National News

Silicon Tally: The selfie drones are coming

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-15 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Kristen Bellstrom, senior editor at Fortune Magazine, where she writes The Broadsheet—a daily newsletter about the world’s most powerful women.

Click the media player above to play along with this week's quiz.

It's Like The Story Of Job: Ebola Survivors Who Continue To Suffer

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-15 00:53

A mysterious set of medical complications plagues some survivors: joint pain, vision loss, rashes. Doctors aren't sure why it's all happening. But they have a name for it: Post-Ebola syndrome.

» E-Mail This

Dad Aches For Tween Son Killed By Policeman 20 Years Ago

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-15 00:52

Thirteen-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr. was playing with a toy gun in the stairwell of the housing complex where he lived in Brooklyn when a police officer shot and killed him in 1994.

» E-Mail This

What It Takes To Lift Families Out Of Poverty

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-15 00:51

New charities pop up all the time. But how do you know which ones work? Economists have come up with a strategy to figure it out. They've used it to tackle one of the biggest problems in the world.

» E-Mail This

What's Driving The Motor City Forward Now?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-15 00:50

Six months after Detroit emerged from bankruptcy, Michel Martin heads there to hear from the artists, thinkers and entrepreneurs who are shaping the city's future.

» E-Mail This

B.B. King, Legendary Blues Guitarist, Dies At 89

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 23:47

The great bluesman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and toured relentlessly his whole life, wringing peerless emotion out of every note he played.

» E-Mail This

Wreckage Of Missing U.S. Marine Helicopter Spotted In Nepal

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 22:49

The Nepalese army says a rescue helicopter has spotted the wreckage of a missing U.S. Marine chopper in the mountains northeast of Kathmandu.

» E-Mail This

Blues Guitarist B.B. King Dies At 89

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 22:14

Blues legend B.B. King died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas, according to his attorney, who confirmed King's death for The Associated Press.

» E-Mail This

Stephanopoulos Apologizes For Not Disclosing Donations To Clinton Foundation

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 16:02

The ABC News anchor gave the foundation $75,000 over three years. He says he thought the donations were a matter of public record.

» E-Mail This

From Scornin' It To Lovin' It: McDonald's Tests Out Kale On Its Menu

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:53

The green health halo hovering over kale glows brightly, and the company is putting it in breakfast bowls in nine southern California locations. Will it help brighten up the Golden Arches?

» E-Mail This

A Baltimore Artist Turns A Liberian School Into A Mural Masterpiece

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:34

The building was damaged during the Ebola outbreak. How do you welcome kids back? That's the challenge that faced a team of street artists.

» E-Mail This

Why Everyone's Talking About Israel's New Justice Minister

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:23

Ayelet Shaked is a secular Jew who belongs to a religious party closely tied to West Bank settlers. She's faced criticism for controversial statements about Palestinians.

» E-Mail This

Calif. Moves Closer To Banning Vaccine 'Personal Belief' Exemptions

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:17

The bill would require children to be vaccinated against measles and other diseases before entering kindergarten. If it becomes law, it would be among the strictest in the nation.

» E-Mail This

Drone-Like Device Puts White House On Lockdown

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:13

A person flying a small drone-like device too close to the White House was taken into custody. It's another in a line of security instances around the White House.

» E-Mail This

The Man Who Keeps Tabs On U.S. Money Spent In Afghanistan

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:05

John Sopko says the Afghans still do a poor job of managing the billions they get from the U.S. and he's documented the abuses. Still, he supports the ongoing U.S. efforts there.

» E-Mail This

Obama Tries To Calm Arab Fears Over Iran Talks

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:01

The president met today with leaders from the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The U.S. plans to announce new military commitments to the countries.

» E-Mail This

An LA MillerCoors brewery will use less water

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:00

A MillerCoors brewery here in L.A. has joined a drought awareness campaign this week.

The company says it's proud that it's been able to reduce the amount of water it uses in brewing — by more than a billion gallons.

Which, in all seriousness, is great. Honestly. 

But really?

That's the less watery version of their beer?

Classical music sales enter 'survival mode'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:00

Classical music sales have been struggling for years now. They make up just 1.4 percent of music consumption, compared to 29 percent for rock, according to a Nielsen survey last year. Symphonies from Nashville to Canada’s Prince Edward Island are dealing with mountains of debt. And audiences of classical music haven’t changed much, which makes it tough for artists who aren’t Andrea Bocelli to make it in the industry. 

When Lara Downes, a classical pianist, describes what she does, she uses terms familiar to today’s generation of starving artists. Terms like "entrepreneurial" and "DIY." 

“We’re in survival mode,” she says. “We need to build an audience. And we’re kind of tired of making music for the same people all the time.”

So Downes not only does the concert circuit, but she’s on social media, and she’s at schools. And she posts her work on sites like Soundcloud.

She’s hoping her music will land on fresh ears. At performances, she looks out into audiences and sees mostly older people who are there because they love Beethoven. Her job, she says, “is to find the person who could come to the concert hall because you get them curious about Beethoven.” 

Audiences of classical music aren’t diverse, which is a challenge for the industry, says Michael Boriskin, artistic and executive director of Copland House. The organization promotes classical music through live performances and outreach programs. 

Boriskin says touring is still the bedrock of an artist’s career. But they can’t just walk out onto a stage, perform, and go onto the next city. “Because there is so much competition for people’s attention,” he says. 

Boriskin says that personal interaction is what makes the difference. And there’s a chance to sell a few CDs. 

Writing your way to the White House

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:00

Walk into about any bookstore in Washington and they are hard to miss – all the books by presidential hopefuls.

James Webb has a book  called “I Heard My Country Calling." Ben Carson's is “One Nation."  Then of course there’s “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy” from Mike Huckabee.

“This is where we put the newest books that were released in paperback – so  you can see right at the front is Hillary Clinton’s paperback:  just came out last week,” says Mark Laframboise, the book buyer for the Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. 

He points out other books, by Senator Marco Rubio, and Congressman Paul Ryan.

“Paul Ryan’s around sometimes," he says. "He was down in the coffee shop a couple weeks ago.”

This is ground-zero for political books, a hangout for politicians and political junkies. But Lafromboise says even here, the presidential campaign book usually has a short shelf life.

“A month, three weeks," he says.

So why write them?

“Candidates feel a lot of pressure to get their message out there in their words with their ideas, without the filters of lots and lots of other people,” says Lissa Muscatine, a former chief speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, who worked on most of Clinton’s books. 

Now Muscatine owns Politics and Prose with her husband, Bradley Graham. Muscatine says the candidates’ books take many forms.  Memoirs, or manifestos, laying out what they would do as president. Who buys these books? People like Gordon Mantler, a historian at George Washington University.

Mantler is browsing in the political section.  He bought one of President Obama’s books: "Dreams from my Father."

“I didn’t feel like this was the typical memoir that’s setting up a presidential or national campaign,” Mentler says.

And that’s key.

“I think the most important thing is to write a book that the reader will find authentic,” says longtime publisher Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of the PublicAffairs publishing company.  

He says political writers should open up about their lives. And say something original. And it doesn’t hurt if people are really interested in you. “Dreams from my Father” was published in 1995, but sales didn’t take off until after Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. 

And candidates shouldn't worry if their book is a total bomb — we’ve had some pretty bad writers win the White House.

Small businesses work to keep up on social media

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 13:00

In the middle of the night, Brenda Shapiro woke up and thought: “LibbyLicious.” The perfect name for a small baking business built from a mandel bread recipe handed down by her husband’s grandmother, Libby.

Unfortunately, the South Florida baker did not wake up with a social media strategy.

“This is why I have my daughter-in-law do this for me,” Shapiro said, “I’m busy baking, delivering, packaging, going out and selling my cookies myself. I’m a one-person show.”

There were 28.2 million small businesses in the United States in 2011, the most recent year of data available from the U.S. Small Business Administration. For mom and pop, the ins and outs of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram can prove tricky.

When Brenda Shapiro quit her job as a surgical assistant at 50 years old, it certainly wasn't to pursue a life-long love of hashtags and status updates. She was following her passion for baking. Shapiro’s social media strategy for LibbyLicious is to take pictures and send them to her daughter-in-law, who posts those pictures to the company’s social media accounts. As a result, Shapiro couldn’t actually remember her own Twitter handle.

“It’s ‘LibbyLibicious.co,’” she said. When it was pointed out to her that periods aren’t allowed in a Twitter username, she guessed again: “Just ‘LibbyLicious’?”

Actually it’s @LibbyLiciousCo.

Last year, the social networking site LinkedIn published a survey that found most small businesses are most concerned with attracting new customers. And that they’re banking on social media as part of the solution.

One potential reason: the voice of a single stranger on social media could hold irrational power.

“Remember back to the days when there were Blockbuster video stores?” said Angela Hausman, who runs the social media marketing firm Hausman and Associates. “Other customers would come up behind us and see us looking at a video box and say, ‘Oh yeah! I really liked that movie.’ Or, ‘no! That was a really stupid movie. Don’t get that...’ We believed them!”

Marcus Messner, a social marketing professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, says getting people to talk about your brand is a first step. “I think the real challenge is to go beyond people liking your Facebook page or following your Twitter account.” The Holy Grail, Messner said, is to “actually have them do something: Have them buy your product, show up at your store.”

In 2009, before its reality TV debut on TLC, Georgetown Cupcake started turning followers into customers by posting a daily secret flavor on Twitter and Facebook. The “FREE (not-on-menu)” cupcake goes to the first 100 customers who show up and ask for the flavor by name: “Vanilla caramel hazelnut” on the day this story was written.

@GTownCupcake/Twitter

Sofie Kallinis LaMontagne, who started the company with her sister Katherine Kallinis Berman, says they use social media to pull back the curtain on their business.

“Secret flavor is one of those ways,” LaMontagne said. “It’s giving [customers] an inside look at flavors we’re developing, things that are not quite on the menu yet. And they feel like they’re a part of the experience.”

Brenda Shapiro, the one-woman, mandel bread-baking show, doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location to lure customers into just yet. She’s still working on building her social media identity.

Niklas Myhr, a blogger and assistant professor at Chapman University, had a few specific ideas for Shapiro.

For starters, he said, “it could help to have a sort of backstory.” To tell people about Grandma Libby and her history and her recipe.

Also, he says, small business owners are experts in their fields. Hone that expertise and write posts that are informative, “something that is not just looking like an ad,” he said.

Finally, listen to people online. Be helpful.

“The same principles that Dale Carnegie wrote about in ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ still apply in the digital era,” said Myhr.

Pages