- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

Press depressed

“The number of newspaper journalists in the U.S. fell last year by almost 5 percent to a low of 52,600, the lowest it has been for almost 25 years and the biggest drop in 30 years, according to new figures released by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

“The figures also reflect the continuing — and sometimes controversial — debate over the number of minority journalists employed by U.S. papers.

“The number of ‘journalists of color’ — as ASNE puts it — did not decline over the past year. The number held steady at between 13 and 14 percent. But this is still regarded as not satisfactory because it still does not match the percentage of minorities in the whole American population. About one-third of Americans are classified as members of racial or ethnic minorities, and in four states they make up more than 50 percent of the population.

“When ASNE first launched its annual newsroom census in 1978 the target was to achieve parity by the year 2000. When it fell short, it set a new goal of 2025. Now, because of the increasingly rapid growth of racial and ethnic minorities and a slowdown in the hiring of minority journalists, it is seen as unlikely that even the new deadline will be achieved.

“The leaders of the various organizations representing black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalists have labeled the situation ‘dismal.’ The largest number and percentage of minority journalists are black (2,790, or just over 5 percent of the work force), followed by Hispanic (2,346 — 4.6 percent), then Asian (l,692 — 3.2 percent). Native Americans are the smallest group of all — 284 journalists, or 0.5 percent.

Jeffrey Blyth, writing on “U.S. sees drop in journalists,” in Tuesday’s Press Gazette

Holy moly

“The Pub Lounge near the I-75 exit in Sidney [Ohio] is your typical neighborhood restaurant/bar. It has a dance floor, riding bull, big-screen TV, pool tables, pizza, beer and a pleasant, everybody-knows-your-name vibe.

“Which — according to the Rev. Chris Heckaman — makes it the ideal spot for a new church.

“Heckaman is senior pastor of Sidney First United Methodist Church, 230 N. Popular St. While his church-in-a-bar ministry may seem like an irreverent idea, it gives new meaning to the phrase ‘filled with the spirit.’

“ ’The idea behind the new Country Rock Church in the Pub Lounge is to reach people where they are,’ Heckaman said. ‘We’ve got a generation of folks who have grown up outside the church where pews, stained glass windows, robes and pulpits don’t mean a thing.’

“ ’Jesus never formed a church. He never built a building. We’re not trying to win people over to church culture. We want to minister to them where they are.’ ”

Khalid Moss, writing on “Area church to hold worship services in bar,” in Tuesday’s Dayton News

Consumer perils

“Each day, we are bombarded with options — at the local coffee shop, at work, in stores or on TV. Do you want a double-shot soy latte, a caramel macchiato or simply a tall house coffee? Having choices is typically thought of as a good thing. Maybe not, say researchers who found we are more fatigued and less productive when faced with a plethora of choices.

“Researchers from several universities have determined that even though humans’ ability to weigh choices is remarkably advantageous, it can come with serious liabilities. People faced with numerous choices, whether good or bad, find it difficult to stay focused enough to complete projects, handle daily tasks or even take their medicine.

“Researchers conducted seven experiments involving 328 participants and 58 consumers at a shopping mall. In the lab experiments, some participants were asked to make choices about consumer products, college courses or class materials. Other participants did not have to make decisions but simply had to consider the options in front of them.

“The scientists asked each group to participate in unpleasant tasks. Some were told to finish a healthy but ill-tasting drink. Other participants were told to put their hands in ice water. The tasks were designed to test how the previous act of choosing, or not choosing, affected peoples’ ability to stay on task and maintain behaviors aimed at reaching a goal.

“Researchers found that the participants who earlier had made choices had more trouble staying focused and finishing the disagreeable but goal-focused tasks compared to the participants who initially did not have to make choices.”

Kathleen Vohs, writing on “Making Choices,” in the May issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

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