Bill Baker's Blog

Perspectives on the Media from New York Public Television

Basic knowledge not ideology is needed to fix the economy

Evan Leatherwood | November 1st, 2012

guest commentary by

by Fred Cunningham

Economics is a complex subject. However,  the public’s lack of understanding of some of the most basic concepts, like supply and demand or microeconomics and macroeconomics, has led to a Congress that is being directed by ideology promoted by a few very wealthy people with special interests rather than by reason. Reports by Blinder and Zandi and Congressional Research Services and other data indicate that the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy are a big factor in the increase of the national debt and in the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. Factions in Congress that are adamant about no tax increase are preventing reasonable discussions. A proposal is made that the engineering concept of feedback be introduced to the tax code that would tie a tax increase on the wealthy to any unemployment rate over 5%. The revenues would be directed to projects like infrastructure renewal that would increase employment directly and indirectly by increasing demand. The long term consequences of economic ignorance threatens the position of the US as a world leader.


In the entertainment jungle, movies in theaters are still king

Michael Hurtig | June 25th, 2012

by Billy Gray

AMC Theater near Times Square (credit: Andreas Praefcke)

In April, Netflix announced a $4.6 million first quarter loss, sending its stock down 14%. That earnings report coincided with the latest in a string of buoyant weekend box office results that, for the first time in a month, weren’t led by “The Hunger Games.” It was supposed to be the other way around, with Netflix and lesser digital foes decimating studios and theater associations. Hollywood executives must be elated, even if they had nothing to do with “The Hunger Games,” or other surprise box-office winners like, “Think Like a Man.”

Those who think like a betting man may be confused. Last year’s total box office  ($10.2 billion) was down about 4% from 2010 and 2009 despite inflation (although maybe thanks to pricy 3-D fatigue). Box Office Mojo’s year-to-date numbers show 2012 surging 16% ahead of 2011. Contrary to what cynical studio chiefs might believe, audiences won’t throw money away on anything—grosses depend on quality offerings, if only because of the trickle down effect a well-liked blockbuster with legs has on alternatives that aren’t sold out. But there’s more buoying the box office than the rising tide that is “The Hunger Games.”


Deserts of Ice

Michael Hurtig | June 12th, 2012

Baker secures an exclusive interview for the cameras of Westinghouse television on his 1983 trip to the North Pole.

This article, about Dr. Baker’s adventures in the polar regions, appeared in CHRONOS Magazine.

“Deserts of Ice”
An interview with William F. Baker
By Evan Leatherwood

“Out on the ice, I often imagined that if I veered off the path just a few hundred feet, I would probably be the first person in all of history to stand in a particular spot.”  As Bill Baker talks about his expeditions to the North and South Poles, he stares out into an echoing room decorated with hundreds of model ships.  It is the ballroom of the New York Yacht Club, a splendid gilded-age building near Grand Central Station in Manhattan.  An antique nautical clock by Tiffany & Co. keeps time in the lobby, and century-old photos of the Club’s library and dining room show them looking much as they do today.  It is the perfect place to sit and listen to explorer’s tales.

The hot new source for investigative reporters? The Internet.

Michael Hurtig | April 30th, 2012

The Web site Information is Beautiful offers a prize for data journalism

by Brian Bruegge

Pulling startling conclusions out of the Web’s wealth of raw information is a growing new genre of reporting, collectively called “data journalism.” It is refreshing to see how the Web can be a boon to individual reporters, even as it has been accused of eroding the profits of the news companies they work for.

Reporters’ access to vast amounts of raw data gives them an edge they’ve never had before. Google CEO Eric Schmidt estimates the Internet to contain about 5 million terabytes of data; a number that increases daily. A journalist with the right know-how can mine this data for a wealth of information that would otherwise be unavailable – even to eyewitness reporters on the ground.

A recent data journalism panel at the Columbia Journalism School explored how technology has become a wonderful tool for investigative reporters in particular. Here are the takeaways from the panel. (more…)

Three business lessons from the New York performing arts scene

Michael Hurtig | April 20th, 2012

by permission from AMA Shift

by William F. Baker and Evan Leatherwood

The American not-for-profit performing arts scene is as cut-throat as any commercial market in the world. Rich patrons and demanding audiences have long rewarded talent, but tough times are defining another prerequisite for artistic success: entrepreneurship.

Faced with a sharp decline in government grants and private philanthropy, dancers, singers, actors, and musicians have been forced to fight hard and innovate just to stay in the profession they love. Here are three concepts from the performing arts world that would play well in any industry.


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