Newspaper big criticizes media “narcissism.” Pulitzer-winning Walter Pincus has written a lengthy essay in which he lays out his major worries for journalism. “My profession is in distress because for more than a decade it has been chasing the false idols of fame and fortune,” he writes. “While engaged in those pursuits, it forgot its readers and the need to produce a commercial product that appealed to its mass audience, which in turn drew advertisers and thus paid for it all. While most corporate owners were seeking increased earnings, higher stock prices, and bigger salaries, editors and reporters focused more on winning prizes or making television appearances.”
My take: This piece echoes my own sense that placing journalists on a “democratic pedestal” for so long has created a professional culture of entitlement. Bunker mentality will do that. Yes, journalism is critical for a healthy democracy. But it needs to pay its way by being useful, not by patting itself on the back.
* Cell Explosion
* NASA Back To Earth
* Nick Cave Pens Gladiator II?
Here are the stories that interest me this morning, along with my take on why they may be of interest to philanthropy and nonprofit leaders.
More cell-only households than landline-only. For the first time ever, according to a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control, the share of U.S. households that only have a cell phone has surpassed the share of households that only have a landline telephone. 20% have cell-only, 17% landline-only. (In 2003, it was 3% cell only to 43% landline-only).
My take: This has obvious implications for survey research, driving up its cost, although many pollsters say they are working on ways to weight data to account for the shift and still only call landlines. But that tactic will run out eventually, as cell-only becomes the norm. Eventually, landlines will be only for data. Think about similar demographic shifts: social networks vs. email; online content vs. physical cd’s and movies. Surely there are more. Which ones will upend how your organization does its work?
NASA back to Earth. Obama is expected today to announce a review of NASA’s manned spaceflight efforts, to be led by former Lockheed Martin head Norm Augustine. The last space shuttle launch is planned for 2010, and the first manned missions of the new generation of Ares craft. Some observers worry it “will be like 1975 all over again,” when Nixon unexpectedly cut the Apollo program.
My take: It’s a damn shame. Space flight is forever taking budget hits, especially as scientific illiteracy becomes more prevalent and accepted even among otherwise educated people. This may be a chance to demonstrate the commercial viability of space flight.
Nick Cave rejected Gladiator script discovered?The Guardian reports that a rejected script by artist Nick Cave may have been unearthed. According to accounts, actor Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott asked fellow Australian Cave to draft a sequel to Gladiator. Any sequel would face a key hurdle: Crowe’s character, Maximus, dies at the end of the film. In Cave’s purported script, “Crowe’s Maximus meddles with Roman gods in the afterlife, is reincarnated, defends early Christians, reunites with his son, and ultimately lives forever – leading tanks in the second world war and even mucking around in the modern-day Pentagon.” Here’s a full synopsis. The studios, sadly, just couldn’t take it and passed.
My take: Cave may be the most singular artist alive. Anything he does, or is rumored to do, is . . . well, it’s just cool.
Study: Drinking up amid peace dividend. A study by the Rowntree Foundation finds a clear increase in drinking in Northern Ireland since 1986. It’s gone up on the Emerald Isle more than it has in neighboring Great Britain. Researchers say the trend may be due to a higher standard of living stemming from the peace process.
My take: While it sounds like a minor issue, lost productivity and illness from over consumption of alcohol is a large problem worldwide. Yet because it is so ingrained in Western culture, it is hard to address in the same way that smoking and seat belt use have been. Watch for this to change over time.
Student: Teacher scolded me for reading the news. The case of a Traverse City, Mich. student is getting attention after he called the Rush Limbaugh show to complain that, while reading news headlines during free time at the computer lab, he was told to turn off the objectionable material by the teacher. The problem? He was reading FOX News and not the BBC. From the transcript: “[T]oday I was on the Internet reading Fox News, and my teacher came up behind me and found out I was reading Fox News and yelled at me in front of the whole class and said I was not allowed to read Fox News in class, that I’m only allowed to read BBC and stuff of that nature.” The school says it is investigating.
My take: Episodes like this don’t help counteract charges of bias in the nation’s classrooms and on campuses. Many of the charges leveled by conservatives have merit. Journalism, public education, philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and academe really ought to look carefully at such charges rather than dismiss them.
* Uncle Sam Biggest Supporter Of Cities
* Globe Not Dead Yet
* Kindle For Textbooks?
Here are the stories that interest me this morning, along with my take on why I think they may be of interest to nonprofit and philanthropy leaders.
In a first, funds from the U.S. government is the largest revenue source for cities. “Uncle Sam has supplanted sales, property and income taxes as the biggest source of revenue for state and local governments,” says USA Today. With stimulus money beginning to flow and tax collections down, this state of affairs is set to increase to the tune of $300 billion over the next two years. State and local governments spend about $2 trillion per year all told. The G makes up about 23% of that total.
My take: Wow. A stark indicator of the depth of this recession (along with the new tent cities). Experts don’t expect a turnaround in this until 2012.
Boston Globe gets a reprieve. Six of the seven unions in question have agreed to concessions with the New York Times Company, prompting the Grey Lady to give the Boston Globe a new lease on life for now. NYT purchased the family-owned Globe in 1993 and recently filed papers allowing it to close in 60 days.
My take: If a paper newspaper can’t survive in hifalutin Boston, where can it survive? Still, this really just buys time — the whole business is changing.
My take: Now that’s what I’m talking about. A perfect use for digital delivery. Course textbooks are huge, expensive, and sometimes hard to come by. This can change that whole ecosystem irrevocably. No more “used” books, more just-in-time delivery, no inventory. What will student unions sell?
My take: Environmentalists say the “science is settled” on climate change but the policy response definitely is not. This is a very visible example of the difference between “vision” and “strategy” — and the fact that simply getting all players to agree on a “vision” is necessary but not sufficient.
New York Times Co. to shutter The Boston Globe. The lifeline of The Boston Globe appears to be running out as its parent company has filed notice with the government that labor negotiations have not been successful. The move allows the New York Times Co., which bought the Globe in 1993, to shutter the paper in sixty days. NYT is seeking $10 million in labor concessions from a variety of unions, as well as changes in seniority rules. Talks broke down recently as the company was forced to admit a $4 million accounting error.
My take: Many observers say it’s unthinkable to imagine that Boston, home of the nation’s most respected universities, could be without its own daily newspaper. I say you’re darn’ tootin’ it’s thinkable. While it’s easy to complain of mismanagement by the absentee owners, the economics in the news business are increasingly just not there.
My take: Don’t held your breath, guys. People will not line up to pay upwards of $400 for a device that will then give them the opportunity to then pay for the privilege of reading your news. People dig Kindle for the books; the other stuff is gravy. Newspapers will have to change their business model, not just hold out for the deus ex machina of a new gizmo.
* H1N1 Not Seen As Super Dangerous
* S.D. Cops Texting Drivers On Checkpoints
* Souter To Retire
Here are the stories that interest me this morning, along with my take on why they may be of interest to nonprofit and philanthropy leaders:
H1N1 (“swine”) flu is not seen as dangerous as previous ones. Researchers are concluding that the H1N1 flu now declared a pandemic is not as dangerous as flu strains that have caused earlier pandemics (for instance, that of 1918). The mortality rate for ordinary seasonal flus is between .06% and .24% — about 36,000 deaths annually in U.S. H1N1 is expected to be on that level. For context, the 1918 influenza outbreak killed 50 million people worldwide. Scientists caution, though, that the virus could mutate into something more aggressive.
My take: Needed perspective. In today’s anti-science climate, it is easy for panic to spread and facts ignored. Scientific ignorance, in my view, is a deep public problem.
My take: A great example of thinking outside of the box your role puts you in. SD police decided it was smarter to keep people off the road in the first place, than catch them in the act. It’s law enforcement TQM!
My take: Obama’s first Supreme Court pick. He is very likely to get at least one more. Though it is hard to imagine this one changing the character of the Court too much (Souter by and large is aligned with the liberal wing of his colleagues), ever since Bork no nomination has been smooth. This will be a firestorm as conservatives pressure their Senators to dig in and fight.
My take: Political fundraising is ‘wayyy different than nonprofit fundraising but the issues of donor intent and givebacks play out in each arena. This is something nonprofits ought to have a policy on, and be upfront about it.
The Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook is running for California Attorney General. Chris Kelly launched his campaign yesterday (actually, an “exploratory committee”) with a Facebook page and a standalone site.
My take: It will be interesting to see how the Kelly campaign values the Facebook page, and how they handle the in-kind donations aspect of it. Will he need to part ways from the company? His Facebook page has a vanity url — do all candidates get that? What is it worth?