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Archive for February 2012

Charging for web content? ‘Nothing is imminent’ at this paper

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On Valentine’s Day, a Buffalo business news magazine reported annual operating profits at my regional metro daily, The Buffalo News, had “for the first time in at least 25 years … [fallen] below $10 million and the paper is exploring the possibility of perhaps charging for online content to offset circulation declines.”

Such is the trend — ad revenues diving into fiscal oblivion — at many of the nation’s large metropolitan dailies. As Alan Mutter at Newsosaur wrote in December:

Newspaper advertising sales this year will come in at less than half the record $49.4 billion achieved as recently in 2005, according to an analysis of the year-to-date performance of the industry. [emphasis added]

Imagine that: An industry’s ad sales have fallen by half in just seven years. But to listen to the publisher of The Buffalo News, you’d conclude he’s saying, “It’s not our fault.”

In a Buffalo First story by reporter James Fink, publisher Stan Lipsey suggests that the Buff News‘ sinking financial fortunes are due to factors beyond the newspaper’s control. Perhaps, but like many such managerial pronouncements in the industry over the past decade, admission of flawed management decisions past and present is nowhere in sight.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Dems’ super PACs, trailing in money race, to coordinate fundraising

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The law forbids super PACs — political action committees permitted to raise unlimited funds with little disclosure of donors — from coordinating their activities with those of candidates’ formal campaign committees.

But, it seems, nothing prevents super PACs from coordinating their fundraising activities with each other. And this comes with the blessing of the Democratic fundraiser-in-chief.

From a report by Peter Stone of the Center for Public Integrity comes this tidbit:

Five Democratic super PACs are reaching out to party mega-donors, in a fledgling effort seeking $1 million to $10 million contributions, now that President Barack Obama has blessed the outside spending group working to get him re-elected.

And the reason? Stone reported in January that Democratic super PACs and nonprofits, formed last year, had only raised about $19 million.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Report: Super PACs raise $181 million from fewer than 200 people

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As if we needed still more evidence that financial authority over national political campaigns is increasingly wielded by fewer and fewer really rich people, consider this exhibit:

Super PACs raised about $181 million in the last two years — with roughly half of it coming from fewer than 200 super-rich people.

That’s the news from a study called “Auctioning Democracy” jointly conducted by Demos, an organization that says it practices “advocacy to influence public debate and catalyze change,” and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Both groups seek to strengthen, if not compel full disclosure and expenditure rules.

Super PACs’ power stemmed from the U.S. Supreme Court’s July 2010 SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission decision. The Court’s Citizen United decision further strengthened corporations’ claim to personhood and weakened the requirement for full disclosure of donations to super PACs.

Politico’s Ken Vogel and Abby Phillip’s analysis of the study noted that

A relatively few wealthy backers are keeping super PACs afloat — and they’re saying so. Last year alone, individuals gave super PACs $63 million.

The news only worsens.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 8, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized