March 21, 2011

AP’s Union Contract May Explain Much of Its Union-Sympathetic Wisconsin Coverage

While looking into the News Media Guild’s positions in the current standoff between it and the Associated Press, I came across the most recent contract (large PDF file) between the two. It expired this past November; unionized AP employees are continuing to work under the old contract’s provisions.

Many people don’t know that the AP is a “not-for-profit news cooperative” which is “owned by its contributing newspapers (over 1,000), radio and television stations (over 5,000) in the United States.” It would appear to be exempt from paying federal, state, and local income taxes (and perhaps others), and as such would seem to have a competitive advantage over any person or entity which might consider competing with it.

I thought readers might be interested in certain of the expired 65-page Editorial Unit contract’s provisions, and consider how often such arrangements are available in the private sector (56 other pages which follow relate to Technology Unit, whose contract provisions are very similar; bolds are mine):

(more…)

Oddly, AP’s Kravitz Avoids Using ‘Existing’ To Describe Awful Feb. Existing-Home Sales Report

The Associated Press’s report on existing home sales carries Derek Kravitz’s byline today. Apparently the byline withholding temper tantrum thrown by the wire service’s U.S. reporters which began last week has ended (further evidence here).

What Kravitz’s story doesn’t carry is the word “existing.” How odd, since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which produces the report, calls it ”Existing-Home Sales” at the report’s home web page, and labels the data “Existing Home Sales” in two different places in the detailed data.

It would be one thing if Kravitz were, as he may be, “merely” trying to keep his bad-news report from being found by search engine users looking for related sales news; a search on “existing” at the AP’s home site does not return Kravitz’s report. But his dispatch’s headline is unclear as to which type of sales are even involved (new or existing?), and his repeated use of the term “previously occupied homes” instead of “existing” might lead some readers to believe that the data involved exclude homes which have been vacant for some time, which is not the case.

Here are excerpts from Kravitz’s crummy job, which also contains something that is more predictable than the weather, i.e., a weather-related excuse:

Home sales fell 9.6 pct. in February

Fewer Americans bought previously occupied homes in February and those who did purchased them at steep discounts. The weak sales and rise in foreclosures pushed home prices down to their lowest level in nearly 9 years.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of previously occupied homes fell last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million. That’s down 9.6 percent from 5.4 million in January. The pace is far below the 6 million homes a year that economists say represents a healthy market.

… Winter storms also hampered sales in many parts of the country, including five inches of snow in Dallas-Fort Worth area just before this year’s Super Bowl. That was nearly twice the metro area’s annual average.

Still, housing has been weak for some time. Millions of foreclosures have forced down home prices and more are expected this year. Tight credit has made mortgage loans tough to come by. And some potential buyers who could qualify for loans are hesitant to enter the market, worried that prices will fall further. High unemployment is also deterring buyers. Job growth, while expected to pick up this year, will not likely raise home sales to healthier levels.

The median price of a new home is now 45 percent higher than the median price for a previously occupied home, the Realtors group said. A more normal difference is about 15 percent, an indication that old homes on the market are being sold at comparatively cheap, and affordable, levels.

As is the case with so many other business beat reporters from the AP and others, Kravitz didn’t compare, and should have compared, the raw sales numbers for February 2011 to February 2010. February 2011, at 293,000 came in 2.3% lower (7,000 units) than February 2010.

All told, Kravitz used the term “previously occupied” three times, and had about a half-dozen opportunities to employ the word “existing,” resisting each time. This is especially odd, because the wire service examples (examples here, here, and here) hasn’t demonstrated any noticeable allergy to the word. Excuse me for suggesting that Kravitz’s word avoidance during a month that “just so happens” to be the worst in almost nine years might be about more than variety in vocabulary.

Looking ahead, actual sales of existing homes in March 2010 were 429,000. I hope I’m wrong, but it seems that the market will be hard-pressed to replicate or exceed that result in March 2011, given current conditions.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

VDH on BHO

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:57 am

The incomparable Victor Davis Hanson, at Pajamas Media last night (links are in original):

President Obama ran on promises of a new respect for the law. [1] But the law is now malleable and predicated on its social utility. [2] The government, along with the nation of Mexico, sues the state of Arizona for trying to craft legislation that enforces federal immigration statutes. The government takes over Chrysler and then violates the contractual obligations to its debtors. [3] We announce that the careless BP simply put up $20 billion to ensure proper cleanup of the Gulf. [4] The Defense of Marriage Act is the law, but deemed unconstitutional by the administration and thus by fiat not enforced, in the manner of the abandoned prosecution of the Black Panthers whose violations of election laws were considered not violations.

If we think the country is topsy-turvy, the president offered an explanation the other day to a group of donors and supporters:

The first time around it’s like lightning in a bottle. There’s something special about it, because you’re defying the odds. And as time passes, you start taking it for granted that a guy named Barack Hussein Obama is president of the United States. But we should never take it for granted.

In short, all of the above was “special” because it “defied the odds” and was brought to us by “a guy named Barack Hussein Obama.” [5]

My notes:

  • [1] — And a new level of transparency.
  • [2] — As is the promise of transparency; a Washington Examiner editorial Thursday correctly asserted that the administration’s record makes a mockery of the President’s transparency promises.
  • [3] — This also occurred at General Motors. GM’s and/or Chrysler’s “success” at emerging from bankruptcy and becoming profitable will never, ever be fully legitimate. GM alone has depended on at least $80 billion of direct government aid, a loss-carryforward tax break worth up to $45 billion, and ongoing heavily subsidized access to low-cost capital to finance vehicle loans.
  • [4] — And then the Justice Department sues BP anyway.
  • [5] — It’s all about us getting used to and making grudging psychological peace with the idea that our country is run by an insufferably narcissistic Punk President and a lawless Gangster Government. Never, pal.

Limbaugh’s Web Folks Link to a Yours Truly NewsBusters Post

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 6:12 am

Note: This post originally and unintentionally went up in a different form earlier this morning. There was an error between the operator (yours truly) and the keyboard. Apologies to all who came in from elsewhere expecting something different.

________________________________

Well, this is cool, and a bit odd.

Yours truly made a URL appearance in the first item at Rush Limbaugh’s Stack of Stuff Quick Hits Page on Friday (link will become inaccessible this coming Friday afternoon) when he linked to my December 2008 NewsBusters post about Associated Press reporters withholding their bylines:

RushRefToTWBNBpost031811

Later Friday afternoon, with absolutely no idea that Rush had commented on the situation that day, I put up a new post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on the latest round of AP reporter byline withholding.

I’ll have more related to goings-on at AP later today.

Positivity: Medina County priest says he’s blessed by support after water rescue

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Litchfield Township, Ohio:

Posted: 03/07/2011

A Medina County priest said he is blessed by all of the support he has received since falling into a river and being rescued over the weekend.

Father Ned Weist of Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church in Litchfield Township fell into a river behind the church on Norwalk Road while inspecting the damage to a dam and bridge.

“The outpouring of support that I have received from the Northeast Ohio community has been a blessing. I am very grateful that I didn’t have more severe injuries, and that God sent so many wonderful people to my rescue,” said Father Weist in a statement sent to media outlets Monday.

Terry Leahy, a church member who does maintenance, tried to help the priest by holding his head out of the water until emergency crews arrived. Emergency crews said Leahy was treated and released at the scene.

“I would like to extend a special thank you to the Wellington Dive Team, Litchfield Fire Department and Terry Leahy for rescuing me. Terry, our maintenance man at Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church, kept my head above water for nearly an hour until emergency crews arrived and lifted me from the creek. He was my guardian angel. I also would like to thank the staff at MetroHealth for the extraordinary care they have provided,” said Father Weist. …

Go here for the rest of the story.