Monthly Archives: October 2009

Is nonprofit status the answer for financially failing newspapers?

There is a lot of discussion in the public domain about the future of newspapers.  Some have opined that newspapers that can’t make it financially in the current environment should be given a federal bailout.  Others have said that the market should dictate the outcomes because newspapers are just another business.  Then there is the idea that newspapers could become nonprofit organizations, complete with tax-exempt status.  This last idea is the subject of an interesting paper authored by Marion R. Fremont-Smith, and published by the Joan Shorenstein on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.  It is entitled Can Nonprofits Save Journalism? Legal Constraints and Opportunities. Fremont states that, “…review of the law and these rulings strongly suggests that, under existing conditions, a nonprofit newspaper could qualify for tax exemption without the need for legislation by Congress or waiting for the IRS to issue new guidelines.”  Click here to read the paper.

Hero of the Week

Everybody seems to complain that there is too much bad news being reported.  Nevertheless, there isn’t a week that goes by when there is not a report of a heroic act or a heroic person. So, in order to give recognition to some of these heroes I am announcing my Mississippi Hero of the Week every Friday here on this blog.  My heroes are those who are “…of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.”  They can be from any field of endeavor and any age.  If you read a story about a Mississippi hero I’d love to hear from you.  And now for my first Mississippi Hero of the Week.

Dr. Janice Barton, who has been Principal at Oak Grove Elementary for the past five years and will be the new Director of Elementary Education for DeSoto County Schools, has been named as Mississippi Principal of the Year by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.  Her heroic act?   She “…took over a rundown school with an unfriendly atmosphere and low teacher morale,” and turned it into one of the top-performing schools in the state.  The school went from a Level 3 to a Level 5.  Oh, I neglected to mention that she is deaf.

“It was a 24/7 job to start with,” Barton said during an interview Wednesday. “I put in some long hours. I would get to school at 6:15 a.m. and it would be 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and sometimes 10 o’clock when I got home. It just took a long time to sift through a lot of what I had to do. I thought I had to get it all done that night.”

Oak Grove Central underwent “school improvement” status her first year on the job.

Two private school enrichment programs, “America’s Choice” and “The Excellence Project” were enlisted to help get test scores up and improve teaching methods.

“Bringing technology to Oak Grove helped the school step up to the plate,” Barton said.

Behind it all stood Barton.

Under her tenure, Oak Grove students continually outshine their counterparts in statewide chess competition and other gifted education programs.

A reading garden was established during her watch, as well as an outdoor chess garden.

The Cockrum native said she always wanted to become a teacher, and later a principal.

When she was about eight, she began to permanently lose her hearing.

“I had red measles and chicken pox in the second grade and that’s when it started happening.”

Despite her hearing impairment, Barton never gave up on that dream.

“God helped me do it,” Barton said. “I prayed to him all the time. Back when I was younger, it (hearing impairment) bothered me a lot. When I was in college, I really, really struggled. People sometimes want to hide their disabilities. I remember the first day of college, I marched up to the professor and I told him I was deaf and that I read lips. So if he grew a beard or something, I would be out of luck.”

Barton sat on the front row of her classes so she wouldn’t miss a word. She received her doctorate in education in much the same manner. (DeSoto Times Tribune, Feb. 21, 2008)


Bailout helps fuel new era of Wall Street wealth

Thanks, Washington.  Excerpt below.  Click here to read the entire article from the NY Times as posted on

It may come as a surprise that one of the most powerful forces driving the resurgence on Wall Street is not the banks but Washington. Many of the steps that policy makers took last year to stabilize the financial system — reducing interest rates to near zero, bolstering big banks with taxpayer money, guaranteeing billions of dollars of financial institutions’ debts — helped set the stage for this new era of Wall Street wealth. …  Titans like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are making fortunes in hot areas like trading stocks and bonds, rather than in the ho-hum business of lending people money.

Amazon and Wal-Mart Take off the Gloves

If you like reading bestselling books and want to buy them cheap, you’re in luck. The bestseller sites of and have declared discount war, and are selling Top Ten bestsellers for only $9.00 each.  This won’t last long, but it is an indicator that Wal-Mart plans on challenging Amazon in the online book market.

Catch Frank Abagnale if you can.

Mark you calendar for February 17, 2010.  That’s when Frank William Abagnale, Jr. will be the featured speaker at the Millsaps College Else School of Management Spring Forum, which will be on the subject of ethics.

According to the Wikipedia entryFrank William Abagnale, Jr. (born April 27, 1948) is an American security consultant best known for his history as a former confidence trickster, check forger, skilled impostor and escape artist. He became notorious in the 1960s for successfully passing US$2.5 million worth of meticulously forged checks across 26 countries over the course of five years, starting when he was only 16 years old. In the process, he claimed to have assumed no less than eight separate identities, successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, a prison inspector, and a lawyer, and escaped from police custody twice (once from a taxiing airliner and once from a US Federal penitentiary), all before he was 21 years old.Abagnale’s life story provided the inspiration for the feature film Catch Me If You Can, based on his ghostwritten autobiography of the same name. He is currently a consultant and lecturer at the academy and field offices for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also runs Abagnale & Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company.

Mississippi Executive is 2009 Ms. Senior America 1st Runner-up

Congratulations to Barbara Travis, a Mississippi Beauty who happens to be the Executive Director of the Mississippi World Trade Center (or is it the other way around?), for placing 1st Runner-up at the 2009 Ms. Senior America pageant, which was held in Atlantic City October 4-8.  Barbara was crowned 2009 Ms. Senior Mississippi in June.  She has also been named as one of Mississippi’s Leading Business Women by the Mississippi Business Journal.

Congrats also to Paula Burke Lee, a classmate of mine from the Jackson Central High School Class of 1966, who was named Miss Congeniality in the 2009 Ms. Texas Senior America pageant.

Why Strategic Plans Fail

I’ve seen research reports that put the failure rate of strategic plans as high as 80 percent and as low as 30 percent.  How can there be such a wide difference?  Well, the discrepancy in those rates is easily understandable when one looks behind the numbers.  It’s not that the researchers looked at the same data and came up with different conclusions.  It’s more about who was was surveyed and how the survey was conducted.

One recent survey “of 163 executives” reported that the respondents said that 82 percent of strategic plan failure was preventable and offered the following reasons for why strategic plans fail:

1.  Failure of unforseen external circumstance (24%);

2.  lack of understanding among those in developing the strategy and what they need to do to make it successful (19%);

3.  the strategy itself is flawed (18%);

4.  poor match between the strategy and core competencies of the organization (16%); and

5.  lack of accountability or holding the team responsible (13%).

This particular study was reported in the Forbes Insight series and can be accessed by clicking here.  It should be noted that you will be required to register to see the study.