Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Newspaper Death Watch

The Newspaper Death Watch
Tumultuous Week Highlights Industry's Many Challenges

By Nat Ives

Published: April 28, 2008
First in a series.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- By now you know the story: The business of newspapers is in decline.

It's a terminal decline, if you believe experts such as Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California at Annenberg. His research suggests traditional media in general must learn to shrink but newspapers in particular are a special case. "When an offline reader of a paper dies, he or she is not being replaced by a new reader," he said. "How much time do they have? We think they have 20 to 25 years."

Newspaper Death Watch
Photo illustration: John Kuczala

Newspapers' overall ad revenue has been falling, down to $42.2 billion last year from $48.7 billion at the millennium.

From DataCenter:
Newspaper Circulation Ranking Index
Of course, newspaper owners aren't going to just give up and wait -- and that's why Ad Age is launching this series about the 1,437 dailies still working hard in the U.S. It'll look at the thought leaders in the industry, their attempts to leave the past -- and even formats -- behind and their strategies for finding new business models.

But let's start with the industry's travails, because the news last week was full of them.

Tough Times
The New York Times Co. elected its first outside directors since going public in 1967, capitulating to a pair of hedgefund shareholders demanding divestitures and a quicker turn toward digital. The first mass newsroom layoffs for its flagship paper bore down after buyouts found too few takers. And Moody's Investors Service cut its ratings on the company two notches -- to its lowest investment grade.

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch neared a deal to buy Long Island's Newsday from Tribune Co., a company that CEO and maybe-savior Sam Zell had said he could at least hold together.

And Mr. Murdoch's New York Post reduced its height by an inch and a half, following the Times and The Wall Street Journal and newspapers across the country in literally shrinking from costs.

These were just the concrete results of trends that are gradually but relentlessly weakening newspapers as we know them. Trends such as the migration of classifieds, worth 40% of newspapers' ad revenue as recently as 2000, to the internet, which better organizes and offers them to consumers.

Last year classifieds mustered $14.2 billion for newspapers -- which sounds like a lot until you see that's 16.5% less than the year before. That's according to statistics from an industry trade group, the Newspaper Association of America.

Revenue down
Newspapers' overall ad revenue has been falling too, of course, to $42.2 billion last year from $48.7 billion at the millennium.

Their paid week-day circulation, which has been beset by 24-hour news on cable and online, has crumbled to 45.4 million in 2006 from a peak of 63.1 million in 1973. That's a 28% plunge.

Newspaper Death Watch chart

Newspapers' share of ad spending since 1940
Efforts to save newsroom jobs amid the ebbing support have collided with parallel -- but ultimately more powerful -- efforts to protect profits. So the industry has cut at least 3,600 positions this decade, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Many newspapers have shut down entirely.The country has lost 441 dailies since 1940 -- including 43 since 2000.

But don't look for young generations to miss, much less save, what the industry is losing. They're busy reading headlines delivered to their phones and surfing their friends' status updates on Facebook. Newspapers may well be suffering the effects, in the words of the Project for Excellence in Journalism last month, of a "decoupling of news and advertising."

The newest chapter arrives today with the industry's latest circulation report, which insiders expected to show another 2.5% weekday decline in the best case -- and a 3.5% drop in the worst. The story for the beloved Sunday paper? Darker still.

'No solution'
"There is no solution, given the advances of digital marketing and the changes in digital reading, that is going to save the newspaper industry as it is," said Ken Doctor, an industry veteran now serving as a media analyst for OutSell, the research and advisory firm. "There's an acknowledgement that they've been resistant to make," he said. "The industry as it has been is not coming back. It's going to be a radically different industry, especially for content creation and sales."

This process is not reversible, said Lauren Rich Fine, a former Merrill Lynch newspaper analyst now serving as a practitioner in residence at Kent State University's College of Communication and Information. "I wouldn't count on this industry becoming that profitable again," she said. "Anybody who thinks it's going back to the way it was is insane."

The newspaper industry, that is, must say goodbye to the double-digit profit margins that made it the darling of Wall Street, to its old unsurpassed authority, to its central place in American conversation and commerce.

There's already a great deal of innovating under way. Just last week, the eight biggest newspapers in Ohio began sharing articles with each other. The New York Times website introduced yet another ad unit to increase its digital revenue further. The young Lakewood (Ohio) Observer "newspaper" is publishing online every day -- but going to print, where its ad revenue resides, only every two weeks. The Wall Street Journal is introducing a glossy magazine inside its newsprint pages. And one of the new-era owners, Brian Tierney in Philadelphia, has rooted out new business opportunities, such as selling sponsorship of the Inquirer's TV-guide booklet to cable giant Comcast.

Pain to come
"Whether it's that pain is a great motivator or what, I don't know," said John Kimball, senior VP and chief marketing officer at the Newspaper Association of America. "But the point is that there are a lot of things that newspapers are doing -- not only to enhance the new product lines they have in the niche publications and those sorts of things, but also to find new ways to drive revenue into the core product in ways that you know we might not have seen four to five years ago."

But setting priorities will keep getting more painful, because most of these innovations just won't return newsroom budgets to their old sizes. Wringing sponsorship dollars from TV listings is smart, but that only works until TV listings finish following classifieds and stock tables into better digital venues.

Newspaper websites are growing fast, but there's no certainty that online advertising will ever match the rates achieved by newspaper ads in print. Even at The New York Times Co., whose NYTimes.com gets more unique visitors than any other paper's site, print revenue still made up 90% of last year's total. What's more, its online revenue growth slowed to 11.6% in the first quarter from 21.6% in the first quarter of 2007.

"To save a few jobs and to pop up a profit percentage point here or there, there are all kinds of innovations that are helpful," said Mr. Doctor, the analyst. "But they won't turn around the essential problem."

~ ~ ~
Can anyone save newspapers? Not many of the papers your parents knew. But a bunch of players you wouldn't bet against -- from Rupert Murdoch and Sam Zell to Yahoo and Google -- see bright futures of various forms for these institutions. In the next installment of this series, Nat Ives visits Los Angeles Times Publisher David Hiller to learn about positioning his paper for the future -- even as his new boss, Mr. Zell, finds conditions quickly worsening.

PETA kills 85% of all animals it rescues

PETA and Euthanasia

Even among animal lovers, killing unwanted pets is a divisive issue.
Jeneen Interlandi
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 12:43 PM ET Apr 28, 2008

Nearly a decade later, Daphna Nachminovitch still remembers the rerelease of the Disney classic "101 Dalmatians" and the tragedy that followed. First there was a spike in sales of the famous spotted breed. Then, in the months that followed, shelters took in hundreds of Dalmatians from disillusioned pet owners around the country. "As soon as the puppies outlived their cuteness and the kids didn't want to scoop the poop anymore, the dogs were dumped in shelters," says Nachminovitch, vice president of cruelty investigations for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). "Many of them had to be euthanized, because there was simply no place for them to go."

But what many animal lovers don't realize is that PETA itself may have put down some of those unwanted Dalmatians. The organization has practiced euthanasia for years. Since 1998 PETA has killed more than 17,000 animals, nearly 85 percent of all those it has rescued. Dalmatians may no longer be the breed of the day, but the problem of unwanted and abandoned pets is as urgent as ever. Shelters around the country kill 4 million animals every year; by some estimates, more than 80 percent of them are healthy. In recent years those grim statistics have split the animal rights community. Ironically, PETA has emerged as a strong proponent of euthanasia. (The group is better known for its public condemnations of everyone from fashion designer Donna Karan for her use of fur to the National Cancer Institute for its animal research.) In defense of its policy PETA has insisted that euthanasia is a necessary evil in a world full of unwanted pets. But while the group has some well-known allies, including the Humane Society of the United States, a growing number of animal rights activists claim to have found a better, more humane way.

"Over-population is a myth," says attorney Nathan Winograd, whose recent book "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America"" chronicles the rise of the no-kill shelter movement. "With better outreach and public relations, we can find homes for virtually all of the healthy animals we are now killing." As proof he points to a string of communities across the country whose shelters have managed to stop euthanizing all but the sickest animals. Bonney Brown, executive director of the Nevada Humane Society, says that in 2007, the first year her group went "no-kill," her shelters managed to save 90 percent of the 8,000 animals they took in. Among other strategies, the organization ramped up its volunteer force, from 30 to 1,700, expanded its hours so that people could come in after work and engaged in extensive media outreach.

"On balance, people love animals," says Brown, pointing out that animal causes are one of the fastest-growing segments of American philanthropy. "The biggest challenge has been convincing them to trust their local shelters. And with a little initiative we are finally starting to do that."

Shelters in Virginia, New York and San Francisco report successes similar to Nevada's, and communities in more than a dozen states have announced no-kill goals and added legislative mandates to their agenda. King County, Wash., passed a law requiring area shelters to achieve an 85 percent save rate by 2009. San Antonio, Texas, is aiming for zero kills by 2012. And Ivan City, Utah, saved 97 percent of its shelter animals beginning in 2006 when the animal control ordinances were rewritten to prohibit the euthanasia of healthy animals.

Those successes have not persuaded PETA or its allies. The group argues that in order to maintain their no-kill status these facilities simply turn away animals that are unlikely to be adopted, often leaving them to fates worse than death. "No one hates it more than we do," says Nachminovitch. "But we would rather offer these animals a painless death than have them tortured, starved or sold for research." PETA isn't the only group to take that stance. "No-kill is a noble goal," says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "But the sheer number of animals make it almost unachievable."

Instead of zero kills, PETA claims to be shooting for zero births. "Focusing on the animals that come into shelters is like emptying a river with a teaspoon," says Nachminovitch. "By investing in spay and neuter programs, which are where a lot of our resources go, we can stop unwanted births and prevent four times as much suffering."

But Brown and others insist they have achieved no-kill without turning animals away, and on a fraction of PETA's $30 million budget. "With the resources at their disposal, PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. could become no-kill in no time," Winograd says. "Instead they have become leading killers of cats and dogs, and the animal-loving public unwittingly foots the bill through taxes and donations."
URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/134549

Al Gore's global warming debunked – by kids!


Al Gore's global warming debunked – by kids!
Winners announced in 'The Sky's Not Falling' video-essay contest
Posted: April 26, 2008
2:00 pm Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily


Al Gore's global warming philosophy has been debunked by many scientists and studies, and now it has met the same fate at the hands of children, in "The Sky's Not Falling" video/essay contest, sponsored by WND Books, formerly World Ahead Media.

The contest was launched early in 2008 and was designed to highlight the absurdities, untruths and downright lies that children are being taught daily about "climate change" in public school.

Russell Young, a Minnesota writer who captured first place in the essay competition, explained the importance of using celebrities such as Gore and the medium of movies to enhance the educational experience for students.

(Story continues below)

"Here are just a few other films schools might use for their teaching curriculums. 'The Polar Express' could be used for instruction on transportation systems. 'Borat' is a perfect teaching tool for understanding how the Democratic Party uses focus groups. 'Alien,' could be used to teach students about anatomy and homeland security, all at the same time," he wrote.

"'Far fetched,' you say. Maybe, but 'Moby Dick' taught me all I ever needed to know about whales, and I'm a marine biologist," he said.

"Kids across America are being victimized by global warming hysteria," according to Holly Fretwell, author of The Sky’s Not Falling: Why It’s OK to Chill About Global Warming.

"I wanted to know what kids just like mine are hearing in their classrooms," Fretwell said. "Running a contest was a fun way to go about it."

"All of us, and our children in particular, are being confronted daily with half-truths and falsehoods about global warming," noted Fretwell. "It's just plain wrong."

She said that was or inspiration for the book in the first place.

"I want kids to get excited about science and to understand that it’s human ingenuity and a can-do spirit, not government sanctions, that will lead us to a bright environmental future. I want kids to learn how to become critical thinkers," she said.

Contest winners will receive a cash prize, a copy of "The Great Global Warming Swindle" DVD courtesy of junkscience.com, and copies of "The Sky's Not Falling" for their local school library and their kids' science classroom.

In the video competition, the DiMarias from South Carolina submitted the winning entry, which is available through this link, or by watching the following:

In second place in the video competition was Warren Meyer of Arizona, whose winner can be seen at this link, or by watching the following"

The first-place essay is titled "Al Gore Causes Global Warming in School Aged Brains" and is by Russell Young, of Minnesota:

If Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth," is suitable for teaching about climatology, then Alfred Hitchcock's film the "The Birds," is a good candidate for teaching ornithology.

"Wait a moment," you say. What does a horror film which has been characterized as "extremely disturbing," where hoards of normally skittish, but peaceable birds, inexplicably attack and terrorize humans, have to teach our children about science? The answer, of course is that it could be used to anesthetize them to the frightening scenarios presented in Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."

It's hard to decide which would be worse: frightening young students with scripted terror from a horror master, or frightening students with scripted propaganda from an environmental hypocrite. But think of the box office draw potential by making a double header out of these two movies. Plus, each film is steeped with enough gut wrenching scenes to keep even the most jaded students interested, making them a perfect antidote to typically boring science fare.

In "The Birds," one scene shows children helplessly driven to terrified flight as birds relentlessly descend upon them. A particularly graphic moment depicts a bird tearing at the face of a screaming boy of about 8 or 9 years of age. Such viewing should make an indelible impression upon the minds of our youth as to the importance of not interfering with nature.

In Gore's film we are treated to equally stomach turning cinematography as the director treats us to numerous close-ups of Gore, thus making it clear how serious minded he is about the environment. We know he is the man who can make a change because of the repeated shots showing adoring masses who seemingly follow him around the globe. Let's just hope they don’t all do it on their own personal jets.

All of this, however, got me to thinking. Maybe schools could begin to utilize more Hollywood offerings. Think about it. For only the cost of a Blockbuster rental our students minds could be opened up to myriad realms.

Here are just a few other films schools might use for their teaching curriculums. "The Polar Express" could be used for instruction on transportation systems. "Borat" is a perfect teaching tool for understanding how the Democratic Party uses focus groups. "Alien," could be used to teach students about anatomy and homeland security, all at the same time.

"Far fetched," you say. Maybe, but "Moby Dick" taught me all I ever needed to know about whales, and I'm a marine biologist.

The second-place essay is titled "Global Warming Basics For Beginners," and is by Dan Nagasaki of California:

The earth has had huge climate shifts with extreme warmth and extreme cold (remember reading about the ice age?) long before man could have possibly had any impact on the earth's climate. If man didn't exist on earth, these great climate shifts would still occur. There are two major questions regarding global warming. First, are we really in a long-term global warming trend and second, is man primarily responsible for this? The first may be true, but the second doesn't appear to be true.

If you ask an average person who is concerned about the environment to name the major factors affecting global warming, he'll probably fail to mention the two most important factors. First is the sun, which is actually quite volatile. Even small changes on the sun affect our climate. So, the most important factor affecting global warming, the sun, is not affected by anything mankind does.

In fact, other planets in our solar system are also getting warmer. Second is water vapor, which forms the cloud cover.

After the sun and water vapor come other, much less significant factors such as sulfur dioxide, methane, and carbon dioxide (CO2). To put this even further in perspective, more sulfur dioxide is spewed out through volcanoes and earth vents than by industrialization. Methane is produced by plant-eating animals, including man, so if you really want to make a serious dent in methane production, you need to resign yourself to the mass extinction of most plant-eating animals. As for CO2, which makes up less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the earth's atmosphere (Nitrogen and oxygen make up 99 percent of the earth's atmosphere), the average person, merely by existing, produces more CO2 than the average automobile. Even with the tremendous increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 100 years, the average temperature of the earth has increased about 1 degree C, with most of that temperature increase occurring prior to the rapid increase in CO2 levels.

Many environmentalists believe that protecting the environment means keeping certain environmental conditions exactly the same, but the earth and its ecosystem are constantly evolving. The earth naturally goes through periods of warming and cooling, and some species die out, while others are created. And again – to add some perspective – some changes, such as CO2 increases and global warming, have some beneficial effects, such as increased crop yields and vegetation.

The third-place essay is titled "A Christmas Dinner Conversation" and is by Jim Lion of California:

At a recent Christmas dinner, I had a conversation with my niece, 16 and very smart, who just got into the University of Pennsylvania on early decision. When I showed her how rising global temperatures may have caused the increase in CO2 gases, rather than the opposite Algorism (i.e. that rising CO2 has caused Global Warming) she said, "But that doesn't make any sense."

She's a smart girl. She can figure things out. The reason she thought my assertion made no sense is simple. It runs counter to the doctrine she has heard repeated over and over again ad nauseum, and perpetuated without question or remorse by the mainstream media.

I'll tell you what I told her that night at dinner.

If you look at the graph that Al Gore used in his Oscar-winning movie "An Inconvenient Truth," something emerges decidedly inconvenient to Al Gore's thesis of man-made global warming.

At first, Al Gore appears to get it right. The graph shows a precise correlation between changes in global temperature and changes in atmospheric CO2 over thousands of years. This suggests that when carbon dioxide emissions increase, a rise in global temperatures will result. However, if you take a closer look, the data show an 800 year gap between the changes in global temperature and the changes in atmospheric CO2. 800 years! What's more, CO2 is a trailing indicator, which means, based on the Goracle's own data, that today's current rise in atmospheric CO2 was actually caused by the Medieval Warming Period that occurred 800 years ago!

These facts have not been lost on many reputable scientists, who are busy looking for ways to prove how a rise in global temperature 800 years ago could have percolated down through the ocean, and then rose to the surface, causing the oceans to release vast quantities of CO2. If the process took 800 years in would explain the facts.

Imagine that. An explanation that matches the facts.

It seems to me Al Gore should get out of the pseudo-science business, and go back into theology, which he studied at Vanderbilt University, since it appears that he wants to alter the doctrine of Original Sin, making people feel guilty every time they exhale, spewing harmful CO2 into the atmosphere.

Mr. Gore may change his mind when he learns about these important facts, but don't hold your breath.

"As a parent of two grade-schoolers and a natural resources policy expert, I've heard some whoppers about global warming," says author Holly Fretwell, whose book, "The Sky's Not Falling! Why It's OK to Chill about Global Warming," is specifically designed to set the record straight. "If you're as tired as I am of the environmental bill of goods our kids are being handed at school, now's your chance to tell the world!"

In her book, Prof. Fretwell shows kids 9-12 that it's human ingenuity and adaptability – not a mindless fear of change – that are most likely to guarantee the Earth a healthy future. Fretwell brings genuine educational credentials and practical experience to the environmental debate, giving kids the straight scoop about global warming – and the potentially devastating human and economic consequences of politically motivated responses to it.

Can it really be that human innovation and creativity, combined with individual choice, will yield better environmental outcomes than the draconian, self-congratulatory approaches advocated by Al Gore and his Hollywood friends? Yes!

Indeed, in her book, Fretwell gets kids excited about science and economics, and shows it's human ingenuity combined with an "enviropreneurial" spirit that will lead America to a bright environmental future, not government programs controlled by giant, growth-killing bureaucracies.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chicago’s Daley Issues Combat Rifles to Beat Cops

Chicago’s Daley Issues Combat Rifles to Beat Cops

Kurt Nimmo
April 26, 2008

It is so transparent as to almost be a joke. “Chicago police officers will be armed with combat rifles to better rival the firepower of street gangs, police Superintendent Jody Weis has announced,” reports the Fort Mill Times. “Weis unveiled the plan to equip and train the department’s 13,500 officers with M4 carbines on Friday.” No word on what version of the M4 Jody Weis will hand out. The M4 is basically an M16. It comes in semi-automatic with a three-round burst and full auto. It is the preferred weapon of the U.S. Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs.

Is there a reason for cops to have such awesome firepower?

“The weapons of criminals are getting bigger and bigger,” averred Chicago mayor Richard Daley, so he gave a nod to issuing the M4s. Interesting because Daley is an avowed opponent of the Second Amendment. But only for the commoners. Cops get military weapons to go along with their black Star Wars storm trooper uniforms.

At a news conference Saturday, Daley said the M4 carbines “will be seldom used” and while he is an advocate of gun control, the decision to equip officers with the rifles was “not difficult.”

No, of course not. Because there are gangsters in the street selling crack provided by the Cocaine Import Agency, also known as the CIA. If the CIA and the bankster money launderers on Wall Street were divested of this immensely profitable business and drug possession was decriminalized, there would be scant few gang bangers running around with micro Uzis.

But never mind. Chicago’s violent streets are a perfect excuse to further militarize the cops. Daley will replace every cop’s handgun with a brand spanking new M4.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Daley pointed out that the Illinois State Police, Chicago SWAT units and other police departments around the country already carry high-powered assault weapons. He said the weapons will better match the Chicago police officers against criminals with sophisticated weapons, such as high-powered assault rifles.

SWAT units, though, are usually not patrolling the neighborhood.

Soon enough, residents will get accustomed to cops armed to the teeth like Marines in Baghdad. But then that’s the point, to send a message to the civilians: you now live in an authoritarian police state, Officer Friendly is now G.I. Joe. In fact, increasingly, Officer Not So Friendly did five “stop loss” tours in Iraq and is violently insane. Give him an M4 and he will think he’s back in Iraq.

It’s something to think about the next time you are pulled over and the cop comes to your window with an assault weapon. It’s not a good idea to recite the Fourth Amendment to a guy who was indoctrinated by the government in killing people and wrecking things.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stop Procrastinating

And now, on to the 50 tips that can help you to get more done and greatly increase your productivity.

50. Stay focused.

49. Divide your time for each task in hand.

48. Analyze the outcome of your effort and decide accordingly how much time you need to spend.

47. Take a break.

46. Spend time with your loved ones.

45. Share ideas with others.

44. Keep your home office out of sight from your bedroom.

43. Invest in comfortable workspace furniture.

42. Meditate.

41. Are you a day person or a night person? Plan accordingly.

40. Work slowly but steadily.

39. Ask for help.

38. De-clutter your workspace.

37. Back up your data.

36. Keep a wrist massager next to the computer.

35. Check your email not more than twice a day.

34. Exercise.

33. Use the morning air or evening breeze to cool off your mind.

32. Set goals, not a goal.

31. Have everything you need ready.

30. Have pens and paper available.

29. Shut the door to block distraction.

28. Set limits for yourself.

27. Plan a to-do list for each day.

26. Read books on subjects that interest you.

25. Walk, do not run, with your project.

24. Stay informed on current news.

23. Think how you can change your life for the better.

22. Find others that share similar interest to work with you.

21. Do something else every 30 to 40 minutes.

20. Take a nice warm bath.

19. Use a table lamp instead of overhead lighting.

18. Do not take phone calls, unless they are related to that particular project.

17. Divide your time between family and projects.

16. Give more time to family.

15. Keep it cool.

14. Don’t panic.

13. Find what others have done in related fields.

12. Ask yourself questions -- lots of them.

11. Let everybody at home know when you will be working.

10. Do not stress.

9. Love what you are doing.

8. Be passionate about what you are doing.

7. Give yourself credit.

6. Look in the mirror and compliment yourself.

5. Build confidence in yourself.

4. Keep a positive attitude.

3. Forget about what others are doing, and do it your way.

2. Productivity lies within you.

1. Read, learn, ask, and apply.

* Lifehack.org January 17, 2008