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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Is Journalism Dead?

From my other blogs: MARCH 25, 2009 2:22PM

Free news sources and professional reporting

The issue of free news sources was a feature on the BBC and on Wall Street Week, where newspapers are failing due to free Internet access to news. On line service by newspapers are actually rushing the demise of print news without generating the revenue. One argument is that paid services would force quality and accuracy of journalistic content. On the other side access to information and multiple views would be severely limited if all media were paid, plus there would be an even greater divide than there is now between an informed electorate and the general public, many of who buy free gossip on the Internet or talk radio as truth.



The loss of paid and professional journalists is something to be concerned about if we wish our democracy to continue. Unfortunately Fox News and the Republicans seem to want journalism to evolve into PR flacks and bloggers who can be manipulated by big business and the Republican Party.



Radio stations have shed news departments, with markets that once had two to as many as ten radio news departments down to one or in some cases no actual radio station crews. Television stations now provide promos or short headlines or radio stations, while providing news services to as many as three television stations in each market from one studio and news crew. Newspapers are shedding employees, closing bureaus, shrinking pages and in some cases disappearing entirely. Even the large television and cable networks have had to shed staff, close bureaus and replace costly reporting with talking head and ratings grabbing commentators masquerading as news anchors or journalist. Reuters and the AP have radically slashed wire service staff, have fewer reporters at affiliates to feed them leads and stories and have retooled to newsmagazine formats from hourly or immediate news providers. UPI is for all practical purposes dead, despite the name continuing. Bloomberg has reduced its staff by 50%.



Sources of news, variety of reporting voices and perspectives, fact checking, feet on the ground, pages or time for in depth reporting and local news sources are all disappearing rapidly.



What is news is being driven by advertising priorities, ratings, papers sold, and consumer preference. The little girl in the well trumps a major natural disaster overseas or a war. A celebrity takes time and ink from real newsmakers or real events. Name-calling and negative spin trump balanced reporting on events or issues that should see the light of day. Ethnocentric priorities have overcome any pretense of a fair and balanced view of the world.



Media is dyeing through consolidation, financial crunch, profit motive and the systematic dumbing down of the American population.



The answer, we are told, is the multitude of Internet based voices. But are these balanced, informed or accurate? I have students provide “proof” of things that are wrong or inaccurate using a wide range of Internet “sources.” You can defend any point of view or find alternatives to what trained journalist report easily on the net, without delving into the opinion driven realm of blogs.



Newspapers are not dead, but are evolving or for pessimists, dying. 1.7 million copies of the Philadelphia Inquirer are delivered or purchased at newsstands each day. The New York Times boast many times that amount. Wall Street Journal does well, even with requiring subscription or payment or their on-line publication.



NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday looked at journalism a different way. They looked at how dangerous the profession has become. For National Public Radio the issue is personal. They have had four journalist and many staff members (drivers, translators and so on) held or killed over the past seven years. Correspondent Roxanna Saberi has been held captive for over a year by Iran, without charges, at an undisclosed location. The pleas or her release are currently being heard at the UN level.

First posted 9-2-2009


Reid under the microscope

Take the time to read this morning's Las Vegas Sun: click here.

OK, if you are dead set against Harry Reid you will not care about the truth about the man, his conservative political voting record, his ability to forge compromises or the great deal he has done for the state, including blocking Yucca Mountain and saving City Center. You will blow off the reality that as a US Senator he has been an asset to Nevada and if reelected will continue to be in a position that no freshman senator, Democrat or Republican can hope to reach. Take the time to read about the man. Check out his own writings from the library. Look up his previous votes and speeches. Do the same for any opponent he may face in November. This is a democracy. Do the research in a balance and academic way.

Sunday Morning News and Views



Media
This past week a panel of Congress members blamed Americas and the media for the stagnation in Washington. They say that the need for sensationalism and conflict in the media is driven by public demand and that that demand has led to the constant campaign season environment that has a chokehold on Washington. Ratings driven “news” means news and commentary driven by viewer or listener demand and interests levels. This leads to sound bites and slogans and opens the door to manipulation by special interests groups, including the broadcasters themselves, with an interest in audience size and advertising revenue.

Most of the media people we believe at the national level make very good salaries, unlike all of the underlings below them or struggling reporters in local markets. These pundits, anchors and editors are past knowing what it is to live paycheck to paycheck or to deal with many of the issues they pontificate about as ‘experts’. Their interests is not the same as the generation of anchors before them, and more about ego, job longevity, ratings and doing what it takes to keep eyeballs or ears focused on them for the longest period of time possible. They are wanna be, or actual celebrities in our celebrity addicted society.

There are plenty of legitimate, well informed, skilled and dedicated journalist in the field, but the talking heads of 24/7 news channels that are really talk and commentary sprinkled with some alleged news coverage, have overshadowed these real journalist in the minds of the public. The overall credibility of a profession needed for Democracy to flourish has fallen to all time lows. This plays into the hands of those who the fourth estate was envisioned by Madison and others to keep in check. Freedom is limited when special interests, large corporate dollars and ratings points determine what the public hears, sees and eventually believes.

An intellectual divide is also being forged, and not to the benefit of the overall society. It is sad when only those who are well educated seek out opposing views, try to understand others and read multiple well-researched sources.
Middle East
Arabic has been declining in use in the traditional Arab world, at least high Arabic, the language of the historic culture. In Lebanon Arabic language experts and volunteers are setting up a program to return Arabic to the language of choice in a country where French, English and various Middle Eastern languages and dialects overshadow Arabic.

Uniforms are a problem in Iraq. They are sold on the streets by vendors because the official price is beyond the income of soldiers, security and police officers. Of course terrorism remains a problem in Iraq and throughout the reason, so uniforms remain a way for terrorist to get past security to do their damage. And to complicate matters there are hundreds of combinations in uniform designs, insignia and appearance in Iraq alone. Each police force, government agency, private security firm and even branch of the military has complex combinations of uniform looks and designs. To counter this Iraqi forces are doing undercover stings, to make sure vendors require badges and photo identification before selling uniforms. Standardization is underway, but will take time and is difficult to coordinate fully in a country that for the most part remains in a civil or religious state of war.

The Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Iraq both targeted the educated population of the country, executing or working to death professors, writers, doctors, social service workers and their families. Historically whenever there is a revolution “of the people” those who know how to do things, who read about and understand the past, who have the ability to help others rise above adversity or learn about the world around them are the first to be lined up against the wall and shot. Basically those who hold strong views are not tolerant of dissent, and work to quash what they disagree with. Where executions are not considered acceptable, political executions through charges, inference, slogans and generalities blown out of proportion serve the same purpose. As an example, painting Senator Harry Reid as a liberal when his voting record is conservative, with the goal or eliminating him from his leadership position in the senate. Or a governor using the power of the pen to eliminate professors and access to higher education through budget cuts.

Chili Earthquake
Media coverage has been sensationalized, creating expectations and tension where it would be better to minimize and report. The quake is a disaster, and there is death and destruction and a reality to consider and report on.

Superlatives and assumptions are for casual conversation, or classroom examples, yet our society has allowed the role of journalist to erode so much, thanks to a craving for conversational and personality based presentation by the public. CNN and other broadest channels were calling the earthquake in Chili the worst in history.

The BBC, where journalism still matters, got it right from the beginning. It is one of the strongest, not worst, and only one. We have unofficial recorded quakes in the 9, and10 scale, but they are rare and some are only recorded through geographic record. The largest ever recorded by modern equipment was 9.5, back in 1960 in Chili. Alaska had a 9.2, Japan, China and Chili itself have had quakes in excess of the 8.8 Chili quake over the past 60 years. The previous large quake in Chili killed over 150 people in Japan and over 1,200 in countries outside Chili through tsunami and related aftershocks. The 1960 Chili quake led to changes in earthquake codes and how cities are built.

Another omission by US coverage is that we kept talking about Hawaii and later Japan. Actually 53 other countries had Tsunami warnings after the Chili quake, all warranted despite the low impact that was actually felt. The warning system revealed large swells and momentum

12 dead on Robinson Curso Island off the coast of Chili, with an unknown number of others dead from the tsunami at sea, mostly off the direct coast of Chili. Over 300 are dead in Chili, a minimum projected amount that could rise rapidly as communication is restored, given the large geographic scale of the quake and the strength of aftershocks (7 were over 6.0). The aftershocks and destruction are major, with large infrastructure problems with some small towns leveled. But Chili, like Japan, sits among the most prepared for a major earthquake in the world. In fact much of the central city infrastructure is operational this morning. Suburban, rural and major highways, ports and other infrastructure remain days or weeks away from return to any form of normalcy. Much of the area hit has no water or electricity, in the hottest season of the year (they sit below the equator after all). The region affected by the quake includes 85% of the countries population.
Olympics
Olympics and the importance of the hockey “match” with the USA took up quite a bit of BBC sports time, with the focus on the national pride of usually kicked back Canada. Many in Canada will consider these games, despite financial and medal count success for the host country, a failure if Canada does not take the gold in the spot they invented. While curling remains the national sport, Hockey really is the sport Canadians cheer for and consider their sport. The US has not earned the gold in hockey since the Miracle on Ice in 1980, so we are not about to give the victory to Canada, at least not easily. The US team is favored. Anyway you look at it, with a son-in-law from Canada a change of “Oh Canada” or the one that is deeply a part of my own history, “USA, USA” will feel good. It’s a no lose gold medal game!

Canada has earned 13 medals, the most of any host country in winter Olympic history (medals or gold medals, I am not sure).

US most medals, 37, the biggest haul of any nation in Winter Olympic history. Canada most gold from this, their home games.

Of course Canada did win the gold in its official national sport of Curling. The crowd spontaneously broke out in “Oh, Canada”, their national anthem.

Wall Street Journal Report
PIMCO CEO and market strategist Tony Crescenzi says it will be at least six months before the Fed raises rates Bernake’s report to congress received a very small reaction in the markets, the lowest reaction since the 1960’s. The Gross Domestic Product was revised up, to 5.9% growth. He warns that 3.9 points of that were inventory build-ups and some of it from government fiscal stimulus, so the rise is both seasonal and artificial.

He says to thinks in terms of risk diversification instead of asset diversification. Look at risk factors including liquidity, country risk, supply and demand. This remains a very dangerous environment.

On the health care summit he says the health care discussion along with other discussions in Washington are hurting recovery and business, because we are in a strict and strengthening regulatory environment.

The risk factor of the day is sovern credit, or country risk in debt to GDP, demographics, consumption patterns, potential growth and politics.

Yale University professor Robert Shiller says the turn around in the housing market is the largest since tracking began. Home sales, despite what is occurring in Las Vegas, are on strongly on the rebound. The truth is that prices may fall further, despite the trend, and even in cities like San Francisco that is up 15% since it bottomed out last year.

Shiller says the mortgage market is supported by a sense of morality among Americans, with 80% seeing defaulting on a mortgage as immoral. There is an erosion of that commitment due to the highly reported corporate abuse and luxurious salaries and benefits.

The economy is made up of people. We change in our confidence level, and we change in our habits. Confidence is key to any recovery, and it is not there today. Lending is not healthy and without healthy lending entrepreneurship, small business, home ownership and all of cores of America remain far form healthy. It is vital, Shiller says, for confidence to be restored before any true recovery can occur.

Consumers will see a difference from the new credit card laws. They will no loner be able to raise your rates on existing balances, will show you how long it will take you to pay off at minimum payments and the end cost, plus for those under 21 a co-signer or proof of credit worthiness will now be required. Senior writer for Money Magazine Donna Rosato explained the changes in credit card laws to host Maria Bartiromo.

Money

I discovered one reason Maria Bartiromo sees the world different from the rest of us. She has always earned enough money to not only pay cash for everything, but to have sizable savings and investments. In modern terms tat makes her wealthy, yet she sees herself as typical middle class.

The average wage of Americans is down by 50% in adjusted dollars from 1965, based on figures prior to the start of our current recession.

From 2002 to 2007 the average wage went up zero, while the cost of living went up over 27%. In the US we have the lowest compensation level of any industrialized nation against our cost of living (countries with lower compensation have greater social service programs).

CEO’s make over 270 times the wage of a typical worker, whereas back in the 1970;s that number was 20 to 30 times, with may capping themselves at ten. To be more specific, in 1979 corporate CEO’s earned up to 27 times what their average workers made, by 2009 tat jumped to 275 times the wage of their average worker.

But perception counts. We feel better off and we identify ourselves as middle class, despite the statistical loss of the middle class consistently since 1970.  The perception is based on image, advertising, media and our ability to mortgage our soul and run up credit, something that is coming to a screeching halt given the current economy.

We feel wealthier because we were able to buy things, on credit, and live the lifestyle we felt was middle class. 70% of Americans identify themselves as middle class, yet fewer than 17% actually fall into what is now needed for a middle class lifestyle.

The wealthy are worth more than ever before and control a larger percentage of the wealth in America than any other time in history, including the robber barons of the 19th century and the plantation and factory owners of the 18th century.

Meanwhile regular Americans, and America’s position in the world, are on a slippery, but reversible slope.

The US Economy is 5% smaller than before the recession, while Asia is 15% larger and Europe back to where there were before the recession started. The US and our position as Americans are slipping and will never, or may never, are what it was before. Industrial, intellectual and other sectors are investing overseas, with American and foreign funds. The profits of American companies are being invested in China, India, Eastern Europe and even African rather than the US. The current recession should drive home, to anyone who takes the time to really study it, that feeding the corporate bottom line means taking away from America’s.

Investment is going to nations that provide health care, education and other benefits to their citizens, but where the cost for corporations are far lower (lower cost labor, government investment in corporate interests, positive financial partnerships and stable investment growth).

Business also likes stability. The US is on the decline, with a government that appears deadlocked between two polar philosophies and policies. From bailouts to health care, issues that directly impact business have been divisive and decisions inconsistent, when they are made at all.

The rise in health care cost is the largest single component driving up the deficit. Why is it that people refuse to believe or see that? Do the research. Not talking points or special interests, but cold hard facts and neutral studies. Health care is rising well above inflation, while incomes are going down or flat. It is disproportionately hitting the poor, which is why those who have health care feel safe and are against reform. It is impacting all copays, prescription costs, the cost or doctors to remain in business (so we are losing doctors), the ability of hospitals to remain open. We have to insure troops and government employees, cover the uninsured, support research and try to help citizens keep up with rising costs. Health care is actually the primary driving cost on inflation, on closing or limiting small business and entrepreneurial growth, and is two to one the top cause of bankruptcies at all levels.

So if you have money, then oppose health care reform, and when it drives up the deficit, blame Obama, whose reform would help control the deficit. Again, do the academic research instead of rejecting the argument on pure political or philosophical grounds.
Despite the earthquake, Olympics, health care and congressional debate, CBS Sunday Morning aired a “special issue” on money, filled with mostly repeats of reports I had seen before.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

7 % additional cut in education

State spending on education would be cut by 6.9 percent under a budget deal Democrats and Republicans reached tonight, according to a source who has seen the draft budget document.
Members of the political party caucuses still must agree to the plan, which could be approved by the special session as soon as Sunday.

The deal was reached after two meetings between legislative leaders and Gov. Jim Gibbons on Day 5 of the special session.
Gibbons had initially proposed a 10 percent cut in state spending on K-12 and higher education for a potential savings of $250 million, and Democrats were pushing for a 5 percent reduction.
The level of education cuts was the major spending dispute as lawmakers put together the plan to fill an $887 million budget gap.

Governor Gibbons used his veto pen and the potential of action under emergency powers should the legislature not come to agreement on budget cuts. He has been sucessful, so far, in keeping any proposed tax or tax payment advance from being passed. 

Deep cuts under the governor in 2008 and 2009, along with severe drops in property value and tax revenue, already have K-12 and higher education operating at budget levels lower than 2004, despite inflation and a large increase in students and demand.

Sources: Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas Sun, AP, Channel 3 and Channel 8 news.


Chili Quake and Pacific Tsunami


8.8 Earthquake with 6.6 aftershocks hits Chili, causing tidal wave warnings in Hawaii and elsewhere. The Huffington Post has a list of ways you can help and updates on the story.  This is the first Pacific Wide Tsunami warning since 1964. Quakes as high as 6.3 are hitting in neighboring countries.

US Tourism bill passes

Senator Harry Reid's US Tourism bill passes, with promise of bring new International tourism to Nevada and the US.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Predator

Photo: Wall Street Journal: ABC News will likely make more use of journalists like Dan Harris. shown above in Nepal in 2008, who gather news with smaller production crews.

"Predator vs. Alien" takes on a whole new meaning if you use the most recent definition of the word "predator."

Predators are television and radio reporters who work as both producer and editor, with "repredator" unofficially meaning a reporter who does it all.

Laptop editing, cell phone and cell phone size DVD and even HD quality video cameras, now make it possible for news to be gathered and delivered by a small, leaner and some may say less qualified team of reporters.

The downside is fewer eyes and ears on the story, fewer minds and an unfiltered self editor status for the primary reporter. How could that be a downside? Simply put the qualifications for being a reporter include appearance, voice, and presentation skills. They may or may not include education, depth of knowledge, research skills, editorial judgement and technical skills for video, computer and editing.

In today's edition Sam Schechner of the Wall Street Journal reports on staff reductions at ABC and CBS are fueling the growth of smaller, leaner news gathering teams and "backpack" reporters.

On a larger, or some may say much smaller scope, local affiliates are finding the stories that once generated national exposure and supplimentle income covered by network reporters who hop no planes, trains and automobiles, or simply use phones and Internet to cover the story and then sell it back to the affiliate.

SAG President Ken Howard to visit Nevada Branch

SAG President meets local SAG members March 21st

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Comic Con could move to Las Vegas

Variety reports that Las Vegas could steal ComicCon from San Diego, bringing the world's largest comic book, Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention to Nevada. If we get the event it will be because Las Vegas has the convention space to handle a convention that has outgrown San Diego. Anaheim and Los Angeles are also bidding to gain the convention after its contract with San Diego expires in 2012, but neither has the required space in a single geographic area. Bus shuttles and other methods are being pitched to sew together venues in those two cities. Because of recent acquisitions, Disney may put its full weight behind Anaheim, while other Hollywood interests are split between LA and Las Vegas as a preferred location, if San Diego cannot meet the space requirements prior to contract renewal.

The plight of local television affiliates




Rapid change, or some may say evolution, in the television industry.

Broadcasting depended on local stations, licenses by the FCC to local interests or groups, to get their product out to the masses.

Local affiliates, once the backbone of how programming appeared coast to coast, the national tentacles and reputation for news and sports divisions, are shrinking and some say in the age of cable and satellite, out of date entirely. As populations become more transient, in their viewing and social identification habits if not in geography, the role of a local station as an anchor for local identity may be fading. Audiences now turn to cable news, talk radio or the Internet for breaking news stories. 

Major sporting events, live news event coverage and even first run dramas and comedies, have migrated to "cable", with low cost alternatives starting to surface first run on the web. These were the stable revenue source, and audience draw for local network television affiliates.
Wall Street Journal journalist Sam Schechner and Rebecca Dana report that the economy, an erosion of audience, the declining syndication market (with programs now repeated on network owned cable "networks", DVD sales and web services such as Hulu). Competition from new media and more recently a major advertising recession, local stations are cutting budgets.

The debt ratio is another major factor, as profit margins above 50% drove sales of stations in the 1970's and 1980's for high price tags, still left hanging as money owed prior to salaries, programming or other investments. 

The "fairness doctrine" is a thing of the past, so spending time and money to show both sides is no longer mandatory for license renewal. Nor is there any obligation to air local news or public affairs. These staples of local television cost money, and are being reduced or cut entirely because of the bottom line,

So newsrooms are cutting jobs, sales commissions cut, decisions to remain with network instead of costly break always or covering local events become easier.  A trend toward joint operating agreements with other stations, including joining sales and support staff, using common newsrooms, and even blurring lines between what station you are actually watching ("news 3 at 10 on channel 9"), further changes the landscape for what were once strong local network affiliates.

The networks themselves have reduced funds paid to affiliates, made programming decisions without considering the impact on affiliates (can you say Jay Leno at ten), and found other revenue legs that make many local affiliates less vital then they were in the "broadcast era."

Even brand names have shifted, with reports that both NBC and CBS could change their names. In the case of NBC new majority owner COMCAST (itself changing its name to Xfinity) are looking seriously at the option of shifting NBC to Universal Networks, currently with serious focus groups and research into the shift. CBS, the oldest name in broadcasting, has already lost its formal name of “Columbia Broadcast Systems” and may change to a new name in 2012, possibly GTV for General Electric Television.









Actor Walter Koenig found dead in Vancouver park

Andrew Koenig played Richard "Boner" Stabone, at left, on the 1980s TV sitcom "Growing Pains."
Actor Andrew Koenig, missing since February 14, was found dead in Vancouver, British Colombia, Thursday, a source close to the family told CNN. The son of Star Trek Star Walter Koenig has appeared in numerous television, film and stage roles. He was also a frequent improvisational actor in comedy clubs.

Republicans do not budge on opposition to health care reform


Photo: Republicans say the country can't afford 
President Obama's health-care proposals.  
(Marvin Joseph/the Washington Post)
Highlights and link to full event: Whitehouse.gov
Washington Post Column headline:

At summit, Republicans prove they aren't putting America's health first



The story basically points to the obvious fact that Republican leadership "think is that if there are Americans who can't afford the insurance policies that private insurers are willing to offer, then that's their problem -- there's nothing the government or the rest of us should do about it."

There is a very basic philosophic divide on the role of government and on compassion for those who hit unfortunate lows, despite rhetoric that says that they care about Americans though "tax cuts" and not taxing people who, in truth, are not making enough to care about taxes.

Republicans did not budge on health care and offered no alternative plan during the presidents summit i Washington DC, carried live on CSPAN.

That leaves us with no health care reform, rising health care costs and still facing pre-existing conditions, non-portable insurance and paying high COBRA if we lose our jobs.

Democrats may be able to pass some form of watered down bill if they can compromise with the house and Senate bills and use the cumbersome 'reconciliation' process to bypass a Republican fillibuster.

Apparently no one told congress that the people want progress and action in Washington. Winning elections in the fall seems more important than the health of Americans and reducing spiraling health cost (which are also the largest cost for government itself).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trashy Tailers

Talking trash, flashing breasts, being rude are in.

Toning down language, civility, clothing and respecting your elders are down.

At least in movie trailers, and more so on the trailers that are shown on the interenet.

"Cat and mouse for Trashy Trailers" by Brooks Barnes of the New York Times looks at the trend toward foul language  in violent movie trailers: click here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

11 pages becomes a monster stack in news photo

ON the health care plan President Obama brings before an open joint party televised discussion this week: How is it that an 11 page proposal from President Obama is shown as an 11 inch or more stack of papers in Politico? A picture does not speak a thousand words, it lies like ten thousand.

ABC cuts news division 25%



ABC News, independently reported to the most accurage and ranked second to NBC in broadcast media ratings, announced today a restructuring and shrinking of their news division. The network, owned by Disney, is being pushed into the digital maketing age by force, through a weeding out of many of its senior employees, job freezes and early retirement buyouts.

The Canadian Press reports  "ABC News president David Westin specified no numbers, it was believed the goal for cutbacks is as high as one-quarter of the ABC News staff, which currently totals about 1,400.


"We will likely have substantially fewer people on staff at ABC News," Westin said in his memo.
He said personnel reductions would begin with voluntary buyouts to be offered employees in the days ahead. If the target number isn't reached, layoffs will likely follow.
"We anticipate that between now and the end of the year, ABC News will undergo a fundamental transformation that will ultimately affect every corner of the enterprise," Westin said.
The memo listed several provisions of the news division's restructuring plan, including an expanded use of digital journalists (who both produce and shoot their own stories), the combination of weekday and weekend operations for both "Good Morning America" and "World News," and, at the newsmagazines and other long-form programming, "a more flexible blend of staff and freelancers."

NPR reports the move is being done through slashing payroll,with deep cuts of up to 25% of ABC News Division. That's a cut of one out of every four employees. They will be closing bureaus,combining job definitions, combining show staffs, canceling programs and purchasing news and news services from third parties around the world.

Coverage of Washington DC will be pooled or dispatched primarily from New York City. Coverage of major cities within the US and around the world will be done by affiliates or by contracting to other news reporting organizations, rather than primarily be done by ABC reporters experiencing events first hand, as has been the case in the past.

The president of the division indicated ABC made choices in news organizations given the economy, technology and a look at the definition and mission of ABC as a network.

The network faces increased competition from Time Warner (CNN), Fox (Fox news) and Comcast-NBC-Universal (which is rumored to be assembling its own 24 hour news network).

There is also the decline in broadcast news significance. The Internet, cable and various new technologies are changing the way we collect, report and gather our news.

Among the changes in how news is gathered and reported are a decline in the need for large crews, for expensive specialized equipment and for large armies of trained (paid) reporters in the field. Citizen "journalism" is increasing the material, if not the quality of material available for both news organizations and the consumer. Correspondents, producers and the general public can shot edit video, and local affiliates are now to offer a higher quality of product.

Of course this does not mean that we have quality news or better reporting. The temptation of reduced staff and loss of the older, more experienced, and therefore higher paid reporters and crews, may also mean a reduction of the reliability and accuracy of the news reported. Fewer direct employees may mean a decrease in the accuracy, control and increased reliance on press releases, press spokespersons, pooled press coverage and untrained bias citizen reporters.

But in a society with a decreasing appetite for news, and many new and quicker fixes, does it really matter that the second rated television news organization, and the one independently rated as the most accurate, will be slashing its staffa] and budget at such deep levels?

Here is the full text of the ABC memo announcing the cuts (courtesy of Dale Roe and the Austin 360 Blog).


From: Westin, David Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:40 PM To: ABCTV News ALL Cc: Sweeney, Anne Subject: ABC News Transformation
Over the past several years, we’ve seen a lot of changes — changes at ABC News and in the news industry overall. I’m proud of the way we’ve responded both to unexpected transitions in our programs and to the economic realities of our business. We’ve adapted quickly and effectively and - above all - put our audiences first. Our programs are stronger today than they were ten years ago. This is a credit first and foremost to the men and women at ABC News.
But all of us are good reporters. We can see that our entire society is in the middle of a revolution — a revolution in the ways that people get their news and information. The digital age makes our business more competitive than ever before. It also presents us with opportunities we couldn’t have imagined to gather, produce, and distribute the news. We can have great success in the new world - but only if we embrace what is new, rather than being overwhelmed by it.
The time has come to anticipate change, rather than respond to it. We have a rare opportunity to get in front of what’s coming, to ensure that ABC News has a sound journalistic and financial footing for many years to come, and to serve our audiences even better. But we must move boldly and promptly. In the past, we’ve sought out less expensive ways to replicate what we’ve always done. The time has come to re-think how we do what we are doing.
To that end, we anticipate that between now and the end of the year ABC News will undergo a fundamental transformation that will ultimately affect every corner of the enterprise. We will be guided by one central principle: In everything, we will ensure that we put our audiences first - providing them with first-rate journalism covering the things that matter the most to them in ways no one else does. And, we will do it with a business model that ensures we will be here for our audiences for many years to come.
The transformation will have six basic components:
  1. In newsgathering, we intend to dramatically expand our use of digital journalists. We have proven that this model works at various locations around the world. We believe we can take it much further;
  2. In production, we will take the example set by Nightline of editorial staff who shoot and edit their own material and follow it throughout all of our programs, while recognizing that we will continue to rely upon our ENG crews and editors for most of our work;
  3. In structure, we will combine our weekday and weekend operations for both Good Morning America and World News;
  4. In special events, we will rely upon our program staff through the day and night to cover unexpected events and marshal personnel from across the division to cover scheduled events;
  5. In newsmagazines and long-form programming, we will move to a more flexible blend of staff and freelancers so that we can respond to varying demand for hours through the year; and
  6. Overall, we will eliminate redundancies wherever possible.
An essential part of this intended transformation will be extensive training in the new technology - whether in the field or in-house. This is an extension of the digital bullpen training we’ve undertaken already, but it will be on a scale that we have not seen before. This training program and changes it will make possible in all of our operations will make ABC News the place to work in the digital age. We won’t just be preparing people for the new world; we will be living in it.
When we are finished, many job descriptions will be different, different skill sets may be required, and, yes, we will likely have substantially fewer people on staff at ABC News. To ease the transition, we are offering a voluntary separation package to all full-time, U.S.-based, non-union, non-contract employees. Information and details of the program will be sent to your home address in the next few days. The response to this voluntary program will determine the extent to which we will need to make further reductions. I encourage everyone to talk with their supervisor if they have any questions.
Any voluntary separation offers for union-represented employees will be in accordance with our obligations under the applicable labor agreement. Whatever changes we make overseas will be done in compliance with local laws and, where required, include management consultation in advance.
Throughout this process, I will keep you informed of where we are and where we are going with the transformation. Tomorrow, I will discuss this on the 9:30 call, and we will be holding meetings with various groups of staff in New York. Kate O’Brian and I will be in Washington next week to explain what we are planning in person and to take questions. Either Kate or David Reiter will be travelling to the bureaus in the coming days to do the same.
I won’t pretend that all of this will be easy. But I do truly believe that it will be good for ABC News. I believe in this institution. I believe in its mission and in its future. As always, I will need your help in making sure that we are as strong as we can be for many years to come.
Thank you.

Unemployment's impact on domestic violence

While Republicans and conservatives are attacking Senator Harry Reid's statement that unemployed men are more likely to be abusive than employed men, national domestic violence groups are defending the senator and backing their defense with statistics. The Las Vegas Sun reports on the comments that Reid made on the floor of the Senate during debate over a jobs bill.

“I met with some people, while I was home, dealing with domestic abuse,” Reid said. “It has gotten out of hand. Why? Men don't have jobs. Women don't have jobs either, but women aren’t abusive, most of the time. Men, when they're out of work, tend to become abusive. Our domestic crisis shelters in Nevada are jammed; that’s the way it is all over the country.”

Conservatives used the statement to attack the senator, with one blogger saying, "Harry's wife ought to take this as a warning come November," and a Fox News commentator saying, “It's so insane, and I don't know how much lower Harry Reid can go.”

When questioned about the statement by reporters on Tuesday, Reid defended himself and said Las Vegas’ high unemployment has led to more domestic violence.

"I’m just telling you what two people working in the field every day say," Reid said. "There’s no question that people being out of work causes more people to be involved in domestic violence."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Walmart buys into Web Video

Walmart is the biggest seller of DVDs in the country, with over a 70% share in sales.

Walmart is the world's largest CD sales corporation, with an 80% share.

Now Walmart is making sure it's not left behind as more consumers rent or buy movies digitally.

Variety reports that "The retail giant said Monday that it will acquire streaming video service Vudu, enabling it to compete more aggressively with the likes of Best Buy, Netflix. Apple and Amazon, which have been partnering with major electronics manufacturers to offer movies through TVs and Blu-ray players that connect to the Internet."

"The company offers movies from all of the major studios and has deals with major hardware electronics manufacturers including Samsung, Toshiba, Vizio, Sharp, Sanyo and Mitsubishi.
Nearly all of the TVs and Blu-ray players set to hit the market over the next year will include Internet connectivity and access to iPhone-like applications that will allow viewers to check their Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and Netflix accounts, for example. Now Vudu will as well."

Walmart will also push for same day as DVD release for its on-line Internet based sales and rental. They plan on an aggressive in store, television, radio and on-line marketing capaign starting with the summer releases.

'Avatar' sets Imax record

With worldwide totals for 20th Century Fox's "Avatar" north of $2.4 billion, Imax reported that its portion of the pic's earnings passed $200 million on Sunday, a new record for any film on IMAX screens.

President Obama Health Care Proposal

Why trust news media spin...read it for yourself...

What is the President's health care compromise proposal?

Walk through it at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/02/22/a-walk-through-presidents-proposal
and http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting

Is 30 old? It is if you live in Hollywood.

The 1938 edition of Action Comics # 1, the first to introduce Superman, sold for one million dollars at auction today...ten million times its original cover price of one dime.

But apparently age is only valuable as a collectable and not in flesh and blood.

At least in the "Neverland" of Hollywood.

Disney has had a close to 100% top level turnover, plus many lower level jobs shifting.  The new leaders are not movie makers or even entertainment industry types. They are marketers. They are young. To them Johnny Depp is old and ancient history.


Disney is moving away from making movies to make quality intellegent movies. Disney is looking toward intellectual property rights, based on future income from toys, theme parks, DVD, books, internet, music and other income. They shelved "The Proposal II" despite record income for the first film. They have put "Lone Ranger", "Captain Nemo" and other projects into turn around to focus on fewer projects (not films) that will feed the overall machine. They are suing theaters that have reneged on 3-D to keep Avatar on Screens, and forcing Johnny Depp's "Alice In Wonderland" onto screens before the Depp cache loses its steam. Disney will release Alice much sooner than the usual DVD and Pay for View window, also pissing off movie theaters. Disney feels it does not need theaters. They are also suing "Red-box" to keep their films out of the $1 Red Box rentals for at least 120 days after the DVD release. Control is what it is al about.

Changes and policies at Disney are just the beginning a Hollywood undergoes a transfiguration, and with it a shift away from quality to mass marketing, from classic to rebirth, from baby boomers to the Millennial Generation "and beyond" (to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear).


Anyone over 30 is old, anyone who is not from the "new media" internet age is "a fossil."

Age bias took over most of this week's "KCRW, The Business."

Three writers sued over age discrimination and over $70 million dollars in pre-trail settlements will go to 165 plaintiffs who joined in.

The industry is chasing young audiences, and cutting edge almost rude genre's.

A writer in his 40's was told by producers "you wrote my mother's favorite shows" and that he was too old and needed a younger partner if he were to be considered. His agency was CAA an he was hot and popular. But once shows were cancelled, which happens to all shows, he was told "it's time that you move on" to a new career. He was with Aaron Spelling and other major producers. He was told "we need to work with different people" by a 34 year old executive.

Another thing that has happened is that ideas writers pitch end up being done by younger writers, without credit or compensation. She was told in Yiddish by her agent that she was an "old guy" and "past time".

"Television use to be written by grownups...people with Scotch in their drawers and people who worked with and interned with the pros of comedy clubs and what we call classic television...then there was a youth-quake..and a battalion of younger and cheeper executives were hired as a middle layer...feeling more comfortable and open to being pitched by people who were younger than they were."

Writers are told that their category or genre was dead, and "in truth writers can write "matchbook covers, social studies books, comic books, the great American screenplay.."

Aaron Spelling was in his 70's and writing with the best of them. The founder and writer of the Sopranos was in his upper 40's when the show started.

Writer's observe, listen, watch, feel comfortable in the right environments and are people who adapt to individuals and situations, not fixed blocks like the younger executives who hire or green light projects may think.

Could the industry be looking at young as "grateful and cheep", and "brand new ideas."

The entertainment industry says that adverting has shown that people who are older are "set in their ways" and "will not change brands" and "fixed in time". None of those hold up with actual research, yet both industries remain entrenched with the concepts.

"People should not have to die your hair to get a job" but they do.

"There is discrimination to anyone over 30...driven by new media and a feeling that older writer just do not get IT."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore

 
View this clip from "Network" and respond.

The film came out in 1976, when television news was still under Presidents of news and separate from programming. Like the soothsayer in the film, the movie foresaw much about today's media and today's poltiical climate 34 years later!

Language advisory but nothing by today's standards.

Hurt Locker wows Brits with six awards



Hurt Locker Took the British "Oscars" Top Prize, six statues in all in one night.

According to "The Wrap" an American Film taking the BAFTA award is uncommon, and for Hurt Locker to accomplish what amounts to a hat trick of unrelated awards from Guilds and Academy almost ensures it will take best picture, and a quite possibly best director at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

The following is form entertainment news blog "The Wrap":

"The Hurt Locker" continued its remarkable run of awards on Sunday in London, where the Orange British Academy Film Awards named Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq-themed drama Best Film.

Bigelow herself was named Best Director for her taut low-budget film, which has become an Oscar favorite with a string of wins from the critics and the Hollywood guilds.

Although BAFTA generally spreads the wealth and often salutes British films over American ones, "The Hurt Locker" showed surprising across-the-board strength. In addition to its awards for film and director, it picked up honors for Mark Boal's screenplay and for cinematography, film editing and sound.


In the past 10 years, the BAFTA winner has been named Best Picture at the Oscars five times. With a BAFTA win on top of honors from the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, Writers Guild, American Cinema Editors and Art Directors Guild, plus numerous critics groups, "The Hurt Locker" has far outpaced any other film this awards season."

The story goes on...but cut to the list of winners:

From Variety.com

And the winners are:
 
BEST FILM
"The Hurt Locker" - Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
"Fish Tank" - Kees Kasander, Nick Laws, Andrea Arnold

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
Duncan Jones Director - "Moon"

DIRECTOR
"The Hurt Locker" - Kathryn Bigelow

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
"The Hurt Locker" - Mark Boal

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
"Up In The Air" - Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
"A Prophet" - Pascal Caucheteux, Marco Cherqui, Alix Raynaud, Jacques Audiard

ANIMATED FILM
Up" - Pete Docter

LEADING ACTOR
Colin Firth - "A Single Man"

LEADING ACTRESS
Carey Mulligan - "An Education"

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christoph Waltz - "Inglourious Basterds"

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Mo'Nique - "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"

MUSIC
"Up" - Michael Giacchino

CINEMATOGRAPHY
"The Hurt Locker" - Barry Ackroyd

EDITING
"The Hurt Locker" - Bob Murawski, Chris Innis

PRODUCTION DESIGN
"Avatar" - Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair

COSTUME DESIGN
"The Young Victoria" - Sandy Powell

SOUND
"The Hurt Locker" - Ray Beckett, Paul N. J. Ottosson

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
"Avatar" - Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andrew R. Jones

MAKE UP & HAIR
"The Young Victoria" - Jenny Shircore

SHORT ANIMATION
"Mother Of Many" - Sally Arthur, Emma Lazenby

SHORT FILM
"I Do Air" - James Bolton, Martina Amati

THE ORANGE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public)
Kristen Stewart

ACADEMY FELLOWSHIP
Vanessa Redgrave

OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA
Joe Dunton
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Joe Dunton

Sunday Morning News and Views

Quote of the day: 
“We got it from Wikipedia, it has to be true.”



On This Date



“Plop, plot, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!” On this date in history February 21, 1931 Miles Laboratories introduced a new antacid with aspirin, bicarbonate and citrus; Alka-Seltzer. Sir Speedy was first, then “Mama Mia, that’s a Spicy Meatball” and “I can’t believe I at that whole thing”, all the time “plop, plot, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” Today Bayer owns Alka-Seltzer and has an entire range of products to offer, including the same product without the fizz or overwhelming taste.



Television and the end of culture




Syria is becoming the new center of the Arab production world, with 80% of television dramas, soaps, situation comedies, reality shows and game shows produced in the Syrian dialect. Egypt long held the position of being the language of and production center for the region. Programming deals with politics, religion, race, sex and drugs, not as openly as in the west but with shocking plot turns and characters.



What area scholars and artists worry about is that the nature of the work is often more western than middle eastern, and that artists from writers to actors, tech crews to graphic designers, are being sucked into the filed, at the loss of traditional stage, letters and other crafts. They feel a real loss of local, national and even regional historic culture and much needed reflection on the state of society.



Of course the leadership of Iran and other conservative Middle Eastern states heavily criticizes Syrian television. The UAE, United Arab Emirates, are working hard to finance a major film and television industry for the region based in their states.


Harry Reid Endorsed by Conservatives
Conservative Politics Takes Interesting Turns.  Ron Paul and Harry Reid endorsed by differing conservative groups.



At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting Ron Paul was selected as their choice for president of the United States. At the same conference Glen Beck, of Fox News, called on Americans to let big banks fail, a move that could tumble us into a depression (however Beck says it is natural evolution and plays down economic doomsday scenarios). A registered Republican, Paul’s platform, beliefs and votes are solidly along Libertarian Party lines.



Meanwhile the League of Conservative Voters Action Fund have endorsed Senator Harry Reid’s re-election bit. The Senator labeled a “liberal” by so many of his critics, says that a look at Reid’s actual voting record shows that he supports the same issues conservatives support on key conservative issues during Reid’s 24 years in the Senate and four years in the House.


"Two Reids don't make a right" bumper stickers are being sent out by political action groups located in Washington D.C. and California to influence Nevada's elections.


We are at the forefront of the type of campaiging where truth is a casulty of getting things "your" way.


Just try telling someone that Harry Reid is a moderate and will vote Conservative because he is a Nevadan, when that is the best for Nevada. 

Just try telling those slogan believing clones that Reid was born in very close to a log cabin, had no running water and grew up poor.  Try explaining how everyone was told that we had the dump at Yucca Mountain, like it or not, and how Reid refused to give up and worked through three presidencies to kill the dump, at great political and financial risk. Try explaining how he made calls to to make sure City Center opened, that Nevada did get jobs through Federal influence, that we kept our fair share of water rights and help with infrastructure during out boom years. The stone tossers, who are a part of a national and not Nevada machine bent on bringing down the Senate Majority Leader, ignore the power and influence he has as majority leader and would rather replace him with a powerless Freshman Senator.

Politics are not for the people but for personal or corporate gain, and damn the locals or little guy!









Nevada’s future



100 billion deficits for states, nearly 1 billion of that is Nevada. The state’s 900 million deficit is severe when you consider we are one of the least populated states with a much smaller infrastructure than neighboring California or former industrial giant Michigan, both leading the list of states in actual dollar debt.



Governor Gibbons, set to slash education, social services, emergency services and other programs his conservative Reagan-esque views say should be not a part of government, did not do the paperwork needed or ask on deadline for stimulus money that helped Texas and other states balance their budgets last year and this year. He blames Nevada’s three Democrats in Congress in an effort to gain ground against fellow Republicans seeking to defeat the incumbent in the primaries. Meanwhile conservatives in Congress kept the aid dollars tied to thresholds for which Nevada did not qualify, since out high mortgage value drop in their view meant that people were speculating and not truly calling Nevada home, and that we deserve our fate for being so tied to gambling revenue and “sin”.



Much of politics appears to be locked in a time warp, with very little attempt to understand just how deep the situation we were and are in is. For example, business as usual with medical costs sky rocking and employers passing the responsibility to those least able to pay for it, their employees. All governments are hog-tied in their budgets by elements outside their control, the largest of which appears to be the sky rocking cost of insurance and health care. But no health care reform from Congress…leave it to the individual, along with food, fuel, clothing and other things that are also rising in cost while incomes remain the same or go down.



Hate your brother, or at least know that they are wrong


Keith Overbite, Osama Obama and others in fun, but hateful and belittling references are common in today's discourse. Being disrespectful seems to be in and allowable. Making fun of instead of listening to the other side in order to build up your own ego and beliefs have become American pastimes.


Politics has become a polarized almost military front between competing beliefs and ideologies. What is missing is the middle ground where the answers may lay to how to stop the growth of America’s lower class and poor population, how to reverse the erosion of the middle class, how to keep wealthy investor funds in the United States, how to keep up needed social services or provide alternatives that can be used by the cash poor remaining middle class and those less fortunate, and how to keep the US dominant in the world economy without losing our soul in the process.



“Liberals” and the further left “progressives” want to solve the ills of the world by taking American money and piling it up in social programs, bailouts and infrastructure maintenance and improvement. Conservatives say not to the taxes needed to keep our infrastructure working and defend the increasingly disproportionately wealthy’s right to keep their money and spend it as they please.



“Conservatives” seek less government, lower taxes, a business centered capitalistic democracy and states, local, and individual decisions.



But there are social conservatives, religious conservatives and economic conservatives and Libertarians. These groups, all under the conservative umbrella, have widely different views ranging by issue or belief.



The range of those who identify with their tent divides both political parties. Democrats have always has a broad but diverse, and therefore disagreeing base under their tent. Republicans have traditionally been more centralized; however going into this year’s election the factions appears as divergent as those who most identify with the Democratic Party.



Are we a two party nation with a divided senate locked in by misuse or redefinition of what is a filibuster, or are we a multi-cultural, diverse political belief nation in need of coalitions and compromise and tacit agreement to solve the problems our society faces today?



And for an added punctuation, on this date in history Karl Marx first published his Communist Manifesto.



The Root of The Problem with Congress



While the guest on “Face the Nation” today was Colin Powell, it is the newscaster commentary that warrants early airing in today’s missive. We will get to Powel later.


"When the amateurs ask me - and by amateurs I mean the good citizens outside the circle of professional politics - when they ask me why Washington doesn't seem to listen when every poll shows that people hate partisanship and want compromise, I tell them, 'The professional politicians always listen. They listen to the people who gave them the money to get to Washington.'  -Bob Schieffer



CBS Senior Correspondent Bob Schieffer ended his “Face The Nation ‘ broadcast by asking why, when the majority of Americans are fed up with the deadlock in Congress, you still see party line votes and portions of each party derailing their own party’s best laid plans for consensus. His commentary, and highlights of the Colin Power interview, can be found on the “Face the Nation” Web Site. The following is an expansion based on that commentary, put here for thought and perspective.



The 2009 presidential election cost well over 5.8 billion dollars, it took 20 million to lose a senate seat in Minnesota, and even local elections are costing six and seven figures to win.



The founding fathers were volunteers.



The intent was a citizen’s government with elected representation, to avoid the problems the colonies were having with Great Britain, it’s king and Parliament. A government for the people, by the people and of the people did not mean a professional congress surrounded by layers of professional employees, lobbyist and media.


Over time stipends were offered for time away from farms, businesses and families. That grew into salaries and volunteered service by others became paid, both government and outside the government. Increasingly large amounts were spent by business and political special interests to influence lawmakers, and the cost of simply running for office grew at a rate faster than our nation grew and expanded.



Today politicians, just to earn a seat at the table, must promise so much to so many before they get to Washington so that once they get to Washington they cannot compromise or break their promises to those that paid for the wedding. They have to say not only what they think voters want to hear, but also what those who financially support them want voters to hear.



It takes a brave man or woman, willing to commit political and possibly career suicide, to step out and compromise for the greater good, to vote for what they know must be done.



It takes a brave nation, a strong commitment, to reform our process and return it to the educated decisions by educated men and women elected and entrusted for their judgment by the voters, answerable only during the short period that was intended as the election cycle and in the end the ballots of their constituents come election day.


Is there a solution? Probably not, because our increasingly complex world makes the potential of a part time or volunteer federal government impractical if now impossible, no matter what Libertarians may think. Running the business of our everyday public safety, transportation, health, safety, national security and the myriad of services we expect form government takes manpower and full time effort.


And if you think that is not needed, why do we turn to government in times of disaster? Would there be a private sector or family based support to fall back on in our transient, international, non nuclear family universe? Could churches or charities or families provide the support needed? If so, how?


Face the Nation



This morning Colin Powel, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” responded to critics of President Barack Obama saying claims that we are less safe under Obama are unfounded, and asked “Have we do lost our faith in this country that we think one person can make that much of a difference.”



Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powel was the guest this morning on Face the Nation. A registered Republican he had helps high-level positions under both Republicans and Democrats. He endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, helping Obama to take the front in the campaign. Powell says he has no regrets. At the time of the election our financial system was collapsing, we were in a deep recession; we were at war in two countries and other venues around the world. Actions by President Bush and President Obama helped keep us from a depression and have helped us to move forward on all fronts.



“No great strategist or battle plan survives first contact with an enemy…President Obama has survived the changes from the political realty of Washington.



Powell says that Obama underestimated the opposition in Washington. We are a patrician nation, with strong resistance from the Republican Party on every front. There are serious differences between the two sides of the political spectrum, which have made progress difficult, and consensus impossible.



Powel says the system is not broken, but it is in trouble. Sooner or later you have got to compromise to allow a consensus to move the country forward. The government is functioning and doing what it needs to do, but not well enough. The tea party movement, cable television, bloggers and slogans are heightening tensions and making it harder and harder for representatives in congress of both parties to make the compromises they need to make to govern.



When they were writing the Constitution they decided the main attack had to be to create a country not solve the problems with slavery. Compromise was needed to move forward or we would not have a country.



If all we see are attempts to bring him down then there will be no progress and we will see a defeat of what needs to be done.



“Have we so lost our faith in this country that one man can be held accountable for changing or not changing the country…Barack Obama is not a socialist, he is the president.”?



On national security and former Vice President Chaney’s recent charges that Obama has made this country less safe Colin Powel says, “the programs set up by President Bush are still in place and working under President Obama. We have gone after the enemy with 50,000 more troops, we have continued the policies President Bush put in place in Iraq and around the world.” Water boarding was done away with under Bush and put into policy by Obama.



On tribunals, giving them to the military will not give people what they want “because military tribunals have to follow the constitution and by nature are more defense oriented than many civilian courts.”



“I think Guantanamo has cost us a lot in our standing in the world around the world. Guantanamo once had 700 people, it is down to 192…the 500 were reduced under both the Bush and Obama administrations…we have 300 terrorist in jail in the US put there by the regular law enforcement system…we need to show the world what we are about, as a democracy and with our commitment to justice.”



Was Iraq worth what it costs? “We got rid of a terrible dictator, we gave the Iraqi’s people a democratic government…and put their own destiny in their own hands.” Powel does say that in the end we did not plan well for after the invasion or for what would happen in an area where we should have known better.



“Right now I have doubts about the capability of the Afghans to do what they need to do…over time they may prove they can do what is needed.”



On Iran and nuclear capability Colin Powel says the US needs to know that the Iranians are clearly determined to have a nuclear program. We need to try to stop it at this point with sanctions and discussion, but if they ever do cross the line there is no prejudging what the Israeli government may ask for or what the US Government may say or do. “Deterrent works, so it would be suicidal for them to use such a weapon if they ever did get one.”



On former Secretary of State General Alexander Haig, who passed away this week, Powel says “he did a great service for the nation during the last days of the Nixon Administration and deserves respect for that.”





Business



After weeks of being surprised by the answers her guests have given her, Maria Barioromo stacked her guest this week with those she knew would agree with her and please her corporate boss Rupert Murdock.



Blackstone Advisory Services CEO Byron Wien told Wall Street Journal Report that interests rates; both the Federal Funds Rate and the Discount Rate will rise this year and go up at a steady but maintainable price. He feels the stock market will not make progress, but he believes the economy will have real growth of five percent and employment will grow as a result. He sees as shift to the emerging markets, investment in commodities and both investment overseas and foreign investment in the US. He says that you have to raise the social security retirement age, cut into benefits of Medicare and Medicaid, and recognize that the country is no longer in the place it was when these were nurtured and grow. He believes in social services and entitlement programs, but says that if we do not drastically cut these programs we will end up in another deep recession and a poor investment from a business stand point.



Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani critiqued the economy and the performance of the Obama Administration. He says Republicans are armatures at spending money and do not know how to stop the bleeding, while Democrats are professionals at it but do not know when to stop. He says you cannot cut non-discretionary funding without reducing entitlements. We have to have the courage to deal with the spending and cut it. We don’t have room for tax increases because we will ruin the recovery of the country, even when increases may be justifiable in other times. He likes Scott Brown for being a fiscal conservative and feels he will be a good US Senator who both parties will find reasons not to agree with, but both will personally like.



The 107th Annual Toy Fair is in New York, under unsure economic times Toy Industry Association spokespeople Adiene Appell and Carter Keithley were on Wall Street Journal Report to preview next Christmas’s offerings.  In the last quarter of 2009 the toy industry had a much better year than expected, leaving retail shelves empty.



Interactive, video and value are in. Video Girl Barbie has an operational video camera allowing children to see through Barbie’s videographer eyes. New Anchor Barbie does not have a working camera, but has Barbie as a news reporter or anchor.



What I found objectionable is how both spokespersons and Maria were focused on teaching kids to “be better corporate citizens.



Some of the other toys include; The Fisher Price IXL is a portable computer similar to a smart phone that allows 3 to 7 year olds to learn letters, sounds, numbers and other lessons in an interactive manner. The spy video tracker is the first toy ever for kids to create applications for, allowing the little vehicle to be driven through the house to “spy” or “share” the events in your house.


Role of Journalism



"I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!"

There are a few top schools to study journalism, and which study and keep tabs on the profession. All have internationally rated and recognized masters and PhD programs, plus post-doctorate studies and a mission to preserve the truth and expand the horizons of human knowledge. Pretty high standards for journalist, but achievable, according to those at the forefront of academia.



Among these schools is USC.



The University of California Southern California’s prestigious Annenberg School of Communication this week officially changed its name to the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. The change was made to focus on the importance of journalism in its key roles in society.



I had a professor in college who predicted unless journalist voluntarily banded into a true career, with required continued studies, self policing (as attorneys and doctors do), standards and clear missions, the field would degenerate into what we have today; talking heads, pundits, feature dominated, opinion over fact checked accuracy and control from marketing and account based department heads and corporate president instead of the ability to truly pursue a craft.



The late Walter Cronkite spoke at my school, those eons ago, he spoke of how the great age of American journalism lasted about twenty years, as radio and then television began to compete with newspapers and the mission was to report the news accurately, with a social conscience (which came along late in the process), and for the good of the public, more specifically he electorate. He was not pleased with what took over in the 1970’s and grew into today’s shrinking newspapers, non-trained eye witness interpretations of the news, having to jump to conclusions and blow small, often inaccurate, details out of proportion and if there is nothing happening, to invent or manufacture it for ratings points and advertising dollars.



The film "Network" foresaw a world where television news would be pure entertainment, including soothsayers (can you say pendants), game show like smiles and energy and even a studio audience. While it has no gone that far, the prediction that news would go from independent divisions with their own presidents’ to answerable to programming and ratings has become the bitter reality of today.



Another reason for the shift of name at USC and the need to focus on what is journalism comes from reporting becoming an increasingly dangerous profession. To some extent he lack of professionalism and shrinking of the budgets of the news organizations contribute as less trained, or some would say more daring, young reporters take risks their predecessors would have thought better of. But even seasoned reporters like the Wall Journal’s Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded on Arab television early on in the “war on terror” are paying the ultimate price for keeping the public informed.



At the same time the public’s view of journalism and journalist is slipping to an all time low. Who can blame them? With opinions and ratings mattering more on networks such as FOX and MSNBC, CNN Shifting its American home service to compete directly with FOX, network news decreasing news content and increasing sports and other features, and unethical practitioners making up stories, slanting reporting or seeking personal glamour over the truth and professional integrity.





News



Pilipino troops have killed a top al-Qaida militant commander in their country, and five extremists, in the ongoing war little reported in the US. The Philippines is supported by US Marines a Special Forces in their ongoing war against al-Qaida and communist militants. The Abu Sayyaf are a militant group believed to be involved in the kidnappings of US and other foreign citizens, attacks on religious and military facilities and loosely affiliated with larger military forces entrenched a few localized areas of the Pilipino Islands. They are on the US terrorist list.



Controversy on the BBC over an alleged Israeli hit squad that assassinated leading Haamas commander Mahmound al-Mabhouth. At least 11 suspects used forged British, French, Irish and German passport to gain entry to the UAE. However experts on the BBC say that if it were the Israeli’s, or any other state, including the US, the operation would have been far more professional and the trail far less easy to follow. Passports were poorly forged, with at least one lacking any cereal number.



Iran is becoming a military dictatorship and is not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Commission, according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who found her words fall on close to deaf ears in Saudi Arabia this week. The Saudi’s are more concerned about conflicts between Israel and Palestine, then Iran or any other Middle Eastern State. Despite the Saudi’s, most international scholars agree with the US evaluation of the power of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and the pro-atomic military view there.



Floods and mudslides have claimed at least 50 lives on a scenic Portuguese Island.  Madeira gets hit with storm of the magnitude that caused the damage every decade or two, the last time being in 1993.



A Lost World



Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, penned “The Lost World” (published in 1912). The book was first made into a state of the art silent movie right here in Nevada in 1925 (on land that is now deep below Lake Mead, using color stained frames and stop motion animation). In penning the original “Lost World” Doyle was captivated by the legendary Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett, who is also represented by the antagonist in the Pixar animated movie “Up”.



Brad Pitt’s production company has purchased the rights to Col Harrison Fawcett’s story, with Pitt set to star as the adventurer.




Procrastination



A crowded pace in a life that demands more and more of us has but one end result: we can always do it later.



Employers are adding work to their employees while not allowing overtime, at the same time as downsizing employees and counting on technology to do more than it was meant to do. This was happening long before the recession, but with the recession as an excuse, it is rapidly becoming the rule. That means that other tasks, which may also be important or which may be needed to keep us sane, must be put off…procrastinated.



Have you run for a bus or subway or hit the gas a bit to much as you rush to make up time and catch up?



Vacations and time with family seem to be put off, or procrastinated, with the feeling that there will be time later and if we do not do what we are expected to do or what we set for ourselves the world will end!



Advice from experts is to set one goal that you can meet each day. Set steps in a larger task that can be done and make you feel as if you are making progress. If you feel rushed and cannot get things done, try finding an unrelated task and just doing it to find some relief from the deadline or self imposed rush schedule.



CBS Sunday Morning ended their version of this story with the animated Disney version of “Alice In Wonderlands” March Hair’s “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date…no time to wait…no time…”



Not to put it off, but are there Digital Books in your future?



I have been putting writing this off, as I read more and more on-line and find myself jumping between topics and publications amidst my very busy lifestyle finding ways to not complete my PhD dissertation.


Competition and non-coordinated development may hinder the growth of the digital publishing industry. While the New York Public Library and many other institutions are compatible with all formats, most libraries, including the Clark County Library, UNLV and CSN are not. Kindle works with both Mac and PC, but both need special formatting and not all books will be readable. The appearance of documents may also be distorted. The most common on-line formats are not compatible with Kindle and may have problems with other readers. No all e-formats work with Barnes and Nobel’s Nook or the Sony Reader, but many do. For online books to work with iPods or iPhones they must be formatted for PC, and coordinated with a home PC, not a Mac. And even then not all formats are readable.



While the impact of the iPad is expected to be large, competitors are liable to make sure their programs do not work on the new Mac tablet device. The emergence of the Mac store for books and on-line documents may have the impact of forcing compatibility, but then again the marketplace could do a different direction.



Three programs used by the Clark County Library District do not work with Mac or Kindle and require a learning curve. You must load all three into a DOS Microsoft PC to have any cross-content access. These are Adobe Digital Edition, MobiPocket Reader and OverDrive Media Explorer.  Free editions are available for all three, but there are reasons to pay for upgrades on two of them.



As with digital music and films, a standard format will have to be agreed to, or decided on by user demand, for on-line and portable reader books to come into everyday use.



Of course the price tag for the readers also remains steep, and reading on a computer screen can be taxing on the eyes.