Thursday, July 23, 2009

Newspaper executors

The death of newspapers, like the death of Michael Jackson, is being blamed on the wrong party.

Jackson's last doctor is now under the justice system's spotlight -- and the entertainment media's -- but it's fairly clear from some of the reporting that Jackson, even as he was preparing for his "comeback," was still addicted to prescription drugs and finally asked for more once too often, and died as a result, killing himself accidentally.

Newspapers, through their publishers, essentially have done the same, but journalism is under the spotlight, and reporters and editors of the content of newspapers are getting the popular blame.

Journalists haven't kept up. They haven't moved to the Internet fast enough. They can't keep up with the swiftness of the news cycle, the sweep of readers and viewers from one medium to the next, etc., etc., etc.

The blame, in fact, lies with publishers and the advertising side of newspaper failures. Ad sales people were the ones who couldn't keep up, couldn't sell the newspaper's content to readers even as the newspaper's content providers bravely attempted to adjust to readers' demands.

And publishers, who are the executors of newspapers' estates even as the news organs still live, failed to change their business models fast enough to adjust to the changing marketplace.

Ad sales people at newspapers couldn't make the sale. Couldn't close the deal.

And their bosses, the publishers of newspapers, couldn't teach them how to make the sale because the publishers had grown too fat and lazy on unthreatened high profits for at least a hundred years to remember what it meant to hustle.

You won't hear much of that from the newspaper game. The publishers, after all, remain the executors of the newspaper industry estate. They remain the bosses, and like Michael Jackson's latest doctor, they are still in business, at least for the time being.

Journalism, however, seems certainly to be just as dead as Michael.

Dylan Thomas wrote: "Don't go gentle into that good night!"

I expect you'll see journalists accepting his advice even as their profession withers to a slim shadow of its old self. As readers, you should give them succor whenever and however you are able.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SBA offers advice during recession

"You have a partner, someone who has a vested interest in your success as a small business."

Greg Lopez, district director of the Colorado office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (right), wasn't talking about the government taking billion-dollar shares in GM or the national banks when he used those words to encourage local business owners to use SBA services Wednesday.

Lopez was assuring the business owners their government realizes an American economic recovery depends on them and their ability to survive the downturn.

Much of the advice given at a "Beating the Recession" business fair hosted by CBS4 News and the SBA Wednesday was just as straight forward.

"If you go out of business, it's not going to be because you're not making a profit," Joanna Rosenblum, a retired Hewlett-Packard executive told a seminar. "It's going to be because you have run out of cash." She urged the business owners to learn how to project cash flow, and follow those numbers religiously.

"You can't really survive a recession as long as this one by just cutting expenses," Rosenblum said. Instead, businesses have to find new revenue opportunities created by changing market conditions.

Then she told the story of a woman whose business was cleaning houses. As her private-home customers dropped off during the slowdown, she turned to bankers who needed foreclosed homes cleaned up before resales. That new market has become 90 percent of her sales during the recession.

Rosenblum is a volunteer with SCORE, a nationwide group of retired executives who counsel small business owners through SBA. She spent 24 years with Hewlett-Packard in California leading that company's print services for the Americas, so her advice is backed up by big-time business experience.

During the business fair, CBS4 News broadcast a one-hour special at 6 p.m. both from its studios and live from the site of the event at the Lowry Conference Center in Denver.

Go to or for more information or advice on how to solve recession-inspired business problems.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Help for small business

There's still time to make plans to attend.

On Wednesday, July 15, CBS4 News, along with the local office of the federal Small Business Administration, SCORE, a group of business advisors, Colorado's Small Business Development Centers and the MiCasa Resource Center for Women will host a business fair for small business owners.

The fair will provide counseling, training and an opportunity for a business owner to meet a lender to raise the capital the owner might need to stay in business through the current recession.

Two seminars will be held on off hours from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. where business owners can listen to tips from experts on how to survive the economic downturn. During that time, if an owner pre-registers, he or she can have a personal, one-on-one, confidential counseling session on the problems he or she is presently trying to solve to stay afloat.

The fair will be held at the Lowry Conference Center, 1061 Akron Way, Denver. Go to for a map, to register and for more information.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Norton's job is at stake

The parallels are not to be dismissed.

Kay Norton, president of the University of Northern Colorado, was trying to save her job Friday when she took to the press-conference podium and told reporters the investigation into UNC's reaction to male sexual-harassment allegations against a UNC theater professor would be as broad and deep as it could be.

"The University of Northern Colorado has placed no limits on the investigation," Norton said in a statement posted on the UNC website.
Her quick action is a response required by law of an employer facing an allegation of sex harassment made within the workplace -- in this case a student against a professor -- but more than that, her quickly going public is a reflex to the public humiliation and resignation of former University of Colorado president Betsy Hoffman five years ago.
When Hoffman delayed responding to charges her football team and coaches were using sex and alcohol to recruit teen graduates of high schools, then-Gov. Bill Owens publicly demanded a full-bore investigation, and then put more heat on Hoffman after Ward Churchill's "little Eichmanns" essay was made widely public. The governor's public actions in each instance were taken long after the fact of the offenses he held Hoffman accountable for.
Now, I'm not suggesting that now Gov. Bill Ritter call for Norton's resignation.
Politically, such a call would parallel Owens pressure on Hoffman. Owens was Republican; Hoffman considered somewhat liberal. Ritter is a Democrat; Norton took the UNC post during Owens' administration and her husband, Tom Norton, was director of the state highway department at the time.
And Norton is going public in part to cut short such retributive political action.
That's not only a smart move politically, but probably the best move in terms of UNC's reputation among institutions of higher learning.
Allegations regarding sexual behavior are now a most public event, especially when criminal charges or the possibility of criminal charges are imminent, and even more especially when public figures or public institutions are involved. Bill Clinton, the University of Colorado, Michael Jackson, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford ..., the list of celebrity media coverage goes on and on and on and on.
Norton has been a good president of UNC, by all accounts. Her actions regarding the current firestorm are the right actions, although her institution's behavior in the past may still be found at fault and Norton held accountable for it.
That would be the "right thing to do," no matter the outcome.
As Betsy Hoffman and so many others have found out during careers over the past decade, jobs are to be held for as long as one can hold them, doing the best you can do while you do hold them. But then the economy, a sex scandal, some mistake, or a change in political fortunes comes along to muck up your performance. And the job comes to an end.
As my mother would have said: Buck up and move on.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Economically lynched one more time

Front page, Denver Post, by Miles Moffeit: "Colorado transportation officials are lagging behind their minority hiring target for federal stimulus projects, prompting a protest that has led to an internal review."

That's what happens when a Democratic state administration, Gov. Ritter's, forgets about the few obligations it has to minority-owned businesses in Colorado, and thinks it can get away with it.

"Since 2007," Moffeit's story continues, "the state highway department also has fallen short of its goal to distribute 12.8 percent of its federally financed road work to companies primarily owned by blacks, Latinos and other groups deemed disadvantaged, hitting about 10 percent."

That goal of the highway department is effectively Colorado's only obligation to minority-owned businesses in the state, thanks largely to the Owens' administration's neglect of disparity in minority-business contracting from 1999 through 2006, when Ritter was elected. But Ritter's economic development team has hardly tried to pick up any slack over the past three years.

And minority business owners throughout the state have, as a result, been the outlyers in feeling the effects of the business downturn that started in Colorado with the foreclosure crisis of 2007.

You haven't heard anybody complaining about that until now because many business owners who are ethnic minorities are as stoic as the next Republican about their lost free-market opportunities, and they simply don't cry a lot.

But the time has come to revive the voice of the minority business community in Colorado.

Herman Malone, my coauthor of "Lynched by Corporate America," which is Malone's story of racial discrimination in business contracting, has been a pioneer in making that voice heard through the last two decades. Our book is as good a textbook/case study of economic and business discrimination as has been written, even if I do say so myself.

Check it out at Herman's website,

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Iranian solution

I write this not because I have any expertise in Iranian politics or much expertise beyond a generalist who is a journalist. Mostly, I write this because I enjoy a right of free speech, and because I can write.

I suggest the Iranian people who feel repressed by their own government hold a "Fingertip Revolution." A fingertip referendum, as it were.

I propose that Iranian adults cut off a small piece of their smallest finger's fingertip and mail it to their president in protest of his regime. Even a pin-prick's few drops of blood would do, if not real flesh.

We Democrats and independent voters in America should have done the same thing in 2000 when our Supreme Court made a political decision to grant the presidency of the United States to George W. Bush.

The Iranian president would have to react to your protest if only to prevent a public health crisis among your country's postal service.

But the small self-mutilation and mailing would at least register itself relatively quickly among the population of your country, and whoever chose to participate would have a lasting badge of courage to display to your neighbors and further express your opinion.

Such a small act would seem hardly worth a government crackdown with thousands of arrests, if that many people chose to participate. After all, what government in the world could arrest everybody in their country who has a cut on their finger.

I suggest this type of democratic protest, however, only in the most dire circumstances.

That's why I say, if someone had thought of it back in 2000, it would have been a good action for the American electorate to take considering the eight-year regime that resulted from George W. Bush being handed the U.S. presidency on a platter.

It would represent the people of a country using their government to register their protest against their government's widespread policy mistakes. It would be shedding blood in the name of freedom, and yet it should cost no one their lives, and really not much of their sacred honor.

If the act could in any way be considered a sin, it could only be a minor one in the eyes of any self-respecting deity.

Call it a bloody non-coup. Raise a fingertip in rebellion!