Here are some interesting news items to take you into your weekend. And don’t forget to join us this Sunday for our Telly Award winning episode, “A Conversation with Steve Forbes.” It’s on KERA, Channel 13, or you can view the episode with Steve Forbes on our website as well.
“Cash For Clunkers” An Artificial Program Shields Auto Industry
[Auto Industry] “Ford (F) makes better cars than it did last year, or at least there is better demand for them. The “cash for clunkers” program put together by the US government helped sell cars, a fact that Ford admitted.
The “clunkers” stimulus which allowed consumers to trade in old, fuel-inefficient cars for new fuel-efficient ones, lasted about a week. The government withdrew the package, either because it ran through its $1 billion of funding or because it was too complex for dealers to manage. Media accounts cite both reasons…”
Auto Industry: Cash for Clunkers Hits Goal in Five Days!
[Auto Industry] “As a co-architect of the federal Cash For Clunkers (CFC) program and advisor to various congressional offices on the issue, it is gratifying to see how quickly it has been adopted by the American people. CFC achieves multiple goals — it stimulates auto sales while increasing the efficiency of the U.S. fleet.
Congress passed the program in June of this year and it went into effect this past weekend. The $1 billion has now been used up in one week! That translates to more than 250,000 guzzlers and pick-up trucks traded-in for more efficient cars…”
Auto Industry: ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Going Broke
[Auto Industry] “The Obama administration is telling lawmakers that its much-touted “cash-for-clunkers” program is already running out of money, according to three Senate aides familiar with the discussions.
The program — aimed at giving at boost to the U.S. auto industry — was supposed to expire at the end of October. But in the one week since it took effect, it appears to have run dry of the $1 billion allocated to it, aides said Thursday…”
In today’s news topics, we’ve linked back to a couple of interesting topics: a mortgage update for the industry and how Americans are rating the Federal Reserve.
Home price index up for 1st time in 3 years
Index of 20 major cities rises on a monthly basis for the first time since July 2006, hinting that the worst of the declines may be over.
Federal Reserve Rates Poorly With Americans
With the recession still raging, it may come as no surprise that many Americans’ opinions of the Federal Reserve, the government’s most important financial agency, have started to sour. This time in 2003, 53 percent of Americans thought the Federal Reserve was doing an excellent to good job, compared to 30 percent today, according to a recent Gallup poll.
In the digital age, marked by radical transparency, all bets are off. Don Tapscott, author of The Naked Corporation said, “You can’t hide anything anymore.” Tapscott, who joined us on a McCuistion segment, about 12 years ago, refers to a core truth of the “see through age.” But even he could not have predicted the point of no return, where the digital economy and social media can perhaps influence governments, election outcomes and civilian reactions.
Transparency in Action
The massive demonstrations in Iran, aimed at reversing election results and getting local and worldwide popular sympathy, were brought to us, live, through social media… On June 12th, Iranian voters went to the polls to select their next President. When the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the next president, instead of his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who seemed to have had a fairly comfortable lead, tens of thousands of Iranians, women, young people and old, took to the streets in protest. The Iranian government restricted coverage by the news media and networking sites. Yet, the whole world watched the protests and the increasing violence and government retaliation via Twitter and text. Cell phones are ubiquitous in the Middle East. Over 50% of the Iranian population is under 30 years of age. They are savvy in communicating via social media, and they were determined to have their voices heard, which led to a perfect storm. For the first time ever, in a situation like this, civilians from the outside may be affecting the political outcomes inside a country that restricts its citizens freedoms. The whole world watched and commented, as the ‘news’ was broadcasted by protesters and the major news media: CCN, Fox, CSpan and others. Each in turn picked the news up and re-broadcasted what they saw, heard and got.
When tuning into the news, one could hear a commentator say- ‘wait I just got a text,’ followed by an announcement: ‘Breaking news from a civilian in Iran…’ Citizen journalists in the street, active participants in the protests and observers used Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube to get word out, or organize and support the street protests. Social media was used to actively tell the story and show the chaos and brutality, and sometimes to offer deliberate ,confounding mis-information. Regardless, the social media outlets gave voice to a very different story than the one the Islamic Republic of Iran wanted told. Twitter became the most reliable source of communication inside and outside the country. Internet giant, Google, wasted no time. It started translations in Persian, which could and should dramatically help spread information. Facebook was first with the results of the election, and may in fact be a big reason behind Mousavi’s “successful” campaign. His page not only attracted huge numbers of fans, but it organized and announced street protests, and warned against police activities. Facebook was first with news of Mousavi’s house arrest.
In the new world of radical transparency, journalism as we know it may be a thing of the past. David Sifrey, founder and CEO of Technorati says,” People trust The New York Times and The Washington Post, but there are a huge number of people who are going outside the bounds of traditional media to these new media forms to get their information, and more importantly to participate in the discussions around news and topics. PBS, one of our most respected sources, as early as September of ’08, sent a message that engaged dialogue with their member stations titled: Why Bother To Use Social Media? They posed the following:
- Audience behaviors are changing rapidly and audiences increasingly expect a participatory media experience.
- Handled properly, social media can enhance traditional broadcasting with high quality content no station or producer can create.
- Social media can foster public dialogue.
- Social media can build powerful links between people, stations productions and content.
In the digital age and beyond, the Internet as an active way to communicate is here to stay. We can’t stop the avenues it opens into the interior of a landscape. The Iranian protests may well be known in the future as the “Twitter Revolution”. And a new door to the future of information may well have become mainstream.
We welcome your opinions. How has the digital age affected you? How are you using social media and how has it changed your business or interactions with others?
Thanks for joining us…
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive Producer/ Producer
Corporate Responsibility goes by many terms: Corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, responsible business, corporate social performance, etc. In their eagerness to be better corporate citizens and get and keep customers, corporate responsibility is a trend that many companies are taking more seriously. It is basically what a company will do beyond what they must do to satisfy a customer.
And it is looking at more than maximizing shareholder value and leveraging the maximum ‘good” to sustain the company for a future generation of shareholders.
Joining us are Guests:
- Ed Ahnert – ExxonMobil Foundation President (retired); Executive in Residence at SMU Cox School of Business
- Paul Pederson – Price Waterhouse Coopers; Management Consulting Partner (retired)
- Fred Smith, PhD – President and Founder of Competitive Enterprise Institute
Ed Ahnert comments: “You won’t find many maximizing shareholder value or making a lot of money on many corporate mission statements. Corporate responsibility is about creating value for all the stakeholders; from employees to the community it impacts.”
The model Paul Pederson shares outlines the various facets of what Corporate Responsibility involves. It includes, yet is not limited to:
- Corporate Sustainability
- Sustainable Development
- Triple Bottom Line
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Business Ethics
- Corporate Governance
- Corporate Citizenship
- Corporate Responsibility
He comments: “Corporate Responsibility is an expansion for not just their own- the company’s activities- but the people they buy products from. They want to make sure their own vendors are not violating the law or hurting the reputation of the company. Corporations are more concerned and involved.”
A dissenting voice is heard from Fred Smith, who believes we need to be aware of price and the quality of what our vendors deliver and that they are not operating illegally, but that we cannot and should not “impose our standards and crippling regulations on other countries we trade with. We have no legal responsibility to do so.”
The lively debate continues with viewpoints on many sides of the equation. The outcome: Corporate social responsibility is fast becoming a fact of the American way of doing business.
As always, thank you for joining us, as we talk about things that matter with people who care…
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive producer/ producer
In the Yahoo! News, July 23rd post, TMT: Too Much Twitter, they discuss the controversy surrounding politicians using Twitter.
“If the medium is the message, then what’s the message when politicians use 140-character tweets to talk about their state’s dire economic circumstances or ethics charges?
‘Re inaccurate story floating re:ethics violation/Legal Defense Fund;matter is still pending;new info was just requested even;no final report.’”
According to the Christian Science Monitor blog, 115 politicians are using Twitter. But, how much information and communication with constituents is too much? There is no doubt that we are in a new era of social media awareness and the proper balance is likely yet to be found. Below are a couple of links to articles past and present regarding the political Twitter controversy.
Politicians using Twitter: Morons or visionaries?
Blog discusses various political tweets that politicians have used along with viewpoints on this tweets.
“Political analyst Charlie Cook isn’t a fan of Twitter. Or at least politicians’ use of the social messaging tool.
Cook opined a couple days ago that he has ‘yet to hear a single intelligent remark twittered by an elected official.’
Maybe that’s because you’re bound by the medium. You’re only only allowed 140 characters each time you ‘tweet’.
No matter to Cook.
‘The vacuous utterances Twittered daily from members of Congress make me wonder how they have the time to spend keying in on such banalities and marveling over the narcissism implicit in their belief that anyone cares about their every single thought and reaction to contemporaneous events,’ he writes.”
Terrorist ‘tweets’? US Army warns of Twitter dangers
This is a post from October 25, 2008, warning of potential Twitter dangers.
“A draft US Army intelligence report has identified the popular micro-blogging service Twitter, Global Positioning System maps and voice-changing software as potential terrorist tools.
The report by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), examines a number of mobile and web technologies and their potential uses by militants.”
Security Fail: Congressman Pete Hoekstra Twitters “secret” trip to Iraq
This article is from February 2009:
“I think it’s wonderful that more politicians are beginning to discover social media tools and use them to add transparency for their constituents. The problem is when people like Pete Hoekstra, representative for Michigan’s 2nd District in the US House, go and ruin it for everyone.”
It is perfectly understandable and appropriate that politicians are working to become more and more “touchable” by those that have elected them. There is certainly a great deal of respect that elicits. However, as our world has made a major shift in the methods and frequency of communication, ‘best practices’ of politicians in reference to social media are bound to become more controlled.
Economic Update – Bailouts
With the economic situation of today, here are some quick updates on the bailout. In our July 21st economic update focuses on the bailout as it approaches $24 trillion.
The subprime mortgage crisis, covered in two McCuistion TV episodes, The Cause of the Economic Crisis in America and What Is the True State of the 2009 Economy, has resulted in bailouts that have amassed levels of proportion that according to Mike Shedlock, an investment advisor, are at levels that “simply become incomprehensible.” Mike Shedlock’s posting on TARP Special Investigator Says Bailout Total May Reach $23.7 Trillion gives substantial coverage on the state of the 23.7 trillion dollars in bailout money.
Paul Watson of PrisonPlanet.com asserts that that is equivalent to $80,000 per American. He posted a CNBC video on this economic update on his website.
According to Editor Andrew Sorkin economic update on yesterday’s post on DealBook, “More than 80 percent of the banks that received federal bailout funds said the money had helped them increase lending or avoid a drop in lending as the recession worsened this year, according to a new survey released Sunday.”
ClusterStock offers a chart that shows the growth of bailout money since bailouts began to be distributed.
During this installment of McCuistion Television’s episode on the Internet Privacy Condition, Dennis McCuistion is joined by two panelists:
- Dee Smith: CEO, Strategic Insight Group
- Jim Harper, J.D.: Director of Information Policy Studies, CATO
Internet privacy is a thing of the past. By Googling someone or something and by going into cached sites, you can pull back the covers on things that quite possibly the individual may have wanted to keep private. As Dee Smith says, “It’s an early warning sign. There’s an enormous array of credit card information and magazine subscriptions that all have a collected pattern. Privacy is threatened, yet there is a lot of information to help protect you against fraud.”
Jim Harper of CATO says of the Internet privacy condition, “What is privacy? Medical privacy and other is out there. The average person may not find this, but there is a lack of practical obscurity. Records exist. So from Government surveillance to marketing research and identity theft, a Google search can turn up lots of pieces and places. Not one place is definitive and complete. Still, ultimately, the result is a better economy.”
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Today there is a new human condition. The Web makes it very hard to escape your past. Data that is out there is difficult to impossible to retrieve. This information is going to be with you for a very long time. Knowledge is critical and needs to be managed. What one puts out on MySpace today can come back to haunt one and even result in the loss of a potential job. The knowledge intelligence pyramid, talked about by Dee Smith is a critical component of out future personal and marketing strategy.
From top to bottom the Knowledge Intelligence Pyramid, gives data that is critical to know and work with:
Specific and focused information
Specific but broad information
Knowledge today is indeed power. And the more you know about a prospect or other individual, the more effective you can be.
Thank you for watching this segment on the Internet privacy condition,
1518 – 07.19.09
Social Media Update: Our communication has changed. We are clearly no longer a society that gathers all of our news from the local newspaper and the local news station. Rather, we are gathering it from sources everywhere. Whether it is a blogger that breaks a news story, a Google search that turns up the most up to date stock market numbers, or a Twitter Iran situation, the way we get our information has changed.
Two online entities that have a wide span of popularity are Google and Twitter. Recent developments as the start-up company, Twitter, has taken off, beg the question, “Will Google and Twitter continue to co-exist?”
Google is not only a household name but similar to how the brand name “Kleenex” took over the term “tissue paper”, “Google it” now means, run an online search. Google is dominating the search market. In the more recent future Twitter has begun to take a nationwide position and Twitter words like the ones listed below are being introduced into our vocabulary:
tweet(ing): the act of posting to Twitter.
tweeple: Twitter people, Twitter members, Twitter users.
twitterpated: to be overwhelmed with Twitter messages.
politweet: a political tweet
According to a New York Times article, “Twitter, the popular micro-blogging service, has stolen a prominent Google lawyer.” Mashable reports on it as well, stating, “The site has nabbed Alexander Macgillivray, the former Senior Product and Intellectual Property Counsel at Google…” Although Twitter hasn’t had any major legal battles up to this point, they are thinking proactively as they begin to look at their future ROI plans.
Google recently released a list of all their Google Twitter accounts. TecUpdates reports that there are 45 Google Accounts on Twitter. That information alone begs the question, would Google buy Twitter? According to Sam Howat,
“Having many accounts to communicate with your customers via a popular medium does not qualify it for purchase. Twitter is not going to sell itself for anything less than $1Billion. Google is hoarding its cash just like everyone else during this recession.”
Howatt goes on in his post to discuss Google Wave. Google Wave is a new Google application that will be released, this app will “consolidate the attention of Google’s huge user-base no matter what social network they are involved in,” according to Scott Hewat. He goes on to say, “With the ability to converse in private, public, real-time, or threaded email, Wave is a fully branded, all-inclusive Google product that makes the communication lives of people amazingly easy.”
All that to say, in this information age, technology age, computer age, whichever ‘age’ you choose to adopt… The verdict on the Google and Twitter relationship is still up in the air. However, the fact remains in our social media update, our communication as a culture has changed and it’ll be interesting to see how our culture continues to shift and change as our communication practices do.
What are your thoughts regarding pros and cons of the communication changes? Do you think that Twitter grabbing a Google lawyer signifies any future shifts in their business?
Thanks for reading and yes, you can follow us on Twitter.
The shortfall for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 totaled $1.1 trillion, the first time that the gap for the period surpassed $1 trillion, Treasury figures showed today in Washington. The excess of spending over revenue for June was $94.3 billion, the first deficit for that month since 1991, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Obama announced Monday his choice for surgeon general — Dr. Regina Benjamin, a 52-year-old family practice doctor who has spent most of her career tending to the needs of poor patients in a Gulf Coast clinic in Alabama.
SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)–Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said Monday it would offer a free, Web-based version of its Office tools, the company’s most significant acknowledgment that it needs to alter a decades-old model of selling boxed software as it battles competitors like Google Inc. (GOOG).
July 13 (Bloomberg) — China has agreed for the first time to punish senior North Korean government officials for the nation’s defiance of United Nations resolutions barring nuclear and missile tests, China’s deputy ambassador said.
When Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and PBS’ NewsHour Anchor, visited KERA sometime back, we were lucky to catch him for a full hour of intimate conversation, televised of course. Jim shared some of his local story and how he got his start at the studio where it all started… KERA.
This is part two of an intimate conversation with PBS’ NewsHour Anchor, Jim Lehrer…
Dennis McCuistion had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Lehrer. Curious about the PBS NewsHour Anchor’s viewpoint, he asked, “a viewer, seeing all sides of a well-spoken, well thought out perspective, can they then make up their own minds on an issue, if we give them those perspectives?”
In his thoughtful way, Jim responded:
“Absolutely, absolutely right. They don’t need any help from me to tell them what to think, but they do need help from me to provide them with many points of view in a very clean way. And fairness, fairness to ideas as much as to people. On our program someone will come in and say to me, ‘the person who knows the most on this subject is this person and on the other side this person. This person is not as articulate as this person; so it would be unfair to put this person on with this person, they’d mop up the floor with him or her.’
‘So we find a better spokesperson’, Jim says. Now that may sound as if we’re casting a movie. We’re in the fairness to ideas business. That means everything to me. We want people to say; now I understand; now I can decide.”
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Dennis went on to enquire about Jim Lehrer’s interviews with many of the most powerful people on earth. He mentioned an interview Jim had with a recent US President who had lied in that interview regarding a major controversy that had erupted. He asked Jim, with situations like that, how did he keep from being a cynic? Jim believes journalism is an optimistic line of work. He states, “you have to believe in peace if you’re going to moderate a discussion on peace. We as people are capable of solving every problem.” He quips, “I personally solved the Middle East issue at least 40 times.” His style – “I ask and I listen and I can’t judge.”
Dennis asks, “Did you know President Clinton was lying?” Jim says no and goes on to tell us that there had been no leaks; there was no reason to believe differently. “There was no reason, no record, no way to challenge, and I asked the same question seven different ways. He looked me straight in the eye.” The conversation covered the differences in journalism today, which has moved from substance of issues to titillating.
“Dan Rather spoke of this in the segment before,” says Lehrer. “There was a watershed moment during the OJ Simpson trial when CNN went gavel to gavel and said to the American people, ‘this is news- every day, this is news.’ It wasn’t news under the old definitions. Yes, it was news when the murders occurred, yes, it was news… the white Bronco, yes, it was news when the arrest took place, and he was indicted, and Fuhrman, then not news at all until the verdict came in.” He goes on to say, how the huge audience watching affected other news programs and the nightly news as the networks had to compete. Yet a lot of people said, ‘this is not news,’ and they tuned out. ‘THEY’ (CNN) redefined what news was, using entertainment value.”
Several years before this interview, Dennis and I had interviewed several journalists, household names, in Dallas for a charitable event. He (Dennis) had asked if there was bias in the Media, meaning liberal bias. He brought up Bernard Goldberg’s work, Bias, and Goldberg’s accusation of liberal bias in the media. Addressing this, Jim Lehrer answered, “Bias in the media? What is this media? Sounds like a dreaded disease.” He reminded us that there is not just one media; there are scores of those scorpions out there. On PBS’ NewsHour he said, “we don’t do that, do not include me in that group.” The reporters joining us that evening at the event were equally outspoken, Jim himself was very clear, “Like all generalities, a little of this, a little of that. That doesn’t exist on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and that’s what concerns me the most.”
Bob Schieffer had replied, “There’s not a liberal bias. Bias is perceived. When people think something is biased they don’t believe it. What we have to do is strive to be credible… That’s the responsibility of a journalist, to try to be fair.”
Dan Rather responded, “I understand why that is said by politicians and others with an agenda. My work stands for itself. I think the public is pretty sophisticated about these charges. They don’t want to know what someone calls you. They want to know what you said on the air.”
Sam Donaldson spoke to this, “I don’t think media is liberal or conservative. George Wills, who’s liberal or conservative, he or I? I don’t buy the premise that media is liberal so we try to advance our causes over conservative causes. It is true that we think our job is to have people explain themselves and tell us what they are going to do tomorrow. We scratch at both parties just as hard.”
And a classic response from Bill Moyers, “Rush Limbaugh is liberal? The Washington Times is liberal? Bill Buckley (was) liberal? McLaughlin is liberal? Donaldson is liberal? I mean come on now, that’s one of the myths that the right wing is perpetrating to keep your eye off what they’re really doing.”
Coming back to the present time, on this program Jim Lehrer continues telling us his philosophy for news and its mandate to be fair. He states that everyone should be heard and that it’s not his place to say who is right and who is wrong. Jim addressed the function of the news and the journalist’s responsibility. “My job on NewsHour doesn’t evoke natural smiles. If you’re talking about a situation in the Middle East, what’s funny about that?” He leaves us with his comments about his writing, now nineteen novels and several plays, and his work. The busy PBS NewsHour Anchor finds time for all he does, “The reason I really want to do this nightly news, I love what I do with my whole heart and soul. I’m fortunate to do what I really want to do. I devote time to do what I really want to do… rather than what someone else wants me to do.”
Thank you Jim Lehrer, for a thoughtful and intimate inside look. Join us for more. And as always, thank you for watching.
Niki Nicastro McCuistion… Producer
1522 – 07.12.09