Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Change is in the Wind

Spring is on the way, even if that arrival date may have been pushed back by the latest bad weather sweeping eastward this week. Spring will be here eventually, bringing sunnier days, warmer weather and new vegetation. Ah, Spring.

Change is often a good thing. It certainly is inevitable, whether or not we are ready or even want it to happen. Not only will the arrival of Spring bring change. From a review of recent news stories, change may be rolling in like a tsunami.

The Catholic Church is undergoing change. The Pope has resigned. Although not a Catholic, I was shocked to see that Pope Benedict is about to leave the papal office. This event hasn't happened in the Catholic Church for 600 years. No doubt he must have had a very good reason to "resign" his post and it must have been a decision to which he gave a lot of thought. That termination, along with the selection of a replacement pope, has forced at least a few changes within the Church. To an outsider, it might just be time for the Catholic Church to "modernize" a bit.

Television is undergoing change. One of the so-called Big Three TV networks has suffered greatly in recent "sweeps" ratings. Television certainly isn't what it was a few years ago. The Big Three had a good ride for many years, dominating all alternatives. In the early days, they also made an effort to inform and entertain the public. The subsequent advent of cable and satellite options have benefited viewers by providing numerous options. As a result, the stranglehold of the Big Three has waned in recent years. Perhaps as a misguided effort to alter their audience base (and win over certain demographics), the Big Three have changed course to win viewers. The result has been chaotic at best with mediocre programming followed by quick adjustments/failures. As for me, there is little reason to watch the Big Three other than to catch the local news. They need to find their strength and then stay on that focus. Or else.

Print journalism is undergoing change. Some newspapers and magazines have stopped print versions entirely, opting to go on-line instead. It was inevitable that the time-lag and costs of print journalism would make it impossible to compete with on-line websites. Of course, print journalism was usually well constructed, proof read and thorough, none of which can be said about on-line news. Those stories are often flimsy, gossip-y and filled with errors. But they are fast. Like "fast food," however, they leave the public wanting more.

The post office is undergoing change. I use postal services frequently and have noticed little change among the personnel, who remain helpful and friendly. But the mailing costs have increased continually. The majority of mail that gets delivered to me consists of packages and advertisements. Businesses are encouraging their customers to utilize on-line payment for prompt processing and less clerical involvement. One day, even payment of bills via so-called snail mail may no longer be an option. There is little personal mail now. Emails and ecards have replaced written correspondence and greetings. The post office, like many other institutions, simply missed the boat. They waited too long to recognize that ecommerce was more than a fad. The post office is now forced to cut hours and staff. The costs of maintaining post offices across the country must be staggering. Real estate, utilities, personnel, vehicles, printing, etc. Plus the post office is permanently saddled with those pesky legacy costs (pensions) which must be paid. I enjoy dealing with the post office and will continue to need it well into the future. But it needs to play catch up and figure out a better method of operation.

There is other change in the wind. Television isn't the only entertainment venue which requires modification. Movies need to get a clue, too, as to what the public wants. Meager offerings at significant expense isn't going to fill seats. Same thing applies to sporting events, many of which are already suffering from sluggish ticket sales. People simply do not now have the money to attend in person. If the Congress continues to do nothing and the sequester budget cuts kick in at the end of the week, we may all experience financial cutbacks -- quickly.

So while a change in the weather is a rather pleasant offering, change is not always a good thing. But it remains inevitable and will often arrive even if we don't want it too.

Whaddya going to do?

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