Saturday, March 27, 2010

Using the web effectively to tell time-sensitive stories

I wonder why it is that almost no sites with which I am familiar are operated in such a way that they can explain what's going on with complimentary media when users of those media encounter the unexpected, for example. Suppose a newspaper has a printing problem; which newspaper would post this immediately on its website. I am in France and was expecting to see a program on a television channel here at a specific time. The earlier program continues and no announcement of what happened to the one I wanted to seee. Why is this not explained nearly instantly on the station's website?

It's a mystery to me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stimulus Plan for Rail Line Between Tampa and Orlando Shows System of Weak Links -

This is a really important issue - the question of how one gets from a starting point whether it be home, business, hotel, other destination - to the public transport. Even here in France where I am as I type this is a problem, even in good-sized cities like here in Nice. I can walk 2 minutes to one bus and take it to a tram and then wait up to 7 mins for the tram and take it to a 5 min walk from the train station or I can walk 7 mins, wait for the bus, and take it directly to the train station. But I can only do either if it is between 7 in the AM and 8 at night. That precludes early AM or late PM train travel, AND it means that it takes twice as long, if not longer, to take the bus or buses than it would to drive, even though parking would make even a day trip about 10 times as expensive as the bus.

It's all a giant tradeoff.

But imagine if we started with all of this from scratch. We'd all be living much closer to transport or simply not using it. Or accepting the inbetween. We were not given and reallly are not given the first choice very often or in a very well planned manner from an individual's stanpoint. Everything is done from the vantage point of a driver in a car, and that's the big problem with where we find ourselves today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health care costs

One of the issues relating to the health care discussions we're winessing seems to get little attention.

It is how we individually calculate the cost of our health care.

It's not just out-of-pocket expenses as they are normally noted.

One piece is just that - what we pay out of our pockets for doctors, health services and pharmaceuticals that are not reimbursed or covered by insurance. (Not included is the impact of insurance companies negotiating or insisting on low fees and how even those fees are affected by overall costs born in part by others; here, I am just sticking with the expenses we can individually itemize.)

A second critical piece - if one is fully allocating the costs we must cover - is what we pay in insurance premiums. (Not included in that is what people are not paid in salary because employers are diverting that money to pay for their share of insurance premiums.)

And, finally, there is the all other - non-prescription medications, health products, gym memberships, costs of participating in athletic activities, transportation expenses related to health care, and probably a few others.

Only when we add all of that up INDIVIDUALLY can we have a fair idea of what we pay for health care of all sorts.

Calculating the full cost - removing insurance benefits and lower fees because of insurance - is worth doing just to put it all in perspective.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

"ABC News Under Fire For Payment To Murder Suspect" - NPR

What troubling news this is and brings into question, at least, the professional judgment of the entire ABC News organization. What a shame on the heels of the Christiane AMANPOUR announcement and after the very unhappy news of the staff cutbacks. Something seems to be very wrong there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Fess Parker, Star Of 'Davy Crockett,' Remembered" - NPR

With the loss of Fess PARKER and Peter GRAVES this week, my Saturday morning childhood - or at least what I remember of it - died, too. (Even today, I find myself occasionally humming the Davy Crocket song.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Haiti’s only Creole newspaper is out of business" - Blog - Committee to Protect Journalists

"Wife/Mother/Worker/Spy - With G.P.S., Life’s Journeys Have Become a Little Less Mysterious" -

"Op-Ed Columnist - The Spirit of Sympathy" -

What David BROOKS writes here applies in important ways to the evolution of the internet and how media cope with it all. It's interesting to think about the concept of "groups" when considering a news story, or any other content and news organization might provide. The whole notion of "crowds" and "groups" online complicate the process of human interaction in ways I don't think we've yet fully considered. The very good things that all the technology does for us does not come without some negatives, and if we ignore them entirely, we may wind up in the "fix" that BROOKS describes now characterizing US national legislative political decisionmaking. Here is a very good example of a big negative, reported today.

"BBC News - Digital Giants: Jimmy Wales"

I am especially interested in how WALES intends to use in Wiki technology to compile the stories of geographically-defined communities for the people who live in those places.

"Op-Ed Columnist - The Biden Effect" -

I agree with most of this excellent piece except the inalienable commitment to Israel part. I'll only buy that if married with an inalienable commitment to a Palestinian state.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Chief Justice John Roberts: Scene at State of Union 'very troubling'" -

This is all very unfortunate. The Chief Justice is right on the law. The President probably reflects public policy. When there is a conflict, the law always wins in this country. If the President does not accept the dictates of the Constitution and its First Amendment, he is free to propose a change, but I think that would be extremely ill-advised. What I fear will happen is that Congress will pass another law that may or may pass Constiutional muster, that likely will have little impact on what irks so many, and which really cannot go any further unless we want to adorn the First Amendment with a series of unwise limitations in the interest of competing policies.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

New York Times search

What does it say about The New York Times search capability on that twice today, I was unable to find an article in the Times using their search box, but was able to find the article ON the site using a Google search?

"As Biden Visits, Israel Unveils Plan for New Settlements" -

I object to the Vice President's statement about how allied the United States is with Israel. Instead, I believe we should always support Israel when we agree with what it is doing, and, as here, oppose its actions when they are wrong. Underlying the earlier statement is the notion that Israel can do no wrong. No country is in that category and none will ever move there. Instead, we need to approach all countries on an equal basis, supporting what is right and opposing what is wrong.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

"The Herald-Sun - Attack on lawyers for aiding detainees a shameful act"

This is an excellent column and I support it fully.

News and Observer Tweetup?

Why not an N&O "tweetup" around the book signing at Barnes and Noble for the book by the former aide to John EDWARDS?

"Book Review - 'This Book Is Overdue - How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All,' by Marilyn Johnson" - Review -

This has always struck me as an area of huge opportunity for newspapers - providing their customers with what they are seeking. What an odd notion, huh?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Advertising on Facebook Strikes Some as Off-Key" -

I actually pursued the iPad offer because of my age for some number of screens until I realized what was happening, or not happening. What influenced me was a misplaced sense of confidence that the positioning of the banner was such that Facebook would not have alllowed it to be there had it not passed some sort of review. It appears that this is not the case. Caveat emptor is so much more important everywhere on the web and it is one of the added values that came from established media, like newspapers, that seem to be disappearing. The results are going to leave a lot of people worse off, at least.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Op-Ed Columnist - Greece, Europe and Alexander Hamilton" -

Roger COHEN has once again gotten the picture just right, as far as I know it.

"Questions at Brown on Ruth Simmons’s Role at Goldman" -

This is news to me today. I feel like I have been asleep at the switch, as a Brown alumnus.

Two things concern me. One is that I don't think a president of Brown ought to be serving on any board that does not clearly advance a societal interest. Second, I don't think any president ought to serve in any capacity outside of the president's responsibilities with another organization, unless that organization is directly and substantially contributing to the betterment of Brown.

Monday, March 01, 2010

"NYT to Extend Brand With 'Today' Launch"

"Downsizing foreign staff threatens US democracy"

We have to come up with a solution to this, quickly. It is going to require a lot of work to close the huge historical gap between what reporters always thought was important and what people wanted and what people really wanted. That's hard to swallow, but swallow we must and try to rebuild a constituency of people who really do want to stay informed - in a professional manner - about what's going on in the rest of the world. It's an education, marketing and finally, sales job of immense size.