Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The story was about an allegation of race discrimination being practiced against African-American teachers in Denver Public Schools.
Larry Borum, according to Denver Post writer Claire Trageser, accused DPS of "plain old discrimination based on race," and I bet Claire Trageser lost many of her readers at that very point in her story, the moment when readers finished reading that exact quote.
Why? Institutional racism.
Herman Malone, an African-American businessman from Denver who co-authored (with me) his book, "Lynched by Corporate America," was this region's forerunner in spotting -- and suffering -- institutional racism, the systemic racism of the sort Borum is complaining of in DPS schools.
Malone suffered it in the business world, through business contracting. Borum is complaining that teachers -- who make a business of their profession -- suffer discrimination at the hands of their employer, DPS.
Borum is chairman of the Denver school district's own Black Education Advisory Council, which counsels DPS board members on issues related to the school district's relations with black students, teachers and parent consumers of the DPS product: education. His criticism of the district, therefore, cannot be taken lightly.
Ironically, Trageser wound up quoting former Denver city councilwoman Happy Haynes, herself African-American, in defense of the district. Haynes admitted DPS recognizes a problem of declining numbers of African-American teachers at DPS, but she said those lower numbers in themselves are not indicators of actual discrimination.
Her response was typical, stereotypical, of an institution's response to an allegation of institutional racism.
Systemic racism often is invisible to those working within the criticized system.
Perhaps it's only visible to those who are its victims.
"Lynched by Corporate America" is a lesson in systemic, institutional racism; in its case, racism existed and yet was denied at U.S. West Communications, the predecessor of now Qwest, our area's largest communications provider.
Qwest, although it settled with six of Herman Malone's co-plantiffs in a federal lawsuit, defeated Malone in his shared discrimination claim before a federal-court jury, and left him hanging to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees for pressing the case.
Not many readers recognize all that as institutional, systemic racism; the book, after all, hasn't sold very many copies.
But Boron's raising the issue of systemic racism in a school district in our region is another indicator that the racism exists here, even if many people do not recognize it. And Boron's Black Education Advisory Council complaint shows more blacks are aware of institutional racism in the age of Obama even if their institutions cannot admit to it.
Speaking of invisible things, though: Old editor that I am, I noticed the missing period after the letter "S" in the Post's front-page headline. I only mention it here because I noticed it.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Colleen O'Connor seems at first to be writing a "must-report" story on the front page of the Business section for her employer, the Post and MediaNews Group, Dean Singleton's newspaper publishing company that owns the Post and many other newspapers, shoppers and weeklies across the nation.
But the project is indeed news.
MediaNews is testing a new method of delivering news to consumers at home and in hotels that truly gives a glimpse of what newsgathering is moving toward. It won't be for free, as your own gathering can do now across many websites on the Internet, but it will be a product of your own choosing, delivered to the screen of your choice as well: cell phone, fax, mobile device, Internet reader (Kindle), desktop or laptop computer, or your hotel door as a batch of loose papers collected for you by the desk and dumped there, like a newspaper, after you have "subscribed" at the hotel's expense to the news you want delivered.
Maybe Dean can be forgiven for selling off the bottom of his Sunday front page of the Post to Target if the ad revenue the sales produce buys him a jump start on the newspaper of the future. Newspapers have to reach that future faster than they have ever been forced to before.
Traditionally, the future has not been a newspaper's familiar territory, and certainly not a profitable one. But MediaNews may have linked to a little corner of the next 100 years of publishing. Their experiment will be fun to watch.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
It seemed like a lot less than six hours, yet I learned much I had not picked up peripherally during eleven years of covering small business for The Denver Post and ColoradoBiz. I learned at my own pace, encouraged, yet made aware of the hard edges business flashes at the people who try to accomplish the hard work of being their own boss.
I have been to several such seminars before. Mostly they have been discouraging. One, the most recent for me, practically talked me out of trying to go into business for myself in a quick 90 minutes. Others have tended to take an SBA-inspired technocrat approach that you could hear reflected back in some of the responses of participants in Wiesner's session.
But Pat admitted up front he had never done one before. He said we - 12 of 15 people who said they would come to the free event - were "part of an experiment."
He would weigh how we responded to what he's learned about starting businesses and starting magazines, and change any future seminars he did based on what worked for us and what didn't.
We could take his advice for whatever we thought it was worth; the results we made for ourselves from his shared thoughts would self-indicate to each of us whether our "passion" for creating a business was strong enough to secure its success.
Passion was one of the qualities Pat said was necessary to go into business for yourself. He said an entrepreneur had to be "hopelessly committed" to the idea of his or her business, and ready to "submerse" themselves in a current that would sweep them away to destinations in their lives they would never, ever be able to predict.
Then he taught us how to prepare a profit-and-loss statement, how to plan cash flow, why marketing information - Who are your customers? How do you reach them? - was important to selling your business concept to a "Mr. Big" and why it was important to seek the money it takes to give your business a fair start.
Two "Big Ideas" to absorb and enact while you also are sweating the small stuff:
- "When your are out of cash, you are out of buisness."
- "Cash is totally different from profit."
Wiesner said don't even pretend you are ready to ask an investor for money unless you have the answers in your head and sometimes on paper to all the questions you need to answer for yourself about how you plan to operate your business.
"How deep will the financial hole you are digging for yourself get before your business goes positive?" "Will the business make a profit?" "When?" "How do you plan to repay your investors?" "What will you give them in return for your use of their money?"
But having answered all the questions, Wiesner says, don't be afraid to ask for the money.
That's the kind of advice Wiesner offered in his first-ever seminar on how you can start a business. He's planning to have more. Read the magazine or its website to find out when your next opportunity will be to listen and learn.