Service of What Changed? Is This a Breakthrough Against Nasty-Talk?

May 17th, 2018

Categories: Apology, Nasty, Negativity, Politicians, Politics

Photo: Skysports.com

Until now there have been few [if any] things about which a chunk of lawmakers from across the aisle could agree; the same with Trump supporters and detractors. It took a Trump aide’s nasty comment about Senator John McCain–“he’s dying anyway”–for a significant number of Republicans to speak up. Someone in the administration crossed a line and Democrats and Republicans alike immediately cried “foul!” and didn’t stop for days.

That is, except the president and some others…more about them later.

Kelly Sadler said those mean-spirited words about a hero during a White House communications meeting discussing Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director. McCain didn’t support the president’s pick because, during senate hearings, Haspel refused to say torture is immoral. McCain knows about torture.

Senator Graham. Photo: thehill.com

Thehill.com quoted Lindsey Graham’s reaction to Sadler. His word: “disgusting.” And Graham wasn’t the first or the last to urge the White House to apologize.

Here’s just a fragment of the praise Paul Ryan shared about Senator McCain: “There are so many accolades I could heap on John McCain.” Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas called Sadler’s “denigrating” comments “reprehensible” and tweeted that he “deserves our respect.” Another Republican Senator, Joni Ernst from Iowa, said that “Our nation….should treat this war hero and his family with the civility and respect they deserve.” Democrat Gerry Connolly, R.I., said “Our politics may be different but John McCain is an American hero.”

Joni Ernst. Photo: kcrg.com

According to The Republic/azcentral.com, Senator Jeff Flake posted “There are no words” on Twitter to which John Kerry replied, “Actually, Jeff, you’re too kind. There are words-four letter ones.” Mitt Romney, according to azcentral.com, said that John McCain “makes America great” and “those who mock him only humiliate themselves ‘and their silent accomplices.’”  Ohio governor John Kasich also called for a White House apology.

Joe Biden said: “People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday.” Regarding disrespect, he continued: “this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it.”

Len Berman, left, & Michael Riedel

As many as five days after Sadler spoke, New York City radio talk show hosts continued to criticize the spiteful words. This Tuesday morning drive time talk show co-hosts Len Berman and Michael Riedel, WOR 710 AM, mentioned the incident for the second day and urged the White House to make a public apology. Riedel is a Trump supporter.

There’s always an outlier. A retired general on Fox Business network said that “torture had worked on the Arizona senator…. ‘That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’” Does he remember that the Senator stayed with his fellow captives when he had a chance to leave prison first?

In addition to the White House, others have shared inexplicable silence. According to azcentral.com: “Top political figures from Arizona largely remained silent, including: Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey; former Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who remains a political player in Arizona and beyond; Arizona Republican Party chairman Jonathan Lines; and Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, Martha McSally and David Schweikert. Likewise, Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva and Kyrsten Sinema have issued no public statements.”

To take away a bit of the credit I gave the Republicans who spoke up, when Republican senators met with the president on Tuesday, not one brought up this subject or asked him to apologize.

What is it about Kelly Sadler’s words that struck a chord when previously so many other abhorrent comments and taunts have gone unnoticed by all except members of the opposing political party? How come the sting of these three words lasted so long? Could this be a turning point where some politicians regain a conscience? Why is it so hard for some to apologize or admit to making a mistake or hurting another person’s feelings?

Photo: beyondphilosophy.com

Service of Wacky Things People Do

May 14th, 2018

Categories: Apartment Living, Following Instructions, Post Office, Scams, Theft

Photo: balunywa.blogspot.com

In quick succession I became aware of some screwy things people do–mild in comparison to what is happening in the photo above.

Homemade Floods

Photo: hiawathasewer.com

The note slipped under our door at the high-rise we live in warned that the water would be turned off the next day from 9 to 5 and to please make sure “when leaving the unit to turn off all the faucets.”

I asked the morning doorman, who has worked at the building for decades, about the reason for that odd faucet request. He said that when learning of a water shutdown some of the tenants turn on all their faucets before leaving for work. Then he smiled and shrugged.

We’ll Learn to Read Next Week

I was waiting for a test at a doctor’s office in a cubby-size space in which patients change to a hospital gown and wait their turn. I was pacing and couldn’t help notice the giant sign on a hamper to hold used gowns [photo, left] and a few steps away, a trash can. On closer inspection, I saw trash in the gown hamper. The garbage can was empty.

Don’t Look Now

Did the person installing the Vanderbilt Ave. detour sign [photo below, right] bother to look at the direction of the traffic? In addition, this sign is right off First Avenue, blocks and blocks away from Vanderbilt Avenue. I feel very sorry for out of towners driving in NYC.

Sticky Mail Boxes

Some unscrupulous people fish for mail.

Lindsay Gellman wrote “Sticky Fingers Fishing” in The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town.” In it she identified the “most pressing crisis” for the USPS, noting that it’s not what the president identified: He blamed Amazon for using the service as its “delivery boy.”

People are stealing credit cards, checks, cash, gift cards and money orders from mail boxes using a low tech method. They put rat glue on a small juice bottle and tie a shoelace to its neck, creating a mail fishing device. Phil Bartlett, in charge of the postal service’s New York inspection division, shared how the thieves transform checks to reissue them to someone else. He told Gellman: “There’s products out there, things like Ink Away, or sometimes nail-polish remover. Or they soak them in a solution containing brake fluid.” Or they take bank and account numbers from checks and make counterfeit ones.

The post office’s solution is to replace or retrofit the 7,000 traditional mailboxes in and around NYC with ones with thin slits [photo below]. I haven’t seen anyone fish for mail, but I imagine they do it late at night.

Have you observed or read about any wacky things that people do?

Photo: riverdalepress.com

Service of Where Is Everybody? Looking for Help at Retail Today

May 10th, 2018

Categories: E-tailing, Lines, Patience, Retail, Staffing

Photo: blog.shelving.com

Are there longer lines when you check out in large retail stores these days? Have you had a hard time finding anyone to answer a question or direct you? The Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Kapner offered reasons in “Stores Slash Staffs and Watch Lines Grow.”

Since 2008, she reported, Macy’s has cut 52,000 workers–full and part-time in stores, warehouses and at headquarters. During the same period at J.C. Penny, “workers have disappeared twice as fast as department stores,” now 112 per store down from 145.

Photo: blog.linelogic.com

“Retail staffing hasn’t kept pace with growth in the broader economy or population gains in the past decade. The number of salespeople at retailers grew by 1.5% over the past decade, even though the population served by each store has increased 12.5%, according to government data. At clothing and accessories stores, the number of cashiers is down more than 50% from 2007.”

In the lead, Kapner attributes the “assault” from Amazon while others blame cuts at headquarters, smaller stores, do-it-yourself checkouts, more full-time workers reducing the number of part-timers and “shelf-ready packaging that they say makes existing workers more productive.”

To redress overzealous cutbacks, Kroger grocery store is adding 11,000; Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to add 10 percent and Macy’s will bolster staff in fitting rooms, dress, women’s shoe and handbag departments “for the most impact.”

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union president Stuart Applebaum told Kapner:  “If brick-and-mortar retailers can’t compete on price in an online environment, the only thing that allows them to survive is to provide a positive in-store experience.”

Kapner reported that “Over the past 12 months, 86% of U.S. consumers say they have left a store due to long lines, according to a survey conducted by Adyen, a credit-card processor and payment system. That has resulted in $37.7 billion in lost sales for retailers, Adyen estimates.”

Saks flagship store NYC Photo: complex.com

According to a Saks employee on the job 24 years, sales associates in the NYC flagship “process returns, restock shelves and fill online orders which takes them away from selling.”

Is there a solution? Kapner wrote: “Retailers typically set staffing as a percent of sales, but a growing body of research suggests it should be based on foot traffic. The problem is twofold: Many retailers don’t track traffic and even if they do, they are reluctant to add labor, which is already among their biggest costs.”

A Florida chain installed cameras and noticed that even though one store was packed during the afternoon, sales were down at that time because staff was overwhelmed. Sales increased when management added two people during the busy hours.

Do you frequent major retailers? Have sales personnel been distracted or nonexistent? Are there other answers to fighting behemoth amazon.com and online venues that don’t shoulder a retail rent expense? Do people have shorter patience when waiting for help or to pay in a department store than at a discounter? Are there other businesses that, like retail, use financial models from a different time that no longer apply?

Macy’s Oakbrook Center. Photo: cspaksco.com

Service of Leasing a Car in a World of Hackers

May 7th, 2018

Categories: Automobiles, PIN Numbers, Sales, Security, Technology

2018 Malibu

A friend was refused a credit card offered by a cashier along with a special promotion at a store she frequents. She has a top credit rating. The cashier didn’t explain why her application was declined and she’d forgotten that she’d frozen access to her credit reports.

I, too, was tripped up by a frozen credit report. This post is to remind folks who protected themselves from the Equifax debacle or who froze their reports for any other reason to remember they’ve taken the step and to tuck the PIN numbers from credit services in a handy place.

Photo: nextbigfuture.com

In my last post I wrote about my experience identifying myself to my auto insurance company when we were leasing a new car. I didn’t remember which PIN number they were asking for—I have so many for that company–and ran into a second wall when my answer to “What’s the name of your child?” was “I don’t have one.”

Turned out we weren’t out of the woods once we’d cleared the insurance hurdle.

Starting from the beginning, we were at Ruge’s Chevrolet in Millbrook, N.Y. the last Saturday in April. We’d become, uncharacteristically, the kind of indecisive customers salespeople must detest. We finally leaned in favor of one model, but didn’t care for the color of the car on the lot. Fire engine red isn’t us. So we chose a different model.

I’m not used to being this finicky. Our salesman of many years, Barry Lang, was cheerful and patient as we zigged and zagged and although he didn’t show it, he must have been happy to see us leave [while wondering: “What happened to them?”]. It wasn’t the last of us. We had an appointment to pick up the new car Monday morning—the day the lease on our other car expired.

Barry Lang, Ruge’s Chevrolet

Not long after we left, Barry called to ask me to lift the freeze I’d put on my credit file at TransUnion. He gave me all the information I needed to reach them and I immediately tried online as the office was closed until 8:00 a.m. Monday. But my social security number was not in the system. [I knew that wasn’t accurate!]

When I updated Barry, saying I’d return to the city to retrieve my TransUnion file Sunday and grab the earliest train north Monday morning, he told me to relax, to stay put and to enjoy the weekend in the country.

Monday 8 a.m. I answered all the questions of the TransUnion agent until he asked for my PIN number. When you freeze your account, you get this number in a letter mailed to your official residence. I was sunk. The number was in the city. I was 90 miles away.

In the end, I was lucky: I reached David Reich, an associate whose office is next to mine and who was at work early. He found the paperwork and PIN and I was back in business.

The rest of the procedure at Ruge’s was seamless. Barry showed me what was new about the car. In fact, he shot me an email a few days afterwards urging me to contact him if I needed a refresher about the new technology or features. The new car has no key, for example. I start and stop the car by pressing a button.

The glitches were my fault. Remembering how smoothly everything had gone in previous transactions either buying or leasing a car from this company I came unprepared. The hiccups were caused because I’m not yet used to how I’m forced to protect myself from hackers. I didn’t come armed with the appropriate PIN numbers.

I’m grateful to TransUnion for protecting me from potential scofflaws as, no doubt, is my friend, even though she couldn’t glean the goodies offered by the retail store’s promotion.

Have you been blocked from making a purchase because of a credit report freeze or didn’t you freeze yours? Have you found it more complicated than previously to make large purchases involving credit these days?

Photo: 123rf.com

 

 

Service of Family: No Marriage, No Children=No Family & Unfit to Serve?

May 3rd, 2018

Categories: Automobiles, Children, Families, Insurance, Politics, Prayer, Religion, Sales, Security

Photo: motivationpt.com

I was at an auto dealership in upstate New York last weekend speaking with an insurance company customer service rep. Our salesman was arranging for the transfer of our insurance to a new car and when done, he passed me the phone.

After “Hello”—I’d expected a quick “confirming that you’re Jeanne Byington leasing a car,”–but instead the rep bombarded me with questions starting with “What’s your PIN number?” I panicked, looked at my husband and we spat out a few options. The rep interrupted me and then asked, “What is the name of your child?” I answered: “I don’t have one.” He said, “You have to call back. I’ve been logged out.” Click.

Photo: datagenetics.com

So we called back, this time logging in with a PIN number, which worked thank goodness, and we reached a pleasant woman who took the information she needed from the salesman and she then asked me: “What’s your child’s birthday and year of birth?” I told her I don’t have children, but decided to share the birth info of my stepdaughter to move things along. That was the right answer. The company, its staff or computer had assumed that everyone has a kid and that my husband’s daughter–he uses the same company for a range of services—was also mine.

I immediately thought of a comment I read on Twitter by author Father James Martin, @JamesMartinSJ,  regarding the replacement of the fired House of Representatives Chaplain Father Patrick J. Conroy: “The idea that a priest can’t be House chaplain because he’s not a ‘family man’ is absurd and borderline anti-Catholic. Priests have families: mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews. Also, by that yardstick, Jesus Christ wouldn’t qualify.”

Father James Martin. Photo: ncregister.com

He was responding to a remark by Mark Walker, a Republican representative from North Carolina who is on a committee to find a new chaplain. According to The Hill, Walker said: “I’m looking for somebody who has a little age, that has adult children, that kind of can connect with the bulk of the body here, Republicans and Democrats who are going through, back home the wife, the family—that has some counseling experience…”

I take Walker’s comment a step beyond religion: Is Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor unable to do her job appropriately because she never married nor had children yet her judgments impact citizens?

Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Nobody knows for sure why the Chaplain was fired. According to America Magazine’s Michael J. O’Loughlin who wrote “House Republicans rebuff investigation into firing of Jesuit chaplain,” New York Representative Joe Crowley noted that “Mr. Ryan and other Republican members of Congress were unhappy with the chaplain for delivering a prayer in November they viewed as partisan.” Father Conroy reported to The New York Times that after he offered the prayer on taxes, Mr. Ryan told him, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”  While the Republican tax bill was on the table Father Conroy had urged the planners not to create “winners and losers.”

O’Loughlin wrote that “Mr. Ryan told Republican colleagues on Friday that some lawmakers felt Father Conroy was not providing appropriate pastoral care to House members.” I heard Representative Peter King from Long Island, NY disagree on TV news with this allegation.

So why did it take the House seven years to react if this was so? In his work as pastor at numerous churches as well as chaplain at Georgetown and Seattle Universities, for how many people had he provided pastoral care without complaint?

In a subsequent interview with Walker, Scott Wong reported in The Hill in “Conservative leader: Next House chaplain should have a family” that the congressman said “When you walk the journey of having a kid back home that’s struggling or made some bad decisions, or when you have a separation situation or your wife’s not understanding the [congressional] schedule, having somebody who’s walked in those shoes allows you to immediately related a little bit more than others.”

To be effective, must a grade school teacher have children; a female psychiatrist counsel women exclusively, or an obstetrician be female? Is an unmarried man or woman or a couple with no children, regardless of religion, without family? Is a doctor who doesn’t suffer from his/her specialty unqualified to treat that disease? Are there certain jobs unmarried or childless people are ill-equipped to have?

Father Patrick Conroy. Photo: youtube.com

 

Service of Office Friends: Who Is Invited to Special Occasions?

April 28th, 2018

Categories: Friends, Friendship, Office, Rejection, Wedding, Work

Photo: thoughtcatalog.com

I met some of my oldest friends at or through work. And while the article that inspired this post focused on weddings, there are many special occasions—50th birthday parties, 25th wedding anniversaries, a child’s momentous event–that might create the same dilemma: which office friends to invite when faced with constraints of a budgetary nature or of space?

The title of Sue Shellenbarger’s Wall Street Journal story “The Dreaded Wedding Decision: Which Co-Workers to Invite?” covers a lot. You spend more time on the job, shoulder to shoulder with colleagues, more than with most family and friends. It’s natural to share event plans and glitches or address family kerfuffles with these folks as you munch lunch. But who gets cut from the list: Cousin Frank and his nasty wife–which will cause a rift with your aunt and uncle and create stress for your parents–or Frieda and Fred in accounting?

Photo: one-stop-party-ideas.com

According to Shellenbarger, the reaction of one groom with 18 office friends and space for only three: “Just because you’re really cool with and close to a friend at work doesn’t mean you’re going to be cool and close in your personal life.” When a bride’s work friend told her she couldn’t wait to attend her wedding, she said: “I’m really sorry, but we have kind of a strict guest list. I hope there are no hard feelings.” There weren’t.

One bride in her story opted for fewer flowers and a less expensive dress so she could invite all 15 of her co-workers. A wedding expert shared the obvious point that you should invite the entire group if you’re inviting most of a small team of co-workers. As for inviting the boss, another expert suggested to think twice if she/he is buttoned up and your family is wild and loves to party.

Photo: excelle.monster.com

“Couples agonize over which co-workers to include and how to cushion the hurt among those they leave out. Balancing your needs without damaging important relationships requires nuance.”

One couple who worked in different departments at the same airport invited 30 guests and kept mum about their wedding. When they returned to work the bride was bombarded by co-workers with questions as to why they weren’t invited. To smooth things out she promised to invite to a housewarming party one person who would no longer speak with her.

Shellenbarger reported on a survey by The Knot of 13,000 couples which showed that guest lists shrank last year by 13 people to 136, as couples are increasingly passing on spacious banquet halls in favor of smaller venues like historic mansions or barns.

Social media postings spill the beans at work even if you don’t: Shellenbarger reported that nine out of 10 couples post engagement pictures.

Have you been in this situation or observed others who were? What is the best way to handle the stomach-wrenching dilemma if you can’t, or don’t want to, invite the entire office gang? Do you have other issues to consider if you are a manager?

Photo: historicwaynesborough.org

Service of Mistakes That Are Not All Bad

April 26th, 2018

Categories: Leadership, Learning, Mistakes

Photo: viralnovelty.net

“As long as they are well-intentioned, mistakes are not a matter for shame, but for learning”– Margaret Heffernan, Businesswoman. That’s what you read after Matt Schiller’s signature on his e-mail. He’s advertising and business manager for Catholic New York. I noticed the quote when I was in touch with him earlier this week. Heffernan, headquartered in the UK, is an international businesswoman, author and TED speaker.

The quote reminded me of a perfect way to finesse a mistake that impressed me years ago. The speaker was VP of design for a luxury brand; well regarded in the interior design world; a big deal at the American Society of Interior Designers and president of the International Furnishings and Design Association at the time of this story. One of his board members proudly presented a brochure on furniture design at the annual meeting that her committee had just published. Instead of speaking with this person privately, a busy-body, also on the board, raised her hand and said, “I saw a typo on page four….” Robert replied, [and I bet it wasn’t true]: “We always place an error in our marketing materials just to see if people are reading them.”

Photo: leadershipstyles.org

When I told Matt about this incident he admired Robert’s response, “his defense of a team member and his non-confrontational way of handling what could have become a tense situation. That’s the kind of leadership we need more of in every aspect of life.” Matt added: “I have often said to colleagues, ‘I have made an incredible number of mistakes in my life, and I have tried to learn something from each of them.’”

My biggest mistakes happen when I don’t follow my gut and when I work when too tired. I don’t always listen to my instinct and I don’t stop when I know that I’ll get whatever I’m working on accomplished in a fraction of the time the next morning.

Other mistakes happen when dealing with vendors who deliberately hide information or don’t volunteer what may change a prospect’s mind about accepting their proposal. They hope you won’t ask the pertinent questions. These are the mistakes Margaret Heffernan refers to. The fix: Experience. You learn what questions to ask.

In what category do most of your mistakes fall–when you don’t listen to your gut; you work when exhausted; you’re misled and haven’t asked the right questions to unearth the facts or something else?

Photo: agapegeek.com

 

Service of Losing to Win Time: Do Kids Benefit?

April 23rd, 2018

Categories: Cheating, Children, Games, Winning

 

Photo: atlantaparent.com

Five years ago I wrote about toys and board games “light,” called “snack toys” by the industry because they are rigged to take less time for parents to play with their children than traditional Monopoly, Parcheesi and other games. Time continues to be a premium along with patience.

Today some parents cheat so their kids will win quickly or turn to technology to accelerate the process. Greg Bensinger wrote in The Wall Street Journal that parents “are palming cards, strategically adding pieces when the children aren’t looking and sometimes outright lying. Not without irony, some parents have used technology to make games go faster.”

In “Parents Rig Board Games To Lose Faster,” Bensinger reported that “Sales of games and puzzles in the U.S. grew 27% between 2015 and last year, hitting $2.09 billion, according to NPD Group Inc., far outpacing sales growth for all toys.”

Photo: poki.com

Data analyst Ethan Markowitz’s son can’t get enough of Chutes and Ladders. He “says there are nine ladders and 10 chutes, ‘which means a bias toward losing.’ So he programmed a simulation of 10,000 two-player games, which showed the dreariness could last as many as 146 turns. His solution was to tape a new ladder to the board between space 47 and 72. That lowered the longest game to 110 moves.”

Another father, Barry Wise, president of a data analytics company, “suggests eliminating the longest chute, spanning square 87 to 24.” He “ran his own simulations of the popular games 200,000 times.” Wise recommends “avoiding Candy Land, with its 3.4% chance of running longer than 75 moves (compared with 0.76% for Chutes and Ladders), or eliminating the rule of sending pieces backward.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

One mother in the article hesitates to let her daughter win all the time as it doesn’t prepare her for life, though she admits to “miscounting spaces” to her daughter’s advantage to get the game to end sooner. Another told her teenage kids that she’d cheated when they were small, hiding the best cards and giving them to each during the game. She resorted to this because otherwise the “one quick game before bed” lasted endlessly so she felt forced to find a shortcut. Her kids don’t let her forget it.

“Hasbro Inc. plans this June to release a Cheaters Edition of Monopoly….The new edition will reward players who can, say, move a rival’s piece without notice or collect rent for an opponent’s property.” The impetus for this version wrote the reporter: More than half of respondents to a survey admitted to cheating at the game.

According to Bensinger, Candy Land “stands apart as the patron saint of board-game monotony.” Hasbro encourages people to change the rules as they see fit.

When you were a kid, what were your favorite games? Did you play mostly with your parents, siblings or friends? Do you think adults have always cheated to end games faster or to let a child win? Did you cheat when playing with kids? Do you think you should always let a kid win or only sometimes? Are you surprised at the resurgence of popularity of traditional games?

Photo: pinterest.com

Service of Marketing Tone Deafness in a Global Economy

April 19th, 2018

Categories: Offensive, Sensitivity, Tone Deaf

Photo: Twitter.com

There are some things that seem so clearly offensive, at least to me, that I can’t understand why manufacturers need diversity, cultural-awareness and sensitivity committees and training to prevent them from producing distasteful products. They do need something: Common sense and a team of educated, aware marketers, design employees and independent contractors.

Photo: Crate & Barrel

Take the H&M hoodie with the words “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” modeled by an African American child. In South African stores customers knocked over manikins and clothing racks where it was sold. You don’t need to be South African to find fault with hat hoodie. The same with Zara’s tee shirt: you don’t need to be Jewish to question the yellow star and its placement on the shirt, reminiscent of what Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. I wrote about a similar embellishment faux pas on a top in a post, “Service of What Were They Thinking?” in April, 2012.

Tiffany Hsu, in her New York Times article, “How to Prevent a Racist Hoodie,” listed these and more items such as shirts in which women were compared to dogs and other tops decorated with words like slut and slave.

With corporations selling to countries worldwide, I can see the necessity of knowledgeable people weeding out images and words that are benign in some places but not in others. But often the bad taste is glaring and obvious.

Photo: steemit.com

The major excuse manufacturers give for the blunders is lack of time to approve designs because so many are introduced at once and so quickly these days. One website introduces 4,500 a week wrote Hsu. An industry supply chain expert observed that it’s easy to overlook mistakes when you have two hours, not two months to approve a line. The hoodie and star, slut and slave should have been flagged in two seconds. Zara is using an algorithm to scan designs for offensive motifs. Good luck with that.

Another simple solution: stop introducing so many products that you don’t have time to vet them. H&M isn’t finding the model works that well for them. According to Hsu, it is currently “sitting on $4.3 billion in unsold goods…”

Photo: childhoodtraumarecovery.com

Let’s admit it: We can be too SENSITIVE these days. Some things are bound to slip by regardless of well-meaning measures. One example Hsu shared would have flown right over my head. She wrote: “Heineken pulled a series of commercials for light beer with the tagline ‘sometimes lighter is better,’ after an ad sparked criticism for being racist.” Before I finished reading to the end of the sentence I guessed the injured parties might have been people trying to lose weight. Wrong.

There was an image of a frog on a skirt that reminded some of a “cartoon character called Pepe, which was designated a hate symbol of the alt-right by the Anti-Defamation League,” wrote Hsu. I have seen neither cartoon but why would a Spanish artist who lives in London and is responsible for the frog in question design such a reptile for a skirt with hate and violence in mind? Wouldn’t he look for a more prominent object?

Waiting to pay at Trader Joe’s the other month someone left behind on a table just before checkout a carton of “Arrogant Bastard Ale.” I took a picture [below] because I thought it was such a stupid name for a drink, the result of a bad case of “aren’t we hip?” at the brewery. The marketers no doubt  hoped the carton filled with cold ones would stand out from the well known brands and appeal to would-be cool customers. I’ll take the Coors, Brooklyn Larger, Blue Moon or Rolling Rock.

How would you suggest companies determine the funny and hip from the nasty, offensive and cruel for their product designs and advertising campaigns? Have any offended you? Do you think some consumers can be too thin-skinned?

Service of a Newspaper’s Reporter Hemorrhage

April 16th, 2018

Categories: Firing, Greed, Newspapers

Photo: keithedwards.com

I’ve nibbled around the edges of this topic—the impact of the loss of local news delivered by newspapers—and the obvious major reasons for it: decreasing readership and advertising as well as advertising dollars moving elsewhere. A segment of “CBS This Morning” on Saturday covered the daring move by the Denver Post’s editorial page editor, Chuck Plunkett.

“In the defiant and desperate editorial, Plunkett and a host of other writers criticized the paper’s hedge fund owners, Alden Global Capital, for slashing staff, and they warned Denver it may lose its century-and-a-half-old newspaper,” according to CBS’ Barry Peterson.

Barry Peterson. Photo: cbsnews.com

Said Plunkett: “We call out other people who we feel like [sic] aren’t doing their job or living up to their obligations. We should be able to call out our own owners, and that’s why I did it.” The impetus: another giant layoff at the paper, this time of 30 reporters. Photojournalist John Leyba was one: He’d worked at the paper for 30 years, since his first job in the photo lab at 19.

Aside: I’ve written here before that I’m alarmed by the few if any people to approach at major regional papers with news pitches. Syndicated stories are often the norm and the fact it’s harder for PR people to get out a client’s information is unimportant—we find ways. The resulting paucity of oversight of local businesses, government or organizations and the people who work for them is critical. Plunkett called it a paper’s watchdog role. Plus, it’s nice to know what’s going on where you live.

Photo: uft.org

Back to Peterson: “The striking editorial includes a photo filled with silhouettes of the journalists who were laid off or have left since the paper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013. The various articles said the paper’s ranks have shriveled to around 60, placing blame squarely on what one writer called the ‘vulture capitalists’ at the hedge fund.”

Plunkett is looking to the Denver community and its civic leaders to “step in to save the flagship local newspaper.”

The CBS report continued: “Alden Global Capital is the primary equity holder in Digital First Media, which owns 97 newspapers. According to the NewsGuild union, some papers have lost more than 70 percent their workforce. A recent lawsuit alleges Alden mismanaged hundreds of millions of dollars from the news chain.”

The dynamic at this paper does not seem to match what’s happening at many others where the wolf is at the door. “Media experts nationally and locally have reported that Alden is making a profit of around 20 percent.”

Do you feel that newspapers are so “last year” that they serve little purpose in today’s world? What, if anything, has taken their place—is drive time radio making a comeback or are online news resources and websites filling the gap? Where do you get local news? Do you think communities will suffer without the fourth estate’s role as a watchdog?

 

Photo: pinterest.com

 

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