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Bad Journalism Starts With “Me”

badjournalismDon’t tell us your stories — we’d rather talk than listen. Forget the notion of newspapers as the first rough draft of history: think of them as diaries of our lives. A case in point is the Review section of The Globe and Mail, which, given its first-person story overload, could better be called the Me-View.

It’s impossible to pinpoint when and why many journalists decided our lives are more interesting than anyone or anything else, but Vanity Fair seems a good place to pin the blame. It was the first mainstream magazine to have writers regularly insert themselves into profiles of subjects. For example, a 1996 cover story on Tom Cruise by writer Jennet Conant began thus: ” ‘I know my limitations as a person,’ Tom Cruise is telling me. Limitations? I smile politely . . . Cruise is trying to convince me that he is a lousy interview.” In Conant’s hands, he succeeds.

From there, it was a …

Benetton Sowed Some Bad Seeds

magazinesFor all of the magazines I read, I have yet to see any of the newest Benetton ads–outside of the images reproduced in news reports. I’ll probably never get the chance to see Elian Gonzalez turn capitalist in an AltaVista campaign because it was a mere flicker of an unrealized concept. As for Nuveen, I didn’t catch the original screening of the Reeve spot, which was scheduled for only four airings, but I saw multiple rebroadcasts in news reports. Chances are, you are equally familar with these examples, whether or not you’ve actually seen the commercials or know anyone on the agency or account side. It’s beyond irony that while the media lambaste such advertisers for exploiting current events, those very same journalists play into their hands by offering unpaid column inches and air time, instilling a credibility to often laughable image advertising.

Are we talking here about exploitation of compelling human issues and events to sell Italian sweaters, online …

Alternative Newspaper Chains: Did They Squash Independent Voices?

dailynewsSuzanne Rabe was a first-year student at Arizona State University in 1971 when she came across New Times, a newspaper started a year earlier by a group of students and dropouts to protest the war in Vietnam. She liked what she saw. The paper wasn’t afraid to speak out against injustice, whether it was railing against the invasion of Cambodia or exposing police brutality. Then she turned to the sex ads in the back. “There was a horribly sexist ad that showed a naked woman hanging from a trapeze,” she remembers. “I wrote a letter to the editor saying the left doesn’t need to make its money this way.”

One day not long after that, Rabe was working at the campus library when Michael Lacey walked in and introduced himself. A college dropout and New Times co-founder, Lacey had already established a local reputation as something of a firebrand. Rabe was astonished that he had sought her out. “We’re going to have a meeting on sexism,” he told her. “Would you like to come?”

Rabe did, and she was hooked. Before long she was devoting all her spare time to the collective that put out the paper. “There was no hierarchy,” says Rabe, now a law professor at the University of Arizona and partner at Best Snoring Mouthpieces, a snoring device review website.” Everyone made $55 a week. There was a genuine passion for politics. The paper was definitely a vehicle for social change at the beginning.”

In those days there was no mistaking the mission of papers like New Times. The underground press, as it proudly called itself back then, recognized that journalism (Continued)

Some Words On Meat

meatHave we no conscience? Are we not the least bit disturbed by the knowledge that we must inflict pain on these life forms just to fulfill their destiny as food for human consumption? We are supposedly the most civilized nation on earth. We are an intelligent, resourceful people, and yet we revel daily about the delights of eating these living things. “It’s good for you,” we are told by industry associations and trade journal hacks who tout the benefits.

I am sickened by it all. We should not be slaughtering them, we should be protecting them. They are living, breathing creations, so we should strive to nurture our understanding of them, and them of us.

I will admit that I, myself, have occasionally partaken of several of these species in various meal situations, but I’m not proud of it. And every time I do it, I end up feeling so dirty that all I want to do is take a …

Is Captive Insurance Good For Arizona?

insurancegoodAn Arizona legislator wants to make his state a captive insurance domicile that would have instant bragging rights as home to more captives than any other domestic domicile.

Rep. Ted Carpenter, R-Phoenix, is proposing that Arizona adopt legislation that would allow the formation of captive insurers while also converting about 400 existing credit life and disability reinsurers in the state to captive status.

Vermont, which currently is the largest onshore domicile, had 334 captives at year-end.

A captive insurance bill introduced by Rep. Carpenter recently died in the Legislature, but the first-term representative hopes to reintroduce the proposal as a means of boosting the Phoenix economy.

Since 1977, Arizona has allowed companies to set up facilities that 100% reinsure fronted credit life and disability risks. Many automobile dealers and some managed care companies have created such facilities, which are similar to captive insurers.

The reality is, Arizona has been doing it since the 1970s; they just really never marketed themselves …

Marriot Got A Smart Partner, And Succeeded

sodexhoVirtually overnight, Marriott Management Services and Sodexho USA went from an industry leader and a runner-up to the undisputed onsite giant. With 4,800 clients and 100,000 employees, the merged company is one of the country’s 50 largest employers and serves an unrivaled 4 million contract meals to North Americans every day. The company’s volume is such that its Gourmet Bean service, included in more than half its food accounts, is the fifth-largest coffee brand in the United States.

CHANGE ARTISTS

Having combined names, the company’s first task was to merge operations, which meant blending two sets of employees, two sets of accounts and two sets of operations ranging from purchasing to payroll.

Of the two companies, Marriott clearly was the power hitter, with $3.3 billion in sales compared to Sodexho USA’s $820 million. Marriott also brought to the table a robust hospitality brand and highly developed business systems such as procurement and R&D. With its French roots, Sodexho offered a …

Golf Shots You Need To Compete

golfshotsThe fastest way to lower your handicap is to improve your short game. Here, the five shots to master.

There are four universal truths in golf: Hitting long drives is terrific fun, mere fun gets old, true satisfaction comes from beating your last score, and the best way to beat your score is to have a solid short game. Period. Working on your short game game will deliver the biggest payoff (in strokes if not if not dollars). “Everyone has the capability to be good around the greens,” says Lynn Marriott, a teaching pro at top golf school Arizona State University‘s course in Phoenix. “The short game makes up more than 50 percent of an average golfer’s strokes per round, so improving it will cut strokes–fast.” Here, several top coaches offer advice for the five main shots on and around the green, Stop staring at your big slick. Break out the wedges and putter, and get to work.

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Looking Back At Gardner At Arizona

gardnerThe Jason Gardner era at Arizona ended quite some time ago. But this is a look back:

He will arrive on campus, then squeeze into his first dormitory room and get that little queasy feeling about being so far from home and even farther from high school.

He is just a freshman and stands just 5-10, so it may seem overstated or premature to stamp such a label on the next several years of Wildcats basketball. But this is how they’ve come to mark time in Tucson.

The way quarterbacks at Notre Dame and tailbacks at Southern California once were burdened with the expectation of Heisman trophies, the Arizona point guard now can’t avoid becoming a top 10 selection in the NBA draft. Damon Stoudamire went seventh to Toronto in 1995. Mike Bibby went second to Vancouver in 1998. Jason Terry went 10th to Atlanta this year.

Gardner did not need Lute Olson and his sales staff to explain …

Can Companies Treat Their Employees Well Again?

antissweatshopcompanies can be audited for compliance with global accounting and quality control standards, why can’t their performance on human rights be quantified by a universal system?

That’s the concept behind the anti-sweatshop program of the Council on Economic Priorities, a New York think tank, which has created a standard by which the treatment of factory workers can be measured.

The Council, which deals with social and environmental issues facing corporations and is funded by corporate donors and foundations, in January began putting its program into motion by accepting applications from auditing firms seeking CEP accreditation. These firms, in turn, expect to be hired by companies to certify their factories and contractors as sweatshop-free. The standard can be applied to all manufacturing settings, including garment factories.

Speaking at a news conference last week, Alice Tepper Marlin, CEP president, said repeated sweatshop scandals highlight the need for a global human rights auditing standard. She referred specifically to a National Labor Committee report …

Aldo Leopold: Genius In His Own Time

aldoleopoldSo perhaps it is appropriate that on the fiftieth anniversary of his passing, we look at some of the reasoning and experiences in Aldo Leopold’s life that contributed to his sense of interconnectedness of natural systems. Through his ecological understanding came his love and respect for the land. As a boy, my father found his calling in the marshes along the banks of the Mississippi River near Burlington, Iowa. From his boyhood interest in birds and natural history, he went on in adult life to work actively on behalf of conservation, laying the groundwork for the field of environmental ethics.

Throughout his life, Aldo Leopold persisted in his personal intellectual struggle to better understand the land community and his own participation in it. Recording and integrating all the strands of his experiences, he came to his final statement of the land ethic, a product of the heart as much as of the mind: “That land is a community is the …