links for 2009-05-04

  • It turns out that there's a bit of a paradoxical relationship between believing your country has a lot of economic mobility and your country actually having a lot of economic mobility.
  • "This astonishing structure is a battered remnant of a very different country, one that briefly turned housing for working people into futuristic monuments rather than shamefaced hutches. The ideologies of regeneration and heritage, when applied to the very different ethics of new brutalism, can only destroy the thing they claim to love."
  • "For the first few months I was haunted by a number: 52. It reverberated in my head; I felt myself a prisoner trying to escape its bars. For it represents the rate at which the income I earn, as a writer and as the director of an institute, is to be taxed. To be plain: more than half of my modest haul, I learned on arrival, was to be swallowed by the Dutch welfare state. Nothing in my time here has made me feel so much like an American as my reaction to this number. I am politically left of center in most ways, but from the time 52 entered my brain, I felt a chorus of voices rise up within my soul, none of which I knew I had internalized, each a ghostly simulacrum of a right-wing, supply-side icon: Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Rush Limbaugh… And yet as the months rolled along, I found the defiant anger softening by intervals, thanks to a succession of little events and awarenesses."
  • "Newspapers from different regions didn't compete with each other 30 years ago. They do today. They didn't compete with Craigslist 30 years ago. They do today. Large regional newspapers once had near-monopolies over both news and advertising in a region. They've lost both. That's why they're failing. Not bad management."
  • The move follows research commissioned on behalf of the Standard's new editor, Geordie Greig, who took over in February following the paper's acquisition from the Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) by Alexander Lebedev.

    The market research evidently discovered that Londoners considered the paper to be too negative, not celebratory enough and guilty of failing to cater for the capital's needs. A great city with great facilities was being persistently talked down.

    Greig's response to the findings was to deal with them head on. He takes the view that the only possible way to win back readers who have deserted, and attract new ones, is to be honest and admit to previous failings.

    But this approach, unprecedented in British nerwspapers, is likely to offend Greig's predecessor, Veronica Wadley, who edited the Standard for seven years. She will view it as an attack on her editorial approach.

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