Tag Archives: Time Magazine

Can Journalism Preserve Truth over Appearances?

Are you a parent? Do you deal with two squabbling kids by assuming it takes two to fight, so you scold them both? 

That may be good parenting. But it’s bad journalism. 

Traditional Journalism is obviously threatened by technology, the crumbling of media advertising economics, distraction of blurring lines between online gossip and news, the cult of celebrity … we all pretty much understand that … but is partisan politics and the illusion of middle ground a bigger threat that we don’t even realize? 

James Poniewozik Time Magazines Both Sides

I was struck over the weekend by what I thought was a brilliant alert in a Time Magazine column by James Poniewozik, media critic. Reflecting on Journalism and media, he asks: 

What do you do when the facts of a situation are such that to describe them accurately will make you sound biased?

He add this: 

This month’s fiscal crisis is one such situation. One party (in fact, essentially one wing of the Republican party), seeking the elimination or delay of Obamacare, precipitated a government shutdown and threatened to force a default on U.S. debt. Period. 

That’s the situation. To accurately describe it, as news coverage should, is not to endorse an ideology. 

And your reaction to that depends on your politics. Right? If you accept his summary, then you’re in the Obama, Jon Stuart, Bill Maher camp. If you object, you’re in the opposite camp with Fox News and friends. 

So where’s truth in this? What’s the right reporting for the professional journalists? 



Millennials Schmillennials and Generation Generalizations

Joel Stein opens his Time Magazine cover story on Millennials:

Time Magazine Cover Millennials

I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow. But I have studies! I have statistics! I have quotes from respected academics! Unlike my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents, I have proof.

Ah yes, as he points out with tongue in cheek, there is proof: studies, statistics, and data. 

If nothing else, the so-called millennials generation, and all the writing, thinking, analysis, and opinions about that generation, are proof that in today’s drowning-in-information world, there is data to prove anything. 

If you want to knock people in their twenties, search the web for “millennials selfish” (300,000 hits) or “millennials entitled” (600,000 hits) or “millennials lazy” (150,000 hits) and you’ll find plenty of alleged data. 

On the other hand, if you want to praise them, do the search for “millennials entrepreneurship” (250,000 hits) or “millennials ambition” (1 million hits) or “millennials thoughtful” (5 million hits) and you’ll find plenty of alleged data for that too.

Conclusion: The generation generalizations are fun. They make us think. They’re like riffs on personality types of horoscopes, the best of them delightfully creative, finding traits that seem to make sense on the surface. But millennials are no more classifiable than generation X, baby boomers, or any of those. The world changes, but people don’t. 

Amazing Time-Lapse Videos of Earth Changing

Watch from space as Las Vegas grows from 1984 to now. Or watch as a glacier shrinks, and the Amazon jungle recedes. Watch Dubai grow. 

Time Magazine and Google have combined to create this Time Lapse site Earth Engine site, offering time-lapse photography of the earth changing from 1984 through 2012, using NASA technology and satellite pictures, plus Google’s Google Earth technology. 

Time Inc Google Earth Engine

What you see is, well, take a look … this is a great use of technology, good for the organizations that put it up there, and good for it’s educational value. Well done. 

Save the Patient. Make Exorbitant Profits. Is This Okay?

How do you feel about projecting excessive profitability in a health care business plan?

Over the weekend I saw the pitch for a brilliant business plan, with great technology, for developing medical electronics that could significantly reduce some kinds of complications in some kinds of surgeries.

Soaring Health Care Costs Time Magazine Bitter Bill

“The world needs this,” I thought. “I hope these people succeed. I hope they get the investment they need.”

But then they got to the financial projections.

Their sales forecast soared to tens of millions of dollars, but their technology was so good that it seemed credible. They had PhDs and patents and a strong team. No problem there. 

But they also projected 80-85% EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes). And that got my attention. It’s not just my chronic skepticism about absurdly high projected profits in business plans; it’s also about intentions, exploitative pricing, what Wikipedia calls price gouging. And about ethics. 

It reminded me of the Steven Bill cover story in Time Magazine a couple of months ago, called Bitter Pill. Or if you want the short version, watch this Jon Stewart interview with Steve Brill. He says: 

It’s the people who organize the care, who sell the equipment, who sell the drugs; they’re the ones making the money. 

Later I asked the inventor about the ethics of pricing. He understood the problem. He gave me a sensitive respectful answer. He said he trusted his more-businesslike co-founders who set the prices. He explained that pricing is set by the whole system, pretty much what Brill’s piece suggests. He didn’t say that profits from this one product would go straight back to research for other products, more inventions, and more improvement in surgical equipment. Insurance companies set the price. His company can beat the existing costs with something much safer. So, if they can execute their plan, they’ll make huge profits. 

Medical costs will still go down, if it works, because it reduces complications. Patients will benefit too, with less pain, illness, and death. But according to their own numbers, they could charge a third of their planned price and still make healthy profits. 

What do you think? 

(Editorial note: I’m not giving specifics on purpose. I don’t want to make this about a specific company. And at this point it’s all hypothetical anyway, just a few numbers in a business plan.) 

What, Me Listen, Errr, Do I Have To?

I liked Sonia Simone’s refreshingly put The Surprising Old-School Secret to Blogging Success on Copyblogger yesterday. She’s talking about blogging, specifically, but the lesson applies all over the new world. I liked it when she starts with this…

About 80% of your blog’s success comes from “ass in chair” time. That’s the time you spend writing posts, editing posts, finding the perfect image, connecting with fellow bloggers, answering comments, and shaping up your SEO…

… because that’s my style. I don’t mind working long hours, particularly doing stuff I like, such as —  on the good days —  writing stuff on this blog. Give me a keyboard and an empty room and I’m happy to be the life of the hypothetical not-really-there party.

But real people, in real conversation? I don’t like it when Sonia reveals her hidden message:

Believe it or not, you can actually replicate this phenomenon by physically locating yourself in close proximity to another person, with each of you taking turns speaking. This is called a conversation.

Ugh. Where’s my keyboard? And, to make it worse, she rubs salt on that wound with this:

Spend enough time in these “real world” conversations, and you actually trigger the growth of new neural connections. You come up with new ideas. You challenge your existing ideas and take them in new directions. You learn.

This phenomenon is improved by another old-school technique, called listening. It’s like lurking, except the other person can see you standing there, so at some point you should probably say something.

I have to admit, I liked it better when success was 90% just showing up. I’m good at showing up. But listening? You’re asking a lot.

One of the funniest – and, like it or not – truest pieces I’ve read lately was Call Me! But Not on Skype or Any Other Videophone in Time Magazine a few weeks ago (and, happily, also posted online, which is why I linked to it here). Joel Stein nails it on what’s wrong with Skype: you have to pay attention to the other person. He says:

Skype breaks the century-old social contract of the phone: we pay close attention while we’re talking and zone out while you are.

As soon as you begin to talk, I feel trapped and desperately scan the room for tasks I can do to justify the enormous waste of time that is your talking.

How embarrassingly true that is. And now we have experts on Copyblogger, one of the best blogs about blogging, telling us the secret to blogging success might be actual real conversations with live people instead of keyboards. And listening?

Brave new world? Maybe not. Maybe just that same old world, but with more people than ever.