Under the aegis of the Gazette’s “Dream City” promotion, a fearsome foursome of local media titans took part in a “meet the press” event yesterday morning from 7:30 to 9 at the Gazette’s architecturally challenged headquarters on Prospect Street.
The members of the panel (which included, in the interests of full disclosure, CSBJ Publisher Lon Matejczyk) intended to “share their thoughts on the future of our community and their prospective industries.”
Prospective attendees were asked to ante up $10 at the door.
Don’t know about you, but I’ve always considered 7:30 a.m. meetings to be among mankind’s vilest creations, right up there with boom cars, ketchup ice cream and Tila Tequila.
No sane person voluntarily attends such events, let alone pays for the privilege. You go because you have to — not because you want to.
I didn’t go — too busy riding my smokin’ new road bike through the Garden of the Gods, as is my wont on crystalline summer mornings. And for those of you who did attend, here’s a suggestion. As you move forward in the “Dream City” process, why not work to designate Colorado Springs as a “Morning Meetings-Free Zone?”
Present and prospective residents would know that such infernal practices would be banned by city ordinance, freeing them to garden, work out, have a leisurely breakfast, spend time with the kids and (media titans please note!) read the paper.
Think it can’t be done?
Look at the example of South Padre Island in Texas, where a wise and benevolent local governing body banned neckties, empowering any citizen to enforce the ordinance. Of course, they had to enact a companion ordinance legalizing the concealed carry of scissors.
Meanwhile, it was interesting to read that Colorado is the leanest state in the nation. Fewer than 20 percent of us qualify as porkers, compared to 30 percent of the residents of the fattest states (Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee). Nationwide, a quarter of all Americans are considered to be obese, with a body mass index of 30 or higher.
Statistics are only as good as the data that underlies them. And the data might be corrupted or distorted by doubtful assumptions or methods.
The national data were compiled by telephone interviews. Respondents were asked to give their height and weight. Those two data points were then used to separate the obese from the merely fat, or the proudly fit.
The National Institute of Health has an online calculator that instantly produces BMIs for any height/weight combination. If you’re 6-feet, 2-inches tall, the mid-range of “normal” is 165 pounds. Weigh more than 235? Move to Mississippi — you’re obese! Tip the scales at 195? You’re a fattie!
That’s fine, I guess — but the stats that we so proudly trumpet are basically meaningless. Running backs for the Broncos, whose body fat is typically less than 7 percent, often weigh 235 or more. And 165? At 165, I wouldn’t be a lean, mean, fightin’ machine — I’d be an anorexic wreck.
So even though empirical observation would seem to confirm the study’s basic conclusions, (i.e., that Americans are fat and folks in the South are really fat), it’s based on faulty stats from second-hand sources.
Some unbiased advice for the folks who did the surveying: if you want to know how fat we are, weigh us.
Meanwhile, it’s no secret that daily newspapers, especially metro dailies, are in trouble. Burdened by a recessionary economy and a changing media landscape, papers are as threatened as Preble’s mice — and can’t count upon the EPA to come to their rescue. What can they do to avoid extinction?
Just as railroads during the early 20th century never realized that they were part of a rapidly changing transportation industry, few newspaper companies have been able to adapt to the Internet. Railroads didn’t invest in automobiles or airlines, and media companies either ignored the Web or, like Time Warner, made big bets on technologies that were already obsolete (AOL).
Newspaper companies remain extraordinarily profitable — at least on the surface. During 2007, EBITDA margins for publicly traded newspaper publishers averaged about 20 percent. That’s the kind of performance that the market generally rewards — but during the last year, newspaper stocks have virtually collapsed.
That might be because Wall Street looks at newspapers as it might have looked upon a pay phone company during 1993. Such a company might have had hundreds of thousands of pay phones, each generating nice returns — but what about the future? Absent immediate and effective diversification, the company would simply go out of business.
The big newspaper companies won’t go out of business. Most of them will survive, albeit in shrunken, unrecognizable form. Dailies will be free, but they won’t be dailies. Publishers will abandon Mondays and Tuesdays, and do their best to create community-dominant Web sites.
If you want your printed, paid subscription, daily paper, you’d better live in Pueblo, or any small city where the daily can still out-compete rival media.
And in Colorado Springs? The Gazette will prevail … if we can just ban those morning meetings.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.