Holiday greetings from Steve and Mimi

Warm holiday greetings to family and friends. Two family developments and two professional developments this year deserve special mention before I start the A to Z approach I’ve used the last couple years on our holiday letter. We felt a deep sorrow this year at the loss of our nephew and godson, Patrick Devlin, to leukemia. Patrick received a bone marrow transplant in March and appeared to be healing, but the cancer relapsed in July and he declined quite rapidly. I visited him in the hospital in Burlington, Vt., the first weekend in September and could see the end was near. He was barely conscious when I visited, though I had a good visit with his parents, Carol and John, and his sister Kathryn. We lost Patrick a few days later, Wednesday, Sept. 9, and I returned to Vermont with Mimi. Mike and Tom came up from Washington and several other family m embers joined us in Verm ont for the funeral. I will never forget the sight of so many grief-stricken boys in Scout uniforms. Carol and John asked m e to deliver a eulogy. We will always rem ember Patrick, a fun, brave boy who left us too soon. We will always admire the grace and strength with which Carol and John bore this unbearable loss and shared the story of Patrick’s struggle on CaringBridge. We also had joyful news: Mimi and I will becom e grandparents in March when Mike and Susie are expecting a daughter. They visited for Thanksgiving and won’t be with us for Christmas, so Santa filled our first grandchild’s first Christmas stocking (yes, we’re excited). From the ultrasound, Mimi thinks the baby’s nose looks a bit like Mike’s. I won’t go on this year, but expect lots more about our granddaughter in next year’s holiday letter. Professionally, I’ve moved from editor to a role focused solely on innovation. While I was editor, I had to cut the newsroom staff by 14, an experience shared by far too many of my colleagues. That may have been the longest day of m y career (and the weeks leading up to it were extremely difficult, too). In the innovation role, I got a fair am ount of attention for two sets of blog posts about business models for the future of news com panies: A Blueprint for the Com plete Community Connection and Mobile-First Strategy. We have a lot of work still

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to do, but I’m pleased to be helping in the search for a prosperous future for our com pany and for an industry that’s in a perilous decline. And I’m pleased to be sharing my C3 concept in m y blog, by invitation to other blogs and publications, and in presentations, including one for the Poynter McCormick Big Ideas Conference. Poynter also featured one of m y mobile-first posts on its web site. Two of those C3 presentations were in Siberia. Yes, Siberia. When I led an ethics seminar in September for the University of Kentucky, the schedule included som e discussions, through an interpreter, with visiting journalists from the Press Developm ent Institute-Siberia. After dinner that evening, the leader of the group, Victor Yukechev, said, “Next time, Siberia.” I said sure, and Victor actually meant it. So in December, Mim i and I traveled to Barnaul, Siberia (with stops on the way back in St. Petersburg and Moscow). It was a delightful trip and we m ade several friends there: Victor, Kate, Oksana, Sergey, Katya, Galina, Polina, Yuri ... Be sure to read Mimi’s blog, if you haven’t already. And if you want to know about the business part of the trip, I wrote about it, too. Yes, we worried a bit about going to Siberia in December, and we experienced bitter cold and a fascinating three-hour walking tour in the snow, including the outdoor m arket pictured here. But Iowa had a worse storm while we were gone than anything we experienced in Russia. And now, for the rest of our year, from A to Z:

Arnolds. I enjoyed reconnecting with Arnold
cousins this year. Doug Worgul (left) and Frank Yunk-Arnold (right) joined the group celebrating Dan’s honor (m ore on that shortly) in the Kansas City area. Facebook also helped m e reconnect with their sisters, Jan Worgul Ackerson and Louise Eddington.


In June I shaved my beard off for the first time in about 20 years.

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Chaplain Frank Arnold II, m y uncle (Frank and Louise’s father) died when I was 9 years old,
so I never knew him well. But after we got together in May, Frank said he had been reading his father’s World War II diary and asked if we would like copies. I found it fascinating (and chilling at times: “This is the day that Satan hath made”) and asked Frank’s permission to publish excerpts on m y blog.

Doctor. My brother Dan received an honorary doctorate in May from Central Baptist
Theological Sem inary. I joined Mom, Dan’s wife, Sharon, one of his sons, Jon (and girlfriend Lenzi), and daughter Janelle for that celebration in the Kansas City are a. But no, I don’t call him “doctor.” I saw both of my brothers in October, when Dan visited Don’s family in Shenandoah and I joined them for a celebration of Don’s birthday.

Ethics. I continue to lead ethics seminars for the Am erican Press Institute, presenting eight
seminars and one webinar this year. I also was a panelist for an American Society of News (formerly News paper) Editors forum on the ethics and values of journalism at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

Fort Worth. Mimi accompanied me on a trip to TCU, where I led seminars on ethics and C3.
We had a great mem ory-lane trip, driving past our first married hom es (didn’t find either without some wandering), joining old friends Al Sibello (at Angelo’s, our favorite barbecue place, still going strong) and Mike Gerst for dinners and m aking som e new friends at the Schieffer School of Journalism.

Gulf of Mexico. Mim i and I enjoyed
cruising the Gulf twice this summer, a lovely dinner cruise on a sailboat with people from the Mississippi Press Association off the coast of Biloxi and a dolphin cruise the weekend before m y Poynter conference (who knew we’d get to two St. Petersburgs this year?).

Harkin. We were not long without
a son working in the Senate. Tom got a job in Sen. Tom Harkin’s office as a legislative correspondent. He answers mail from Harkin’s constituents on military issues. We visited Tom in Davenport when he was there on some business for Harkin.

Iowa and iPhone.

I will be team-teaching a course at the University of Iowa this coming semester. Our topic: Creating an iPhone app.

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Joe visited from Las Vegas in August. We went down to Kansas City, visited Mom and
connected with Mike and Susie, who were visiting from Washington. Kim couldn’t come, so we haven’t seen her this year (need to plan a Vegas trip sometime soon, I guess). She got a new job at the City Center, which has a new theater.

Kelly. Mimi and I went to Des Moines in October to cheer on niece Kelly Head, walking a
half-marathon to raise m oney for research to fight leukemia and lymphoma . Kelly walked for Patrick the month after his death and we were proud and grateful.

Lake Tahoe. A March
seminar in Reno gave Mim i and me an excuse to spend a beautiful weekend at Lake Tahoe.

M ike started a new job this
year with the Washington public affairs firm Chlopak, Leonard & Schechter, after working nearly eight of the previous nine years for Sen. Chuck Hagel. Susie continues teaching at Holy Trinity School in Georgetown, though the baby will cut her school year short.

Nebraska. Ohio.

An ethics seminar for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln gave Mim i and me an opportunity to visit old friends in Omaha and Lincoln. Mimi’s brother John and his wife, Kim, hosted the sisters in March at their home in Dublin, Ohio, for a weekend of cooking old family recipes with Annie Pullaro, Donna Tedesco, Joanne Krieger and Bill Leck, relatives from New Jersey.

Polyps made no appearance this year. A colonoscopy (sorry, no pictures) showed that
what’s left of my colon is doing fine. The 10-year anniversary of m y surgery for colon cancer passed unnoticed until a few days later. That’s cancer-free. Mimi has become Q uite a foodie (hey, we don’t always have a trip to Quito to fill the alphabet out easily). She’s always been a great cook, but I don’t think we’ve ever tried out as many new recipes as we have this year. She adds her own twists to recipes from the Food Network and mastered some Julia Child recipes after we watched “Julie and Julia.”

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Royals. For the first tim e in several years, I m ade it to Kansas City to watch the Royals
play, each time with a different family group. Both times Mom was able to join us. She has adjusted well to assisted living and we enjoyed several visits to her in Lee’s Summit.

Stillwater. Mimi’s
sisters and their husbands gathered in Minnesota in July for the wedding of Sam Johnson, son of their cousin, Gary. We enjoyed two cruises on the St. Croix River, first a dinner cruise on a paddleboat and then we rented a boat, piloted by brother-in-law David Wehe, for a pleasure cruise.


Mimi and I continue to share daily observations and experiences and our love of writing with friends, family and tweeps on Twitter. I have been teaching journalists how to use Twitter. Mim i’s made some local friends on Twitter, including @toddadamson, who shot this cool avatar for her. If you want to follow, we’re @stevebuttry and @mim ijohnson.

Universities. I can’t remem ber visiting as many campuses as I did this year: Tem ple,
Nevada Reno, Kentucky, Nebraska, TCU, Iowa State, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Iowa, Missouri and USC (for a video interview that was part of the National Summit on Arts Journalism). I taught two courses at Kirkwood Community College, one in Twitter and one in using social media for business.

Video. Using her new iPhone and iMovie on her

Mac, Mimi has started making videos. As you read her travel blog from Siberia, be sure to check out the animated video of our journey’s route and the Cue Stick Guy video on “Moscow – Big Traffic.”

Writing. Mim i continues working on selling one novel and writing another. She launched her
blog,, for the trip to Siberia, and plans to continue it, though perhaps not

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posting as frequently. She might post some samples of her fiction and write about future travels. When our friend, Chuck Offenburger, was diagnosed with lymphoma, Mimi wrote him a note of encouragem ent that Chuck enjoyed and asked if he could publish on his site. I’ve been blogging, too, and you’ve already seen lots of links to that, so enough said. (SD)X. The Gazette staff won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for deadline reporting (and several other state, regional and national awards) for our coverage of the 2008 floods. That experience will always be a highlight of my career and it was rewarding to see the staff receive much-deserved recognition.

Yankees. Yes, I enjoyed the Yankees’ 27th world cham pionship season. Rather than bore
followers of my blog or tweets who don’t care about baseball (or hate the Yankees), I blogged and tweeted as “hatedyankees.” Mimi and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with a wonderful dinner at Zins, a small-plates restaurant in downtown Cedar Rapids that was flooded last year and reopened this year. We enjoy patronizing the businesses that are coming back as our community recovers, and Zins has become a favorite. We’ve taken all three of our sons and Susie out to eat there.


From the story of Noah to the stories of leprechauns to the Wizard of Oz and Kerm it the Frog, rainbows have always been a sign of hope. So we’ll close this year’s holiday letter by sharing pictures of a double rainbow we saw in August, driving to meet our niece Liz McNamara for dinner. We also share our hope for blessings in 2010 with our fam ily and friends.

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