Audit Notes: Romney’s taxes, NBC’s win, turning off the Web

Joe Nocera writes about the sharp choice facing voters in November, and so it is. But this strikes me as a wrongheaded sentiment for a journalist to have (emphasis mine):

Ever since the campaign entered the postprimary, preconvention phase, with the two candidates turning their attention to each other, it has been a depressing spectacle. The Democrats have demanded that Romney release more of his tax returns — though we already know all we need to know. (Like every wealthy businessman, Romney works hard to minimize his taxes.) In bashing his role in running Bain Capital, the private-equity firm, the president and his aides have hammered Romney for doing what every company does: outsourcing and layoffs. Meanwhile, Romney and his team harp on the anemic economy — even though the Republicans have spent much of the past two years preventing the president from doing anything about it.

I have no idea why Nocera thinks we know all we need to know about Romney’s finances. He’s only released one full year so far with plans to release 2011 when they’re completed.

Romney’s campaign, in vetting his potential veep candidates, asked each of them for several years of tax returns. That’s because they know how important it is to vet their finances. Journalists do too.

That Romney won’t release more of his returns, particularly given the beating he’s taken over them and the heat he’s been given by his own party, smells pretty bad.

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson hammers the Twitter media echo chamber yet again on the #NBCFail nonsense.

His headline and subhed are great:

How #NBCFail Became ‘the Most Watched TV Event in US History’

Lesson #1: A lot of people still watch live-TV, even if you — and the loudest tech journalists online — don’t.

Indeed. And this is just plain smart:

Why didn’t NBC care that they were getting killed by the Hashtag Mafia? Because NBC needed to make money more than it needed make friends on Twitter. NBCUniversal (owned by Comcast) paid about $1.2 billion for the rights to broadcast the London Olympics, and starting to make back that money necessitated selling ads in primetime, when companies would pay the highest rates. Not willing to give away content that would subvert the pay-TV model, they required a cable subscription in order to access live-streaming online. The upshot: If you wanted to watch anything, you had to pay for TV. If you wanted to watch the most important stuff, you had to wait for primetime.

Some analysts clamored that NBC was violating the Innovator’s Dilemma by protecting its legacy business rather than riding the wave of the future and opening up live broadcasting to anybody willing to pay for it a la carte. Time might prove these analysts right, or wrong, I don’t know, but either way, let’s agree that Not every dilemma is an Innovator’s Dilemma!, and managing a beleaguered business model is not the same as being steadfastly anti-innovation.

— The Verge’s Paul Miller is three months into a yearlong sabbatical from the Internet, and he’s feeling fine:

For me, my time is no longer defined by the fact that it’s spent without the internet. It’s simply my time, and I have to fill it. The luxury that no internet has afforded me is that I feel like I have more time to fill, and fewer ways to fill it. It’s the boredom and lack of stimulation that drives me to do things I really care about, like writing and spending time with others.
The other day I was at my coffee shop, about to make an order, when I got into a conversation with another regular. And then, a few minutes in, I felt a familiar internal tug. A chime inside said it was “time to get back.” It’s one of the last vestiges of my former mental patterns. I get a vague feeling on occasion that it’s been a little while since I’ve looked at my instant messages, checked my email, scrolled through Twitter, or refreshed The Verge front page. “Someone on my computer must miss me,” it seems to say. It’s a combination of a fear of missing out, and a hope of being missed.

But nobody on my computer misses me anymore. I let out a small sigh. It hurts to be inessential. And then I was back in the moment. We were discussing reverse-engineering the Starbucks Frappuccino recipe, and he had some ideas. It was a good talk to have.

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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: , , , ,