Audit Notes: WSJ and labor, Tumblr-speak, not the London whale

Getting it right on a nursing-home worker shortage

I got on the Journal last week for completely missing labor’s point of view in a story on cranky McDonald’s workers. But this piece by former colleague Bob Hagerty, on the shortage of nursing-home aides, gets it right:

Nursing homes and operators of agencies providing home-care services already are straining to find enough so-called direct-care workers, who help the elderly or disabled with such things as eating and bathing. They also face looming retirements in the current workforce, in which one-fifth of workers are 55 years old or older.

The reasons for the shortage: pay is low, typically less than $12 an hour, injury rates are high, and the work can be unpleasant and physically draining…

Nursing aides, mostly women, do some of the toughest work in nursing homes—hoisting residents out of bed and changing their diapers… Their rate of occupational injury, usually related to back or muscle strains, is higher than construction and factory workers. Aides are sometimes kicked, bitten or spat upon by residents suffering from dementia.

— For a wee lad of 26, Tumblr CEO David Karp has got the oily corporate PR thing down pat. See his announcement last week that the blogging platform would be shutting down its small newsroom:

After hundreds of stories and videos, features by publishers ranging from Time to MTV to WNYC — not to mention a nomination for a James Beard Award and entries into this year’s NY Press Club Awards — we couldn’t be happier with our team’s effort. And as Tumblr continues to evolve, we’ll always be experimenting with new ways to shine light on our creators.

What we’ve accomplished with Storyboard has run its course for now, and our editorial team will be closing up shop and moving on. I want to personally thank them for their great work. And please join us in wishing them well.

Adam Weinstein asks the obvious question at Gawker: “If Tumblr ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’ With its Journalists, Why’d it Just Fire Them All?”

— I could stretch for a maritime-industry angle to justify posting this on our business blog, but I won’t.

Half of a giant dead whale washed ashore in Burien, Washington, just south of The Audit’s Seattle bureau, and the local-news crew at KOMO 4 TV came up with several unintentionally hilarious quotes.

No, this is not The Onion:

“One thing is that it stinks,” says David Sommerfield of Auburn. “I’ve always wanted to see a whale close-up, but I guess a live one would have been better”…

“I always thought that a whale would feel like an inner tube and it does,” says Dennis Berry.

“It’s sad it’s dead, but it’s pretty cool to see how big it is, and it’s surprisingly soft,” says Camille Mathews.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

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: , , , ,