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New York Times columnist Ross Douthat speaks about the future of marriage in Mezes Hall on Thursday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Cristina Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat spoke Thursday about the evolution of marriage and the possible changes marriage could see in the future. 

Douthat said there are behavioral and ideological divisions among different types of American marriages today.  

“This divide around marriage has become one of the most vivid illustrations of class division in America overall,” Douthat said. 

According to Douthat, the behavioral divide is the difference between educated couples with advanced degrees who are getting married and working-class couples who sometimes have children but do not get married or get married and then get divorced. 

“Alongside that divide, you have the emergence of an ideological rivalry between different conceptions of what marriage is,” Douthat said. “This divide tracks pretty closely with religious beliefs. It travels some extent with political ideology, and it picks an older, more ‘traditional conception,’ which stress the interrelation of sex and marriage, and child rearing, and views gender complementarity as having something to do with the institution of marriage.”  

Douthat said he sees the role of marriage in American society moving in one of four directions in the future. 

The first scenario he discussed predicted an economic change and a return to antiquated gender roles. According to Douthat, this new model of marriage would be strengthened by steady wage growth for less-educated parts of cities. This would, in turn, structure families and marriages by following the education, then job, then children trajectory.   

The second scenario Douthat discussed depicts the role of marriage as more neotraditional and egalitarian. According to Douthat, this scenario is more realistic about sex before marriage in regards to gender roles, and these couples would be less likely to divorce. 

Douthat’s third scenario predicted the fading away of marriage. Douthat said scenario three stresses conscious coupling and uncoupling, in which more college educated people would have long-term partnerships that progress into raising children as a family. 

Douthat said the fourth scenario resembles current marriages. 

“Actually, things might not change that much,” Douthat said. “We might have reached a place that is a stable equilibrium for society as a whole, even though it is unstable for the personal lives and upbringings of a large segment of the poor and working-class America.” 

Economics graduate student Jane Ryngaert said she was glad the scenarios featured various perspectives. 

“I think he was pretty optimistic about all of it in general,” Ryngaert said. “It was nice that not all four of them were ‘doomsday.’”

An Iraqi soldier stands guard as security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb attack in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad Sunday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The Daily Texan recently published a piece by fellow UT student Dolph Briscoe IV which argued that the U.S. must “avoid becoming trapped in another dangerous war in the Middle East.” This mentality is pervasive in the liberal corporate media, with the New York Times editorial board praising Obama for his cautious “balancing act on Iraq.” There are three major problems with this conception.

The first is that the liberals completely misunderstand the roots of Iraq’s current crisis, which is the past 10 years of U.S. imperialism in Iraq (under both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama). It is now widely acknowledged that every single argument the Bush administration made for invading Iraq was false: Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, al-Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq and Iraqis did not greet the U.S. military as a liberator but instead resisted it as an occupying force. However, Briscoe is wrong in stating that the Bush administration’s goal was “establishing a democracy in Iraq.” The leaked 2002 Downing Street Memo, a UK intelligence document, stated that “military action [in Iraq] was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." So the Bush administration intentionally lied to Americans and the world, an undemocratic action whose end goal certainly was not democracy. In fact, it was control over oil.

Following the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. set up the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern the country, and within a few months privatized the Iraqi economy with Order 39. This allowed foreign investors and international financial institutions to buy out Iraqi enterprises, including its massive oil reserves and keep 100 percent of the profit. Strategic control over Iraqi oil had been a goal of the U.S. foreign policy establishment for over a decade even before Bush - the Clinton administration kept Hussein’s regime in check with deadly sanctions against Iraq. The neoconservatives had been pushing for regime change since the late ‘90s and got their chance during the Bush administration after 9/11. So U.S. imperialism in Iraq has been and continues to be a bipartisan project.

However, the neoconservatives underestimated the will of Iraqis to fight back against this wrecking of their economy and the U.S. military’s brutal violence during the occupation. The U.S. invasion precipitated a massive Iraqi resistance across Sunni and Shia lines. As Iraqi journalist Sami Ramadani explains, there is a “powerful secular tradition in Iraq that transcends all religions and sects,” and this led to “millions of Iraqis - of all sects and none - [marching] in the streets, denouncing the occupation.” In response to this, the U.S. (and its later client-state under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) implemented sectarian policies that led to today’s divided Iraq.

This leads to the second problem, which is that rather than acknowledge the sectarian legacy of imperialism, the liberals (and neoconservatives) instead substitute Islamophobic logic. According to Briscoe, yet another “crisis plagues the Middle East” with no offered cause or context – according to the New York Times, the crisis is due to “Islam’s ancient sectarian rift.” In reality, the sectarian rift’s origins can be concretely located in the 2005 Iraqi Constitution, in which occupation authorities forced provisions that split Iraq’s governing structure along ethnic and religious lines, as part of the U.S.’s divide-and-rule strategy to control the flow of oil. As journalist Phyllis Bennis explained at that time, the lack of oil in Sunni areas “[insured] a future of impoverishment for the Sunni, secular and inter-mixed populations of Baghdad and Iraq’s center, and [set] the stage for a future of ethnic and religious strife.”

Briscoe correctly notes that these sectarian policies continued under Maliki, but its crimes are far greater than simply “[refusing] to bring Sunni Muslims into [the] government.” Before the rise to prominence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there were mass Sunni petitions and protests against this sectarianism - Maliki’s response was to escalate to violence, ultimately attacking protest camps and killing protesters. More importantly, Briscoe fails to mention that Maliki was supported by the U.S. from the beginning as a client-state. Even with the supposedly liberal President Obama, this relationship continued for reasons that Maliki himself explained: Iraq has the “world’s fifth-largest proven crude oil reserves,” and in 2012, it “surpassed Iran to become OPEC’s second largest producer of crude oil.” Thus, as with the “Arab Spring” in Bahrain and Egypt, the Obama administration was allied with the oppressive state and against the calls for democracy. To understand Iraq’s current crisis, this history must be acknowledged: ISIS and its violent methods only became relevant after the U.S. implemented sectarian policies and its client-state militarized the conflict.

Failure to acknowledge the backdrop of U.S. imperialism leads to the third problem, which is that the liberals’ misconceptions are deadly – this can be seen in the current Israeli siege of Gaza. First, the imperial context: In 1967, Israel proved its worth to U.S. geopolitical strategy by, in Noam Chomsky’s words, “[destroying] the source of secular Arab nationalism – Nasser’s Egypt,” considered a major threat because “it might seek to take control of the immense resources of the region and use them for regional interest, rather than allow them to be centrally controlled and exploited by the United States.” Since then, Israel has been a key stronghold for U.S. geopolitics.

So despite the lopsided destruction that Israel has unleashed on Palestinians, the Obama administration continues to support Israel’s military operations and falsely equates the Israeli and Palestinian death tolls. When the UN Human Rights Council voted on July 23 to open inquiry into war crimes in Gaza, the U.S. was the only country to vote “no.” In lockstep, the New York Times squarely blames Hamas’s comparatively minimal violence for Israel’s brutality and also falsely equates the violence against civilians “on both sides of the border.” Similarly, Briscoe states that Israel is simply responding “in kind” to Hamas rockets.

However, Israel’s relentless destruction of Gaza and the lopsided death toll are becoming increasingly hard for reporters to deny, even in the liberal corporate media. NBC News pulled veteran correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza after he reported on the murder of four young boys playing soccer on a Gaza beach by Israeli gunboats. Mohyeldin was returned to Gaza only after public uproar. MSNBC fired contributor Rula Jebreal after her on-air protest of the network’s slanted coverage, such as having “90 percent Israeli guests and 10 percent Palestinians.” The facts in Gaza clearly support Mohyeldin’s and Jebreal’s outrage: Israel’s bombing and invasion have overwhelmingly killed children and other civilians, with likely war crimes including the bombing of hospitals, other medical facilities, mosques, schools, and Gaza’s sole power plant. Despite rhetorical flourishes by the New York Times about “bombardments … of Israeli population centers,” Hamas, a democratically elected governing organization of Gaza, has committed violence with comparatively minimal civilian casualties and damage. This says less about the atrocities that Hamas has committed and more about the scale of Israeli brutality. In either case, Obama’s defense of Israel is rhetorically on the grounds that “no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders” – if the liberals actually agree with this on principle, they should fully support the Palestinians’ right to resistance.

Rathi is a computer science honors junior from Austin.

John Schwartz, UT alumnus and national correspondent for The New York Times, gives a talk at Belo Center for New Media on Monday. Schwartz believes the survival of journalism depends on journalists’ ability to adapt to the digital revolution.

Photo Credit: Michelle Toussaint | Daily Texan Staff

The field of journalism is not dwindling because of the digitalization of media but is instead adapting and thriving, according to John Schwartz, UT alumnus and national correspondent for The New York Times.

Schwartz spoke at Belo Center for New Media on Monday about the current state of journalism and the “chaos” of the changes that accompany the consistent introduction of new technology.

According to Schwartz, the change is demonstrated by which New York Times story attracted the most readers this year: “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” which was not a typical “narrative” story but an interactive graphic. Schwartz also said he has become a part of the digital transition by creating web features, writing blog posts and tweeting out quotes.

“All of it was journalism,” said Schwartz, who served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan in the 1980s.  “All of it deepens the story. There’s a mini renaissance going on. I’m the generation that has to give way to the people who know how to do data visualization, and that’s fine. … It’s up to us to reinvent journalism.”

The survival of journalism depends on journalists’ ability to adapt, Schwartz said. Glenn Frankel, journalism professor and director of the school of journalism, who introduced Schwartz at the lecture, said it is a time of transition for journalism, and those involved must learn to change their methods accordingly.

“This is such a dynamic, fluid time,” Frankel said. “The digital revolution has changed almost everything about journalism. … It’s both an exciting and scary time. … I do think that young journalists — all journalists — need to develop a curious and inquisitive sensibility about the new media and about how to use the new media to tell stories.”

Sidrah Syed, communication science and disorders freshman who attended Schwartz’s lecture, said she can understand how the change within the field of journalism can fill the public demand for accessible information.

“I was editor-in-chief [of the school newspaper] in high school, so stuff in print is valuable to me,” Syed said. “I think it’s becoming a lost art, but I also think it’s great that we’re using so many new techniques and technologies to get stories across to people, because that’s what I think news is supposed to be — tangible to everyone.”

If your Facebook news feed is anything like mine, between drunk Halloween pictures and aggressively under-informed political screeds, short lists seem to dominate most of the space. From fledgling viral sites like BuzzFeed to Thought Catalog, these lists seem to be trying to enumerate everything that might interest anyone. The ability to share published content through social media has made viral media more relevant than ever to young people. From how to eat vegan during the holidays (“32 Vegan Recipes that are Perfect for Thanksgiving”) to promoting social awareness (“9 Things that are More Expensive than Curing AIDS”), viral content tailored for college students seems to have lived up to its name. According to a September report by CNBC, BuzzFeed received 18 million unique website views in August. Compared to The New York Times’ 17 million unique views estimated by the web traffic database Quantcast, this signals a surprising shift in the way we share media.

It’s no secret that traditional media formats are struggling to keep up. According to a February report by The Huffington Post, after a round of layoffs earlier this year, The New York Times warned its employees in a memo that it was “remaking [itself] for the digital age.” This stands in stark contrast to the ambitions of BuzzFeed, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, announced plans to launch a business section that same month and launched French, Spanish and Portuguese versions of the site in October.

Although some people may bemoan that lists and GIFs are finding a cultural moment on social media, a more careful observer would note that BuzzFeed maintains some of the more traditional facets of journalism as well. The New York Times explained this month that BuzzFeed had hired Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Mark Schoofs to head up a new investigative journalism team. Business Insider reports that in January the company raised $19.3 million in venture capital financing for, among other things, geographical expansion and mobile development. This sum of money indicates a vote of faith by venture capital firms in BuzzFeed’s business model. As other media companies search for ways to become profitable, they should take a page from BuzzFeed’s book on how to produce simple and clickable viral content.

UT journalism senior lecturer Robert Quigley says the presentation and content of BuzzFeed are part of what make it successful. “Buzzfeed appeals because the editors are catering the lists in a way that targets that demographic. It’s not just the content, though; it is how it is presented. The news is generally presented in a fun way and has an entertaining bend to it,” he told The Daily Texan.

If traditional media outlets want to emulate the success of BuzzFeed and its peers, they need to develop similarly appealing models for delivery. For people browsing social media to see what interests their friends, there’s nothing more off-putting and inaccessible than a dense block of text. Traditional papers should produce more comprehensive content that embraces easy-to-read lists and videos. While many news sources already have begun to focus on more video content, it’s clearly not to the same effect as viral media sites.

BuzzFeed has demonstrated that it has a sense of loyalty to journalism in its traditional sense, boasting a section of its website dedicated to original longform stories (BuzzReads) and releasing a list of “9 Longform Stories We’re Reading This Week” every Friday that links to both original and external content. As the audiences of viral media sites begin to age and want more serious reporting, they will need a compelling reason to turn to paywalled newspaper sites if they can get the same serious content on the sites that specialize in cat GIFs.

According to a September 2013 report issued by the Newspaper Association of America, more consumers aged 35 to 64 read the newspaper in any given form, from print to e-edition to mobile, than consumers aged 18 to 34. If newspapers aren’t able to convert younger readers as their core readership ages, they won’t have revenue to support day-to-day operations. Newspapers have a compelling interest to emulate successful viral media outlets. 

Many newspapers have struggled to face the increased competition with free content on the web. Viral content can appeal to a person’s sense of identity, compelling recent graduates to click on “Your Postgrad Job Hunt As Explained by ‘Star Wars’” and Texans to read “30 Moments That Could Only Ever Happen in Texas.” Newspapers fill a vital interest in educating the public and shining light on things that go on out of the public eye.

If producing superficial and cheap content is a feasible strategy for funding more ambitious journalism, then that is a format people our age should endorse. The work done by newspapers can’t be replaced by blogs or television news, and we all have an interest in ensuring they remain an American institution for the foreseeable future.

Matula is a finance junior from Austin.

A graph shows the decline in enrollment in the College of Liberal Arts. 

Photo Credit: Jack Mitts | Daily Texan Staff

Longhorn fans reveled in hope leading up to last Saturday’s game against Ole Miss. With a new defensive coordinator, we were optimistic for a win. Halfway through the third quarter, though, many fans had left. Another loss was imminent. 

I know very little about football, but it doesn’t take an expert to know that the status quo is not effective, and the obvious solution is a new approach. But football isn’t the only defense lagging on our campus. The scenario transcends the seats of DKR and finds itself on the intellectual playing field as well.

As the economy declined over the last few years, many people started discrediting the value of the humanities in favor of vocational degrees, which often carry job security. In response to this shift, various scholars, students and others have come to the defense of the liberal arts. Op-eds frequently emerge in the pages of the New York Times and New Republic. The lengthy articles hinge on the same fundamental premises – the study of the humanities teaches us how to think critically and view the world through a broad and diverse lens, and, most applicable to the professional world, it teaches us how to write clearly and cogently. That last point was recently made by professor Verlyn Klinenborg, who wrote in a New York Times op-ed, “Writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It’s about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation in the world around you.”

On the more emotional value of liberal arts, New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik recently wrote that “[The humanities] help us enjoy life and endure it better. ” 

Both statements are poignant. Unfortunately, both statements are about 1,000 words into their respective articles. Who reads them? I do. My liberal arts peers do. The eloquent and enlightened words reaffirm our belief in our education and give us hope for our professional future. Meanwhile, our business and engineering peers are busy gaining educations that carry job security. Bottom line? The current approach to defending the liberal arts succeeds in convincing everybody but the people it targets – the non-liberal arts folk.

But why do we care what others think? Faith in our own majors is enough to carry us through the current burden of a broad education, right? Wrong.

As liberal arts students, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves and contemplate the difficult questions we face on a daily basis. The problem with that trend is that we regularly encounter the engineers and the business people. In fact, in many situations, they’re our potential employers. Concise and effective communication of the value of the liberal arts is key, especially considering the fast-paced society in which we live.

To emphasize this point even more, there are increasingly more graduates in technical fields and less in the liberal arts. New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote that the number of humanities degrees awarded across the nation has dropped from 14 percent to a mere seven percent in the last half-century.

A similar trend is taking place at UT-Austin. Enrollment numbers in the College of Liberal Arts have dropped from over 13,000 in 2003 to right at 10,000 in 2012. What used to be the largest college on our campus is now in second behind the College of Natural Sciences.

There are many well-articulated arguments supporting the study of the humanities and social sciences. Unfortunately, these advocates often lack brevity, which narrows their audience to liberal arts majors. This approach is not working. Across the nation, there is an increased emphasis on priority STEM fields, and from personal experience, I know many students in the College of Liberal Arts continually have to defend their majors to others. 

One solution is to personalize the arguments. The critical thinking point is overstated and dry. For me, a kid from a small town in East Texas, studying the humanities has opened the door to a world I didn’t know existed, and it has radically changed my life for the better.

Maybe the personal touch works, maybe it doesn’t, but something has to change.

Wilson is a Plan II and history senior from Canton. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: To accompany our Pulitzer Prize for Fiction package which ran on April 15, 2013, The Daily Texan has compiled a list of the Pulitzer Prizes awarded for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize. All winners can be found at www.pulitzer.org/awards/2013

Public Service: Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Breaking News Reporting: Staff of The Denver Post

Investigative Reporting: David Barstow and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab of The New York Times

Explanatory Reporting: Staff of The New York Times

Local Reporting: Brad Schrade, Jeremy Olson and Glenn Howatt of Star Tribune, Minneapolis

National Reporting: Lisa Song, Elizabeth McGowan and David Hasemyer of InsideClimate News, Brooklyn, NY

International Reporting: David Barboza of The New York Times

Feature Writing: John Branch of The New York Times

Commentary: Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal

Criticism: Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post

Editorial Writing: Tim Nickens and Daniel Ruth of Tampa Bay Times

Editorial Cartooning: Steve Sack of Star Tribune, Minneapolis

Breaking News Photography: Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen of Associated Press

Feature Photography: Javier Manzano, free-lance photographer

Fiction:The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson

Finalists:What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” by Nathan Englander and “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey

Drama: Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar

History: Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall (Random House)

Biography: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (Crown)

Poetry: Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds (Alfred A. Knopf)

Non-Fiction: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys by Gilbert King (Harper)

Music: Partita for 8 Voices by Caroline Shaw (New Amsterdam Records)

Are you a fan of New Yorkers? Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott seems to be one.

This past week, Abbott ran two different ads on popular news media sites. One read:  “Wanted: Law abiding New York gun owners looking for lower taxes and greater opportunity.” The other asked, “Is Gov. Cuomo looking to take your guns?”

Both ads were targeted to New York residents with Manhattan or Albany ZIP codes who visit news websites including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. When users clicked on either ad, they were directed to a Facebook page featuring a bold heading “KEEP YOUR GUNS, COME TO TEXAS,” a completely orange state of Texas with the caption “each orange dot represents a Texas gun owner,” and a personal letter from Abbott urging New Yorkers to move to Texas where people “work like hell to protect [their] rights.”

The campaign raises several questions. Why did Abbott do this? Where did the money come from? Didn’t he have better things to do? And then, after a moments’ pause, “wait, what?”

Yes, this happened. The money came from Abbott’s now $18 million campaign fund account. And the letter to Facebook users included reassurances such as, “We have no income tax” and “Keep more of what you earn and use some of that extra money to buy more ammo.”

As for why Abbott is doing this, there could be many answers.

The easy answer is that Abbott, a supporter of unrestricted gun ownership, is simply voicing his opinion as New York, the first state to change laws in response to the shooting in Newtown, CT, tightens regulations on weapons. But this answer seems insufficient, considering the cost of an ad in The New York Times.

Another answer seems to fit the bill. According to an article in The Dallas Morning News, Abbott has added $4.1 million dollars to his campaign fund in the past six months, outpacing Gov. Rick Perry by half a million dollars. Perry is considering forgoing his 2014 gubernatorial campaign for a presidential run. Abbott’s prior campaign for Attorney General of Texas cost $4 million, so his current $18 million campaign fund suggests that he’s trying to draw public and media attention in preparation for a possible 2014 gubernatorial run. Abbott’s spokesman said his current focus is only on his role as attorney general — though it’s unclear how he’s fulfilling his attorney general duties by running ads in New York.

So there is an inevitable, and most likely  intended, result of Abbott’s ads: to draw attention to Texas in a fashion that seals the image (and perhaps fate) of Texas as an independent, boisterous, and proud gun-owning state. It is almost a salute to the 600 or so Texans who gathered on Capitol grounds on Jan. 19 to protest President Barack Obama’s proposals to curb gun violence.

Abbott has painted a very Republican picture of Texas, all while drawing attention to the fact that, despite not having an income tax, Texas “manage[s] to have a multi-billion dollar budget surplus” at a time when the debt crisis is looming. Both are great talking points to bring up were he to run for governor.

From a campaign perspective, Abbott’s ads succeeded. They drew attention to Abbott and added to his media presence. And they highlighted his pro-gun stance, something of which most Texas Republican primary voters would highly approve. This sudden national spotlight as a result of running a few ads in an online paper in a couple of cities is truly a bargain. What better publicity could he have asked for?

But from a public relations standpoint, Abbott might have chosen an inopportune time for his stunt, as well as a risky subject. While I am not suggesting that Abbott condones violence, his almost humorous ads could be taken as a lighthearted approach to the recent parade of public shootings, even in a state as pro-gun as Texas. Though amusing, Abbott’s “wanted sign” ad, Facebook letter and pithy attempts to coerce New Yorkers to move to Texas, were not responsible moves. Spending millions of dollars on three funny ads at a time when the nation copes with the aftermath of the Newtown shootings and the violence south of UT at Lone Star College in Houston — not to mention the slashing of Texan public education budgets — stands out as insensitive, to say the least.

Malik is a Plan II and business honors program freshman from Austin.

David Carr belives that the craft of journalism will switch from print to digital, but will remain strong. Carr is a columnist for The New York Times and was featured in a documentary titled “Page One.”

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

David Carr, columnist for The New York Times, said the world of professional journalism has drastic changes to make, but can survive the new digital age.

Carr, a media reporter for The New York Times who was featured in the documentary about the paper, “Page One,” spoke Wednesday at the Mary Alice Davis Distinguished Lecture Series, a series dedicated to facilitating talks about journalism and the direction it is heading.

“Mary Alice was a very feisty, independent person who really believed in journalism as a force for change in society,” Glenn Frankel, UT School of Journalism director, said. “The family feels very strongly that they want journalists who play that role today.”

In his lecture, Carr suggested the newspaper as his generation has known it is already obsolete.

“We’re built on scarcity in print,” Carr said. “You lose compression on pricing when you have no scarcity.”

Carr said the transition from the print to the digital model, where pieces of news fly in rapid succession, is going to be difficult. According to the Pew Research Center, industry-wide print ad revenue decreased by about $24 billion from 2003 to 2011, while online ad revenue increased by only about $2 billion in the same time period.

“Big news is still the killer app,” Carr said. “You’ve got to think of the journalism business as being in one hall and down here is this wonderful digital nirvana, but there’s this long dark hall in between.”

Carr said he still believes journalism will eventually find its way to remain profitable in changing times. He said his publication has already taken steps to that end, including putting up a pay wall for frequent readers.

“We say, ‘Good to see ya, how about giving us a little sugar here?’” Carr said. “Everybody said, ‘You’re drilling a hole in the bottom of your boat.’ ... Turns out we’re not drilling a hole in the bottom of our boat, we’re installing a new engine.”

Carr said he believes young people are willing to pay the convenience charge for coverage that sorts through the digital flurry of news. In a 2011 Growth From Knowledge Mediamark Research and Intelligence poll, 22 percent of people aged 18 to 24 read newspapers at least every other day compared to 40 percent of adults overall.

“A couple of years ago my colleague was doing a story about how young people consume news and one said, ‘If news is important, it will find me,’” Carr said. “If we get you thinking of us as an app and not a subscription, then we’re going to win.”

Printed on Thursday, October 25, 2012 as: Times columnist gives opinion on future of journalism, news

Student loans affected by LIBOR scandal

The London Interbank Offered Rate scandal has rocked the financial world, sending bank stocks tumbling and damaging the already fragile reputation of big banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The LIBOR benchmark, a financial metric set by the British Bankers Association every day based on the rate banks would charge each other for loans, has a wide reaching effect on loans and mortgages taken out at every level of the financial system, including student loans. In total, $800 trillion is affected by the LIBOR benchmark.

According to the New York Times, the LIBOR benchmark determines the rate for about 50 percent of the private variable-rate student loans, 45 percent of adjustable rate prime mortgages and 80 percent of subprime mortgages.

At the center of the scandal is Barclays Bank. The institution was fined $453 million for manipulating the rate in 2005 to 2009, and its CEO Bob Diamond and other top executives resigned last week under heavy fire.

The British government is investigating Barclays, as wells as Citigroup, UBS, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland.

The scandal was uncovered after a series of emails revealed that financial traders asked Barclays to set its LIBOR submission higher or lower depending on their interests for that day. Banks also submitted lower figures to appear healthier during the financial crisis, since the actual higher rates would have exposed a bank’s weakness.

The manipulation requests were very frank and made no attempt to hide the corruption. Here is an email sent by a trader to a Barclays employee in 2006, according to the New York Times.

"Hi Guys, We got a big position in 3m libor for the next 3 days. Can we please keep the lib or fixing at 5.39 for the next few days. It would really help. We do not want it to fix any higher than that. Tks a lot."

The Associated Press reported this exchange between an investor and a banker regarding LIBOR fixing that highlights how easy it was to ask for manipulated submissions.

"If it comes in unchanged I'm a dead man," lamented an investor. The Barclays employee granted the wish and then received this message of gratitude.

"Dude. I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I'm opening a bottle of Bollinger."

What was supposed to be an optimal average of the rates banks would charge each other for loans became the plaything for investors to manipulate.

Several items of note

Jill Abramson
Jill Abramson

I'm sure everyone out there in the blogosphere celebrated the return to print of The (not so)Daily Texan today. This summer, this print product will be produced on Mondays and Thursdays. The rest of the week, loyal readers should go to our new and improved website for the latest happenings on and around the Forty Acres. 

Historic happenings at The New York Times today. Executive Editor Bill Keller is stepping down (he'll become a full-time writer at the paper) and Managing Editor Jill Abramson will take over the top spot at "the paper of record" on Sept. 6. This will be the first time a woman has held the top job at the "Gray Lady." Dean Baquet, Washington bureau chief (and former editor of the Los Angeles Times) will take over as managing editor come September. Many friends (and my pension) are wrapped up with the future success of the Times -- not to mention the future of our democracy -- so I'm wishing Ms. Abramson all the best!

Oh, and did you notice that the Austin American-Statesman is offering voluntary buyouts to 167 of its employees who are at or closing in on retirement age? The bottom line remains hard to determine for media companies of all sizes.