Sunday, January 22, 2012

Media helped Newt win in South Carolina

I'm not sure why ABC News and CNN would allow their reporters to inject themselves into a domestic situation such as the angry-ex-wife-vs.-Newt-Gingrich episode that aired on our televisions last week and which eventually led to a Gingrich victory in South Carolina.

It was not uncommon for one side or another in a divorce to ask my newspaper to write a story, reporting how unfair the system or estranged spouse was to the aggrieved party.

Uh, that's a no-win situation. My advice was to let the courts decide and we'll report the decision. Whew.

In fact, even the simplest stories could result in phone calls from angry exes to the paper -- kid wins award, fails to mention that he/she is a son/daughter of angry ex-spouse. (Angry ex-spouse blames newspaper for the omission, goes nuts.)

So, what did ABC and CNN expect when the angry ex-spouse said Newt was a jerk? And who cares anyway? For goodness sakes, we're looking for someone to lead us out of the mess that one side or the other perceives as pervasive.

Last time I looked about half of the marriages in the U.S. fail. So, there's a good chance your favorite politician is going to be divorced and remarried.

So, Newt got the sympathy vote Saturday in South Carolina. In voters' minds, the media crossed the line, getting involved in a divorce when it shouldn't have. Shame on the media.

Former Times-Reporter staffer Kyle Kondik, now with the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, has some immediate thoughts on the Gingrich victory. Check it out here.


I think when historians look back at the decade of 2011-2020 they will conclude that it was a decade when everything changed.

We are still early into the decade, but there are obvious signs that life as we know it won’t be as we enter the next decade.


–People who read my column in the Bargain Hunter are thankful that I’m back in a hard copy newspaper environment. Few of those people, it seems, are under the age of 40. Recently, a senior citizens group asked me to speak at their monthly luncheon meeting. While I am flattered, I’m also aware of the reality that as we all grow older, the audience will diminish until it reaches the point that it disappears altogether.

It’s a reality faced by all newspapers and it’s only a matter of time before the audience dwindles to the point that it no longer makes sense to publish an ink-on-paper product. I’ve read about all the strategies – the hyper-local, the Web-first, the pay-wall – and they all appeared to be flawed.

The new medium is not paper. It is the smartphone and the electronic tablet. The daily newspaper as you know it is toast – not tomorrow, of course, but soon. People, i.e. loyal readers, are dying.

–Days are numbered for “The Club,” the retreat for the wealthy or for those who think they are. “The Club” used to boast a perfectly manicured, 18-hole golf course where members would spend much of their free time while cavorting with other well-to-doers.

Across the nation, country clubs are folding or allowing the public to partake in the amenities at a reduced cost. In addition, the real estate developments that married golf and housing are tanking. Why?

Well, there’s the thinking that rich people didn’t get to be rich by being stupid. Unless you have a lot of time to devote to golf – rounds take up to five hours – and don’t care how much money you drop – a private membership might cost between $5,000 and $25,000 annually and beyond – more and more people, it seems, are just saying no.

It’s a prudent decision in these tough economic times.

I am not privy to the inner workings of Dover-New Philadelphia’s Union Country Club, but my guess is that there is some consternation among members who are contemplating its future. I’ll leave it at that.

–Buying a house will no longer be a can’t-miss investment. Nope, I think those days are over, at least for the foreseeable future.

Think about it for a minute. The only purchase you could ever make and be assured that you’d make money on was a house. That’s not so today. Housing prices are down 30 percent or more from their highs in 2005, according to figures from the S&P/Case-Shiller index of U.S. home prices.

This fact should give pause to people who are considering a life-changing move and for some it should mean renting rather than buying. Indeed, renting might be a better option for people who are single, who are elderly, or who have no interest in mowing grass.

There is also talk that the feds eventually will do away with the mortgage interest deduction, which might have one of those dreaded unintended consequences such as depressing home sales further.

In any event, owning a home might not be the terrific idea it was a decade ago. And if you settle on a new one, will it depreciate the minute you move in your family of four?

–By the end of the decade we will bemoan the fact that we didn’t send more kids toward some of the more traditional Ohio occupations such as truck driving or welding.

I’ll give Gov. John Kasich props on this issue. He’s aware of it and hopefully his plan to coordinate the programs offered throughout the state will give students some focus on what jobs will be needed by the time they graduate.

“We are still a manufacturing state and those skilled trades that you can get from good programs in high school or two-year trade schools, there is a real need out there,” Andy Doehrel, president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which published a story on the issue.

“Let’s face it, that isn’t as sexy to younger people today who have grown up with phones in their pockets and computers in their cars and on their desks.”

A recent check of Ohio’s jobs database revealed there are 185 welding jobs available in this part of the state. By the end of the decade, parents just might be advising their kids to try welding rather than law school. Wouldn’t that be something? Lord knows we already have enough lawyers.

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Anonymous said...

I'm under 40, and I enjoy your weekly commentaries. Please keep it up!!!

Barbara said...

Good one Dick.