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Clean Handoff

It's an honor to accept the reins of this column from James Reel, and a challenge to build on what he and Jimmy Boegle started in January. James and I were colleagues long ago, before The Arizona Daily Star became the Arizona Daily Star.

This column offers something Tucson journalism has needed for many years--a venue for seeing the players in local media as something more than names, faces, call signs and the like. After all, these are the folks who are deciding day after day, week after week, what kind of information they'll try to get inside your head. It's probably a good idea to know something about their reputations, plans and schemes.

Unlike James, I've never been behind a mic for pay in broadcast, but I've been a business journalist and covered some local broadcast business news over the years. I also have a lot of history stashed in my head, of a time when local media was a lot more local than it is today.

Standard disclosures follow:

While attending Catalina High School, I spent two years as a prep sports correspondent with the pre-Gannett Citizen. While working on my journalism degree at UA, I did a variety of assignments at the Wildcat. After graduation, the pre-Wick Territorial Publishers was my meal ticket for nearly 10 years. I was at the Star for 12 years, including five as StarNet's first newsroom majordomo, then went on to a four-year stint at The Bakersfield Californian. Until recently, I was an adjunct instructor in the UA journalism department.

And now, real news ...


THE $6.6 MILLION MIKE

Could Pulitzer Inc. chairman Michael E. Pulitzer be a closet Steely Dan fan? From a look at various federal reports on his stock sales this year, Mike's acting as if inspired by the title track of the Dan's 2003 release, Everything Must Go.

He's gone to the well 92 times through Nov. 30 and raised $6.6 million on the sale of 124,000 shares of company stock, known by its NYSE symbol, PTZ. The vast majority of those sales were in 1,500-share blocks, but a few early sales were 100- and 500-share chips.

Prices ranged from an Aug. 4 low of $44.3343 (1,500 shares sold for $66,501) to a Nov. 29 high of $63.82 per share, or $95,730.

What makes it a very handsome profit is that Pulitzer paid nothing for the shares. Instead, he withdrew them from two personal trusts and the Pulitzer family voting trust (which controls all things corporately Pulitzer), and paid nothing. As Drew's Law states, when your cost is zero, your gross is net.

What's next is unclear. After selling out his last shares Nov. 30, he went to the voting trust and took out another 25,000 shares. It will be interesting to see if they're sold and for how much, especially since A.G. Edwards, the St. Louis brokerage firm that analyzes PTZ, lowered its recommendation on the company from "buy" to "hold."

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