Tag Archive: Wall Street Journal


“Richard Nixon came back from his loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and won the presidency in 1968. He will be the model for winning again.” – Mark Penn and Andrew Stein, Wall Street Journal op-ed

“You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” – Richard Nixon’s “last news conference” after losing the California governorship in 1962

Ready For Hillary 4.0 knows the history of The New Nixon 3.0.

For Nixon, 1968 was the charm.

If the American electorate missed its opportunity in 1960 (Nixon 1.0).

And California voters didn’t get it in 1962 (Nixon 2.0).

Perhaps America would appreciate the new and improved “Nixon’s The One” six years later?

After two crushing defeats, Richard Milhous Nixon (3.0) became POTUS #37.

Conversely, Hillary was “inevitable” in 2008 … until #44 Obama won.

And Hillary was “inevitable” in 2016 … until she lost to # 45 Trump.

And now she is gearing up for her third “inevitable” #46 campaign/election next year.

As some things change in the Democratic Party, others remain the same.

Don’t bet against Nancy as “Madam Speaker,” and “Madam Secretary” Hillary as the nominee.

Will we be treated to the inevitable Clinton Restoration four years later than originally planned?

Hillary Now More Than Ever

“True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies. She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.” – Penn and Stein, November 11

 “Dear God, please, yes.” – Trump campaign advisor Kellyanne Conway

The massive public relations/marketing challenge facing Hillary’s 2020 campaign team will be how to repackage an inferior 2008 and 2016 product and offer her as new and fresh for the upcoming 2019-2020 presidential cycle?

Reminds one of the 2009 eye-brow raising Domino’s Pizza advertising campaign in which the company confessed to its crust “tasting like cardboard,” and its sauce “tasting like ketchup” and worst of all, Domino’s was selling an “imitation pizza.”

The company pivoted off this act of contrition and promised to do better … and more than survived.

Penn and Stein implied the Hillary First Lady years constituted Hillary 1.0. Her tenure as an ostensibly positioned moderate senator served as Hillary 2.0. Her progressive campaign in 2016 represented Hillary 3.0

And Hillary the 2020 “firebrand,” taking Trump by storm, will be Hillary 4.0.

The real question is not whether Hillary will run, but will Sturm und Drang Hillary be able to flip any red states, regardless of whether or not she reassembles the Obama coalition?

Following In Nixon’s Footsteps

Two years are a political lifetime.

The economy is strong, now. The country is at relative peace. Divided government usually translates into little chance of turbo partisan legislation ever getting through both houses, let alone to the president’s desk.

Impeachment? Hillary understands impeachment, and there is little, if no chance, that Trump will be convicted in the GOP expanded Senate.

Why bother?

What happens if the economy starts going south and the markets are no longer volatile, but instead are heading straight down? What about unforeseen exogenous events overseas, possibly requiring a U.S. military response? What about Donald Trump’s act wearing thin after all these years?

In 1968, there were zero torch-light parades demanding the return from exile for Richard Nixon.

Having said that, the Vietnam War and the popular revolt against this quagmire prompted #36 Lyndon Johnson to resign. The Democrats were a hot Chicago mess. There was an opening for the Old Nixon to become the New President Nixon.

Hillary is not a new, exciting commodity (e.g., second-place Beto), having lost not once, but twice. And yet, no one knows the exact political landscape one year from now, let alone on November 3, 2020.

Will Hillary successfully recalibrate her brand, persona and reputation to prompt Democrats and independents to once again back Hillary with new ingredients? If Nixon could be successfully repackaged even with his legendary paranoia, doesn’t that mean that Hillary could be The One for 2020?

Or maybe: “Hillary Now More Than Ever”?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-will-run-again-1541963599

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/12/clinton-aide-2020-run-983684

https://twitter.com/hashtag/hillary2020?lang=en

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/10/24/hillary-2020-trump-better-hope-not/?utm_term=.a374f8034d09

https://www.inc.com/cynthia-than/dominos-admitted-their-pizza-tastes-like-cardboard-and-won-back-our-trust.html

“This is a dangerous moment for the life sciences industry that is increasingly vital to the U.S. economy.” — Lead Wall Street Journal editorial, Sept. 23, 2015

There are dirty-little secrets out there …

If one buys low and sells high, there is a resulting profit.

If demand is high and supply is low, prices rise … profits are likely.

And some forward-looking companies may take those profits and plow them right back into R&D (research and development), resulting technological breakthroughs may ensue, which may lead to more profits … and more R&D. Sounds like a plan to Almost DailyBrett.biotech

There are some who just don’t agree with buy low, sell high. There are some who are not enamored with supply and demand. In fact, they are declaring war on capitalistic “profiteering.”

The target du jour is bio-technology, the very folks who produce cures (e.g., Hepatitis C) and management regimes to control diseases (e.g., AIDS). One would think these biotech superstars, such as Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), would be regarded as heroes. Alas, you would be wrong.

Certainly, there is a poster-child villain in this story.shkreli

His name is Martin Shkreli, the chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, guilty of raising the price of parasite infection drug, Daraprim, by 4,000 percent. The 32-year-young hedge-fund manager beat a hasty retreat last week in the face of a chorus of cat calls. He is a walking-talking, first-rate public relations disaster.

Having made this point, should the entire life sciences industry, its scientists and patients, some in desperate need of breakthrough drugs, be punished for the sins of a hedge-fund manager and presumably a few others?

Here are a few more troubling price-control questions:

  • Will after-tax R&D expenditures of life sciences and by natural extension, technology companies, become the subject of regulatory-imposed quotas (e.g., no more than x percent of net income can be used for R&D)?
  • What impacts will these Washington D.C., or Sacramento-initiated command-and-control limitations have on finding cures for diseases or next generation killer apps? Will there be fewer newer drugs on the market? Will there be less “destructive” game-changing technologies?
  • Will other operating expenses on the income statement also be subject to governmental expenditure controls, such as SG&A (selling, general and administrative)? For example, will life sciences, software and/or hardware companies be restricted in how much they can spend to market a breakthrough product? What impacts will these restrictions, if they become reality, have on the fiscal health public relations and advertising agencies?
  • What happens to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s patients and others facing potentially fatal diseases, if the political class imposes draconian controls on new drug development … pharmaceuticals that potentially could save their lives?

Guess life’s tough, right?

Steve Jobs Turning Over in His Grave?jobsmemorial

There are ballot initiatives circulating in California – the home of Silicon Valley technology and some big league life sciences companies – that would impose price controls on pharmaceuticals and limitations on after tax R&D, marketing and presumably other operating expenditures.

Do you think that once emboldened the political elites will stop at the income statements of life sciences companies? Or would they march onto the next battle: social, mobile and cloud companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco?

Let’s see, the price for an Apple 6s smart phone is $849.99. There are no deals or discounts on Apple smart phones. Is that price too high? Are we all entitled to have a smart phone? Should price controls be imposed on Apple smart phones, tablets, watches, Macs, iPods …?

Whattyathink Tim Cook?

Looking at the income statement for Q3, Apple generated $49.6 billion on the top line (Is that too much?).

The company paid $3.79 billion in taxes (Is that too little?).

Apple devoted $2.03 billion for R&D and $3.56 billion for SG&A (Are these figures simply way too much for research and marketing respectively?).

The company also devoted $29.9 billion for COGS or the cost to make its breakthrough products. (Does Apple really need to spend that much? Your collectivist thoughts, Sacramento and/or Washington?)

Worse yet, Apple produced a profit of $10.67 billion. Is the company (and many others) guilty of “profiteering.”

These figures are reflections of not only extraordinary success, but engineering breakthroughs, entrepreneurial spirit, calculated gambles of consumer acceptance, and of course, the risk of failure.

The whole notion of venture capital is to spend private equity on ideas that may stick to the wall, but then they may also flop. An idea may be good, but too early for consumer acceptance (e.g., HDTV in the 1990s).

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One of the distinguishing characteristics of America, which makes it the land of opportunity, is calculated risk-taking of entrepreneurs. Ultimately, they have the super ideas that may lead to landmark products and with them literally tens of thousands of new jobs – not family wage jobs (whatever they are), but career path jobs.

Should we literally kill the goose that is laying golden eggs?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-assault-on-drug-innovation-1442964103

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-biotech-rout-1443484644

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-vs-cancer-treatment-1443007218

https://gma.yahoo.com/company-lower-drug-price-critics-called-4-000-002025809–abc-news-health.html#

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2015/07/21Apple-Reports-Record-Third-Quarter-Results.html

 

 

 

 

 

“Isn’t that kind of crazy? … Almost one in 20 bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2011-12 was in communications/journalism. Why? I have no idea. Probably not because of the hot job prospects.” – Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post

How analog can you be?

missouri

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of college students taking Communications, Journalism and related programs (e.g., public relations and advertising) has quadrupled from 1.2 percent in the 1970-71 academic year to 4.7 percent in the 2011-2012 academic year. That result even exceeds the percentage increase of students taking business, 13.7 in 1970-71 to 20 percent in 2011-12, and is headed in the other direction compared to those pursuing education degrees, 21 percent in 1970-71 to 5.9 percent three years ago. Yikes!

Mizz Rampell and others with similar sentiments must be wondering what is wrong with these journalism/communications students. Don’t they know that the Internet is killing legacy media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, radio and television)? For example, the Washington Post published Newsweek since the Earth cooled. The planet is still here, but Newsweek for all intents and purposes is long gone, hanging on in digital format.

Yes, I still have trouble sleeping at night.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is no more. The Rocky Mountain News is deceased. The Oregonian has been reduced to a tab. There is example-after-example of the destructive technological force of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Right, Borders? Ready to say ‘goodbye,’ Barnes and Noble?

Even college newspapers are feeling the Internet pressure as the 137-year old Columbia Daily Spectator of Ivy League Columbia University will go from daily to weekly starting this coming fall.

The trend is unmistakable.

And yet more students are enrolling in professional J-Schools 

As an incoming tenure-track assistant professor at Central Washington University and an incorrigible optimist, your author of Almost DailyBrett salutes the students who defy conventional thinking. Their collective thoughts are not to the past or even the present, but focused squarely on the future.

According to the 11th edition of Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, the projections are for 3 billion Internet users worldwide in 2016, more than 40 percent of the world population. Almost 70 percent of the US population will use smartphones in just three years. We send and receive more than 6 billion text messages each day, and about 2.8 million emails are sent every second.

socialmedia1

These numbers are staggering and the pace is increasing.

Why are all of these people on the Internet? Why have 1.1 billion subscribed to Facebook (founded 10 years ago), making its audience the third largest ‘nation’ in the world?

Twitter has 500 million (2006), posting 340 million ‘tweets’ every day.

LinkedIn (2003) reportedly has 259 million members, using the social media site to network and establish ‘connections’ with hiring managers and sales leads. LinkedIn is the social media site of choice for executive recruiters.

All of these impressive stats point to a world in which the demand for breaking news and information has never been greater. The laws of supply and demand do not go away just because we have a relatively new disruptive technology. In fact, the demand exceeds the supply, particularly online…for now.

$5 billion for the Wall Street Journal? 

Rupert Murdoch may not be a hero in all Journalism schools, but he is nobody’s fool. Okay, he shouldn’t have purchased constantly declining Myspace for $580 million in 2005, but not every Rembrandt is a masterpiece.WSJ

In purchasing the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, Murdoch acquired not only the largest newspaper on the planet, but more importantly the number one brand for news and information about global markets for growing investor classes. The WSJ has also proved that pay-for-online content works as more than 900,000 digitally subscribe to the Journal. We should also not lose sight of the acquisition by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos of the Washington Post for $250 million.

So newspapers are not dead overall, at least the big hitters. Newspapers with globally recognizable mastheads and reputable brands will always be in demand, more so in digital format as the years progress.

And just as important is the advent of digital news services. Ever heard of TMZ (The Thirty-Mile Zone)? Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers (Or should we say, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers) knows all about TMZ. The digital news service broke the story of his racist tendencies and led to his downfall.

The names Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Mashable, Gawker, POLITICO, Drudge Report, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Daily Kos, Red State, Real Clear Politics, Silicon Valley Watcher may not be household names…yet. Some will succeed. Some will not. Having said that, they all have the mission to meet the insatiable demand for news and information around the world through the magic of binary code or the digital ones-and-zeroes.

digitalnewsservices

And just think they need editors, reporters and correspondents.

They need the information provided by public relations professionals.

They are an increasingly lucrative outlet for advertisements aimed at target audiences.

Maybe these students who are seeking degrees in journalism, public relations, advertising aren’t so crazy after all. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2014/04/25/over-the-past-40-years-fewer-english-majors-but-more-journalism- majors/?wpisrc=nl%5Feve

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/2013menu_tables.asp

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/in-defense-of-journalism-education/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/why-newspapers-are-toast/

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/media/story/2012-04-22/college-newspapers/54630566/1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinkedIn

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wall_Street_Journal

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/washington-post-closes-sale-to-amazon-founder-jeff-bezos/2013/10/01/fca3b16a-2acf-11e3-97a3-ff2758228523_story.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

woodwardbernstein

All reporters and editors should be treated equally. Right?

In theory, this egalitarian approach is the correct way to go.

As PR flacks increase their 3.6-1 ratio lead over the ever-dwindling number of media types, it makes sense to treat every remaining reporter/editor fairly and justly.

After all, every reporter and editor is always fair and just to your organization, your chief executive and your cause. Right?

And most of all, every media outlet is created equal. Right?

You know the answer to that particular question.

There are two undeniable truths as it applies to the flack/media divide; one is time-tested and the other is relatively new:

1.) The media always needs fresh news and information to thrive and in the majority of cases that manna from Heaven comes from the public relations industry. This uncomfortable media fact is compounded by the competitive need to be first and conversely by the aversion to being “scooped” or worse, “burned” on a story.

2.) The media “gate keepers” no longer make the rules for access to target audiences and therefore can’t exclusively set the agenda. The ones and zeroes of the binary code ended this dominance and put self-publishing tools in the hands of the PR story tellers, and the good ones are using them.

Even though the media is rapidly changing in a mostly kicking-and-screaming fashion, there is still this mostly true axiom: Both flacks and reporters/editors are antagonists. They need each other as the former is a source of news and information and the latter conveys this same news and information to target audiences.

It’s called earned media (public relations) as opposed to advertising (paid media).

This relationship for decades has been unbalanced with the media serving as the “gatekeepers,” vetting news and information, and essentially deciding what is transmitted to the public. And with this hegemony (and inevitably arrogance) comes the notion that the media sets the agenda for the conversation, resulting in the flack “story tellers” gnashing their collective teeth.

If a tree falls in the forest, and the New York Times chooses not to cover it, did it make any sound? Nope.

And what happens when the media agenda and the flack story telling collide? There is friction, anxiety and related unpleasantness.

The flack may be tempted to go “over the head” of the reporter and to complain to her or his editor. Can you think of a better way to do a huge favor for the reporter? Talk about a red badge of courage.

Or the flack may do something more sinister: Leak a juicy story to a reporter/editor competitor, causing a burning sensation. Of course, a PR person would never admit to such a dastardly deed, but I understand this happens from time-to-time.

Sometimes the selective disclosure of material information to one media organization as opposed to another is done on purpose, and the SEC will not impose fines. Heard frequently in the Silicon Valley is, “Let’s give this story to the Journal…” The flacks in question are referring to the Wall Street Journal.

Some may think that print is dead, and for the most part it is. Didn’t the rocket scientists at the New York Times that bought the Boston Globe for $1.1 billion two decades ago, just sell the same newspaper to the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million? Talk about buying high and selling low.

Also consider that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just purchased the Washington Post for $250 million and Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion six years ago. Both of these hombres are super smart, so you know they have no intention of eventually selling these rags for less than 10 cents on the dollar. They instead bought the mastheads, the brands and their respective print and more importantly, digital access points to the political/governmental community (Post) and the investor class (Journal).

WSJ

Therefore it makes sense for public relations professionals to “pre-brief” a supposedly dead media publication, the Journal. In fact, virtually everyone in Silicon Valley pre-briefs the Journal. What does that mean to reporters/editors of other publications? They don’t like it one little bit.

But what are they going to do about it?

About 10 years ago, I was toiling in the trenches as the head of corporate public relations for LSI Logic. We ran a $1 billion custom semiconductor fab (factory) in Gresham, Oregon, just immediately east of Portland. The big gorilla media for that market (at least at the time) was The Oregonian. We were good copy for the Oregonian.

LSI Logic entered into a nanotechnology development agreement with Massachusetts start-up Nantero. In turn, Nantero hired a New York PR firm to help put the firm on the map. The target publication was The New York Times and the heck with anyone else.

During a conference call with Nantero’s CEO on the line, I was asked by a Madison Avenue-type if we would help with the Gray Lady. Our answer was affirmative, but what about the beat reporter for The Oregonian.

“The Oregonian?…Who is the Oregonian?” the New York PR type contemptuously asked.

I reminded her that actual life existed due west of the Hudson River, and that my employer, LSI Logic, was not going to consciously “burn” the beat reporter for The Oregonian. We either brief both reporters with the same embargo or we don’t offer the story at all. She was shocked and appalled by my left-coast thinking.

We did it our way, which I am convinced to this day, was the right way.

Is the moral of this story that PR pros, despite the shifting landscape, should never play favorites with reporters/editors, thus setting up the possibility that someone else will be burned?

The answer is the practice will be…ah…practiced…but there are perils involved, particularly with local reporters who will be part of your daily life conceivably for years to come.

Do you want the benefit of the doubt, when you need the benefit of the doubt?

Caca happens.

And remember the profound words of Tip O’Neill: “All politics is local.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egalitarianism

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21583274-new-wave-press-barons-should-not-allow-newspapers-become-niche-products-keeping

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21583284-tycoons-keen-eye-bargain-are-buying-up-print-newspapers-chasing-paper-profits

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118589043953483378.html

http://www.nantero.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_O%27Neill

I didn’t give a particle about Hopalong Cassidy in 1976…

…and I really don’t care much about the fictional Old West shoot-em-up character now.

hopalong

My Journalism 101 assignment was laid out in a poorly mimeographed piece of parchment paper: Write a dreaded obit about the late-William Lawrence Boyd (1895-1972) and entice people to care about the star of more than 60 “Hoppy” films, who died with his boots on.

There was no passion, no emotion, just a piece of paper about someone who did not touch my life, and never would. I was also a college sophomore at the University of Southern California. The results of my “effort” were predictable as in predictably lousy.

As a result of this assignment and others, I earned a big fat and well-deserved “C” in the class. What was worse was the professor (who will go nameless to protect the guilty) pulled me aside and strongly suggested that I consider another career.

That was 35 years ago.

Fortunately, the next semester saved my major in Broadcasting Journalism and launched my career. I enrolled in Reporting Public Affairs with Joel Kotkin, who at the time had put his degree at UC Berkeley five years into his rear-view mirror and was the West Coast correspondent for the Washington Post.

kotkin

The year was now 1977, and there was a mayoral election in Los Angeles. Each student was assigned a candidate and a campaign. The candidates were the incumbent Tom Bradley, former California State Senator Alan Robbins and Howard Jarvis, who authored the landmark property tax-reduction initiative, Proposition 13, the following year. My assignment was to follow Robbins, who eventually lost the election and later spent a long time in a very bad place.

Robbins campaigned heavily on the Jewish West Side of Los Angeles and a young college kid followed him, and learned everything he could about his campaign. This particular USC student was a political animal and loved writing and reporting. Some were questioning Robbins’ Jewishness, prompting a heckler to yell out in a temple that “Alan Robbins is a goy.” Robbins snapped back, “Alan Robbins is not a goy.” This was full-contact politics on vivid display and I eagerly engulfed myself in this story.

I received an “A” in “Reporting Public Affairs” and my career was upwards to the right. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Professor Kotkin, who is now a fellow at Chapman College, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and others, and the author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.”

The reason why I am tapping back into history now is that I have taken up the Kotkin role, not his encyclopedic command of American political, geographical and demographic trends (I am not worthy), but his dedication to teaching students…and in at least one particular case giving a student a much-needed second chance.

Today I am a graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Hopefully in a year, I will be teaching strategic communications, social media, financial communications and media/analyst/employee relations to upper division students.

I need to keep in mind that a professor can cripple through her or his words the dreams of students. Suggesting out loud to someone who has the talent and skill sets to succeed in a given profession that they should look elsewhere is not helpful and may be even unethical. That’s exactly what happened to me.

Please don’t get me wrong. Tenured professors, associate professors, assistant professors, adjunct instructors and even lowly graduate teaching fellows are not there to be a buddy or a pal to college students. We are not there to be the university version of dandelion dads and marshmallow moms. The work world is hopefully over the horizon for these students and a boss or heaven forbid, a bosshole, can be worse, much worse than any professor.

Colleges and universities are the ultimate start-up. Students have dreams and aspirations. Not all classes are a perfect fit…certainly Journalism 101 with its lame Hopalong Cassidy obit exercise was not a good fit for me. Having said that, my lack of performance in that particular introductory class did not justify being told to choose another profession, such as selling insurance.

Words can be like daggers, particularly coming from a professor with an advanced degree or more. Sticks and stones may break my bones and words will never hurt me, which is true in most cases. At the same time, these ultra-critical words have major impact on impressionable young students trying to embark on a career path. Let’s offer constructive criticism where it is warranted, but more importantly let’s propel these students into the stratosphere so they can pursue their dreams and be everything they want to be.

http://www.hopalong.com/home.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Boyd_(actor)

http://www.joelkotkin.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Kotkin

http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/004-biography

http://www.joincalifornia.com/candidate/5796

The World Is Their Oyster

Is a university campus the ultimate “start-up?”

Does this mean that Irish playwright, dramatist and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw swung and missed when he coined the clever and oft-repeated, “Youth is wasted on the young?”

One of the reasons that I made the decision north of life’s Mason-Dixon Line to leave the foreclosure and traffic madness of Silicon Valley for a college town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley pertains directly to quality of life. Another revolves around the young attitudes of the majority of people around me.

In the corporate world, it is populated by a cadre of middle-aged complainers/whiners who can’t believe that their lives turned out the way that they did. Worse, they don’t have time anymore to start over. And they will tell anyone their plight, who cares to listen.

These people have baggage, and in most cases it is not a carry on. For many, their marriages are a distant memory. Their trapped in an underwater house and the bank has no interest in providing them with a loan modification. They may have been laid off and the economy has been downright cruel. Gas prices are heading toward or exceeding $4 a gallon. The commute (if they have one is at least 45 minutes one way). Their job, let alone their life, is not what they anticipated 20 years ago. I just can’t stop humming Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”

In a college town, such as Eugene, another set of lyrics comes to mind, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” by Fleetwood Mac. Students are dreaming about their futures. What do they want to do? How will they change the world? The tyranny of FICA has not yet completely made its presence known.

This point was made evident this past week when I was grading a series of three-and-four minute student multimedia (e.g. video, audio, still photography, graphics) autobiographies. Even though I had a template for grading these projects, I pretty much cast it aside. Instead, I was looking for quality in how they told their stories and made my grading decisions in how well they presented their futures compared to their student colleagues.

I was floored by the one woman who told the story of how her mom was on meth amphetamines and her father, heroin. She doesn’t understand why her parents have turned their respective lives over to these dangerous addictions. She is not following their footsteps, but she still loves them for being her parents. She is dedicated to making something out of her life. Some would say the deck is stacked against her, but she is not buying any of that and neither am I.

Another hearing disabled student, has learned how to interpret sounds and to speak with some difficulty. Nonetheless, she is going to become a story-teller. She has already overcome much in her life, so what’s another challenge?

One African-American student absolutely blew me away with the quality of his website. He wants to be a blogger for a major publication, such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or the Washington Post. And at the same time, he wants to be a rapper. Blogging, rapping, blogging, rapping…Go for it.

An émigré (or the daughter of émigrés) from the Czech Republic told the story of how she has been stereotyped as just another pretty blonde. She has a very active brain under those golden trusses and a remarkable ability when it comes to audio, video and layout presentations. She already has the talent to work for a major corporation in telling multi-media stories.

Not only going back to college, but also going back to a campus environment has changed my life. Anybody who has known me for a few nanoseconds or more knows that I have faced more than my fair share of adversity. As the Germans would say macht nichts. I am stronger for the experience and I am surrounded by people who are excited about the future, so why shouldn’t I too be excited about the future?

Whether these students, regardless of their story and their backgrounds, make most of their opportunities is still to be seen. Some have already faced steep hills with a sneer of their faces. The challenges of this 21st Century world are great. They will take them on with an infectious enthusiasm. More power to you brothers and sisters. And thank you for being such as inspiration to the follicly challenged TA sitting near the front of the lecture hall.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_Days_(song)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_Stop_(Fleetwood_Mac_song)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Insurance_Contributions_Act_tax

“I will never say in private, what I wouldn’t say in public.” – John Madden

For the past 10,220 days (give or take about three months or so), the sun has risen every morning in the Golden State and likewise the moon has been seen in the heavens in the evening. The birds have chirped. The bees have buzzed. The waves continued to crash on the beaches. Life has gone on…without assistance from the State of California for public broadcasting.

My former boss for eight years California Governor George Deukmejian used his veto pen more than 2,300 times in his two terms. One of those times was the total “zeroing out” of California Public Broadcasting in 1983. The state was broke, about $1.5 billion in the red. On top of that, the governor did not philosophically believe that the government should be in the business of subsidizing media…because subsidies come with strings attached. Sorry, there are no free lunches in life.

220px-George_Deukmejian_Official_Portrait_crop

A news conference was held in Sacramento to announce $1 billion in vetoes in his very first fiscal blueprint that actually balanced that budget. Included in that amount was all of the funding for California Public Broadcasting. The radio reporter for the California Public Broadcasting covering the event opened the budget book, saw the veto, rose from his desk, and stormed out of the Room 1190 (news conference room in the State Capitol in Sacramento). We had a first-rate public relations fire storm on our hands…but it didn’t last long.

Periodically reporters would bring up this issue with us, most not agreeing in the slightest. We would remind them that California was out of money and how the governor believed in a church and state-style separation when it comes to the media and government.

Which brings us to the very emotional subject of NPR, which has Charlie Sheen-style public relations problems that only intensified this week. Liberals love NPR because NPR is liberal. Conservatives detest NPR because NPR is liberal…err…progressive (whatever). But should NPR, which is taking $400 million or 12 percent of its funding from the federal government, be so unbalanced?

Liberals will instantly scream, “Well what about Fox News?” Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and receives no federal funding. Want to yell about Rush Limbaugh? The answer is essentially the same.

The biggest public relations blunder made by NPR was to be seen as so far out of the mainstream. They were safe as long as the economy was decent and Democrats were calling the shots in DC, but as we all know things change in politics and they can change quickly. The economy cratered, the federal government is horrifically in the red, and there is a whole posse of red state, Tea Party Republicans, now running the House of Representatives. Americans through their actions time-and-time again have proven that they prefer divided government.

The first blow came last October with the clumsy firing of NPR correspondent Juan Williams (who appears regularly on *gasp* Fox News) saying out loud what many Americans think in the aftermath of 9/11; many are very aware that Muslims are among the passengers on plane flights they are taking.

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And just this week, NPR’s chief fundraiser Ron Schiller was secretly videotaped during a meeting with the Muslim Education Action Center. As Russell Adams of the Wall Street Journal pointed out nobody at NPR, including Schiller, vetted the Muslim Education Action Center. The group does not exist, but served as a front for the secret videotaping.

The result was that Schiller was silent as the two potential $5 million Muslim contributors complained about how other media outlets were controlled by “Zionists” while NPR was not (Does silence constitute agreement?). NPR’s chief fundraiser proceeded to declare that NPR does not need the $400 million in federal support, completely undermining NPR’s lobbying effort. He then completely trashed the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement, labeling them as white, gun-toting “racists”…Did Mr. Schiller not appreciate who is running the House of Representatives and holding the purse strings for NPR?

Specifically, the Washington Post reported that Schiller said in the video about the Tea Party movement:  “They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting – it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.” He also said NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding,” a statement most Republicans agree with.

John Madden, who was a football commentator on four major networks for 29 years, said once: “I will never say in private, what I wouldn’t say in public.” That is the best defense possible in the case of an ambush video tape job. And you know this ambush video technique, whether we like it or not, is going to be used again-and-again with technology making possible smaller cameras and more sensitive microphones. Politics is a contact sport indeed.

The net result was that NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller “resigned” Wednesday and the NPR Board accepted her resignation with “regret.” Read: She was pushed out of the job. (She is not related to Ron).

Now the big question is whether the GOP majority in the house will push NPR’s $400 million appropriation out of the budget. If it does, NPR will survive someway, somehow on donations and corporate contributions. Alas, there will be no $5 million donation from the Muslim Education Action Center. And just like California, the sun will rise in the morning across the fruited plain.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/10/AR2011031002032.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/09/AR2011030901802.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704132204576190344232339766.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/03/09/push-to-defund-public-broadcasting-heats-up/

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/February-federal-budget-apf-1010393433.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=&ccode=

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/10/21/juan-williams-npr-fired-truth-muslim-garb-airplane-oreilly-ellen-weiss-bush/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Sheen

http://www.meactrust.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Madden_(American_football)

Johannes Gutenberg got into a fight with Gordon Moore … and lost.

Considering that the lifetimes of these two innovators, visionaries, inventors are separated by more than five centuries, Gutenberg’s loss is obviously figurative — but a defeat nonetheless.

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As anyone even remotely familiar with the history of Journalism knows, Gutenberg is regarded as the first European to use moveable type in 1439 and is credited with the invention of the printing press. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

Conversely, Moore, one of the founders of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), is universally hailed in the technology world for “Moore’s Law.” In its simplest form, Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed a piece of silicon real estate doubles every 18 months. This “law” has been 100 percent accurate since its inception in 1965 and in some respects has been even conservative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Moore

Why are these two luminaries from completely different backgrounds and eras joined at the hip when it comes to a discussion of Journalism? The answer is that Gutenberg represents Journalism’s past and Moore, the industry’s future.

Gutenberg’s printing press led to dawn of modern Journalism and even the anachronistic labeling of the profession, known simply (and most likely, always) as “The Press.” Over time, printing presses enveloped the world, morning and evening papers were produced, delivered to doorsteps by an army of news carriers in dilapidated cars, Sting Ray bicycles or sold at downtown newsstands.

This high-cost (in many cases monopolistic) business model worked for decades and led to the development of some of the most famous mastheads on the planet. Even the Gray Lady each day offers, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

What happens when the day inevitably arrives that all the news (or at least the lion’s share) is no longer printed? That’s where Moore’s Law enters the equation.

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Moore’s Law essentially says that complexity and functionality increases every year-and-one-half. The tyranny and the serendipity of his theory is that each succeeding generation of devices — let alone breakthrough applications — are better, faster, smaller and consume less power.

As a result, the mainframe computer spelled the end to the IBM Selectric with its novel correcting tape. Mini-computers retired the mainframe. PCs and servers vanquished mini-computers. And the PCs started talking to each via millions of miles of fibre-optic networks or even wirelessly. And now Internet content (e.g. news, information, voice, data, video) is being delivered to tablets, cell phones and digital readers. What is the next Killer App? It’s out there.

Clay Shirky, 46, who teaches New Media at NYU, in his Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable takes issue with the kickers and screamers, trying desperately to cling onto a traditional newspaper business model that no-longer works. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Shirky

“Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know, ‘If the old model is broken, what will work its place?’ To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the Internet just broke.”

Essentially Shirky is saying that those who are refusing to confront the digital facts of life are, “demanding to be lied to. There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.”

If you apply Shirky’s commentary to those still clinging to the tried-and-true print journalism business model, you would say they are have already passed denial and are situated somewhere between anger and bargaining with depression and acceptance still to come. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_K%C3%BCbler-Ross

Some of the bargainers will even point to Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion purchase of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones news service in 2007 as an example that validates that the old business model lives on. Looking more closely, even this acquisition confirms that digital ones and zeroes are changing Journalism forever. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Murdoch

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Murdoch bought the globe’s largest newspaper, the industry’s most valued brand and with it, a record 1-million-plus paid Internet subscribers. He also acquired the publication most closely connected with the 95 million Americans constituting the “Investor Class” (and millions more international investors). The impressive growth in day traders and retail investors largely resulted from the invention of the Internet, the availability of online digital investing tools and the dot.com euphoria. Murdoch bought a brand. He bought an Internet savvy audience. And he tapped into the Investor class. He did not buy a printing press and an antiquated business model.

“Society doesn’t need newspapers,” Shirky concluded. “What we need is Journalism…When we shift our attention from ‘save newspapers’ to ‘save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.” And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.”

So what works today? If you look at Journalism through a supply-and-demand prism, you can safely conclude that the demand for fair, complete and objective information is there and quite possibly has never been greater. The question comes down on one of supply; exactly how will this supply be provided to the public?

One answer comes in the form of 24-7-365 news networks, such as CNN, Fox News, BBC and others that can instantaneously cover any flash point in the world.  There is no such thing as the first edition “going to bed at 11 pm.” Another related response comes in the form of specialized around-the-clock broadcast networks, such as CNBC for global financial news, ESPN for sports, E for the Entertainment business, VH1 for music and the list is almost endless.

Some contended that the golden age of radio ended with the proliferation of television in the 1950s and 1960s. Whatever happened to these social critics? Radio is enjoying a renaissance, particularly when you consider that sociological impact of longer commute patterns and the almost kinship between motorists/public transportation riders and their “drive-time” companions.

The Internet has served as the backdrop for a growing array of bloggers, some of them written by very serious journalists weighing-in conclusively on politics, government, business, sports, entertainment and the environment. Their names are famous within their appointed disciplines such as the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, RedState, The TMZ, Gizmodo, RealClearPolitics, TechCrunch and the Silicon Valley Watcher.

Social media is still in its infancy as LinkedIn debuted in 2003, Facebook, 2004 and Twitter, 2006. Imitators or pioneers with brand new approaches and business plans will inevitably follow. The net result is that the average citizen has an unprecedented ability to self publish. If you don’t believe this contention, then just ask Dan Rather who “retired” as a result of bloggers and the 2004 Rathergate controversy.

The future of Journalism does not just rely on machines that are either plugged into a wall or are battery-powered handheld devices, albeit the trend toward receiving our content electronically – radio, television, PC, hand-held – grows with every passing day.

Satisfying the insatiable and growing public demand for news and information lies with professionals who in the words of another NYU Professor, Jay Rosen, have the authority to say, “I’m there, you’re not, let me tell you about it.”

The “I’m there” reporter can be stationed next to the flood-lit portico at the White House, against the backdrop of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, at centre court at Wimbledon or an average citizen holding a video camera as a BART officer is shooting Oscar Grant on New Year’s night at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California.Train Station Shooting

As a result of the effects of Moore’s Law, and not Gutenberg’s printing press, we can all be there. Potentially we can all tell the story. Knowledge is power, and we need this power to go about our daily lives and to be better informed and more productive citizens.

Regardless of the business model, the principles outlined by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in “Elements of Journalism” still apply. The public needs and expects reports that are dependable, verifiable, measurable and transparent. “Journalism is story telling with a purpose.”

Whether that purposeful story is told via an outdated printing press or via social media is really irrelevant, except to those desperately clinging to the old way of doing business. What is more important is fulfilling the public’s need for accurate information, being there and transmitting the news…most likely by means of 21st Century innovation and a new business model.

Very few things drive me as crazy as elitist reporters interviewing elitist reporters. Sorry you are not the news and you don’t even remotely qualify as genuine news makers.

So how do I feel about the undeniable trend toward open warfare between not only media organizations, but even some of their more recognizable personalities? Is it real? Is it just a game to sell (the few remaining) newspapers, win the November sweeps, or gain readership or viewership?

And more to the point: Is this just another sign of the loss of civility in our society?

Probably all of the above.

A vivid example was the open declaration of war by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart on CNBC about a year ago that is still a hit on YouTube. Stewart with the subtlety of a rattlesnake charged that the financial news network was in bed with the Wall Street deal makers, short sellers, at the expense of hard-working Americans taking a long-term investing approach with their 401Ks and IRAs. The confrontation came down to an explicative-filled face-to-face encounter between Stewart and “Mad Money” Jim Cramer in which Cramer was blown up by Stewart’s road-side bombs. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-12-2009/jim-cramer-extended-interview-pt–3

Please don’t tell me that Stewart is just a comedian. Sure.  I am still mystified as to why Cramer accepted Comedy Central’s invitation to an Iraq or Vietnam-style ambush. General Custer had a better chance against Sitting Bull at Little Big Horn.

A more contemporary example is the open sparring between MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right. The titular heads of these networks are Keith Olbermann of MSNBC (suspended for two days for violating NBC’s policy for making campaign contributions to Democrats…all of two days) and Bill O’Reilly at Fox.

Scoring at home was Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News who stated categorically: “To some extent, each outlet is a partisan noise machine with a narrow view of the landscape. The other cable news outlets are either not nakedly partisan or too small to be considered. It is total war between MSNBC and Fox.” http://www.philly.com/dailynews/local/20101104_Stu_Bykofsky__Olbermann_fair__O_Reilly_balanced__What_we_found.html?viewAll=y&c=y

Bykofsky offered the following conclusion about the guest lists for the two hosts and their respective shows during the week before the election:  “The O’Reilly Factor” welcomed 20 guests from the right, 11 from the left and seven who were neutral. Left and neutral voices combined almost equaled those from the right.

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” had 20 guests from the left, two neutral and not a single voice (Bykofsky’s emphasis) from the right. Zero voices of dissent.”

Having said that, there is plenty of dissent coming O’Reilly’s way in the form of…you guessed it a columnist from a major publication, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/09/AR2010110905611.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

O’Reilly took issue by a post-election night column by Milbank that complained that “Fair and Balanced” Fox featured only one liberal to comment when the returns were pouring in last Tuesday, pollster Douglas Schoen. To be fair and balanced, there were other liberal commentators on Fox that night.

“Does Sharia law say we can behead Dana Milbank?” O’ Reilly asked in reaction to Milbank’s column, “That was a joke.”

Milbank, who wasted little time reminding his readers that he was both an “American and a Jew” (Why not invoke the specter of the Holocaust?) responded by writing: “Hilarious! Decapitation jokes just slay me, and this one had all the more hilarity because the topic of journalist beheadings brings to mind my late friend and colleague Danny Pearl, who replaced me in the Wall Street Journal’s London bureau and later was murdered in Pakistan by people who thought Sharia justified it.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia

Taking full advantage of his ability to offer the last word on this matter (at least for now), Milbank wrote: “Let’s drop the thuggish tactics – before more people get hurt.”

Here’s another thought: Why don’t we just chill a little and contemplate the words “decency,” “integrity” “civility” and “respect.”

Wikipedia defines the term “Ivory Tower” in the following manner:

“The term Ivory Tower originates in the Biblical Song of Solomon (7,4), and was later used as an epithet for Mary. “From the 19th century it has been used to designate a world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life. As such, it usually carries pejorative connotations of a willful disconnect from the everyday world; esoteric, over-specialized, or even useless research; and academic elitism, if not outright condescension. In American English usage it is a shorthand for academia or the university, particularly departments of the humanities.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_Tower

In short, the term “Ivory Tower” (and by extension those who reside there pontificate and bloviate to the gathering masses below) is not a positive and in fact it can seen as a repudiation and rejection of the academic world.

So what am I getting to, and why should you even care?

The point is that I have left the so-called “real world” for the perceived ivory-tower academic world. As I walk to-and-from University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication classrooms http://jcomm.uoregon.edu/ for lectures and discussions, I have been wondering whether I am also guilty of living in my very own ivory tower.

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How’s that and what the heck is the reverse ivory tower effect?

It is very easy for someone who spent nearly two decades in California’s Silicon Valley to think that all of the earth’s innovation resides between Fremont on the East and Palo Alto to the West (okay a few nearby places as well). Undoubtedly, the greatest concentration of engineering talent (at least in the United States) is concentrated right there. So do they rule the roost when it comes to devising the next killer app and the next destructive technology? If you ask them, they would be more than happy to respond in the affirmative.

Years before that, I worked at another Ivory Tower, this one with a dome on top of it. As laughable as it may seem to some, there are those in Sacramento (yes, the capitol of the biggest state in the union) that seriously believe the sun, moon, stars and asteroids revolve around this town that would have little reason for being other than it is the state capitol. And if you think the folks in Sacramento have an Ivory Tower complex, then let’s not even contemplate Washington, D.C. even though many are wondering out loud whether government is permanently Balkanized and broken.

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Did I bring my own personal ivory tower by way of Silicon Valley and Sacramento (and other places) to the academic world? Do I think that just based upon my years and years of experience that I can’t learn anything new?

Harry S. Truman said that he distrusted “experts” because if they learned something they wouldn’t be an expert any longer.

One very reassuring event occurred this week in J350 “Principles of Public Relations” (please do not be the next person to ask me if there are really ‘principles’ in ‘public relations’) Professor Kelli Matthews http://www.linkedin.com/in/kellimatthews was teaching almost 100 undergraduates how to write cover letters and resumes, so they could get their careers off the ground. That doesn’t sound like an ivory tower approach to me. In fact, it sounds very practical and incredibly useful in the face of a very bleak employment picture.

Sure beats answering a Silicon Valley engineer’s question about whether the Wall Street Journal would be interested in covering PCI (Peripheral Computer Interconnect) Express. The answer would be “no.”

Pass the ivory tower.

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