Archive for December, 2017


“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” – Walter Cronkite, CBS anchor from 1962-1981

When asked what sports historians would take away from his record (e.g., five home runs) performance in the 1977 World Series, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson paused and humbly proclaimed: “The magnitude of me.”

What about the “magnitude” of former CBS anchor Dan Rather?

The question is particularly relevant today as former CBS anchor Dan Rather is attempting a relevancy comeback at 86-years-old.

With his new book, “What Unites Us, Reflections on Patriotism,” Rather appears to be trying to escape the embarrassing details of his bitter 2005 termination … err resignation.

More to Almost DailyBrett’s point: Should Rather be seen as The Father of Affirmational Journalism?

Affirmational Journalism? Do these two words constitute an oxymoron?

Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Rather) is the mirror opposite of Informational Journalism (e.g., Cronkite).

Under the tenets of Informational Journalism, a news outlet will sift through the relevant facts and information – including both sides of every story — and deduce a logical conclusion for readers or viewers to decide.

Is there any wonder that Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America in 1972?

The esteem for American Journalism peaked in 1976 at 72 percent (e.g., Gallup survey), shortly after Woodward and Bernstein’s Pulitzer Prize reporting and the demise of the Nixon administration. The same poll revealed that public trust for the media plummeted for four decades to 32 percent in 2016.

What happened to the days when the vital First Amendment mission of the media was to inform and enlighten?

Enter Rather as the successor to Cronkite in the CBS anchor chair in 1981. Shortly thereafter, the seeds of today’s Affirmational Journalism were planted.

Certainly, there were outlets in 1972 and beyond that editorially represented the left (e.g., New York Times) and the right (e.g., Wall Street Journal), but the news pages of these publications were essentially straight.

Rather: Keynoting the GOP National Convention?

“(Rather) stepped on his own dick.” – Ronald Reagan, 1988

Two celebrated incidents involving Republican presidents (not Democratic) clearly demonstrated how Rather’s aim was to “affirm” preset narratives, not to totally “inform:”

  1. His rudeness against then Vice President George H.W. Bush in a cataclysmic 1988 live interview, which included Bush reminding the world that Rather stormed off his set one year before, when a U.S. Open tennis match ran too long.
  2. Rather’s ill-fated 2004 60 Minutes piece (e.g., Rathergate), confusing the fonts of an IBM Selectric with those offered by Microsoft. The forged 1972 document reportedly proved that President George W. Bush received special treatment as a member of the National Guard. Alas for Rather, the letter was written with a Microsoft font.

Microsoft was not founded until 1975 – three years later. Oops.

Dan Rather was exposed for his eagerness and glee to accept any “fact” that fit a preordained narrative about George W. Bush and his National Guard service. More importantly, he and his producer, Mary Mapes, were terminated at CBS for practicing Affirmational Journalism, which sought out tidbits (e.g., the forged letter) that affirmed and fit the story and excluding those (e.g., Microsoft font) that did not.

Rather’s mission was to “affirm” through selective reporting the predisposed reigning political philosophy of elites residing east of the Hudson and within the confines of the Beltway:

Democrat John Kerry was good; Republican George W. Bush needed to be excused from office.

Today, the list of affirmational elite media on the left is long: New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC. The list of affirmational media on the right is shorter: Fox News.

Whether these major media outlets reside on the left or the right, their mission is to affirm, sustain and enhance entrenched narratives that advance a chosen political philosophy.

Is Dan Rather solely responsible for this movement toward affirming, whether through interpretation or presenting, preordained narratives? No. There are others.

Is he the poster child for affirmational journalism and with it a record 32 percent low in national esteem for the media? Almost DailyBrett is making that assertion.

Affirmational Journalism Schools?

As a college assistant professor in a school of communication, the author of Almost DailyBrett worries that future journalists will be trained to seek facts and figures that fit a preconceived narrative, and ignore those inconvenient points that potentially contradict the “story.”

Are the ends of supporting an adopted political philosophy more important than the means of not presenting both sides of a story? If that is indeed the case and we are no longer informing the public about the positions of both sides, can we call this behavior Journalism?

There are some of us who yearn for the better days of a free-and-fair media.  The Fourth Estate can potentially come back; just the same way Rather is trying to revive his tarnished reputation.

Can the media return to the days of Informational Journalism? Or is Affirmational Journalism here to stay, contributing to and hardening our divided society for years to come?

Maybe if the media moves to adopt the model of Walter Cronkite — not Dan Rather — we will all be better off as an American society.

We can only hope.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2017/12/12/this-has-to-be-unacceptable-dan-rather-on-media-attacks-and-politics-in-america-under-trump/?utm_term=.6cdffc95176a&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=82268&page=3

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/has-the-media-reached-the-point-that-it-can-never-cover-trump-fairly/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/from-affirming-back-to-informing/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Walter-Cronkite

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mapes

The male of the species has never been the best when it comes to personal public relations.

The seemingly never-ending list of creepy, predatory men (e.g., Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, Al Franken, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump …) represents the classic definition of a story with legs.

No pun intended.

When will this litany of abuses end?

One thing is for certain, not anytime soon.

The series of lurid and accurate stories of lustful men with next-to-zero self-discipline have resulted in pain, anguish and ruined careers for literally thousands-and-thousands of women.

These awful accounts go beyond the world of politics to include entertainment (e.g., casting couches), jurisprudence, business, military and many other human endeavors, bringing the two genders together.

The resulting anger from the fairer gender, justifiably directed toward males en banc, is warranted.

Having fully appreciated, comprehended and acknowledged the anguish and suffering inflicted on way too many women by way too many men, Almost DailyBrett wants to bravely make one statement, and then duck for cover:

Not All Men Are Creeps, it just may seem that way.

Seemingly absent in this public discussion are the guys who are – believe it or not — semper fi.

There are the men who are 100 percent faithful to the vows they made in marriage. Almost DailyBrett actually knows one of these kind souls.

There are men who are respectful of women, and do not even entertain the thought of using any influence to extract (e.g., sexual) favors from women.

There are men, who would never lay a paw on any woman for any reason (referring to professional settings). There is a time and place for everything.

As Henry Kissinger once said: No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

There are the men who can instinctively sense the dread of a single woman riding an elevator with a lone male. The man may move toward the door, allowing the woman to shift to a position behind him. When the designated floor arrives, he should be a gentleman, holding the door open, and maybe even wishing his travelling companion an absolutely fantabulous day.

Most of all there are actual men who do not think below their waist, but actually use their real brains (gasp) to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.

An Office Door With No Window?

Touring our new office space this past winter, your author noticed to his horror that our new academic caves featured doors with no windows. No bueno. Nicht gut. Hell, no.

When asked, a rocket scientist from Facilities said there were zero dollars for door windows. Time to go to the mat.

There was absolutely no way I was going to teach public relations and meet with students, if I could not shut my door but at the same time the outside world could not see inside. To yours truly, this was matter of safety and common sense.

Your author today has a door with a window, but not one that can be locked from the inside (e.g., Lauer).

When it comes to the all-too-common “he said, she said” disputes, the one making the accusation can win, and the one on the receiving end may be on the downward slide to the end of a once promising career.

What are some common sense behaviors that good men should employ in this ultra-charged political climate?

  1. Never, ever touch a member of the fairer gender anywhere for whatever reason at any time in a professional setting. On your author’s last day after eight years working for the California Office of the Governor, my female colleagues gave me a hug … not the other way around.
  2. Never comment on the appearance of women (e.g., hair, dress, jewelry …). Former National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla once took verbal notice that a Bloomberg TV reporter was wearing her wedding ring on her right ring finger …  Halla was then informed that her late spouse perished in the World Trade Center on September 11.
  3. John Madden has a rule: He will never say in private, what he wouldn’t say in public. Guys, it’s past time to deep six the sexual jokes and comments even among fellow knuckle draggers. Let the locker room be a simple place for showering, changing and talking sports. Period.
  4. The rules of sexual harassment are clear. Quid pro quo is obvious. When you are asked to stop … STOP!
  5. Former ABC correspondent Lynn Sheer suggested the universal adoption of a standard phrase, “That’s NOT okay.” Even bystanders can even use this same phrase when sexual harassment is in progress.

This common sense phrase should even be comprehended and immediately understood by all men, not just semper fi guys.

The latter, exist. Seriously.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/henry_kissinger_105144

 

 

“The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”– Legendary Marquette Basketball Coach Al McGuire

What strategies can American colleges and universities employ to ensure that more freshmen do indeed become sophomores?

Consider the question this way: The late Intel President and CEO Andy Grove wrote about strategic inflection points in his 1996 best seller, “Only The Paranoid Survive.”

There are a few strategic inflection points in everyone’s life.

Get them right, and life may be a good thing as Martha would say.

Get them wrong, and life may end up simply running out the clock of life drinking PBRs in a dive bar.

What Almost DailyBrett is talking about are those poor souls who fall by the wayside may be directly attributable to the failure to make the transition from the freshman to sophomore year in college.

Based upon the experience of your professor author — more times than naught — is once a student takes time off after the frosh year to take a job, the overwhelming chances are the student never comes back to college.

Worse yet the student may have already incurred an educational loan, ending up with the double whammy of zero degree and crushing debt on the books.

Life is off to a miserable start, and it may only get worse.

Are these former students prepared for the demands of our service-oriented, digital, coding-dominated workforce? You know the answer.

Are they one “bad day” from being unemployed … yet again?

Forget about discretionary income to invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, these lowly sods are living pay check-to-pay check.

Sure there are examples of early college drop-outs – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg – who become billionaires, but how many reach the Three-Comma-Club anyway?

Grooving With A High School Diploma

“If you think education is expensive; try the cost of ignorance.” – Former Harvard President Derek Bok

The numbers may be a tad outdated, but the story is still the same.

Pew Research reported in 2014 a startling gap between those who attain a BA/BS degree (let alone a master’s or Ph.D), and those with only a high school diploma.

The percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree in poverty three years ago was 5.8 percent; the percentage of those with a lowly high school diploma in poverty was 21.8 percent or more than one-in-five.

The college grad made on the average $45,500 per year; the high school diploma holder, $28,000 … a $17,500 per year delta. Multiply a $17,500 gap (which most likely will grow exponentially) by a 40-year career and the gulf reaches $700,000.

What does the $700,000 (at least) gulf mean?

This staggering number translates into the college graduate having discretionary income to invest in markets. Since the depth of the 2009 recession, the S&P 500 is up 270 percent. For 2017, the Dow Jones has increased 22.2 percent, the benchmark S&P has climbed 17.4 percent.

Many ponder, pontificate and bloviate about the growing economic separation between those who succeed in our interconnected, digital, service-oriented economy. Pew provides insights into the gap between those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree (about 29 percent of Americans) and those who don’t.

Colleges and universities are rightfully attuned to the percentage of entering freshmen, who graduate within the next five years.

Almost DailyBrett is asking a different question:

If many would-be sophomores are dropping out and co-signing themselves to a meager life (maybe even poverty), including one-bad-day-away from being unemployed, shouldn’t we be more concerned about freshmen retention?

Let’s review the U.S. News & World Report records for freshmen retention of four universities of particular interest to Almost DailyBrett:

  • University of Southern California, 96 percent freshman retention to sophomore year (BA degree in Broadcasting Journalism, 1978).
  • University of Oregon, 87 percent freshman retention rate (MA in Communications and Society, 2012).
  • Arizona State University, 86 percent freshman retention rate (Offered Ph.D Fellowship).
  • Central Washington University, 77 percent freshman retention rate (Presently employed as an Assistant Professor).

Some loss of frosh students because of plain, old life, and that is to be expected.

Losing 10 percent-to-20 percent or more of a freshman class should set off alarm bells.

Will these lost students be tomorrow’s poverty dwellers?

That may sound extreme, but then again it may not.

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/freshmen-least-most-likely-return

https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2014/07/fewer-freshman-college-students-returning-for-sophomore-year

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/11/19/u_s_college_dropouts_rates_explained_in_4_charts.html

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/562419

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/running-out-the-clock/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-role-of-college-in-exacerbating-economic-inequality/

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/02/stocks-are-high-but-investor-numbers-are-low.html

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/central-washington-university-3771

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/asu-1081

“I’m in favor of progress; it’s change I don’t like” – Mark Twain

The College Football Playoff is change; it’s not progress.

 

Instead it has become a shameless vehicle for ESECPN to proclaim the winner of a four-team playoff among the SEC, ACC and maybe the Big-12 as the “national” champion.

If Alabama doesn’t even capture its own division, let alone play and win the Southern Eastern Conference championship … macht nichts … then just place Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff anyway!

What’s the purpose of conference championships?

USC wins the Pac-12 title on a Friday night. Who cares? It’s what happens on the next day that matters.

Ohio State wins the Big 10 title the next day, easily beating previously undefeated Wisconsin. That achievement should matter, until it doesn’t matter.

We all knew when there are five “Power” conferences, and only four playoff slots, one champion would be the odd man out, and not invited to the party.

But two conference champions not being selected to pave the way for two SEC teams to be anointed for the playoff … that’s highway robbery and every other metaphor of outrage that applies.

Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” once opined that opinions are similar to sphincters, everyone has one.

With this introduction here are the dispassionate thoughts from an admitted Pac-12 supporter (i.e., USC undergrad, Oregon post-grad), the author of Almost DailyBrett:

If the Pac-12 is annually dismissed by the Pharisees at ESECPN, and our champion, USC at 11-2, is not even taken seriously for the College Football Playoff …

… And this year, the Big Ten champion, Ohio State 11-2, is also summarily deemed unworthy of the College Football Playoff, then let’s do something radical:

Go back to the good ole days.

The Pac-12 and the Big Ten champions play in The Granddaddy of Them All®, the Rose Bowl.

Yep, let’s celebrate a classic rematch of USC vs. Ohio State playing each other on New Year’s Day.

That’s way it was, and that’s how it should be.

The Granddaddy of Them All®

Oklahoma vs. Georgia in the Rose Bowl, gag me with the proverbial spoon.

The Sooner Schooner being paraded down Colorado Blvd., while UGA does his business in the bushes? Give me a break.

With the BSC followed by the College Football Playoff, we can now conclude college football has taken a huge step backwards.

Consider when Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and Oregon blew out Florida State 59-20, ending the Seminoles 30-game winning streak and holding the 2015 Rose Bowl Trophy.

Was that a reason for passionate celebration for the Pac-12 champion? Well no, because there was another game.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rose Bowl is the game. The author of Almost DailyBrett grew up 20 minutes away from Pasadena. Didn’t want to meet my maker without the Ducks once playing in the Rose Bowl, let alone winning it.

The College Football Playoff Doesn’t Work

We all know now the College Football Playoff doesn’t work.

Expanding it to eight games, just means more slots for SEC and ACC teams.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten should pull out of this monstrosity.

January 2, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas (6) runs the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second half during the 2012 Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The two conferences should reestablish their exclusive with the Tournament of Roses, having their respective champions play on New Year’s Day.

If ESECPN wants to televise a “playoff” featuring the best-and-the-brightest of teams from the former Confederate States, go for it. Just pour some moonshine and scream “Go Bama, Go!”

Whattya think Rece “Bama” Davis? Concur Jesse “Gator” Palmer? Ditto David “Between the Hedges” Pollack?

For me, it’s time to go back to the Rose Bowl.

USC should be playing Ohio State in the historic Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California, not in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington Texas on December 29.

The playoff change did not work.

It’s progress to go back to the Rose Bowl.

http://www.azquotes.com/author/14883-Mark_Twain/tag/change

https://www.tournamentofroses.com/rose-bowl

“I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.” Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Move over English.

Is coding rapidly becoming the new universal language?

Can coding proficiency be the answer for chronic voluntary male non-employment, and all the societal problems that come from too many idle masculine hands?

Certainly, Tim Cook has obvious motivation in advocating coding widespread proficiency. Apple always needs the best-and-the-brightest when it comes to geeky engineers (redundant).

Nonetheless at least one-third of all in-demand jobs right now require some form of computer coding. Why not make this necessary skill, compulsory in all secondary schools, colleges and universities?

Consider the recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute projecting that 15 percent of the global workforce may be required to change jobs in the next 15 years (or worse, lose them) because of coding-driven automation.

McKinsey projected that 75 million to 375 million workers will be required to change occupation categories while another 400 to 800 million could be displaced by automation and will be required to find new jobs entirely.

Which side of the fence does one want to be standing? Do we want to elect to kick off in the javelin throwing contest (learn coding) or receive (hope for the best)?

Get the point?

More Important Than English?

“If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form … this [coding] is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.” – Cook speaking in Paris

For the longest time the dead-tongue Latin phrase, Lingua Franca, equated to English being the universal language of business and commerce, including the one used by air traffic controllers regardless of the flag being flown below the control tower.

For example, the Georgetown University Law Center reportedly is packing classes in coding for those who aspire to practice before the highest courts in the land, including the Supreme Court.

When it comes to seeking out key words and concepts in Supreme Court rulings, there are times when Google Search just doesn’t cut it … but coding does.

Instead of income redistribution from achievers to others to achieve social justice, it may be more vital for the public and private sectors to encourage the study of computer programming to narrow the income gap or at least to prevent the divide from growing larger.

How’s that for thinking outside the proverbial box?

Getting Idle Men Off Their Collective Derrieres

“It is impossible to imagine any earlier generation in which such a huge swath of prime-age men would voluntarily absent themselves from the workforce, living instead on the largesse of women they knew and taxpayers they did not.” – Nicholas Eberstadt, American Enterprise Institute

Eberstadt in his “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis” concluded that 32 percent of working age men are voluntarily not working, choosing instead to live off the largesse of working women or some form of government assistance (e.g., three/fifths are on disability).

Their daily modus operandi may consist of 5.5 hours of video games, internet, binge television, eating, drinking and opioids. The bi-products of these idle hands are obesity, alcoholism, crime and drug addiction.

Conversely, the good news emanating from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about an overall unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, points to a coming/already present labor shortage.

There are jobs out there, dudes.

Oh … you don’t want to put on that blue vest and work at the big-box store or the green apron of a barista? The service economy is not for you? Women are better than you when it comes to serving customer?.

What is a realistic answer?

How about coding? If you can work the TV remote and the video-game controller, you obviously have some level of primitive knowledge of the magic of binary code.

Can you imagine the increase of our national competitiveness if we can prod even 1 million idle men off their duffs and into the classroom/training center to learn coding?

Maybe there should be a national public relations campaign to convince idle men that coding is not only cool, but masculine too.

https://www.wearedevelopers.com/coding-is-the-new-lingua-franca-of-the-modern-digital-economy/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/12/apple-ceo-tim-cook-learning-to-code-is-so-important.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/19/the-25-highest-paying-jobs-in-america.html

http://fortune.com/2017/10/13/tim-cook-coding-english/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lingua%20franca

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/03/mortality-of-american-men-and-the-labor-force/520329/

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440758/nicholas-eberstadts-men-without-work-american-males-who-choose-not-work

https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/future-of-organizations-and-work/what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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