business news in context, analysis with attitude

I have written before in this space about how, with a fair amount of frequency, a study will cross my desk warning of a variety of health problems associated with this food or that behavior.

To which my response often is: “Uh-oh.”

Well, I got a big “uh-oh” last weekend when the New York Times reported in a front-page story:

“A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

“Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.”

In addition to the two guys who died, “Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

“To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.”


Makes me sort of glad I passed on that suggestion that I do an afternoon edition.

I try to resist cynicism, but I succumbed to it yesterday when I got a press release from a research company saying the following:

“As consumers prepare to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover, high retail sales are expected for matzo, kosher wine and other items traditional to holiday celebrations and the Passover Seder, the ritual dinners held on the first two nights of Passover.”


Now, that is the kind of news that is sending bloggers to an early grave as they struggle to keep up with it.

Seriously, wouldn’t the real news be if sales of matzo and kosher wine were declining for Passover? Or of sales of kosher foods were going up for St. Patrick’s Day?

The problem with some research organizations, it seems to me, is that in their enthusiasm for studies and reports, they spend too much time researching and reporting what seems to be obvious. Which leads to clutter, and could even obscure stuff that is more important.

Of course, I could extend the criticism to journalists, who will sometimes pick up on these press releases and report them as if they actually are news.

In this space on March 2, 2007, I wrote the following:

“The next time the Pulitzer Prizes are announced, I think it is pretty much a lock that the Washington Post will get one for the extraordinary reporting it has been doing about the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It is the kind of journalism that I think is going to make a real difference in terms of medical care for wounded veterans, and I suspect that it also could have long-term implications for the government bureaucracies that either ignored or were ignorant of a deplorable situation.

This week, that prediction proved to be correct.

Of course, it could be argued that this was an easy call. But so few of my predictions come true that it is worth pointing out when I get one right.

Congrats to the Post.

I have to admit that I’ve grown weary of Imus in the Morning, and simply don't find the show to be that interesting anymore. I’m not sure that it has anything to do with the fact that the show is more politically correct; I suspect it has more to do with the fact that I can listen to Tony Kornheiser’s daily radio program via iTunes each morning, and Kornheiser is infinitely more interesting and does a much better interview.

If you get a chance, listen. He’s great on sports, as one would expect, but also has a terrific group of collaborators and wonderful takes on social and cultural issues.

Plus, he’s got “Old Guy Radio,” perfect for someone of my advanced years.

Playing on my iPod these days: UB40, including its covers on sings that include “Red, Red Wine,” “Light My Fire,” and a great version of “I Got You, Babe.”

There was a note a couple of weeks ago about how a wine sold exclusively at Tesco’s Fresh & Easy stores in the US has been rated with 90 points by The Wine Advocate, considered a coup for the retailer and a real find for oenophiles.

The wine, Bodegas Palacio's Reflexion Rioja Reserva 2003, sells at $9.99 and is one of more than 60 wines in the private label range sold at Fresh & Easy – and I said that such an offering could be a differential advantage for the retailer.

However, when pressed, I conceded that I had not tasted the wine…because I do not live anywhere near a Fresh & Easy.

Well, thanks to MNB user (and now, MNB-fave) Joe Grecula, who bought and sent me a bottle.

It is, for the record, very, very good. What makes it a 90-point wine as opposed to an 85-point or 99-point wine is something that is beyond my meager talent for wine appreciation. But it is quite good.

Thanks, Joe.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend…and I’ll see you Monday.


KC's View: