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LOAD-DATE: December 25, 2008
GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Jaison Ipe, right, a student at the Yale School of Management, introducing his group's mock hedge fund to a panel of bona fide hedge fund insiders and questioners. (PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHER CAPOZZIELLO FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

28 of 1231 DOCUMENTS

The New York Times
December 25, 2008 Thursday

Late Edition - Final

Thomas B. Congdon, 77; Editor of Best Sellers
SECTION: Section A; Column 0; Metropolitan Desk; Pg. 31
LENGTH: 560 words
Thomas B. Congdon Jr., a prominent book editor who shepherded into print Russell Baker's memoir, Peter Benchley's biggest best seller and David Halberstam's mammoth tome about the auto industry, eventually founding his own publishing house, died on Tuesday at home in Nantucket, Mass. He was 77.

The causes were Parkinson's disease and congestive heart failure, said his daughter, Elizabeth Caffey Congdon Pinto.

Described by authors as a meticulous, old-fashioned line editor who wrote long, detailed memos in response to manuscripts, Mr. Congdon worked at several publishing houses in the 1970s -- Harper & Row, Doubleday and E. P. Dutton, where he was editor in chief.

He started his own company, first called Congdon & Lattes and then Congdon & Weed, in 1979. The company went bankrupt six years later, but he continued editing books for other publishers, including ''The Reckoning,'' by Mr. Halberstam, which William Morrow published in 1986.

His first major success, at Doubleday, was Peter Benchley's 1974 novel, ''Jaws.'' By then he was already a mentor to a young biographer, A. Scott Berg, who was at work on a book about the editor Maxwell Perkins. That year Mr. Berg turned in a manuscript in which, he recalled in an interview, his own prose tended to imitate, at different times, the style of other writers -- namely Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe, authors Perkins worked with.

''I did three or four drafts under Tom's tutelage,'' Mr. Berg said. ''And I remember once, he circled a paragraph, and he said: 'You know who this sounds like? Nobody. Write the whole book like this. That's your voice.' ''

The book, ''Maxwell Perkins: Editor of Genius,'' won a National Book Award in 1980.

Russell Baker, the former columnist for The New York Times who met Mr. Congdon in the 1960s, recalled in an interview that his best-selling memoir, ''Growing Up,'' would never have been written without him.

''It really came out of a lot of vinous dinners around New York,'' Mr. Baker said. ''After a lot of wine, I'd start talking about my uncles; I had a lot of uncles. And Tom said, 'This really ought to be a book.' ''

Mr. Baker continued: ''I wrote a draft of it, and finally Tom got back to me and said: 'You've done this as a piece of reporting. You've got to create these people as they were when they were young.' I threw the whole thing away and started over. A lot of the success of that book is due to him.''

Thomas Boss Congdon Jr. was born in New London, Conn., on March 17, 1931. He graduated from Yale and after the Korean War he served in the Navy on the battleships Wisconsin, in the Pacific, and Iowa, in the Mediterranean. He studied journalism at Columbia University and became an editor at The Saturday Evening Post. He moved to book publishing in 1968.

In addition to his daughter Elizabeth, of Jamestown, R.I., Mr. Congdon is survived by his wife of 50 years, Constance; a brother, William Hanes Caffey Congdon, of Santa Fe, N.M.; a sister, Mary Lou Congdon Price of Columbia, S.C.; another daughter, Pamela Lemle Congdon Walker, of Milton, Mass.; and three granddaughters.

''Tom's motto was that an editor should make love to his writer,'' said Christopher Buckley, whose first book, ''Steaming to Bamboola,'' about the merchant marine, was edited by Mr. Congdon. ''And Tom's writers felt made love to. I know I did.''
CATEGORY: Books and Magazines
PERSON: Thomas B. Congdon
LOAD-DATE: December 25, 2008
DOCUMENT-TYPE: Obituary (Obit)

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

29 of 1231 DOCUMENTS

The New York Times
December 23, 2008 Tuesday

Late Edition - Final

Internet Portal in China Buys Share of Ad Firm
SECTION: Section B; Column 0; Business/Financial Desk; Pg. 3
LENGTH: 578 words
The Sina Corporation, one of China's biggest Internet portals, said Monday that it would acquire a large piece of Focus Media, one of the leading advertising and digital media companies in China, for about $1 billion in stock.

The deal, which was announced late Monday in Shanghai, pushes Sina, which controls, into the business of outdoor and in-store advertising on liquid-crystal display monitors, diversifying an Internet giant that evolved as a kind of Chinese version of Yahoo, with news, blogs and online entertainment.

The deal also breaks up or substantially alters Focus Media, a company based in Shanghai that just over a year ago was one of China's high-flying advertising companies, valued then at more than $7 billion, after a successful listing on Nasdaq a few years earlier.

Both companies are now struggling to deal with fierce competition in China and an advertising slowdown that is expected to accelerate further in 2009.

Shares of the two companies, both of which trade on Nasdaq, fell sharply on the news Monday, apparently over worries that Sina was paying a high price for the assets and that Focus Media was going to change its focus because of the sale.

Shares of Sina were down 17 percent, to $24.25, late Monday. And shares of Focus Media, which have fallen from about $60 a year ago, were down 16 percent in late trading Monday, to $9.20.

The companies said that the boards of both companies had already approved the asset sale and that no shareholder vote was necessary. Sina will issue about 47 million shares to Focus Media shareholders to acquire the assets.

According to the deal, Sina is expected to acquire most of the core holdings of Focus Media, including its out-of-home advertising networks, its LCD display network, and its in-store network, which together would amount to more than 100,000 advertising monitors around the country.

Those assets accounted for about 52 percent of Focus Media's revenue and 73 percent of its profit through the first nine months of this year, the company said.

Focus Media, which is expected to have about $800 million in revenue this year, said it would retain its fast-growing online advertising assets, its movie advertising network, its commercial location networks and its traditional billboard business.

Sina, whose revenues are estimated to be close to $360 million this year, called the deal a merger of great properties.

''The transaction is intended to combine the forces of two of the most powerful new-media advertising platforms in China,'' Charles Chao, Sina's chief executive, said in a statement.

Executives at Sina and Focus Media are familiar with each other. Since 2005, Mr. Chao of Sina has served on the board of Focus Media, alongside that company's founder and chairman, Jason Jiang.

While competes fiercely against other strong Chinese Internet companies, like Baidu, Sohu and Tencent, analysts have considered Focus Media an innovative company because it has grown fast, essentially by acquiring competitors and placing monitors in stores, residential buildings and even on busy commercial streets in some of China's biggest cities, including Shanghai.

The monitors recycle short television advertising spots produced by a wide variety of brands, including global companies like Nike and Apple.

Focus Media was founded in Shanghai by Mr. Jiang, who has been listed by Forbes for several years as one of China's wealthiest entrepreneurs.

LOAD-DATE: December 23, 2008
GRAPHIC: PHOTO: A large television screen operated by Focus Media broadcasts advertisements to passing traffic at a shopping mall in Beijing.(PHOTOGRAPH BY NATALIE BEHRING/BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

30 of 1231 DOCUMENTS

The New York Times
December 22, 2008 Monday

Late Edition - Final

Newspaper Shuns Web, And Thrives


SECTION: Section B; Column 0; Business/Financial Desk; THE MEDIA EQUATION; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 1067 words
With 2008 drawing to a brutal close on the media beat -- bankruptcies, daily newspapers that are no longer daily, magazines that are downsizing into brochures -- a little ray of light appeared in my e-mail inbox. It was from a newspaper owner, of all people.

Into the teeth of a historic recession, the newspaper had just published the biggest issue in its history. The product is double-digit profitable, and it has been growing at a clip of about 10 percent a year since it was founded in 1999, right about the time the Web was beginning to put its hands around print's neck.

Finally, I thought, a story about a print organization that has found a way to tame the Web and come up with a digital business approach that could serve as a model. Except that TriCityNews of Monmouth County, N.J., is prospering precisely because it aggressively ignores the Web. Its Web site has a little boilerplate about the product and lists ad rates, but nothing more. (The address is, for all the good it will do you.)

''Why would I put anything on the Web?'' asked Dan Jacobson, the publisher and owner of the newspaper. ''I don't understand how putting content on the Web would do anything but help destroy our paper. Why should we give our readers any incentive whatsoever to not look at our content along with our advertisements, a large number of which are beautiful and cheap full-page ads?''

Other publications much larger than TriCityNews have been wondering about pumping resources into a medium that does not seem to show a promise of returns any time soon.

Writing in The New York Observer, John Koblin pointed out that when Forbes, Portfolio and Fortune went through recent retrenchments, the Web staffs were hit the hardest. That may be just an old print reflex, but there is a rational argument to be made that the part of the apparatus that has a working business model, declining or not, should receive the resources.

At a time when Web entrepreneurs like Nick Denton of Gawker Media are predicting a 40 percent decline in Web display advertising, it's probably not a great time to be indexing into the Web either.

And there are signs that the free ride for consumers may be coming to an end. I started getting notices to renew my subscription to The Wall Street Journal and its Web site and waited, as I have in the past, for the deeply discounted offer. It never came. And according to company statements in October, paid subscriptions for The Journal's Web site were up more than 7 percent from a year ago.

A few caveats before we turn back the clock on publishing history. TriCityNews employs 3.5 people (the half-time employee handles circulation), has a print run of 10,000, and has a top line that can be written in six figures. Still, by setting rates low almost 10 years ago and never raising them or offering a Web option, Mr. Jacobson has built a reliable cadre of advertisers who call for ads, sign up for full pages, and pay in advance. There are no people working for sales commissions.

Editorially, the newspaper is boosterish -- ''we want people to think of Asbury Park as the center of the universe,'' he said -- with notes of skepticism typical of alternative weeklies. There are six columnists in addition to the full-time staff, and they write with a mix of attitude and reporting that Mr. Jacobson describes as a ''plog,'' a blog on paper.

The low cost of entry on the advertising side means that almost anyone -- a bar, a retailer, a gym -- can afford a full-page ad, and the preponderance of them leads to an elegant-looking product.

''I don't allow our name to be used on any kind of content on the Web -- not bulletin boards or listings or anything,'' Mr. Jacobson said. ''I don't want anybody to connect The TriCityNews and the Internet. I don't want anything that detracts from the paper and the presence of those big, beautiful full-page ads.''

Unlike other alt weeklies that borrowed heavily and consolidated newspapers in the hopes of creating a rolled-up Web product, Mr. Jacobson prefers to publish in a medium that pays for itself.

Creative Loafing, a chain of weeklies based in Tampa, Fla., bought up The Washington City Paper and The Chicago Reader and moved aggressively to invest editorial resources online. The chain filed for bankruptcy in September.

And Mr. Jacobson is more than happy to be known as the Fred Flintstone of the publishing world. ''There may come a time when the Web is all there is, and we will try to adapt,'' he said, ''and if we don't, well, hey, we had a great run. But right now, the Web makes no business sense for us.''

Many people would tell, and in fact have told, Mr. Jacobson that he was bound to go the way of the eight-track tape, but from what he has seen, there are a lot of routes to obsolescence.

He said that as a consumer, he's not a print snob; in fact, he no longer buys the physical version of newspapers he once did. ''I just get on the Web site, I look at what I need to and I never look at the ads,'' he said.

There is no doubt that readers benefit in all sorts of ways from digitized journalism and searchable listings online, but that ease of use has not been accruing to the benefit of the publications that provide that information, or very often, their advertisers.

When it comes to brand advertising, print has a strong track record. Advertisers like the analog presentation in TriCityNews for the same reason they come back in droves to Vogue.

Mr. Jacobson, 47, is a former lawyer and politician -- he was a New Jersey assemblyman in the '90s -- who started The TriCityNews in January 1999 with $15,000 he had won in a personal injury lawsuit. The company is called Limited Risk Inc.

''Right after we started, the dot-com bust happened and we have been running scared ever since. We live off the land and run it very lean,'' he said. ''There is no debt, our office in downtown Asbury Park is very small, and we have never raised our rates, so people tend to stick with us regardless of what is happening in the economic cycle.''

The three full-time employees met for their annual Christmas dinner the other night.

''All of us,'' Mr. Jacobson said, ''are pretty happy with our lifestyles -- I was able to quit practicing law quite a few years ago -- and are thankful that we seem to have secure jobs and what seems to be a good future in a pretty tough industry.''
LOAD-DATE: December 22, 2008

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

31 of 1231 DOCUMENTS

The New York Times
December 21, 2008 Sunday

Late Edition - Final

Lunch-Pail Propect
SECTION: Section SP; Column 0; Sports Desk; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 1492 words
Days before the Yankees signed C. C. Sabathia to a $161 million deal, one of the Arizona Diamondbacks' most promising minor league pitchers rose before dawn at his house on the outskirts of this central Illinois town.

An overnight storm had coated the roads in ice, and the thermometer read 8 degrees. It was the perfect morning to sleep in, but not for Clay Zavada, who steered his Nissan Sentra toward town -- past frozen cornstalks, an abandoned farmhouse and the red lights of windmills blinking in the distance. A dilapidated motel and a series of fast-food restaurants indicated his arrival in Streator.

Zavada could not afford to be late. This was the only time the high school gym would be empty, and his old coach -- the assistant principal -- would have time to catch for him.

''If you don't get it done early and get it out of the way, it's kind of hard to get it done,'' Zavada said, slamming a two-seam fastball toward the gloved hand of Nick McGurk. ''You've got to get in here and get it done.''

Once the sun came up, Zavada knew there would be other demands on his time. His uncle might call him to work at the family sawmill. A cousin in the construction business often needs a hand. And Zavada has a long list of chores waiting for him on the 40-acre property his father left him and his brother -- logs to be split and sold for firewood, a go-kart awaiting refurbishing and posting on eBay, or the thick bushes choking a grove of walnut trees that need clearing. For that task of protecting the trees, the federal government sends him a small yearly subsidy.

Despite an impressive 0.51 earned run average and a 3-1 record last season as a reliever for the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks, Zavada, 24, must work outside of baseball to pay his bills. Last season, he earned $280 a week -- before taxes -- from the Silver Hawks. His income is typical of the roughly 4,500 minor league players, about 10 percent of whom will play in even one major league game.

''Not all of these guys are getting million-dollar bonuses,'' said A. J. Hinch, the director of player development for the Diamondbacks. ''I don't know that everybody is quite aware of what these guys go through in order to give themselves a chance to make it.''

Zavada had never been a hotly pursued prospect until now. His work last season, which included allowing six hits in 35 innings, earned him a coveted spot on the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster. In spring training, he will have the chance to compete for one of the 25 spots on the major league roster.

Zavada had considered playing N.C.A.A. Division I baseball, but big-time college recruiters do not stop here. After playing at Illinois Valley Community College, he transferred in his junior year to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, which competes in Division II. In 2006, the Diamondbacks drafted him in the 30th round, paying him a $1,000 signing bonus that after taxes, barely paid the deposit on his apartment in Missoula, Mont., where he played on a summer rookie team.

That December, Zavada's father, Clarence, a quality-control manager for a nuclear plant, died of a heart attack. Zavada's mother, Linda, had died when he was 3; his older brother, Dustin, was serving in the Navy. Suddenly, Zavada found himself responsible for looking after his family's property, a mix of farmland and forest that was his father's pride and joy.

''That's when the wheels kind of came off the track,'' Zavada said. ''He was my life. My brother and him, that's all we were. The three of us.''

Zavada failed to report to spring training in 2007 and lost touch with the Diamondbacks, who dropped his contract later in the summer.

''I was just sitting around, trying to figure things out,'' he said.

That fall, Zavada decided to honor his father's wishes by completing his bachelor's degree at Edwardsville. He also took a part-time job delivering furniture.

''I was pretty much done with baseball,'' he said.

Last spring, he graduated with a degree in business. At the prodding of a friend, he decided to celebrate by trying out for an independent team, the Southern Illinois Miners.

''I hadn't picked up a ball in over a year,'' he said.

After a few practice games that were ''absolutely awful,'' Zavada said, he eventually picked up momentum.

''From that point on, it was like, boom,'' said Zavada, who is 6 feet 1 inch and 195 pounds. ''I didn't have a negative thought in my mind.''

Zavada's performance caught the attention of the Diamondbacks, and in June, they re-signed him to a one-year contract. He was assigned to the Silver Hawks.

''He opened some eyes -- one, being left-handed, and two, he had a good arsenal,'' Hinch said. ''But he didn't come in with a lot of accolades. He's had to earn every bit'' of the attention he is starting to get.

Zavada does not argue the point.

''I've been a low-percentage shot for baseball my whole life,'' he said.

Last Monday, Zavada's sneakers squeaked down the aisles of the Kroger supermarket as he hunted for breakfast. He grabbed a box of store-brand raisin bran cereal -- at $1.89, it was $2 less than the name brands nearby.

''As far as food is concerned, I don't buy anything that's not on sale, or not cheap,'' he said.

A few aisles away, he tucked a pack of chicken thighs under his arm. ''Almost five pounds of it for $3,'' he marveled.

As much as baseball is Zavada's dream, it is also a paycheck. Being on the 40-man roster will quadruple his salary, at the very least. If he is selected for the major league team, he will earn the rookie minimum, $400,000.

''It's good that I play baseball and I actually have a job that I know I can go to in about two months,'' he said. ''Some people can't. Some people around here, they're barely getting by.''

Once a bustling town of coal mines and bottle factories, Streator is now home to about 14,000 people, many of whom drive long distances to work at power plants. The nearest interstate is 13 miles away, and there is not even a Wal-Mart, although Zavada said many residents welcomed plans to build one because it might bring jobs.

The only cinema -- a renovated movie palace called the Majestic -- charges $5.25 a ticket. The theater's owner addressed members of the audience before a recent screening of ''The Day the Earth Stood Still,'' pleading with them to come back soon and to invite relatives and friends.

''I'm going to try to keep it open through the end of the year,'' he told the crowd.

The temperature was still in the single digits by the time Zavada returned home from the grocery store about 9 a.m. In the kitchen, he poured a bowl of raisin bran and turned up the volume on his kitchen radio. ''Swap Shop,'' a live classified advertising show broadcast every morning on a local AM station, was about to start.

''This is the home run derby of Streator,'' Zavada said, slurping his cereal as Gunner, his Labrador retriever, waited hopefully at his feet. ''This is what you live for.''

On this morning, the items for sale or trade included a pair of turquoise bracelets, a 2-year-old cocker spaniel, an Xbox video system ''only used once,'' an extra-large Green Bay Packers jacket with tags attached and a 1994 Honda Civic. One woman called in looking for beeswax. Another wanted to alert her neighbors that two dogs -- ''a shepherd and a hunting dog'' -- seemed to have gotten loose at the end of her block.

Not long ago, Zavada said, he got an ''awesome deal'' on a 1996 Honda Rebel motorcycle that he bought from ''Swap Shop.'' He fixed it up and sold it on eBay, making a $900 profit.

''If you can find a deal, you can definitely make a mint,'' he said.

Like many of his neighbors, Zavada's livelihood relies on a mix of odd jobs and an entrepreneurial spirit. He is a regular at the Streator pawn shop, searching for underappreciated treasures that can be sold online. During the harvest, he drove a truck for a farmer who had shattered his ankle after falling off a grain bin.

His pitching is equally versatile. Zavada takes pride in his best pitch, a changeup, and said that for now, baseball was his priority. But it is clear that he also takes pleasure in other tasks, like clearing brush behind his house, or slicing an old telephone pole into smooth, straight boards at his uncle's sawmill. Using his pitching hand to line up the blades of an industrial saw may make the Diamondbacks' management cringe, but Zavada says he will not give it up.

''You got to do what you got to do,'' he said. ''It's how I grew up, you know. I wouldn't trade it for the world.''

Last Sunday, Zavada spotted an opossum that had been wandering around his property for days. He grabbed his grandfather's shotgun over the fireplace and raced outside. Later, as Gunner trotted toward the house with the carcass in his mouth, Zavada ordered the dog to drop it. With any luck, he explained, this animal may attract another.

Raccoon pelts are selling for $25 apiece.

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