Economist Milton Friedman Dies at 94

November 16, 2006 at 11:17 am (People, US)

From AP

Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who advocated an unfettered free market and had the ear of Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, died Thursday. He was 94.

Friedman died in San Francisco, said Robert Fanger, a spokesman for the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in Indianapolis. He did not know the cause of death.

In more than a dozen books and in his column in Newsweek magazine, Friedman championed individual freedom in economics and politics.

His theory of monetarism, adopted in part by the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, opposed the traditional Keynesian economics that had dominated U.S. policy since the New Deal. He was a member of Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board.

His theories won him a Nobel Prize in economics in 1976.


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New Design and Ad Rate Set for Time Magazine

November 10, 2006 at 10:45 pm (Media, US)

From The New York Times

For years Time magazine had a seemingly insurmountable lead in circulation over other weekly news magazines, but now that lead is narrowing.

Time said yesterday that starting in January it would cut its rate base — the number of readers it guarantees to advertisers — by 18.8 percent, to 3.25 million, from 4 million. The advertising rates charged by a magazine generally rise and fall based on that number.

But Time also said it wanted to persuade advertisers to switch to a new way of paying for ads, based on the total number of magazine readers, including those who read someone else’s copy. On that basis, Time says it has 19.5 million readers.

Time also said yesterday that it would increase its newsstand price by $1, to $4.95, starting in January. About 116,000 copies of the magazine are sold on average at newsstands.

Editors at Time are working on a redesign to be introduced in January, along with a change in the day the magazine hits newsstands, to Friday from Monday. Also, 800,000 of what Time determines to be its wealthiest readers will receive added style, travel and leisure content once a month. Time will pitch that magazine version to high-end advertisers.

The magazine’s announcement comes after months of tumultuous changes at Time, part of the Time Inc. division of Time Warner. Time Inc. has reduced the staff at all of its publications by 550 in the last year.

This year Time hired a new managing editor, Richard Stengel, with a mission to reinvent the magazine. It also hired Josh Tyrangiel to revive its Web site. Time and other weekly magazines have struggled to stay relevant against the Internet, cable channels and daily news.

Time’s publisher, Edward R. McCarrick, said the changes represented a monumental shift in magazine accountability. Some in the media industry have said that ads should be sold based on estimates of the total number of people who read a magazine, a system that would be similar to TV ratings.

Currently, magazine ads are sold based on the number of people who subscribe or buy the magazine on the newsstand. Mr. McCarrick said if advertisers agreed to switch to the new system, Time advertisers would be able to purchase space in the magazine based on a guaranteed number of 19.5 million readers starting next year, and the way the rate would be calculated would give advertisers more for their money.

“I don’t think the number of readers has gone down. That’s a number we are comfortable guaranteeing,” he said. “We’re doing something really bold and direct, which is throwing down the gauntlet.”

Previously, Mr. McCarrick said, Time’s rate base counts included people who received magazines through a variety of channels that other publications still use, including magazines sponsored by advertisers and sent out unrequested.

Earlier this year, the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which reports magazine circulation, began requiring magazines to break out the number of magazines in their circulation that go to places like doctors’ offices. Time magazine’s figure for such magazines was 350,623 out of about 4.1 million magazines sold in the first half of this year.

Newsweek magazine, in contrast, did not have such copies to report. Richard M. Smith, editor in chief of Newsweek, which is owned by the Washington Post Company, said he knew that Time had been looking at its rate base numbers for a while, just as his own magazine had.

“We continue to look carefully at the rate base, and I think for everyone in the magazine business the postal rate increases have been dramatic over the last few years, and we’re facing another increase of 12 percent in 2007. So that forces you to look at the economics of your circulation,” he said. “The other thing is, for both Time and Newsweek, the Web has provided both a very large audience and substantial advertising revenues.”

Time’s total circulation was up about 1.2 percent in the first half of this year compared with 2005. In contrast, the circulation of Newsweek fell 1.8 percent in the first half of this year, to about 3.1 million.

Some in the industry said Time’s reduction in its estimated readership was not surprising. Other magazines, including Reader’s Digest and Playboy, have also cut their base rates as circulations declined.

“Magazines are evolving to a kick-back medium from a news medium,” said Joe Mandese, editor of MediaPost in New York, an online and print trade publication. “Time is saying with the change that it’s not a start-your-week publication, it’s a kick-back, over-the-weekend publication, and is for news.”

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Google Buys JotSpot to Expand Online Document-Sharing Service

October 31, 2006 at 9:49 pm (Companies, Internet, US)

From The Wall Street Journal:


Google Inc. said it acquired closely held start-up JotSpot for an undisclosed sum, a move that could strengthen Google’s expanding services for users to create and share documents online.

JotSpot, exploiting a technology called wikis, provides free and paid services that allow individuals to jointly work on Web-based information such as spreadsheets, photo albums, calendars and contact lists. Google, Mountain View, Calif., has assembled free online word-processing, spreadsheet, email and calendar services that have some similarities with JotSpot’s offerings. Such services could win away some of the consumers Microsoft Corp. is targeting with its Office software.

JotSpot Chief Executive Joe Kraus said his company was happy to join Google because “it’s really clear they are focusing on letting people collaborate and share and work together online.” Google executives are also trying to streamline the number of products the company has, and Mr. Kraus said JotSpot would focus on how to integrate with Google’s existing services.

JotSpot, Palo Alto, Calif., has about 30,000 paying corporate customers at about 2,000 companies. Roughly 300,000 people use JotSpot’s free service, which carries some storage and other restrictions. The company, which received funding from the Mayfield Fund and Redpoint Ventures venture-capital firms, has 27 employees.

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US Newspaper Circulations Slide More

October 31, 2006 at 9:46 pm (Media, US)

From The Wall Street Journal:


Nearly every major U.S. newspaper suffered circulation declines in the past six months, according to the newspaper industry’s twice-yearly report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the latest confirmation of the difficulties facing the industry as readers flock to the Web and other outlets for news.

Average daily circulation of the 770 newspapers reporting results to the ABC dropped 2.8% on a year-to-year basis during the six months ended Sept. 30, according to an analysis from the Newspaper Association of America, an industry-trade group. The drop in circulation follows a decline of 2.5% during the reporting period ended March 31 of this year and a 2.6% decline in the year-earlier period. Average Sunday circulation at 619 of the country’s newspapers fell 3.4% in the most recent six months, according to the NAA. The circulation figures are preliminary and subject to audit by the ABC.

The circulation report, which comes on the heels of several major publishers reporting weaker ad revenue for the third quarter, is likely to reinforce concerns among investors about the industry’s prospects. Those concerns have prompted some investors to push companies such as Tribune Co. to restructure or put themselves on the market.

Top 20 US Newspaper by circulation:

Newspaper                                             Circulation       Change from Mar-Sept. 2006

1. USA Today                                           2,269,509     -1.30%

2. The Wall Street Journal                    2,043,235     -1.90%

3. The New York Times                        1,086,798      -3.50%

4. Los Angeles Times                             775,766          -8%

5. New York Post                                   704,011         5.10%

6. New York Daily News                       693,382         1%

7. The Washington Post                         656,297     -3.30%

8. Chicago Tribune                                576,132       -1.70%

9. Houston Chronicle                            508,097       -3.70%

10. Newsday, Long Island                    410,579        -5%

11. The Arizona Republic                     397,294         -2.60%

12. The Boston Globe                          386,415        -6.70%

13. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.,  378,100     -5.50%

14. San Francisco Chronicle                  373,805       -5.40%

15. Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul 358,887   -4.20%

16. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution     350,157     -3.50%

17. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland               336,939      -0.60%

18. The Philadelphia Inquirer                  330,622     -7.60%

19. Detroit Free Press                               328,628    -3.60%

20. The Oregonian                                   310,803     -6.80%

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U.C. Berkeley Journalism Dean Search

October 27, 2006 at 10:00 am (Berkeley, Media, US)

From Brad DeLong’s Blog


U.C. Berkeley Journalism Dean Search


Dean: Graduate School of Journalism: University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley, invites nominations and applications for the position of Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism. The appointment is effective July 1, 2007.

The School offers a master’s degree program that prepares students for the highest levels of journalism. The School’s purpose is to educate professionals to work in areas ranging from newspapers, magazines, and television to documentary film, radio, photography, and new media.

The dean provides academic, intellectual, professional, and executive leadership; maintains a collegial environment conducive to excellence in teaching, research and journalistic integrity; and takes a leadership role in raising funds and promoting relationships with alumni and the profession.

Applicants for this position should demonstrate an accomplished journalistic record consistent with a position in a news organization of recognized excellence. Top candidates will have a record of demonstrated leadership and administrative skills. Teaching experience is desirable but not required. The Dean may hold a professorship in the Graduate School of Journalism.

Nominations or applications will be given prompt consideration if received by December 31, 2006, but earlier submissions are strongly encouraged.

Applications should contain a letter of interest, detailed resume, and the names of at least three professional references. Nominations should include complete contact information, through either print or electronic means. Nominations or applications should be sent to:

Chair, Journalism Search Committee

University of California, Berkeley

109 California Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720-1500

Electronic submissions are encouraged and should be sent to:

This is a sensitive position and subject to a criminal background check.

As a member of this search committee, I find myself at sea. Here is one question, addressed to all journalists:

What skills would you think you needed to learn immediately if you were starting in journalism right now?

Here’s a second question, addressed to everybody:

What does a good Graduate School of Journalism look like early in the 21st century?

Here’s a third, Berkeley-specific question:

Berkeley has no fewer than four bureaucratic organizations that seem to be headed for the same place or at least overlapping places:

UC Berkeley School of Information.

UC Berkeley School of Journalism.

UC Berkeley Center for New Media.

UC Berkeley Mass Communications Major.

Should all four of these be merged? Should we search for a Journalism School dean who could–if things develop in such a way–be dean of such a merged enterprise?

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US GDP at the Slowest Growth in More Than 3 Years

October 27, 2006 at 9:28 am (Economics, US)

Even the Fed holds the interest rates stable, the economy growth still slows to the lowest, mostly driven my the shrinking investment on property. Investment on homebuilding fell by the largest since 1991.

Depending on the inflation rate and the unemployment rate, the Fed might have to consider to act on the opposite direction–raise the rate to avoid a possible stagflation.


From AP

Stocks fell Friday after the Commerce Department reported that the economy grew at the slowest pace in more than three years.

While investors expected the reading on gross domestic product would show growth to be slowing, the report stirred concern that a cooling in the housing market would spill over into other parts of the economy.

The GDP, the broadest measure of the economy, showed growth slowed to 1.6 percent in the third quarter; economists had been expecting a 2.1 percent expansion. The report identified the slowing housing market as a significant drag on growth, as money pumped into homebuilding fell by the largest amount since 1991.

“The fact that there is a moderate pullback tells you that the overall market risk is not extreme,” said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist for CIBC World Markets, referring to the strength of the market’s ability to digest the GDP news.

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Ex-Chief of G.E. May Want Newspaper

October 25, 2006 at 10:15 pm (Media, US)

From The New York Times:


Ex-Chief of G.E. May Want Newspaper

By Andrew Ross Sorkin


Some retired executives take up golf or gardening. John F. Welch Jr., the former chief of General Electric, has been looking into what would be a far less relaxing pursuit: running a newspaper.

Mr. Welch and Jack Connors, the co-founder of the Boston advertising firm Hill Holliday, are exploring the possibility of making an offer to buy The Boston Globe from The New York Times Company, according to people briefed on the plan.

Mr. Welch is not the only multimillionaire thinking of becoming a newspaper baron. David L. Geffen, the music impresario and a co-founder of DreamWorks SKG, and Eli Broad, a real estate developer, have explored making bids for The Los Angeles Times. Robert C. Embry Jr., president of the Abell Foundation in Baltimore, has made repeated efforts to buy The Baltimore Sun. David Chase has expressed interest in The Hartford Courant. All three of those papers are owned by the Tribune Company.

But newspapers, perhaps the ultimate trophy asset even as the industry appears to be in a free fall, may be too much even for previously successful business executives.

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What a Bleak Era

October 21, 2006 at 7:58 pm (Media, US)

What a bleak era for printing media. After the publisher of the LA Times was sacked, three former Knight Ridder newspapers are planning layoffs.


Read the news story from The New York Times:


The new owners of three former Knight Ridder newspapers announced layoffs, expected layoffs and abrupt changes in management yesterday as they painted a bleak outlook for the newspaper industry.

The San Jose Mercury News said it planned to lay off 101 people from its work force of 1,260 employees. The cuts are to include 40 workers from the 280-member newsroom.

The new owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer and its sister paper, The Daily News, said in a memo to the staff that “some layoffs are unavoidable.” Both papers underwent significant cuts last year.

And at The Contra Costa Times, the editor was abruptly made “redundant” as the paper consolidated many of its functions under its new owner, according to a memorandum to the staff.

Owners of all the papers said that most newspapers across the country were facing the same situation, largely because of significant drops in advertising revenues.

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Michael Bloomberg Not to Sell His Company

October 20, 2006 at 5:22 pm (Companies, Media, US)

Michael Bloomberg, founder and the largest share holder of Bloomberg LP, denied that he is about to sell his company, which is estimated to be worth as much as $12 billion.

It was said that potential buyers include Blackstone Group, the manager of the largest buyout fund, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company. McGraw-Hill and Thomson were also said to be interested.

Forbes magazine estimated that Bloomberg had $4.1 billion in revenue last year. The company has about 9,000 workers world wide.

In the over $10-billion financial market, Bloomberg seizes about 31 percent share and its rival, Reuters, takes about 23 percent, estimated an editor of the trade publication Inside Market Data Reference.


Read the news story from NYT.



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Good News from Silicon Valley

October 20, 2006 at 4:43 pm (Companies, Economics, Internet, US)

EBay‘s third-quarter profit grew by 10 percent, helped in part by a lower tax rate and strong sales at its online payments unit.

Apple Computer‘s fourth-quarter profit increased 27 percent rise in its fiscal fourth-quarter profit.

The biggest winner is Google, whose third-quarter profits nearly doubled.

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