Saturday, February 28, 2009

D.C. - a laugh a minute

No wonder we're in such bad shape. I had no idea that 500 million Americans were in peril of losing their jobs. Last I checked there were only 325 million Americans total. So I guess we're not going to have jobs for Americans into the next decade or two.

Is there any life in Congress? On either side.

And then we have our gaff prone V.P. Who knew a website address was a number?

Today's Vacuuming and dusting movie: The Far Country

The Far Country, starring James Stewart, Ruth Roman and Walter Brennan is today's movie to listen and watch while I vacuum and dust.

Thought about watching Titanic, but it was too long.

Besides it takes place in and around Skagway, Alaska and we were just there last June.

Something to think about - the death of any newspaper

I "borrowed" this from the Flint Journal's website from this article.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

It brought a tear to my eye, and I suspect it will to anyone who loves newspapering and journalism.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Trickle down incompetence

On Thursday, a poster added one of the most insightful comments I've had in a long time to this post. They were responding to this article.

It got me thinking in the middle of the night about why I was, and continue to be, frustrated by the way Booth newspapers in particular, and newspapers in general are operated. To be clear, I love newspapers, I want them to succeed and I feel for my friends left behind and the uncertainty of their futures.

Then it hit me, "trickle down incompetence." Inspired by the blog comment I began to piece together the frustration in my mind.

While we at the bottom of the food chain were carrying out the mandates and goals of those above us, no matter how stupid or off target, they always knew that no matter how badly it all turned out they would not be harmed.

Kind of like being in a war foxhole with a leader that you know is never going to make the charge with you. In my humble opinion, this is not only what is wrong with Booth, but wrong with corporate America today.

It's why I trust pilots when I'm flying. The way I figure it, my life is directly tied to theirs. I know they are always going to do their best to get the plane up and down, not because I'm on it, but because they are.

In the new business model, the "pilots" are on the ground flying the "planes" by remote control. When they make a mistake, it's the passengers who crash and not them.

It's the decisions and mistakes by the people at the top that end up impacting, negatively as of late, the folks at the bottom. But while those mistakes result in jobs losses and hardship on those at the bottom, the folks at the top reap rewards well beyond their achievements.

That was not the case in days gone by. People who risked capital and investment paid the price for mistakes. Today, the CEOS travel from company to company raking in millions of dollars whether they are successful or not.

In fact, they are rewarded in spite of their abject failure. We have seen that at Booth, we have seen it at banks and we see it everyday in other businesses.

Capitalism works only when success is rewarded and failure is not. Today, especially for those at the top, it doesn't matter whether you succeed or fail, you get a big, big check and/or you keep - as Mel Brooks would say in "Blazing Saddles" - your "phony, baloney jobs."

That would explain how people are promoted higher on the corporate ladder even though it was their mistakes, their misjudgements and their lack of vision that created the problem.

During the bank hearings for the first TARP, I heard Secretary Paulson say, "if we don't let these people (speaking of CEOs) keep their bonuses they will leave the companies."

That's a bad thing? After all, these are companies seeking massive bail outs for their financial failures. It wasn't the bank clerk or lower level loan officers who were making the bad decisions to move forward with policies that provided bad loans to millions of people. But guess who paid the biggest price?

The "buck" President Harry Truman used to talk about no longer stops at the top, it simply flows down and stops at the bottom with massive layoffs. That's what I call "Trickle Down Incompetence."

Their "incompetence" trickles down on those who work at the bottom.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grounded for life

Channel 2 in Detroit had a story tonight that left my wife and I shaking our heads.

A Monroe father was arrested - yes, arrested - because he grabbed his daughter's cell phone away from her and grounded her because she was drunk. The daughter, upset at being grounded ran next door and called police.

Police officers arrived - and for reasons only known to them - they arrested the father on a charge of "interfering with a communications device." Forget that Dad owned and paid for the "communciations device" he was interfering with.

This story is wrong on so many counts, but my parents (and my father is a regular reader of this blog) would likely have told the police that they were now my parents if I had done such an outrageous thing to them. Call the police on your parents for taking away your cell phone and grounding you. Yeah, right, that would have worked in my house.

Who teaches children that they can call the police if they are disciplined by their parents. And secondly, who trains police officers that they can arrest a parent for performing normal - and needed - discipline on a child?

The girl didn't show up in court to testify and the charges were dismissed, which may be the only smart thing she did in this whole deal.

Detroit Lions: A season of misery

I don't usually look at forwards in my e-mail box, but here was a good one. After last year's 0-16 season by the Detroit Lions at least one fan had the imagination to immortalize the accomplishment in a Jersey. This is your smile for the day (or hopefully, just your first smile today).
Hey if the Lions were smart (oxymoron, I know) they would market this shirt. I'll bet it would be a big seller for next season.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Washington Post on the Washington Post Co.

Give the Washington Post credit for covering its own bad news, something you will never, ever see happen in the Booth newspaper world.

That is one of my continuing beefs with Booth and a number of other news organizations. They are the first to demand and hound businesses and governments for information on the internal workings, but are pretty shy about covering their own.

Internally, it is just as bad. In a company that makes its living, even if a poor one at present, on requiring transparency by others it is hypocritical to be so private and circumspect about their own failings and problems.

After all, if readers are going to continue to be asked to pay more for the paper, or pay the same for less, then don't they have a right to know where that money is going?

What the Washington Post did in covering its own news was apply a similar standard to its own business as it does to others. That's a good thing.

A great blog exchange at 'Paper Tiger'

In case you missed it here's a great back-and-forth between Jim Carty and another newsman.

And here's the original post that prompted the debate.

Also in case you wondered who was to blame for the financial condition of newspapers Ad Age has an idea.

And again, thanks to JT, who really should start a blog with all the information that they find.

Mark Cuban has an idea for newspapers

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has an idea for newspapers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

S.F. Chronicle in trouble

Because I lived in the San Francisco Bay area for many years the news tonight about the significant troubles with the San Francisco Chronicle is not really a surprise, but sad nonetheless.

One of the proud Hearst papers is on the rocks.

A thoughtful essay on journalists

Another thoughtful essay sent along by JT:

LA Observed

And don't miss the many great links inside the article.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Check out these

Check out today's Fading to Black.

If you're a newspaper junkie stop by, there are a number of great, recent posts.

Going to mornings?

OK, I'm starting to get dueling information on the immediate future of the Flint Journal. After my post about the reduced publication days discussion that went on at the going away party for an editor I received some counter information from a source in another newspaper department.

What the folks in the non-editorial departments are hearing is that while ad $$ are down, things have leveled off financially at the Flint Journal and the next change will be a switch to a morning paper, instead of the current afternoon delivery. At least that's what the bosses are saying.

The Flint Journal has long resisted the trend to mornings because reader surveys have always shown a preference for the afternoon paper. Now, this source from the non-editorial department tells me, a recent Journal reader survey shows a reversal of that trend and now people are more interested in a morning paper.

It would make sense as the paper's early deadlines make it a morning paper in reality. Pages close for editorial updates about 8 a.m. anyway so it would be a natural switch to mornings. It will cause some shift changes for people in editorial, but if the purpose is to retain as many readers as possible, maybe a good thing.

They are also hearing that the current FJ publisher may be on his way out or off to a new assignment as well.

Speaking of papers going to mornings, here's a story about another such move:

Going to mornings

Sunday, February 22, 2009

JRC stock price: 1/3-cent per share

Not a surprise, but Friday (hat tip to Reflections of a Newsosaur) JRC, owner of the Oakland Press in Pontiac and a number of weekly and daily newspapers around Michigan and the country, filed bankruptcy.

Journal Register Company

And more here on JRC

They have hacked and slashed their staffs and newspapers to the bone and this was the final result. Sad.

I guess that unpaid Citizen Journalist idea hasn't caught on yet.

Oscars, one more thing to grouch about

This will be heresy to some, but there is nothing I would less rather watch than the Oscars. In fact, it has been probably 20 years since I have watched the program.

The first problem is that I rarely go to movies in the theater. So I haven't seen 95 percent of the movies they are talking about. Probably won't see them until they come out on DVD and then only if they eventually make it to the top of my Netflix queue.

Secondly, I find celebrities in general, and movie stars in particular, a major annoyance. I've never been one to collect or want autographs and pretty much don't understand why anyone would. Movie stars are people who put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us.

Too many celebrities spend their days telling me why I should conserve energy, protect animals, help the poor and vote for so-and-so, while they jet off in a private aircraft to their villa in France stamping their size 16 carbon footprint on the planet.

It annoys me that in a time of great national economic suffering, many of these folks will drive up in a big limo wearing all their borrowed bling, stroll down the red carpet to the fawning cheers of adoring fans. So instead of feeling like throwing up, I'll watch NBC's Dateline and a new report on the crash of the Concorde.

Besides, they won't announce the big winners (actor, picture, etc.) until long after I have gone to sleep. Who wins best graphic design is not what I call exciting TV. Besides, all the newspapers will have this crud all over the front page tomorrow.

I can wait until then.

Blazing Saddles coming to the small screen

Just as a follow-up to my Tuesday post, I just saw that the AMC Channel will be featuring the 35th Anniversary showing of "Blazing Saddles," the classic Mel Brooks movie next Saturday (February 28) at 8 p.m.

It's a wonderful thing.

Never doubt the technological competence of a 3-year-old

Last night, for the second weekend in a row, we were allowed to babysit, Little Miss Addisen, our 3-year-old (or soon to be) granddaughter.

This time we made the drive to her house so her parents could attend a church couples' party.

At some point in the evening, Addisen tired of the news program we had on the television and asked me to find "her show" which was called "Dragon Tales."

I searched the cable television guide and could find no such program. Addisen then looked me straight in the eye and said: "Grandpa Jim it is "On Demand." Well, I've heard of "On Demand" but we don't have it in our house.

In my appeal to Addisen I told her that I simply didn't know how to find the program and that's when things turned very wierd.

The little 3-year-old grabbed my hand and the remote and led me through a series of remote control buttons that, Voila!, suddenly turned up a listing for "On Demand" and eventually for "Dragon Tales."

"Push that button, Grandpa Jim, push the arrow button, Grandpa Jim, Push that (select) button Grandpa Jim."

My wife and I look at each other in amazement as the selection for "Dragon Tales" came up on the television screen.

"I am not as smart as a 3-year-old," I had to admit.

When we buy our new computers I know who we are inviting over to program them.