Two stories out today reveal just how messy the Delta takeover of Northwest Airlines is going to be.
Locally, Delta is making noises with the Metropolitan Airports Commission that the MAC needs to start renegotiating the deal the state gave the former-hometown airline (Northwest) in exchange for agreements to keep a headquarters here. The "new" Delta is headquartered where the "old" Delta was -- Atlanta. MAC officials say they've been trying to get Delta to offer a proposal for months. The subtext? A face-off.
Stuck in the middle? The people who don't know whether they'll be working here or in Atlanta.
Now that the happy faces of the takeover from a couple of weeks ago have faded, we get to see the ugly side of merging two companies with vastly different cultures and unions.
pilots are workforce is heavily unionized at Northwest; not so at Delta. That could change with a filing, reported today by the Atlanta Constitution, by pilots that seeks a determination that Northwest and Delta are now one carrier. That would create a single bargaining unit for the pilots.
But the machinists' union isn't happy. It wants the two carriers considered separate airlines for now, and fears a single airline would allow Delta to get rid of the machinists' union before employees have had a chance to get themselves organized.
If the National Mediation Board determines that Delta and Northwest are a single carrier across the company, as Delta contends, unions would have 14 days to show interest from at least 35 percent of employees in a craft or class to trigger union representation elections. Northwest is highly unionized, but at Delta, pilots were the only major unionized group.
The International Association of Machinists wants the carriers considered as separate for now, which preserves the existing unionized groups.
By the way, I'm looking for readers who now work for Delta, who are in "limbo" because of the still-undecided elements of the merger. Contact me via this form.(1 Comments)
We were talking in a newsroom meeting yesterday -- briefly -- about the differences between the Great Depression and the still-unnamed-current-economic-meltdown. Back in the day, people sold apples on the street corner. Clearly there's some pain now, but many have kept the wolf at the door at bay while silently worrying that the cable TV tier would have to be halved.
The morning read of the New York Times story on a California town where most houses now have more debt than value started off well enough for me today, but it didn't take long before the definition of "pain" became clear.
From one couple:
No more family bowling night. No more dinners at Chili's or Applebee's. No more going to the movies.
Another homeowner, a data security specialist, is really feeling the pain:
He has cut his DVD buying from 50 a month to perhaps one, and is waiting until the Christmas sales to buy a high-definition television. He does not indulge much anymore in his hobbies of scuba diving and flying. "Best to wait for a better price, or do without," Mr. Rogers, 52, said.
And a third....
"My house is underwater, so I'm not doing too much impulse shopping or any renovation. But I'm not cutting back on this," said Ray Lopez, a database administrator, as he placed a $24 petite sirah on the counter. "Life's too short."
It's a veritable Dust Bowl out there.
Here's the Times' interactive map of places where home values are less than the amount of the mortgage. In Minnesota, that amounts to about 12 percent of the homes.(17 Comments)
Those of us who blog (new media) in established media companies (old media) certainly noticed today when National Public Radio dipped into the digital world to name a new president. Might this be a significant moment in the changing media landscape? Yes. Maybe. She comes to the job from the New York Times, where she headed nytimes.com. She's a new media person from the old media.
But it's a minefield out there. Just ask the previous full-time president -- Ken Stern -- who, the Washington Post reported at the time, clashed with NPR's Board of Directors over Sterns' insistence that NPR invest in new media, while some station managers saw the Web as competition.
PaidContent.org calls the appointment today "a shocker."
Here's the press release from NPR:
Washington, D.C. - November 11, 2008 - The National Public Radio ("NPR") Board of Directors announced today that it has named Vivian Schiller, 47, as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 5, 2009. Ms. Schiller joins NPR from The New York Times Company where she is Senior Vice President and General Manager of NYTimes.com. She succeeds Dennis L. Haarsager, who has served as interim CEO since March.
Ms. Schiller has more than 20 years of experience in the media industry. During her tenure at The New York Times, she led the day-to-day operations of NYTimes.com, the largest newspaper website on the Internet, overseeing product, technology, marketing, classifieds, strategic planning and business development. Before joining NYTimes.com, Ms. Schiller spent four years as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture of The New York Times and Discovery Communications. Under her leadership, Discovery Times Channel tripled its distribution while achieving critical acclaim for its award winning journalistic programming. Previously, Ms. Schiller served as Senior Vice President of CNN Productions, where she led CNN's long-form programming efforts. Documentaries and series produced under her auspices earned multiple honors, including two Peabody, two DuPont and five Emmy awards. Ms. Schiller began her career as a simultaneous Russian interpreter in the former Soviet Union, which led her to documentary production work for Turner Broadcasting.
Howard Stevenson, Board Chairman, said, "Vivian is a talented and proven leader with superb skills and broad experience in the media industry. Her roots in the news business, as well as her inclusive management style and operational expertise make her an ideal fit for NPR. These are crucial assets for partnering with our member stations and generous donors who care about and support excellence. Vivian has generated quality programming and superior results at every step of her career, and we look forward to continuing the important work of extending NPR's reach under her leadership."
Stevenson continued, "On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Dennis Haarsager for his dedication and effective leadership as interim CEO. Dennis has been instrumental in guiding the continued success and strong performance of the company during a period of transition."
Dave Edwards, Vice-Chair of the Board and Co-Chair of the Search Committee, said, "During a rigorous eight-month search process, the Board met with many highly qualified candidates, and we unanimously concluded that Vivian is the right leader for NPR at this time. As a visionary executive, she will work closely with independently operated member stations to maintain the relationship with an audience of over 26 million listeners throughout the United States. Vivian possesses the editorial judgment and sensibility to harness the intellectual firepower and diversity of public radio."
Carol Cartwright, Board Member and Co-Chair of the Search Committee, said, "We are at an important phase in NPR's development, especially as the media world continues to manage through profound changes. Vivian understands the importance of radio as the foundational strength of NPR, and has the right skills and strengths to successfully navigate the company through a multiplatform world where the traditional broadcast business and content businesses on the Internet are central to long-term success."
Vivian Schiller said, "NPR is among the nation's most vital and trusted news organizations, unique in its original programming and distinctive voice. I couldn't be more honored and excited about the opportunity to join such an important institution and its many talented and dedicated people. I look forward to working with the stellar management team, station managers and associates across the country to build on NPR's solid foundation and grow its audience base of listeners and users."
In September, Schiller participated in an online chat on the New York Times' site, in which she tackled this question of "competing" media platforms:
.. we do not believe that a robust Web site is bad for our newspaper. A chorus of doomsayers has heralded each new form of media in the last 100 years. But radio did not supplant newspapers; television did not supplant radio; and there's scant evidence that the Internet is fast replacing any existing form of legacy media, including print. In fact, the Internet has allowed us to increase our audience exponentially.
Come on, Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight.com), make up your mind. I posted yesterday about his calculations that suggested Al Franken stood to gain in the recount, and now he's backing off the prediction (h/t: David Brauer)
Silver's ability to predict the effect of human behavior in the future is based almost exclusively on history. And the more he researches history, the better it looks for Norm Coleman, apparently.
He looked at the results of voting in Florida which uses the optical scan system as Minnesota does, and found a relatively accurate count. Then he compared that to past reviews of Minnesota's optical scan machines:
In Minnesota's 2006 senate race, the audit detected just 53 discrepancies out of 94,073 ballots tested, or an error rate of 0.056%. However, these are the cases of machine error only, whereas the state has a liberal voter intent law to cover cases of voter error as well during the process of an actual recount.
Yeah...yeah.... let's fast-forward past all the math and get to the bottom line:
Would this number be sufficient to provide Al Franken with a victory? It is very, very close. Using the Daily Kos estimate that 52.5% of recounted ballots will go to Franken (after dropping votes for third parties), we estimate a net gain of 206 votes for him, which is almost exactly the margin by which he presently trails Norm Coleman. (The margin is in fact exactly 206 votes as of this writing).
Great. A tie! Mark Ritchie last week said there are no provisions in Minnesota law for a revote, so we're talking coin flip. For that, we need a coin.
I know there are some brilliant Photoshop types out here (like the one who created the Bob Collins Seal of Approval button, so take a stap at designing a U.S. Senate election in Minnesota coin. Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use this form.
If I get enough, we'll vote and the winner will get this swell prize:
And a patented two-hour tour of News Cut's world headquarters.
MPR's Stephanie Hemphill did a magnificent job in her story today profiling Erling Jonassen of Duluth for Veterans Day. His, like most of his generation, is a life well led and a service dutifully and quietly performed.
My father died in 2004 at 84. He was your typical World War II GI except for the part about seeing combat. He was a medical technician, based in England and other than telling me he sailed over on the Queen Mary, he never told me much about what he did and, compared to guys like Jonassen, I guess he didn't do much.
At his and my mother's 60th anniversary luncheon shortly before he died, I refused my siblings' request to give the toast. "I don't do toasts," I said, "but I'll do an interview." So there in the dining room of the restaurant, I interviewed my mother and father about their lives and how they met and when my father told the story about jumping out of the window of his barracks when he heard the sergeant coming to give him something to do, I figured my dad wasn't much of a war hero. He is one of the few people I've ever interviewed who didn't give me a story I could use.
After he died, we found a diary he kept during the war. Day by day he wrote about wanting to get into Officer Candidate School back in the states, not so much because he wanted to serve his country as an officer, but because it was a way to get back to his new bride.
But occasionally tucked into a day here or there was a notation about the bomber crews in his hospital. He said he could always tell how the war was going by the flyboys. He wrote several times about giving a transfusion of blood to one flier from California who, he noted in his last entry on the subject, seemed much better.
Somewhere between jumping out the window and trying to game the system to get away from the war, I like to think my dad had something to do with saving some guy from California, who went on to do great things. My dad? He ended up getting into OCS, and flunked out, continuing a long line of Collinses not ready to lead.
Today, with good reason, the Erling Jonassens and the Quentin Aanensons (the Luverne man featured in PBS' The War last year), and the Jeff Bibeaus (The Roseville school teacher who is now in Iraq) should get their deserved recognition. They come home with stories to tell from the front line that we will strain to hear.
But people like Fred Collins Jr. are on my mind today -- and perhaps people like him are on yours, too -- because he was a vet who said "I didn't do much" and he probably didn't. Except for the making-a-difference part.
That's a big buildup to lessen the impact, I guess, of this other Veterans Day nugget that appeared in the Miami Herald this morning. William Doyle has died. And few people are mourning. He left a family the unenviable task of trying to explain him, and us trying to fathom war.
Tell me about your vet and send some pictures and maybe we can extend Veterans Day for one more day.(1 Comments)