March 2014

March 2014

Ah, spring. No, wait, now it’s winter again! Who do we talk to about this?

So much for “Mad Men.” Some of those rumbles you hear out there are new and massive shifts in American journalism. Now, it seems, a big newspaper no longer rakes in most of its money from advertising revenues—the majority of bucks come directly from readers, in subscriptions or online user fees. Or from the pockets of new billionaires who are buying newspapers like robber barons used to buy yachts.

No phone calls, please. Americans don’t send letters much any more, a trend that makers of fine paper are seeking to reverse. But letters are bigger than ever in top-quality publications, of every kind. Commentary, the neocon journal, devotes vast, almost Talmudic space to its letters section, and Car and Driver does slap-down dialogue with correspondents that recall the battles of boyhood. Do letters still count in life? How and why? Send us an email—or a letter. We’ll reply using Getty-Dubay, Zaner-Bloser, or Palmer Method.

Nature’s revenge. Efforts to defoliate the kiwi (“the brown hair just sticks to everything when you peel it off”) are running into trouble. Zespri Group, a grower, says it’s spending millions to make whole kiwis edible—or at least easy to peel. One outcome to date: “Instant-water-to-the-eyes, hair-standing-up-sour awful,” as a tester described it. Onward and inward.

The Idea of a University (2014 edition). The arrival of unions to big-time college sports via the NLRB ruling on Northwestern University this week leads to one inescapable conclusion. Play, in these environs, is now work. The playing field is now a worksite. Whether that muddles the academic relationship or brings it into sharper focus remains to be seen.

Getting smart. Putting yourself through school may be a thing of the past. Rising tuition costs are to blame. A graduate student at Michigan State says working a minimum wage job to pay for school would take six times as long as the kid who climbed that mountain in the ‘80s. One more casualty in the “Back in my day” saga. (Thanks for this to grad student blogger Randal S. Olson)

So much for the triple-word score. Winning at Scrabble might make you a loser, sort of. The SAT is pulling many of the more arcane, though high-scoring, vocabulary words from its newly designed format. There is the Scrabble board and there is the College Board.

Quote to Note:

“The more cheap and easy uses of technology permeate our culture, the more valuable are the moments of real-world interaction.” – Mohawk CEO Richard Moross (one of those fine paper makers).

Thanks for reading,

How can business leaders navigate troubled waters during a crisis, mitigate damages, reduce stress, and keep operations afloat? Joseph M.A. Ledlie will discuss the topic at this year’s National Conference of the Society for Human Resources Management in Atlanta next month.

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