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Audacity

2016 07 30 Reading Room

On the top floor of the library downtown, there is a wonderfully sun-lit corner set aside for a casual reading room. It offers a stunning view of the water and the entire marina and barrier islands. Facing one large picture window is a love seat where anyone who likes can relax as long as they want, enjoying the view and the quiet atmosphere.

Recently, I visited and took a seat away from the windows but where I was able to still enjoy a good view. I settled in with my Kindle and was knee-deep into a gripping story when a woman across from me (who had only sat down a few minutes prior) started clucking her tongue and sighing exasperatedly over the sound of a happy toddler just chatting to himself. He and his father were quietly enjoying the prime seating at the picture window and the toddler was, in my opinion, being exceptionally well-behaved. I glanced up and saw her glaring at the pair, scowling, then looking over to me as if she expected me to say something. After a few more minutes of her huffing, what she did next just blew my mind.

This woman – and because this story does have to do with racism and classism, I may mention she was Caucasian and very much a New Yorker and somewhat well-off – picked herself up and marched right over to the man – a local black southerner – and leaned right down in his face, asking him how much longer he planned on sitting there. I couldn’t hear his response but she said to him, “I’m not telling you what to do, but as you can see, this is a beautiful spot to sit and it is here for all the patrons of the library to enjoy, so you and your boy need to go downstairs or find somewhere else to sit because other people will want to sit here and you’ve been here long enough.”

Whoa.

Mind you, there were several seats available in the area, all with a view, and no one was waiting for a seat. The woman had only been there for five minutes when she decided the black family wasn’t good enough to use the seat. After hearing what she said to him, all I could do was utter a shocked sound and watch in horror as the man actually politely got up, packed his son back into his stroller, and left. I felt horrible for them, but I didn’t know what to say!

The woman then went to sit back down in her seat – not the window seat! – and about 30 seconds later got back up and came over to me. I was shocked when she placed her magazine and her hand on my lap and leaned in only inches from my face and asked me, “Were you laughing at me or with me?” I just shook my head and said, “You have balls.”

“What does that mean,” she asked. I calmly looked up at her, leaning back so as to feel a little less claustrophobic, and told her, “I was laughing at the audacity you have to think you have some God-given right to tell perfect strangers what to do. Those people had every right to be in that seat, they weren’t disturbing anyone, and you had NO right to walk up to him and tell them to leave! You don’t own this place and you have no authority over anyone here!”

She. Was. Shocked.

I was just disgusted. She scoffed at me and stormed off. Good. I’d wanted to slap her however my words appeared to have stung just as well. As soon as she left, the man and his son came back and he and I shared a smile and a look of understanding and sympathy as he took the window seat back and went about his business spending time with his son in these beautiful surroundings. People like that woman are a poison in our sea of tranquility and I hope for even a brief moment she realized that her intolerance will not be tolerated.

Topics Today: The Future Of Print Media

Topics Today: The Future Of Print Media

As my Kindle Fire and I approach our one-year anniversary of being together, I become aware of how dependent on the device I really am and how much it has come to mean in my daily life. I received the Kindle Fire as a birthday present last year and first thought, “Now this is a neat new toy.” Little did I realize how streamlined such a tiny tablet could make my daily routine.

At the bottom of the home screen on my virtual shelves of favorites, my mornings and evenings are lined up for quick access. I check and reply to my e-mail, check my calendar, the weather, local and national news, play a couple rounds of a popular word puzzle game, and finally check my Facebook and Twitter feeds for messages or anything else of importance. Within a few minutes, I have all the information I need to get on with my day. Repeat the same process at night, and then settle in with the next few chapters of whatever book I’m currently reading. During the day, I even use it to take hand-written notes on schedule changes, class and work notes, to-do lists, story or article ideas, etc. After a year of daily use, I still go to bed amazed that all this is at my fingertips, instantly available.

Maybe it is because I grew up in the 70s and 80s accustomed to going out to retrieve the newspaper every morning from the lawn, looking forward to magazines in the mail, reading comics on Sundays and clipping coupons with my mother. The faster technology grows, the harder it seems to be to let go of such deeply rooted habits that formed before such things even existed. Those of us in our 30s and 40s however seem to be finally – slowly – giving in to the conveniences that digital media offers. As we find we have less personal time than in years past and a higher demand for instant information, we are starting to turn away from print media and opt for more advanced tools and resources. So where does the digital domain leave traditional print media? This is a topic of heavy discussion and concern that just keeps getting bigger.

A recent study also entitled “The Future Of Print Media” indicated that From 2007 to 2009 revenue change in newspaper publishing, including advertisement, sales and other sources of income decreased 30 percent in the United States, 21 percent in the United Kingdom, 20 percent in Greece and 10 percent in Germany (Boghani, 2012). This year the New Orleans Times-Picayune cut its newsroom staff practically in half and reduced its service to only three days a week (Carley, 2012). The same fate may loom for other print-run media such as The Recorder and the Orange County Register as well as other small papers across the nation as publishers continue to see interest and sales falling from an audience leaning toward obtaining their news digitally. Newsweek, a weekly paper launched in 1933 by Thomas J. C. Martyn, announced in October that beginning in January 2012 it will transition to all-digital (Boghani, 2012).

While some printed options disappear, others are determined to supplement their lost print revenue with digital revenue. The New York Times and The Washington Post have broadened their reach into the digital world while remaining in print. The Washington Post for example has experimented with the Trove recommendation engine (Ingram, 2012). The Facebook social reader has also become an option for expansion for media companies with the support and ability to explore other avenues to reach their readers.

As traditional readers age and technology advances, adaptation on the part of both publisher and consumer is the best compromise. Print media publishers must find new ways to reach an audience that increasingly demands digital content and readers will need to come to terms with the inevitable – that technology is progressing and changing the way we live. For younger generations, this transition from print to digital will likely be a non-issue as they have been raised in technologically advanced homes and classrooms. For the older generations, it may be a bit more difficult to acclimate to the new ways we have of getting our information.

References:

Boghani, P. (October 18, 2012). Print Media: Is It Globally Doomed? Retrieved November
11, 2012 from: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49471896/Print_Media_Is_it_Globally_Doomed

Carley, M. (July 3, 2012). The Future Of Print Media. Retrieved November 11, 2012 from:
http://www.recorderonline.com/articles/media-53261-newsroom-half.html

Ingram, M. (April 16, 2012). The Future Of Media: Many Small Pieces, Loosely Joined.
Retrieved November 11, 2012 from:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-16/the-future-of-media-equals-many-small-pieces-loosely-joined

Not hiring? Don’t just blame the economy!

Since late 2008, the media has been feeding the public’s panic on the state of the economy and while analysts abound with their own long columns of numbers and conclusions, the general population is still apt to blame “the economy” as a whole for present situations, including a lack of available jobs. I’d like to bring to light another reason for the lack of “Help Wanted” signage that may well be a valid one: the *quality* of the job candidates.

For the past 4 years, I have been working at a small financial firm. We need a relatively high-caliber person to pass the interview process before making the hiring decision. Not only must they have a clean background, but also a strong work ethic. We deal with highly sensitive financial information and cannot risk bringing someone on board who is anything less than professional. The rules here are straightforward and in place both by law and by our own standards of procedure to protect the clients, the customers, the company and its employees.

Over the past few years in an attempt to expand a bit, we have gone on roughly one good hiring spree per year, looking for qualified and quality candidates to work with us. 99% of them are filtered out during the interview process. The one or two who survive get the opportunity to work with a solid company and gain excellent experience in the credit industry, as well as advance their careers.

Something seems to transform however during the first few weeks to months of the new employee’s time on the job. It’s almost as if they’ve forgotten that during their interview and training, they had us convinced they were intelligent, diligent and professional, trustworthy and ethical. Soon after beginning their employ with us, we find them calling out sick with minor, if not fabricated, ailments, simply not showing up, napping at their desks, surfing the web for personal reasons, acting inappropriately for the workplace to the owner and other employees (one recent employee actually tried to couple up with me and another woman here to get us into a threesome with his wife as well as attempting to kiss me!). There are the ones who backtalk the owner and show blatant disregard for his instruction. One threw a phone at him and stormed out after being told at least six times that morning to stop interfering with another person’s computer. Then we have had a few who have actually attempted to take business off the company for themselves to profit, and one who asked ME to assist with his scheme. Honestly, did that person not stop to think my loyalty would lie with the company that’s taken care of me for four years? There have also been a couple who have left here for something “better” and come straight back asking for another chance. We decline to take them back – like any company, we like loyalty. These are the kind of people we are finding.

Since 2006, we have had well over a dozen hard-screened men and women of all ages, all walks, come through our doors touting the best of intentions only to completely fail in the upkeep of their guise. We’ve since ceased advertising open positions and have turned away those inquiring after work. It’s not because we don’t need someone, it’s because of the experiences we have endured with those we did hire. We simply will not waste any more time and money on the general populace. Our freeze has nothing to do with the economy whatsoever. Instead, it has everything to do with the quality of the workforce available. Like a bad relationship, our ex employees have turned us off of the idea of future ones. Therefore, we continue on looking after what we have, and everyone is happy.

Incidentally, the people I work with have nearly all been with the company since at or near its beginning. We are more than simply employees, we are the backbone of the company – because we know right from wrong, we believe in and uphold the quality of our work and of ourselves, and we look out for each other.

Integrity. The American workforce is in desperate need of some.