Marketplace - American Public Media

PODCAST: The Franc and the Euro

Thu, 2015-01-15 03:00

The giant retailer Target of Minneapolis said today it's closing down operations in Canada and has filed for bankruptcy protection to cover its North of the border operations. More on a move that could put more than 17,000 Canadians out of work. Plus, another major cross-border story developing today: Switzerland's currency surged 17 percent today, causing headaches for all sorts of Swiss exporters from wristwatches to cuckoo clocks. This after the Swiss Central Bank without warning gave up on trying to keep the euro-linked closer to the Swiss Franc. And at the big car and truck show going on in Detroit, the top honor in the car category went to Volkswagen's Golf, which comes in all sorts of flavors, from electric to diesel to muscle. But don't let that small car fool you.

Target to close its stores in Canada

Thu, 2015-01-15 03:00

Target Corp said on Thursday that it will cease operations in Canada and has filed for bankruptcy protection for its Canadian subsidiary.

Target has really struggled since its launch in Canada just a few years ago in 2013. The company said last November that it would review the future of its Canadian business after the holiday season.

Huge supply chain problems left Canadian stores thinly stocked, disappointing shoppers who had anticipated Target’s move into Canada where the discount retail space has been dominated by Walmart.

Target currently has 133 stores in Canada, employing 17,600 workers. 

According to a Target press release, if a court approves it, the company would create a trust fund of $59 million for its employees, giving them a minimum of 16 weeks of compensation. The company says its Canadian stores would remain open during liquidation.

In the U.S., Target is actually performing better than expected. The company said Thursday same-store sales at its U.S. locations increase by 3 percent in the fourth quarter, thanks to more online purchases and store visits than predicted.   

President Obama aims to pass the Healthy Families Act

Thu, 2015-01-15 02:00

President Barack Obama will outline a broad plan on Thursday to help states establish paid leave programs and to fund Labor Department feasibility studies on paid leave.

Obama is calling on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow workers to earn an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is a family issue and an economic issue,” says White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.  Jarrett announced the President’s intent on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

Currently, workers are granted up to 12 weeks leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.  However, Jarrett says most employers make that leave unpaid.  Meaning that many workers can’t afford to take leave when they need it.

“It means that more sick children are in school because no-one can afford to stay home with them, and it means that fewer parents are taking the necessary time to bond with new babies or care for their aging parents," says Jarrett.

Jarrett says the President will also ask Congress for a $2 billion incentive fund to help states to create their own paid leave programs.

But, James Sherk, a Senior Policy Analyst with the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation says the President’s proposal would effectively cut workers’ pay.

“The way businesses respond when the government requires them to provide a benefit is, first they provide the benefit, but secondly they take the cost of that benefit out of workers’ pay.”

The President also plans to take executive action giving federal employees up to 6 weeks of paid leave for the birth, or adoption, of a child.  

Foreclosure crisis just about finished

Thu, 2015-01-15 02:00

RealtyTrac reports that the rate of foreclosure filings was down 18 percent in 2014 from the previous year, and are approaching the same level as in 2006, before the housing crisis hit.

RealtyTrac/Mitchell Hartman

Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac, said: “About 1 percent of all loans is the historic average that go into foreclosure, and I think we’ll probably end up below that for the next decade, as a reaction to what we’ve been through.”

Blomquist predicts fewer foreclosures than average because home prices have come down, homebuyers need very good credit to get a mortgage due to tighter underwriting standards, and many buyers are hedge funds and other investors with deep pockets.

RealtyTrac/Mitchell Hartman

Barcode license plates? Try mass traffic surveillance

Thu, 2015-01-15 02:00

Back to the Future Part II was a classic 80s movie in part because it was an escape.

From the harp plucking and the optimistic-sounding French horn in the first scene, it’s obvious that you’re going to get a picture of the future that is probably closer to Star Trek than Big Brother.

So when you’re watching the movie and you see that every car’s license plate is a barcode, it’s easy to think, “Sure, easy scanning. Very convenient.” It’s also easy to imagine why, in a movie released at the peak of one of the strongest periods of economic growth in the U.S., one of the most recognizable symbols of commerce—the Universal Product Code—was picked for plates.

Well, spoiler alert for those who haven’t looked closely at a car in 2015 yet: we don’t have barcode license plates. But the reality is in some ways more impressive and more concerning. Instead of codes that usually need to be scanned with the help of a laser, we’re using License Plate Recognition cameras all over the country to constantly record the passage of all traffic. And we’re often keeping all of that data for uses we haven’t yet realized.

The “haven’t yet realized” part is what has people like Kade Crockford worried. Crockford is the director of the Technology for Liberty project at the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union (she also writes the privacy matters blog). She says that in the last decade, the practice of collecting and storing traffic data has become widespread but mostly unregulated.

The barcode plates of “Back to the Future Part II” and the plate-scanning practices of the real world do have something in common: they’re both about making information machine readable. Barcodes were invented to make it easy to attach data to products that could be organized by computers. LPR technology, also called Automatic License Plate Recognition, does the same thing, either by reading a plate and attaching metadata in a matter of milliseconds, or sending a constant stream of photos to a server farm where the data is read and stored. These cameras usually capture not only the plates but an image of the car as well.

Technology now being used across the U.S. began as an invention of British law enforcement in the 1970s. It gained popularity there in the 1990s as a weapon against terrorism, following bombing attacks by the Irish Republican Army. LPR seems to have crossed the pond as computing power, storage, and camera technology became cheaper. By some estimates, LPR usage by police departments in the US has nearly quadrupled, going from 20 percent to 71 percent between 2007 and 2012.

The problem, says Crockford, is that there is very little oversight or even an understanding of how LPR technology is really being used. Private companies like Digital Recognition Network and Vigilant Solutions “Hoover up” billions of data sets, she says, and sell them to both law enforcement and private repo companies. Even though it’s been in America for over a decade, the first real federal scrutiny of the technology seems to have come only very recently, via a task force created by the Justice Department last May.

States are just starting to lay out rules about the collection and storage of data. In the last two years, around 30 pieces of legislation have been written, but only a handful have gone into effect. Of the few bills in place, those that endeavor to have police departments wipe data sets after a certain time, or try to prevent private companies from using LPR technology, are already being challenged in the courts.

Here’s one last bit that wasn’t imagined in "Back to the Future Part II" but could become a reality: The Center for Investigative Reporting recently found what it says are documents that suggest Vigilant wants to create a massive data collection system that combines LPR, public records, and facial recognition. Almost makes you wish for silly barcode license plates.  

Hey Google, name my website

Thu, 2015-01-15 02:00

Google has launched its own website naming service, Google Domains. It says it's aimed at small businesses, 55 percent of which its own research has found don't have their own website right now. 

Blake Newman, who runs a website design agency in Washington D.C., was one of the people invited to test out Google's domain name registration service before it went public. "It's relatively sparse," Newman says.

In other words, it's Google style. And that's the opposite of a lot of other domain name registration websites, Newman says, which can be complicated even for professionals like him.

But does that mean that other registrars like GoDaddy, E-nom and Network Solutions should be worried? No, says Phil Corwin, head of the Internet Commerce Association, a lobbying group for the domain name industry. Corwin was speaking from a domain name registrars' conference in Las Vegas, where he says Google wasn't even the main topic of conversation. 

"It's a competitive space," says Corwin. "And some of the smaller players, they're not going for a mass market. They're going for more of a niche market." But for those 55 percent of small businesses without websites, Google is banking on simplicity trumping niche.

Buy a house? What about an entire city?

Thu, 2015-01-15 01:30
18 percent

RealtyTrac's foreclosure report for December 2014 and the full year is out, and the outlook is positive. According to the report, foreclosure filings were down 18 percent in 2014 from the previous year and are approaching the same level as in 2006, before the housing crisis hit.

16

The number of trips Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have each taken in the past two years, outpacing all other potential candidates for president, according to U.S. News & World Report.

55 percent

That's the percentage of small businesses that don't have a website, according to Google research. It's why the tech giant is launching its own website-naming service, aimed at this small corner of the market.

11

The number of consecutive quarters RadioShack has seen losses, despite some aggressive and public re-branding. The electronics retailer is expected to declare bankruptcy as soon as next month. Quartz has nine charts showing the brand's gradual decline.

One-third

That's how far American manufacturing fell between 2000 and 2013, while Chinese manufacturing grew several times over. Now, more stable wages have some companies looking back to the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported.

$9.6 million

That's how much a city has been put on the market for. Yes, a whole city. Bargylia, an ancient site in Turkey, to be exact. As the BBC reports, the city sits on the coast and dates to fifth century B.C. Although it's in a popular tourist spot, the eventual owners will be prevented from building on the site. They will, however, have access to what could be an archaeological treasure trove of historical artifacts.

Buying a house? What about an entire city?

Thu, 2015-01-15 01:30
18 percent

RealtyTrac's foreclosure report for December 2014 and full-year is out, and the outlook is positive. According to the report, foreclosure filings was down 18 percent in 2014 from the previous year, and are approaching the same level as in 2006, before the housing crisis hit.

16

The number of trips Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have each taken in the past two years, outpacing all other potential candidates for president, according to U.S. News & World Report.

55 percent

That's the percentage of small businesses that don't have a website, according to Google research. It's why the tech giant is launching its own website naming service, aimed at this small corner of the market.

11

The number of consecutive quarters Radioshack has seen losses lately, despite some aggressive and public rebranding. The electronics retailer will reportedly declare bankruptcy as soon as next month, and Quartz has nine charts showing the brand's gradual decline.

1/3

That's how far American manufacturing fell between 2000 and 2013, while Chinese manufacturing grew several times over. Now, more stable wages have some companies looking back to the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported.

$9.6 million

That's how much it will cost you to buy a city. Yes, a whole city. Bargylia, an ancient site in Turkey, to be exact. As the BBC reports, the city sits on the north of the Bodrum peninsula, and dates back to the fifth century BC. Although it's located in a popular tourist spot, the eventual owners will be prevented from building on the site. They will, however, have access to what could be an archaeological treasure trove of historical artifacts.

GYTB 1/15

Wed, 2015-01-14 22:18

16

The number of trips Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have each taken in the past two years, outpacing all other potential candidates for president, according to U.S News & World Report.

11

The number of consecutive quarters Radioshack has seen losses lately, despite some aggressive and public rebranding. The electronics retailer will reportedly declare bankruptcy as soon as next month, and Quartz has nine charts showing the brand's gradual decline.

1/3

That's how far American manufacturing fell between 2000 and 2013, while Chinese manufacturing grew several times over. Now, more stable wages have some companies wlooking back to the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported.

With oil prices down, small companies feel the squeeze

Wed, 2015-01-14 13:33

We’ve been hearing a lot about crashing oil prices lately. Crude oil is selling for $46 barrel today compared to over $90 a year ago. The price drop is great news for consumers and terrible for oil companies. But not all oil companies -- or oil fields -- are created equal. When oil prices drop, size and location matters.

McAndrew Rudisill knows this. He's the CEO of Emerald Oil, a small, Denver-based oil and gas company that only operates in the Bakken shale of North Dakota. He's got about 50 wells -- minuscule compared to giant oil companies like Continental Resources, with 1000 wells in the Bakken alone and more in places like Colorado and Oklahoma.

Small companies like Emerald are likely to feel the impact of dropping oil prices first, says Niles Hushka, CEO of KLJ, an engineering firm in Bismarck. It is harder for smaller firms to quickly get loans and additional financing. With fewer wells, they also have less money coming in to ride out tough times. Companies in the Bakken need a lot of money to keep drilling. New wells can cost up to $10 million each.

Another factor that makes smaller companies more vulnerable is a lack of geographic diversity. Larger companies, Hushka says, "will have resources that are spread throughout a number of oil plays and therefore they’re much better protected" than small companies who may only have wells in the Bakken.

North Dakota oil companies have to pay much higher transportation costs than companies in Texas or Oklahoma because they are farther from Gulf Coast refineries and must transport much of their oil by train, which is costlier than pipelines. The price per barrel doesn't reflect that cost, so when you hear that oil has dropped to $50 per barrel, oil companies in North Dakota are only getting about $37.

Geography within the Bakken matters, too, says Niles Hushka: "If you're in one of North Dakota’s hot spots, you’ve got a great big smile on your face."

That's because in the heart of the Bakken, like McKenzie or Dunn Counties, it's possible to drill new wells and still break even with prices in the low $30s. In fact, that’s where most of the drilling rigs have moved in recent months. But in the more marginal areas, like Divide County, where operating costs are higher and wells don't produce as much oil, it's harder to justify the cost of drilling a new well.

As a small company, Emerald Oil can't afford to drill a ton of new wells next year. That's because a lot of oil gets produced in a well's first two to six months, so Emerald needs that peak production to come when prices are higher, at least over $85 per barrel.

But they'll still drill a few new wells in order to hang onto their mineral leases In North Dakota, companies have three years to drill a well before their mineral lease expires, assuming their lease is with a private mineral rights owner and not the government.

But other small companies are stopping entirely. Butch Butler is president of a Colorado-based oil company called Resource Drilling that is even smaller than Emerald. Butler jokes that he is the company's landman, geologist, drilling engineer, operations engineer and whatever else needs to be done.

Butler has just one well in North Dakota, and a few months ago, the plan was to drill another two. When prices dropped, Butler put that plan on hold.

Butler's been in the business long enough to have acquired a gallows humor about oil prices. Both times I talked to him in the past two months, he joked that things were bad, but he wasn’t quote “slitting his wrists” yet.

"I’ve been in this business 38 years," he says, "and truly most of that time has been not so good."

He's come to expect dramatic swings and slides, so he doesn't seem too fazed by the recent price drop. It's a good attitude for an oilman to have.

This story was produced by Inside Energy, a public media collaboration focused on America's energy issues.

Obama promotes Internet independence for communities

Wed, 2015-01-14 13:11

President Obama spoke Wednesday in Cedar Falls, Iowa, about his proposal to encourage more municipalities to set up their own high-speed fiber-optic networks. Yet plenty of hurdles remain to creating fast and reliable Internet connections, including infrastructure and regulations.

 

JPMorgan CEO says 'banks are under assault'

Wed, 2015-01-14 13:11

JPMorgan Chase posted disappointing fourth quarter earnings today, missing analyst expectations. During a call with reporters, CEO Jamie Dimon declared that “banks are under assault," and that it now has five or six regulators coming after it on different issues, compared to one or two previously.

Marcus Stanley, policy director of Americans for Financial Reform, says Dimon has it backward – regulators and Congress are under assault from the financial lobby due to ongoing efforts to repeal various elements of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms passed in 2010.

Who’s right?

Both sides, says John Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor. In 2014, many regulators took a stricter attitude toward banks, including state-level overseers. And while the financial crisis made it clear we need better bank oversight, Aaron Klein of the Bipartisan Policy Center says he thinks that consolidating regulators would save money for both banks and taxpayers. 

JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon says banks 'under assault'

Wed, 2015-01-14 13:11

JPMorgan Chase posted disappointing fourth quarter earnings today, missing analyst expectations. During a call with reporters, CEO Jamie Dimon declared that “banks are under assault," that it now has five or six regulators coming after it on every different issue, compared to the old days it dealt with one or two. Marcus Stanley, the policy director of Americans for Financial Reform, thinks Dimon has it backwards, that it’s regulators and U.S. Congress who are under assault from the financial lobby, due to its ongoing efforts to repeal various elements of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms passed in 2010.

So who’s right?

Actually, both sides, says John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School. In 2014, many regulators took a stricter attitude toward the banks, including state-level overseers. And while the financial crisis made it clear we need better bank oversight, Aaron Klein with the Bipartisan Policy Center, thinks consolidate regulators would save money for both banks and taxpayers. 

The Razzies: Lampooning Hollywood for 35 years

Wed, 2015-01-14 12:12

Sylvester Stallone has been nominated for 30 Golden Raspberry Awards and won four. He's not a fan. Neither is Michael Caine, who called the awards "the pustule on the butt of Hollywood” when he was nominated in 1980 for both "Dressed to Kill" and "The Island."

This celebrity aggravation wouldn’t be possible without John Wilson.

Wilson started the awards, which honor the worst of the worst in film each year, 35 years ago in his Los Angeles living room. The nominees and winners are now reported on throughout the world.

In his interview with Kai, Wilson shares the origin story of the awards and talks about the time Sandra Bullock showed up to accept her Razzie in person (Halle Berry did too). 

Here are two tidbits that didn’t make the radio broadcast. First, we asked Wilson if the Razzies have ever been used to promote a film:

It’s interesting. The ultimate Razzie movie is probably "Showgirls," the one that Paul Verhoeven did. I loved the quote, "It’s the only movie about Las Vegas that’s actually more tasteless than Las Vegas." [Wilson lives in Las Vegas] He showed up at the ceremony and accepted his award, but MGM, when they saw the reaction to it they tried to rerelease it and turn it into another "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and make it an interactive bad movie where you would come dressed as one of the dancing [strippers] and yell. It didn’t work, but yeah, I actually have in my storage a poster that says "Winner of an unprecedented seven Razzie Awards."

 We also asked Wilson if he views the Academy Awards differently after the Razzies have been the anti-Oscars for 35 years:

I’m way more cynical. I grew up with two parents who were Depression-era kids who loved movies and they passed that on to me. I actually as a child used to stay up and watch the Oscars in Chicago when I was very young, and I do love the Oscars. But they've gotten to the point where they’re so huge and so self-involved and so smug and so …  all of the things that an award that means something probably shouldn't be. And we’re still down here with our peashooter going: [Wilson blows a raspberry.]

This year’s Razzie Award nominations:

Worst Picture

  • "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas"
  • "Left Behind"
  • "The Legend of Hercules"
  • "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
  • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"

Worst Actor

  • Nicolas Cage, "Left Behind"
  • Kirk Cameron, "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas"
  • Kellan Lutz, "The Legend of Hercules"
  • Seth MacFarlane, "A Million Ways to Die in the West"
  • Adam Sandler, "Blended"

Worst Actress

  • Drew Barrymore, "Blended"
  • Cameron Diaz, "The Other Woman," "Sex Tape"
  • Melissa McCarthy, "Tammy"
  • Charlize Theron, "A Million Ways to Die in the West"
  • Gaia Weiss, "The Legend of Hercules"

Worst Supporting Actress

  • Cameron Diaz, "Annie"
  • Megan Fox, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
  • Nicola Peltz, "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
  • Brigitte Ridenour, "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas"
  • Susan Sarandon, "Tammy"

Razzie Redeemer Award

  • Ben Affleck
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Mike Myers
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Kristen Stewart

Worst Supporting Actor

  • Mel Gibson, "The Expendables 3"
  • Kelsey Grammer, "The Expendables 3," "Legends of Oz," "Think Like a Man Too," "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
  • Shaquille O'Neal, "Blended"
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, "The Expendables 3"
  • Kiefer Sutherland, "Pompeii"

Worst Director

  • Michael Bay, "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
  • Darren Doane, "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas"
  • Renny Harlin, "The Legend of Hercules"
  • Jonathan Liebesman, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
  • Seth MacFarlane, "A Million Ways To Die in the West"

Worst Screen Combo

  • Kirk Cameron and his ego, "Saving Christmas"
  • Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron, "A Million Ways to Die in the West"
  • Any two robots, actors (or robotic actors), "Transformers"
  • Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, "Sex Tape"
  • Kellan Lutz and either his abs, pecs or glutes, "Legend of Hercules"

Worst Screenplay

  • "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas"
  • "Left Behind"
  • "Sex Tape"
  • "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
  • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"

Worst Remake, Rip-off or Sequel

  • "Annie"
  • "Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?"
  • "The Legend of Hercules"
  • "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

As consumer prices fall, we may be buying more with less

Wed, 2015-01-14 11:11

Shoppers disappointed economists last month. Retail sales fell 0.9 percent, while experts expected an increase. But those Commerce Department numbers might not tell the whole story. Consumer prices have been falling, so we might be buying more things for less money. 

Shazam CEO: Introducing visual 'Shazaming'

Wed, 2015-01-14 11:05

Before Apple came up with the App Store, Shazam was doing what it still to this day does best: helping people identify the music they are listening to. But, back in 2002, that didn't exactly work on flip phones the way it does on an iPhone or Android these days.

"Shazam was mobile before mobile was cool"

"We like to say 'Shazam was mobile before mobile was cool,'" says Rich Riley, Shazam CEO. "When it was originally launched, you would basically record a sound clip, text that to Shazam systems and it would return with the name of the song and you would pay like a dollar for that text."

Four years later came the iPhone.

"It took about 10 years to do the first one-billion Shazams and now we do a billion Shazams every 45 days or something like that," says Riley.

Top Shazam'd Songs of All Time: 15 million+

However, Shazam is not just about music anymore. Users can also Shazam television shows, movies and advertisements. The company also recently received $40 million from Mexico's Telecom mogul Carlos Slim for continued expansion.

"Most people now have this incredibly powerful device in their pocket. It’s only getting faster, it’s only getting more powerful and it’s the way they are going to want to connect to things around them," says Riley.

The company will soon announce "visual shazaming." Users will be able to Shazam things like print ads, quick response codes and packages.

"Say if it’s a DVD, for example, you can push Shazam and watch the full trailer," says Riley.

Shazam in five words or less

"Connect people to the world," says Riley.

Rich Riley's Bad Day at Work Playlist

"Blank Space" by Taylor Swift is the song currently stuck in Riley's head the most, he says, because his kids are obsessed with it.

Latest Charlie Hebdo will barely be distributed in US

Wed, 2015-01-14 11:00

The first issue of Charlie Hebdo published after last week's attacks hit newsstands in France today. The 3 million copies essentially sold out within hours.

Would-be readers in the U.S. will likely  have a tougher time finding a copy. They also might want to brush up on their French.

The magazine's distributor in the U.S. and Canada says just 300 untranslated copies will be sold here.

They'll arrive Friday morning on an Air France flight, CNN says.

Charlie Hebdo’s challenge to old media

Wed, 2015-01-14 10:20

It’s yet another sign of the growing distance between old and new media.

Many of the established stalwarts — including The New York Times, NBC News, CNN and NPR — declined to publish an image of the cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo,  the one featuring a  caricature of the prophet Mohammed holding a sign reading ‘Je Suis Charlie’ under the words ‘All is Forgiven.’ The cover, of course, is a response to the terrorist attack against the satirical magazine one week ago that killed 12 people, including its editor and five of its top cartoonists.

Most digital news outlets, meanwhile, rushed the image onto the Internet yesterday, after the magazine released it a day ahead of publication. The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Yahoo.com and MSN.com were among the sites prominently displaying it.

“We didn't even consider not publishing the new cover,” says Max Fisher, director of content at the news site Vox. “These cartoons have major news value as they are an important part of this story, so we feel it's part of our jobs to provide them to readers.”

Marketplace editors determined that the cover was of significant enough news value to warrant publication on Marketplace.org.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The split isn’t absolute:  The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal used the cover, for instance. But many old-media editors argued that the decision not to publish came down to a matter of taste.

“Many Muslims consider publishing images of their prophet innately offensive and because we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities, we have refrained from publishing these images of Mohammed,” a spokeswoman for The New York Times told Marketplace.

That decision was controversial within the Times itself.

“The new cover image of Charlie Hebdo is an important part of a story that has gripped the world’s attention over the past week,” wrote Margaret Sullivan, the newspaper’s Public Editor in a piece published online Wednesday morning. “The cartoon itself, while it may disturb the sensibilities of a small percentage of Times readers, is neither shocking nor gratuitously offensive. And it has, undoubtedly, significant news value.”

What’s behind the split?

“There’s no question that there is evidence of a digital divide between legacy news brands and digital first news in publishing the cartoons,” says John Avlon, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. “I think the primary reason is due to the more bureaucratic, culturally cautious nature of older news brands versus the more aggressive and, in this case, principled stand that the younger generation of news brands felt free to pursue.”

What do the experts think?  “Personally, I think that this new Charlie Hebdo cover easily passes the test for a newsworthy image,” says Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University. “Come on:  How Charlie Hebdo grapples with the murders of its editors and artists is of a matter of unquestionable political importance and cultural significance. It is also the truest test of satire--finding an image that is potent, compassionate and relevant in the face of unspeakable horror. This cover is news, pure and simple.”

After an initial print run of three million copies, partly funded by Google, Charlie Hebdo has gone back to press. The magazine is being distributed in 25 countries and translated into 16 languages, including Arabic. Charlie Hebdo’s normal print run is some 60,000 copies. 

Quiz: Passing on a pledge of allegiance

Wed, 2015-01-14 06:03

President Obama endorsed student data-privacy pledge and proposed data protections during a speech at the Federal Trade Commission.

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PODCAST: A bittersweet future for chocolate

Wed, 2015-01-14 03:00

We knew lower oil prices would depress the government's calculation of retail sales for last month. But taking out oil prices along with food and cars, retail sales still fell four tenths of a percent and that is a nasty surprise. More on that. Plus, college sports' governing body has its annual convention starting today in D.C. The White House has asked NCAA officials to come in and talk about a range of subjects including academic achievement by student athletes. Now that the college football championship game has come and gone, it could be time for a sharp shift to matters of policy. And with Valentine's day a week away, we take a look at the factors behind what could be a shortage of chocolate.

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