U.S. News and World Report unveils state-by-state rankings
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Rating colleges proved a gold mine for U.S. News & World Report. Tuesday brings the rollout of what might be another: assessing the 50 states.
It's why Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly were to surface on "CBS This Morning," with the governor crowing over his No. 1 ranking and Kelly elaborating on what appears to be an impressive multimedia display complete with interactive tools and graphics.
For sure the talk before and after was mostly Trump, given his big speech tonight. But with assistance from McKinsey & Co., the giant consulting firm, they've assembled tons of mostly publicly available data on the states and focused on metrics of healthcare; education; a state's economy; equal opportunity for men, women and minorities; infrastructure (road, internet access, among others); public safety and government administration. There were a zillion data points, as they say, to devise 68 metrics to rate a state's performance.
They ultimately rank the states in each of those primary categories, then make overall rankings, too. Massachusetts wound up No. 1 overall, in no small measure due to its potency in public education and healthcare. New Hampshire winds up No. 2 (largely due to opportunity, healthcare, education), Minnesota No. 3 (infrastructure), North Dakota No. 4 (economy) and Washington No. 5 (education, business environment, health).
Bottom of the pack? That would be Louisiana at No. 50 and Mississippi at No. 49. Don't expect their governors on TV with Kelly anytime soon, unless they're debating him on "The O'Reilly Factor" or at a state governors association gathering. The Deep South tends to be dragged down by subpar education and healthcare ratings.
Some other biggies: New York (17), California (23) and financially struggling Illinois (29).
If you take a look at it here, you'll see it's easy to make state-to-state comparisons. If you want to generate your own charts based on this data, it's pretty easy to do, too. In all, there are a head-turning 169,762 charts.
Having worked down the hall from U.S. News for several recent years in Washington (and now writing a weekly column for them), I know they're stockpiled A-list data and web experts. They combined many freelance writers nationwide and the news staff at its Georgetown headquarters.
The outcome includes 50 state profiles, a new site, five thematic stories for the launch and a two-and-a-half week rollout with something new to say each day about the top 10.
In theory, it will serve as an ongoing platform for journalism about those states, including news stories and op-ed pieces. Thus, it's got the potential to be a frequently updated resource for everybody from those looking to move to another state to, well, political reporters needing nuanced background for profiles.
While Massachusetts surely will crow, don't expect the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism to now be touting the Oscar-winning "Manchester by the Sea." That's sufficiently depressing to immediately send people to North Dakota or Minnesota, instead.
The morning babble
Trump's address to the joint session of Congress tonight means lots of your morning (and evening) chums are in Washington, where they discussed the pressures the president faces as he strains to use a teleprompter and not digress about the evil press or his "historic" Electoral College win.
The C.W. on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and CNN's "New Day" was his need to target the desires of red state Republicans. Mika Brzezinski said it should be upbeat and hopeful, maybe even self-deprecating, though dubious he'll go there. CNN was laser-focused on the congressional investigation into Russian election interference and any ties with the Trump campaign, with co-host Chris Cuomo playing journalist-prosecutor and underscoring the limits of likely probes.
But it was all punditry compared to the real action at "Fox & Friends," which unveiled its very own interview with its most famous fan, Donald Trump, done Monday in the East Room. "We will be having the greatest military that we've ever had by the time we finish," said Trump about the well-previewed plan to jack up Pentagon spending.
A "terrific health care plan" is "on the way" to replace Obamacare, and the "bad ones" will be booted out of the country under his immigration plan. As far as where congressionally mandated matching cuts will come from amid his spending (a query from co-host Steve Doocy ), the answer was an evasion about revving up the economy. As even his Fox cheerleaders know, his similarly touted slicing of The EPA or State Department won't do it.
And the Fox crew asked a question that the head of the White House Correspondents' Association conceded Tuesday to Wolf Blitzer that he hadn't asked: Why is Trump not coming to their annual celebrity filled bacchanal?
"I am not a hypocrite. I haven't been treated properly," Trump said, an apparently general comment since he then said rather improbably that he did not mind his last appearance at the dinner, in 2011, where he was skewered by President Obama (YouTube) and seemed quite uncomfortable.
Oh, no, "I loved that evening. I had the greatest time. i thought he (Obama) did a good job. I love the evening. I had a great time."
Then asked by co-host Brian Kilmeade if there's been a time when somebody was critical of him and he agreed that he deserved it, Trump said no. He couldn't come up with a single example. Not one. But "when they make stories up, when they create sources...a lot of the stories are made up...they are pure fiction...I thought it would be inappropriate (to go to the dinner)."
Trump bashing The New York Times (Part 27)
Do you doubt that Trump, the boy from Queens, craves the imprimatur of The New York Times? He doth protest too much, now doing so in an Oval Office interview with an ideological handmaiden, Breitbart News, once run by Steve Bannon, the self-acclaimed nationalist and populist who got rich off producing movies in Hollywood before assisting Trump in his crusade against the left.
Trump told Breitbart's Matthew Boyle, "...if you read The New York Times, it’s — the intent is so evil and so bad. The stories are wrong in many cases, but it’s the overall intent. Look at that paper over the last two years. In fact, they had to write a letter of essentially apology to their subscribers because they got the election so wrong."
"Trump’s comments came in a discussion about the media generally, in a part of the exclusive Oval Office interview focused on 'fake news' and 'fake media' versus journalists who are trying to get it right. The president specifically praised this reporter, and Steve Holland of Reuters, as two examples of journalists who do try to accurately report the news—and made a distinction between 'fake; media and the media as a whole.'" (Breitbart)
A new media order
Infowars, a right-wing site often trading in conspiracies, which can make Breitbart look sedate, claims it got basic (if banal) "bullet points" of Trump's congressional address tonight. But rest assured, the scoop wasn't one of the leaks that Trump has been railing against. "It should be noted this was not a leak, but was given directly to Infowars." (Infowars)
Feeding off Christians
So who might benefit from Family Christian Stores, a big Christian bookseller, closing its 240 retail outlets? Guess:
"A number of publishers compared the closure of FCS to the collapse of Borders in 2011, wondering who will pick up FCS’s business. Following Borders’s closure, independent bookstores captured some sales, as did Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. But the biggest winner was Amazon, and one publisher who wished to remain unnamed speculated that, with more shopping moving online, the e-tailer will likely be the biggest beneficiary of FCS’s collapse." (Publishers Weekly)
Good day for Spicer
Sean Spicer appeared to avoid making any news at his daily briefing, dominated by policy-related queries that did make the previous night's bore (until the mistake) of an Oscars look Ringling Bros. The assembled media are very polite, only 72 hours after being called an enemy again by his boss. (Poynter)
The business of fashion
From the Dolce & Gabbana catwalk in Milan:
"Journalists were given a crib sheet of the dozens of 'personalities' walking in the show. A significant number of them were children-of, same with the men’s show in January. But it took a certain creativity to corral Viva, daughter of Depeche Mode’s main man Martin Gore, or Destry Allyn Spielberg, obvious offspring of you know who. They weren’t professionals, which added a gawky charm to the presentation."
"Toddlers tottering down the catwalk with their mothers; teens stiffened with self-consciousness; game, glittery old birds loving their moment in the spotlight… it was a panoply. Was it a political statement? Any celebration of wanton diversity takes on a different caste these days. But what made Domenico and Stefano’s celebration even more enjoyable was that there were people in the audience only too happy to dish about some of the characters on the catwalk. The natural human instinct to undermine will eventually see all the villains off the global stage." (Business of Fashion)
"President Donald Trump intends to intensify enforcement of food safety regulations as a cudgel in international trade negotiations, according to leaked recordings of a what appears to be a phone conversation between Trump and Wilbur Ross, his nominee (since confirmed) for Commerce Secretary. During the conversation, which was recorded in December, the then-president-elect also advocated a 10 percent across-the-board tariff on all foreign imports, an issue on which his administration has adopted numerous different positions and which Speaker Paul Ryan has flatly rejected." (Gizmodo)
"The proposals came during an apparent phone conversation that was captured on video and provided to Gizmodo via SecureDrop, a portal permitting whistleblowers and sources to reach us while remaining anonymous."
Its interpretation of the apparent conversation is that Trump's interest in food safety only pertained if the food was foreign and its safety was a negotiating tactic.
Feuding over early childhood education
It started with some academics arguing in The Washington Post, "Unfortunately, our investments in many early-childhood programs may be based on an inflated sense of their promise. Even our best efforts often produce only ephemeral gains. (The Washington Post)
Now comes a letter to the paper from James Heckman, a Nobel laureate in economics at the University of Chicago, who notes "claims that the cognitive gains of early-childhood education programs fade over time. It ignores an overwhelming body of recent evidence documenting that so-called fadeout doesn’t exist." (The Washington Post)
Oscars decline persists
Weirdness aside, "Overall, though, all the drama wasn’t enough to keep the 89th Academy Awards telecast from dipping below the ratings of the last few years. The 2017 Oscars drew an average audience of 32.9 million and a 9.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic (a 13% drop from last year), the smallest audience in nine years, since Jon Stewart hosted in 2008 and pulled a crowd of 31.76 million." (Variety)
Jon Steinberg, founder of Cheddar, the business network for millennials, now argues for the coming of the Post Cable Network, something to replace a world in which the cable audience is old, the anchors are old and the content is geared to those in their 60s. (Medium)
"This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle," he argues in a post that contends that the likes of Vice, Cheddar, Barstool Sports and Tastemade contain some of the answers to this question: "How might cable news networks actually reach and engage younger consumers?"
Conventional wisdom is that "In the future, people will watch long-form, on-demand dramas and comedies on services like Netflix and Amazon, and short videos. In this future, there is no live, linear, programming." He demurs.
"The contrarian view is that there is a place for ambient, non-appointment, “window on the world” live content. The stuff you watch when getting dressed, at work, cooking dinner, doing homework, etc. Content categories where this works well are: news, business news, food, home design, live sports and sports news, nature programming, and several others. In these formats, viewers explore and experience their interests in real-time."
He notes, "Few people say, 'my favorite show is Wolf Blitzer’s "The Situation Room," and I plan to tune in tonight at 6pm to watch it.' No one says, 'I DVR’d AC360 on CNN and can’t wait to binge on back episodes this weekend.'"
"A video promoting women's empowerment has gone viral in India, racking up over 2.5 million views in 48 hours." (BBC)
A fleeting Oscars moment
Remember when Casey Affleck paid homage to Denzel Washington, then the camera cut to an unsmiling Washington and wife?
"In that moment, a silent rage was being used to put young privilege, or whiteness, in its place," writes theater critic Hilton Als in The New Yorker, opining on the unceasing racial frictions and sense of inequity in Hollywood among Blacks.
"This was Hollywood, a community whose privileged Black class rolls race out when it’s convenient, and where women and less famous Black people are rarely if ever given a chance that would detract from their own fame. Washington’s look should have told Affleck something about trying to make amends in the Hollywood way — on TV — with one of its more fabled citizens. Washington knows what Hollywood is: a place that’s defined as much by myth as by petty and mighty anger over who got what, and why they didn’t." (The New Yorker)
Playing footsie with Breitbart
Axios reports that Joe Manchin, a conservative Democratic senator from West Virginia, had an hour-long off-the-record session in his office with Breitbart earlier this month. (Axios)
"Why this matters: No other Democratic Senator has done a session like this with Breitbart; and most Democrats wouldn't touch the website with a 30-foot pole. But getting on with the controversial populist nationalist site — which has its former chairman Steve Bannon as the President's top adviser — could prove helpful to Manchin, who faces a tough re-election in 2018."
Snap gets mentioned in Twitter's annual report:
"Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp) and Google (including YouTube) and Snap, as well as largely regional social media and messaging companies that have strong positions in particular countries. Increasingly, we face competition for live premium video content rights from other digital distributors and traditional television providers, which may limit our ability to secure such content on economic and other terms that are acceptable to us in the future." (Business Insider)
"Dear Wyoming Tribune Eagle readers"
"Starting Wednesday, almost all daily news coverage, events and opinion content on the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s website, WyomingNews.com, will be subscriber-only. That means you will not be able to read the majority of our coverage without a subscription."
News of public safety and weather, along with obituaries, remain free at the Cheyenne-based paper. And, "The news staff will be making at least one full story free to everyone each day, regardless of whether they are a subscriber. This story will rotate to include a variety of topics. Under this new system, nonsubscribers will be getting about 30 free stories a month, rather than the 10 free they receive under the current model."
Wish the 14,000-circulation paper (Wyoming's second-biggest) well, even if this seems just the sort of approach that hasn't served newspapers especially well. Either get readers to pay for all your content or not.
"Trump's Reality Test"
The Wall Street Journal editorializes, "Trump's early weeks in office have been marked by a combination of the insurgent politics of his aide Stephen Bannon and stabs at conventional GOP Governance. The paradox is that while Bannonism dominates the media and public debate, the Trump presidency will rise or fall on whether he can pass a conservative reform agenda through Congress."