Sunday, November 11, 2018

Why you probably hate the news media and some journalists

This blog post started out as an explanation to my friends and family in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, why their newspapers had become shadows of their former selves. Why their newspapers were so thin. Why news coverage was so shallow. Why they felt like they weren't getting their money's worth.

But really, we can't get there without first talking about where we were 30, 40, 50 years ago, in the Golden Age of media, before the internet.

To get up to the present, where most people say they do not trust the news media, we have to talk first about
  • The impact of cable news on news content and credibility
  • The impact of the internet on news content and credibility
  • And the impact of news media arrogance on credibility (but please, don't jump to the end; work with me on this). 

The Way It Was--Highly Profitable

Newspapers had more than 100% market penetration into the 1960s. That is, total circulation exceeded the number of households (detailed in How I Ran My Newspaper Monopoly.) Today total newspaper circulation represents less than one-tenth of the U.S. population.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

The benevolent virus that is saving the news media

This is from my other blog newsentrepreneurs.com

 The network effects that destroyed traditional news organizations are benefiting digital startups, which can grow virally and generate outsized impact in their communities. 

From Unimedliving
My teaching colleagues here are experts on the economics of the media industry, and we recently had a lively debate on how to reverse the financial crisis of journalism. The collapse of the industry's business model is endangering the institution of journalism-the Fourth Estate, a counterweight to power--by eliminating journalists and media coverage, especially for local media.


It's a question that was explored recently by Ken Doctor at Nieman Lab in his report, "Newspapers are shells of their former selves. So who’s going to build what comes next in local?"

Doctor details a number of initiatives by non-profit and for-profit organizations aimed at filling the gaps in local news coverage involving hundreds of media outlets. But using the standard industry metrics, it doesn't a appear to be sufficient to plug the gaps in the short term without significant changes in the way news media do business. Entire communities are losing news coverage of any kind, a pillar of democratic institutions.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

News coverage of Bridget Breiner being named new director of the Karlsruhe Ballet company

Metropol News
Bridget with Birgit Keil, whom she is replacing.

Interview with Bridget.  Here is the Google Translation

KARLSRUHE - Bridget Breiner, currently ballet director in Gelsenkirchen, succeeds Professor Birgit Keil and will take over the direction of the STAATSBALLET KARLSRUHE beginning in the season 2019/20. She will continue the line of classical ballet, combined with her own artistic style and the promotion of aspiring choreographers.

"It is a great honor for me to succeed Birgit Keil. I love working with a company and look forward to choreographing myself, "says Breiner.  

General Manager Peter Spuhler is proud to announce that an internationally acclaimed dancer and award-winning choreographer is coming to Karlsruhe: "With Bridget Breiner, we are getting a new ballet director who will continue Birgit Keil's career in Karlsruhe and redesign it with her own personality." Karlsruhe ballet director Brigit Keil attended the press conference.Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Württemberg, was particularly pleased that Bridget Breiner, who danced for many years as the first soloist for the Stuttgart Ballet, is now back in the Baden-region. She called it "the return of a great artist to the Baden-Württemberg region."

Friday, March 23, 2018

20 years ago, he predicted Brexit, Twitter, and Trump

For the last few years, the name Manuel Castells kept popping up in things I read about digital media, social networks, and mass communications. He is a Spanish sociologist who spent much of his career at UC Berkeley.

Last year I began reading his "The Rise of the Network Society," the first of three volumes in a series "The Information Age." He wrote them two decades ago, but he seems to have predicted many of the trends we are living through now.

The free flow of money, information, and power through global networks means those networks, not nations, are the source of power, he wrote. Institutions, societies, and ethnic groups with rigid structures that cannot take advantage of these flows will be left behind.

He wrote a new preface for the 2010 edition, before the Arab Spring, before the Syrian civil war, before Brexit, before Trump. He pointed out that structural changes were taking place in society because large sections of the world's population were being excluded from the global networks that accumulate knowledge and wealth.

Highly educated elites from financial and technological centers were profiting from the flow of money and power, while the rest of the world was being left behind.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fond memories from 2001, visit to Bundenthal


Point B on the map is Bundenthal, about 1 hour by car west of Karlsruhe, where Bridget is going to be the new dance company director, as announced in the press
 
Brother Tim and I went to Bundenthal, Germany, in 2001 to see the home town where our great-grandfather, Mathew or Mathaeus Breiner, was born 7 April 1851. He and his wife, Magdalena (born 1855, family name Deis), and two sons, Peter and Frederick, arrived in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1885. Our grandfather, Ferdinand, and older brother, Matthew, were born in New York. Their German roots were something of a mystery among us because our grandfather never talked much about that part of his life--his first 16 years in Brooklyn and his immigrant parents.

In Bundenthal, he was a hufschmied, or farrier, someone who made shoes for horses. We met several people named Breiner and visited a cemetery. Here are some photos from that visit.

At Zur Krone guest house in Bundenthal: Tim Breiner, right, with Ulrike and Klaus Lutz, and their son, 2001.
Tim Breiner, widow of Theo Breiner, and Jim Breiner at Zur Krone
Jim, above, with Roland Breiner in Dahn, Germany, and below, with the regulars at Zur Krone
Jim, left, and Tim, with Helmut Breiner in Dahn, Germany
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Bundenthal is a small place, around 1,100 people.
Bundenthal used to be a farming town at one time. It is located in the heart of one of Germany's most important wine growing regions and near a big national forest. It's rural. Now it is a bedroom community for cities like Pirmasens and Saarbrucken.

On the main street.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where our greatgrandparents were married, 23 Feb. 1876.



Saturday, March 10, 2018

Italian chefs are appalled at Spanish eating habits

"We're eating pizza all wrong," says the headline. Many of the toppings used in Spain are American style, not authentically Italian, say the aggrieved Italian chefs.
Italians have food rules. Let there be no mistake. And an article in a supplement to El Pais, called Buena Vida, or Good Life, in today's paper laid out the grievances of Italian chefs about their neighbors in Spain (here is the digital version of the supplement, but the article itself was not available online.)

Among the food atrocities:
  • Never use a spoon to eat pasta. That's only for children. Adults and anyone older than 6 should use a fork, the only proper instrument for eating pasta in a civilized manner.
  • Never cut up spaghetti before cooking it. And don't put in oil while cooking pasta. "I don't know why they do it," said Ilenia Cappai, owner of an Italian restaurant in Madrid. "It doesn't add anything." 
  • Don't serve the sauce separately from the pasta; they belong together. And, please, don't serve spaghetti with salsa bolognesa--the only proper pasta for that sauce is tagliatelle, says Cappai.
  • Also, we don't like your ham and olive oil, says Enrica Barni, another chef. Italian olive oil is the green product of a cold pressing. And Italian ham, prosciutto, comes from a much larger white pig than Spaniards use for their Iberian style. 
  • Spaniards use salt and pepper on their food before even tasting it, says Davide Bonato, chef at Gioia restaurant. An uncivilized practice. "They destroy the flavor of a dish." 
  • Spaniards eat bread with everything, too much bread. "Yesterday some clients ordered bread with their pizza," Bonato said, astonished. "Of course, I gave it to them, but . . . " 
  • Soft drinks are banned at a civilized Italian table. You drink only wine or water. Drinking Coca Cola at your grandmother's dinner table would be an insult, said Luca Gatti. 
  • At formal dinners in Italy, you never sit next to your spouse. The idea is to have others get to know your partner.
  • A pizza is for one person, never for sharing.
  • And at the end of the meal, the only acceptable form of coffee to have is an espresso, never a capuccino or cafe con leche--those are for breakfast. 
You have been warned. 



Sunday, February 11, 2018

My experience with the public health system in Spain

The issue of how to pay for health care is on everyone's minds these days, and there are arguments of various kinds on all sides. My aim is to describe here what it feels like to be in a public health system--one in which the government is the ultimate provider.

First, what you pay for health care

Public health care is paid out of tax income, and taxes are higher in Spain than the U.S. The U.S. is a relatively low-tax country: taxes represent 26% of GDP, while in Spain they are 34%. This includes all national and local taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes.

Since I am a full-time employee of the University of Navarra in Spain, I pay income tax and social security to the Spanish government, which comes to 24% of gross income (tax details here). My tax rate is slightly higher than normal because I am a foreigner. I pay no tax on this income in the U.S.