Audit Notes: Bloomberg’s BW Investment, Jobs For Robots, NCAA Injustice

Chris Roush of TalkingBizNews looks at new Association of Magazine Media data and finds that business magazines are doing well—better than the rest of the magazine industry, anyway.

The 13 business magazines reported ad revenue of $1.24 billion in 2011, up 6.2 percent from the previous year, far outpacing the slight increase for the entire magazine industry, according to data released by the Publishers Information Bureau and analyzed by Talking Biz News.

Ad pages also rose 1.4 percent to 11,413.30 for the business magazines, which also outperformed the 3.1 percent decline in ad pages for the entire industry.

Even better, Bloomberg BusinessWeek is the standout with a 29 percent jump in ad revenue and a 19 percent jump in ad pages. It’s good to see a magazine (and the company that funds it, obviously) that has dramatically upped its investment in journalism reaping the rewards. It took in $51 million in new ad revenue in 2011, bringing its haul to $223 million for the year.

— I like this Wall Street Journal story showing how capital investment is robust, productivity is high, and new jobs are scarce. One big reason, it says, is that tax breaks have helped spur investments in automation whose benefits will be seen mainly in the long term:

Spending on gear and hiring usually are more synchronized. Since the economy began growing again in 2009, spending on equipment and software has surged 31%, adjusted for inflation. In the postwar period, only in the wake of the 1982 and 1970 recessions has such spending grown faster. Private-sector jobs have grown just 1.4% over the same span. Only recoveries following the 1980 and 2001 recessions saw slower job growth…

The U.S. today is second only to Japan in the use of industrial robots. Orders for new robots were up 41% through September from a year earlier, according to the Robotics Industries Association trade group. That has helped fuel a larger boom in productivity. Output per hour worked in nonfarm businesses has increased 6% during the recovery. Hours worked are up only 1.5%.

I do have one bone to pick: The Journal calls Sunny Delight “juice.” It’s definitely not juice.

— Joe Nocera wrote an outstanding column this weekend on justice and the NCAA.

A ballplayer at St. Joe’s in Philly graduated early and wanted to use his last year of eligibility to take graduate courses the school didn’t offer. He asked coach Phil Martelli to release him so he could play at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Martelli refused:

Let’s put aside the question of why college athletes usually have to sit out a year when they transfer, even though coaches can switch schools at the drop of a hat. That’s a column for another day. Let’s focus instead on O’Brien’s plight. How can a student who has graduated from one institution be prevented from participating in an extracurricular activity at a different school? How can a miffed coach’s pique control the activities of a student who doesn’t even play for him anymore? Can a music teacher who is angry at a violin student prevent him from playing in another school’s orchestra? The very idea is absurd. Why is it any less absurd when the student is an athlete? Why is it any less wrong? Yet that is precisely what the N.C.A.A.’s rules make possible.

And which it then reinforces with its own iron fist. Unable to persuade St. Joe’s to change its mind, O’Brien appealed to the N.C.A.A. Did the N.C.A.A., which purports to care about the welfare of its “student-athletes,” take stern action against St. Joe’s? Of course not.

This is classic column-writing: Flush out an individual injustice, show what it says about an institution or system on a larger scale, and don’t mince words about it. Nocera’s kicker:

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a small Catholic school has disgraced itself because it won’t stand up to its bully of a basketball coach.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,