Category Archives: Business

ON AIR: The Never-Ending Story (the news) Needs a Face Lift

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“It is not the young people that degenerate; they are not spoiled till those of mature age are already sunk into corruption.” – Charles de Montesquieu

As a critic of my generation, I find my purpose to question what we are doing to push ourselves to our fullest potential, but I want to do a little reflection on the idea that is often unfairly placed on our generation: instant gratification. More pointedly, that our attention and interests are fast and fleeting that the reward must be quick or we lose attention. Many scholars point to the way we donate to viral causes instead of immersing in long term involvement and participation. For instance, we donate to causes like the “ice-bucket challenge” (of recent), or the skyrocketing involvement with the Stop Kony campaign that quickly disappeared in 12’. I am not necessarily disagreeing with this assessment, but I would contend that this instant gratification was taught to US. The dreams and visions of the generations before us have manifested very differently than ever expected. So blame it on the over saturation we inherited…

Case and Point: The Never-ending News Cycle

Cable news today is constant and never-ever ending. When the idea of a 24-hour TV news station was conceived, it was brilliant. Ted Turner, creator of the first 24-hours television news station, Cable News Network (CNN), envisioned providing the news to more people and at different times of the day. Prior to the 24-hour TV news station, depending on your job or responsibilities you would miss the afternoon or evening news and you might not know what’s going on locally or nationally. And more importantly, Turner wanted Americans to have more access to the world. “He wanted to shrink the world. He wanted Americans to understand the world, and not be isolationists, not be comfortable in our little cocoons.” (Source). Sounds great, doesn’t it?

In the beginning, CNN was able to be the leader of pushing news stations to be more on site, globalize their stories, and provide live coverage by any means necessary. Today, the news often feels like sound bites, tantalizing headlines, the number of likes on social media (as everything else) and less and less about substance. The original CNN’s goal was to break the news first, push the limits, and provide in-depth coverage. Today’s goals are shaped after those same ambitions, but money and competition has pushed the 24-hours news cycle to produce very different results.

All the (American) 24-hour stations (CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc.) now-a-days try to break stories too early before all the information is available, or pursuing ANY story that will “excite” viewers instead of what’s actually happening in hopes of catching our supposed fast and fleeting attention span. And often times, content, research and investigative journalism has been thrown out for pundit opinion. Sometimes it feels as if stations would rather do a talk show with multiple opinions then an in-depth story.

How did this happen? Many cite the inventions of Twitter, buzzfeed, TMZ, the Huffington Post, etc., show the engaging news, hot topics, videos, because our generation only cares to a certain point. That these outlets have become popular because of the lack of our ability to stick with a story.

This is the farthest thing from truth. The reality is everyone is telling the same story, in the same way. Yeah, FOX news may be to the right, and MSNBC is to the left, and CNN goes where it feels at the moment. To me, the news is no longer special. We don’t pay attention, because news stations are not willing to take risks and really do something different; outside of different hosts and a new technology that doesn’t delve more into the story. They are not investing and studying ways to provide the news to our generation. What happens today, news stories are covered fervently, day in and day out, until the next big story breaks, and then the news stations forget about it. Some people with personal connections may try to keep up to date, or have to go to the Internet and hopefully a news source is still following the story.

Look to the story of the kidnapped Nigerian girls and the “#bringbackourgirls” campaign. Last week, the Huffington Post had a writer provide an update, but there are few updates regarding the story when you google the issue, and in the HPost’s article there are some startling revelations that make you wonder why we’re still not interested, such as the fact “Not one student has been rescued”!!!! (Source)  If this were the 80’s, CNN continual coverage from that era could’ve pushed governments into action as the once infamous “CNN effect” was coined due to the major impact CNN had on the conduct of states’ foreign policy in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There was a time when the news was pushing our country, today, it’s too busy following the dollar.

In the opening of Ted Turner’s Life Class with Oprah, he said, “Nobody studied their competitors harder than I did… and then took a risk”. If only they would listen his advice now. A lot of people still get their news from twitter and Facebook, but many still choose, as I do, to read the long articles from a magazine such The Atlantic, Fortune or from newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Sometimes I want the in-depth well-researched story and sometimes I do want my TMZ. Unfortunately, at the same time, TMZ has on occasion broke stories that the “real” news didn’t even pursue. I want the news stations to fight for the right stories and cover the necessary issues going on in America and abroad, because that’s their job, if they do that, the people will come, my generation will come.

So don’t say our attention span is short, we have nothing to watch or to look forward to.

M/P

Freedom: The New American Silo

Blog #5

Freedom: The American Silo

 You know you are out of your element when you feel a cringe in your stomach, a knot in your chest, or maybe a slight headache. If you think these feelings are unnatural or unwanted, embrace them. Many entrepreneurs, innovators live off of the feeling, because the moments that make you feel uncomfortable are often the experiences that make you grow. However, it’s becoming increasingly more common to not take the risk or the challenge.

Do you know why? Freedom.

Huh? What? That’s right, Freedom.

America was built on this cool thing called freedom, and it’s pretty awesome until we decided to get lazy, and this “freedom”, basically has become justification for us to only stick to what we know and like, but expanded to the point where it justifies what we don’t do, and that’s bad. In fact, that sentence I just wrote was lazy, and my high school English teacher would scream from the use of cool, pretty, awesome, and bad all in the same sentence as if there weren’t better adjectives to use.

So Freedom IS the power or the right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Yet, our sense of freedom to act, beyond expressing disagreement (as discussed in last week’s blog post) is stagnant. I believe that’s some of the befuddlement by the actions in Ferguson, is that the community is standing up, protesting, and challenging the status quo; many have asked them to wait. Wait for an investigation. Wait for due process. Wait for justice. You might not like the way they are doing it, but when did speaking out and protesting ever become an un-American thing to do. They used their freedom to act.

One of the biggest glaring examples, over the past few years, where Americans are using freedom in exchange for not taking the difficult steps to act: Tax inversions. “More big U.S. companies are incorporating abroad despite a 2004 federal law that sought to curb the practice. One big reason: Taxes”  (source: WSJ)

Sound complicated? It’s a deal (merger) between an American company and a non-American company to avoid or lessen U.S. taxes. To some degree, and in certain circumstances, I agree this practice is perfectly responsible for American companies, and my libertarian part of my brain is all for it. What bothers me is the implication that not allowing companies to pursue better tax options overseas on non-American soil is anti- American, because they have the right to choose (freedom) is just plain lazy. I’ve really heard pundits making the comments that this is what America was built on,  freedom, the freedom to move and make more money and that is true, but it’s more than that.

The real issue is that the tax code/system needs to be rewritten and revised. There are opportunities to take a look at our current policies and alter them to effectuate a change that would make companies WANT to stay here; but no one wants to have the conversation, no one wants to act. I mean there are a few scholars, tax nerds, and a small number of legislators that do, but the majority of people who have the power and influence to do so, but really don’t want to. They would rather not get awkward, get a little dirty, and avoid the knots in their stomach because it’s simply uncomfortable.

Companies, banks, and wealthy individuals have leveraged congress on policies with less importance and less effect on the American public. American companies continue to leave American soil and take away American jobs in the name of Freedom. (craziness, right?)

The actions of the companies are so suspicious that Burger King’s recent announcement of their merger with the Canadian- based Hortons, was immediately questioned as to their motives. And at first glance, their explanation seems reasonable, because the fast food market is losing money, and the market is more competitive as Americans are attempting to eat healthier (and rid the world of gluten). We don’t expect our tax rate to change materially,” said Burger King CEO Daniel Schwartz. “This transaction is not really about tax, it’s about growth”  (source: WSJ)

Then you look at the numbers! I didn’t even know Burger King was doing so well, they are 4th  in overall sales, after McDonalds, Subway and Starbucks. Then you see the reason everyone is giving them the big *sideeye*

This is not an attempt to oversimplify a critical, multi-layer problem within our system, but I would argue that we’ve masked our laziness, our fears, behind Freedom, and the American spirit is built around creation, innovation, MAKING MISTAKES, and figuring out a better solution. case and point: Kentucky’s Kynect. Do you know why Kentucky’s Kynect system has been so successful in promoting Obamacare?

So the Democrats got the legislation passed, won the war. Republicans were upset, and understandably vocal against legislation that they believe would cripple the system. Disagreement is good, but failing to ACT is futile.  The leaders in Kentucky had one responsibility: create a solution for all Kentuckians. Not only for one segment of the population, and that would include making the benefits attractive to Republicans.  And that’s where they truly won, and conveyed what America is all about. They executed their job to meet the law, and made it work for those who did not see their vision (and continue to hate Obamacare), and to me that is real freedom.

Freedom is our right as Americans to think, argue, and disagree as we so choose. But Freedom was not fought for and given to us to use these differences to not ACT.  Freedom’s real purpose was for us to recognize each others differences, and have the capacity, technology, and tools to create a solution.

So American, let’s break down the walls, and break out of the American Silo, work together and do something.

MP