School done, I graduated!

New post will be coming soon now that school is over and I have completed my certificate.

Congress Seeks Tax Cut for Small Breweries (rev)

In a rare sign of unity, Congress is considering legislation that would give small beer companies or “craft breweries” a 50% tax cut on beer they produce to help small beer businesses expand and create jobs.

Congress likes tax cut for BEER (Photo by S. Abrams)

Background on Congressional Legislation
In an effort to help small beer businesses have more money to expand and create jobs, Congress on both sides of the Capitol and across the aisle have introduced legislation that would give these or what is referred to in the beer industry as, “craft breweries,” a cut in the excise tax they pay per barrel of beer. The Senate has introduced S 534, the Brewers Employment and Excise Relief bill or BEER Act in early March. Last week, the U.S. House announced a similar bill, the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act, HR 1236. The Senate bill works this way (the House mirrors it): at the present time, these small brewers pay a $7.00 excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels of beer per year they brew. The BEER ACT would cut that tax by 50% to $3.50 per barrel. After that number, brewers pay $18.00 per barrel, but the bill would reduced the tax by $2.00 to $16.00 a barrel.

Defining the term: Who is a Craft Brewery?

Impact of BEER bills on one local brewery
Capitol City Brewing Company came on the scene in 1992. It now has three brew pubs in the Washington, D.C. area, and makes four styles or brands of beer:Amber Waves Ale, Capitol Kolsch, Pale Rider Ale and Prohibition Porter. Throughout the year, it makes three to five flavors such as Cherry Blossom beer for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Mike McCarthy, Director of Brewing Operations at the brewery, says a reduction in the excise tax means the company could expand and hire more people.

A 50% tax cut creates jobs: Harvard Beer Study

Harvard Prof. John Friedman, author of the beer study. (Photo from Harvard Unv. website)

During these rough economic times, job creation is critical. Harvard Prof. John Friedman, conducted a study last year for Brewers Association when HR 4278 was introduced in the House. According to the HR 4278 Economic Impact of Small Brewers Excise Tax Reduction Study, the bill would create $116 million in economic activity. Over a five year period, it would generate more than 2,700 new jobs over the first year to 18 months and after that, an average of 375 new jobs per each of the remaining years. How is this possible? Due to the direct and indirect effects from these types of tax changes, Friedman can predict the impact on employment or what he calls the “multiplier effect.”

Craft Breweries: A Growing Niche

Capitol City Brewing Company is in a niche business area that is growing. In March, the Denver-based Brewers Association, an industry trade group, released sales figures for 2010. Craft beer brands represent 7.6% of all U.S. beer retail sales in 2010 – that is up from 6.9% in 2009. Overall, sales in the U.S. beer industry were down about one percent. In terms of actual dollars, sales by craft breweries climbed $7.6 billion in 2010 from $7 billion, the previous year. And there is more good news for the niche industry. The number of specialty breweries in the United States has grown by 129. Last year, there were 1,759 small breweries versus 1,630 in 2009.

Chances of Beer Act passage?

Despite the fact that many members of congress have signed on to show their support for the respective bills in each chamber, it may come down to what gets done with tax reform first, says one industry executive. With Republicans in the majority in the House, Rep. Dave Camp, a Republican from Michigan, is chair of the powerful Ways and Means committee.Bob Pease, Chief Operating Officer, of Brewers Association, is not entirely optimistic at this point.

One Founding Father’s quote on Beer

The Brewers Association has more information via these links to the study, HR 1236, S 534

Beer Madness is down to the final four
This week, four small, independent beer brands (out of the original 64) battle for supremacy to be named the best craft brew of the year. The scene of this annual event is Birch & Barley/Churchkey in Logan Circle. Check with the restaurant for when the judging begins.



Congress wants to help the growing brewery niche.

Journ 684 Sunday Afternoon Cherry Blossoms

Around the Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival, April, 3, 2011.

Mobile Journ #684 Journalists, Professional Development and Branding

As social media and mobile devices reinvent how the masses get their news, mid-career journalists and seasoned reporters are scrambling to stay ahead of the technological changes in order to keep their jobs.

One Journalism Club Addresses Professional Development
Three years ago, the position of professional development was only a part time job at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. To stay current, the club switched the job to full-time and hired Beth Shankle for her expertise in social media. She was given the task to expand the journalism club’s offering to address the changing media landscape and to be the trainer for journalists. Today, the historical club has a long list of offerings including: how to use Facebook for reporting, Google Reader, blogger and foursquare. The club also offers Photoshop and final cut express classes. Shankle says the most popular program for journalists is Twitter for several reasons.

A Mid-Career Learns New Tools are for Branding
One journalist, Jen Haley, spent 12 years at CNN in New York City, mostly as a business news producer, before quitting her job last year after being selected for the prestigious Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia University. The all-expense paid one year master’s program for business journalists, puts fellows side-by-side MBA students and graduate level journalism majors. Haley, a 30-something, is surprise to discovery the 20-somethings she talks to want to be their own journalism brand.

Haley’s fellowship is over in May. While she has no student loans to pay, she does have a mortgage. She is looking to find a position with an established media company.

As younger journalists with their savvy social media and technology skills move into the shrinking journalism job market, demand for new professional development classes in particular, mobile device continue. Even Shankle, the social media guru at NPC, admits to only having a blackberry and says she needs to train herself before helping journalists at the club.

The bottom line is professional development is critical as the field of journalism is at a crossroad. If you don’t have the skills and abilities to use social media platforms or mobile devices, you can’t brand yourself to stand out from the clutter where the end product is being delivered, either on the web or by app.

This way to Google Land in Washington, D.C. (Photo by S. Abrams)

For Journ #689 SA Goes Mobile with Google

Google has a stake in everyone going mobile. That’s because Google is in the advertising business. It also explains why Brian McDevitt, the head of Mobile Display at Google,

Welcome to Google Land in Washington, D.C. (Photo by S. Abrams)

came down from New York to participate in the DC AD Club’s recent event, “An Evening with Google,” at the ubiquitous search firm’s office in our Nation’s Capital. AD Club members were there not only to network but also to learn more about mobile advertising as they plan mobile strategies for clients. Dan Taylor, Director of Google’s Display Network, and based in the D.C. office, also gave a presentation on search.

While statistics are dull and boring, one that McDevitt wanted the ad agency crowd to understand, did grab everyone. Google did a poll of its top 800 accounts and found that nearly 80% of large online advertisers do not have a mobile optimized site. In fact, according to McDevitt, by the end of 2011, over half of Americans will have a smart phone. Opportunities abound but companies are not moving fast enough.

Following this revelation, one audience member asked, “Should I redo my client’s website and then the app or just do the app?” McDevitt gave his answer in the form of a question: “Where is your audience?” On the move, of course. Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area now has people commuting from Perrysville, north of Baltimore or from Virginia’s Richmond to the district for work everyday,  people need information and data. As Professor Yaros explained in class, mobile devices offer you to be connected and have data with you all the time. Having app allows you to be everywhere with your customers.

Taylor’s presentation explain that search is a highly competitive space. And according to Google’s Eric Schmidt, users are just one click away from the competitor. For that reason, the company is conducting at any given time,  50 to 200 experiences on how to make search better. The experiments are not announced but done in a way that customers start to compliant, the new method is pulled back. We the customers are used as testing materials.

The presentation was to include Google’s Social Search but the video failed. Google is going to link your Google profile page to link to other accounts such as Linkedin or twitter account. All in an effort to get you to continuing using the computer and not let you out of its site.

The Washington Monument, a favorite with site to visit. Photo by S. Abrams

Journ 689 for 3/5 class

The Red, White & Blue. Photo by S. Abrams

Talk of a possible government shut down is ratcheting up on Capitol Hill as both Republicans and Democrats dig in their heels over signing what is known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep funding the government. Getting a deal done maybe top of mind for politicians but locals and visitors to the Nation’s Capital going through Union Station, just a stone’s throw from where the contentious debate is taking place, have mixed feelings about the situation.

Larry, a middle-aged man in town for a convention, is not worried about the looming event.

If government fails to approve the spending bill on March 4, the reality is visitors to national landmarks will be turned away and  applications for passports and visas will be delayed. However, social security and veteran checks will still go out. Its unclear at this time how many federal workers will be furloughed come midnight this Friday, should lawmakers fail to reach an agreement. During the Clinton Administration shut-down of 1995, over 800,000 were sent home.

Steve, who works in the district as a researcher but not for the government, is on the fence about the issue.

As people scurry by the Starbucks to their train or taxi or the waiting arms of loved ones, one visitor, just off the train from Boston, expresses concern over the decisions made today and the impact it would have on her generation.  Marie, a college student, also thought about the residents of D.C.

Larry believes it will all work out. From what he remembers, the previous shut-down didn’t last long.

In fact, under President Bill Clinton, there were two shut-downs. First, in 1995, starting on November 14, lasting for six days and second, starting in mid-December of that year until January 6, 1996, for about 21 days. The cost of the first Clinton shut-down was estimated at $800 million dollars.  With the fiscal year not ending until September 30, hopefully a compromise can be reach soon.

Journ 689, blog post #2 SA Goes Mobile

Prof. Yaros has asked us to write about audio media on the personal blog and then about audio apps on the class blog. I just read Amy’s class blog entry about an audio app for radio. And I excited to try that app in the future (depending on the cost) because I am a huge fan of radio and in particular, news radio.

I have worked at 1010 WINS Radio and WTOP. The key to the success of both and I suspect for others in news genre (NPR to name one) is this format involves active listening. You are tuning  in to the radio station because you want to hear what is being said. There are different pieces of information you want, such as, the weather and traffic, while others may want the score from last night’s sporting event. There is also the water cooler story or  neighborhood story that is not about some Hollywood celebrity getting arrested. These stories are centered on local robberies or an upcoming local political debate and  hot button transportation issue. Its that hyper local appeal that Prof. Potts is extolling.

For the D.C. metro area, WTOP has a range of topics from government, to the military to sports scores of the local universities and national teams. I listen not only because I have worked with some of these folks but also because I want to hear the information I need before going to work and I tune back in  later for updates.  As Dave tweeted on the class blog, Jamie McIntyre is now on WTOP and it is fun to listen to him. To be “on the radio” takes more work than TV. You need to create a picture with your words because you can not “write to the video” and  you must have a voice that people want to hear.

One of the  selling points of radio in the days before the explosion of being wired all the time, was radio was everywhere you wanted to be. It was in the car while you were driving. You can not  drive and watch TV  at the same time ( although there are those people …) and it was with you at the beach, you could listen while your showered and it was in your office and … specifically, radio was the first “mobile device.”  Now, there are apps for your favorite radio stations. The glass-enclosed nerve app is available for free and has been since March, 2010.

Entrepreneurial Journalism class at UMD

This is my post for for this week’s class under this blog. After this week,  I will be creating a new blog site or twitter site.

Going to museums is a passion on mine. I like going and wondering from picture to sculpture to photo to video installation to mobile and everything in between.  I can alone or with a group. Sometimes, I join a artist talk in progress or a when a museum curator is escorting a group through a specific installation. I listen but then leave to go off on my own. Washington , D.C. is growing and exciting art scene with exciting installations in small apartments to large mammoth buildings.

This past week I went to art reception at the Katzen Art Center at American University. The space is three levels and is as large like a department store.  This particular show was modern but the Center has in its collection over 300 works of art from fine, to pop and folk art.The gift shop is tiny compared to the actual space for displaying the art. 20 feet by 10, is my ballpark guess. It is have an eclectic mix of items including work by local artist for sale something you would not find at big guys downtown.

On the first level was the work of Dafna Kaffeman, entitled “What Could be Sweeter Than Going to Paradise?” The phrase is something a young Palastinian girl said that Kaffeman, who is Jewish took as her theme. She had that phrase and others embroidery in Hebrew on high quality handkerchiefs. Then using waxes made fine, delicate flowers to surround or frame the square shape material. Each box, about two dozen, was about about 12 inches high by 12  inches wide, was mounted on the wall in a single row. Each piece had its own message. You had to get close to to read and to see the details.

Upstairs, it was all action, music and motion moving quickly. Marisa Baumgartner and Nicole Cohen were in from Germany and had a video installation. Projecting on the various walls were moving roulette wheels, six feet high but in the middle, photos of different people, places and things. The dark room and the projector lights gave the room a feeling of being in a disco. Not my type of art but others were smiling and taking photos of themselves in front of the moving videos that were being beemed onto the wall.

Katzen is fun for an art reception, the food and the atmosphere, to see many people if you live in that the neighborhood but not for going alone.

Fear the Turtle

Post for Jour689M, SA Going Mobile

Fear the Turtle

It is the final semester, at least that is how I am characterizing this current semester of our Digital Media Journalism Certificate Program. This posting is for the morning class which will focus on mobile devices and being a mobile journalist. I’m what a savvy digital person would call,  a non-techie, but worst because I want to be a techie, an all things digital person. This process has been difficult because technology does not like me. I hit the button, the same one you just hit to post a blog and the computer will crash. I just try to create a new email but Google came back and so no. Professor Yaros has his work cut out for him in guiding me.

With so many avenues to retrieve research and information and to interact socially with others, I am thinking of something Professor Neil Postman said (I am paraphasing) “this is a technological solution but what other problems does it create?” This is quite the opposite of Professor Yaros, who advocates jumping in and embracing technology. I am trying. For example, earlier this week, I tweeted about a new hotel app, Hotel Tonight,  where you can book rooms and get deals at the last minute. This sounds awesome. I like to travel and I like the flexibility, which is something this app would offer. Suppose I am stuck at the airport because 1) snow  2)missed my connection 3) my flight arrived in the middle of the night in a strange city and my friend who I am staying with left the airport and is not coming back to pick me up until the next day and lives 90 minutes away (yes, true story).  I could just book a hotel room  immediately without waiting in that long line at the airport hotel booking desk like the one at Heathrow, that was of no help last year (again, true story).

This all sounds good for  travelers but what impact will it have on small businesses? Will the little mom and pop or family own hotel or B&B benefit from this or will chains dominate or try to create an exclusive deal with Hotel Tonight? What happens when  Hotel Tonight is bought by Travelocity or Expedia, what does that mean, for those who use the service? A word of caution, the app stores your credit card which makes me wonder about the security issue  Like Postman said, a solution but it creates other problems. Suppose you lose your phone? I don’t think I will jump on this deal just yet. Plus, knowing my background with a piece of new  technology  or new software when I use it; I will let others work out the problems of new apps before I use the app.

Last September, I attended a DC AD Week conference. One speaker, Google’s Peter Greenberger, said the average number of apps a person has on his or her phone: 40! I spoke  to several people afterwards who thought this number was on the low side. I wonder what is the number is today?