There’s Hope for Me Yet

According to a survey by QVC:

“Women are at their attractive best when they are 31— that’s the precise age when … they are considered most beautiful.”

The article goes on to say this is because women in their 30s are more confident and stylish than younger women. Also, “as they get older, they care less about what others think of the way they look” and “they shed their insecurities and feel prettier.”

Hmmm. I like the idea that I may not have reached my peak, that not only have I not started to decline in the looks department but I’m quite possibly still on the upswing (at least for another five months or so).

Along those lines, I’m hoping to read (soon) Beth Moore’s book, “So Long Insecurity.” It came highly recommended by a church friend as a book that will change your life. I could use a little life change.

A “Where were you when …?” event?

I saw someone tweet this yesterday (for those of you not familiar with Twitter, a tweet is a twitter post)”

“Where were you when Michael Jackson died? … Welcome to the 9/11 of pop culture”

Whether I agree that his death has that level of significance or not, it’s an interesting question for me to think about because  … where was I when Michael Jackson died? I was in my car on the way to pick up the kids from daycare and heard just a snippit of a radio news report with the words “Michael,” “Jackson” and “died,” although not necessarily in that order (well, I guess “Michael” and “Jackson” were, but anyways).

So what did I do? I’m a breaking news junkie and I needed to know more, but I was in the car and 45 minutes from being home. The radio had gone back to playing music. I had my handy dandy iPhone but which app should I use? The AP Mobile News app wouldn’t have breaking news like that. Hmm. I could google and maybe find something. But there had to be a better way!

Twitter. I turned to Twitter for the latest updates, and I wasn’t alone, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal:

“We saw an instant doubling of tweets per second the moment the story broke,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told the New York Times. He added that the volume of Jackson-related messages hit 5,000 per minute at its peak.

“This particular news about the passing of such a global icon is the biggest jump in tweets per second since the U.S. presidential election,” Stone told the paper.

The WSJ article goes on to say that Internet traffic on news sites doubled as the news was breaking at around 5:30 p.m. EDT, which was the exact time that I was leaving work and driving to get the kids. So, yeah, within 10 minutes of that I was up-to-speed on the news and following the Twitter updates. I even posted the following tweets

MJ tweets

After I got home I clicked over to Facebook to see if people were doing the same kind of thing, and folks were certainly talking about it but they were beyond sharing the news and were reacting to it with Facebook statuses like “was madly in love with Michael Jackson as a kid. Sad to hear he’s passed away.” and “Oh Michael…what will we do without you!!” I even responded to one of those comments about a childhood memory of my pink fringed Breakdance shirt (it was quite the cool shirt!).

The news cycle on this story just blows my mind, that within minutes the news was around the world, and that we all turned to each other to find out about it, not “the news.”

So maybe it’s not a bad question after all — Where you when Michael Jackson died and how did you find out about it, not because it’s of the same magnitude of 9/11, but because in thinking about it you just might realize just how much times really have changed.

And along those lines, another thought-provoking tweet from late yesterday

At dinner … talking twitter breaking news. Said second coming will hash with #risen

Media Coverage of the First Day of School

There are some good questions and some interesting responses posted here on CJR’s discussion about the media’s coverage of the first day at a new school for the first-daughters-to-be.

I think the media certainly had the right to be there, and if they chose not to because they thought it was better for the girls or because they had other news to report, then that’s their right too. I don’t think the Today show should be penalized for not covering it. I do think it was a little juvenile of them to say “We’re here at the school before they get here to say we’re going to leave before they get here.” The story could have been reported without the live feed from the school and been just as useful and to the point.

Some of the commenters make the point that Obama showcased his children during the campaign so that makes it OK for the media to showcase them now. And I agree. He’s chosen to be in a public position and thus made that choice for his  family too. As previously stated, the media has the right to do report on or highlight the president’s family and children. But having the right do something and being required or expected to do something aren’t the same. The media has the responsibility of providing news to its viewers/readers. Was it news that the president-elect’s daughters were starting their new school? Sure. Was it worth noting on the national news programs? Yes. But I don’t think it was worth live feeds and paparazzi-like treatment.

Overall, I think the news agencies handled it well, even if they didn’t all do the same thing. In fact, it’s great they didn’t all do the same thing! Who wants cookie-cutter news? (Not I.) I particularly thought ABC’s Charlie Gibson added a nice human side to the story with his own personal tale about his first day at the same school.

GIBSON: Today was their first day in a new school. Sidwell Friends, a private Quaker school….Don’t we all remember our first days in a new school? I am a Sidwell graduate, started in seventh grade, went through high school. My first day, many years ago, but you remember every detail of something like that. Would anybody talk to me at lunch? The teacher gave us a mountain of homework, I couldn’t finish it all. I remember the first person who did talk to me, and the girl across the aisle in home room didn’t talk to me. Hopefully the president’s daughters will have an easier transition.


I like Bush ok; I voted for him twice. But even a Bush supporter can admit that he said some pretty funny things in the last 8 years.  Some of my LOL favorites from this Yahoo News round-up:

“I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.” — June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing.

“The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-making place.” — May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Ariz.

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” — Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defense spending bill.

How Much Are You Willing to Pay for News?

Columnist Brian Till says the salvation of newspapers is that people stop free-loading news and pay for it. I tend to agree. Newspapers spend money to produce the news; why should the news be free?

On a little bit of a tangent but one I think is relevant, let me explain my opinion that newspapers do not have an obligation to provide news nor to provide equal opportunity access to news. Newspapers are their own entity and can do whatever they want to do, public interest notwithstanding. Now before you journalist folks get all defensive, please note that I acknowledge that many newspapers (and writers and editors and publishers) subscribe to the higher calling of informing the people and being the government watch-dog, and some even go so far as to be an advocate for community issues (for me the latter is going too far and a possible misuse of “power,” but that is a discussion for another day.) I wanted to — and did — write for newspapers because I was so excited to tell people about the stuff going on around them that they otherwise may not know. Reading the newspaper had that affect on me and I wanted to pass that on to others.

But the newspaper industry is just like any other industry — it’s a business with expenses and revenue that must be balanced, and at the end of the day it has to make a business decision about what moves are best for its business. Certainly this must be balanced with its’ goal to inform and educate and make a difference, etc. but you can’t do one without the other. If your business dies (i.e. you can’t afford writers and newsprint) then how can you inform or educate or make a difference?

A decade ago newspaper Web sites required subscriptions, and I was right there with people who thought it should be free because I have a “right” to know the news. How can you charge me money to exercise one of my rights. But I was wrong. It is no one’s obligation to provide people with news except the organization that decides it wants to do so. Sure, the government has certain obligations to inform the people about what it is doing, and it may use a newspaper or television station or web site to do so. But a newspaper itself does not have that obligation unless it chooses to.

So if news isn’t a God-given right and it shouldn’t be free, how much should we pay for news? And how high a price would turn people away rather than lure them in? In the column referenced above, Till says “I’ve yet to find a member of my generation — as enthusiastic as many are about blogs and “new media” — who’d rather see the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times fail than cough up $100 for a subscription.” So $100? Well, as it turns out I currently pay $150 a year for a daily annual subscription to my local newspaper, so I’ve already met his $100 and raised him $50.

The big issue here is online news. One big newspaper can’t just decide today that it’s going to start charging for online access and successfully transform the entire industry. Readers will just go to another web site and get their news. As Till says, it would take collusion — newspapers plotting together in a great conspiracy to band together and take back their industry!

Till writes, “The news industry is in collapse; a critical piece of successful democracy is in jeopardy.” Are we willing to pay for what we consume and save this industry that (most of the time) serves us so well?

Long Live the Newspaper

As a former newspaper reporter who is saddened by the slow demise of the newspaper world as I knew it, the Editor & Publisher commentary “Post-Election Newspaper Sales: So I Guess Print Isn’t Dead!” actually gave me chill bumps and almost caused tears to well-up in my eyes, especially these closing grafs:

“… for one day, it was nice to know that the power of the printed word, if not the historic overtones and rich design, is not completely dead. For many of us, it never will be. And it never will be replaced by the Internet. No matter how high Web traffic goes, or how low print circulation declines.

No Web report can have the same intimacy, flair or old-fashioned style of a real hold-in-your hands, leaf-through-page-by-page, print newspaper.

And thanks to yesterday, a lot more people will have a lot more newspapers to look back through some day and remember when. Remember not only when voters first elected a black president. But also when the daily paper was still around.”

Will newspapers on real paper really cease to exist? All the predictions say yes. The Internet is taking over the world. While there will always be news, it may not always be printed on paper, they say. The author of this commentary said it could be just a matter of decades. What will we do then for souvenirs of historic events?

I don’t believe news printed on paper will ever completely go away, but it may very well be I’m an idealist or in denial. I just can’t imagine a world with no printed newspapers, no classified ads, no editorial pages, no crosswords or cryptoquotes or funny pages. No obituaries to clip and save? No wedding announcements? No school lunch menus to clip and hang on the fridge? No high school sports photos and stories to clip and tuck in your senior yearbook? It’s just not the same when you print these things out online. There’s just something about newsprint that’s nostalgic and special and comforting, like chicken soup when you’re sick. (Can you tell I love my newspapers?)

A newspaper is more than just “news.” It documents “the times.” I saved the local newspapers from each of the days that my sons were born not because of any major news event reported on those days, but because a newspaper captures a moment in time. Someday we can look back at those papers, and while the headlines will tell us what was going on in our city, state and country, we can also appreciate what life was like then, what clothing styles were “in”, how much things cost, and just what was important in that era.

I hope I never the see day when the last newspapers are printed. Of course if I do, though, I’ll be sure to pick up a couple of souvenir copies.

Native American Nike’s

nativeamericannike.jpgWhat a kind act: Nike has designed a shoe just for Native Americans and they’re selling them wholesale to tribal wellness programs and tribal schools exclusively for American Indians. Then they’re going to turn around and reinvest all the profits into health programs for Native Americans. (Apparently obesity and diabetes are big problems among the Native American population.)

Nike says their goal is to promote physical fitness and provide American Indians with a shoe that fits. Native Americans’ feet are larger and wider, and traditional shoe sizes don’t fit as well, if it all.

It’s nice to see a company care about something other than profits. Sure, they’re getting press coverage which may make people more likely to buy Nike which may equal more profits for them. But you don’t design a shoe for a specialized market, sell it cheap and then donate the profits right back to the cause just for name recognition. Especially if you’re Nike and everyone already knows your name. Here’s the full story from CNN Money.