February 17, 2017 Last Updated 9:12 am

Discussing climate change in a hostile political environment; H3 Publications shuttered

Morning Brief: Moving to a digital-only model remains an iffy proposition as most publications define digital-only as publishing on the web, not through digital edition apps

There are days, like today, where it is good to remind one’s self that there is a difference between climate and weather. A cold spell doesn’t mean, for instance, that there is no proof of global warming. And a warm spell does not confirm the idea, either. But, really, 60 degrees in Chicago? In February? Spring training is supposed to mean the time when baseball players head for Arizona and Florida. No need this year, come to Chicago, but remember to bring the sunscreen.

“It’s all fake news. It’s all fake news,” the president said during his long, bizarre news conference.

The president was talking about Russia, and the claims by several news outlets that members of his administration had contacts with Russian officials not only before the inaugural, but during the campaign. But the issue of fake news – that is, news that is fake to the new administration – will have wide ranging implications when it comes to issues such as climate change, and environmental regulations.

Yesterday, the PBS News Hour dedicated a portion of its show to the work being done at universities to preserve and archive government data, in fear that the administration will make it impossible to access, if not destroy.

Today, the NYT has a feature that examines how climate change is effecting Mexico City, and how that change may also effect immigration. It is an important story to be told. But in a political environment where many Americans believe that anything coming from the NYT, or Washington Post is disinformation, and where the head of the new administration has said the concept of climate change is a hoax, will enough people listen?

The New York Times, Micheal Kimmelman:

Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

Unlike traffic jams or crime, climate change isn’t something most people easily feel or see. It is certainly not what residents in Mexico City talk about every day. But it is like an approaching storm, straining an already precarious social fabric and threatening to push a great city toward a breaking point.

As Arnoldo Kramer, Mexico City’s chief resilience officer, put it: “Climate change has become the biggest long-term threat to this city’s future. And that’s because it is linked to water, health, air pollution, traffic disruption from floods, housing vulnerability to landslides — which means we can’t begin to address any of the city’s real problems without facing the climate issue.”

There’s much more at stake than this city’s well being. At the extreme, if climate change wreaks havoc on the social and economic fabric of global linchpins like Mexico City, warns the writer Christian Parenti, “no amount of walls, guns, barbed wire, armed aerial drones or permanently deployed mercenaries will be able to save one half of the planet from the other.”

What exactly is meant by the idea of returning decisions regarding schools to local communities? It sounds like a good idea to many, but is that what really is going on?

In Kentucky, two bills are moving through the legislature. One bill, Senate Bill 159, would require students to pass a civics test before graduating. The test would be the same as that given to immigrants. The other, Senate Bill 138, would require schools to offer a class on the bible.

Proponents say the class would be an elective. But the key here is that the legislature is not leaving it up to the local schools to decide whether to offer it, will be required.

CNHI News Service, Ronnie Ellis:

Bill would allow Bible classes in Kentucky public schools

A couple of senators expressed concern about imposing religious beliefs of teachers or administrators on students – some of whom may be of non-Christian faiths – and asked if it wouldn’t be preferable to allow a comparative religion course which could utilize such religious texts as the Quran as well as the Bible.

Martin Cothran, of the conservative Family Foundation, who also testified in support of the measure offered a simple answer, claiming those religious texts didn’t influence western civilization and government in the same way the Bible has.

“This is a cultural literacy bill, not a religion bill,” Cothran said.

What happens to a magazine when it goes digital-only? In most cases, going digital-only really means that a title is only a website brand, not really a magazine. It is rare that a publication actually continues producing something that resembles its original print product, once it goes digital-only.

The big exception, in my mind, is La Presse, the French-Canadian daily. It launched an innovative iPad edition, then decided that it would shutter the weekday print editions. Here, the publication not only would continue to operate its website, it would continue to offer a product similar to print, but now digital-only.

Is it working? One would like to think so, as this is the strategy I have thought most interesting. But in September La Presse announced layoffs, 102 permanent and 56 temporary positions. “The decision to end the weekday print edition of La Presse this coming January and the change in our business model have inevitably affected our labour force needs. As a result, we are regretfully announcing today a workforce reduction at La Presse,” said Guy Crevier, President and Publisher of La Presse. Two months later the newspaper announced that Crevier would be stepping down, replaced by André Desmarais.

Bicycle Retailer, Toby Hill:

H3 Publications shutters Decline and Road magazines

H3 Publications owner Dave House has closed down industry titles Decline and Road after a 13-year run. The staff of six employees at H3’s headquarters in Southern California were let go Tuesday morning, sources said.

Calls and an email to House seeking comment were not returned this week.

Both Decline and Road had recently transitioned to a digital-only format, with the November/December issues as their last print editions. Both titles published three digital-only editions, including their annual Buyer’s Guides. The March 2017 issues were their last.

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