By Doug Porter
You’d have to be a real hermit to miss the stories coming from multiple media outlets recently about San Diego’s inclusion in “National Geographic’s Smart Cities” series. The breathless coverage bragged about millions of viewers, more millions on Facebook and what a great deal it was for the city.
A bunch of local institutions, including local governments, ponied up chunks of money to get our fair city a higher profile. I’m looking at the deal today and thinking we got played for suckers.
Maybe we were oversold on just how good that deal was. Maybe nobody said what we were really buying was “Paid Programming” on a Fox cable channel. Jeez, I wonder if we’ll be scheduled next to a documentary on Juicing Machines for the Millennium?
Here’s a representative snip from 10News:
The National Geographic Channel is spotlighting San Diego as one of the world’s smart cities in a documentary that will air in 60 countries around the world and reach more than 240 million households.
The San Diego Tourism Authority is hosting a world premiere of the documentary at Copley Symphony Hall on Tuesday night.
The National Geographic says that the documentary is “Super Bowl-like visibility for San Diego” and will take a deeper look into San Diego’s best and brightest people and the smartest companies.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer held a press conference on April 10 to announced the deal. From KPBS:
“Over the past year, we’ve talked a lot about how San Diego as a place of innovation and opportunities and the world is taking notice,” said Faulconer, who is trying to raise San Diego’s global profile.
“This is a very unique honor and we should be proud of it,” Faulconer said. “This documentary not only highlights those who are working to make San Diego a better place, but those who are working to change the world.”
The program is set to air in 60 countries and will be promoted on the National Geographic Channel’s Facebook page, which has 52.9 million fans.
Here’s the trailer. It’s very nicely shot. Does a great job of selling. Is it really a documentary?
UT-San Diego had already let the cat out of the bag back on March 27th, but you know our Mayor; he has this thing about press conferences (Emphasis mine):
As a prerequisite for being included, each of the featured cities — from Abu Dhabi to Adelaide, Australia and Durban, South Africa — must raise more than $1 million to go toward helping market the documentary. When San Diego’s hour-long program airs early next year on the National Geographic Channel, it is estimated that it will reach some 140 million viewers in 23 countries. The local investment also covers the rights to the documentary and all related materials that can be used for promotional initiatives in the future.
“We believe this is one of the most important things San Diego can accomplish in a while to move it forward on the world stage,” said San Diego Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi, who assembled a coalition of local government entities and business leaders who have committed between $100,000 and $200,000 each to meet a $1.3 million fundraising goal. “We’ve never really had anything like this before. We’ve had political conventions, two Super Bowls, America Cups. They put you on the world stage but nothing will compare to this because it’s so far-reaching, in 23 countries, and many will see San Diego for the first time.”
Among those who have agreed to help bankroll the effort, Terzi said, are the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., Sempra, Qualcomm, SeaWorld, UC San Diego, the San Diego Foundation and the Tourism Marketing District. Both the city and county are also being asked to contribute.
Give ’till It Hurts
Spokespersons for various local entities involved in funding the National Geographic project all made a big deal of saying they had no editorial input on the content of the documentary.
I’m sure that’s true, and I’m not knocking the material… San Diego has much to tout.
But… I have to wonder about the cash all these entities kicked in. It reminds me somewhat of the letters I’ve received from time-to-time offering to include me in various Who’s Who directories…for the low, low price of…[fill in the blank]. Or the vanity book publishers who promise (again for a fee) to get your volume listed on Amazon.com.
Mayor Faulconer, I’m told, has a $200,000 line item in his City of San Diego budget for this project. While I’m sure there’s no one-to-one correlation here, the library’s materials budget was reduced by more than $200K this year.
Here’s something you might want to know about this deal:
National Geographic Channel launched in the United States early in 2001 as a joint partnership between National Geographic Ventures, the taxable subsidiary of the National Geographic Society, and Fox Entertainment Group, the company that brought us “Temptation Island.” Fox owns a majority share of the National Geographic Channel, and Fox executives fill half of its board of directors.
Oh, and the April 24th UT-San Diego article said the local contribution amounted to $1.5 million. Inflation, I guess.
And the documentary is nowhere to be found on the National Geographic Channel Facebook page as of this morning. Nor is it listed in searches for “Smart Cities” or “San Diego” on the National Geographic Channel web site. And the schedule of shows on the site for May 2nd, when it’s supposed to air next doesn’t show the program.
There is however, a three hour block starting at 6 am allotted for “Paid Programming.” “Smart San Diego” is slotted for 8am.
Students At California Private Colleges Left Holding the Bag
Corinthian Colleges announced on Sunday that it would close all 28 of its campuses immediately, leaving 16,000 students in California and beyond unable to complete their studies. Gone for good are the 13 remaining Everest and WyoTech campuses in California, Everest College Phoenix and Everest College Online Tempe in Arizona, the Everest Institute in New York, and the 150-year-old Heald College and its schools in California, Oregon and Hawaii.
At its peak, Corinthian more than 120 colleges across the country with more than 110,000 students. By the end of 2014, the company faced a litany of lawsuits and investigations by 20 states, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The CFPB lawsuit claimed Corinthian Colleges was operating an elaborate “predatory lending scheme” ensnaring tens of thousands of students in costly private loans and bullying collections tactics.
The good news for those students is that they may be able to apply for a full discharge of their debts, according to a U.S. Department of Education policy that allows such dissolution for students who cannot complete the program they enrolled in because of a school’s closure. The bad news, aside from the fact they’ve put in a lot of time and effort, is that the credits they’ve earned may not be transferable to other institutions.
From Business Insider:
While most public and nonprofit colleges are regionally accredited, for-profit colleges tend to be nationally accredited. The difference, according to an article in Academe magazine, is that national agencies “use quantitative criteria like completion and job-placement rates,” while regional agencies “consider factors like shared governance and academic freedom.”
“Because the criteria are different, the credits rarely transfer,” Academe notes.
Corinthian students now have a difficult decision. They must “either start over from scratch, or go through the time-consuming process of transferring credits that may never be recognized by other institutions,” as the Los Angeles Times notes.
UT-San Diego: Color Them Wrong on Obamacare
Does anybody remember UT San Diego’s predictions for Obamacare?
How about this one from back in 2012 during the all-out effort to keep the Kenyan- Commie-Muslim out of the White House?
We predict that, with Obamacare, if you are over 65 a ride to Mexico will become commonplace, as there will be rationed care in the U.S. Death panels and other rationing plans will limit care.
Or the five part series entitled Obamacare, This is going to Hurt…
Or how about this one from 2014?
Here’s Paul Krugman in today’s New York Times serving up a decent sized portion of crow for Obamacare critics:
What actually happened? There was no rate shock: average premiums in 2014 were about 16 percent lower than projected. There is no death spiral: On average, premiums for 2015 are between 2 and 4 percent higher than in 2014, which is a much slower rate of increase than the historical norm. The number of Americans without health insurance has fallen by around 15 million, and would have fallen substantially more if so many Republican-controlled states weren’t blocking the expansion of Medicaid. And the overall cost of the program is coming in well below expectations.
One more thing: You sometimes hear complaints about the alleged poor quality of the policies offered to newly insured families. But a new survey by J. D. Power, the market research company, finds that the newly enrolled are very satisfied with their coverage — more satisfied than the average person with conventional, non-Obamacare insurance.
This is what policy success looks like, and it should have the critics engaged in soul-searching about why they got it so wrong. But no.
Tweet du Jour
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) April 27, 2015
On This Day: 1911 – James Oppenheim’s poem “Bread and Roses” published in IWW newspaper Industrial Solidarity. 1953 – President Dwight Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450: Security Requirements for Government Employment. The order listed “sexual perversion” as a condition for firing a federal employee and for denying employment to potential applicants. 2005 – President George Bush signed a law that allowed for up to three years in prison for anyone that pirated music or films on the Internet.
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