Monday, July 19, 2010

Are Newspapers Killing Themselves?

The many stories on the demise of newspapers are found in newspapers, magazines and online media, and the blame is put on many sources. Is it the free Internet, the lack of timeliness compared to broadcast media’s immediacy, or the citizen journalists with their blogs and their on-the-scene reportorial endeavors with their ubiquitous camera phones? Andrew Stroehlein, communications director of the International Crisis Group, believes that “Citizen journalism is like citizen dentistry.”

No Death Defying Headlines

The bold-faced headlines and sub-headlines in a newspaper are what first catch the reader’s attention, and the killer instinct writing them can be a turn off. In the 12-page front section of today’s San Jose Mercury News there were the following headlines concerning “news” from around the United States; “Park shooting kills 2,” “Off-duty cop killed,”  “Man dies in flash flood,” and “Scout dies in fall.” The international news also offered carnage-like headlines: “Dozens killed as trains collide in eastern India,” “Two miners killed (in China),” “Bomb kills former insurgents,” and “Gunmen massacre 17 at a party in Mexico.”

Death Takes a Holiday

These eight front-section headlines concerned stories describing the deaths of 113 human beings including forty-nine in the train collision and 40 former insurgents. It is therefore comforting to find one section of the newspaper that is a respite away from such large numbers — today’s Obituary Page that only lists seven people who have recently departed. There may have been more who passed on but an obit can be expensive and unaffordable for many. However, they are a source of much-needed money for newspapers in a down economy. When a family member dies, along with purchasing a cemetery plot, a casket or an urn, contracting a funeral parlor for a hearse, and hiring a eulogizer, unless the person was well known or did something special in their lifetime, someone has to pay for an obituary for them and pay by the line. At the Mercury News the cost for each line of copy is $18, and one must dig up an additional $108 to include a photograph of the deceased. A short, 100-word obituary to describe the highlights of a person’s life would take up twenty-two lines and cost $396 plus $108 for the photograph. That’s a total of $504 to run the obituary for one day and during a time of emotional and financial stress, a well-respected former obit writer described those costs as being “criminal.”



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Texting Now and Mini-Skirts Then

Could Be Dangerous to Your Health

Today’s Associated Press story indicates that texting while walking could be injurious as it diverts a person’s concentration while they are involved with the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.

A Sign of the Times Now

The article described a woman in the Silicon Valley who was not paying any attention to where she was walking whilst texting and ran into a sign. Her injury was not serious, however an Ohio State University study showed that in 2008 emergency room visits for similar actions doubled to more than one thousand for pedestrians who were texting.

A Sign of the Times Then

In 1968 I attended a conference in New York City and outside the hotel a young woman in a mini-skirt exited a taxi and bent over as she reached in to pay the driver revealing all of her lower limbs. A middle-aged, well-suited businessman, who was watching her as he walked by, ran into a bus stop sign.  Both he and the sign quivered. I laughed as I retreated into the hotel where another similarly dressed woman was sashaying through the lobby turning the heads of a bevy of businessmen standing around. One businessman who was walking in the other direction, turned his head to follow her motion as he continued on. He ran into a wall and the wall did not quiver. 

Lessons Learned

If you are in a situation that requires your undivided attention and you have your choice of which of two actions to take, stop for a moment and take the one that will make you the happiest without requiring a visit to an ER.  


Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Unpresidented Amount of Money

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan carried forty-nine states and garnered a record 525 Electoral College votes to win a second term as President. An estimated $ 103.6 million was spent on presidential campaigning that year.

Two men who were born seven-and-one-half months apart during that 1984 Chinese lunar year of the rat, may each be earning more than that which was spent on the presidency.

One is a twenty-six year old, corporate billionaire and the other who is still twenty-five, is currently eking out a living having earned a meager $14.41 million for 2009-2010. He also had endorsements worth about $25 million from an eclectic mix of corporations including Nike, Sprite, McDonald’s and State Farm Insurance.

However both want to make more money.

Rooting for Money Could Be All Evil

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s alleged founder, wants to increase the current number of ­­­400 million active members around the world in order to raise his net worth above its present $4 billion level.  His corporation’s main goal is to have as many people as possible reveal as much intimate information regarding their goings on as they can via the Internet. This is done without anyone being encumbered with the need to share a few minutes of conversation in the same room across from another human being.

Bare Bones Competition

A UK site called Skinbook promotes itself as the Internet’s sole genuine nudist social network. It only boasts 9,000 members and as of now it doesn’t offer Facebook any stiff competition.

Courting King James

LeBron James, the current star player of the Cleveland Cavaliers, wants to increase his salary by finding the National Basketball Association team that is willing to appreciably elevate his salary. Until today, he has had grown men crawling to his sacred site who are willing to sell their souls to buy his. Some have even hired consulting firms who have projected how much he will earn in endorsements if he comes to their city to play.

Religious Devotion And Active Preying

You can see where we are in our society today when both young men have been recently dominating the news. Both youngsters religiously believe that bigger is better, specially when it comes to making money — more money than each ever would need. Mark, who was born Jewish is a devout atheist, thank God, and LeBron has whole cities praying for his presence. We trust that they will both do well, keeping in mind a sign in a small retail store’s front window which read, “In God We Trust — All Others Pay Cash.”