Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rutgers University will expand to the tune of $500M

Rutgers University is funding more than 20 building projects on its Camden, Newark and New Brunswick-Piscataway campuses. According to a Star-Ledger report by Staff Writer Mark Mueller, the spending will be funded through the sale of bonds. The new expansion initiative will reportedly cost $500 million.

For the full story go to

Friday, February 20, 2009

The New York Post's 'non apology' is part of the problem

At his blog (www.middletownmike/, Mike Morris discussed the recent New York Post cartoon that depicted President Barack Obama as a wild chimp. There is little doubt that the Post's 'non-apology apology' falls short of actually expressing regret over this characterization of President Obama. Congratulaitons to Mr. Morris for taking on a tough issue.

The Post's adversaries are noted in the so-called apology. Yet, this error of judgment was not about the Post's adversaries. No one compelled this publication to print any material it presented. The fact is, in my opinion, that an editorial error was made (people being imperfect sometimes make errors). It should be owned up to, but it wasn't. The apology fell short, and so was an opportunity missed.

It is true that there is freedom of the press, and that artists are allowed to express themselves also. So too, there is also the concept of accountability for what one prints and says. It appears that, sadly, this concept is lost upon the New York Post.

Newspaper accountability should not stop at libel and defamation. If the idea of journalistic ethics is simply to not print that which is legally wrong, then that really isn't ethics. To be 'ethics,' there is a higher bar that speaks to character, of the lack of it.

I was always a fan of the Post, because it was daring and often brave about stories. But there is a difference between bravery and stupidity. The comparison of African Americans, or any African American, to a monkey is an echo of another day. It is unnecessarily hurtful to not only the president but to a race of people that fought hard to free themselves from not only captivity but also oppression afterward. In many ways, this fight still goes on.

Personally, I have no idea why the Post is trying to pull back the hands of the clock on racial characterizations. I have heard it said that "all controversy is good controversy." I look at it differently. Anything that comes off as vulgar and without taste is just that.

North America has struggled with various issues involving race since the 17th century. There is nothing clever about the old, degrading references to African Americans. Certainly, there is nothing witty about it. As a matter of fact, those old characterizations were a part of the problem, and trying to breathe new life into them is spectacularly idiotic.

To have the privilege of delivering news to any community is an honor. I think the New York Post has lost touch with that, and its responsibilities to that community.

-- Jim Purcell, Publisher, The Courier

Monday, February 16, 2009

Obama to put together car industry committee

It has been said it take a "...village to raise a child..." In that spirit, President Barack Obama says it will probably take more than one person to put the auto industry back together again. According to an AP story, a presidential panel is being put together to help sort out the domestic car industry wreckage.

Are things going to get worse before they better? That's what "they" say. Let's hope "they" are wrong. For the full story, go to

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

AJR writes about life after journalism for reporters

In what is a practical decision to write about a necessary topic, American Journalism Review's ( February-March edition has dedicated some space (including the cover) to "Is There Life After Newspapers: What happens to all those laid-off and bought-out journalists?"

The editorial in this month's edition is from Lee Thornton, interim dean of the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. She says that more newspapers are moving online to cut costs. She also criticized news organizations giving away news, and thereby costing themselves profit.

Staffer Dana Hall pens an interesting piece about "Goodbye and Good Luck: The art of the newsroom farewell note," in the edition's Page 14.

The maini article is "Is There Life After Newspapers?" by Robert Hodierne, on Page 21. The bolded pull out to this was: "So it's safe to say there is life after newspapers. But it's not always the life journalists had expected."

AJR writer Meghan Meyer then writes a piece titled "The MBA Option," pushing ex-journalists to examine a future in business: "MBA programs target journalists because they add a diverse professional element to the classroom, and they have skills corporate employers value: writing, communication and a keen understanding of deadline," on Page 23.

Then, on Page 31, AJR writer Sherry Ricchardi spreads a little more joy talking about the nationwide layoffs going on at newspapers in her article, "Down to the Wire."

Finally, in its parting piece, on Page 37, AJR's Paul Farhi gives the reader "To Quit or Not to Quit?" This article discusses what journalists do when confronted with cutbacks that seem devastatng.

While this was not the 'industry feel good' edition of AJR, I do give the magazinie a lot of credit for being honest and useful in what it prints about the industry. Not everything people need to hear is good news.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Has Springsteen bounced back from Wal-Mart deal?

Money & Business writer Matt Bandyk talks about Bruce Springsteen's recent Super Bowl appearance. But, more importantly, he goes on about the whole Wal-Mart issue and the opinion that the company is not a friend to the working man. Consequently, Springsteen may have made a mistake in signing an exclusive deal with the chain.

This is pretty much a ridiculous argument. Wal-Mart is just another chain, perhaps more popular than most. Springsteen is a popular NJ musician...and he has a new album out. Wal-Mart is one of the few chains actually doing well today.

Springsteen is reported to have regretted the Wal-Mart deal, but the whole thing seems like a lot of nonsense. For more, go to

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Why are newspapers dying in New Jersey?

As many readers of The Courier know, the newspaper decided to become a basically online publication, with a printed bi-weekly supplement, around the beginning of the year. That was because, for many years now, the prophets of the news industry, at all levels, have warned about the "death of print."

There are an awful lot of bad things that come with print dying, in my opinion. But that is all the more reason for credible, traditional news organizations, at each level, to consider their online presence much more carefully.

The habits of the reading public have driven the news industry since its beginning. Before the advent of computers, print was the only game in town. Newspapers seemed to have a monopoly on the news because they had the presses, and they owned the ink. But like all things, this changed.

If nothing else, the Internet is 'the great equalizer' among publications. No more does a news organization need to operate at the costs traditionally associated with the business. So, just what a news organization is has become relative. Now is not the time for traditional newspapers to dig a fortified ditch and wait for the comeback of print. It isn't coming back. The Internet isn't getting turned off. As my late father used to say, "No use closing the gate when the horse is already out of the barn."

As in all things, the market dictates how industries move. Just as the creation of the automobile pre-destined the creation of vastly improved U.S. roads, the Internet has pre-destined that news is going to be conveyed digitally, and not so much in ink.

Paper optimists say there will always be room for news print. But, I disagree. Sure, it will hold on for awhile -- a long while. But let's face it: The horse is out of the barn.

When I came into this industry, in the mid-1990s, it was pretty much the industry that has always been there: typewriters everywhere, people cutting and pasting the mock-ups of news pages. I used to run around getting stories and scurry back to whatever newsroom I was at and start banging away on a typewriter. The camaraderie was great and the institution of news was one you could plan a career around. Yet, as nostalgic as that is, it's a memory for albums and not a business plan anymore.

The question is credibility of news sites now. Everyone and their brother is jumping into an online presence. The question that news organizations are going to have to ask themselves behind closed doors is if they are prepared to have kids in garages and non-journalists grow up in online news because they are waiting for some flood to wipe out electricity.

During the absence of good, solid news organizations online, amateurs and non-professionals are filling a void that gives them a growing advantage while solid publications linger dying. There is an old saying about the Lord helping those who help themselves. In my opinion, they are words to live by.

-- Jim Purcell
Publisher, The Courier

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

April 13 could be last edition for Jersey Journal

If revenue doesn't improve for The Jersey Journal, the daily Hudson County news staple could close its doors in April, according to a published report from the AP.

Reportedly, Evening Journal Association members were informed that April 13 could be the final day for the publication if sales and other revenue doesn't pick up. In addition, some of the Jersey Journal's weekly publications could be lost during this process.

For the full story, go to

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Cards flirt with history but Steelers take crown

In a Super Bowl that came down to the last five seconds of regulation, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first franchise in NFL history to win six Super Bowls since the event was minted during the 1960s.

Despite a gallant effort by the Cards, with highlight after highlight by veteran QB Kurt Warner and acrobatic WR Larry Fitzgerald, not to mention a tenacious ensemble effort by the Arizona D, the Cardinals were denied destiny after a circus catch by steady handed Pittsburgh WR Santonio Holmes in the closing minute of the match-up.

Though the saying goes that " one remembers who lost...," Super Bowl LXII may be one of the best fought in the history of the game and perhaps the sport. For more details about this contest of gridiron greats, go to: