Friday, August 20, 2010

It's that time again: the weekend read

(via Flickr: jj_pappas423)
For your reading pleasure this weekend:

"The End of Wishful Thinking" (The American Spectator): Ben Stein has had a good life -- government lawyer, presidential speechwriter, actor ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off") and award-winning game show host ("Win Ben Stein's Money") -- so what's he doing here characterizing me and other unemployed Americans as "generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities"? He starts out expressing dismay that so many formerly successfully people he knows have seen their lives turned upside down by the Great Recession. Then he goes on to slap the unemployed as "people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job." Jeez! Doesn't he know that long-term unemployment is at record levels and that employers are still hesitant to add to payrolls?

But Joe Grimm gets a Huzzah! for ripping Stein and coming to the defense of downsized journalists like me in his Ask the Recruiter column at Poynter Online: "They were laid off because the industry is rapidly changing. In several cases, whole newspapers were shuttered. It was not because the journalists lived imprudently."

So there, Ben Stein!

"To Create Jobs, Cut Everyone's Pay 10%" (MarketWatch): Here's another wacky essay, this one suggesting "EVERYBODY -- from the president down to the chambermaid" take a cut in pay in order to redirect that money to efforts to re-employ about 8 percent of the unemployed. Why 8 percent? It's what would be needed to get the unemployment rate to 4.5 percent, or so-called full employment. (Interestingly, author Ken Mayland is working off a number for unemployed American of 19.2 million, not the 14.6 million represented in the current 9.5 percent unemployment rate. The difference? The underemployed, or people who are working part-time when they really want a full-time job, whom he thinks are being undercounted.)

Mayland realizes his proposal is a bit "whimsical": "Can you imagine union workers acceding to the plan?" he asks.

"In U.S., Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Remains a Rarity" (Gallup): Sigh! It's never good to hear that you're losing the confidence of the citizens you're supposedly serving, but the Fourth Estate didn't make a good showing in this year's Confidence in Institutions poll by Gallup. Of 16 institutions rated, the military did best and Congress did worst, according to the survey. "Americans' confidence in newspapers and television news is on par with Americans' lackluster confidence in banks and slightly better than their dismal rating of health management organizations and big business," say the folks at Gallup.

One ironic twist in the findings: "While 18- to 29-year-olds express more trust in newspapers than most older Americans, Gallup polling has found they read national newspapers the least."

"Your Online Presence Says a Lot More About You than a Resume Can" (The Business Insider): I've always hated the use of sports terminology in business ("hail mary," "heavy hitter," "power play"), so I'm thankful we don't yet have to worry about this one: "Roll the game tape." Or do we?

Author Keith Cowing writes that rather than static résumés, jobseekers now can present more three-dimensional portraits of themselves through blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube/Vimeo, etc. His advice is to leave these kinds of bread crumbs lying around to give "a slightly raw view" of who you are.

"Don’t wait until you need a game tape to make one," he says. "Make it as you go. Tell the world who you are and how you think. Share some thoughts, take part in discussions, and let your game tape represent you truthfully as you go through your career."

But it's probably a good idea to Google yourself occasionally to see just how "raw" you might be coming across.

Finally, there was an interesting discussion this afternoon at an online Poynter Institute chat about women being underrepresented at journalism technology conferences and how to remedy it. That led back to this archived article:

"Revenge of the Nerds: Fighting Sexism at Tech Events" (Wendy Norris blog), which is, sadly, a hoot on bad taste: female crotch shots on the big screen, scantily clad sirens at trade show booths. In trying to discourage the latter, one tech event co-organizer offered, "At last year’s conference, someone had a bunch of stripper types in hot pants and absurdly tight t-shirts. It was totally cheap, cheesy and lame. It’s 2009, people, really."

Really, indeed.

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