While the Los Angeles Unified School District, with more than 640,000 students at nearly 1,100 schools and charter schools, was getting wide media attention in softening its policy on students with bad behavior by sending them to principals offices or counseling centers rather than issuing citations or arresting them, a nearby school district was getting tougher, notes Grumpy Editor.
On the same day the new, less punitive Los Angeles policy involving students caught fighting, vandalizing, possessing alcohol or marijuana, or worse, was announced for the nation’s second largest school district, Compton --- a Los Angeles suburb --- revealed the new policy for schools in its unified school district will allow campus police to carry semi-automatic AR-15 rifles in trunks of patrol cars.
As activists, educators and justice officials praised the new L.A. policy for misbehaving students, some Compton residents were unhappy about the new policy for the 27,000 students in their district.
Compton’s policy allowing rifles in patrol cars, as presented to the school board, could be a “more effective means to protect the students, staff, community and police personnel in high risk and/or dangerous situations.”
IN CASE YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISSED THESE…
FEMA. Those four letters were not heard in broadcast news reports from the 6.0 magnitude California earthquake yesterday centered around Napa. The shaker, biggest in the region in a quarter of a century, damaged buildings and set some homes on fire. Yet, no mention of the Federal Emergency Management Agency coming to the rescue with assistance... It wasn’t too far back when widely-appearing photos of wilting corn stalks illustrated “climate change/drought effects.” Now, U.S. farmers are up to their ears (a bit of humor from Grumpy Editor) in the crop. As The Wall Street Journal puts it: “Months of wet weather have fueled expectations for a corn crop so large that mounds of the grain will be a common sight across the Midwest after the harvest, which starts next month.” Production is expected to exceed 14 billion bushels, topping last year’s historic harvest…The Washington Post’s editorial board says it will no longer use the “Redskins” term in identifying the D.C. football team. Reason? Some Native Americans consider use of that name offensive…Whoops! A 28-year-old contestant from Long Island who appeared on VH1’s “Dating Naked” series on July 31, files a $10 million lawsuit against the show’s producers and Viacom, the network’s parent company, claiming she felt “beyond embarrassed” by an uncensored naked crotch shot. Seems her genitals were not pixilated, as promised…With less advertising sales that supported its $291,000 budget, the student newspaper at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, eliminates Fridays and now publishes Mondays through Thursdays…Post-vacation surprise: When Gopal Ratnam, national security reporter, returned to the Washington, D.C. Bloomberg News bureau after two weeks reporting in the field, he was immediately laid off, joining others at the D.C. office who bid farewell over the past two weeks… More on Los Angeles Times new publisher Austin Beutner: LAObserved.com notes, “While being paid $675,000 a year base salary plus an annual bonus with the target of the same amount, Beutner will also start to build up a little ownership stake --- a head start in case he ever wants to buy The Times”…Double whammy: Along with Florida’s orange growers facing a bacterial disease hitting trees, Americans are snubbing the breakfast beverage for more exotic juices.
Some listeners and Department of Justice (DOJ) staffers tuned to ABC Radio news on Tuesday may have missed a slip of the tongue by President Barack Obama who declared:
“The D-O-Gee works for me."
Getting surprisingly little attention from major media was the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to deny financial assistance to Washington state’s Okanogan County residents where more than 300 homes were lost in wildfires, notes Grumpy Editor.
The Wall Street Journal, however, reported the rejection, pointing out in addition to the lost homes in the state’s worst fire outbreak on record, “more than 100 outbuildings were destroyed, hundreds of cattle died and thousands of acres of rangeland and farmland were burned.”
The Republican-dominated county with 41,000 residents is the largest in the state.
WSJ reporter Jim Carlton said Elizabeth Zimmerman, FEMA deputy associate administrator, denied assistance for “individuals and households” in the county near the Canadian border because “damage assessments determined the impact to residents was ‘not of the severity and magnitude’ to warrant FEMA assistance.”
Carlton added Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said, “We don’t always ask for help, but when we do we would have expected a little more help from the federal government.”
An appeal is pending on the FEMA decision.
DID YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISS THESE?
The evils of hiking sales tax: After Japan raised the national sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1, corporate investment dropped, households cut spending and gross domestic product fell an estimated 7 percent in the second quarter…Of interest to U.S. households that find raising kids is becoming increasingly costly: A Reuters/Ipsos poll tallied 51 percent of Americans believe children who crossed the border illegally from Mexico “should be allowed to remain in the country for some length of time”… Good time to ask for a bank loan. U.S. banks posted $40.24 billion in net income in the second quarter, the industry's second-highest profit total in at least 23 years, according to research firm SNL Financial…A Rasmussen Reports survey found a whopping 83 percent of American adults believe English should be the official language of the United States. (The U.S. government has yet to take that step.) “Most also agree overwhelmingly that it’s important to know the language to get ahead in today's world,” added Rasmussen…An ABC Radio news report on unusually heavy rain on New York’s Long Island worked in mention that the cause was attributed to --- global warming…To illustrate an Associate Press story on increasing numbers of Cubans migrating to Florida, a photo showing a Florida Straits rescue in rough seas by the U.S. Coast Guard was found deep in the files --- from 1994. It ran complete with AP photographer’s credit line…Debuting in the news field, Austin Beutner, 54, former Wall Street investment banker and a former Los Angeles deputy mayor, was named CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times…Another case of a burglarized TV van. This time while the news crew from CBS affiliate WUSA was in the Petworth neighborhood in northwest Washington, D.C. conducting interviews, most of their gear was stolen from the locked van. Some items were recovered from dumpsters.
Current line tossed to media when details from the Pentagon are unavailable: “We’re assessing the situation.”
President Barack Obama, three days into an eyebrow-raising summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, already is gearing up for another fundraiser, this one tonight on the island, an affluent summer colony off Cape Cod, notes Grumpy Editor.
With the president in a rented three-story, seven bedroom, 8,100-square-foot home on the island over the next two weeks are wife Michelle, daughter Malia and dogs Bo and Sunny. The vacation comes at a time of mounting crisis in Iraq with U.S. air strikes on terrorists, Hamas threatening major escalation in rocket strikes on Israel and widening problems stemming from illegals crossing the southern border.
Added to all this, a secondary political attraction arrives Wednesday when former First Lady Hillary Clinton is scheduled to arrive on the island for a book-signing event.
Meanwhile, some Martha’s Vineyard merchants --- such as ice cream shops and restaurants --- are excited, feeling that the president’s presence on the island will boost business in a season that has been slow.
They overlook grumbling from others stemming from heightened security activity in the air and on the ground plus road delays and slow traffic as presidential motorcades make their way around the island to a golf course, a restaurant or to other locations such as in the past --- bicycle rides.
Among major growlers: private fliers.
With the president on the island, the Federal Aviation Administration has instituted a 30-nautical mile perimeter temporary flight restriction for Martha’s Vineyard that runs through 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 25, reveals Sara Brown, Vineyard Gazette reporter.
Obama was off to a golf course within 30 minutes of arrival on Saturday.
DID YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISS THESE?
Declaring corporate America has done well under his economic policies, President Barack Obama tells London-based Economist magazine that chief executive officers should stop complaining about regulations and show greater social responsibility…An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds six in 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the state of the U.S. economy, more than 70 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and nearly 80 percent are down on the country’s political system…Okay, so it's "torture" for the bad guys: In changing editorial word usage, The New York Times no longer will describe interrogation methods on terror suspects as “harsh or brutal” and now will term the procedures “torture”…A University of Southern California study finds Hollywood movies are under-representing non-white ethnic groups in the U.S., with Hispanic actors cast in five percent of speaking parts in last year’s 100 top grossing films despite making up more than 16 percent of the population; black actors appeared in 14 percent of roles while 17 percent of movies had no black speaking parts…Unsettling news for J-students: In another study, the University of Georgia Grady College finds 2013 consumer magazine starting salaries of graduates with bachelor degrees in journalism sank $5,000 a year lower than the prior year…Not much mention in print or broadcast outlets that USASpending.gov, which tracks government spending, can’t locate at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs…More military trimming: Because of “financial restraints,” the U.S. Air Force’s 65th Aggressor Squadron, based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, will be deactivated on Sept. 26…Hollis R. Towns, executive editor/vice president news at New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press, informs readers the newspaper is “hiring more reporters to help cover the community better” and “establish better relationships with you” while “putting more resources into digital”…Los Angeles radio station KFWB next month switches from its long-time news/talk format to all sports chatter.
In discussing the thousands of young illegals showing up at the southern border, Vice President Joe Biden declares: "These are not somebody else's kids. These are our kids."
It was a tough two days for stock market investors and those with 401(k) plans as the Dow Jones industrial average ended the week tumbling almost 400 points from Wednesday’s level, notes Grumpy Editor.
With a steep decline of 317 points on Thursday, the White House press corps, busy focusing on other world and national matters, didn’t blink eyes or seek amplification on President Barack Obama’s dual declarations at the beginning (“the economy is getting stronger”) and toward the end (“the economy is better”) of Friday’s press conference.
In the last 30 minutes of trading after the press session concluded, the DJ industrials fell an additional 40 points to close down 70 points for the day, ending the week at 16493.37 --- wiping out stock market gains for the year.
Meanwhile, media fuzziness showed with the monthly jobs report on Friday. News reports used such uplifting phrases as “sturdy pace” and “most robust stretch of hiring” as the Labor Department tallied an additional 209,000 jobs in July.
However, that marked a drop from the previous month’s 298,000 jobs created while 9.7 million Americans remained unemployed as July showed an uptick of 6.2 percent without jobs from the prior month’s 6.1 percent.
An interesting element missed by major media but covered by Ali Meyer, economics reporter at CNSNews.com was that the number of unemployed women 16 years and up rose by 227,000 in July while the unemployment rate for females increased to 6.2 percent from 5.9 percent.
Meyer pointed out there were 4,494,000 women unemployed in July.
With last week’s sharp drop in the stock market, the Associated Press explained the dumping of stocks was caused partly because “a number of large U.S. companies reported poor quarterly results or forecasts.”
“Poor” turned brighter several paragraphs later when AP answered the question on if the stock market rally is over: “Company earnings, one of the most important drivers of stock prices, are still at record levels and are expected to grow by 8.6 percent in the second quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ.” (The New York-based multinational financial information provider is a division of Standard & Poor's.)
IN CASE YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISSED THESE…
A report from Human Rights Watch and American Civil Liberties Union concluded journalists have to dig harder to obtain sensitive information because they are aware the government can track their exchanges with sources through phone, email and other records, thus leading to fewer “willing talkers” in government…Of special interest to World War II veterans who fought in Europe: a German general will become U.S. Army chief of staff in Europe, part of the strategy to internationalize the U.S. Army’s overseas operations…Oops, wrong site: On the front page of The Wall Street Journal, a What’s News brief read, “Investigators failed to reach the crash sight of the Malaysia Air jet for a third day…NewsBusters pointed out “on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams left out a key detail from his news brief about his network's upcoming live production of Peter Pan.” The anchor announced Allison Williams will play the role of Peter Pan but omitted mention that the actress is his daughter…Gray Lady pushes pot: In calling for legalization of marijuana, a New York Times editorial said the war on pot is worse for America than using pot, adding "the social costs of marijuana laws are vast" and "the result is racist," then urged Congress to repeal the federal ban on pot, noting the weed is "far less dangerous than alcohol”…LAObserved.com noted KABC-TV, Los Angeles, in connection with the major water main break on Sunset Blvd. near UCLA, got pranked on air by a caller who identified himself as a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokesman. “He blamed the break on activity in one of the Pauley Pavilion locker rooms --- either a cherry bomb in the toilet or ‘a very large dump.’ While co-anchor Ellen Leyva pressed 'are you 100% sure about this?' a male voice could be heard mumbling 'it's a fake call'"…On the heels of slashing about 1,200 U.S. Army captains from the ranks, the Obama administration continued downsizing the military by informing about 550 U.S. Army majors they must leave the service by next spring…Also shrinking: Procter & Gamble will jettison more than half its brands within two years, leaving it with about 70 to 80 of its top performers.
A RARITY: T-storm delays INDOOR baseball game. Los Angeles Angels-Tampa Bay Rays game was delayed 19 minutes in the third inning yesterday afternoon as a lightning bolt triggered a power outage at the enclosed Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg. Angels went on to win 7-5.
Financially squeezed retirees will be observing prices closely in the July-August-September quarter, since that’s the period the government bases its cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security payments starting in January and already June figures --- released three days apart last week from two government agencies --- showed some wide variations as eyes are fixed on inflation that is quietly stirring on the sidelines, notes Grumpy Editor.
Focusing solely on the vital food element, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), while emphasizing to media that overall food inflation will remain near the historic norm this year, went on to somewhat contradict itself by mentioning:
■ The drought in California, a prime source for supermarket products, “could potentially have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices” while drought conditions in Texas and Oklahoma “could drive beef prices up even further.” The USDA predicted wholesale beef prices advancing 8 to 9 percent this year with pork prices jumping 10 to 11 percent. In contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said, “dairy and related products turned down in June.”
■ Before the lack of irrigation water in California smacked vegetable crops, thus boosting prices, the USDA expected 2.5 to 3.5 percent “food inflation” this year.
■ Also facing higher prices: fish and seafood due to decreased supplies of some species and higher consumer demand.
■ News from the BLS cited food costs, after surging in recent months, slowed to a tiny 0.1 percent rise in June from the prior month when it gained 0.5 percent. That, added the BLS, put June with the smallest monthly increase since January and thus lowered the annual increase in food prices to 2.3 percent from 2.5 percent in May.
Into the final COLA mix, of course, also goes medical, energy, shelter, apparel, new vehicles, among other items. (CPI-W is the basis for the 2015 Social Security COLA, stemming from the third quarter.)
The latest tally put the consumer price index on all items in the 12 months to June up a rather modest 2 percent --- with the BLS noting (contrary to the USDA report) “the food index decelerated in June.”
A Rasmussen Reports survey earlier this month revealed 88 percent of U.S. adults said they are paying more for groceries this year than in 2013.
IN CASE YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISSED THESE...
Major media aren’t on to this yet: Some young illegal border crossers are being transported around the country by --- U.S. Coast Guard aircraft…Grabbing much media attention (especially broadcast news) last week was the report of a female burglary suspect, 28, who was shot dead outside the home of an 80-year old man in Long Beach, Calif. after she allegedly shouted, "Don't shoot me! I'm pregnant ---I'm going to have a baby." However, there was little follow up following word from the coroner Friday that the woman was NOT pregnant...Attention news release writers: Chicago-based communications firm Greentarget noted journalists are bombarded with press releases, with 45 percent of them getting 50 or more a week while 21 percent receive at least 100 --- with the majority of recipients spending less than 60 seconds looking at them…New York Daily News trimmed 17 more newsroom staffers…Another HOA in action: Lake of the Pines Homeowners Association, Auburn, Calif., told a Vietnam War veteran who --- for a decade --- has been building furniture in his garage and giving it to needy families to shutter his activities or be fined between $100 and $1,000. “I don’t make a profit. The money I spend is my own money, my own time and talents,” said Dennis Kocher …In the “huh?” department: Pentagon operations in the U.S. and overseas are threatened by climate change. "The effects of the changing climate affect the full range of department activities, including plans, operations, training, infrastructure, acquisition and longer-term investments," said Daniel Chiu, a deputy assistant secretary of defense…Congress departs on a five-week vacation this week. A key reason not much has passed: Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has 330 bills piled up in his office…Associated Press reports that after spending nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, the Social Security Administration still can't get it to work --- and officials can't say when it will. AP mentioned Maryland-based Lockheed Martin was selected in 2011 as the project’s prime contractor…Alan Murray moves into the editor’s office at Fortune magazine on Aug. 25. He was president of Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., and earlier worked at The Wall Street Journal and CNBC.
A steamy TV spot for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s pairs swimsuit model Hannah Ferguson and actress-entertainer Paris Hilton promoting the Texas BBQ Thickburger. Yes, it employs the old soaping down a big, muddy pickup truck routine and munching on the monster sandwich. See the footage here.
California, known to be first in the nation with new methods to pry extra dollars from residents’ wallets, now is aiming fines up to $500 a day from those who waste water washing cars, watering lawns and landscaping, notes Grumpy Editor.
Obviously dirty cars and brown landscapes will be the “in” look now in the Golden State --- with the blame pinned on the drought which is gaining much media attention.
After finding conservation measures failing to achieve a 20 percent water reduction use sought by Gov. Jerry Brown, the State Water Resources Board last week approved fines for urban dwellers who overwater.
“Out goal here is to light a fire under those who aren’t taking the drought seriously,” said a WRB official. California’s new public service slogan: Brown is the new green.
Los Angeles already has overwatering penalties of up to $600. But in Glendora, 26 miles east of Los Angeles, voluntarily withholding water on outside greenery posed another problem. A water-conserving couple with a wilted front lawn in Glendora received a letter from that city last week threatening a $500 penalty for not watering their lawn, giving them 60 days to “keep their landscaping looking healthy and green” in order to correct a “potential public nuisance problem.”
Already, though, Santa Cruz is bending for residents socked with hefty water fines. Overwaterers can attend the “Santa Cruz Water School,” a free class that eliminates all water penalties, if successfully completed. Among topics: how to read a water meter.
And regarding the much-talked-about drought:
California always has had years of varying precipitation. Focusing on Los Angeles, while the 2012-2013 rainfall season saw only 5.85 inches of rain, two years prior brought no mentions of drought as 20.20 inches of rain drenched the area. About double that --- close to a hefty 40 inches of rain --- were measured in 2004-2005, a season that triggered media headlines and photos showing flooded roads, tumbling hillsides and sliding homes.
IN CASE YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISSED THESE…
Drought headlines may soon take a back seat. Risk of earthquakes rises for one third of the U.S., warned an update from the U.S. Geological Survey. States with the highest risk of shakers: California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alaska and Hawaii…Inflation indicator: A Rasmussen Reports survey tallied 88 percent of American adults said they are paying more for groceries this year than last year, up six points from last month and the highest since May, 2012…Lost among soccer stories: Baseball still grabs attention as the All Star Game last Tuesday averaged more than 11.3 million Fox viewers to the American League’s 5-3 win. That’s up from 11 million last year…Politico reported former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney joined the Washington Speakers Bureau which could result in payments of up to $100,000 per speech…A Hong Kong investor group has acquired a majority stake in Forbes Media LLC, which includes Forbes magazine. Steve Forbes, chairman and editor in chief, will continue with the operation.
DOES THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER READ NEWSPAPERS, WATCH TV? Despite bold headlines and lead broadcast stories on thousands of illegals crossing the porous border from Mexico, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared, “the border is secure.” Responding to that, Pinal County (Ariz.) Sheriff Paul Babeu, highly involved with the illegal border crossers, said Reid is “completely devoid of reality.”
Restricting media from fully covering newsworthy, front-page happenings --- especially with the government involved --- always has been a strong no-no, reminds Grumpy Editor.
Thus, it was interesting to see media back off when Health and Human Services (HHS) officials threw up a barrier to on-scene coverage of border-crossing illegal minors being housed at Fort Sill, Okla. It is the same federal facility that on July 1 thwarted entrance by Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), the congressman who represents the area.
HHS later invited the media, but issued seven rules that would make any grizzly, grumpy editor pound on his desk, utter some nasty words and call for immediate action from Washington…or else.
The unusual restrictions to visiting media as spelled out by HHS “in order to protect the safety and privacy of the children” call for:
“■ No recording devices will be allowed.
■ No questions will be allowed during the tour.
■ No interacting with staff and children at the shelter.
■ We ask that your questions be provided via email or phone after the tour to Kenneth Wolfe.
■ HHS ACF (Administration for Children and Families) public affairs will provide answers to your follow up questions as quickly as possible.
■ We will provide photos of the facility after the tour.
■ There will be no on-site interviews by HHS staff before or after the tour, all inquiries go to Kenneth Wolfe.”
“This is not transparent,” declared Bridenstine. “HHS is trying to muzzle the media and hide the human tragedy that has resulted directly from the administration’s failure to enforce the law.”
Meanwhile, along with other restrictions imposed by the Obama administration on coverage of the young illegals making their way around the country, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell said in a Fox News interview:
"This is an administration that is becoming unglued...reacting with panic the way the Chicago machine reacts where they're just trying to ram down the throats of the public the rules as they see fit," adding "they are breaking the Constitution at every level. This seems to be the First Amendment that's threatened by these people."
Bozell added the press is taking it lying down rather than telling "the Obama administration to go fly a kite."
But grumbling among journalists is nearing a crescendo.
Last week, 38 journalism groups, led by the Society of Professional Journalists and including the American Society of Journalists and Authors, American Society of News Editors, National Federation of Press Women and National Press Photographers Association, sent a letter to the White House assailing the president’s team for censoring media coverage, limiting access to top officials and overall “politically-driven suppression of the news” despite the president’s 2008 campaign pledge to provide transparency.
IN CASE YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISSED THESE...
One phrase for sure you will not hear or read today through mid-week: global warming. That’s because a cool jet stream will be sending Midwest temperatures as much as 20 degrees below normal…Fortune magazine last week launched (without blushing over the title) a daily online newsletter highlighting news on the world’s most powerful women. Its name? The Broadsheet…Steve Roberts, who lives in The Oaks apartments, Santee, Calif., and whose father served for more than 25 years in the military, was told he could not display the American flag inside his apartment window --- and management will not tell him why…Nineteen veteran journalists, with 586 years of combined experience, are departing the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, on Friday, leaving the newsroom with about 230 staffers…Observed on the CNBC website before the stock market opening bell last Monday: “U.S. stocks begin lower in pullback from record” previous day…University of Georgia researchers tally total enrollment in the nation’s journalism schools has dropped, noting the biggest decline --- 33 percent in five years --- at Columbia College Chicago which specializes in arts and media disciplines, with nearly 12,000 students pursuing degrees…The New York Times goes to great lengths to report from the West Coast on “Saving Water in California,” pointing out “the state needs much stronger conservation measures if it wants to battle its worst drought in decades and not to face severe water shortages.”
Declared President Barack Obama --- one day after he was photographed shooting pool in Texas --- in connection with the (nixed) suggestion of viewing first hand the massive influx of illegals at the Texas-Mexico border: “I am not interested in photo ops.”
Investors heralded the Dow Jones industrial average closing above 17,000 for the first time on Thursday in pre-Fourth of July trading after embracing reports of expansion in U.S. and Chinese manufacturing plus cheering the latest jobs report, notes Grumpy Editor.
All seems rosy on the financial front.
But one wonders why all the excitement when, as examples, the communist Chinese are bubbling along in manufacturing while the number of Americans 16 and older, who are not participating in the work force, hit a record 92.1 million last month.
While a key focus in business reports was U.S. employers adding 288,000 workers to payrolls in June, the number of Americans without jobs and not actively seeking one --- the participation rate --- in the past four weeks is up 111,000 from April, points out Ali Meyer in a CNSNews.com report based on figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Most news outlets were mum on the “without jobs” statistic.
Although the unemployment rate drifted to 6.1 percent in June from 6.3 percent in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the labor force participation rate for Americans was 62.8 percent, matching a 36-year low, notes Meyer.
Meanwhile, business economics writer Tom Blumer, on the NewsBusters site yesterday in response to an Associated Press story highlighting the “humming” job market and the economy "finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited,” points out the AP piece never mentioned that the U.S. has shown “two straight months (April and May) of real declines in consumer purchases; the seasonally adjusted decline of 523,000 in full-time employment paired with an increase of 799,000 part-time jobs in June; April’s and May's trade imbalance coming in worse than March’s, which was already very high; shipments of durable goods barely budging in April and May; factory orders falling in May; or May’s flat construction spending.”
In case your favorite news outlets missed these…
IN THE ‘HUH?’ DEPARTMENT: EEOC DECLARES SPEAKING ENGLISH ON JOB IS ‘DISCRIMINATION.’ Wisconsin Plastics, Inc., A Green Bay metal and plastic products manufacturer founded 42 years ago, is being sued by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for firing a group of Hispanic and Asian employees over their inability to speak English at work. The EEOC claims the English-language requirement in a U.S. business constitutes “discrimination.” Says Irene Garcia, of Judicial Watch: “If you are a private company in the United States, you should be able to require your employees to speak English.”
MOBILE ADS SEEN SURPASSING PRINT, RADIO THIS YEAR. Adweek reports New York-based independent market research firm eMarketer sees mobile advertising accounting for 9.8 percent of total U. S. ads this year, surpassing newspapers (9.3 percent), magazines (8.4 percent) and radio (8.6 percent).
ANOTHER (YAWN) BYLINE STRIKE. Journalists and columnists at Toronto’s Globe and Mail refuse to put their names on copy as negotiations between their union and the paper’s management neared a breaking point. Other than relatives and friends of the staffers, few readers consider missing bylines something that causes loss of sleep.
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO READIES MEDIA SCHOOL. Slated to debut on the Boulder campus in the fall next year is the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado.
Drivers in Los Angeles are gearing up for another major gridlock in a chunk of the city as President Barack Obama is slated to visit the area again on July 23, speaking at a DNC fundraising dinner and reception.
Although Hillary Clinton earlier this month revealed she and husband, former president Bill Clinton, left the White House “dead broke” in 2001, they have been making up for that with some hefty speaking fees, latest one raising eyebrows of University of Nevada, Las Vegas students when they learned of a $225,000 fee for an Oct. 13 fundraising speech slated by the former secretary of state in Sin City, notes Grumpy Editor.
What irked the complaining students is that prior to the UNLV event, the former first lady is not charging for a Sept. 4 keynote speech also in Las Vegas at the Clean Energy Summit, an annual conference sponsored by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, UNLV, MGM Resorts and the Center for American Progress.
A letter, written on behalf of 23,000 undergraduate students at UNLV, addressed to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation in New York, asked Mrs. Clinton to “charitably donate part or all of the $225,000 speaking fee she is reportedly making for this fundraising speech back to the UNLV Foundation as a whole.”
The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Mrs. Clinton was paid $300,000 to speak on the University of California, Los Angeles campus three months ago.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post, in reviewing the Clintons’ federal financial disclosures, tallied Bill Clinton was paid $104.9 million for 542 speeches around the world between January 2001, when he left the White House, and January 2013, when Mrs. Clinton stepped down as secretary of state.
The June 26 Post story also found most of Bill Clinton’s speaking income --- $56.3 million --- came from foreign speeches, many of them in China, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In case you missed these…
ABC 'PROMO' LEADS ON-THE-HOUR NEWS. Despite explosive, breaking news developments in the U.S. and overseas, radio listeners heard top-of-the-hour ABC News Friday morning leading with a promo mentioning Barbara Walters on that evening’s “20-20” would be interviewing Peter Rodger, father of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger accused of killing six people and injuring 13 before taking his own life May 23 near the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“FORGOTTEN WAR’ AGAIN OVERLOOKED BY MEDIA. With anniversary stories popular with editors, most news outlets forgot mention of the Korean War that started on June 26, 1950. For the U.S., the 1950-1953 battle against North Korean and Chinese forces resulted in 36,940 military deaths, 103,000 wounded, 8,142 missing in action and 3,746 prisoners of war.
REMEMBER WHEN IT WAS BASEBALL, MOM AND APPLE PIE? As soccer grabs more attention in the U.S., viewers to ESPN’s baseball games on Sunday nights averaged just below 1.9 million this year. That’s 32 percent less than seven years ago.
HERE WE GO AGAIN. Somehow forgetting the mounting problems with credit card (and other loan) payments six years ago that triggered prolonged financial turmoil, banks and other lenders were busy in the first quarter issuing credit cards to subprime borrowers, reported The Wall Street Journal via data from Equifax Inc.
As thousands of children plus teenagers and others --- mainly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador --- continue to cross into the U.S. illegally from Mexico, adding to the 47,000 that made the trip in the past fiscal year, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at a near-the-border press conference from the Rio Grande Valley on Saturday said:
"We are all Americans, north and south in this hemisphere."
One must ask what are journalism schools turning out these days as confidence in news via newspapers, television and Internet continues to head south, observes Grumpy Editor.
A Gallup poll of those saying they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in news from the three major news media platforms shows:
■ Newspapers: down to 22 percent in 2014 vs. a peak of 51 percent in 1979.
■ Television: 18 percent vs. 46 percent in 1993.
■ Internet: 19 percent vs. 21 percent in 1999.
“Americans hold all news media platforms in low confidence,” notes Gallup in releasing statistics from the poll conducted June 5 to 8. “How these platforms can restore confidence with the American public is not clear, especially as editorial standards change and most outlets lack the broad reach once available to major newspapers and broadcasters.”
Gallup also mentions, “The circulation of newspapers continues to shrink to the point that University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for the Digital Future estimates that most print newspapers will not exist in five years.”
See the full Gallup results here.
In case you missed these…
SOUTH DAKOTA GOP CALLS FOR OBAMA IMPEACHMENT. Most weekend editors overlooked the South Dakota Republican Party state convention Saturday calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama in a resolution that said the president has "violated his oath of office in numerous ways,” specifically citing release of five Taliban combatants in a trade for captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, Obama's statement that people could keep insurance companies and recent EPA regulations on power plants.
PENTAGON PRESS CONFERENCE INFORMATION LAGS ON-AIR COVERAGE. At a Pentagon press conference Tuesday following the apprehension of Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected leader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, inquiring media pressed for details from Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, including “where is the suspect being held” and "where will he be tried." Kirby, cautious and offering sketchy details, said Ahmed Abu Khattala was “in U.S. custody at a secure location.” (CNN, Fox News and others had already reported that the suspect was being held and interrogated on a U.S. Navy ship.) Kirby also said the suspect would be “brought back to the U.S. to stand trial.” (Word was already out to U.S. TV viewers pinpointing the trial location: federal court in Washington D.C.)
HARRY REID CONTINUES VERBAL SLAPS AT KOCH BROTHERS. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) continued blasting Charles and David Koch of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries Inc., calling them “the cult of Koch” from the Senate floor on Thursday, and noting “it’s not right that we have two of the richest men in the world trying to buy America.” Last month Reid said the executives of the second largest privately-held company in the U.S. are “one of the main causes of climate change.”
FAST ACTION IN OAKLAND. While Oakland Calif.’s KTVU reporter/anchor Heather Holmes was on air with a live television report on a daylight robbery of a woman, her purse was snatched from the station’s remote truck parked near Oakland police headquarters. Within 20 minutes of the theft, Holmes’ bank card was used at a nearby gas station.
ANOTHER COMPUTER MAGAZINE FADES FROM PRINT. Last print version of Computerworld is the issue dated today (June 23). It continues with material on its website, launched in 1996. The magazine started 47 years ago.
BAD TIMING ON PUSH FOR HIGHER FUEL TAXES. Escaping most weekend editors’ attention: Despite gasoline and diesel fuel costs reaching higher levels almost daily, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) figured it’s time to seek a 12 cents a gallon hike in gasoline and diesel taxes over the next two years --- to pay for highway and transit programs.
U.S. Border Patrol agents changing diapers and heating baby formula are among the unusual situations being revealed (but not widely reported) with the mounting influx of thousands of “children” --- mainly from Central American countries --- illegally crossing into the U.S., observes Grumpy Editor.
Since last Monday’s report here on shelters being sought for "unaccompanied children” (the term coined by the Obama administration to describe the foreign minors who enter the U.S. illegally), some are in their teens, old enough to be in military service --- or older.
The Los Angeles Times reports “the Rio Grande Valley (in the southernmost tip of Texas) has become ground zero for an unprecedented surge in families and unaccompanied children flooding across the Southwest border.”
The flow from Central America is arriving at a rate of more than 35,000 a month, adds the L.A. Times.
Others slipping into the country illegally are known Mexican gang members.
Meanwhile, many of the young people who cross the border into the U.S. have never seen a doctor before, reveals Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in a Washington Times report by Stephen Dinan.
The commissioner says Border Patrol agents are being asked to do things, such as diaper changing and warming up baby formula, which are far beyond their usual activities.
Shelters for the migrant minors are reaching capacity at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas; Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla., Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, and Naval Base Ventura County, Oxnard, Calif.
So another facility being eyed this week is a vacant Social Security building in Baltimore, far from the Texas border where the illegals enter the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security calls the assistance being given as “humanitarian aid to immigrant children.”
But not widely trumpeted is that such aid is costing U.S. taxpayers $252 a day for each minor.
In case you missed these…
FORGET IRAQ, LOOK AT GLOBAL WARMING. With militants advancing on Baghdad, President Barack Obama --- far from the White House --- reminds University of California, Irvine, graduates Saturday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim about global warming. Obama warns that rising temperatures and sea levels plus intensifying storms define “one of the most significant long-term challenges that our country and planet face.” Then he was off to play golf Saturday and yesterday in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, under warm, clear skies. Although back in Washington today, the president tomorrow heads for New York City and two fundraisers.
WEATHER PERSONNEL BLASTED IN NORTH KOREA. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un isn’t concerned about global warming but in touring meteorological centers around the Communist country he voices extreme displeasure to personnel about “too many incorrect” weather forecasts. He is irked about the weather as it relates to potential impact on the economy, and, in part, blames outdated equipment contributing to faulty forecasts.
TRUE BREAKING NEWS ON CNN. A car smashed through a lobby at CNN Center, the news network’s headquarters in Atlanta. The vehicle came to rest in the middle of the lobby around 4 a.m. on Friday. The driver was taken into custody. On the bright side, CNN beat other news outlets in reporting the incident.
MSNBC RANKS LOWEST IN TRUST FOR TV NEWS. A poll conducted by the Brookings and Public Religion Research Institute finds just 5 percent of respondents say cable network MSNBC is the “most trusted” for television news. Fox News Channel, at the other end, grabs 25 percent of those surveyed.
BAD DAY FOR NEWSPAPER EDITORS IN LOUISVILLE. Kentucky’s Courier-Journal in one swoop last week eliminates seven editor positions, calling the action “a realignment of newsroom resources.” Among those laid off: Jean Porter, managing editor, and Mike Trautmann, metro editor.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN MAKES FORBES LIST. Forbes magazine in its annual world’s 100 most powerful women tally of “extraordinary icons, game changers and ceiling crashers who are asserting themselves on the world stage” places the Fox News Channel’s anchor at the 100th spot. No. 1 is German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Overlooked among current major stories: mounting problems being caused by thousands of children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico illegally crossing --- without parents --- the border from Mexico, finds Grumpy Editor.
Administration officials say 47,000 have entered the U.S. in the past eight months. Many of the unaccompanied minors are teenagers. Most cross the border into Texas.
Among missing elements in most news reports:
■ The growing influx of young illegal border crossers is expected to swell to about 130,000 in the coming year.
■ Shelters for the migrant youngsters are filling rapidly. The minors are being sent to key facilities in San Antonio, Texas; Fort Sill, Okla. and, as the influx mounts, recently-added Naval Base Ventura County in Oxnard, Calif.
■ Many are being dumped in Arizona, angering Gov. Jan Brewer who a week ago dispatched a letter (unanswered through Friday) to President Barack Obama demanding that dropping off the children at Phoenix bus stations stop immediately. She calls the program dangerous and unconscionable and demanded to know why state authorities weren't consulted or advised.
■ Highly upset Gov. Brewer adds, “I reiterate my call on President Obama to secure our southern border and terminate this operation immediately."
■ Daily cost to U.S. taxpayers in maintaining each illegal minor: $252.
■ President Barack Obama terms the growing numbers of unaccompanied children migrating to the U.S. as an "urgent humanitarian situation.”
■ Main government agencies entering the situation are Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the latter usually involved when hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters hit the U.S., as the unauthorized arrivals require housing, food, medical and mental health services.
■ Via London, BBC reports the White House asks Congress for $1.4 billion to cope with the growing number of young illegals.
In case you missed these…
ANOTHER JUMP FOR WORLD WAR II PARACHUTIST. As part of D-Day’s 70th anniversary activities, Jim (Pee Wee) Martin, 93, who 70 years ago with the 101st Airborne Division parachuted over Utah Beach in Normandy, did it again last Thursday in the same sector. Martin, from near Dayton, Ohio, says his latest jump was “wonderful, absolutely wonderful” but was easier than his 1944 jump “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”
CRIME COVERAGE INSPIRES COPYCATS. In the aftermath of the Santa Barbara, Calif., shooting of college students last month, a Rasmussen Reports survey finds 44 percent of Americans tend to believe media pay too much attention to mass murders with the coverage prompting others to commit violent crimes. One in three say media coverage is about right while 13 percent say media do not cover such events enough.
BBC PLANS STAFF REDUCTIONS. British Broadcasting Corp. plans to cut about 500 news division jobs. Another 75 to 85 positions are slated to be sliced at BBC’s United Kingdom radio operation.
SAN QUENTIN NEWSPAPER GETS MORE COVERAGE. Three months after the Los Angeles Times ran an illustrated feature on San Quentin News, the monthly newspaper produced by inmates at the California prison got another boost via an illustrated New York Times feature. Founded in 1940, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief is serving 65 years to life for crimes including burglary, robbery and skipping bail to flee to Mexico.
SOMETHING AMERICAN TELEVISION MISSED IN FRANCE. During solemn ceremonies in Normandy marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, an alert photographer caught President Barack Obama busy chewing gum. View the baseball-dugout-style action here.
In leading up to today’s unveiling of President Barack Obama’s signature climate change regulation that limits carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, the commander-in-chief (pushing aside mentions of military buildups and aggressive actions by North Korea and China, among others) on Wednesday told the West Point graduating class they will be forced to respond to the effects of --- global warming, notes Grumpy Editor.
Along with foreign policy remarks to the more than 1,000 graduating cadets, the president called for energizing the global effort to combat climate change which he termed “a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food, which is why next year I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.”
Obama, two days later at another event, warned storms like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy will become more frequent as climate change intensifies and urged the public to prepare now for this year's hurricane season.
The president said changes in climate mean that storms “could end up being more common and more devastating…and that’s why we’re also going to be doing more to deal with the dangers of carbon pollution that help to cause this climate change and global warming.”
Meanwhile, after one of the quietest hurricane seasons in decades last year, forecasters with The Weather Channel predict a below-average 2014 Atlantic hurricane season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
In case you missed these…
WORLD WAR II BIRD SET TO FLY AT NORMANDY. Participating in next Sunday’s 70th anniversary marking World War II’s D-Day landing will be a vintage C-47 twin-engine aircraft that dropped Allied paratroops behind enemy lines before dawn on June 6, 1944. Known as Whiskey 7, assigned to the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron, the aircraft recently flew 3,600-miles crossing the Atlantic. It marked its longest journey since shortly after World War II.
NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE. During a lengthy interview of former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in an hour NBC program, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams asked: "Did you vote for President Obama?" Snowden refused to answer.
WASHINGTON REMAINS SILENT ON JAILED AMERICANS. A U.S. Marine marking his 63rd day in a Mexican prison (covered here May 26) after making a wrong turn on a road near Tijuana isn’t the only case of recent below-border jailings. USA Today on Saturday revealed six Americans, crewmembers from a U.S. ship, since early May have been in a Honduras prison charged with attempting to smuggle five weapons into the country. Robert Mayne, the ship’s captain who is among those in jail, said the weapons on the ship were registered in the U.S. and he notified Honduran maritime authorities about them a month before arrival in Honduran waters. (It is common for vessels sailing in international waters to possess weapons to protect against piracy.)
NOW ABOUT CARNEY’S REPLACEMENT. With Jay Carney leaving his White House press secretary post, background of his replacement, Josh Earnest, doesn’t match that of Carney, former Washington bureau chief for Time magazine with 21 years in print journalism. Earnest, with a political science degree, went from college directly into work for politicians.
ALMOST 3 MONTHS OF MISSING AIRCRAFT COVERAGE. CNN on Saturday continued its almost non-stop coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared from radar on March 8. A live discussion around a table focused on “pings were not from Flight 370.”
One of the least covered current news stories of national interest involves Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, a U.S. Marine with two tours in Afghanistan, strangely being held --- almost two months now --- in a prison near Tijuana after he missed an exit and inadvertently drove across the San Ysidro border with three legal and registered guns and was arrested by Mexican authorities, notes Grumpy Editor.
While few news outlets have run an Associated Press piece on the development, it took Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, a former criminal defense attorney and civil trial lawyer, to go on scene to bring the “wrong turn” incident to national attention over several days last week via her On the Record current affairs program.
She traveled from Washington to the San Diego-Tijuana border and to the prison on the Mexico side --- even duplicating the confusing road route taken by the 25-year-old Marine in the pickup truck he had driven from Florida to make a new start in San Diego.
Van Susteren’s two-days on-scene investigation included live coverage from the area. She explained to viewers: “Even prison officials said we could interview the sergeant in the prison. But after we waited outside the prison for two full days, other prison officials decided to keep us out, refusing to let us interview Tahmooressi.”
Jill Tahmooressi, the Marine’s mother, who was allowed to visit him in a gymnasium-like area at the prison, told Van Susteren that when she saw her son on April 14, six or seven guards surrounded him.
Even to this Memorial Day --- marking 56 days Tahmooressi has been imprisoned --- there has been no movement from the White House or secretary of state in efforts to release the Marine who reportedly has been chained to his bed in the Mexican prison.
In case you missed these…
YES, WEATHER CONSTANTLY CHANGES. Michael Ramirez at Investor’s Business Daily, had it right with his editorial cartoon showing a white-frocked science professor at a blackboard with lines draw through now passé terms of global cooling, global warming, climate change to underline the updated term --- climate disruption. Off to the lower right in the cartoon, a little boy adds his thought on the blackboard: It’s called weather.
AS COAL PLANTS FADE, POWER COSTS RISE. Along with current high U.S. gasoline prices (above $3 a gallon for 1,249 days now) around the country, look for electricity rates to rise 4 percent on average this year, biggest hike in six years, predicted the Energy Department. Key reason? Coal-fired plants, dominant sources of cheap power generation over the years, are shutting down around the U.S., socked by environmental regulations and economic forces.
FORGET WATER FOR VEGGIES. It took Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) to reveal in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on Friday that in the middle of a Golden State drought the “Bureau of Reclamation drained Folsom and other reservoirs on the American and Stanislaus rivers of more than 70,000 acre feet of water --- enough to meet the annual needs of a city of half a million people --- for the comfort and convenience of fish.”
‘HAVE IT YOUR WAY’ MOTTO SHELVED. Burger King scrapped its "Have It Your Way" slogan, used for four decades, for "Be Your Way." The company explained the new phrase is intended to remind people that "they can and should live how they want anytime. It's OK to not be perfect...self-expression is most important and it's our differences that make us individuals instead of robots."
MAGAZINE COVERS SPORT AD MESSAGES. Time magazine and Sports Illustrated, in the Time Inc. family, debuted small ads for Verizon Communications Inc. near the bottom of their covers.
After several years using the term, it looks like print and broadcast media finally will be forced to shelve “tame” in connection with describing the inflation level as the latest year-over-year gain in the Labor Department’s consumer price index jumps to 2 percent, notes Grumpy Editor.
It also means there is hope for Social Security recipients getting a larger cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2015. The COLA for this year was a modest 1.5 percent
The consumer price index (CPI) rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent last month from March as higher costs from food to energy pushed prices upward. Meat prices, for example, last month posted the largest jump in 11 years.
That puts the inflation rate at 2 percent through the 12 months ended in April.
But, with most of Washington looking the other way when inflation is mentioned, one still has to be cautious.
Grumpy Editor points to a Nov. 18, 2010 posting in this space that mentioned a headline over an Associated Press story: Consumer prices rise moderately but inflation tame.
Important to observe will be CPI figures from July, August and September. They will be averaged out to determine the COLA for Social Security recipients and others next year.
Next inflation rate update is slated for release on June 17.
In case you missed these…
VA WHISTLEBLOWER WEB SITE CREATED. VAoversight.org is a joint effort of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Project On Government Oversight (POGO). It gives whistleblowers the option of providing contact information and features bold-face warnings to avoid using a government computer or phone to submit complaints. “Whistleblowers shouldn’t have to go it alone. We can help whistleblowers hold the VA accountable, and keep the focus on solutions rather than attempts to hunt down those who voiced concerns,” said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian.
IMAGINE, STRAIGHT NEWS REPORTING. Heritage Foundation, Washington-based conservative think tank, on June 3 debuts Daily Signal a digital news site. It will focus on “true, straight-down-the-middle journalism,” said Geoffrey Lysaught, Heritage’s vice president of strategic communications.
DOES ELEANOR READ NEWSPAPERS, WATCH TV NEWS? During a discussion of Benghazi on “The McLaughlin Group” on PBS, liberal columnist Eleanor Clift declared U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens wasn’t really murdered but rather died from “smoke inhalation in a CIA safe room.” Fellow panelists were quick to set her straight, pointing out Stevens’ death (along with three other Americans) stemmed from a terrorist attack.
FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER SEES CLIMATE CHAOS BY LATE 2015. The world has “500 days to avoid climate chaos,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned in Washington. “I know that President Obama and John Kerry himself are committed on this subject and I’m sure that with them, with a lot of other friends, we shall be able to reach success in this very important matter,” added Fabius.
GANNETT BUYS TV STATIONS IN LONE STAR STATE. Gannett Co., adding to its growing list of TV stations, agreed to buy six more from London Broadcasting Co. for $215 million. All are in Texas.
NOW, WHICH AUTO WAS THAT? During CBS’s “48 Hours” on Friday, FOUR auto commercials from different manufacturers ran in tandem. This sort of thing, confusing viewers, never happened during earlier network days when only one commercial for an advertiser in its field ran during an hour.
Print/broadcast reporters, editors and producers say they are less satisfied with their work, have less autonomy on the job and see the industry moving in the wrong direction, Grumpy Editor notes from an Indiana University survey that, naturally, received zilch attention in newspapers and radio/TV news.
Among noteworthy survey findings:
Going wrong way. About 60 percent of journalists say journalism in the United States is going in the wrong direction.
Newsrooms are shrinking. Almost 63 percent of journalists say staffs were reduced during the past year, while only about a quarter say staff numbers remained the same.
Majority have bachelor’s degree. About 92 percent of full-time journalists have at least a bachelor’s degree --- although journalism majors represent about 37 percent.
More journalists say they are political independents. About half of all journalists say they are independents, up about 18 percentage points from a similar survey in 2002. The number of those identified with the Democrat Party dropped nearly 8 percentage points to 28 percent, while the number of journalists closer to the Republican Party decreased to 7 percent from 18 percent.
Job satisfaction ebbs. Job satisfaction fell to 23 percent from 33 percent of journalists who said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs in the 2002 tally. This trend continues the decline in job satisfaction that was observed between 1971 and 1992 but was interrupted with a positive bounce in 2002.
A puzzling element --- at a time when media critics are labeling current journalists, especially those out of Washington, lapdogs rather than watchdogs --- is that 78 percent of the surveyed journalists say investigating government claims is “extremely important.” The survey finds that percentage up significantly from 2002 and exceeds the 76 percent in the early 1970s.
In case you missed these…
TIME FOR A CHANGE WITH CLIMATE. First it was termed global warming, then (as eyebrows were raised by some meteorologists and atmospheric scientists), it became climate change. Now, with last week’s 840-page National Climate Assessment report, the phrase “climate disruption” made its debut.
ANOTHER L.A. SHAKE-EM-UP STORY. Under the headline --- Preliminary quake map shows fault lines under schools, hotels, homes --- the Los Angeles Times continues its periodic shakeup of readers. A story last week pointed out about 12,000 properties lie in the newly drawn California Geological Survey fault zones, roughly 500 feet on each side of estimated fault lines. It follows a Times story last October focusing on “more than 1,000 old concrete buildings in Los Angeles and hundreds more throughout the county may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake.”
‘NYET’ TO FOUL LANGUAGE. A Russian law signed last week by President Vladimir Putin restricts use of profanity in literature, theater, film and recorded music, effective July 1. A separate law, starting in August, subjects bloggers --- those with more than 3,000 daily page views --- to hefty fines for using profanity.
TIME INC. SPIN-OFF SET. Time Warner Inc.'s spin-off of publishing unit Time Inc. takes effect on June 6. Time Inc.’s titles include Time, People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly. Along with 23 magazines in the U.S., the company operates 45 Web sites.
DYSFUNCTION IN WASHINGTON? In a TV interview, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) --- who single-handedly has blocked much movement in the Senate --- declares, "One of the problems that the press has in modern-day journalism is everything you do is a tit for tat. You won't call things the way they actually exist. What has happened here is the Republicans have stopped everything from happening.”
MORE ON WASHINGTON FROM THE PRESIDENT. Variety, the entertainment news publication, reports that at a Los Angeles fundraiser last Wednesday, President Barack Obama said a “disquiet around the country” remains along with “an anxiety and a sense a frustration”…and “the challenges out there remain daunting and we have a Washington that’s not working.”
With NV Energy’s new corporate ownership, coincidentally or otherwise, things move fast in nicking pockets of customers, observed Grumpy Editor. What’s more, media did not raise eyebrows over the latest developments.
Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. acquired the then New York Stock Exchange-listed Nevada utility, with 1.3 million customers, less than five months ago.
MidAmerican changed its name to Berkshire Hathaway Energy just last Wednesday. The renamed holding company, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a publicly traded company, is led by investor Warren Buffett.
April 30: NV Energy filed a proposal with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to close three of its coal-fired Nevada power plants this year and completely end use of that cheap-energy from coal power facilities within five years. The utility said it plans to make up for the lack of coal power by acquiring two existing gas-generated plants in southern Nevada and two solar farms.
May 2: NV Energy south filed a general rate request with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. The effect of the increase would be about 1.85 percent. The utility figured that is $2.82 a month for an average residential customer in southern Nevada, based on a typical residential bill of $152.97 with an average use of 1,136 kilowatts a month --- in a desert region where residences usually use air conditioning from May to October.
Tacked on to the proposal was more than a 50 percent boost in NV Energy’s basic service charge to $15.25 a month from $10. Unlike retail stores, for example, that include data processing, customer assistance, billing and accounting as the cost of doing business, NV Energy collects a flat monthly charge for those routine services to customers.
A major news outlet said the latest PUC rate hike filing “reflects one of the smallest increases to customers in more than a decade” --- the writer apparently overlooking a 2.75 percent jump effective January, 2012. More recently, the PUC authorized a boost in NV Energy rates effective only 34 days ago.
NV Energy is not alone in raising rates. Other states also will see soaring prices for electricity, the result of coal-fired plants closing, reductions in nuclear power, natural gas pipeline constraints and shifting to more expensive renewable energy.
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MUCH OF MAJOR MEDIA STILL MUM ON BENGHAZI. Fresh information last week from more than 100 pages of documents on the Benghazi terror attack suggested a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for Sunday show appearances where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video. Media Research Center president Brent Bozell declared on Fox News that "this is a media that are deliberately... suppressing the news from their audiences.” The email evidence, he added, proves a "wide variety of people in this administration were participatory" in the administration's lie that a YouTube video was the precipitating factor in the Benghazi consulate strike.
U.S. PERSONNEL IN UNIFORM ON TRACK TO DWINDLE. The House Subcommittee on Military Personnel backed the Pentagon's request for troop cuts. That puts the numbers for next year at: 490,000 soldiers, a reduction of 30,000; 184,100 Marines, a cut of 6,100; 310,900 airmen, 16,700 less, but no change in the Navy’s level of 323,600.
TIME TO TALK, OR RATHER, REMEMBER TURKEYS. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wants to erect a memorial at the Deer Creek Reservoir in Utah near U.S. 189, that reads: “Drive Safely, Buckle Up: In Memory of the Hundreds of Terrified Turkeys Who Died Here in a Truck Crash.”
STANDALONE BUSINESS SECTION RETURNS. The Houston Chronicle last week brought back its standalone business section to boost business news coverage and plans a new business column in a few weeks.
OOPS! WRONG STATE. Some editions of The Wall Street Journal on Thursday carried a photo and caption about the collapse of portions of the Florida Scenic Highway when, in reality, the scene showed cars damaged by a sinkhole --- in Baltimore.
Which to believe? The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times presented detailed, but contrasting, reports this month on the status of Los Angeles, notes Grumpy Editor.
The Journal headline proclaimed, "In L.A., Downtown Looks up.” The Times, on the othert hand, cited a report that finds Los Angeles in decline.
The Journal’s subhead read: “A rising star is found downtown, a former wasteland now awash in luxury condos and upscale retail.” The story pointed out, “Demand for luxury housing downtown is approaching an all-time high as the area’s population soars, nearly tripling over the past 14 years to 52,400 people, according to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District.”
Along with interior photos of expensive condos and exteriors of soaring high rises, The Journal, noted “developers are struggling to keep up with the influx of new residents.” It quoted a real estate research firm consultant saying, “Now, there are young people walking their dogs, families with strollers, restaurants teeming with people.”
On the other hand, The Times presented a different view, highlighted by a staff photo of makeshift tents, shopping carts and other belongings of the homeless lining a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk in the shadow of modern skyscrapers.
It spotlighted a Los Angeles 2020 Commission report that “presented a catalog of failures that it said were a unique burden to the city: widespread poverty and job stagnation, huge municipal pension obligations, a struggling port and tourism industry, and paralyzing traffic…”
Continuing with information from the commission, The Times added, “Los Angeles is barely treading water, while the rest of the world is moving forward. We risk falling further behind in adapting to the realities of the 21st century and becoming a city in decline.”
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PRESSES TO STOP FOR ANOTHER MAGAZINE. After a 131-year run, Ladies’ Home Journal’s July issue will be its last. However, the website of the Des Moines-based Meredith Corp. publication will continue and LHJ will appear only on newsstands as a quarterly special interest magazine.
HILLARY CLINTON LECTURES ON JOURNALISM. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, declared national "journalism has changed quite a bit in a way that is not good for the country and not good for journalism” and "current journalism is being driven more by entertainment than fact-based reporting." Sounding more like a journalism professor, the former first lady also mentioned, "It’s important for journalists to realize that they have to do their homework too and they really should be well-prepared when they interview people, when they talk about issues.”
MORE BUSINESS AHEAD FOR ATTORNEYS? Look for the Justice Department soon to release new clemency criteria guidelines aimed at releasing thousands of nonviolent drug offenders convicted of using crack cocaine. “The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications to restore a degree of justice, fairness and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
IT’S SHOW BIZ TIME FOR FIRST LADY. Michelle Obama will appear in a guest role as herself on the May 7 episode of ABC's "Nashville." Country music star Kellie Pickler also guest stars, playing herself. The episode, titled "All or Nothing," is set at Fort Campbell and centers around a charity concert. The Army’s Fort Campbell is home of the 101st Airborne Division.
BUSINESS MAGAZINES TAKE A HIT IN FIRST QUARTER. The 14 business publications underperformed other categories in the magazine field in the first quarter, reported Publishers Information Bureau. Business titles saw about a 3 percent dip in advertising revenue to $245.4 million and almost a 6 percent decline in advertising pages to 2,289. That compared to a 1.6 percent decrease in ad revenue and a 4 percent decrease in ad pages for the full industry.
THIS JUST IN --- AGAIN. Not giving up on the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, CNN over the weekend changed course somewhat to include “lawsuits on the horizon.”
FILM AT 11. For those who think working in TV is the pinnacle of news gathering, consider the action faced by a reporter/photographer team for WGHP, known as Fox8 in North Carolina, on Friday afternoon ---
Following up on an early morning drug bust near where 14 people were arrested, the Fox8 pair was greeted by a bottle-tossing woman who shouted, “I will shoot your m*****f******.” All was duly captured on video.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, who was mysteriously quiet during a week-long standoff involving a Nevada cattle rancher and the Bureau of Land Management that ended (at least temporarily) April 12, suddenly became quite vocal over the past week --- following the abrupt BLM pullout --- with a series of interviews from Reno to Las Vegas, going so far as to label those who sided with rancher Cliven Bundy in the cattle-grazing feud “nothing more than domestic terrorists,” observes Grumpy Editor.
About 300 cattle in the BLM roundup were returned to Bundy after the week-long “bullying” by the feds.
Reid’s almost daily attacks last week grabbed front-pages and broadcast news leads in the state and elsewhere, especially after the Nevada Democrat appeared at a Las Vegas Review-Journal “Hashtags & Headlines” luncheon at a major Strip hotel on Thursday.
Attendees paid $40 a head to hear Reid answer questions directed at him by a Review-Journal liberal columnist.
While Reid received wide coverage of his “domestic terrorists” phrase, there was no mention of the range dust being kicked up when the BLM rode in with 200 armed agents, including snipers positioned in the hills plus growling police dogs along with use of tasers and helicopters at Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Since 1870, the Bundy family’s herd has been grazing on that Clark County land.
The BLM and its hired “cowboys” went to the ranch to start rounding up Bundy’s 908 cattle grazing on 1,200 square miles of remote mountains and desert managed by BLM and the National Park Service. Early reason for the roundup was triggered by supposed endangerment of the desert tortoise. Then the emphasis switched to Bundy not paying grazing fees for 20 years.
Major media stories in the past week did not mention Reid’s close ties with the communist Chinese and the possibility of a major solar facility locating on the vast sun-bathed grazing land that also contains rare minerals along with the tortoises. (See the April 14 Grumpy Editor on earlier developments at the Bundy ranch and mention of Harry Reid in the headline over a revealing Infowars.com story --- a day prior to the BLM pullout.)
Reid was linked to a proposed $5 billion solar plant in southern Clark County two years ago. That operation, later shelved, involved a Chinese energy company.
Interestingly, in the same edition that reported Reid’s “domestic terrorists” description of Bundy backers, an illustrated Review-Journal feature focused on about 750 sheep dispatched to the hills on the western edge of Carson City, on the western side of Nevada, to munch on invasive grasses to reduce risk of wildfires as the fire season nears.
No comment from Reid on those grazing animals that belong to a four-year-old Gardnerville sheep farming company.
In case you missed these…
WESTERN POLITICAL LEADERS SEEK LOCAL CONTROL ON LANDS. Allied with the Bundy feud with the feds in Nevada, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Friday that more than 50 political leaders from nine states convened in Utah’s capital to discuss their joint goal --- wresting control of oil, timber and mineral-rich lands away from the feds. "The urgency is now,” declared State Rep. Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan, Utah) who organized the summit with Montana State Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-District 7).
LOS ANGELES GETS ANOTHER DAILY. First editions marking the Wednesday debut of the Los Angeles Register were hawked on Los Angeles City Hall grounds --- across the street from the Los Angeles Times building. The paper will be sold at more than 5,500 retail outlets and vending machines. It’s the first new daily in the City of Angels since the Daily News turned into a daily in 1981. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, a long-time daily, folded in November, 1989.
MEDIA PEOPLE ON THE MOVE. Fox News re-signed Chris Wallace to a multi-year deal to continue anchoring Fox News Sunday. He has anchored the Sunday morning program and contributed to Fox News’ political and election coverage since joining the network in 2003…Radio host Laura Ingraham joined ABC News as a contributor and will continue as guest commentator for Fox News Channel, often filling in for Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor…Dee Dee Myers, one of former President Bill Clinton’s press secretaries, was named head of corporate communications and public affairs for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., Hollywood’s largest studio.
U.S. NEWSPAPER REVENUE CONTINUES DOWNWARD. Newspaper Association of America said the industry’s 2013 revenue slipped 2.6 percent to $37.6 billion. Print advertising revenue last year sank 8.6 percent to $17.3 billion but circulation revenue gained 3.7 percent to $10.9 billion.
GET READY FOR THE LOCAL ANGLE. A newspaper editor in the west ran a distant police beat story in yesterday's edition like it happened down the street. A woman in Dover, N.J. --- that’s 2,300 miles from the breaking news, headline-conscious editor --- reported that on the first date with a man she met on the Internet, Joel (last name unknown), swiped her TV set and dog.
Now the editor is hoping for a follow-up.
Coincidence or otherwise, just one day after a story linked Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with the “range war” involving a Nevada cattle rancher’s battle with the Bureau of Land Management, its “troops” --- including snipers among 200 armed agents --- suddenly pulled out of Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, notes Grumpy Editor.
It could explain why the Senate majority leader was conspicuously quiet during the week-long standoff in the state he represents.
The focus was on rancher Cliven Bundy’s 908 cattle grazing on 1,200 square miles of remote mountains and desert managed by BLM and the National Park Service. Since 1870, the Bundy family’s herd has been grazing on that Clark County land.
The cattle roundup originally was triggered by supposed endangerment of the desert tortoise. Then the emphasis was on Bundy not paying grazing fees for 20 years, putting the amount owed at more than $1 million. (NOTE: A tally by Grumpy Editor finds that based on the current federal grazing fee of $1.35 a month per head and figuring 900 cattle, the annual fee would total $14,580.)
Then on Friday, a story by Kit Daniels on Alex Jones’ Infowars.com site proclaimed: Breaking: Sen. Harry Reid Behind BLM Land Grab of Bundy Ranch
Daniels wrote, “Deleted from BLM.gov but reposted for posterity by the Free Republic, the BLM document entitled ‘Cattle Trespass Impacts’ directly states that Bundy’s cattle ‘impacts’ solar development, more specifically the construction of ‘utility-scale solar power generation facilities’ on ‘public lands’.”
Daniels pointed out, “Back in 2012, the New American reported that Harry Reid’s oldest son, Rory Reid, was the chief representative for a Chinese energy firm planning to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada.” (That proposed facility on Clark County land later was shelved.) See Daniels’ full story here.
Rory Reid is a former chairman of the Clark County Commission.
Soon after the Infowars story hit the Internet, BLM director Neil Kornze said: "Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”
Just last week, with the protest and cattle roundup under way, the U.S. Senate confirmed the BLM post of native Nevadan Kornze --- who earlier worked on public lands issues in Sen. Reid’s office.
The cattle were being returned to Bundy after the week-long “bullying” by the feds. Cost to taxpayers: between $1 million and $3 million.
In case you missed these…
HARRY REID ORGANIZES ENERGY SUMMIT. Continuing his focus on solar energy, the Senate majority leader said the annual National Clean Energy Summit Sept. 4 in Las Vegas will spotlight projects where governments and private industry are cooperating on renewable energy initiatives. Booked as keynote speaker: Hillary Clinton.
MILLIONS OF AMERICANS LACK IDENTIFICATION? In the 13th paragraph of an Associated Press story on Barack Obama’s Friday speech in New York accusing Republicans of voting restrictions, the president is quoted: “But I am against requiring an ID that millions of Americans don’t have.” (Normally, a revelation that millions of Americans are without identification would be stop-the-presses news, something for mainstream media to pounce on. But now it’s ho-hum, nothing new, end of story.)
MENTION ‘PING’ AND NEWSROOM GETS EXCITED. CNN yesterday was on day 36 of almost continuous coverage of the vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with on-screen headlines:
Search area expands for missing plane
STICKER SHOCK LOOMS AT THE MEAT COUNTER. Allied with the Nevada “range war” (detailed above) and underscoring importance of the U.S. raising more cattle, backyard barbecue chefs and restaurant owners are facing the highest beef prices in almost three decades. A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand from countries such as China and Japan have caused the average retail cost of fresh beef to climb to $5.28 a pound in February, up almost a quarter from January and the highest price since 1987.
ONLINE OPERATION TO ACQUIRE ALASKA’S LARGEST DAILY. Alaska Dispatch Publishing LLC, the parent company of the online Alaska Dispatch, said it will purchase the Anchorage Daily News from The McClatchy Co. for $34 million. The sale is expected to close in May.
HOUSE RENOVATION UNCOVERS VINTAGE NEWSPAPERS. Old newspapers filled with history were found under layers of old siding at a Nashua, N.H. house. Duplicating a time capsule, readable editions of the defunct Nashua Telegraph and Boston Post dated back to August, 1922.
Grumpy Editor notes newspaper readers/radio and TV listeners were bombarded last week with the much overused term “victory lap,” after the president trumpeted from the White House Rose Garden that 7.1 million people signed up by the deadline for the first round of ObamaCare.
Victory lap stems from motorsports to describe the extra lap around the racetrack after the end of a race. It’s much like "hitting a home run,” as heard in baseball parks, to describe something such as a nifty presentation at the office.
A sampling of headlines or leads from the many print/broadcast/Internet websites going for “victory lap” (emphasized in bold face, below) ---
ABC News: President Obama Takes Victory Lap After
Health Care Sign-Ups Top 7 Million
Washington Post: 7.1 million reasons for ObamaCare victory lap
NBC News: Victory Lap: Obama Says Health
Care Law Is 'Here to Stay'
PBS News Hour: President Obama takes health care victory lap
Fox News: White House runs 'victory lap' after 7M ObamaCare sign-ups, Republicans renew repeal fight
Roll call: Obama, Democrats Have 7 Million Reasons for a Victory Lap
U.S. News & World Report: Obama Runs Victory Lap on ObamaCare Sign-Up Success, Chastises Republicans
New York Post: While ‘victory lap’ was not in the headline, it was in the lead of its story ---
WASHINGTON — President Obama took a victory lap at the close of the enrollment period for ObamaCare…
WebMD: First paragraph under the headline, ObamaCare Hits Goal of 7 Million Enrolled ---
The Obama administration took a victory lap Tuesday as enrollment through the health law’s exchanges topped 7 million...
Meanwhile, in the Far East, English-language Japan Times picked up an Associated Press story, adding its own headline:
Obama takes victory lap after health care sign-ups top 7 million
Memo to media: Did anyone check to see if there was an uptick in business at Victory Lap Auto Sales in Newnan, Ga.?
In case you missed these…
CBS ADDS COMBUSTION ENGINE SOUND TO QUIET TESLA MODEL S FOOTAGE. Drivers of Tesla Motors, Inc.’s Model S electric car are still buzzing following CBS’s 60 Minutes report of March 30 that included several shots of the normally silent-running luxury car on the road --- but with dubbed-in sound of a traditional gasoline engine. Seems strange that Scott Pelley, who reported the story (and whose wife, according to Fox News, drives a Tesla Model S), says he wasn't aware of the added audio ahead of time. He didn’t comment on it after the segment with the false noisy engines aired.
NEW JERSEY’S TOP DAILY, CUTS STAFF. Advance Publications’ Star-Ledger, Newark, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, is cutting jobs, including one-fourth of its newsroom staff (leaving 156 on the editorial payroll), as it moves to consolidate operations and cut costs.
SUNDAYS WITH NEWS VIA NEW YORK. The New York Times, seeking to bolster subscribers, is pitching its Sunday edition far from Gotham. Folks in the far West are getting mailed pitches for subscriptions at $2 a week, with smaller print refining that to “for four weeks, plus free all digital access.” Then fine print explains that after the introductory period “delivery will continue at the regular rate, which is $8.60 per week for Sunday delivery, unless you notify us.” That’s $447.20 for a year of Sunday deliveries.
PATRIOTIC MARINE FLIES FLAGS, IS THREATENED WITH EVICTION. Salem Run Apartment Homes in Fredericksburg, Va. threatens to evict a Marine who served three combat tours in Iraq because he is displaying the U.S. flag and a Marine Corps flag on his balcony. Ex-sergeant Manuel E. Vega, who spent eight years in the Marines, told Examiner.com he has been flying the flags since October and apartment managers recently decided to take action via a warning tacked to his front door. The notice reminds Vega that “you cannot have anything attached to the railing or any part of the building.” Vega --- who received the Navy and Marine Corps commendation medal, combat action ribbon, presidential unit citation, Navy unit citation and good conduct medal --- says he will not back down.
SEND THAT MAGIFYING GLASS PRONTO. One Reverse Mortgage, a Quicken Loans company, in pitching seniors with TV commercials, offers an illuminated magnifying glass as an inducement to seek more information.
For many, the magnifying item can be put to good use to enlarge the many lines of fine print that appear briefly on the TV screen.
A noteworthy event not getting much media attention in parched Western states dependent on Colorado River for water is the release --- which started March 23 --- of that river’s output through Mexico’s Morelos Dam, near Yuma, Ariz. That water is now gushing southward from the U.S. border toward the Gulf of California, observes Grumpy Editor.
As an Associated Press story puts it: “Conservationists hope the water will bring back trees, wildlife and aquatic life that were once abundant in the region when it was teeming with water decades ago.”
With recent, heavily-played stories on how the Colorado River flow ---along with a lower water level at Lake Mead near Las Vegas --- is ebbing and residents of the seven dependent “dry” states, including California, Nevada and Arizona, being told to be frugal with water usage, one wonders about the timing of the release, or "pulse," of water that started a week ago, reaching its peak Thursday when water rushed through the south-of-the-border dam at about 4,200 cubic-feet per second.
A Las Vegas Sun story on the Web yesterday paints a glum future of Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado River. “Lake Mead is drying up. At the rate we use water in the valley, the reservoir — the largest in the country --- could be drained and arid by 2050,” reads the lead.
Earlier, a New York Times story in January focuses on the 1,450-mile Colorado River “being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years” with the writer adding, “many experts believe the current drought is only the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished.”
The current water release, expected to last until May 18 into Mexico, stems from an addendum to a 1944 treaty that defines how the U.S. and Mexico share the Colorado River. The addendum calls for a five-year pilot program to provide a total of 158,088 acre-feet of water to the lower river and its delta.
South of Morelos Dam, the water channel travels about 75 miles to the Gulf of California.
The fresh release of Colorado River water into Mexico triggers an excited Los Angeles Times writer to report, “The water experiment has gone so well that it's spilling over banks and into secondary canals. The seeds of willows and cottonwoods, which rain down this time of year, have been riding the currents. Normally, they would just collect in the arid riverbed.”
The writer concludes: “After the release ends, experts from both countries will study its effects. Will water be left standing or will it be absorbed into the soil? No one knows.”
In case you missed these…
TIMES CHANGE AS CALIFORNIA GOES TO ‘POT.’ As California seeks to ask voters to consider lawful access to marijuana, veteran movie fans may recall Robert Mitchum (appearing in 106 films), regarded as one of the top actors during the movies’ Golden Age, in 1948 was arrested for possession of a marijuana cigarette at a Hollywood party. It brought front-page coverage for days and resulted in Mitchum getting a week in Los Angeles County Jail plus 43 days at a California prison farm.
‘BRIDGEGATE’ EPISODE CONTINUES FOR CHRISTIE. Friday afternoon saw lengthy live coverage of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fielding media questions as the “bridgegate” saga continues. Cable channels MSNBC and Fox News go live with the press conference that went on…and on. Fox finally breaks away, but delighted MSNBC stays on until the end. And what was CNN doing at that time? It continues to probe the Malaysian “Mystery of Flight 370.”
SEE HARRY, PERHAPS ASK A QUESTION, BUT IT’LL COST YOU. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is urging readers, via print promotion notices and emails, to attend an April 17 luncheon the newspaper is backing where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will field questions at a luncheon in a major Strip casino’s ballroom. The fee to view Harry in action: $40.
U.S. MOVIE TICKET SALES CONTINUE DOWNWARD. It’s no big surprise, considering the quality of most scripts (often cartoons or requiring smashed cars) these days, that the number of movie tickets sold between 2004 and 2013 declines nearly 11 percent. However, with higher ticket prices, box office revenue rises 17 percent.
LONG-TIME CBS CORRESPONDENT TO RETIRE. Bob Fuss in May exits the CBS Radio Network where he has been Capitol Hill correspondent since 1998. Fuss also covered national political conventions since 1976 and has traveled on presidential campaigns since 1980.
PAPER DELIVERY DELAYED. Two men are nabbed in Cadillac, Mich. after a night of drunken revelry that includes driving off in a Cadillac News delivery truck, leaving a trail of bundled papers that fell off the open back end.
Amazing to Grumpy Editor is that few media outlets, operations that depend heavily on the Internet, reported or commented on the Obama administration’s plans to relinquish control --- effective next year --- of the body that manages the Web.
Some individuals and businesses feared the move could lead to loss of free speech if China or Russia oversee Internet content.
Created in 1998, the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) contracted with the U.S. to manage the maintenance of Internet-related databases and tasks.
Wall Street Journal technology reporter Gautham Nagesh suggested in a recent NPR interview that moving control of ICANN out of America’s hands could lead to a different tone when it comes to Internet freedoms, noted writer Cheryl K. Chumley in the Washington Times.
Chunley said Nagesh added that “if ICANN’s relationship with the U.S. changes, there’s fear that eventually it could move to another country or it would no longer be under the auspices of American law, which it is currently, and that would change the nature of the Internet itself in some people’s view.”
Also fearing the turnover to other nations, L. Gordon Crovitz, a former Wall Street Journal publisher, pointed out in a WSJ op-ed piece: “In the past few years, Russia and China have used a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union to challenge the open Internet. They have lobbied for the ITU to replace Washington as the ICANN overseer.”
Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared, “Every American should worry about Obama giving up control of the Internet to an undefined group. This is very, very dangerous.”
In case you missed these…
MICHELLE OBAMA LEADS SIGHTSEEING IN CHINA. Now in day four of a week-long visit to communist China, Michelle Obama, accompanied by daughters Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson, are busy taking in the sights, including the Great Wall, the terra cotta warriors in Xian and the pandas in Sichuan province. The first lady’s theme for the trip is international education, including bolstering Chinese students to attend U.S. universities. Media are mum, however, on the 70 people in Mrs. Obama’s entourage from the U.S. --- and the cost to taxpayers.
BUSY COVER BRINGS FROWNS TO OLD TIMERS. Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover on the current “The Design” issue probably raises eyebrows of many “old school” layout folks. Boldface capital letters, in different sizes, were used straight on and on all sides to tout the contents, tempting readers to turn the cover up, down and sideways. Included among the seven teasers: “GOOD DESIGN IS LESS ABOUT TASTE BUT MORE ABOUT INTEGRITY. (Take a look at the cover and how it was made here.)
L.A. CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SEEK TO THWART MEDIA. Reporters covering Los Angeles City Hall are grumbling over proposed changes in security measures that will affect coverage of City Council meetings. Changes could limit access to the official City Hall “press suite,” where news conferences are held, and corridors behind council chambers.
DIFFICULT ECONOMY TRIGGERS MAGAZINE APPEAL TO READERS. ConsumerReports, citing its commitment to investing more than $25 million in product testing, is asking in a “special notice to members” for contributions “because of the difficult economy” so the adless magazine won’t have to cut back in its critical work. “Due to tough economic conditions, we’re seeing evidence that some manufacturers are beginning to ‘cut corners’ in ways that will undermine product quality and may even jeopardize product safety,” it warns.
N.C. NEWSPAPER SCRUBS TABLOID FORMAT. The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C. will revert to broadsheet format on May 1, ending nearly a five-year run as a tabloid. Going back to the larger size follows complaints by readers and advertisers who were vocal in criticizing the smaller tabloid format. In resuming the larger format, the newspaper returns to sections along with a new design that incorporates changes in layout and typography.
HAD ENOUGH OF WALL-TO-WALL TV COVERAGE OF MISSING MALAYSIAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 370? Despite the recent focus on debris sighted in the south Indian Ocean, 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia, Grumpy Editor agrees with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a Fox News military analyst, that the Boeing 777 more likely was hijacked and took a difficult-to-observe, over-the-ocean route to Pakistan or eastern Iran.
Lost in the week’s heavy news, ranging from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to some key Senate Democrats babbling in an overnight talkathon on climate change (ignoring the coldest U.S. six-month period since 1912) to growing approval of marijuana smoking, was a lack-of-common-sense development reported mainly in the Baltimore area, notes Grumpy Editor.
It was a teeth grinder and a slap to a money-squeezed, cancer-fighting widowed great grandmother with a clean record over her 81 years who was tossed into jail this month by a judge mainly for letting her two small dogs run loose a year ago from her home of 44 years.
Civil citations were issued to Mary Magdalene Root --- following a neighbor’s photos showing a dog running loose --- that listed dog-at-large, dog license and license violations. Exercising around Root’s home, on more than 1.5 acres, were her Chihuahua and terrier mix.
Bringing the case to light were the Baltimore Sun and WJZ, CBS’s Channel 13 in Baltimore. The Drudge Report also noted the action.
The Sun pointed out Root was charged “with failing to pay seven $75 civil citations for three incidents” involving her dogs in 2013.
The minor pet violations resulted in Root getting slapped with a $7,000 fine or spending nearly a year in jail, reported WJZ.
“She was booked, fingerprinted and issued a striped jumpsuit… a cell without her cancer medication,” the TV report added.
Root spent two nights in Harford County Detention Center before being released after a person family members characterized as a "stranger" paid $250, the required 10 percent of her bail.
Vantina Gifford, Root’s daughter, said her mother is resting at home and plans to return to court to fight the charges, according to the Sun.
In case you missed these…
ATTKISSON BIDS FAREWELL TO CBS. Emmy award winning investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson announced she is leaving CBS. “It’s not a matter of ‘me’ being on the air, it’s the idea that so few of the incredibly interesting and important original and investigative topics I brought to the table, often exclusively, could find no home at CBS in the past three years or so,” Attkisson told Fox News’ Howard Kurtz.
L.A. TIMES FACES COMPETITION. The Los Angeles Times will get daily print competition starting April 16 with the launch of the Los Angeles Register. It marks the continued expansion by Freedom Communications Inc., that includes the Orange County Register, Long Beach Register and Riverside’s Press-Enterprise.
BEST D.C.-TO-GOTHAM ROUTE. President Barack Obama hopped aboard Air Force One to New York that included a visit Tuesday to the Gap to pick up sweaters for his two daughters. He stopped by the retailer because it recently announced it would voluntarily increase wages for employees.
WELLS FARGO DEBUTS ONLINE STORIES. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. unveiled an online magazine, “Wells Fargo Stories,” with features, photos and videos about employees, customers and communities the bank serves around the U.S.
CHICAGO CUBS’ NEW BROADCAST HOME LOOMS. The rumble in Chicago is the Cubs baseball team could leave TV station WGN, home of play-by-play action since 1925, after the current season and that CBS has expressed interest in rights to carry the games.
SEASONED CHINESE FORTUNE COOKIE WRITERS NEEDED? A message in a fortune cookie had the flavor of "Yogi" Berra, the long-time New York Yankees catcher noted for his quotes, such as the simplistic observation, "It ain't over till it's over.” Over the weekend, a diner opened a fortune cookie that offered this advice: “Always remember where you are going and never forget where you’ve been.”
No sooner did the Pentagon announce plans to downsize the military when China proclaimed it would boost its military budget to almost $132 billion this year, 12.2 percent higher than in 2013, notes Grumpy Editor.
The communist nation’s military spending ranks second largest in the world, behind No. 1 spot long held by the United States --- which seeks drastic cuts of billions of dollars that would take U.S. forces to its lowest level since before World War II.
Frowning on the proposed slashing of U.S. military spending, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week predicted it would become increasingly difficult to balance the competing demands of protecting allies abroad, securing Americans at home and deterring future wars.
“Most of our platforms and equipment will be older and our advantages in some domains will have eroded,” Dempsey pointed out. “Our loss of depth across the force could reduce our ability to intimidate opponents from escalating conflicts.”
Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, warned proposed U.S. military cuts mean “we won’t be ready for the next war.” He recounted that after World War II “we took the largest, strongest Army and Navy and we totally destroyed it. We don’t think we’re setting ourselves up for the same thing?”
At the same time, in referring to the defense cuts, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel explained to Pentagon reporters, “We are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations.”
Also referring to the downsized military plan, Mike Huckabee said on his weekend Fox TV show: “We’ve been the shakiest gun in the West.”
ARMY READIES ARTILLERY POSTS FOR WOMEN
Also looking to the future, along with easing restrictions on women in combat, a directive issued by Army Secretary John McHugh called for opening 1,900 field artillery positions in the active-duty Army and 1,700 in the National Guard and Reserve.
In following up, an Army spokesman said, "With this action, the Army continues its unwavering commitment to sustain our legacy as a world-class force by providing opportunity for all soldiers to succeed through viable career paths, and by cultivating a progressively ready force with unmatched war fighting capability."
In case you missed these…
WORKING THE PHONES --- AND TEE TIME. Broadcast news over the weekend reported President Barack Obama was “busy working the phones” over the Ukraine situation. But not mentioned was tee time at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla. where the president hit the links at the championship golf course with the temperature in the low 80s under clear skies.
BUY MORE BEFORE EYEING THE PRODUCT. Even before a new subscriber gets the first delivered copy, circulation-conscious workers at Forbes magazine send out a pitch to “extend my subscription for 12 more issues.”
FEDERAL ‘SNOW DAY’ GOOD TIME TO JOG. As Washington, D.C. area federal workers stayed home last Monday because of inclement weather, an Associated Press photo showed a sleeveless man in jogging shorts running in the snowbound National Mall.
LENSMEN REJOIN CHICAGO DAILY. Four photographers, eliminated when the Chicago Sun-Times shuttered its photography department last spring, were rehired under terms of a contract settlement between Sun-Times Media and the Chicago Newspaper Guild.
IN THE FEDERAL "DUH" DEPARTMENT. Because of the government shutdown last October, recently-released official numbers show a 7.88 million person drop in national parks visitations along with lost admission money plus an estimated loss of $414 million in spending at gateway communities as visitors stayed away.
WHITAKER JOINS SUNDAY NIGHT CBS TEAM. Veteran CBS newsman Bill Whitaker will be joining “60 Minutes” as a correspondent in the fall. A Philadelphia native, he started his broadcast journalism career at KQED, San Francisco, joining CBS in 1984 with stretches reporting from Atlanta, Tokyo, South Africa and Los Angeles.
ADD DICTIONARY TO OVAL OFFICE DESK? While praising Aretha Franklin at a White House concert Thursday night, President Barack Obama made a grammatical vocal blunder in remarks to the East Room audience by spelling respect without the first e.
While media covered, sometimes briefly on TV/radio news, the administration’s proposed reduction in Army troops from the current 520,000 to between 440,000 and 450,000 --- putting them back to the pre-World War II level --- other cuts were not widely emphasized or even mentioned, notes Grumpy Editor.
Among eyebrow-raising other items, with the Pentagon’s blessing:
✔ Reducing the Army’s helicopter fleet by one fourth.
✔ Retiring all of the Air Force’s A-10 Warthog ground attack jets.
✔ Placing a limit on military pay raises.
✔ Cutting subsidies for military commissaries that lead to discounted goods for families of those in uniform.
✔ Hiking military families’ health-care fees on some non-urgent care.
✔ Putting new limits on troops’ housing allowance increases.
✔ Closing additional military bases.
In addition, overlooked at a time when drug smugglers are increasingly turning to the high seas, a 25 percent reduction of operating costs has hit the Coast Guard, sole U.S. military service able to make drug arrests hundreds of miles offshore in international waters.
AIR FORCE ONE OPERATING COSTS JUMP
Meanwhile, an unaffected military aircraft --- Air Force One, the Boeing 747 that shuttles the president and his entourage --- will see increased flight time in coming weeks as its operating costs per hour have jumped to $228,288 from $179,750 two years ago. Additional costs stem from supporting aircraft on each presidential trip.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank tallied that after a Mexico visit last month, President Obama this month was slated to fly to the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Saudi Arabia, followed next month by visits to Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines. In addition, noted Milbank, the president “has committed to doing at least 18 fundraisers this year.”
Also on the move this month will be Michelle Obama flying --- without the president --- to China for a week-long visit, March 19 to 26. She will be accompanied by daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson.
In case you missed these…
WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS…BUT. No sooner did a whopping up to nine inches of rain from two storms get dumped on parched California over the past few days when the word BUT appeared (usually followed by “not enough") leading off the next sentence in news stories. Or, as the second paragraph of an Associated Press story put it: “It didn’t put a major dent in a drought.”
PALIN ON TARGET WITH UKRAINE SIX YEARS AGO. When she was a Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin told a Reno audience on Oct. 20, 2008: "After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence – the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next.”
TURNING THE TABLES. Actor Alec Baldwin, not noted for warm relations with the media, plays a newspaperman on NBC’s "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” that airs March 19.
LOOKS LIKE MORE BUSINESS AHEAD FOR GOLDEN STATE LAWYERS. A record 1,590 California prisoners with life sentences have gone free over the past three years, with approval from Gov. Jerry Brown. More than 80 percent of lifers go behind bars for murder, while the rest are mostly rapists and kidnappers. Some people worry that parolees could pose a danger to the public and crime victims involved in their cases.
A NEW VIEW OF NEW YORK CITY. News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch paid $57.25 million for the top four floors of a new 60-unit tower in Manhattan. The four floors total 10,160 square feet. The penthouse alone has five bedrooms and five and a half baths.
An autographed two-volume set of Adolf Hitler's Nazi treatise Mein Kampf, from 1925 and 1926, was purchased for almost $65,000 by an unnamed buyer at a Los Angeles auction.
Most broadcast/print media --- finally hearing alarm bells last week --- were slow to recognize a long-in-the-works Federal Communications Commission proposal that would dispatch “researchers” to monitor newsrooms even though the snooping plan surfaced nine months ago but gained major attention after a Feb. 10 warning by Ajit Pai, Republican commissioner with the FCC, who penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, observes Grumpy Editor.
Pai, a lawyer, noted the plan posed great danger to the First Amendment and could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.” Following Pai’s revealing op-ed, many journalists and radio/TV talk show hosts termed the plan an attempt by the White House to rein in the media. Also shedding light on the dangers of newsroom monitoring was the American Center for Law and Justice.
After a barrage of broadcast and print criticism, federal officials on Friday released a one-page statement that the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, has been suspended. The study had been set to begin this year in Columbia, S.C. (However, media in that city said the monitoring plan was news to them.)
The CIN initiative included surveying media markets to determine how different demographics get news. It also called for interviews with media owners and editorial staffers on how their newsrooms operate.
Similar to discussions in an editorial meeting, the FCC planned to quiz editors and reporters on how they determine stories to cover and how they should be presented, along with asking reporters about rejected stories deemed important and reasons for the rejections.
Among suggested questions: "What is the news philosophy of the station?" and "How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?"
Veteran journalists regarded this as an initial interrogation step in an attempt to control and intimidate the media.
Ten months ago, unknown to most media, a 78-page “Research Design for the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” was prepared for the FCC by Social Solutions International, Inc., Silver Spring, Md., which describes itself as “a research and evaluation firm dedicated to the creation of social and health solutions to improve the welfare of underserved populations worldwide.”
Richard Zaragosa, whose Washington law firm represents the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, cautioned that the suspension does not mean the FCC will not proceed later with the snooping plan.
“Our reading … suggests that they have postponed the survey until it can be reworked, not that they canceled it entirely and permanently,” he pointed out.
In case you missed these…
WHITE HOUSE PRESS CAMERAS SHELVED AGAIN. White House photographers were grumbling again on Friday when locked out from President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama. Only a handout photo was provided after the “closed press” event. Some news outlets, including USA Today have nixed using handout photos.
KERRY LOOKS SKYWARD. Secretary of State John Kerry turned “climatologist” and raised eyebrows with a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, declaring climate change is perhaps the worlds’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.
AVOID CRIME, STAY AWAY FROM HOT SUN. Equally strange were amazing, crystal ball precise forecasts the Los Angeles Times gleaned from a study published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management that high temperatures are likely to produce more crime. Between 2010 and 2099, it pinpointed “climate change can be expected to cause an additional 22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft.” (Of course, not many of us will be around in 85 years to check on the study's accuracy at the end of the century. Hopefully, The Times has put a note in its future file --- for 2099 --- for a follow-up. Also, the crime/high temperature factor portends it being rather dangerous to visit or live in places such as Palm Springs, Phoenix and Las Vegas during simmering periods.)
FILM AT 11? CBS in Miami reported media organizations, including Associated Press and CNN, petitioned a Miami/Dade court for access to videos that reportedly show singer-songwriter-actor-musician Justin Bieber "during the time he was asked to provide a urine sample to Miami Beach Police as part of his DUI arrest” last month.
Media were excited last week reporting on a single, non-injury Tesla Motors Model S fire in a garage in Canada while most ignored two major Toyota Motors recalls --- two days apart --- involving 261,114 Toyota and Lexus brands in the U.S., 713,000 Prius vehicles in North America (1.9 million worldwide) plus 260,000 other vehicles in the U.S., including the RAV4, Tacoma and Lexus RX350 models, notes Grumpy Editor.
The fire involving Tesla’s electric car in Toronto occurred shortly after the driver parked it in a garage. The vehicle reportedly wasn’t plugged in for recharging.
A spokesperson for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla said:
“In this particular case, we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire.”
Interestingly, Toronto Star editors on Friday ran a Bloomberg story --- with a Los Angeles dateline --- updating the Tesla fire in a Toronto garage rather than putting one of its staffers on the local happening.
In “localizing” the story, Star editors changed Canada (last word in the Bloomberg lead) to Toronto.
In case you missed these…
NEWSPAPER FOR MARINES GETS LESS EXPOSURE AT BASE EXCHANGE CHECKOUTS. Marine Corps Times, part of Gannett Co. which owns and operates 82 daily newspapers among other media properties, is being removed from prominent up-front newsstand locations at base exchange stores worldwide and placed away from checkout lines, where it is harder to find. Marines are raising eyebrows because in the past year, the newspaper published many articles on the service’s commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, abusing his authority to ensure Marines were punished for an embarrassing war-zone scandal.
PRISON NEWSPAPER SUSPENDED. San Quentin News, the monthly newspaper produced by an inmate staff of 15 at California’s San Quentin State Prison, is back in business this week following a 45-day suspension after "inmates circumvented the editorial process by publishing disapproved content" in the December issue. The suspension of the paper, with an 11,500-copy press run, stems from inmate editors switching a photo after prison staff already approved the page.
MSNBC CONTINUES NON-STOP SPOTLIGHT ON CHRISTIE. MSNBC is not letting up on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and “bridgegate.” The cable network continues its daily extended focus on last year’s traffic jam into New York. But Christie remains busy. He visited Chicago Tuesday and returns tonight after he and his family spent the weekend in Puerto Rico.
BLIZZARD BATTERS TOKYO. While snow and ice slam much of the eastern part of the U.S., as some experts, with straight faces, attribute the unusual record-setting frigid/snowy weather to global warming (aka climate change), not much is reported in the U.S. on Tokyo getting more than a foot of snow following the worst blizzard to hit the region in 45 years.
WILL CANDY, CHERRY PIES, CHOCOLATE CAKES AND HEAPING TEASPOONS OF SUGAR INTO COFFEE BE NEXT? California state Sen. William Monning, a Democrat representing the state’s central coast, proposes to make the Golden State first in the nation to require warning labels on soda and other sugary drinks. His bill would require labels on the front of all 12-ounce beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories reading: "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay."
DOCUMENTARY JOURNALISM COURSE SLATED. Missouri School of Journalism at University of Missouri in Columbia receives a $6.7 million gift to create a degree program in documentary journalism, educating students in the history, business and production of film and other nonfiction multimedia.