Friday, January 16, 2015

The Future Of Media

A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY
I was fortunate to be included in a panel discussion Thursday afternoon with the current class of Leadership Tomorrow during which the current condition and future of media was discussed.  I was part of a panel, moderated by former Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson, which included Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis and dynamic restaurant Public Relations representative Mona Shah-Anderson.  Unfortunately, a representative from the Orange County Register was unable to attend.

SOME FAMILIAR FACES
For an hour we responded to questions posed to us by Johnson and members of the class, which included some familiar faces.  Dane Bora and Leigh Chalkley of the City of Costa Mesa were in the group, as was Andrew Smith - a member of the Costa Mesa Charter Committee.  Click on that link above and you can see the full roster of this year's class.

 BUSINESS USING MEDIA
Shah-Anderson, the highly-acclaimed restaurant strategist, discussed her approach to getting media coverage for her clients - high-end restaurants throughout Orange County.  She, for example, had just returned from a video shoot at Fox News in Los Angeles that morning and was scampering out to another client commitment following our meeting.  The tries to "personalize" the restaurants by focusing on the chefs and their skills.  Plus, she uses all the current social media sources to the maximum to entice people to the restaurants.  I, personally, have been the victim of her skill.  She posts photos of yummy dishes prepared by her client chefs and I immediately feel like Pavlov's dog - salivating to get a taste of the food.  She is married to former Daily Pilot City Editor, Paul Anderson, who now is the presence of the City News Service in Orange County and a REAL newsman.

CONDITION OF LOCAL MEDIA
We discussed the current condition of print media locally - it's on unsteady ground.  The drama around the Register has been widely chronicled, as has the ownership of the Los Angeles Times - parent company of the Daily Pilot.  There are still some great unknowns about those organizations.  The Register, for example, made a huge commitment to growing it's print presence - acquiring the Riverside Press Enterprise and creating brand new newspapers in both Long Beach and Los Angeles.  Those last two efforts were spectacular failures and the financial condition of the entire organization is precarious, at best.  We learned from Canalis that the Pilot is on solid financial footing right now, but that he'd always welcome the chance to hire more reporters and staff to support them.

IT'S NOT JUST A LOCAL PROBLEM
In doing some research for this opportunity I found that, since 2004, 187 newspaper printing facilities have been closed nationwide - a bellwether of the condition of the print product.  Between 2003 and 2013 the advertising revenues for the print media has dropped 49%!  More journalism jobs are available in digital media sources than print sources by far.  And, it's not only newspapers that are suffering.  If you subscribe to, or regularly read ANY magazine these days, you realize that they are rapidly becoming mere shadows of themselves.  Folks just don't subscribe as much - because so much of that information is available online at NO COST.  And thereby lies the problem.

COVERING ALL THE BASES IS A TOUGH JOB
The difficulty of covering every story with a reduced staff was part of the discussion by Canalis.  I opined that, being a huge fan of the Daily Pilot myself, I thought they did a good job of balancing their news coverage.  I suggested one measurement of that success was the fact that they've managed to anger folks on both sides of an issue - each presuming that the editors and writers favored the other's point of view.  It's actually amusing in a sad sort of way.

THE BURDEN OF FACTS WITHOUT OPINION
Johnson prodded me about my aggressive opinion-writing on Costa Mesa issues, which I readily acknowledged.  As a blogger I have much more latitude than any of the "real" news outlets.  They are burdened by the responsibility of providing the facts of issues, clearly and accurately and as quickly as possible.  They also must cover a breadth of issues where I can focus on one specific story at a time.  In my opinion - there's that word again - both the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register do a good job of presenting the news fairly and accurately.  Yeah, I know some of you disagree with me, but I challenge you to point out one issue where they have NOT done so...

CAULDRON READERSHIP CONTINUES TO GROW
Johnson also asked me to quantify the blog - how many people read it, for example.  Well, I told him there are many ways to quantify it, but purely from a "pageviews" standpoint, we have had well over 2 million page views with the current host platform - more than 500,000 each for the past two years.  The readership, based on all the measurements I have available to me, continues to grow.  Thanks to all of you for that.  That being said, those numbers pale when compared to the pageviews tallied by the Daily Pilot or the Register - which is how it should be.  We simply need a viable, thriving, free press in this country.  Otherwise, how do we know what the heck's going on?

LOCAL COMPARISONS
I will, unashamedly, tell you that the numbers for this blog far outstrip those of two "competing" blogs in this city.  That "kinder, gentler" blog seems to have lost all traction - not unexpected when his unreadable,  pseudo-intellectual bilge has devolved into comparing activists in this city to Muslim terrorists. The much more established blog operated by our racist laureate has lost readership so significantly that it doesn't even show up on many measurement tools.  I guess that's a good sign.  It tells me that folks just got tired of wading through all the manure posted there looking for a pearl of wisdom.   Typically, you'd come away from a session reading that thing and feel like you need a good shower.

DIGITAL IS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE
The more than two dozen people in the class covered the spectrum age-wise, as you can see from the photo above.  Most of them, in response to Johnson's first question, acknowledged that they do NOT read a newspaper each day.  Several did, but most did not.  Many of the class members get their news from smart phones and/or tablets - which, according to the research I did, is the wave of the future.  Unfortunately, nobody has yet successfully found a way to make money selling the news that way.  That's a problem that simply must be solved.  We cannot let the future of news in this country be blogs like mine or, God Forbid, those other two!  That's completely unacceptable.

FACTS...
Here are some snippets of information extracted from a recent Pew State Of The News Media report from last year.
  • News is part of the explosion of social media and mobile devices, which could be a way to reach more people than ever before.
  • Half of Facebook users get news there even though they did not go there looking for it.
  • Facebook users who get news at the highest rates are the 18-to-29-year-olds.
  • The same is true for the growth are of online video.  Half of those who watch some kind of online video watch news videos.  Again, young people constitute the greatest portion of these viewers.
  • Despite evidence of news consumption by Facebook users - half of whom report getting news across at least six topic areas - research data finds these consumers to have rather low levels of engagement with news sites.
  • Their study found that roughly 5,000 full-time professional jobs at nearly 500 digital news outlets, most of which did not exist a half-dozen years ago.
  • Local television remains the primary place American adults turn to for news, and the audience increased for the first time in five years.
  • A quarter of the 952 U.S. television stations that air newscasts do not produce their news programs. 
You can read that report in it's entirety HERE.

THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY
Thanks to Tom Johnson, Chairman Joe Stapleton and Vice Chairman Jon Lewis - recently promoted to Deputy Police Chief in Newport Beach - and the Leadership Tomorrow class of 2015 for inviting me to participate.  I hope my input was helpful to them - and I hope they become regular readers here.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sunday With The Mayor A Success - Kind Of

A SEMI-SUCCESS
Based on reports from the scene and my little peek into the action last Sunday, Rookie Mayor Steve Mensinger's Sunday meeting with residents was a success.  Well, not a complete success, but a good start, anyhow.

A BAKER'S DOZEN SHOWED UP
According to City sources, thirteen (13) people showed up beginning at 2 p.m. to chat with the mayor on issues important to them.  The last person left around 4:15 - a few minutes longer than anticipated.

NOT MUCH "PRIVATE TIME"
From reports I've received, the event was not exactly what some of the individuals had hoped for.  Many expected to have some private time with Mensinger during which they would present their question/issue to him for a personal discussion.  That's not how it played out.

MORE LIKE A GROUP HUG
According to sources, after the first person arrived and had a few minutes alone with Mensinger in the 5th floor conference room, another group arrived and joined in.  Then, a few minutes later, another group appeared.  It turned out that eight (8) people were chatting with the mayor on a variety of issues - kind of like a mini-town hall.  Sources tell me that those eight folks filtered out by around 3:15 or so.  Although I don't have any first person knowledge of the last hour of the confab, I'll presume the remaining five people  had a similar experience.

SECOND INSTALLMENT PLANNED
I'm told that there will, in fact, be a second installment of this event on February 8th, although I don't know if there will be any fine-tuning of the format.  It seems to me that if people take time out of the middle of their Sunday to chat with the mayor on something they think is important, then they should have his undivided attention for whatever period is allowed and not share that time with others.  That would also mean that he'd have to leave his cell phone off, but I'm not sure he could manage that kind of deprivation, even for a short time.

FINE-TUNING THE FORMAT
That, of course, would require some "scheduling", but that's not a problem. Sharon Rodelius was ready, willing and able to do that scheduling earlier in the week.  For example, if I felt the need to present an issue to the mayor privately that I thought might take fifteen minutes, I could request that amount of time with him on Sunday.  Others could do the same.

HOPE THE ROOKIE REPORTS
I hope the mayor will present his views on how this first event went from his perspective at the next council meeting next week.  I also hope they will do some tweaking of the process to provide private time with The Rookie.

EXPECTING TRUTH... DISAPPOINTED
Oh, yes, a reminder that one Julie Mercurio - if that's really her name - lied on Facebook about my presence at City Hall last Sunday, portraying my two-minute chat with Sharon Rodelius on the City Hall steps as "lurking" and said I had a camera with me - I didn't.  No lurking, no camera - only lies from Mercurio.  That's certainly something to remember when you read her posts on the Costa Mesa Public Square Facebook site - truth seems not to be important to her.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time For Elephant Seal Watching!

IT'S "PRIME TIME" AGAIN...
As the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday approaches, once again I remind you of a fantastic opportunity for families to observe the burgeoning Elephant Seal colony up on the Central Coast.
QUITE A SHOW
Right now is Prime Time - when tens of thousand of Northern Elephant Seals are on the beaches just north of Hearst Castle on California Highway 1 - about 50 miles north of San Luis Obispo.  The first pup was born the middle of December and has been nursed by his mother for a month.  By this time she will have gone into estrus and is ready to mate.  Of course, there are plenty of huge males ready to accommodate her and her peers on the beach.

BIRTHING, FIGHTING AND MATING
If you stand for just a few minutes on the boardwalks that overlook the beach just below the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse you very likely will see pups being born - the birthing takes place from the middle of December into early March, but now is the best time.  You will also see big guys fighting over mating rights and, once successful, mating with the ladies.

THE BEST PLACE....
There is no better place in the world to observe these magnificent critters - once hunted almost to extinction.  This colony - one of a dozen similar colonies that inhabit the coast and islands off the coast of southern and central California -  is now well over 18,000 animals.  5,000 pups were born in the colony last year.
...AND MORE
And, this time of the year you'll also see whales migrating, Harbor Seals on the rocks nearby, otters in the kelp beds and maybe even pods of killer whales patroling the area.  It's a great time of the year on the Central Coast.
MUCH MORE
So, jump in the car and make a long-weekend of it.  Stay in Cambria, San Simeon, Cayucos or Morro Bay.  Spend time on the bluff watching these critters.  Guides wearing blue wind breakers are available to enhance your visit by sharing information about the animals and the colony.
A TRIP YOU WON'T FORGET
Visit Hearst Castle.  Enjoy the wine country between Highway 1 and Paso Robles.  Enjoy one of the most beautiful stretches of California coastline.
VIEW THE WEB CAM
For a sneak peek visit the web cam which overlooks the beach, HERE.  Enjoy...

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Monday, January 12, 2015

A Little Navigation Reminder

A LITTLE REFRESHER...
So, we're into 2015 a couple weeks now and I thought a little reminder about what's available to you on this site might be in order.  I suspect most of you never stray far from the most recent post, glued to it for it's imparted wisdom!  C'mon, at least smile at that one a little bit... :-)

FIRST, WHAT WE ARE...
Today I want to remind you that, way, way up at the top in the box with the title of this blog, is a reminder that it represents "A few facts and a lot of opinion".  Don't forget that - it's very important.

GOTTA REGISTER TO COMMENT
Over on the right side of the page we have our little note reminding you that you MUST register to post comments.  It's easy and the identities are guaranteed to be held confidentially.  I just want you to be accountable to someone - me - for what you try to post here.

LINKS ON THE RIGHT SIDE
Below that is a long list of links I've provided to you for easy reference.  The first one, Costa Mesa Crime Map, disappointingly has not operated for months, but I'm keeping that title there as a place holder in anticipation of it returning.

MY FORMER SITE
The second entry is a link to my former blog site, where you can find all the entries I posted from July 9, 2005 - my very first post - until November 1, 2006, when I said goodbye to that host and began this one.  You might find some of those entries of interest.

OTHER USEFUL/INTERESTING SITES
Below that link is a long list of sites I, personally, find interesting and/or useful.  They include links to other local blogs and important reference sites.  I've recently added a link to former Daily Pilot columnist and school board candidate Steve Smith's blog which focuses on Newport Mesa Unified School District issues.  Check it out.

RECENT BLOG ENTRIES
Immediately below that list of links are links to recent blog entries.  If you wish to send someone a link to a specific entry, just slide on over to that list and click on the appropriate title.  That will take you to the entry and you can use THAT URL to guide your friends (or enemies) to that specific entry.

BACKING DOWN THROUGH
If you want to back down through the entries just click on the last one.  That will take you to THAT page, which has more links - and on and on.   Just keep working backward.

ARCHIVES, ONE WEEK AT A TIME
OR, you can go to the Archives section, which provides links in one-week bites.  Select the week from the list and click on it.

SEARCH BOX
OR, up in the top left corner, there is a box that looks like this.
 
This type a name or entity you're looking for within the blog and you should end up with a list of all blog entries that had that label.

LESSON OVER... HAVE FUN
OK, that's it for now.  If you have problems navigating around the site just drop me a note at the email address provided on my profile page.  Enjoy...

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Sign Ordinance Changes Proposed Tonight

SHORT MEETING ANTICIPATED, BUT...
In what looks like a short meeting based on the published agenda, HERE, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, led by "dynamic" Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, will meet to address only a few issues.


CODE ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY
They will discuss Planning Commission goals as pertains to Code Enforcement, HERE.  Did you know the Code Enforcement officers can issue you parking tickets now?

OUTDOOR DISPLAY AT CIRCLE K
They will hold a Public Hearing, HERE, on a minor conditional use permit at a for outdoor displays at 1654 Santa Ana Avenue, at a Circle K convenience store.

FOUR UNITS ON THURIN
They will hold a Public Hearing on a planning application for four (4) residential units at 2136 Thurin Avenue, HERE.


CHANGE IN SIGN ORDINANCE - WHAT CHANGE?
And, New Business #1, for which there is NO STAFF REPORT available online, is titled, "Proposed Amendment to the City's Sign Ordinance related to monument signage."  I don't know about you, but that one got my attention.  Too bad we don't know what it's about!

PRIORITIES
Ordinarily I'd have my old body propped up at the meeting, taking notes so I can report back to you later.  Not tonight.  I will be glued to my television set, watching the first-ever National College Championship Football Game between the University of Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State University Buckeyes.  If I have time or the opportunity to watch the tape of the Planning Commission meeting I'll report on it later.... Go DUCKS!

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Of Thin-Skinned Sycophants And Liars

THE FUTURE DOES NOT LOOK BRIGHT
We're only two weeks into this new year and the tone for the near future has been set by supporters of the current council majority... and it's not pretty, my friends.

HOLD YOUR NOSE IF YOU VISIT...
Much as I really don't want to drive traffic to his almost incomprehensible site, over at CMCONSERVE, which uses the apparently copyrighted phrase "the right perspective in Costa Mesa", the blog operator - the pompous pontificator Dennis Popp - takes exception to comments made by speakers - more than three dozen of them - at the recent Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Meeting.  Popp, the portly blowhard who is a member of that committee and was a major functionary on Lee Ramos' disastrously unsuccessful council campaign last fall, so dislikes the critical comments presented by those folks that he compares them to terrorists!

"ACTIVISTS ARE AL QUAIDA TERRORISTS"!
That's right, terrorists!  In his entry of January 10, 2015, HERE, titled, "Fairview Park Activists/Terrorists", and sub-titled, " Fairview Park Al Quaida", there is little doubt that he is serious in his comparison to those folks who wish to keep Fairview Park in a natural state and not add playing fields to terrorists.  I encourage you to read this bilge-pretending-to-be-literature for yourselves, but will give you a little tease first.

STUPIDITY...
Speaking about those dissenting voices he says, "However, for a group of activists, collecting data about fields is the moral equivalent of mortal sin or maligning the prophet."

...ON DISPLAY
He goes on in a subsequent paragraph to say, "Like the disparate groups of radical Muslims, activists don't agree much about."  Really, Dennis?  Well, I can tell you one thing - those activists who spoke last Thursday evening agree that they don't want to see playing fields carved out of Fairview Park.

DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE
He goes on to defend Ramos' vote to move forward with the three items on the agenda that dealt with playing fields and criticizes the person who stood and called Ramos out for telling her one thing during the campaign and voting 180 degrees different that evening.


DON'T DARE CRITICIZE THEM!
Popp's rant perfectly represents the attitude of the current council majority - they are big fans of his work, apparently.  He, and they, clearly cannot abide ANY form of criticism.  That's the problem when the council majority stacks committees with thin-skinned sycophants - they can't take it.

HE'S FORGOTTEN HIS OATH
Popp has implied in the past that he's a combat veteran.  For that service to our country I sincerely thank him.  However, he apparently has forgotten the oath he, and the rest of us who served in the armed forces of this country, swore to at the time.  We swore to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  That includes free speech.  He's about my age, so maybe he's suffering from early-onset dementia, but I remember that oath as clear as a bell.

CHATTING WITH THE ROOKIE
On a related topic, today was the first opportunity for residents to "Meet the Mayor" at City Hall on a Sunday afternoon.  The plan was for folks to show up between 2-4 p.m. to spend some quality time with  Rookie Mayor Steve Mensinger one-on-one instead of presenting their comments, concerns and grievances to him and the rest of the council on the record during Public Comments at regularly schedule council meetings.  Due to an unanticipated, but very welcome, family social engagement I had not planned to attend.

AN UNANTICIPATED STOP
However, on the way home from lunch at one of Costa Mesa's best restaurants with our guests we did swing by City Hall to see what kind of a crowd showed up.  While they waited in the car I scampered up to the lobby steps and was greeted by the charming Sharon Rodelius, Executive Secretary, who was on hand to direct residents to their meeting with Mensinger.  She told me that a few people had showed up and were all on the 5th floor.  Apparently CEO Tom Hatch also had to blow off part of his Sunday, because he was up there, too. 

A QUICK STOP
My conversation with her lasted less than two minutes, then I returned back to the car and our guests, who had to head back home.  I was pleased that some folks had actually showed up to chat with Mensinger and wondered what the outcome of those meetings might be.

LIES...
Then, later this evening, a friend informed me about a lie published in the Costa Mesa Public Square Facebook Group page.  Julie Mercurio, who is now apparently the Admin for that site - I guess my friend, Bruce Krochman, has handed it off to her - published a scurrilous statement on that page.  I can no longer read what's published there because I'm no longer a member and the permissions have been changed since she took over.  To see comments you have to be a member.  Again, another example of the kind of "transparency" these folks work with.

...AND MORE LIES
The comment, under her byline, stated the following:
The first Meet the Mayor was today and 19 people showed up!!! I read there was great feedback which is good news!  The more disturbing news is that Geoff West who is a blogger in town was walking around outside with his camera and as one person termed it was "creepy".  Why would he not come in.
He denigrates so many so often, what would make him opt to lurk outside taking pictures vs coming in?

THE TRUTH
Well, I was not "lurking" and I had no camera with me.  Lies.... I spent 5 minutes, max.,  from the time I left our car until I re-entered it and the time not spent walking to and from the car was spent standing on the steps outside City Hall, chatting with Sharon Rodelius.   I "wouldn't come in" because I had nothing to say to the Rookie.  At the time I was there - around 2:40 p.m. -  eight (8) people had arrived and gone to the 5th floor and none had yet returned.  Heck, I didn't know if Mensinger had locked them in a room someplace, for goodness sake!  Only kidding... lighten up!

BE ON THE LOOKOUT
Since this "Julie Mercurio" person - I'm not even sure that's actually her real name - seems to be an untrustworthy sort, willing to spread falsehoods willy-nilly,  I suggest you use caution if you encounter her.  In case you wonder what she looks like, here's a little "selfie" I took of us in happier times at a council meeting this fall.  Hint: she's not the chubby old fella in the photo.
MORE LIES AND ACRIMONY AHEAD
So, it looks to me as though the next several months are going to be filled with more acrimony rather than the harmony many wish for.  That's a two-way street and it certainly won't happen when the spokespersons for the majority continue to puff and blow and prevaricate.  Too bad.

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