Dean Baker: The Washington Post (a.k.a. Fox on 15th Street) Wants 15 Million People to Be Unemployed

The Washington Post, which gained worldwide fame for its effort to sell corporate lobbyists access to its reporters and Obama administration officials, wants 15 million workers in the United States to be unemployed. Of course that is not exactly what they said — the Post argued against another stimulus package. But 15 plus million unemployed workers is the certain effect of the Post‘s preferred policy.

We will go through the Post‘s logic, but the simple fact that the Post opposes the policy should pretty well establish its usefulness. After all, the Post has a near perfect track record of being completely wrong on the economy at every turn.

Remember back in January of 2008 when the Post told readers that: “There is not yet any proof of a recession, …. Nor is there any consensus that a recession, if one comes, will be severe.”

And then one week later we got the line: “timely, targeted and temporary.” This is a paper that had no space for those warning of the dangers of the stock bubble in the 90s and the housing bubble in the current decade.

In short, given its near perfect track record of being 180 degrees wrong on the economy, the Post‘s opposition to more stimulus makes a compelling case for its merits. But, let’s look at the argument.

The Post argues that most of the stimulus has not yet gone out the door, so we should wait to see its full effect. The point that we have not yet seen most of the spending misses the point that it is the rate of spending that matters, not the amount.

The stimulus is currently being spent out at a rate of close to $30 billion a month. This is pretty much its maximum speed. The fact that we will continue to spend out at this rate for the next year and a half doesn’t mean that the impact will be greater in 6 months or 1 year.

Suppose that we would spend out at this rate for the next 10 years. By the Post‘s warped logic, we would want to wait 5 years or so to see the impact. Argghhhhhh, can’t the Post find anyone who understands some basic economics?

The Post is also worried about the deficit, telling readers that there is a limited supply of capital in the world and that we are borrowing too much. Actually, for practical purposes there is not a limited supply of capital in the world when the United States and most of the other wealthy countries are seeing double-digit unemployment. We can pretty much spend whatever we want without coming up against resource constraints. (Unemployment means excess labor supply, get it?)

There is also a really great measure that economists use to determine the relative scarcity of capital. It’s called “interest rates.” At the moment, the interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds is about 3.25 percent. That’s more than 2 percentage points lower than during the days of budget surpluses at the start of the millennium. In other words, the evidence suggests that we have an enormous glut of capital right now, not a shortage.

It is truly a shame that the Post‘s editorial writers and so many other people responsible for this entirely preventable economic disaster still have their jobs at a time when millions of hard-working and competent people are unemployed. It will be a great day when this situation is reversed.

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Hello, everyone. My name is Jason and welcome to your Sunday Morning liveblog of the flickering images that befuddle and bemuse the political class this weekend morning. Today, announcement! We have started up a special blog post on these pages dedicated to monitoring the wooly world of lobbying. The guy who is writing it is a bit in over hid head but charming enough, so go bookmark that and watch for stories on the most vulgar side of politics.

As with the Sunday liveblog, we welcome tips, insights, and information. And as you all have been some of our site's most dedicated (and most fun) readers, we'd be remiss if we didn't invite your contributions to this new project.

But right now, we have this Sunday to worry about. So, as always, send emails, leave comments, throw away what's left of your attention span by agreeing to follow me on twitter. And enjoy. First up is the always fresh and innovative ICE ROAD FOX NEWS SUNDAY TRUCKERS.


Alan M. Webber: Washington Post Salons: Right Church, Wrong Pew

It’s official as any papal encyclical: Katharine Weymouth has been led to the front of the church by the moral authorities of journalism and made to recant her ill-conceived notion that the Washington Post should be in the salon business. Next up, an admission from Ms. Weymouth that the sun does actually revolve around the Earth (or is it The Globe?).

From where I sit, Ms. Weymouth was in the right church, she just occupied the wrong pew. These days it would take the most orthodox journalist to cling to the belief that newspapers are actually in the newspaper business. In fact, if I worked at a daily newspaper in the United States, and my publisher insisted that we were going to continue to hold on to the old view of the world that said we were going to make a business out of publishing newspapers, I would be outraged! In this day and age, with newspapers folding along with car companies, banks, old time retail chains, and more, a business leader could be crucified for ignoring the new managerial facts of life.

To her credit, Ms. Weymouth is trying to be what business desperately needs–a leader who rethinks the old rules and comes up with new ones that fit a time of enormous, unpredictable change. Memo to Ms. Weymouth’s critics: She’s right, you’re wrong.

The newspaper business as it has existed in the United States is dead. The challenge is to build bridges to the new model, which is only beginning to emerge. That’s why the right question for Ms. Weymouth to be asking is, “What business are we really in?” The answer is, the context business. The Washington Post has terrific journalists who can offer an informed point of view to a public that is hungry to understand what’s really going on–not the news, but how to make sense of the news.

To make this work, Ms. Weymouth needs to convert subscribers, who’ve bought the paper, into members, who join the paper. With membership comes privileges, like, oh, I don’t know–salons.

So Ms. Weymouth was in the right church in thinking about a new way to define her company’s business. She just messed up the execution. Instead of starting small and democratic, she went big and exclusive. Right church, wrong pew.

If she wants to try again, here’s what I’d recommend: Offer Washington Post subscribers a chance to participate in an experiment. For a nominal sum, say $100, anyone can become a member of The Washington Post Conversation. The first conversation will be in a month; it will take the shape of a small town hall forum, with, say, 200 people attending. Names will be drawn from a hat from those who join the Conversation. No linen tablecloths, no china, no wine, no sit down dinner. Think soft drinks, chips and dip. Marcus Brauchli and his staff will provide the insight, those lucky enough to have their numbers drawn will ask the questions. It will all be recorded on video and posted on YouTube. Once she gets it working smoothly, Ms. Weymouth can build on the model, adding more benefits for those who increase their membership fee, expanding her repertoire to include conferences, podcasts, and a host of services, all provided to the members of the Washington Post Conversation. Over time, maybe even sponsorships can be added, provided there are clear ground rules. Gradually, the business model will emerge, the community will form, the economics will develop, and maybe, just maybe, The Washington Post will evolve into a profitable business that offers its perspective and wisdom to its members.

If I were a journalist at the Washington Post, I’d be rooting for Ms. Weymouth to succeed. I don’t think she’s trying to produce an article of faith, but her new business model for her newspaper could be a new rule of thumb for newspapers everywhere.

Alan M. Webber is co-founding editor of Fast Company magazine and author of Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self.

Web Series Advertising Hits the Streets for In The Moment

Say what you want about Dr. Horrible’s success — but did it ever get a bus stop ad? Three months ago, when I reviewed the gay soap opera In the Moment, produced in part by the city of West Hollywood, Calif., I commented that the series and accompanying social networking site were heavily targeted to the gay community that resides here. But I didn’t ever think I’d see posters for the show while jogging along Santa Monica Blvd.


The strategy, to me, works because it’s a way of reaching out to people who may not spend a lot of time seeking out online video content but would enjoy the show. (Billboards and posters in this area are often focused in this way — currently, at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Fairfax Ave., the In the Moment bus stop ads are alternated with posters for Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno.)

But is this the first ever outdoor advertising campaign for a web series? And is it something we’ll see more of in the future? Discuss in the comments.

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4 Minute Roundup: Charging?; AP’s Sotomayor Blog

Here's the latest 4MR audio report from MediaShift. In this week's edition, I look at the latest move by the New York Times to survey print subscribers to see if they will pay for access to the website -- on top of what they're paying for the print edition. Plus, the Associated Press launched a Twitter feed and blog with Yahoo News to cover the upcoming Sotomayor confirmation hearings Monday. It's a departure for the wire service to include reader questions, feedback and input while covering a live event.

Check it out:

4MR podcast 7-10-09 final.mp3

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

New York Times to decide how to charge for its website by August at the Telegraph

New York Times Asks Subscribers: Is It Wrong to Charge for Online Content? at Poynter

NYT Tests Online Pay Scenarios On Print Subscribers; Decision By August? at PaidContent

The New York Times Asks Readers If They'd Pay For Online Version at Mashable

AP_Courtside Twitter feed

The Supreme Court and You at Yahoo News

The Associated Press tries courtside crowdsourcing Sotomayor coverage at Nieman Journalism Lab

Gannett Blog's Hopkins Ends Run Today at E&P

Here's a graphical view of last week's MediaShift survey results. The question was "When did you believe Michael Jackson really died?"

survey grab MJ.jpg

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you would pay (if anything) to access

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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Emma Coleman Jordan: Have TV Talkers been Fair to Judge Sotomayor?

We have all read and heard the repetitive discussion of the "wise Latina" quote. But what many have not paid attention to is the unfair name-calling, and cultural and racial attacks that Judge Sotomayor's candidacy.

The Women's Media Center (WMC) of New York City has compiled a compelling video that shows some of the TV talkers distasteful, mocking, caricatures of Judge Sotomayor. Take a look at this video.

The WMC has an online petition campaign to express your reaction to what you see in the video.

I encourage you to follow the link and participate in the campaign, if you are offended about what TV talkers have been saying leading up to the confirmation hearings.

click here

Watch the hearings, on Monday, July 13th. Form your own opinion, don't let TV Talkers mislead you.

Sun Valley Media Conference Photos: Mogulmania Day 3!

The Allen & Company retreat in Sun Valley wound down Friday, but not before we were able to catch glimpses of several moguls for the first time this year.

Familiar names like Jeff Zucker, Brad Grey, Jerry Yang, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mike Ovitz, James Murdoch and Charlie Rose were all on display Friday, while wives like Diane von Furstenberg and Wendi Murdoch were snapped for the first time by the AP.




Below, check out the photos from the last day of the annual moguls’ retreat.