Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Decline of Newspapers

Dear Readers (yes both of you!),

I primarily blog at this website now - -- but still post here at Space Beagle on a wider variety of topics so I hope you enjoy the postings.

I admit it -- I probably should have been born around 1935 which would make me 20 years old in 1955. Yes the good old days when the "evening newspaper" was still an American institution. I love newspapers so I will always subscribe regardless of the Internet world. I just hope some newspapers actually survive so I can keep subscribing!

However, the current trend doesn't look good now that Minnesota's largest newspaper - - has declared bankruptcy. Assuming they continue evolving as a business they will survive in some form I believe. Perhaps the clearest indication I have seen so far regarding the need for newspapers to evolve rapidly was noted in this recent article, "Star Tribune may not pay workers full severance." At the very end of the article was this fact, "the Star Tribune spends about $100,000 annually for rent in the Lowry Building in downtown St. Paul."

What? $100,000 annual rent for an office where newspaper staff can work? I have to say that is simply crazy!! The Star Tribune announced it would not continue leasing this office space opting instead to move their St. Paul staff to their Minneapolis office space while they consider their options but here are two options I never heard mentioned:

1.) Buy a condo in downtown St. Paul -- since there is such a glut of condos on the market the paper could probably purchase one for $100,000 then spend a few thousand more to wire it for staff to work online. A one time expense. We are only 20 minutes from downtown St. Paul and condos in our town are being sold for $139,000 for a two bedroom unit.

2.) But the best option by far for the paper would be to phase out most of office real estate by embracing telecommuting. Yes, send all the staff home with their job assignments and perhaps $3,000 checks for new lap tops and home office supplies.

By declaring itself a virtual company the Star Tribune will not only achieve cost savings but they will also increase their relevancy in our Internet economy.

Keep reading,


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Letter to President Obama

Reminder to my loyal readers (yes both of you!!) -- I am now regularly blogging at this website:

But will post commentaries that don't fit this website's focus here at my original "Space Beagle Notes".

Please check out the advice letter I posted for President Obama at the Regular Folks United website.

Thanks for reading, Todd

Lee Iacocca

As 2008 drew to a close I completed reading Lee Iaccoca's most recent book -- "Where have all the leaders gone" which I family friend suggested I should read.

Overall I found that the book was two books in one -- a completed anti-President George W. Bush (GWB) bitch session coupled with Iaccoca's observations on a range of topics especially his philanthropic work now that he is retired. Ok, I got it Iaccoca - you do NOT consider GWB to be a "leader." While I am no fan of GWB on several policy issues I am not a fan of Iaccoca either given his inconsistencies/borderline hypocrisy in his world view as noted in this book.

Here is a prime example --

Iaccoca explains how his "Iaccoca Institute" at Lehigh University (his alma mater) brings students together from around the world for an intensive leadership training/multi-cultural experience at the college. From the description I read I was impressed with this project. However, later in the book Iaccoca throws a hissy fit that "we let the Germans buy Chrysler, the Germans................." By "Germans" of course he is referring Daimler Benz Corporation.

Iaccoca fails to explain why the "Germans" bother him so much -- perhaps World War II when his native Italy was an ally of Nazi Germany? I have no idea. Would Iaccoca have been equally upset if the "Japanese", "Koreans", or even those darn "Indians" (from India not the USA) had purchased his beloved Chrysler?

So much for the "open minded thinking" being taught at the Iaccoca Institute at Lehigh University.

Given Iaccoca's comments I just had to laugh this week when I read that Fiat (an Italian company) has now secured the rights to a 55% ownership stake of Iaccoca's Chrysler LLC. So will he be upset that "we let the Italians purchase Chrysler, the Italians..............." or will he be silent? I would definitely prefer silence since I fear he will publish yet another book.

Again - Iaccoca's philanthropic work at the Iaccoca Institute and on diabetes research is commendable and very necessary so I wish him well with these projects. But please did not offer the public yet another "grumpy old man tells the world what bothers him" book.