Thursday, November 18, 2004

Breaking News

Who says blogs don't do any reporting? Today we have two juicy little tiplets for you, bits of Cleveland news that you'll one day (in one case probably many weeks or even months from now) be reading about in mainstream pubs. But you'll read it here first.

Shula Neuman leaving WCPN. We hear that the Cleveland public radio brain drain continues, with Ms. Neuman having just given her notice to the station, headed for a p.r. job at Washington University in her native St. Louis. That follows After Nine host April Baer's decision earlier this year to move on to an NPR station in Portland, Oregon. Shula's beat was potentially one of the more interesting ones, economic development and the region's renaissance. But in addition to a nice little piece she did on my pals George and Valdis, I think she'll be best remembered for those annoying little "Making Change--Reinventing Our Economy" commercials for the Weatherhead School which cloyingly tried to masquerade as news updates, or the audio equivalents of USA Today quickie info boxes. Then again, that wasn't her fault. Anyway, we wish her well in her new venture. And memo to (WCPN news director) David P: let's try to give some serious thought to filling that vital slot with the right person...

Hundreds of CWRU Staffers to Relocate Downtown Next Summer. As I reported in a long Free Times feature earlier this year, CWRU (rebranded as Case) is racing to respond to Peter B. Lewis's devastating critique (once humiliatingly printed on the front page of the Sunday NYTimes) that this is a sick, diseased university taking an entire town down with it. Many millions are being spent (and perhaps too much of it wasted) on trying to erase that image. The imperious one (whose goals, if not his methods, we approve of) is not happy though: just this week, he delivered another tongue lashing whose theme, as always, is "you will collaborate, damn it!" Anyway, now comes word (confirmed unoffically from an inside source) that more than 300 CWRU fundraisers, communications people and related staff members are due to be relocated next summer. Like upperclassmen escaping the dorms for their own apartments, they're going off-campus to the Forest City-owned Halle Building on Euclid Avenue. That's not sitting well with many of them. But some are taking heart at one possible precedent: Pittsburgh's Carnegie-Mellon University, to which CWRU is inevitably compared as an economic/technological engine, tried the same thing, only to later send the staffers back to campus. No word yet on whether Case plans to follow CMU in another westward migration as it chases the holy grail of being America's most powerful learning community: building a satellite campus in Silicon Valley.

Web Developers Designing from the Same Play Book? We've recently noticed something here at Working With Words, where dozens of lowly paid but highly motivated interns labor in our extensive Internet labs, studying various web trends. Web developers are increasingly designing their own sites--which after all function as their capabilities brochure--by either copying each other or working from the same tired design 101 playbooks (we'll try to find out for you which it is). When the business was younger and more wide open, there was an impossibly wide range of designs. More recently, though, as the business has tightened up and they compete more ferociously with each other over a smaller total amount of work (lots of larger clients have brought much of that talent in-house), they all seem to have gotten into some kind of weird modular mode at about the same time. If you doubt that, try this little exercise: quickly type into your browser window the following URLs, for what are arguably the six most prominent web shops in the Cleveland area. Don't look at any of them individually, but after you have them all entered in succession, quickly hit the forward (or backward) button on your browser, and notice how they all use a horizontal block to draw the eye in. It's even positioned at almost precisely the same coordinates. And blue seems to be the color of choice. Here are those URLs:

We think Bush political operative Karl Rove may just be behind this trend. What do you think? Send your theories, conspiracy-based or otherwise, to


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