Monday, December 28, 2009

"Israel to build 700 apartments in east Jerusalem" - Jerusalem Post

I wonder if the "francais" option near the right top of this page appears because I am accessing the site from France or appears everywhere?

Monday, December 21, 2009

"New Programs Aim to Lure Young Into Digital Jobs" -

Is North Carolina doing enough in this area, alongside "our" efforts to make high speed connections available to everyone? In other words, are we focused enough on how real people use the hardware to be better people and make us all better in the process?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Forum Network" - Free Online Lectures from PBS and NPR

Why aren't local media - above all, newspapers - doing this in each market?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"In North Carolina, Lawsuit Is Threatened Over Councilman’s Lack of Belief in God" -

It's embarrassing to be in the same state as those who would impose this requirement. Nonetheless, they are fully entitled to their views, and to using the legal system to test them. With good luck, they will learn that their freedom to express these thoughts does not extend to using the power of the law to enforce them on anyone else.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"The Future of Online Public Discourse" - Bay Area Blog -

"Google Unveils a News-by-Topic Service That Newspapers Can Adopt" -

It's not clear to me that this will work, but what will work in my view is continued creative discussions with Google about how newspapers can collaborate instead of the knee-jerk kill-the-competitor response we so often see from many corners.

Monday, December 07, 2009

"Apple buys Lala, entering the streaming music business" -

It's interesting to realize that if music moves into to the cloud, it will have a lot of company -- from the news that is already there. Think about it. News from newspapers and other news organizations is very much in the cloud already, accessible whenever you want it, either for free, with free registration or through some form of payment. Regardless of price, it's universality is something that sometimes now fails to impress us the way it should! It's almost as easy to access as is flipping the pages of a printed newspaper.

"Google Is Adding Live Updates to Searches" -

Sort of a Googletape? I can recall the excitement of watching all of the stories that emerge on a wire service ticker, printed letter by letter, word by word.

"At F.T.C. Conference, Concerns About Advertising and Privacy" - Media Decoder Blog -

Here is the event site.

"Map Reveals Which Countries Wikipedia Discusses Most -- And Least"

I am still looking forward to understanding who, specifically, more of the Wikipedia contributors are. I do not know any, from any country. Anonymity in this environment leaves me always suspect and unsure of anything I read in a Wikipedia entry where I don't have some independent means of verifying at least the overall content, if not some of the specifics.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

"Unauthorized Reprints Online Are Rampant, Data Says" - Media Decoder Blog -

"Chicago News Cooperative - The Pulse - Truffles and Grass-Fed Beef, With a Side of Crafts" -

Why is it so hard to add to this story a link to the site for the market? I had no idea where the market was or what it was until I read its site. What does the NYT think a reader might "do" after seeing this piece? It's not that hard to imagine, or perhaps it is...and that is the problem.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

New York Times promoting home delivery

Inside our home-delivered copy of The New York Times this week was a "blow-in" card promoting home delivery subscriptions.

One might think, as I do, that the time surely has arrived, hasn't it, when the Times could recognize home subscribers and treat us a little differently. A simple thank you for our subscription would make a great opener, followed by thoughtful suggestions on how we could draw more value out of the Times, including gift subscriptions, etc. I have never seen such a promotion arrive here. The only semi-personalized notes have been the occasional to whom it may concern letter telling us of a price increase.

For me, this whole arena of communicating with customers needs immediate attention. Imagine the possibilities if it got the creative attention it requires.

Fair Syndication Consortium

Friday, December 04, 2009

"10 Proposals for Fixing the E-Mail Glut" - Bits Blog -

Personal news spending trends

Maybe I have missed something, but I do not recall seeing any statistics, ever, on how much we spend individually in the US and in other countries for news. Is that number going up or going down over time.

I am thinking all media and all forms of news.

For many, there is a whole category of professional news that is usually the most expensive. Often, that is paid for by an employer or at least is tax deductible as a business expense. How to count that might be a little tricky.

But, put the professional news aside.

For people's non-professional lives what are the trends?

As news consumers, how much do we spend on newspaers, news magazines and newsletters? How big a part of our lives are they?

In our own case, we pay something more each month in order to get cable news channels on our cable system. We watch very little else in that added package and a portion of our basic cable watching consists of news as well. Allocating those expenses is also tricky, but as long as done in some consistent way, I think all of this is measurable.

It would be a very interesting number and the trendline would make it so much more valuable.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Three Turkish newspapers suspend membership in int’l press body"

"At Sony, a New Plan to Link Entertainment and Devices" -

"Scandal at WAN-IFRA / WEF Congress in Hyderabad by YAVUZ BAYDAR"

Newspaper value

Our local newspaper in Chapel Hill, the Herald-Sun, ran a full page print promotion today contending that the coupons in the Sunday edition on any one Sunday add up to 179.96, on average, and that a year's 7-day subscription is only 174, thereby paying for itself in coupons on a single day. It goes on to say that the total annual coupon savings for 52 weeks is, on average, 2,159.

There is a phone number to call.

There is no website mention. No e-mail. No suggestion that the printed value asserted in the ad has anything to do with the electronic life of the newspaper.

I think this is as good an example as I could advance of why newspapers show few signs of survivability.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Age probabilities

How to tap into all the probabilities that we confront increasingly as we age, as the numbers keep getting stacked against us, more each day. How to turn that into a "pays" proposition??

Global Post posts

It's really a shame that - the experiment in US-focused content from overseas freelancers - does not allow those who register to see a listing of any and all comments they have posted on the site.

"Journalism jobs and news from"

I think this is headed in the right direction, but for important issues and stories, I'd sure substitute a human being.

"New London freesheet planned" -

I don't think anyone has yet stumbled upon the motherlode of free newspaper business models.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Washington Post to Shut Last 3 U.S. Bureaus" -

This reflects so much of what is happening today in the newspaper world, including the uniqueness of the Washington Post, often considered another national newspaper. It never was, never really tried to be, is not, and likely will not be - for better or for worse.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Sifting Web Chat for Marketing Inspiration" -

An opportunity for newspapers, too?

"Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages" -

As valuable as Wikipedia often is, I have always harbored concerns that it may not be sustainable. In fact, the whole world of free may ulitimately find that it is not either.

"GlobalPost: A New Experiment In Foreign Coverage" - NPR

"Noble experiment" is exactly the right label!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Send Out Cards"

What if newspapers started sending us a lot of personalized messages in addition to the daily or weekly newspaper?

"Citizen journalist, pick your beat" -

Are we getting to the point where individuals might actually bid for specific beats? Or, God forbid, actually apply for the "job" and get selected on merit?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The newspaper as a social network

Sometimes, we get all wrapped up in old words applied to new things and we overlook the real meaning of those words and how they might apply to other things as well.

Social network is a good example. We have come to believe that this means largely a page on Facebook with a bunch of fans and when taken together, this is thought to be a social network.

There are others, of course. For most people, the neighbors who live on either side of them make up a social network. So, too, we each have social networks of people whom we know in different contexts.

A social network, I would argue, is also the entire relationship between a newspaper and the market it serves. We all play a role in that network whether we own a newspaper or not. The core idea is that the newspaper reports on the community and keeps it informed about itself and all of the people who live there. Any one of us could wind up in tomorrow's newspaper as a result of happenstance, planning, position, etc.

Ideally, the newspaper tells us enough our social network to keep us well posted on everything important and interesting. Of course, most newspapers fall far short of satisfying that test.

But my point is that newspapers confront a huge opportunity to expand their historic roles as social network organizers for their geographic communities and make the it the best, the most valuable, the most comprehensive in that place. It's not a question of forsaking journalism for volunteer writers of questionable content. Rather, it's a matter of deploying more tools to reinforce the core life of the newspaper and the market it serves.

If newspapers would only think hard about what they are supposed to do, and how far short of that they now fall, and then how much closer they could get by combining all of their strengths and capabilities by interconnecting more dynamically readers, advertisers and quality information of all kinds.

I don't know of a single newspaper so far that has done this. It seems to me that's its inevitable if newspapers are to survive. The time it takes to happen determines how viable a solution it turns out to be.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Individual advertising

One of the categories of advertising that gets either no or only occasional attention is what I would call "personal" advertising. This could be display, is most often classified, but which could be so much more.

Imagine if each of us was offered a chance to have an advertising account at our local newspaper. This would be the place where we would buy "space" of all different kinds. It might be space to advertise a political point of view. It might be space to sell an old car.

What could be really different about this approach would be the notion that you could freely mix and match print and electronic. If you wanted to sell your house, you'd get x amount of space in the printed paper of your choosing and you'd get y amount of space and features in the web and via e-mail. Each component could be separately priced and yet bundled offerings of all kinds could be offered as well.

I'd stress the opportunities for self-expression, especially on the web. Got something to say, we'll help you do it even better than you can do it on your own.

If newspapers cannot make the pitch successfully for the latter, what good are they when it comes to servicing the needs of their customers?

A lot of this new business might be driven by pure ego. Somebody wants to show off the new addition to their house or photos of a wedding. Nothing wrong with that. Digital space is nearly limitless and why should newspapers give it away if they can present it better than the customer can do it on his or her own?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The most underdeveloped newspaper resource

Newspapers have many resources that are either unique for them, or at least better than many others who pretend to compete. Some of those resources are well developed and well-utilized. Most are not.

Perhaps the resource with the greatest potential at this point, and with the largest upside opportunity is made up of newspaper subscribers. These are people who spend real money to buy real newspapers.

When was the last time that you got something in e-mail, or via any other medium, that made you think that you were special because you subscribe to that newspaper? I cannot recall getting something like that in a very long time.

My own print subscriptions today are two newspapers - The New York Times and the Herald-Sun in Durham, NC.

Each occasionally sends me a note about a rate increase and the odd promotional item, but do I receive anything that calls my attention to something that the newspaper did that ought to be important to me, some reinforcement of content that I might already have seen, but would like to be told just in case I missed it inbetween the driveway and the recycling bin? No.

What a huge missed opportunity to treat us all as individuals and paying customers. Instead, we are considered simply one of all subscribers and treated as a blob.

Why aren't newspapers looking for ways to bring the newspaper relationship to people, one by one, drawing on all of the computer and communications technologies available to them. Competitors do not have us subscribers and I think we ought to be mobilized in new ways to draw more out of "our" newspapers and spread the value that we get within our community instead of primarily dumping it all into that recycling bin.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Google Trends: newspaper

This is a wonderful tool. In doing a search on how often the world "newspaper" was used in a search - if I understand how the tool works correctly - look at what this shows -- a steady and significant decline for the last 6 years.

"Magazine falls victim to glut of recipes on Web, TV" -

This applies to the situation in which newspapers find themselves today. They are no longer essential in the lives of their customers, if they ever were. At worst, they are less essential and becoming moreso every day that newspapers fail to jump into the middle of life as it is lived today not just with things that people want but with what they need and will use with dedication and commitment. What could a newspaper do for the chef in the lead of this piece? If "I don't know" is the answer, you just haven't thought creatively enough. Think harder!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Newspaper content mismatched

Newspapers generally have two parts. One part is made up of news stories, opinion pieces, and other material prepared by, or chosen specifically by, the newspaper to report on news, add perspective, further the interests of readers. The other part is made of space sold to advertiser who place in that space whatever they think serves their best interests.

For the most part, this means that the newspaper-originated space aims to inform, educate, sometimes persuade, but generally serve what the newspaper believes to be in the public interest (however the newspaper defines that interest). The advertiser-originated space is there to promote the advertiser or its interests, to market or sell a product and generally to motivate readers to take some action that results in gain for the advertiser.

These are very different missions yet newspapers have traditionally made little effort to appreciate that they all come jumbled together on most pages for the reader's consumption.

I think there needs to be some rethinking of this, whether on a printed page or in a website.

I don't mean simply better layout and design or better demarcation.

I mean focusing on the reader and figuring out how the newspaper can serve its two constituencies - the consumer customers and the advertiser customers - more effectively. Surely, digital technology allows us to do all sorts of things that can respect and even enhance editorial independence while avoiding obnoxious advertising such as Apple and UPS most recently have placed on The New York Times website.

It means adjusting a lot from, yes, layout and design, to more conversation between and among newspaper people of all departments and wide assortments of consumer customers and advertiser customers. It's a lot more than focus groups which is as far as most newspapers go, and I don't know of any that combine consumer customers, a page of the newspaper in print or online and advertiser customers from that page - and maybe even the subjects of some of the newspaper-orginated content of that or those pages in a single discussion. What a great place to begin that would be!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

"If Health Care Is Going to Change, Dr. Brent James's Ideas Will Change It" -

What a marvelous contribution to our understanding of the health care issues that confront us.

One aspect of this that eludes me is why we have let the system evovle to the point of where so much of health care is an accounting exercise between insurance companies and health care providers. At what point did we all decide that we were no longer going to be the ones to get billed first if we received health care, that we were not the ones to debate the charges and to shop around if we chose to do so? All of that seems alien to the idea of making health care both better and less expensive.

"Belgian Emerges as Favorite for New Top E.U. Post" -

I suppose we can all warm to this fellow, if he gets the nod, but I wonder how this will play outside of Europe, let alone within the EU. I don't mean simply how will it be received, but rather how useful will this person turn out to be in representing the interests of Europe? This all seems to be headed toward not amounting to much.

Monday, November 02, 2009

"Detroit Newspaper Takes Cue From Advertisers" -

I think this gets real close to the heart of the core problem that newspapers need to solve. How do they make themselves more valuable to more advertisers without losing their independence. I think there are ways to do that, but this could be the hardest thing that newspapaers have done in a very, very long time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Americans Spend the Most on Saturdays" - Economix Blog -

Newspapers ought to focus on ways they can make the most of this. What could be added to the Saturday paper that would really make a difference?

"Offers for Travel Channel May Approach $1 Billion" - DealBook Blog -

The Weather Channel and the Travel Channel each began at a newspaper company.

"Calorie Count - Reach the People Who Count"

I think it is great that this is being done by a newspaper company - The New York Times Co. - but it is such a shame that what is described here is not linked in any meaningful way with any of the sites or content of The New York Times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Mon journal offert: un abonnement gratuit pour les jeunes de 18-24 ans"

This is pretty discouraging when you think about it. France offers to underwrite a year's subscription to any one of 59 daily newspaper (one day/week). It is free to anyone 18-24 who signs up. They expect 200,000 will take advantage of the offer and in fact, that's the cut off point; 4,800,000 who are also eligible will not. That's really startling.

In order to sign up, you go to this incredibly-slow-to-load site!

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Editorial - The Cover-Up Continues" -

I share the huge disappointment in the Obama Administration on these matters and hope that they will understand why they are simply taking the wrong position on these matters. It is not too late to change. If they wait much longer, little will be accomplished in doing so other than doing the right thing. Acting now opens up so many other positive opportunities.

"BeMoved Coffee Machine makes you work for it" -

Another great fusion of coffee and news! (Note that while you are jumping up and down to get your coffee, that you can also get some "news".)

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Can a Customized Newspaper Survive the Demise of Print?" - TIME

This is really not a very new idea, but to their credit, these entreprneurs are putting it into action. Like so many experiments, the real value to the rest of us is watching someone else try and learning from their success or....

Computers v. cars

I saw a piece the other day in The New York Times saying that Americans no longer have much brand loyalty when it comes to cars.

That got me thinking about computers which I think have become the new cars.

Each of us feels compelled to consider getting a new one regularly because the technology changes and the featuers are supposed to improve. That's the pitch that historically has been made for buying a new car.

And, I think we have an alliance divide as we used to have with foreign/domestic when it came to cars. Now it is Mac/PC.

And within whichever group one falls, I sense that people are a lot more attached to their computer brand than to their car make!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Lighter, cheaper, LED light bulbs are starting to enter the marketplace" - Home/Garden - News & Observer

I added this comment to this story, but since the newspaper will not let me change my Member ID nor will it allow me to edit, the text below included two typo corrections:

"This is a good story, and there is no reason that the N&O should not be carrying good journalism from another newspaper. That makes perfect sense.What is hard to understand - given all of the money and smart thinking that has been spent on newspaper websites, why it is that the web page on which this article appears makes not a mention of a) any other coverage of LED issues by the N&O and/or b) the local company, Cree, one of the leaders in this field - It just seems intuitive to do that, but in the world of automated websites, intuition may lose.(I have no connection whatsoever to Cree.)"

How do we wind up in 2009 with newspapers still looking as though they are doing web experiments on the weekends in somebody's garage instead of the thoroughly professional and flawless operations that they should be?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why is searching for what you want to find so hard?

With all of the millions of bits and bytes that have been spent on discussing search and search engines, the Google and Yahoo! phenomena, etc., why is it so hard to find what you want on most newspaper sites and, really, most sites of any kind? Is it because the people who organize them don't think like the rest of us? Is it becasue they or others don't care or are lazy? I don't know.

On The New York Times website, I am repeatedly stymied when I see something in print that I want to access on the site and cannot find through search. It appears that the searchable words from articles are somebody's (or som computer's) choices and they don't start from the premisu of someone with a piece of newsprint in her or his hand and wanting to find the same online. Try it a few times and you will see what I mean.

Much more important on so many levels is the inabilty to pursue any print advertising online or to find online advertising after you have left a pages. I am not saying something as dumb as a searchable file of PDFs of print ads; no, something more creative than that. Where is the place in the NYT site where I can go to pursue the interest inthe advertiser that was prompted by its print ad? I don't know of any such place. And for online ads, I twice saw a banner this morning with this in it "see how easy online printing really is", but I did not catch the advertiser and I did not click. How do I find what that was?? I know of no way to do this and it's as though the people organizing this at the Times and beyond never expect someone to see the ad and actually be interested in it, but maybe a few seconds after seeing it. Astounding notion!

Monday, October 19, 2009

"How to Hype Your Tiny Social Network in the New York Times" - Foursquare - Gawker

There may be something to this critique of The New York Times story, but take a look at the people who have commented. At least, I think they are people. They all seem to belong to a Posters Anonymous cell that chooses really weird names and icons to represent its members. What happened to the idea of posting a comment and putting your real name on it? Perhaps that, too, will come again. I hope so and soon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"India Education - Plagiarism"

Given the ease with which most things in the web can be copied and pasted, it is a wonder that we are not talking much more about plagiarism everywhere. Perhaps we should be.

You have to wonder how many things we read today had their origins not primarily in the mind of the alleged writer but rather in some words that she or he found somewhere, edited just enough to make it look semi-orginal. Imagine what a lot of writing today would look like if there were a color code for pasted words from the web and we could see them if we chose to do so.

"Digital Domain - Broadband Access, Yes, but Some Don’t Subscribe" -

This piece makes a good point that deserves a lot more study. I would add to it another missing piece of analysis -- for all those who have a broadband connection in place, what, exactly, have they used it to has it improved their lives or the lives of their communities?

"Rebranding America" -

My fellow Irishman, Bono, has said all of this so well. I could not agree more, and commend his words to your eyes.

"Held by the Taliban - A Times Reporter’s Account. A Five-Part Series by David Rohde" - Series -

I just posted this comment on The New York Times website. It should appear here:

"In the midst of all of the discussions underway about the future of newspapers, one might be expected to say that David's (yes, I do know him) reporting is one of the reasons why newspapers like the Times are so important. I do say that. He has risked much on many occasions to bring home to each of us the \"story\". That is critically important and we should all be appreciative of what he has done and what the Times and the Christian Science Monitor have allowed him to do in the past.
There is another aspect to this, moreover, that I think is worth mentioning. In this interconnected and always \"on\" world in which we seem to live, I think we need to have more discussions about what information we would like to have and then what we do with what we get, and what the differences are among the various places from which we might get stories.
This is not to say that we need to value the Times above all others, although it deserves to be above most for many reasons. What is important is that we use something like this magnificent reporting of David's experience to better put in perspective the information needs not just of us personally, but of the people around us at any moment... and how, having gotten information we value, what we do with what we have received and learned.
How, in the end, do we use the stupendous tools at our disposal - ranging from David ROHDE through computers and satellites, etc. to the internet and all manner of consumption devices from newsprint to implants - to better understand ourselves and the lives around us?
David's series is a wonderful starting place for that discussion."

In so doing, I was reminded how few people comment on stories even in the Times. Most people who do wind up there for their own benefit and I suspect readership of these comments is quite low. Just like most blogs.

Is there not a neef for the Times to boost this some? A guide to being published on the NYT website, for example? If you register for TimesPeople, that helps, it seems. Do a search on my name, for example, and you will see the couple of comments that I have posted. Perhaps I will post more there.


I think it may be time to put away words like privacy and talk more about how we all just get along.

Today's The New York Times carries a discussion of some sort - I have not read it yet - about electronic records and whether there are adequate privacy "safeguards", another word I think deserves some sleep.

I am reminded of learning a long time ago about how juries worked at the beginning here and elsewhere. Jurors were picked not because they knew nothing about the accused or the parties in the case, but rather were picked because they were ordinary citizens of the community who may very well know much about the case, about the parties, etc. That was the idea behind a jury of ones "peers".

Now, we try to seal ourselves into artificial and pretty uncomfortable cocoons with layers of HIPAA (or whatever the initials are), yelling and screaming about our rights to privacy, and just fear of the people around us.

Well, I think it is time to recognize that we are all probably better off if we know a lot more about one another and are ready to help us all deal with our many problems.

We are better off knowing that a neighbor takes a special medicine in case an emergency arises.

We are better off knowing that someone is buying too much alcohol and that maybe someone ought to ask why.

We are better off knowing that the kid down the street has been arrested twice for speeding.

We are better off knowing that the person three streets over was convicted of a crime 5 years ago.

Sure, there are "privacy" arguments to the contrary, but they are arguments of principle for the most part and largely knee-jerk in their articulation.

The arguments in favor of all living better together are, in my mind, so much stronger. I think we should respect someone's wishes not to be bothered, but I'd rather have the facts about why we want might want to bother someone than to have it happen on fear and speculation as is usually the case today.

Let's substitute family for privacy and try to live like one.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Love him, hate him: Your reaction?" --

This is very well stated. We all - especially those of us who never do - ought to watch Glen BECK once in a while so we see and hear what he is saying. Then, if we disagree, we ought to say something about to anyone who will listen.

The idea of so many people being so ignorant is really scary. There are huge numbers of people in the US whose views would frighten us, and we usually don't want to realize this, and we certainly don't want to be with them. But if we fail to listen, and answer bad speech with good, or at least inaccurate with truthful, I think more people win than if we pretend these people don't exist. They do.

"Big surprise: Tabloids will publish anything, don't fact-check" - Editors Weblog

Alas, I think many people will see this and say, "that's right, and it's true of "my" newspaper as well". We see too many mistakes today in traditional newspapers - things that we know to be errors - to be able to dismiss this as a tabloid-only phenomenon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Emerging media not replacing e-mail" - Shaping the Future of the Newspaper Blog

Why this has been so hard to realize escapes me. Maybe it will change, but the idea of one person sending one message to another person or maybe a couple, is so simple and effective that I doubt we will see use diminish any time soon, absent some piece of technology that we have not yet seen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"New Italian task force will bombard the foreign press with good news about Italy" - Editors Weblog

I don't have any big problem with the idea that if someone, including a government, does not like what others are saying, the best response is to disagree and to say so by whatever media means are available. Those who see this as simply a propaganda ploy, which it may be, fail to appreciate that their response should be more "speech" of their own and less effort directed at restricting the voices of others. In other words, if Italy implements this and attempts to "correct" the Italian image with content that is not truthful or honest, or even where there is just another point of view, critics of BERLUSCONI and others should be organizing themselves to respond thoughtfully, accurately, and to build credibility and support along the way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"The End of the Email Era" -

I am not at all convinced that the thesis of this story is correct. In fact, the write undermines the initial theory in fleshing out the story. Yes, all of the arguable alternatives to e-mail are growing, but the fundamentals of important messages remain the same and even the alternatives increasingly develop ways to do what e-mail traditionally has done. No doubt the process will evolve, but I believe for business and personal reasons, the strongest area will remain important communication between one person and another person, or maybe several. The rest is mostly show and entertainment, and that will be important in those fields, but will not affect our core communication needs, now well-served by e-mail and to be served in the future by various e-mail-type applications, I think.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

""Sell The Vatican Save The World": Sarah Silverman's Campaign To End Hunger"

As they say, this may offend some viewers, so be forewarned! But if you stop only at the headline, imagine how much more could be accomplished if "we" sold Israel as well, and put all of that money to work to cure the ills of the world! It this turned out to be a two-fer, imagine how much conflict in the world would likely go with the sale as well.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"War on Terry" - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

Well, I guess it is good to know that I have a name that " simply a common or garden"!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Missed newspaper opportunities

I am going to give two examples of big missed opportunities at newspapers. Both examples are in French, from the Nice Matin newspaper serving Southeastern France. I don't mean to pick on them as the same applies to every newspaper I know.

The first is the story of a young Italian woman who was attacked in a local train restroom. She opened the door when she was inside because she thought it was the conductor. The assailant entered instead. It's a good story as far as it goes. What's missing, tho, is perhaps most important - what advice does the train operator, or others, give to people, mostly women, who are in a train restroom and someone knocks on the door? What could be more important than that and it is nowhere to be found?

The other is a story of a sewer backing up at a local school, something that happens regularly. Once again, a good story with some candid commentary by one mother. What's missing tho, again, is the most important - having reported on a stinky, messy, unhealthy problem, how do we the readers followup to know whether the problem got addressed and resolved?

I do not understand why there is such continued resistance to such service to customers.

Monday, October 05, 2009

"Still Fragile, Haiti Makes Sales Pitch" -

Why is is so hard for the US and its people to figure out a way to work with Haiti to improve everyone's lot in the process? Surely, if we had a state or a city in the US that looked like Haiti we would try to do something to help them as we did in New Orleans, for example. The situation in Haiti is far worse but that makes the need far greater and how can we turn a blind eye to the desperate plight of the people there?

Imagine if we aggressively chose to solve the twin challenges of the Caribbean - Cuba and Haiti. Imagine the accomplishment for the OBAMA Administration if that were to happen! If we worked on both together, and put our best creative minds to work on the problem, we surely can improve so many lives and end so much misery, can't we?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Driven to Distraction - At 60 M.P.H., Office Work Is a High-Risk Job - Series -

The only way that anyone should be using electronic devices while in a vehicle is when someone else is driving. The risk to the driver is for her or him to assume; if they do and are injured, they have contributed immensely and almost certainly to whatever they suffer. But it is unconscionable for public policy to allow them to conduct business and injure other people in the process.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Boy, Oh, Boy" -

I have made this same point for months.

"Land First, Then Peace" -

I sure think that this makes a great deal of sense. We need to rethink where we stand so that we can better see the full picture. I believe we will find that knee-jerk support of Israel is neither good politics or good morals.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"Driven to Distraction - Backseat Drivers Are Now Nagging the Multitasker" - Series -

If someone starts using a device while driving - I don't care who it is - there are only two options. Stop the vehicle so I can get out or stop using the device. Period.

Monday, September 07, 2009

"Israel Approves Settlement Construction" -

The Israeli announcement once again makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to believe that Israel contemplates anything approaching "fair" in resolving the quagmire over how to divide up the land ultimately that Israel was given, that which it took by force, and that which has been the Palestinians'. I can only imagine what it must be like to negoitate with a government that does these things so brazenly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Rendition of Terror Suspects to Continue Under Obama" -

President OBAMA, whom I supported vigorously, is risking the loss of a huge measure of my support if he continues to take positions like this one. I cannot believe what I am reading and am sorely disappointed he has made this decision.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Under Agreement, UBS to Give Up 4,000 Names" -

I'd like to know what's being done to deal with the same problem in Monaco. Does the IRS believe that it knows the names and has the required financial information on all US taxpayers whose financial holdings in Monaco are taxable under US law? I very much doubt it, and I am surprised not to see this being discussed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"President Obama is the real target of health care protesters, not policy"

This is perhaps the best analysis of what we are witnessing in some number of places around the country. I have thought this from the beginning and this commentary explains this very well.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Jewish Groups Say Obama’s Pick for Medal Has Anti-Israel Bias" -

If the Jewish groups opposing this award can look at themselves in the mirror and not grimace, I feel sorry for them. There is no need for anyone to have an unblemished record of support of Israel in order to receive anything, and the groups that think they can make this a litmus test insult themselves, I am sorry to say.

Mary ROBINSON explained herself fully and that should be all it takes. She has advanced more human rights in more places for more people than the office workers in these groups who probably write these protests. They make it hard for anyone to support Israel when its rabid supporters do silly things like this.

The next person they will be criticizing is Justice SOTOMAYOR for being biased since she is a Roman Catholic. The Israeli supporters are going to learn that we all have to get along and accept the fact that support of Israel is not a prerequisite to get there. It's their choice whether we do.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

"Health Debate Turns Hostile at Town Hall Meetings" -

Whatever the competing merits may be in health care reform, there is no place for violence and no place for people who cannot respect our marvelous informal rules of civil discourse. Those rules are founded on the notion that allowing the expression of as many views as reasonably possible is a good thing for our democracy. That is not always easy to do, but disrupting presentations and interfering with the speech of others is neither necessary nor productive. If people have ideas and points of view to express, let them work to voice those opinions in a civil and respectful manner whatever their political orientations might be.

It is an embarrassment to our stellar system of freedom of expression to see what is happening around the country. Those who realize this will move to correct it; those who do not .... well, I feel genuinely sorry for you.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Shape of planet blogging" - Paul Krugman Blog -

What a great and sad point!

" Not Exactly Free" - MousePrint

This is one of the most deceptive marketing programs I have ever seen and if this is what Ben STEIN wants us to associate with him, he is free to do so. I think he ought to be ashamed of himself, but there is something about his money-making instincts that probably prevent him from doing so. Thank goodness for this blogger who signed up to get the answer on fees. If news media were really concerned about reporting what is important to customers, they would be telling us all what the advertising for is not.

Monday, August 03, 2009

"Driven to Distraction - Cabbies Stay on Their Phones Despite Ban and Proven Risks" - Series -

I refuse to stay - or pay any fare - in a taxi whose driver uses a telephone of any kind while driving, or any other handheld advice.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cash for clunkers....

I am a very strong supported of President OBAMA and his programs, and the idea of getting fuel INefficient cars off the road is a good one.


Replacing them with more cars may help the economy but I do have to swallow hard on anything that means more cars on the road, even if more fuel efficient. Who knows whether the cars being scrapped were driven very much by their owners and whether the new cars will actually result in increased air pollution because they are used a lot more.

In my own case, we own two 1988 Hondas. We made conscious decisions at the time to opt for good fuel efficiency, and we have been very happy with both cars. Neither qualified for this program because they are rated at higher than 18 MPG. While it is good to focus on the worst offenders, I have to ask myself, at least, whether it is fair for someone who - in 1988, for example - bought a gas "guzzler", and who has been polluting our air to excess during twenty years to receive up to $4,500 from the government when we receive nothing toward the purchase of our next car which we hope will be much more efficient than the ones we own.

This system has worked successfully in France, Germany and perhaps elsewhere but I do not know if they have the same requirements. In France, for example, it appears that the only requirement is that the car being traded in is older than 15 years. Even if a lower amount is offered, that seems much fairer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Driven to Distraction - Texting Raises Crash Risk 23 Times, Study Finds" - Series -

Why does anyone else have to die or be injured before we stop to this madness? No one driving a motor vehicle should be permitted to use ANY electronic device, period. Pull over to use your phone, your GPS, or whatever other toy you may have with you. That's common sense. That's what the law ought to be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Measure to Expand Gun Rights Falls Short in Senate" -

So many of us want to see many more good outcomes like this one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Driven to Distraction - In 2003, U.S. Withheld Data Showing Cellphone Driving Risks" - Series -

To me there is no need for further research in order to impose a country-wide (either by federal or collective state action) ban on the use of any electronic device while driving a motor vehicle. The ban should be imposed immediately.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dismissing the Risks of a Deadly Habit - Multitasking on the Road -

Anyone who uses any telecommunications or any other electronic device while driving an automobile is quite simple a stupid jerk. I have no use for anyone who does this, and will tell any driver to stop if they want me to remain in their car. If I could help anyone sue a driver who had an accident and caused injury as a result of using one or more of these devices, I would do so pro bono.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Editorial - Newspapers’ future" -

Yes! I would add to this.... the word "essential". If newspapers do not find a way to become essential - to address essentil information and service needs of customers - others will continue to overtake them. On a base of "essential" both great journalism and profitable additional lines of newspaper business can be built. Take away the essential and the future is newspapers remains very bleak.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"President’s Detention Plan Tests American Legal Tradition" -

Justice delayed is indeed justice denied. Either try these people in a US court or set them free. No more, no less.

In the name of our system of justice, I accept the risks that are associated with that move. I would rather fear someone on the loose than to see that person imprisoned without the procedural safeguards the rest of us enjoy. Period.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

"After Boston Crash, Cellphone Ban May Loom" -

Will it take something awful like this happening, God forbid, here in NC to lead to a ban on using any device whatsoever when driving? Everyone behind any "wheel". Every device. What could be simpler and better than that?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prisoners in Iran and North Korea

It is impossible to understand fully how terrifying it must be for these three women - two in North Korea and one in Iran - to be behind bars in those countries. I hope that they are all proven innocent of all charges and released very quickly.

What surprises me about these cases is not that they have happened, but that a) we are surprised and b) it took so long for these kind of cases to emerge.

Regardless of whether there is any merit to any of the charges, North Korea and Iran are able to use the fact of these incarcerations to their advantage in all matter of negotiations in which they are involved.

I fear we will see more of this whether it results from the fair and equal application of laws that have been violated or simply because people find themselves in a country which chooses to deploy this tactic as a negotiating tool.

In either case, it makes the task of overseas reporting tremendously more challenging and we are likely to see less of that.

Everyone sadly loses in the end, I think.

"Reclaiming America’s Soul" -

I agree wholeheartedly with what KRUGMAN has written.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Iranian court sentences U.S. journalist to 8 years - Los Angeles Times

I would certainly advocate on her behalf and would be delighted to do what I could in her defense.

Similarly, I would surely join those who ask simply that she be released.

That said, how do we know that the charges are unfounded and unproven?

Imagine an Iranian-American arrested in this country on charges of spying. Would the Iranians not be in good order to demand her or his release in a similar fashion, assuming that the charges could not possibly be valid?

I think we need to understand a lot more about this case, and give the Iranian's every opportunity to explain why she was convicted before we jump to conclusions about guilt or innocence or potentially unnecessarily insult the legal system in Iran.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More on the TANCREDO incident....

This story updates the situation.

Here is a further e-mail that I have sent to the UNC Chancellor, along with a longer version of his statement in response to the incident:

"Dear Chancellor,

I wrote to you last evening after reading what your news office sent me as your statement following this incident. What you have included here appears to be a longer version.

While I find it somewhat better than the initial statement, I find several elements missing.

One, is a clear restatement of position - not the position of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill but the position of our cherished system of freedom of expression embodied in the First Amendment and interpreted by so many courts since then - that each of us has the right to speak as we choose and that no voice should be suppressed because it is out of a multitude of such voices that the truth and good judgment emerge. It is too bad that there is a need to restate this idea to a university community, but that clearly appears necessary and nothing is to be lost by doing so. You should do so very clearly and quickly.

Second, I take it from coverage that I saw this evening on MSNBC that included Mr. TANCREDO, that UNC teaching staff may have participated in the effort to suppress Mr. TANCREDO's speech. I find this quite concerning, if true, and I believe that these people - if proven to be the case - along with students should be subject to the severest disciplinary action. If any laws were violated, of course, criminal prosecutions should be undertaken by state or federal authorities, as appropriate, but that is not your decision to make.

Third, as Chris MATTHEWS noted in that MSNBC segment that included apparent video from the TANCREDO event, it is seemingly evident that those involved have not received an education that I would have expected all to have had before entering UNC in any capacity. With that education clearly needed, I hope you will institute a requirement that every UNC student and all teaching staff enroll in either a course on our system of freedom of expression or attend an intensive multi-day program focused on the same subject. I'd be happy to volunteer to help organize and lead such a program as you will see from my earlier note that I have the real world experience that may be uniquely suited to meeting this need. I'll not burden this e-mail with a bio, but if you want one, I'll be happy to send it along. That's not the point; the point is that you need to announce a proactive plan to insure that students and teachers - all of them - know and understand the importance of seeking all points of view and insuring that all can be, and are, heard.

As it stands, you lead a university with a huge black eye. An approach as I have outlined it will mean not only that the eye heals more quickly, but that it's both a better eye and far less likely to suffer a shiner in the future.



-----Original Message-----
From: FYI Carolina Online []
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 5:56 PM
To: Carolina Alumni and Friends
Subject: Message from the Chancellor: Free Speech at Carolina

Dear Carolina alumni and friends,

Many of you have heard or read about a protest on campus Monday night, and I'm writing to share with you the message I sent yesterday to our campus community. I think you will find that the message speaks for itself. But if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.


Holden Thorp, Chancellor


Message from the Chancellor: Free Speech at Carolina (April 15, 2009)

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I want to express how disappointed I am in what happened last night when former Congressman Tom Tancredo wasn't able to speak when a protest got out of hand, and our Department of Public Safety had to take action. Congressman Tancredo felt threatened and left without making his remarks.

Mr. Tancredo was scheduled to speak about immigration. We expect protests about controversial subjects at Carolina. That's part of our culture. But we also pride ourselves on being a place where all points of view can be expressed and heard. There's a way to protest that respects free speech and allows people with opposing views to be heard. Here that's often meant that groups protesting a speaker have displayed signs or banners, silently expressing their opinions while the speaker had his or her say. That didn't happen last night.

On behalf of our University community, I called Mr. Tancredo today to apologize for how he was treated. In addition, our Department of Public Safety is investigating this incident. They will pursue criminal charges if any are warranted. Our Division of Student Affairs is also investigating student involvement in the protest. If that investigation determines sufficient evidence, participating students could face Honor Court proceedings.

Carolina's tradition of free speech is a fundamental part of what has made this place special for more than 200 years. Let's recommit ourselves to that ideal.


Holden Thorp"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"UNC protest grows unruly at Tancred..." - Herald-Sun

I just sent this e-mail to the UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor:

"Dear Chancellor,

We have not met.

My wife and I have called Chapel Hill home for 10 years.

We have no connection to UNC.

I have spent my continuing career covering more than 35 years defending and advocating freedom of expression here and abroad. Over a nearly 20 year period, I served as general counsel to all of the major newspaper publisher trade associations in the US, Europe and globally.

When I graduated from Brown in 1969, we chose to express our opposition to the Vietnam War when Henry KISSINGER received an honorary degree. Not a sound was heard, but we made our point. A large percentage of my classmates and I simply rose from our seats and silently turned our backs. Nothing was interrupted and we made the point that we chose to make at the time.

From what I have read of what transpired at UNC last night when Mr. TANCREDO was to speak, I find appalling the decision of some number of students to oppose speech with which they disagree by attempting to silence it – and apparently succeeding. In our system of freedom of expression, there is no place for that, least of all on a university campus like UNC.

Bad speech, if one thinks it so, is best answered by good speech. It sounds to me that Mr. TANCREDO was prepared to hear other points of view, but never got a chance.

Instead, he got very bad manners.

I write this to you because I asked your news office to give me a copy of your statement and they have now sent me Roger PERRY’s as well. I find his far better than yours. You fail to embrace the core issue of freedom of expression and it is clear to me that those who have taught the offending students either at UNC or earlier in their young lives, failed to explain this to them. Surely, no one worthy of a UNC education could be expected to choose otherwise.

Let me reiterate…. I fully support the expression of all points of view, and have spent decades defending some of the most unsavory ideas and people imaginable, all with the firm belief that better ideas will win out over them. I probably agree with many of the views likely to be expressed by the students whose actions ended TANCREDO’s speech.

But I cannot tolerate as an NC resident, and I do not believe that you should tolerate as UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor, this kind of conduct. Instead, the offending students should be subject to public rebuke, and disciplinary action. Let them speak out in opposition to that if they choose, but appropriate punishment is merited, it should come from you, it should be meaningful, and it should be public.

Thanks for considering my views,


Live Piracy Report

They don't seem able to keep up to date with all of them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Showcase of best North Carolina journalism in real time?

Where can someone interested in seeing what difference NC newspapers made today, for example, in their reporting to their readers.....where can that interested person see examples? I don't know of any such place.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"Detention at Afghan Base Is Subject to U.S. Courts" -

I continue to believe that anyone taken into US custody anywhere in the world for any reason should be subject to all of the safeguards - all - that he or she would enjoy if taken into custody in the US for the same reason and with the same charge. How the law carves out different treatment continues to baffle me, but if the law ultimately proves to support fewer rights to those "arrested" overseas, then I believe we should change the law.

We cannot expect to be respected by the world for the quality of our criminal justice system if we operate it with two settings - one for here in the US and one for overseas. Rights are rights, and they should not depend on the ground on which someone stands, sits or lies.

In the face of the law, everyone should be equal and there is no place for some being more equal than others.

"The Orphans of Ireland" - Timothy Egan Blog -

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Doctor's (Gag) Orders" - NPR

It's a difficult subject that I think leaves patients on the short end of the stick.

"Jim LEHRER" - The Diane Rehm Show for Thursday March 26, 2009

This is a really interesting discussion with Jim LEHRER. One of the most thought-provoking comments he makes is that newspapers have failed to promote themselves very well. I could not agree more. He urges a campaign along the lines of "you don't know what you're missing" - more precisely, "you're missing something by not reading the paper...."; I think that it is an outstanding idea. When was the last time that you saw any newspaper in print or online talk about what you missed by not being "there" yesterday or at any time in the past when the paper was doing its job by reporting but you may not have been doing your job by consuming whatever the newspaper produced?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Local small business use of communication technologies

It really is astonishing to see how little creative action there seems to be among local businesses who rely on local use electronic technologies of all sort to connect to those customers. What a missed opportuity for them!

That extends, by the way, to what they place in the advertising space that they buy in local print media as well, including newspapers.

"Companies Tailor Ads For Recession" - NPR

Smaller advertisers, more locally focused, could do so much more of this, and they do not.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cuomo Seeks A.I.G. Bonus Information - DealBook Blog -

A.I.G. should make these names public and allow any who choose to do so to voice their concerns directly to any neighbors, friends, etc. who appear on that list. I believe all of the A.I.G. executives could make an astounding gift to the confidence of the American people by refusing to accept the bonuses. Will they? It only takes a few, armed withe list, to get that ball rolling in the right direction.

Monday, March 09, 2009

United, Newspapers May Stand - Readers' Comments -

I don't usually add comments in these kinds of situations, but I added one here. What strikes me in reading through some of the others are these points:
+ I really doubt anyone reads the comments
+ Those who post do it to massage their own egos
+ Most people have really very little to say
+ This whole exercise seems more waste producing than understanding enhancing