Archives for the month of: April, 2009

* Newspaper Circs Drop
* Music Bigs Settle With Family For $7K
* Big Corps Need Cash
* Verizon Doing Well

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Here are the stories that interest me this morning, along with why I think they may be interesting or useful to nonprofit, philanthropy, or community-based organization leaders:

  • Newspaper circulation continues its slide. Among the top 25 daily newspapers, all showed drops for the October-March period, and most significant. The only bright spot was the Wall Street Journal, which had a .61% uptick. The full list of circulation numbers is here. No, NYT is not tops — my fave, USA Today is.
    • My take: I am as tired of the “newspapers are dying” story as the next person, but this cannot be denied. The money has all shifted online. Blame Craigslist’s free classifieds. Time to retool, people.
  • Music industry lawyers settled with one of their lawsuit targets for $7K.
    Patti Santangelo holds court papers. Photo by Kathy McLaughlin, AP

    Patti Santangelo holds court papers. Photo by Kathy McLaughlin, AP

    Patricia Santangelo was targeted in the series of file-sharing lawsuits the Recording Industry Association of America brought some time ago. She fought back, which came as a surprise to the plaintiffs. Her defense: she had no clue how to download music. At one point, a federal judge described her as an “Internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from kazoo.” Turns out her sons had been downloading. The settlement for $7,000 will be paid out over months in installments of $583.33.
    • My take: Illegal downloading is wrong. Not because it rips the artists off so much (record companies do that just fine) — but just because it’s wrong. That’s not enough, though. For people in the intellectual property business, we need a new model of what constitutes “ownership.”
  • Big corporations need more cash. General Motors offered to sell more than half of itself to the government and auto unions for $11.6 billion more in loans. (Current shareholders would own just 1% after the deal). Citibank and Bank of America, meanwhile, after the White House stress tests, are likely to need large infusions of capital too, according to the government.
    • My take: The continued announcements of needed huge bailouts makes one wonder what’s worth saving anymore.
  • Verizon announced good quarterly results yesterday. They earned 63 cents per share, beating analysts’ predictions of 59 cents. It ended the quarter with 86.6 million wireless subscribers. But the big news? In answer to a question about rumors of a Verizon iPhone, Verizon COO Denny Strigl gave no comment and followed up with: “Historically we haven’t been dependent on any one device. We’ve been well-positioned with high-value customers.”
    • My take: iPhone is the must-have among my peers and I am holding out because AT&T’s network is inferior to Big Red. I may have to wait longer! Verizon smartly bides its time and only adds products when ready, regardless of complaints from the Zeitgeist.

I know normally this space is devoted to discussions about issues that affect nonprofits, philanthropy, and community-based organizations.

But I like to change things up once and a while so I made this video that shows my favorite, sure-fire, simple way to dice an onion. Watch:

Before I learned this, I always was unsure just how I should really go about dicing an onion — I could do onion-ring slices, but the dice never was even. It caused me great anxiety.

This method works like a charm.

(Like that cool knife I am using? It’s a Santoku knife by Pampered Chef. My friend Monique turned me onto it.)

A friend asked me if I was going to demonstrate Julia Child’s method. I don’t know if this is hers or not, maybe someone can let me know?

* GOP Culture War
* New Political Online Source
* Spacey To Play Abramoff
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These are the stories that interest me this morning, along with my take on why they might be interesting to nonprofits and community-based organizations:

  • Republican culture war brewing.
    SF Tea Party protestor by flickr user Steve Rhodes

    SF Tea Party protester by flickr user Steve Rhodes

    While the Beltway GOP leaders have a “consensus” that it’s time to set aside conservative social issues, outside the Beltway a “rebellion is brewing,” according to the Politico. From the unexpected popularity of the anti-tax “tea parties” to loud denunciations of same-sex marriage, the rank-and-file of the party appears fed up with what they see as their leaders’ willingness to trade off bedrock principles. The leaders, meanwhile, see compromise as the key to governing and to longer-term party growth.

    • My take: The coastal echo chamber at work — DC, NY, SF and LA may be surprised to hear that flyover country has a vastly different set of concerns than power set does. The nonprofit and philanthropy fields can also be susceptible to the belief that coastal thinking dominates, because so much nonprofit and philanthropy takes place in these rarified towns. Midwestern heartland is fundamentally traditional.Understanding this matters as the independent sector is squeezed by the economy and by legislators’ efforts to scrutinize regulation.
  • AOL announces new political news site. AOL’s MediaGlow has launched Politics Daily, with a dream team of reporters and editors. This is an online-only, daily political news source that will feature exclusively original reporting.
    • My take: This new site will be a good competitor to the Politico. With no printing costs, its cost structure may make it easier to manage than others. It’ll also have to go up against the Huffington Post for traffic but is clearly a different niche.
  • Kevin Spacey to play Jack Abramoff. Deadline Hollywood Daily reports that actor Kevin Spacey has agreed to play disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in a new biopic, “Casino Jack,” to be directed by George Hickenlooper. Spacey was in DC over the weekend to visit Abramoff in prison. “At one point during the meeting, Spacey was sharing his impersonation of Bill Clinton with Abramoff, while Abramoff shared a pretty good impersonation of Ronald Reagan with Spacey.” Pic is to be written by Dead Ringers author Norman Snider.
    • My take: Washington scandals don’t always make good movies but they very often can be quite useful to glean insights out of. (E.g. The Contender, Shattered Glass.)

Thanks for reading,

Brad

I wrote recently about how organizations can use people’s social media feetprints to find talent. There’s also been lots written about how careful people need to be with what they post in the social media sphere lest they inadvertently make themselves unemployable.

Footprints by Flickr user kimba

Footprints by Flickr user kimba

But I think if you’re looking for a job and you’re not using social media proactively, you’re crazy.

What you can do with it:

  • Create a portfolio. I’ve written about this before. Resumes rarely convey your real highlights. They can’t; they’re too stylized. Your social media footprint can do that. On your blog, on your “about” page, you should have a linked, bulleted list of your key accomplishments.
  • Prove your reputation. It’s easy to say that you’re important in your field, or that others regard your work highly. But how do you prove it? A list of three references may or may not get called. But if you have been sharing and generally been a good social media citizen,  the good will you’ve generated will be on display for all to see. Connect with others in your field, and share tips and ideas with them. Use the usual suspects — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.
  • Find places to interview. Duh, obvious use. But it’s a biggie. Ask around, keep your eyes open, be in a lot of conversations. You’ll be able to see who’s looking for talent. And you’ll see who knows about such things.
  • Research a prospective organization. Before you make an approach, you can check an organization out a bit. LinkedIn is great for this, because you can filter by employer. Who’s worked there? Do you know them? Guy Kawasaki has a great tutorial on using LinkedIn to screen potential employers (to avoid nightmare bosses).
  • Watch the prospective organization. Let’s say you’ve gotten that first interview, or even an informational interview. If your statistics systems are set up right (that is, you should be using statcounter or sitemeter on your blog so you can see where people are coming from when they visit your site), you can gauge their interest. Are they checking you out? Doing a good job of monitoring can also help you decide whether the fit with a given organization would be a good one.
  • Control follow up. Of course, the follow up letter is a time honored way of making sure the impression you left your interviewers with is actually the one you want them to have. (“As we discussed when we were together, I am a rock star in these four ways…”). If you use email, it’s also a way to leave hooks. Include relevant links to things you’ve written. Watch to see if they click on them. You can tell how interested they are and also calibrate your own responses by watching your stats.
  • Stay on the radar. Hopefully, you have gained a sense (by asking in your interview or through research) of what, if any, social networks the hiring managers are a part of. It’ll be either Facebook or LinkedIn — in each they may be a part of a subgroup. Don’t be weird and in-you-face about it . . . but be active in ways they may see.  Connect these efforts with your stat-watching. Share links, using url-shorteners that allow you to see traffic stats.

The overall approach is to be active, be visible, and monitor. Don’t just send in the resume, get the interview, and leave it at that.

From the moment you decide to consider working at a firm, you are in a relationship with them, so be proactive about it. It may not get you the job, but it’ll put you higher up on the list.

* Web-Only News Site Stumbles
* Mystery Donor Mystifies
* Times Fdn Suspends Gifts
* Youth Volunteering Less

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Mystery by flickr user davitydave

Mystery by flickr user davitydave

Here are the stories that interest me this morning, along with my take on why they might be of interest to nonprofits and community organizations:

  • Rocky Mountain News web-only news site stumbles. INDenver Times, an online-only news source built on the ashes of the shuttered Rocky Mountain News, had planned to go live as a subscription service on May 4. Financial backers killed the launch date, after falling far short of the 50,000 subscriber goal. Reports say the site only had 3,000 subscribers. Investors have scaled back the operation.
    • My take: As one of the first paper-to-Internet conversions, this was closely watched and it’s a shame. I think it says more about the difficulties of succeeding with a subscription model (Slate had long ago tried it and abandoned it) than it does about the financial viability of newsgathering in general. (Side note: I was one of the people who plunked down money for a Slate subscription.)
  • Mystery donor giving millions to women-led colleges. Someone is giving anonymous gifts of between $1 million and $10 million to a variety of colleges. Anonymous donations are not new, but in this case there’s a twist: not even the institutions know who the donor is. The person (or persons) has given up to $68.5 million, according to reports. All the recipient colleges so far are led by women.
    • My take: Nice to see some good news. Even nicer to see a donor so focused on mission that they are utterly allergic to publicity.
  • New York Times Foundation suspends giving. The New York Times announced that it would cease (“suspend”) giving through its foundation as well as through the Boston Globe Foundation. Current commitments will be honored but no new ones will be made. Starting May 22, the foundation will also cease matching Times employee charitable contributions.
    • My take: A shame but no surprise. Two trends at work here. Obviously, newspapers are on the ropes so cutting giving makes sense. But corporate philanthropy overall continues to wither. The growth area for nonprofits to look is individual donors, for a host of reasons I will detail in a separate post.
  • Youth volunteering down. According to a report by CIRCLE, for the first time since 9/11 youth volunteering has dipped, though it remains above the rate for parents.
    • My take: We may see a resurgence of public service from the new Serve America Act, but organizations still need to think creatively about how they can best use volunteers.

Thanks for reading,

Brad