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Archive for June 2009

The president’s promise of ethical transparency … is just a promise

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A week after the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, the chief of his transition team, John Podesta, served notice that the president would make good on his campaign promise of change in the area of ethics. In a statement, Mr. Podesta said:

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to change the way Washington works and curb the influence of lobbyists. … During the campaign, federal lobbyists could not contribute to or raise money for the campaign. … [T]he president-elect is taking those commitments even further by announcing the strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history.”

Presumably, that means President Obama wishes to end the pay-to-play philosophy that pervades the practice of politics. Well, he’s got some explaining to do, because what he promises is not always what he does.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 19, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

CNN’s Roberts spins again

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Oops, he did it again.

CNN’s John Roberts, co-host of the cable news network’s American Morning program, continues to decide what the appropriate spin is for a story in his intros to interviews. He did it earlier this week with correspondent Christiane Amanpour, who stuck to facts instead.

This morning, Mr. Roberts did it again while introducing Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times. Said Mr. Roberts:

Joining us now is New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. His article, “Tear Down This Cyber Wall” focuses on Iran and the technology war of information.

So many people are saying that this could be the very first Internet revolution. How much of a part do you think the Internet is playing in what’s going on inside Iran versus what we’re learning about what’s going on? [emphasis added]

Mr. Roberts has a penchant for advancing a premise based on the apparent testimony of a teeming slew of unidentified sources. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

CNN correspondent refuses to confirm anchor’s assertions

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From time to time, I bet, a cable news anchor has told you what to think about what happened. And I’d wager, too, that the anchor has asked a reporter or correspondent, “You agree, right?”

It’s irritating and profoundly misleading. CNN’s John Roberts did that again this morning during the American Morning program’s 6 a.m. hour. In an exchange with veteran CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour regarding events in Iran, Mr. Roberts sought to have her confirm his surmises. Note the use of the guessing word seems. First, he offered an opinion:

Mr. ROBERTS: And, Christiane, President Obama seems to be putting a little bit of distance between the White House and the situation in Iran using very, very diplomatic and some people might say standoffish language to describe the situation there. Here’s what he said to CNBC. Let’s listen. [emphasis added]

Notice the wording. Seems always says to me someone’s guessing. Then some people might say passes for evidence backing his opinion. But it’s not: it is wording of artifice intended to validate his guess.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

As noise overwhelms signal, how faithful are your witnesses?

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There is much you need to know to wisely direct your life. At some point, an event may occur that you cannot personally witness. Suppose the consequences of the event affect you — without first-hand knowledge of the event, will you be aware of it? Will you be able to react to it?

You will want to know what happened. You may not immediately want to know what someone else thinks or feels about what happened. That may come later. You first want someone to tell you clearly and with minimal subjectivity what happened with no opinion or impression attached.

You live in a second-hand world. You need someone to observe the world first-hand when you cannot. Who will you trust to faithfully do that for you?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 13, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Business side gets raises; newsroom side doesn’t

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Salaries at newspapers are rising, reports Jennifer Saba of Editor & Publisher, a newspaper industry trade journal. But it’s not necessarily good news for would-be journalists looking to break into an industry beset by revenue problems.

Newspaper wages rose 2.1 percent from 2008 to 2009, reported Ms. Saba, based on the annual Newspaper Compensation Study by the Inland Press Association using data from 400 U.S. and Canadian papers.

But the folks getting the raises, up to 13 percent for “interactive producers,” are not the people producing the raw content — news stories.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Journalists need to explain why ‘experts’ missed gasoline price hike

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I’d like to thank President Obama for giving me a $400 payroll tax cut. I’d sure like to help out with the economic recovery.

But that tax cut, thanks to 41 consecutive days of gasoline price increases, now amounts to only $150. Figuring my local commuting habits and trips to visit family and friends, I’ll pay about $700 to fill up my little Scion for the rest of the year at the current national average of $2.62 a gallon. I’ll be spending about $250 more at this price than I would if gasoline had remained near the December average of $1.62.

If the price of gasoline rises more (wanna bet?) over summer, I’ll be handing even more of my payroll tax cut to Big Oil.

So why the sharp, 62 percent increase? Why did the “experts” who are supposed to understand gasoline and oil markets get it wrong? Journalists have indeed been telling us the “experts” were wrong and what factors have been driving gasoline prices higher — but not why the “experts” erred in missing those factors.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Three-year degrees save money but are costly in other ways

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Four years of college seems an appropriate time for the leavening of the young. They arrive on campus in various states of glee, fear, confusion, and hope. Four years later, many, perhaps even most, walk confidently across a stage to receive a diploma from the college president. Society is thus assured that these young men and women are capable of wisely voting, serving on a jury, and holding down a job.

College is 120 credits: That’s eight semesters at 15 credits per semester, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And it’s pricey: For the academic year just ended, public four-year colleges charged for tuition and fees, on average, $6,585 (up 6.4 percent from last year), and private four-year colleges cost $25,143 (up 5.9 percent from last year) for the same. Now add up to $10,000 for room and board. In a recession, that’s tough for many students and their families to afford.

Hence the recent surge in colleges touting three-year degrees. Save money, they promise. Get a head start on life, they say.

Don’t bet on it. Three-year degrees short-change both the student and society.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized