Happy Mother’s Day: Now, about that pay gap

This is the weekend we celebrate moms. Thank you, moms. Without you, there is no us.

Those of us who are dads should make breakfast in bed and send mom out for a massage. But more importantly, Mother’s Day should be a reminder that dad’s duty goes far beyond eggs and toast.

Dads have an essential role in supporting our moms, wives, sisters and daughters whether they choose to stay home or return to work.

When it comes to working moms, us dads play a key role in eliminating the gender pay gap that exists 53 years after President Kenney signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Today women earn 79 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the Census Bureau.

Iceland leads the world in gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum. The United States ranks 28th, its lowest ranking since 2009.

My own mom left the workforce to raise my sister and I in the late 1970s and early 1980s, returning to work years later. It didn’t occur to me at the time but she clearly sacrificed earning potential to care for us. My wife did the same after the our son was born and the pay gap is real in our own household.

That pay gap continues today even as more women enter the workforce, and it exists even when men and women do the same job, according to research by a Harvard economist. Women who are surgeons, for example, earn 71 percent of what men earn. Food preparers earn 87 percent.

As my own wife pointed out, a Kauffman Foundation report on motherhood and working shows that “women’s work has resulted in more money to spend in the economy and a higher GDP.” Women have helped grow the GDP in spite of the lack of supportive public policy.

So for us dads, the best thing we can do for our moms, wives, sisters and daughters is to take on more of the household duties so the women in our life are freed up to work the same pace and hours we do. Or as Fusion put it, dads need to lean out so women can lean in.

Our wives, families and GDP will be better off for it.

 

A resolution to read books again, for real this time

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I love books. But I don’t always read them.

Our shelves are full of books. There’s a dozen heavy boxes in the basement overflowing with books and yet more in random stacks I took out to admire, then left in a leaning tower next to Christmas ornaments and Woody, the kids “Toy Story” doll.

We moved our books from our Portland basement to our Eugene rental in 2011. The movers cautioned that we should move them ourselves because the weight would quickly drive up the bill. We moved them again ourselves to Las Vegas in 2014, then back to Oregon again (ourselves) nine months later.

Clearly, we care about our books, the printed ones. This is even after my retired professor, Dean Rea, said he got rid of his books for a Kindle and encouraged me to do the same. I can’t.

My collection is mostly non-fiction. Politics, journalism, business, history, sports. Lots of sports. I own far more books than I’ve managed to read. I’m a sucker for anything by Michael Lewis or David Halberstam, two writers who managed to master sports, politics and business. I have a ridiculous catalog of journalism, marketing and business how-tos and tutorials and a box full of Oregon history, hikes and campsites.

Too many of them have been held and cared for, but unread. For the last eight years, I blamed parenthood for putting my book-reading life on hold. The kids are now old enough that the excuse is lame.

So for New Year’s, I made a resolution to read books again. For real. I set a goal to read 52 books this year. That’s a pipe dream. But it’s an easy metric for me. One book a week. I’d like to branch out to fiction and new and diverse writers. I will still allow myself an occasional how-to and some nonfiction.

To keep me honest, I’m using this post as a log of the books I read and finish. (Giving myself a head start by counting books I finished on Christmas vacation.)

  1. “How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck.” Trying to learn to shoot video. It’s OK. Nothing better than hands-on learning, though.
  2. All the Light We Cannot See.” Fiction that my wife (who is far better read than me) said I would like. I did.
  3. The Idea Factory.” A profile of Bell Labs, AT&T’s famous R&D center from the mid-century. I wanted inspiration for innovation. I got an overly detailed manual on the 182 men who mattered at Bell Labs. I couldn’t keep track and speed read the last 200 pages.
  4. The Girl on the Train.” Heard an interview with the author on NPR. As someone who likes riding trains and wondering about other riders’ lives, I fell in love with the story.
  5. $100 Startup.” Found it for $7 at a used bookstore in Bend. It had been on my list for a while. It’s a fantastic guide for anyone who’s dreamed about striking out on their own. Plus, the author is a Portlander who wrote the book in the same coffee shops I hang out in.
  6. The Boys in the Boat.” Recommended by my sister. “I slowed down because I wanted to savor every word,” she said. It’s as good as she said. Bonus: It’s a deeply Northwest book.

So I can keep track of my wish list for the year, here are more books I’d like to get to. I’d love your recommendations, too. This list has been updated based on feedback from friends on Facebook and Twitter. Also, I’m now on Goodreads.

  • “Dead Wake”
  • “Once in a Great City”
  • “The Index Card”
  • “A Passion for Leadership”
  • “Ready Player One”
  • “Fourth of July Creek”
  • “The Warmth of Other Suns”
  • “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena”
  • “Astoria”
  • “And the Mountains Echoed”
  • “The Drifters”
  • “The Power of the Dog”
  • “The Son”
  • “For the Time Being”
  • “A Little Life”
  • “Open”
  • “Cutting for Stone”
  • “Beyond the Beautiful Forever’s”
  • “The Free”
  • “Fates and Furies”
  • “The Man Without a Shadow”
  • “he Case of Lisandra P.
  • “Alexander Hamilton”

David Boardman’s roadmap for newspapers: Build a superb Sunday paper, then invest in tech

David Boardman maps out a wise future for newspapers: Make print less frequent but higher quality, then reinvest in technology for a rich user and producer experience. Read full post on Poynter and our my favorite points highlighted below:

Move past daily: Let’s get real. The seven-day-a-week printed newspaper – particularly in metropolitan areas – is terminally ill. Working to sustain it is not only futile, but ultimately destructive to the very values its champions espouse.

Sunday is where the revenue and readers are: For years, newspaper publishers and editors have known through market research that the Sunday paper is a different, more intimate experience for consumers. A good Sunday edition, with a mix of investigative journalism, profiles, cultural reporting, perspective pieces, sports analysis, photography, comics, crosswords and coupons, is an experience many people value and even love. And for most papers, the Sunday edition already accounts for more than half of their total revenue. For some, it’s around 60 percent. It’s a proven, effective vehicle for advertisers.

Make print higher quality and less frequent: So, I say to publishers: Invest in a superb, in-depth, last-all-week Sunday (or better yet, Saturday) paper, a publication so big and rich and engaging that readers will devour it piece by piece over many days, and pay a good price for that pleasure.

Then re-invest in tech: Then turn your attention and your resources where they belong now: Creating meaningful, engaging and sustainable news products for emerging technologies, where most of you are already woefully behind such innovative rivals as Vox and Vice. Move deliberately to one weekly, “lean back” printed paper and an array of quality, interactive, “lean in” digital products, especially for mobile devices, to which your readers are moving far faster than you are.

Make the transition with confidence, courage and transparency: Finally, make this transition in a brave, bold, confident – and candid – way. Pick a date certain – say, January 1, 2018 – and tell your readers and advertisers unapologetically that that’s where you are headed, why you are headed there, and that you want their help in figuring out how to get there in a way that will serve them and the community best. They – and the 38,000 journalists still working for American newspapers – deserve the truth. They can handle it. Can you?

Writing for the web: Swift and short, long and important but not in between

The Associated Press put out a directive to editors Monday: Write shorter.

In a memo, the AP said it had a “sea of bloated mid-level copy,” as Erik Wemple reported. Daily stories should be 300 to 500 words. Top stories from each state should be 500 to 700 words. The top global stories can be more than 700 words but must remain tightly edited.

Reuters drew the line at 500 words, too. Wemple highlighted a few key points: Stories should be short “unless we have exclusive information or a unique idea that will make it distinctive. … We often spend too much time reporting, refining and updating stories that will never set us apart from the crowd. That takes time and money away from the reporting and editing that should go into distinctive content.”

In other words, get the commodity news out fast so you can spend your time on stories that really matter.

Researcher Jakob Nielsen has preached new approaches for writing on the web since at least the late 1990s. Most of us in the news business tend to write as long as we, or our editors, think the story is worth. But Nielsen’s research is a reminder: We need to put the user first. Online, if we’re not delivering what the user wants, they’ll go elsewhere — quickly. Nielsen’s advice: Be succinct, write for scannability, use links.

The AP’s memo prompted my colleague to look deeper at the research on the optimal post length and he found some good stuff.

Medium examined data from its thousands of posts and discovered the ideal post is 7 minutes. At an average of 300 words read per minute, that would make a 7-minute post 2,100 words. That makes some sense for well-crafted Medium posts. But for fast-moving newsrooms, it seems the ideal post length is probably shorter.

As Nielsen found, users on the web prize immediacy, speed, scanability and links. The AP and Reuters said news stories online should by default be short and swift, 300 to 500 words. Stories can be longer and people will read them (even on mobile) — but only if there’s a compelling reason. To be worth it, longer stories should be important, well-told, deeply reported, artfully presented — and hopefully all of the above. An example: The New York Times’ Jameis Winston investigation.

I like Quartz’s model.

Atlantic’s business site favors stories written short and snappy or long and analytical. They despise the muddy middle. “We just don’t want them to lapse into 500 words,” editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney told Richard Edelman.

Measuring word count captures the more traditional story forms. As the AP advised, we should always consider alternative story forms: photos, videos, data, charts, lists or text blocks. The traditional newspaper story form may be what we know best, but that doesn’t mean it’s always best for the user.

This post is 481 words.

Other resources:

An essential reading list for people who want to invent the future of news

I’m working on a report on newsroom changes in the digital age and pulled together a reading list on journalism, tech and business. It’s not comprehensive, but it is a start.

Books

Reports & studies

Online articles

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Real coffee in Vegas

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I miss Oregon coffee shops. In Portland, I loved to spend Saturday mornings reading and writing at Random Order, Albina Press or Stumptown. In Eugene, it was Marche, 16 Tons or Vero.

In Las Vegas, Starbucks is everywhere. But the local, independent shops are harder to find. A co-worker introduce me to this place, Sunrise Coffee. I’m glad he did. I would have driven by it for the next few years without ever noticing. It’s in an unremarkable strip mall next to a busy boulevard. But inside, it reminds me of Oregon.

 

 

 

The Oregonian and the debate over its new web strategy

The Oregonian rolled out a new strategy for digital journalism. I continue to keep a close eye on the O’s changes since leaving there in 2011. Here’s a quick collection from this week: