are doing as social workers, teachers, college administrators and more. Their message might be boiled down as this: "Don't count us out! We're still here and still doing God's work." That they are, and we can be grateful for it.
Bridal, obituary policies
While this newspaper tries to be cutting-edge in some areas, we sometimes are the last to make a change that other newspapers around the country have made. That's been the case in our publication of bridal notices and in our obituary policy.
Early next month, that will change. Bridal announcements, long written in our newsroom as editorial matter, will become part of new "Celebrations" pages, handled by the Classified Advertising department. That means that readers can now determine for themselves what the size and content of those announcements will be, and that there is a charge to have them published. Those pages will also include graduation, engagement and other celebratory announcements.
The News obituary policy will change, too. The News is, as far as I know, alone among metropolitan daily newspapers in publishing a full obituary -- free of charge -- for any resident in Erie and Niagara counties who dies. That practice has become untenable, using up a great deal of space and staff at a time when, like many newspapers, we are under increasing financial pressures.
As of the beginning of the year, full obituaries will be written only on the basis of "newsworthiness." We will run obituaries of prominent citizens, or those who have had very significant contact with the public through their work or activities. Others will receive a brief listing noting their name, date of death, their town, and their occupation. Because that is produced by the editorial department, it is considered "news" and is therefore free of charge. The News advertising department will continue to run paid Death Notices as it has in the past.
We hope News readers will understand and adjust to these changes, which are very much an inevitable sign of changing times in the newspaper industry.