- Created on 25 April 2013
Today readers everywhere learned that SpinMedia, the group behind music and pop culture websites including Spin Magazine, has bought Vibe magazine for an undisclosed price.
SpinMedia announced the sale on Thursday, saying it had bought the rights to Vibe’s print magazine as well as to its related sites, Vibe.com and Vibevixen.com from Vibe Media, according to the New York Times.
Vibe was founded in 1992 by Quincy Jones and Time Warner, and focused on hip-hop and R&B music and the culture surrounding it, and quickly became one of the most influential publications of its kind. Vibe had an average print circulation of 301,000 for the first six months of 2012, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, and SpinMedia said that each month Vibe’s sites have “1.4 million visitors and serve 1.6 million video streams..”
Steve Hansen, SpinMedia’s chief executive, called Vibe an “industry leader in the urban and hip-hop catergory for decades.” SpinMedia, which shut down print publication of Spin Magazine and laid off a third of its staff in order to concentrate on the website, said it would probably shut down Vibe’s print magazine later this year.
“We are still trying to find a print model that makes economic sense in the digital age,” he said.
- Created on 25 April 2013
With Hillary Clinton slated to give her first paid speech in Texas Wednesday, the media has been abuzz with the news that she will command $200,000 for each speech she gives — by far the most lucrative venture of her career in public service.
On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton begins what will likely be the most lucrative part of her life – so far – as she gives her first paid speech in Dallas, Texas. She’s expected, like her ex-president husband, to command a whopping $200,000-plus for each appearance.
To put that in perspective, Clinton’s salary as secretary of state, where she logged more frequent-flyer miles than any American envoy ever, was a paltry-by-comparison $186,600.
That means if she gives just 10 speeches this year, she’ll take home a cool $2 million — before she pays taxes to Uncle Sam, of course.
The speech, to the National Multi Housing Council, will be given at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Dallas, near where the George W. Bush Presidential Library will open Thursday, NBC notes.
Read more at NBC News.
- Created on 24 April 2013
Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) asked for public comments on private student loan debt affordability. By the April 8 deadline, more than 4,300 organizations and consumers answered. The volume of these requests suggests that the more than $1 trillion of debt already incurred by student loans is on the minds of many Americans. Clearly, consumers want repayments to be manageable, but there are also concerns for fairness and enforcement.
As a nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting family wealth and working to eliminate abusive financial practices, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) had strong advice to offer CFPB.
According to CRL, “First, no student loan modification or refinancing program should take the place of enforcement actions against predatory private student lenders. Some lenders have engaged in a variety of unfair, deceptive and abusive practices, trading on students’ hopes to better themselves through education.”
In its call for strong oversight and enforcement action against private student lenders, CRL noted that Sallie Mae recently issued private student-loan backed securities. This publicly-traded corporation originates services and collects on student loans. Currently, it manages accounts for more than 10 million borrowers and $180 billion in related debt. CRL reminded CFPB that mortgage-backed securities, the secondary market’s purchase and bundling of sub-prime loans, was a major contributor to the housing crisis and the lingering Great Recession.
“This demand could drive increased originations of student loans and degrade underwriting standards, similar to mortgages in the early-and mid-2000s. The Bureau should stay vigilant as the private student loan market grows,” added CRL.
In CFPB’s own October 2012 report, the Bureau independently found that just like with problematic mortgages, private student loan borrowers were complaining about servicers who placed their loan accounts in default – even though they were continuing to pay what they could.
Further, if servicers of student loans are unable to process the volume of distressed borrowers, as in mortgage servicing, student loan borrowers will suffer again from the same lack of responsiveness by servicers, lost documents, and other dysfunctional errors.
For communities of color, the specter of a second major financial dilemma does not bode well. With a trillion-dollar loss of wealth stemming from foreclosures, and unemployment double that of the rest of the nation, consumers of color in many cases turn to student loans to finance much of college education costs. In many instances, students are encouraged to take out a higher-cost private loan even when they have not fully utilized their eligibility for cheaper federal student loans. In other instances, for-profit schools target low-income and minority students and steer them towards the higher-cost private loans.
If private student loans follow the same secondary market trends as that of mortgages, i.e. sold, packaged and serviced similarly to mortgage loans, it is conceivable that two generations of the same family will suffer long-term financial stress, shortchanging the older generation’s preparation for retirement; and delaying – if not denying the younger generation’s ability to buy a first home.
Add to that looming likelihood, a recent research report funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation advised that public colleges are going to find it difficult to keep raising tuition in response to reduced public funding of public institutions. Statistics from the Center on Budget Policy Priorities recently found that state spending on higher education from 2008-2013 declined 28 percent nationwide. Additionally, the states of California, Florida, Washington and Georgia had public tuition rates rise from 60 to 72 percent.
In a March address before the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education noted that Black college enrollment has grown by 15 percent from the fall of 2008 to the fall of 2011.
It would be an agonizing loss if these young peoples’ pursuit of higher education only brings a lifetime of debt.
- Created on 25 April 2013
The unemployment rate in metro Atlanta fell by 0.4 percent, from 8.3 percent in February to 7.9 percent in March. The numbers were reported by the Georgia Department of Labor which attributed the reduced unemployment rate to employers in the area to increased hiring and laying off fewer workers in March.
That 0.4 percent reduction in the jobless rate means an increase of 13,100 jobs in the metro area, reaching a total of just over 2.3 million. A year ago, metro Atlanta’s jobless rate was 8.9 percent.
Most of the job growth came in leisure and hospitality - 5,900 jobs; administrative and support services - 4,600; and professional and business services - 4,200. The number of government jobs declined by 1,400, according to the labor department.
The unemployment rate in metro Atlanta is still higher than the overall U.S. unemployment rate, which stands at 7.6 percent.
Clayton County continues to have the highest jobless rate in the area, with 9.9 percent of its residents unemployed. Clayton was followed by Fulton County, which has an 8.5 percent rate, and DeKalb County’s 8.2 percent jobless rate. Both Cobb and Gwinnett Counties had a 7.1 percent unemployment rate, the lowest of the metro counties.
The number of new layoffs fell by 1,944 in March, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, dropping to a total of 17,222 since February. The decreases came mostly in construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, warehousing, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services.
Metro Athens had the state’s lowest area jobless rate at 5.9 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest with 10.4 percent.
Last week, the labor department said Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent in March from 8.6 percent in February. That’s still above the national average, but noticeably reduced from the 9.1 percent of Georgians unemployed a year ago.
- Created on 24 April 2013
(NNPA) – Marie Johns, the retired president of Washington Verizon, was busy managing a consulting firm when she received an unexpected call three years ago from the White House.
“I got a call one day from White House personnel to come in and talk about a position with the administration,” she recounted. “Of course, given the historic nature of President Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency, I was honored to answer that call.”
That call was to become Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration, a federal agency that provides small businesses with access to capital, federal contracting as well as training and counseling. The Senate unanimously confirmed her for the post on June 22, 2010.
At the end of May, Johns plans to return to her consulting firm, proud of the record she is leaving behind.
“Coming to the SBA was a natural for me,” she said during a recent interview at her office in Southwest Washington, D.C. “I had been focusing on small business for many years.”
She had been around small businesses all of her life.
“During the 1950’s my grandfather started a small landscaping company in our hometown of Indianapolis,” she said in a Feb.7 note to the SBA staff notifying employees of her intention to return to the private sector. “It went on to become one of the first African American-owned businesses to win a state contract in Indianapolis. I saw firsthand how that business not only improved the lives of our family, but also created opportunities for his employees and our community. My grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit has inspired my work every day at the SBA.”
Johns is proud of her accomplishments at the SBA.
“All across the SBA, we have worked hard to address the needs of underserved communities,” she said in her note to the staff. “We have worked together to improve processes and programs with the goal of making the SBA one of the best places to work in the federal government. We have joined together after countless disasters to assist families and business owners as they rebuild their lives and livelihoods. We have provided businesses the capital, counseling, and contracting they need to fuel economic growth and create jobs. And, together, we have helped restore confidence in the American Dream.”
If the American Dream is going to be realized, it will be partly as a result of growing in global markets.
“About 87 percent of the exporters in the country are small businesses,” she said. “But the majority of them export to one country.” She explained, “Ninety-plus percent of the consumer power in the world is outside of the United States. So, exports have to be part of the growth strategy for small businesses down the road.”
Michael A. Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, credited Johns with restoring trust between the NBA, most of whose members are Black, and the federal agency.
“She actively and aggressively worked to include minority banks in all new programs,” he said. “Instead of merely urging small banks to develop stronger ties to big banks, she made sure that happened. She brought five or six mega-banks to our meeting. She not only set up the meeting, she chaired the meeting herself. She is incredible.”
Harry C. Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, is perhaps Johns’ fiercest critic. He uses another word – “terrible” – to describe her tenure at the SBA.
“She has actually refused to meet with any of our 150 chapters,” he said via email. “Ignoring the largest Black business association in the world is a blueprint for failure. The numbers show it – 1% Black contracting and 1% SBA guaranteed loans to Black business.”
Alford cites the SBA as the source of his figures. However, Johns says the SBA does not separate figures by race, though it hopes to eventually be able to provide a more detailed breakout. She says that over the past four years, SBA has supported more than $106 billion in lending to more than 193,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs, including two record years of providing more than $30 billion in loan guarantees.
In addition, she said, her agency has helped small businesses access more than $286.3 billion in federal contracts – $32 billion more than the preceding three years. That is more noteworthy because the increased spending with small businesses occurred as overall federal contract spending was decreasing.
She said Black businesses have profited from that activity.
Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc., has worked closely with Johns. He drafted a letter on behalf of his organization, the National Bankers Association, the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National 8(a) Association and other groups urging President Obama to select her to head the SBA following the resignation of Administrator Karen Mills.
“Deputy Administrator Johns is one of the strongest advocates in the federal government for small businesses overall, as well as for small businesses owned by racial and ethnic minorities,” the letter said. It went on to praise her for increasing access to capital, expanding federal contracting with people of color and helping create partnerships with other ethnic business associations.
Johns says she has also sought to build a greater sensitivity to what she calls underserved groups. By her count, she has met with staff in all 10 regions and visited 48 district offices, 41 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Johns said she is pleased that capital is again flowing to small businesses, SBA paperwork has been reduced and that she has aggressively engaged business groups, not waiting for them to come to the SBA for support.
When pressed to cite her greatest accomplishment, Johns said, “I would say leaving a legacy of commitment to the underserved agenda for the SBA and really putting in place programs and initiatives that will carry on.”