Friday, September 3, 2010

Labor Day weekend reading

(via Flickr: jj_pappas423)
It's a three-day weekend, so there's more time for reading. Here, with a Labor Day theme, are some gems:

"Most 'Re-employed' Workers Say They're Overqualified for Their New Job" (Pew Research Center): The folks at Pew have come up with some interesting statistics in this national survey, conducted in May and released on Thursday:
  • A quarter of the U.S. labor force -- or 36 million of the 139 million currently employed -- faced unemployment at least once during the recession that began in December 2007.
  • A third of those cut loose from jobs during the recession received a pink slip more than once; 16 percent found themselves out of work three or more times.
  • Only 4 in 10 of those who found a new job say they're earning more now than in their former position; just 28 percent say their current benefits are better.
  • More than half of the newly re-employed say their household is worse off financially than before the recession; 35 percent say they've had to make "major changes" in lifestyle.
  • A quarter of the re-employed went from full-time jobs to part-time ones.
  • While out of work, 6 in 10 of the re-employed thought about switching fields; 4 in 10 considered relocating to an area where jobs seemed more plentiful.
The survey's release preceded by a day the government's report on the U.S. labor picture for August, which showed a slight uptick in the jobless rate, to 9.6 percent. The number of long-term unemployed (six months or more) declined in August, to 6.2 million from 6.5 million, or about 42 percent of the jobless, vs. almost 45 percent in July. The median time unemployed also dropped, to just under 20 weeks, from nearly 23 weeks in July. (Incidentally, the payroll category that includes print journalists -- so-called publishing/except Internet -- saw a slight gain in jobs: to 761,600 in August from 761,300 the month before.)

"Warning: Why Cheaper Money Won't Mean More Jobs" (Talking Points Memo): The political blog featured a post by Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's labor secretary, that throws cold water on the idea that getting money into the hands of consumers and small businesses will grease the wheels of the economy. Neither is in a position to borrow, no matter how cheap the money may be, Reich says. Only large companies would benefit if the Fed made money cheaper, and "they're already sitting on mountains of money." As a result, he says,

If Bernanke and company make it even cheaper to borrow, they'll be subsidizing a third corporate strategy for creating more profits but fewer jobs -- mergers and acquisitions.
And we all know that M&As usually seek economies of scale that endanger jobs.

Labor Day video interlude No. 1.

"What the Spot.Us Community Thinks of Objectivity" (MediaShift IdeaLab): There seems to be a lot of discussion of late as to whether reporters ought to routinely include a kind of confessional sidebar to the stories they write, to alert readers to viewpoints and experiences that might color their work. (Honestly, though, the talk isn't all that new.) Spot.Us, the website that allows reporters to pitch story ideas for funding, surveyed its "community" -- supporters and funders -- to see where they stood on objectivity in journalism.

Nearly 45 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that "objectivity is possible but difficult," but almost 28 percent said they believed "transparency is the new objectivity." Said one respondent about the latter, "... reporters ought to reveal their biases in each story as part of the narrative so as to partially disarm whatever criticism of bias they may receive. Doing so will provide a better service to the public and will create better journalism."

Be sure to read the smattering of comments from respondents at the end. They're pretty interesting.

"A Journalist Laughs at the Thought that his Layoff Anniversary Is Worth a Story, But..." (Poynter Online): Broadcaster Michael Goldfarb interviews himself about his layoff five years ago from public radio station WBUR in Boston and the slow rebuilding of his professional life as a freelance journalist and author. His conclusion: "I commit as much journalism today as I ever did" -- but he now earns 50 percent less doing it.

Labor Day video interlude No. 2.

"All the Men That's Fit to Print" (The NYTPicker): In case you missed it, a discussion of gender inequality in the obituary pages of the New York Times, by the internal blog that keeps a critical eye on the paper. Interestingly, a Google search turned up a posting to an online version of a Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying (2003) article, "Gender Discrimination after Death," by Robin D. Moremen, that cites numerous academic studies, dating from 1977, that looked at newspaper obituary pages to determine whether men received "greater public recognition after death than women." The answer, not surprisingly, was yes: more obituaries, longer obituaries and obituaries usually accompanied by a photograph.

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