Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

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Back to their roots

February 28, 2009

Another newspaper down. This time in Colorado. My heart goes out to those journalists and others across the country who fear for their jobs. And to all those in nearly every industry right now who feel constant uncertainty…job security is now an oxymoron.

 

But I am starting to feel that newspapers were all too slow in changing their business model. Now in this crisis situation, thoughtful decision-making may not happen. Kind of like buying a car because yours broke down and the absurd repair bill makes it more sensible to buy another. Here you are without wheels, and places to go! You buy the first good deal you find; no research, no shopping around and sometimes you end up with a lemon.

 

I think it’s time the papers—and the public—make the dramatic paradigm shift we all need. Our “brick and mortar” world is shrinking as more and more of us function online. Case in point: this week I clothes-shopped online at three different stores. I’m not the kind of shopper who needs to walk around a mall to feel satisfied. If I can get right to what I need/want efficiently, I am satisfied. Luv the Internet!

 

Same with news. There are so many sites with 24/7 news offerings, we can stay in the know without buying papers. Personally, I still prefer to read a paper, but I also go to several online news sources during a day.

 

For those online news sources to be reliable, journalists and writers with ethics who want to validate facts before going public and who, generally, remain unbiased, must staff them. (Something most young journalists need to work on, in my opinion.)

 

That leads me to paying for service. Perhaps it is time to tax Internet use. We all pay to use the Internet already because we need an Internet Service Provider (ISP), in my case Comcast. I’m not an economic analyst, but let’s say every ISP customer pays an extra $5 a month; $60 a year. With an estimated 3 million U.S. population (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html), that means $1.8 billion in revenue to fund news sites. Maybe the ISPs match that amount, something they cannot pass onto their customers.

 

As I blogged about before, I think it’s time for the local papers to become weeklies…again. Back to their roots. Sunday papers sell because they include a feature, often investigative in nature, the local feel good stuff like weddings and anniversaries, along with the stores’ sale circulars. They can cut costs and pool resources so not every brick and mortar shop has print and production resources. Regionalize that aspect of the business.

 

It’s time; it is past time, for all industries and all of us as individuals, to tighten up. Working together, sharing resources, paying reasonable fees for things we use means we access the services and products we need, we can trust the providers of those services and our country is more solvent because of it.

 

Not saying that single change is the answer to all our economic woes. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy? <sigh> But I believe it’s a good place to start and provides a model other industries could consider.

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Is retro really nouveau?

January 29, 2009

I’m no economic expert, but like many, as I hear about all the economic woes in the U.S. and globally, I want to be part of the solution. A recurring thought for me is that perhaps our 24/7society has come full circle and we now need to try some “retro” approaches.

 

For example, newspapers – the actual print paper – cannot completely disappear. We need them. There is a lot of information in a paper that may be on the Internet, but in a single paper, is much easier to find.

 

But…do we need daily papers? Perhaps it’s time for them to go back to weekly publication. A nice, big Sunday paper with all the stores’ sale circulars, calendar of events, investigative stories and of course ads because those dollars are the bread and butter of a paper.

 

What about stores? Do they all really need to be open 6 a.m. to midnight (slight exaggeration there)? The great majority of us work Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Why not close one or two days a week? On the weekdays when you’re open, cut your hours to 12 noon to 7 p.m. Stay open longer on the weekends when consumers have time to shop.

 

For those of us who cannot work around your store hours, there is Internet shopping. The 24/7 store.

 

Wouldn’t that beat bankruptcy and shutdown? Isn’t it better to make use of what we have then continue to add empty, neglected buildings and warehouses to the American landscape? Let’s prevent sending more people to the unemployment lines.

 

For other service-oriented operations – including government – cut to four days a week. Doesn’t even have to be a three-day weekend, although that might be a nice benefit for your employees. In today’s economy most people would take a four-day paycheck over no paycheck. You cut your operating expenses as you weather this financial hurricane.

 

Americans are creative survivors so I have no doubt we will get this turned around. I’m tired of the panic, and especially tired of mainstream media’s push to fuel that panic. Let’s stop whining, pointing fingers, crying “woe is me” and get clever about how to fix it. Look to the past to find models that can work in 2009.

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News – American made

July 3, 2008

In Florida in the past two weeks, nearly 400 newspaper and other media outlet employees have lost their jobs. The Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, Tampa Tribune cut staff, and the Daytona Beach New Journal will be shutting down completely.

This is bigger than just the tough economy. This is a result of the dumbing down of Americans. Newspapers can’t sell their papers – their core product! How can we expect them to stay in business if we’re not buying the product?

Why aren’t we buying? In my opinion, it’s because so many of us are content to read an occasional blog or the FWD: FWD: FWD: e-mail Joe’s best friend’s sister’s nephew wrote. It doesn’t really matter to us if that piece is fact-checked. We’ll take it at face value and consider it news.

As a consumer that frightens me. I don’t always like that journalists are the watch dogs of society – don’t always agree with them – but I know that the large majority of them want to tell both sides of every story to inform the public. There’s no way I can be informed, on my own, about all the issues of our complex society. I rely on them to deliver the information so I can make intelligent choices and decisions.

As we force their employers to reduce staff and close doors, we risk losing something essential to America’s being: past, present and future. I am proud to say that I have been a newspaper subscriber in every city I’ve lived in my adult life, and am currently. I can’t always spend as much time reading it as I like, but I will always subscribe.

I want factual coverage and I want to support American made products. After all, isn’t that what our newspapers really are?

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Shame on Starbucks!

July 3, 2008

I love coffee–hot, fresh coffee. And I love my mocha lattes. I can justify splurging on them because it’s about the only way I drink milk. Lots of my hard earned cash helped you grow, Starbucks.

Now you’re closing 600 stores! You couldn’t rake in money fast enough a year or so ago, and now when times are a little tough, you’re adding to the problem. Not to mention the lack of “green” by abandoning buildings that in many instances you built new.

In the process of all your growth, you ran “mom & pops” out of business across the country. So while I’m disappointed in you, I can’t even say I’ll never buy another Starbucks. You’re the only gig I’ve got close by, right on the way to work. Just the way your business model was designed.

Rethink your decision. Limit hours. Cut back menu items in those places. Do anything but put more people out of work and add more wasted building space to our landscape.