Sunday, August 15, 2010

For your (not-yet-ended) weekend reading

(via Flickr: jj_pappas423)
A few hours still are left in the weekend, so technically I didn't miss this deadline. (My excuse: the unbelievable amount of prep time it takes to get organized for a neighborhood-wide garage sale!) So for your end-of-weekend reading pleasure:

"For four out of five unemployed workers, there are no jobs" (Economic Policy Institute): As she does each month, Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, looks at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey -- better known as JOLTS. It's released soon after the government, on the first Friday of the month, puts out the official report on employment/unemployment for the just-concluded month. JOLTS lags by an additional month, so the latest one is for the month ended June 30.

Using JOLTS and other U.S. Department of Labor numbers, Shierholz comes up with a ratio of unemployed workers to available jobs -- which has been as high as 6.2-to-1 in this recession. For June, the ratio was 5-to-1 -- to which she gives this twist: "The 5-to-1 ratio means that ... for every four out of five unemployed workers there simply are no jobs." That's sobering.

Even more sobering: The ratio doesn't say anything about the number of applicants per job, which Shierholz says could measure in the "throngs."

"The Evolution of the Journalism Job Market" (Mandel on Innovation and Growth): Until late last year, Michael Mandel was the chief economist at BusinessWeek magazine, where he had worked for 20 years. He left with the sale of the magazine to Bloomberg L.P., the well-known financial news powerhouse. Now, he's an entrepreneur, founding a company called Visible Economy that is described as combining news and education via "streams of lively news stories and videos that cover today's events with clear and correct explanations."

He also writes about innovation and growth on a blog, where this discussion of a "Golden Age of Journalism" occurs (that is, that "the combination of the falling cost of communications and the high demand for news just opens up all sorts of possibilities for doing journalism in different ways.")

Well, yippee! I have a future after all. Oh, but wait a minute: "In terms of jobs, journalistic occupations are outperforming the overall economy. However, many of the journalistic jobs are not being created in conventional journalism industries," he says, which means I still could be out of luck unless I become an entrepreneur, too. (Shudder!)

"Carl Bernstein: The 'Golden Age' of Investigative Journalism Never Existed" (Big Think): You can't have a Nixon resignation anniversary go by without some mention of Watergate, right? So Big Think obliges by posting interviews conducted last month with Carl Bernstein, the former Washington Post reporter who with Bob Woodward uncovered the link between the bugging of the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., and the administration of Richard Nixon. Their reporting won a Pulitzer Prize for public service for the Post.

In the interviews, Bernstein covers many topics, including whether a story as complex and politically charged as Watergate could be reported today. He thinks the Fourth Estate is up to the task, but that the legislative and judiciary branches of government -- which played vital roles in Watergate -- might not be. Congress, in particular, is dysfunctional, Bernstein says. "I’m not nearly as worried about the press as I am about the political system," he tells Big Think.

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