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Syrian aid that hits home

Wed, 2014-03-26 08:44

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The war in Syria has sparked one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Millions of people have fled their homes and are in need of assistance.

Humanitarian organizations say raising money for victims of a complex conflict can be a challenge, particularly when compared to a dramatic natural disaster.

"In the case of the Haiti earthquake, Oxfam America was able to raise over $30 million from the American public," said Noah Gottschalk, a senior humanitarian policy advisor with Oxfam. "Most recently, with Typhoon Haiyan, we we've raised over $6 million. In the case of Syria, we've raised less than $1 million."

Syria's conflict, by the numbers

2,551, 712 | refugees registered with the UNCHR

221,791 | refugees in Iraq

587,308 | refugees in Jordan

135,451 | refugees in Egypt

985,346 | refugees in Lebanon

6,500,000 | displaced inside of Syria

9,300,000 | in need of aid inside Syria

100,000+ | killed (Mar '11 - Sept '13) The UN stopped updating the death toll in Syria in September, 2013, citing difficulties with obtaining accurate numbers.

3 million | living in hard-to-reach areas inside of Syria

240,000 | living under siege

Some aid groups have begun a new approach: attempts to "bring the conflict home" to donors, by asking them to imagine if it was them -- or their children -- who needed help.

Save the Children released this video, of a young girl whose life is shattered by war. She is British, not Syrian, and it is set in London, not Damascus. The video has 26 million views so far, and donations to Save the Children's peer-to-peer network more than quadrupled upon its release.

SOS Children's Villages, meanwhile, saw a video produced by the organization's Norwegian chapter go unexpectedly viral. "Would you give Johannes your jacket?" the video asks, and shows strangers interacting on hidden camera with a shivering boy alone at a bus stop on a winter day in Oslo. The video was intended for Norwegian viewers, but to date it has 13 million viewers from across the world. What was expected to be a small, local appeal has instead raised more than $350,000.

PODCAST: Facebook buys Oculus, and its headaches

Wed, 2014-03-26 07:26

Orders for expensive, longer-lasting things went up briskly last month with durable goods up 2.2 percent. That's a nice enough sign, but it might not be more than that. David Kelly, the chief global strategist with JP Morgan-Chase joined us to discuss.

Meanwhile, Facebook shelled out $2 billion in cash and stock for a company that makes a headset that lets users look around digital environments. The 20-month-old company, Oculus, is viewed as a potential leader in the virtual reality gaming industry. Some users though, report an issue with Rift that could impact its growth: motion sickness.

Plus: Where’s the beef? As a nation, we might really need to know that. For the first time in more than a century, Americans are eating more chicken than beef. Why is poultry taking flight?

Facebook buys Oculus for $2 billion

Wed, 2014-03-26 07:23
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 09:41 ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Attendees wear Oculus Rift HD virtual reality head-mounted displays as they play EVE: Valkyrie, a multiplayer virtual reality dogfighting shooter game, at the Intel booth at the 2014 International CES, January 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Facebook shelled out $2 billion in cash and stock for a company that makes a headset that lets users look around digital environments. The 20-month-old company, Oculus, is viewed as a potential leader in the virtual reality gaming industry. Some users though, report an issue with Rift that could impact its growth: motion sickness.

People using virtual reality technology have, for years, been dogged by the very same condition that afflicts real-life sea voyagers, car passengers, and those who have braved a particularly terrifying roller coaster. 

Shun-nan Yang, Director of Research at the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University's College of Optometry explains why virtual reality technology can cause dizziness and nausea:

Head-mounted displays are likely to cause motion sickness symptoms (including disorientation, nausea, dizziness, and vertigo) because the simulated visual world often does not match the other physiological signals generated by the body (vestibular [head rotation] or proprioceptive [body motion] sensation).  For instance, the VR might simulate a pilot flying an airplane, but the actual non-visual signal suggests little motion, compared to what is expected for such episode/experience.  The brain (mid-brain more specifically) detects such mismatch and generate undesirable sensations in an attempt to dissuade such circumstances/activities.  Viewing 3D movies would cause the same symptoms because of the mismatch perceived by the viewers.  The same "warning" signal (e.g., nausea) is deployed to warn the body of undesirable smell or toxic foods.     

Oculus is aware of the problem, and is working to improve it before Rift hits the shelves some time in the future. Real-world sufferers will, for now, have to keep relying on diphenhydramine. 

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the company Oculus. The text has been corrected. 

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday, March 26, 2014by Noel KingPodcast Title: Facebook buys Oculus for $2 billion Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Facebook buys Oculus for $2 billion

Wed, 2014-03-26 06:41

Facebook shelled out $2 billion in cash and stock for a company that makes a headset that lets users look around digital environments. The 20-month-old company, Oculus, is viewed as a potential leader in the virtual reality gaming industry. Some users though, report an issue with Rift that could impact its growth: motion sickness.

People using virtual reality technology have, for years, been dogged by the very same condition that afflicts real-life sea voyagers, car passengers, and those who have braved a particularly terrifying roller coaster. 

Shun-nan Yang, Director of Research at the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University's College of Optometry explains why virtual reality technology can cause dizziness and nausea:

Head-mounted displays are likely to cause motion sickness symptoms (including disorientation, nausea, dizziness, and vertigo) because the simulated visual world often does not match the other physiological signals generated by the body (vestibular [head rotation] or proprioceptive [body motion] sensation).  For instance, the VR might simulate a pilot flying an airplane, but the actual non-visual signal suggests little motion, compared to what is expected for such episode/experience.  The brain (mid-brain more specifically) detects such mismatch and generate undesirable sensations in an attempt to dissuade such circumstances/activities.  Viewing 3D movies would cause the same symptoms because of the mismatch perceived by the viewers.  The same "warning" signal (e.g., nausea) is deployed to warn the body of undesirable smell or toxic foods.     

Oculus is aware of the problem, and is working to improve it before Rift hits the shelves some time in the future. Real-world sufferers will, for now, have to keep relying on diphenhydramine. 

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the company Oculus. The text has been corrected. 

America's game of chicken

Wed, 2014-03-26 01:06

Where’s the beef?

As a nation, we might really need to know that. For the first time in more than a century, Americans are eating more chicken than beef. Why is poultry taking flight?

"People are more conscious about health, and so they will eat red meat a little less often and white meat more often," says Ariane Daguin, CEO of D'Artagnan, which sells organic, free-range chicken to high end restaurants and grocery stores all over the country. Her business is growing 15 percent per year, a lot of that is thanks to rising chicken demand.

But a lot of the reason for the rising popularity of chicken has to do with beef.

"The real trade-off that we’re seeing in consumption is escalation in poultry and decline in beef," says Don Close, cattle economist with Rabo AgriFinance. Beef prices have skyrocketed and are expected to jump by as much as 15 percent this year. (Here's a look at why that's happening)

"We saw pretty heavy substitution on the part of consumers, substituting ground beef for ground chicken and thereby driving up the prices of those products," says Ricky Volpe, economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chicken prices are expected to rise by about 10 percent this year. Even still, chicken will remain far cheaper than beef and pork. 

But even if beef prices come back down, Ariane Daguin doesn’t think Americans will go back to beef.

"It is not a trend," she says. "Trend means there is an end to it. There is no end to good food. People in America are more and more conscious that you are what you eat."

And right now, that’s chicken.

 

The sweet smell of King Digital's Candy Crush success

Wed, 2014-03-26 01:00

Look up from your phones, everybody.

The maker of the highly addictive puzzle game Candy Crush Saga goes public Wednesday. King Digital Entertainment racked up $1.8 billion in sales last year, largely using a "freemium" business model -- when you download a game for free, but spend on extras inside the game.

Analysts say King Digital's success comes from marrying good data analytics – understanding when casual gamers spend and why – with good game development.

 

 

Robo... traffic cop?

Wed, 2014-03-26 01:00

Imagine pulling up to an intersection and seeing a giant, solar-powered, traffic-directing robot wearing 80's sunglasses. You might expect Marty McFly to speed by on a hoverboard, or the Iron Giant to take off into the sky as he blissfully declares himself, "Suuuperman."

If you're a resident of Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, these huge, man-like traffic signals might be part of your daily commute. So far, two of these robots have been installed, and in spite of their imposing apperance, the residents enjoy having them around. According to BBC reporter Maud Jullien, it's because the work of traffic directing is often done by policemen; a force not respected by the general public because of frequent harassment. One Kinshasa resident told Jullien that he actually prefers the robots to policemen simply because they do their job:

"The robot is better than policemen because it does its job according to the order. It doesn't bother us, ask for documents, or arrest us."

Traffic and unemployment are making you sick

Wed, 2014-03-26 00:52

Commuting can make you sick.  

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines health in the U.S. county by county, looking at less obvious causes of illness, including joblessness and traffic. 

“You might ask, what does that have to do with my health,” says Michelle Larkin,  assistant vice president of  the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “But think about it. When we’re in the car taking long commutes we’re probably in a heightened state of stress.”


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

And stress can lead to problems like heart disease. Turns out unemployment is unhealthy, too, because without a paycheck you can't buy good food, and may not be able to see the doctor when you’re sick.

It all adds up.  The premature death rate in the least healthy counties is twice the rate of the healthy ones.   Same thing for children living in poverty, and teen births.  

George Soros: U.S. could tap oil reserves to punish Russia

Wed, 2014-03-26 00:32

The U.S has yet to use a weapon in its economic arsenal in its dispute with Russia over Ukraine. The administration could release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in a bid to reduce global oil prices and damage the Russian economy, says billionaire investor George Soros -- though he hopes it doesn't come to that.

"The strongest deterrent is in the hands of the United States because it can release oil from the strategic oil reserve," Soros says, "which would then reduce the price of oil and that would ruin the Russian economy, which lives on oil."

In an interview to promote his new book, "The Tragedy of the European Union", Soros told Marketplace that the sanctions the West is imposing on Russian oligarchs could be counter-productive. 

"The Russian economy is very weak because  the oligarchs who run the country don't trust it and they send their money abroad," Soros says. "So if you stop the inflow of funds, that will bring the Russian economy to its knees."

He says when Russian investors and oligarchs take their assets out of the country, it helps weaken the Russian economy. The sanctions, which impede the flow of money out of Russia for targeted individuals, may actually benefit Russian president Vladimir Putin's attempts to bolster his country's economy.

Soros says the U.S. and Europe need to back Ukraine's position in this dispute, rather than punish Russia.

"Ukraine is determined to reform, but it needs protection," he says. 

Soros, who worries about the state of Europe and the European Union in his book , points to the crisis in Ukraine as an example of why the world needs a strong Europe.

"It was the euro crisis that transformed this voluntary association of equals into a creditor-debtor relationship," Soros says. "And because of this transformation, we have now reached a state where you are going to have one political crisis after another."

Saving the history of the Cold War, piece by piece

Tue, 2014-03-25 16:14

The Cold War may be fresh again in our minds but for decades, many tried to forget it. Former Soviet states shed their archives of Soviet propaganda, museums gradually lost interest in the arts and crafts that Soviet artists turned out for the government. Individuals started to get rid of the memorabilia they either saw as shameful or just as junk.

But at Wende, a museum dedicated to preserving artifacts from the Cold War, this is an opportunity.

“So many of our collections have been obtained because there was something going on that put these materials at risk” says Justinian Jampol, the museum’s founder and executive direct. He has a team of scouts in Europe who locate Cold War artificats that might otherwise be destroyed or thrown away.

A cover of the record 'The Dog was Lost,' Flexi Disc, by composer Vladimir Shainsky, part of the Museum's collection. (The Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War).

In a warehouse below the main level of the museum is the archive. There are rows and rows of shelves that tower eight and nine feet high. Lenin busts are prevalent and a Checkpoint Charlie sign hangs overhead. In a glass case sit a handful of shiny brass toy military tanks. Jampol says those were once hot gifts to give and were made by prisoners who melted down bullets to make the toys.

Busts of Soviet Bloc communist leaders now residing in the vaults of The Wende Museum. (Glen McCurtayne/Coleman-Rayner)

Many of the artifacts are donated by people who may be ashamed of their work with the Soviets but who don’t want to throw away something that was once significant. The museum has a huge collection of items sent by Border Guards, for example.

“It’s always an issue of trying to preserve the important stuff. We can’t save everything, nor should we. But I think it is important to make sure that we know what’s out there, what’s being affected. Unfortunately, we’re too small of a museum to make a difference in terms of opinion.”

Soviet propaganda posters in the Museum gallery. (Marie Astrid-Gonzales)

Jampol acknowledges that their “business model” would make the head of your typical Wall Street CEO spin. They’ll spend huge amounts of money for something is quite small. But, says Jampol, it’s worth it. “We’re interested in going after the thing that can make a difference in terms of how we see the past.”

And listen to 'The Dog was Lost,' by composer Vladimir Shainsky:

 

Saving the history of the Cold War, piece by piece

Tue, 2014-03-25 16:14

The Cold War may be fresh again in our minds but for decades, many tried to forget it. Former Soviet states shed their archives of Soviet propaganda, museums gradually lost interest in the arts and crafts that Soviet artists turned out for the government. Individuals started to get rid of the memorabilia they either saw as shameful or just as junk.

But at Wende, a museum dedicated to preserving artifacts from the Cold War, this is an opportunity.

“So many of our collections have been obtained because there was something going on that put these materials at risk” says Justinian Jampol, the museum’s founder and executive direct. He has a team of scouts in Europe who locate Cold War artificats that might otherwise be destroyed or thrown away.

A cover of the record 'The Dog was Lost,' Flexi Disc, by composer Vladimir Shainsky, part of the Museum's collection. (The Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War).

In a warehouse below the main level of the museum is the archive. There are rows and rows of shelves that tower eight and nine feet high. Lenin busts are prevalent and a Checkpoint Charlie sign hangs overhead. In a glass case sit a handful of shiny brass toy military tanks. Jampol says those were once hot gifts to give and were made by prisoners who melted down bullets to make the toys.

Busts of Soviet Bloc communist leaders now residing in the vaults of The Wende Museum. (Glen McCurtayne/Coleman-Rayner)

Many of the artifacts are donated by people who may be ashamed of their work with the Soviets but who don’t want to throw away something that was once significant. The museum has a huge collection of items sent by Border Guards, for example.

“It’s always an issue of trying to preserve the important stuff. We can’t save everything, nor should we. But I think it is important to make sure that we know what’s out there, what’s being affected. Unfortunately, we’re too small of a museum to make a difference in terms of opinion.”

Soviet propaganda posters in the Museum gallery. (Marie Astrid-Gonzales)

Jampol acknowledges that their “business model” would make the head of your typical Wall Street CEO spin. They’ll spend huge amounts of money for something is quite small. But, says Jampol, it’s worth it. “We’re interested in going after the thing that can make a difference in terms of how we see the past.”

And listen to 'The Dog was Lost,' by composer Vladimir Shainsky:

 

George Soros: U.S. could tap oil reserves to punish Russia

Tue, 2014-03-25 15:53
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 03:32 VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, speaks to the media on Jan. 25, 2012.

The U.S has yet to use a weapon in its economic arsenal in its dispute with Russia over Ukraine. The administration could release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in a bid to reduce global oil prices and damage the Russian economy, says billionaire investor George Soros -- though he hopes it doesn't come to that.

"The strongest deterrent is in the hands of the United States because it can release oil from the strategic oil reserve," Soros says, "which would then reduce the price of oil and that would ruin the Russian economy, which lives on oil."

In an interview to promote his new book, "The Tragedy of the European Union", Soros told Marketplace that the sanctions the West is imposing on Russian oligarchs could be counter-productive. 

"The Russian economy is very weak because  the oligarchs who run the country don't trust it and they send their money abroad," Soros says. "So if you stop the inflow of funds, that will bring the Russian economy to its knees."

He says when Russian investors and oligarchs take their assets out of the country, it helps weaken the Russian economy. The sanctions, which impede the flow of money out of Russia for targeted individuals, may actually benefit Russian president Vladimir Putin's attempts to bolster his country's economy.

Soros says the U.S. and Europe need to back Ukraine's position in this dispute, rather than punish Russia.

"Ukraine is determined to reform, but it needs protection," he says. 

Soros, who worries about the state of Europe and the European Union in his book , points to the crisis in Ukraine as an example of why the world needs a strong Europe.

"It was the euro crisis that transformed this voluntary association of equals into a creditor-debtor relationship," Soros says. "And because of this transformation, we have now reached a state where you are going to have one political crisis after another."

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday, March 26, 2014 The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival? Author: George Soros Publisher: PublicAffairs (2014) Binding: Hardcover, 208 pages Interview by David BrancaccioPodcast Title: George Soros: U.S. could tap oil reserves to punish RussiaStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The problem with "Golden Parachutes"

Tue, 2014-03-25 14:13
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 15:09 Andrew Burton/Getty Images

People walk past the entrance to the Time Warner center on August 7, 2013 in New York City.

Time Warner CEO Robert Marcus will get $80 million once his company’s sale to Comcast is finished.  Marcus was on the job for just six weeks, which makes this one of the most “golden” of “golden parachutes.”

Nancy Koehn is with the Harvard Business School. She said Golden Parachutes have been around for at least a generation of CEO compensation and they are important for keeping CEOs in the fold when changes of control happen.

Koehn said the idea of “Golden Parachutes” is up for debate.

“Data does not support that if you pay someone like Robert Marcus more than a million dollars a day, that necessarily Comcast and Time Warner shareholders are going be better off, than if you paid him something that most reasonable people including compensation experts and other CEOs would recognize as some kind reward for what he’s doing; helping shepherd the sale of the company."

Koehn said the $80 million Marcus is receiving reflects the overall bar in corporate America being raised in corporate America for the senior levels or corporations.

Marketplace for Tuesday, March 25, 2014by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title: The problem with "Golden Parachutes"Syndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

In which Kai Ryssdal has to settle for $22.40

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:57
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 13:52 EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

The new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.

I got an email from Amazon this morning, telling me I had a credit of $22.40 in my account. It's a payout from the $166 million e-book price-fixing settlement.

What's interesting is how they figured out who got how much: It's $3.17 for each New York Times best-seller you bought, and $0.73 for everything else.

Did you get a settlement payout? Tell us on our RebelMouse page:

Marketplace for Tuesday, March 25, 2014by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title: In which Kai Ryssdal has to settle for $22.40Story Type: BlogSyndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The new business of lobbying

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:49
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 17:48 KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Addresses on 'K' Street are known as a center for numerous think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups.

What does the word “lobbying” connote? Maybe a smoke-filled room somewhere, or multi-course meals, charged to an expense account. Well, “government affairs professionals,” as they like to call themselves, say the job has changed.

 “I think there is less golf and there are fewer martinis than ever before,” says Dan Bryant, chair of the public policy and government affairs practice group at Covington & Burling.

Still, I persist, arranging to meet Rich Gold, a partner with the firm Holland & Knight, at the Round Robin & Scotch Bar in the Willard Hotel.

According to lore, the term “lobbying” was coined there. Back in the 1870s, Gold’s professional forebears plied President Ulysses S. Grant with cigars and booze. So, as a waiter approaches, I wonder if Gold is going to pick vodka or gin.

“I guess in some ways I am kind of the breakthrough generation,” he says. “I have never had a martini at lunch.”

And the day we met is no exception.

Gold has been lobbying for two decades, and he says the culture has changed.

“There is no walking into a back room anymore, and saying, ‘I need this,’ tapping the table, and getting it done,” Gold explains. The economic downturn also affected lobbying.

“The recession came late to Washington, and the end of 2010, 2011, 2012 were relatively lean years,” he says. “And we’re seeing that in D.C., with some brand-name firms really struggling now.”

Gerry Sikorski is one of Gold’s colleagues. He heads the government section at Holland & Knight. For a decade, he represented Minnesotans in the House of Representatives. We meet in a cafeteria on Capitol Hill – where martinis aren’t on the menu, by the way.

"Lawmaking specialists are less valuable than they once were,” he says.

Sikorski says the federal government is still operating. It is still buying things, regulating industries, and collecting taxes.

“What’s changed is the overarching law making,” Sikorski explains. “Policymaking pieces of it aren’t happening.”

Sikorski says a lobbyist can’t fundamentally reinvent himself, but he can adjust, and many lobbyists have had to. Increasingly, what firms want in a lobbyist is expertise in a particular subject matter.  

According to W. Michael House, the director of Hogan Lovells’ legislative group, there are fewer lobbyists than there used to be.

Lawmakers are spending more time away from Washington. Last year, there were just 159 legislative days, when the House of Representatives was in session. And Congress isn’t passing many bills. In 2013, just 87 became law.  So, a lobbyist like House adjusts.

“We always say Washington goes legislation, regulation, litigation, legislation,” he tells me, noting we are in the regulation stage right now.

Federal agencies are working on financial reform rule writing and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and even though the legislative process is moving slowly, it is moving. There are people interested in tax reform, for example. According to House, “that’ll be a two-to-four, maybe six-year process when it’s all said and done, but the smart people get in early.”

More firms are taking what they call a “multidisciplinary approach” to lobbying. Lobbyists work hand in hand with lawyers, and some firms hire strategic communications consultants.

Back on Capitol Hill, I meet Bryant in the Hart Senate Office Building. The relatively light legislative load doesn’t seem to faze him.  

“The need to be explaining your business more, more clearly, and in a more compelling way, has never been more important both in the U.S. and elsewhere,” Bryant says, noting public policy has become “more global.”

Covington & Burling has grown its business overseas. It expanded its office in Brussels, to lobby European governments, and because many companies based in foreign countries want to lobby the U.S.

“I think as long as governments and government officials are making decisions that affect the public and that affect the business community, there will be lobbying,” he says. Although what that involves will continue to change.

Marketplace for Wednesday, March 26, 2014by David GuraStory Type: FeatureSyndication: PMPApp Respond: No

Robo... traffic cop?

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:41
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 04:00 Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images

A traffic robot cop on Triomphal boulevard of Kinshasa at the crossing of Asosa, Huileries and Patrice Lubumba streets

Imagine pulling up to an intersection and seeing a giant, solar-powered, traffic-directing robot wearing 80's sunglasses. You might expect Marty McFly to speed by on a hoverboard, or the Iron Giant to take off into the sky as he blissfully declares himself, "Suuuperman."

If you're a resident of Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, these huge, man-like traffic signals might be part of your daily commute. So far, two of these robots have been installed, and in spite of their imposing apperance, the residents enjoy having them around. According to BBC reporter Maud Jullien, it's because the work of traffic directing is often done by policemen; a force not respected by the general public because of frequent harassment. One Kinshasa resident told Jullien that he actually prefers the robots to policemen simply because they do their job:

"The robot is better than policemen because it does its job according to the order. It doesn't bother us, ask for documents, or arrest us."

Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, March 26, 2014by Ben JohnsonPodcast Title: Robo... traffic cop?Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Disney taps news exec to run TV biz

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:30

Ben Sherwood, currently head of ABC’s news division, will take over as president of Disney/ABC Television Group, giving him oversight of the broadcast network as well as the cable assets. It was under Sherwood’s watch that ABC’s Good Morning America topped NBC’s Today Show, a hugely profitable win.

Sherwood is not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. It hasn’t always gone well, but Disney’s hoping Sherwood will be like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony.

Disney has some high performing cable channels, but its flagship broadcast network is hurting. Sherwood will need to find new winning comedies and deal with the problems hurting other networks, especially audience fragmentation online and difficulty attracting young male viewers.

Mark Garrison: Sherwood’s credited with powering ABC’s Good Morning America to the top, a hugely profitable win. He’s not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. NBC tried it, when it tapped Today Show producer Jeff Zucker. But it didn’t go well, says TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall.

Andrew Tyndall: It turns out that in the programming of NBC, when Zucker was in control, his prime time programming moves were not successful at all and then he ended up back in a journalistic institution, which is CNN.

Disney’s betting that Sherwood will be more like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony. Sherwood inherits a mixed bag. Disney has some strong cable channels. But Edward Jones analyst Robin Diedrich says the flagship broadcast network is hurting.

Robin Diedrich: They’ve been declining over the last several years and that’s really keeping in step, though, with the broader industry. So we see ABC kind of in line with the group from that standpoint.

The network has hits, but also holes.

Brad Adgate: One area would be comedy. Modern Family is obviously Emmy Award-winning comedy year in and year out. But it’s entering its sixth season. They really haven’t had too much success creating a comedy block.

Horizon Media’s Brad Adgate says Sherwood could set himself apart by solving a puzzle all networks now struggle with.

Adgate: One of the goals has been to get scripted shows for men, particularly young men, but, you know, they’re hard to reach and harder to reach on television.

That’s because they’re online, like so many other viewers. And that’s another challenge, herding those eyeballs into Disney’s tent. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Disney taps news exec to run TV biz

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:30

Ben Sherwood, currently head of ABC’s news division, will take over as president of Disney/ABC Television Group, giving him oversight of the broadcast network as well as the cable assets. It was under Sherwood’s watch that ABC’s Good Morning America topped NBC’s Today Show, a hugely profitable win.

Sherwood is not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. It hasn’t always gone well, but Disney’s hoping Sherwood will be like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony.

Disney has some high performing cable channels, but its flagship broadcast network is hurting. Sherwood will need to find new winning comedies and deal with the problems hurting other networks, especially audience fragmentation online and difficulty attracting young male viewers.

Mark Garrison: Sherwood’s credited with powering ABC’s Good Morning America to the top, a hugely profitable win. He’s not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. NBC tried it, when it tapped Today Show producer Jeff Zucker. But it didn’t go well, says TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall.

Andrew Tyndall: It turns out that in the programming of NBC, when Zucker was in control, his prime time programming moves were not successful at all and then he ended up back in a journalistic institution, which is CNN.

Disney’s betting that Sherwood will be more like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony. Sherwood inherits a mixed bag. Disney has some strong cable channels. But Edward Jones analyst Robin Diedrich says the flagship broadcast network is hurting.

Robin Diedrich: They’ve been declining over the last several years and that’s really keeping in step, though, with the broader industry. So we see ABC kind of in line with the group from that standpoint.

The network has hits, but also holes.

Brad Adgate: One area would be comedy. Modern Family is obviously Emmy Award-winning comedy year in and year out. But it’s entering its sixth season. They really haven’t had too much success creating a comedy block.

Horizon Media’s Brad Adgate says Sherwood could set himself apart by solving a puzzle all networks now struggle with.

Adgate: One of the goals has been to get scripted shows for men, particularly young men, but, you know, they’re hard to reach and harder to reach on television.

That’s because they’re online, like so many other viewers. And that’s another challenge, herding those eyeballs into Disney’s tent. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

The sweet smell of King Digital's Candy Crush success

Tue, 2014-03-25 12:54
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 04:00 King Digital Entertainment

Screenshot of Candy Crush Saga logo from King Digital Entertainment PLC, on February 19, 2014. 

Look up from your phones, everybody.

The maker of the highly addictive puzzle game Candy Crush Saga goes public Wednesday. King Digital Entertainment racked up $1.8 billion in sales last year, largely using a "freemium" business model -- when you download a game for free, but spend on extras inside the game.

Analysts say King Digital's success comes from marrying good data analytics – understanding when casual gamers spend and why – with good game development.

 

 

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday, March 26, 2014How to game Candy Crushby Kate DavidsonPodcast Title: The sweet smell of King Digital's Candy Crush successStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Traffic and unemployment are making you sick

Tue, 2014-03-25 12:52
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 03:52 Matthew Stockman/ALLSPORT

Rush hour traffic in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. (2 Apr 1996)

Commuting can make you sick.  

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines health in the U.S. county by county, looking at less obvious causes of illness, including joblessness and traffic. 

“You might ask, what does that have to do with my health,” says Michelle Larkin,  assistant vice president of  the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “But think about it. When we’re in the car taking long commutes we’re probably in a heightened state of stress.”


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

And stress can lead to problems like heart disease. Turns out unemployment is unhealthy, too, because without a paycheck you can't buy good food, and may not be able to see the doctor when you’re sick.

It all adds up.  The premature death rate in the least healthy counties is twice the rate of the healthy ones.   Same thing for children living in poverty, and teen births.  

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday, March 26, 2014by Nancy Marshall-GenzerPodcast Title: Traffic and unemployment are making you sickStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

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