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Technology Advances or Declines – It May Depend on Where You Live

An article by Pamela Wood in the Baltimore Sun discusses fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, the latest and perhaps the greatest innovation for wireless devices. The technology will deliver data and video faster to consumers’ phones and also enable broader Internet of Things (IoT) technology usage like smart street lights, self-driving vehicles, etc. Our current cell technology utilizes tall towers located every mile or two in large metropolitan areas and further away in rural ones. The 5G technology will incorporate smaller antennas located much closer together, say every few blocks in a large city.

Cell phone operators are seeking standards that allow them to scalably roll out the new technology. Local governments, in Maryland and elsewhere, are attempting to protect their ability to regulate rights of way along streets and to charge fees and taxes as with other utilities. To expedite the process, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered that cities and counties approve applications within 90 days and cap associated fees. According to the Sun, dozens of cities and counties have sued the FCC, but the order stands while the court cases play out. Baltimore began working with cell operators in 2010 and expects that five companies will be installing these new cell facilities in 2020.

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NCAA Governing Board Allows College Athletes to Receive Compensation

On October 29, the NCAA Board of Governors voted to allow Divisions 1, 2 and 3 to permit athletes to receive compensation for their personal brand or celebrity, while not also becoming employees of their university. The three divisions must change their bylaws by January 2021 and with those changes, ensure that athletes will not be classified as professionals. This change of NCAA policy is likely in response to bills like California’s Fair Pay for Play Act, which mandates that athletes receive fair compensation for their work and will take effect in 2023.

The NCAA has been under siege for years. As the governing body for college sports, it has reaped the rewards of sponsorship contracts for broadcasting rights and shared little with the athletes performing on the field, court, track, diamond, course, or arena. Universities belonging to the Big 5 athletic conferences are additional beneficiaries, awarding multi-million dollar contracts to successful coaches and few benefits beyond college scholarships to their athletes. The NCAA’s dual role as regulator and enforcer is arguably influenced by the value of those big network contracts as evidenced by the verdict of no punishment for the University of North Carolina’s athletic program for steering athletes into “paper classes.” On the surface, one can only assume that the NCAA ordered its attorneys to find a loophole to avoid punishing one of college basketball’s perennially strongest programs.

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When the Student Newspaper Is the Only Daily Paper in Town

 

Dan Levin’s recent article in the New York Times reports the impact of 2,000 newspaper closures on more than 1,300 small towns and cities and how some of the coverage is picked up by the local college paper. Most of the article revolves around Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Michigan Daily provided local coverage after the Ann Arbor News shuttered its daily print operation more than a decade ago. More than 300 students write for the Daily, a number made possible by the size of the school and that all of them are unpaid. Although the University of Michigan does not have a journalism school to provide them education and training, the students understand the need to cover their local community. The Daily prints about 7,500 copies each day with much broader readership of its electronic version, which garners nearly 500,000 monthly page views.

 

One challenge of having students cover local news is that their tenure as reporters is short, two or three years at most. By the time many establish connections with local politicians or understand the workings of the local city council, they’re moving on to graduate school or employment. Sometimes their lack of institutional knowledge subjects their coverage of a municipal issue to the political spin of the elected official they interview. Residents of Ann Arbor interviewed for the story are grateful for the local coverage even though several yearned for the past when the News published daily.

 

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Why Balanced Reporting Still Matters

I attribute my love of writing to encouragement at an early age from my first and second grade teachers. It seemed natural that I would volunteer to write for the school newspaper as an extracurricular activity in middle school, high school, and college. There was a pecking order to the news organization at each level, with new reporters given minor assignments and, as you gained experience, more interesting ones. If you chose (or were chosen) to go the editor route, your reporting assignments were less frequent, you edited other articles, and you could have a chance at writing an editorial or op-ed.

As an editor, I learned about the power of the press and the importance of discussing a potentially controversial article or editorial with the editorial board prior to publishing it. High schools and colleges are relatively close-knit communities, and the odds are high that the people you write about you may have to engage with regularly. More than once, the editorial board suggested that I discuss the issue at hand with the administrator whose actions prompted the proposed editorial before publication. These weren’t easy discussions, but they provided more clarity to the editor(s) and editorial board, while providing a heads-up to the administrator that our paper was planning to report on the decision or incident.

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Transitioning

On August 22, 2019, I announced that I would retire from my position as CEO of American Public Education, Inc., (APEI) effective September 23. I also noted that I would continue as president of American Public University System (APUS) but would also retire from that role on June 30, 2020. Since today is my last as CEO, I wanted to reflect on my career and what might be next.

Forty-three years ago, I enrolled in the MBA program at Tulane University’s Graduate School of Business Administration (affectionately known then as TUGSBA, and now as the Freeman School). I conformed to the profile of many full-time MBA students at that time: liberal arts degree (A.B. in History from Duke) with no undergraduate business courses on my transcript. Most of my undergraduate curriculum consisted of reading, writing papers, and taking essay exams. The MBA curriculum reversed that experience with first year accounting, finance, economics, marketing, and statistics courses that were heavily oriented toward solving problems until the material was mastered.

 

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Artificial Intelligence – Choosing to Be a Victim or a Victor

Last week, serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban created a stir with his statement at the SXSW (South by Southwest) conference that the world’s first trillionaire will be someone who masters artificial intelligence (AI). In the past, Cuban has been an avowed proponent of the value of a liberal arts degree for its ability to teach critical thinking. However, at SXSW, he advocated the study of computer science, stating, “Whatever you are studying right now, if you are not getting up to speed on deep learning, neural networks, etc., you lose."

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The Content Trap, Part I: Classifieds – User Connections

Harvard’s Graduate School of Business Administration is known for its case study methodology. In the Content Trap, Dr. Bharat Anand describes several corporate users, their industries, and the ways in which these companies improved their connections to enhance their growth and success.

We have witnessed declining newspaper readership over the past few decades, and many believe that the culprit is digital alternatives. Dr. Anand notes that this decline has been underway for more than 60 years, caused by multiple technologies from radio and TV networks to cable TV and 24/7 news channels.  The impact of the Internet is no greater on readership than the technologies that preceded it.  The other two sources of newspaper revenues are classified and retail ads.  Classified ad revenues declined precipitously during the past decade (2000-2010) and the reason is that sellers and buyers favor products with more connections.

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