Posts about News

Un transit

New York transit is on strike. I won’t be able to go to work today, like millions of others, who also won’t be able to shop or go to restaurants. The city will lose hundreds of millions and untold millions will lose millions in turn. And what for?

Every indsutry in the U.S. economy has had to go through radical restructuring to find new efficiencies. But not government and civil service. And that is what this strike is about.

The transit union was demanding that its workers be able to retire at 55 on pension, and the city, which wanted to raise the age for new workers to 62, buckled last night. I don’t have a pension, do you? I have a 401K, one for every employer in the last 20 years; I’m sure most of you are in similar boats. Retire at 55? Ha!

At the same time, the union has been insistent about maintaining artificial, wasteful, expensive manning levels. In most other cities, subways are run by one person. In New York, they are run by two. In many other cities, when electronic ticketing machines are introduced, staffing in booths is drastically reduced. Here, it was a big deal that the booth workers got out of the booth to actually answer questions… if you can find them.

The Times gives us a touchy-feely sympathetic piece about the poor transit workers this morning, quoting a tender-hearted sociologist:

“The working conditions are more physically onerous, the treatment by managers more disrespectful, and the abuse from the public more hurtful, than any other group of public workers in the city experiences,” Dr. Swerdlow said.

What a load of crap. We’re an abusive, hurtful public — otherwise known as their customers. How about the abusive, sadistic conductors sand dispatchers who shut doors and move out just as transferring passengers arrive in a station? They have more of an ability to irritate more people in one day than anyone I know and I’ve seen too many of them do it too often.

The union broke the law this morning, costing New Yorkers their own pay and businesses their business and the city its tax resources so that its members could keep pensions that most Americans don’t have and retire sooner than most Americans could dream of doing and keep inefficient jobs for which there is no need.

Thank you for not riding the New York City subway. Have a rotten day.

: Lots of bloggers are stranded by the transit strike. This will be like babies in a blackout: lots of blog posts will be born.

: There is always another use for CraigsList: NYC ride sharing. [via Gothamist]

SSE (aka two-way RSS) and news

I haven’t fully gotten my head around Ray Ozzie’s announcement of SSE, a two-way RSS that allows you to not only receive new data but send and sync new data. I’m delighted that he consulted Dave Winer in the process, by the way. Ozzie mentions SSE’s use in such applications as calendaring and contacts. But I wonder if there’s not something else here, something about making one-way feeds two-way, something about making RSS conversational.

I have to believe there are applications for news here: various correspondents share the latest news on a story, for example. Perhaps this is how we update disaster reports. Perhaps this is how first-responders do, too. Or perhaps this is how we can keep data bases of current inventory and prices of materials. Maybe it has an application in shared reviews. Or maybe I’m getting it wrong.

How do you think SSE could be useful to news?

: Crunchnotes says new companies will be built on the back of SSE.

: LATER: See good discussion in the comments.

: I wonder, also, whether this is one way to handle corrections.

Don’t they need new blood?

The American Press Institute puts $2 million into a project to find new business models for newspapers but I think they make a few mistakes: First, it’s not about new models for newspapers; it’s about new models for news. Second, the august group they gather for the task, though smart and experienced, are all from the big companies and the old ways. The newspaper industry’s worst fault is that it is insular and rejects new blood. This would have been a chance to find new people (and no, I don’t mean me) who are doing new things in new ways. That, ladies and gentlemen, is where the new models are going to come from, not from the old ways.

: Rafat Ali’s take here. And Rafat’s just the kind of person who should be in this thing.

: LATER: Nancy Wang says:

… the project goals also entail an “assessment of the threat to newspapers, including emerging competition”. Call it semantics, but this line of thinking continues to be insular. Instead of thinking about threats to newspapers, they should be thinking about learning (maybe even partnering) with the emerging competition that seems to be taking away their audiences.

Right. It’s not about the threats to newspapers.

It’s about the opportunties for journalism.

The French bloggers

I’m interested in your reaction to bloggers’ relationship to the French riots (because I may be writing about it in a column) — about the bloggers who were pulled in by the cops for allegedly inciting and about the French blogosphere’s reporting and reaction to the riots. Any help appreciated. Here‘s the Guardian story:

Two bloggers have been detained by authorities in France on suspicion of encouraging people to take part in the Paris riots.

A 16-year-old French teenager and an 18-year-old of Ghanaian nationality are being questioned by Paris prosecutors, according to reports.

One of the blogs was called “sarkodead”, a reference to the interior minister and presidential contender, Nicholas Sarkozy, who referred to the rioters in disparaging terms and has been singled out for criticism by many French bloggers.

The pair have been placed under investigation, which is a step short of formal charges under French law, for “inciting harm to people and property over the internet”.

Sarkodead and the second blog – called “hardcore” – were suspended last weekend, according to judicial officials in Paris.

French bloggers have been divided over their attitude to the riots. Some have tried to calm the situation, while others have tried to inflame the situation.

“I have never got how turning where you live into a war zone proves anything,” said “bobcoloredglasses”.

“If anyone in the ghetto is reading this and is ever part of a riot, try rioting in the mayor’s neighbourhood. I bet you get a much faster reaction, and you can go back to your house that hasn’t been wrecked.”

Another blogger wrote: “It is not by firing teargas into a mosque – in Ramadan – how one restores order. Peace is gained by meeting people. Unfortunately this long-term work does not figure in the presidential planning of Mr Sarkozy. Sarkozy will never be my president.”

: See also this fascinating Business Week story on Sarkozy buying Google AdWords to try to drum up support for his side.

Welcome to the uncontrolled world of media where anybody can try to control it but can’t.

So much for the wisdom of the polls

Once again, pre-election polls were full of it. The gubernatorial race in New Jersey was supposed to be close. It was anything but.