In this business, like so many others, you never exhale and get comfortable. As the Paul Douglas layoff at WCCO showed last week, the end can come at any time. As many have pointed out, Douglas will be fine. But he was only one of several to get the boot. He had the benefit of being the face in front of the camera. A bunch of others at WCCO are similarly going to be chopped through buyouts.
Around the CBS empire last week, lots of people lost their jobs, and a lot of flaks -- spokespersons -- had to reassure the public that nothing will change, which sounds like one final insult to the dearly departed.
For example. In Boston, 30 people were let go last week. Said a spokeswoman:
"There have been staff reductions stationwide as a result of our restructuring for efficiencies and streamlining our operations while maintaining quality programming and service to the community."
In San Francisco, five journalists were among those eliminated. And the San Francisco Chronicle reported...
KPIX spokeswoman Akilah Monifa said the cutbacks won't affect the station's coverage or any of its newscasts. Last month, the station added another 30-minute newscast to its lineup, producing a 10 p.m. program on sister station KBCW, staffed by their prime-time parent news team.
It's a familiar theme: "we're getting rid of people, but it won't affect our coverage." How is that possible unless those let go weren't contributing quality programming in the first place? And nobody seems to be saying that.
The term "quality," of course, is a definition in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. On the first night after announcing the cuts, WCCO provided a story on the history of the hockey puck. Two other stories in the newscast were provided by the same reporter.
The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press have cut back their staffs in recent years. Has it made a difference? The Pulitzers are being announced today and the Star Tribune is in the running for one based on its coverage of the bridge disaster.
If it has, then what we have here is a Catch 22 situation, the depths of which aren't yet clear. Cutbacks change the quality, the change in quality means a loss in readers/viewers/listeners, which results in lost revenue, which inspires more cutbacks.
How can that cycle change?(8 Comments)
Local Realtor Teresa Boardman, who writes the St. Paul Real Estate blog, has posted an interesting survey of list vs. sales price for housing in the city in March. The average asking price was $173, 365. The average sale price was about 3-4 percent lower.
In two neighborhoods -- Highland Park and St. Anthony/Midway -- the sale price was higher than the asking price.
Is it a good time to buy? It's a question that all real estate experts are asked and her response is "for some it is, for others it's not," which seems like an honestly good answer.
The comments section also provides some good insight:
I agree that it did used to be much easier to sell homes a few years ago than it is now. Still don't agree with your idea of buying when the market hits bottom. For one thing you will not know when that is until after it happens. Also houses are places to live and it really only matters that you paid the bottom dollar for your own. I have mentioned before, we bought about three years before the bottom in our neighborhood but we paid the bottom price for the home we own so it doesn't really matter and have enjoyed living in it for many years.
In February, according to Ms. Boardman, the average asking price was $185,233 and the average sales price was $178,390 -- that's about the same spread as March, though perhaps the story (if there is one) is that the numbers are higher. January's numbers were higher still.
What makes Boardman's answer to the universal question refreshing, is that it's not the one you usually get from people who make money by people buying homes. Like this one.
Buying a home -- or any other big purchase -- doesn't necessarily depend on the deal or the terms of the financing. It seems to me that it depends on the ability (or even the confidence) of the buyer to be able to afford it.
At a time when housing prices are comparatively low, the soft market may have more to do with the lack of confidence by people in the United States toward the economy. This is a chicken-and-egg situation that must drive economists crazy. People spend when they think they'll have a job to pay the bills. The economy picks up when people spend. We're very much in the "you go first" phase.(1 Comments)
The GOP is out with a list of hotels where delegations will be staying during the Republican National Convention. Like the floor seating arrangement (still to come), it's a good chance to view how much punch a state has in the big scheme of things.
Sorry, South Dakota, Connecticut and Puerto Rico. Enjoy the view out in Maple Grove. Even American Samoa got closer to the action.
As for Minnesota, it gets the downtown Hilton Garden Inn. It's not exactly the St. Paul, but it's among the closest hotels to the Xcel.
So who gets the St. Paul Hotel? Arizona, of course, home of the convention's star.
It's interesting that only 5 delegations are being housed in St. Paul, the official convention city. And the official hotel for the convention -- and this is important because it's where a lot of the action happens -- is the Hyatt... in Minneapolis. So the bulk of the delegates and media will only have to come to St. Paul for a few hours each evening.
Here are the assignments:
Alabama - The Marquette Hotel
Alaska - Ramada Mall of America
American Samoa - Four Points by Sheraton Minneapolis
Arizona - The Saint Paul Hotel
Arkansas - Embassy Suites Minneapolis-Airport
California - Sheraton Bloomington Hotel Minneapolis South & Sofitel Minneapolis- Bloomington
Colorado - Four Points by Sheraton Minneapolis
Connecticut - Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Maple Grove Northwest Minneapolis-Arbor Lakes
Delaware - Best Western Normandy Inn & Suites - Minneapolis
District of Columbia - DoubleTree Guest Suites Minneapolis
Florida - Minneapolis Airport Marriott
Georgia - DoubleTree Hotel Minneapolis - Park Place
Guam - DoubleTree Hotel Minneapolis - Park Place
Hawaii - Embassy Suites Bloomington
Idaho - Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Illinois - Millennium Hotel Minneapolis
Indiana - Embassy Suites Bloomington
Iowa - La Quinta Inn & Suites Minneapolis Bloomington West
Kansas - Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Bloomington at Mall of America
Kentucky - Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Louisiana - Crowne Plaza Minneapolis North
Maine - Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Maryland - Embassy Suites St. Paul-Downtown
Massachusetts - Crowne Plaza Bloomington
Michigan - The Northland Inn
Minnesota - Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul City Center
Mississippi - Embassy Suites Minneapolis-Airport
Missouri - Ramada Minneapolis Northwest & Water Park
Montana - Best Western Normandy Inn & Suites - Minneapolis
Nebraska - Best Western Normandy Inn & Suites - Minneapolis
Nevada - The Saint Paul Hotel
New Hampshire - Hilton Minneapolis
New Jersey - Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Mall of America
New Mexico - Holiday Inn Minneapolis Metrodome
New York - Minneapolis Marriott City Center
Northern Mariana Islands - Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Bloomington at Mall of America
North Carolina - Holiday Inn Minneapolis Metrodome
North Dakota - DoubleTree Guest Suites Minneapolis
Ohio - Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis & The Marquette Hotel
Oklahoma - Four Points by Sheraton Minneapolis
Oregon - La Quinta Inn & Suites Minneapolis Bloomington West
Pennsylvania - Minneapolis Marriott Southwest
Puerto Rico - Courtyard Minneapolis Maple Grove/Arbor Lakes
Rhode Island - Hyatt Place Minneapolis Airport-South
South Carolina - Hilton Minneapolis
South Dakota - Courtyard Minneapolis Maple Grove/Arbor Lakes
Tennessee - Ramada Mall of America
Texas - Crowne Plaza Hotel St. Paul-Riverfront
US Virgin Islands - Radisson University Hotel-Minneapolis
Utah - Sofitel Minneapolis - Bloomington
Vermont - Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Virginia - Radisson University Hotel-Minneapolis
Washington - Crowne Plaza Northstar Minneapolis-Downtown
West Virginia - Crowne Plaza Bloomington
Wisconsin - Minneapolis Marriott City Center
Wyoming - Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis St. Paul-Shoreview
The East Metro didn't get any convention money (a Sheraton is being built in Woodbury that some officials had hoped could attract some business).
Posted at 1:18 PM on April 7, 2008
by Bob Collins
Part of the fun of reading the New York Times is reading the occasional full-page ad from some special interest group, warning of some sort of apocalypse if some sort of legislation is -- or isn't -- passed.
Today, a two-page ad predicts the destruction of America, if a bill, apparently favored by Minnesota representatives Tim Walz and Keith Ellison, is passed.
The issue? Patents.
The Patent Reform Act of 2007, about to be debated in the Senate, changes the rules on who gets patents.
According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, "supporters of the Patent Reform Act of 2007 want to switch to a 'first-to-file' system that would grant patent rights to the first person to file an application. The United States is the lone country still using a 'first-to-invent' system that rewards an inventor who first conceives the innovation, even if another person submits an earlier application."
Opponents says it'll lead to the "little inventor" being squeezed out by big institutions and corporations, who'll have the resources to get to the patent office sooner, once they hear about someone else's research.
The group that took out today's ad, the Professional Inventors Alliance, is headed by one guy who is responsible for "a revolutionary design of the treadmill," and another who invented the folding and replaceable electronic keyboard, both of which apparently have prevented the destruction of America.
On the other side is a group called The Coalition for Patent Fairness (I haven't seen their ad yet), which is made up of companies including (in Minnesota) Comcast and Wells Fargo Bank. They say the current system allows people with "dubious" patents to shake down high-tech companies for big payments to make patent infringement claims go away.
The Olympic torch relay isn't going well. Here's a Webcam shot of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco where protesters have scaled the bridge, to oppose China's crackdown in Tibet. Another webcam of the bridge is here, and here.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty took a chainsaw to the bonding bill today, delivering a particularly hefty whomp to projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul, home to some of the DFL leaders who tried to play chicken with him.
Politics aside, there's a certain truism in Minnesota: Pawlenty doesn't lose many of these public battles. If you were to count on your hand the number of victories the DFL has amassed against Pawlenty since 2003, you would need one finger -- the gas tax override. Most of the time, he gets his way.
Still, lawmakers, probably anticipating some sort of veto and punishing him in advance, gutted a couple of Pawlenty's favorite projects from the bill: a new nursing facility at the Minneapolis Veterans Home and a new park in northern Minnesota, while keeping money in the budget for a music lending library.
In the end it turns out to be a win-win (or lose-lose depending on your perspective) for everyone. The lawmakers get to blame Pawlenty for cutting projects, some of which they may not have liked. The governor gets to look like the last line of defense between DFLers and runaway spending (or he can even look like a hero in some communities for not vetoing a project) .
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem said of the DFL, "What's in play here is the VP possibility... They're trying to paint Pawlenty as an ineffective governor."
So far, it's not working.(14 Comments)
What's wrong with this picture? Today the Pulitzers were handed out for journalism. The newspaper business, as you may have heard, is in complete meltdown, trying to figure out how to compete in the age of the Internet.
A paragraph in the Editor & Publisher story on the event in New York was enough to drop a jaw or two:
After the lists were passed out, and those in attendance rushed to spread the news via cell phone, laptop and, in some cases, old-fashioned phones down the hall, Gissler noted that this year's journalism submissions, at 1167, had been down somewhat from last year's 1225. He also stated that between 15% and 20% of entries included some kind of online component.
It's quite possible that Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler meant this tale to show just how big the Internet has become in the newspaper industry. And if this were, say, 1997, the fact that one out of every 5 or 6 entries to the most prestigious award in journalism had an online component would've been impressive. In 2008, however, it's just a sad commentary. (By the way, if you want to see a winning entry with a significant online component, try this one from Concord, New Hampshire)
Meanwhile, the Star Tribune did not, as many had hoped, win an award for its coverage of the I-35W bridge collapse. I am reminded, however, of a fascinating column that Politics in Minnesota boss Sarah Janececk wrote in December, which suggested that the shutout would play big at MnDOT's headquarters.
But harassing MnDOT employees is not the only objection MnDOT has to the Star Tribune's bridge collapse coverage. The Department maintains that the Star Tribune has been playing fast and loose with lots of facts in many of its stories. So, MnDOT has been keeping a file documenting every fact that it deems the Star Tribune has gotten wrong. My sources tell me the file has become inches high...and that MnDOT plans to make sure the Pulitzer Prize Board receives it.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(2 Comments)