Aug 9, 2016 12:15 pm

Newspaper companies lag behind their broadcast siblings after spinoffs

In the past two years, several media companies that own both print and broadcast properties have spun off their newspapers and other print products into separate publishing companies to isolate this troubled sector from their more profitable broadcast stations. And this strategy has largely paid off.

Gannett Co. Inc., Tribune Company and E.W. Scripps Co., which together own more than 100 newspapers and more than 70 television stations, all made the decision in 2014 or 2015 to spin off their print properties into separate companies. An analysis of the spinoffs shows that the broadcasting components of the original companies (which also retained many digital properties) have mostly outperformed their publishing counterparts in terms of operating profit margins.

In 2014, before spinning off its publishing properties, Gannett had an operating profit margin of 39%. Following the 2015 spinoff, Gannett’s broadcasting arm, Tegna, had a similar operating profit margin of 37% – nearly three times that of its publishing sibling (13%), which retained the “Gannett Company” name. (Operating profit, often referred to as “operating income before depreciation and amortization,” represents the portion of every dollar in sales that accrues as profits, before paying taxes and investors, and excluding figures that fall outside the company’s typical operations.)  Read More

Topics: Media Economics, Media Ownership, Media Revenue Models, Newspapers, Television

Aug 8, 2016 11:00 am

Split-ticket districts, once common, are now rare

In this wild and woolly election season, the White House is by no means the only battleground. Not only are Democrats hoping to regain control of the Senate, but some even have their sights set on the House of Representatives, even though Republicans there hold their largest majority (247-186, with two vacancies) in nearly 90 years. Many GOP leaders also are concerned that troubles at the top of their ticket could lead to significant down-ballot losses, and some have expressed hopes that voters will be willing to split their tickets if the presidential race doesn’t go well.

However, districts’ willingness to split their tickets – choose one party’s presidential nominee and the other party’s candidate for representative – has been on a steep decline for more than two decades. In 2012, only 26 House districts out of 435 (6%) split their votes, according to our analysis of district-level election results. Of these, 17 voted to re-elect President Obama but sent a GOP representative to Capitol Hill; nine opted for Mitt Romney and also a Democratic representative. (On an individual voter level, a Pew Research Center analysis in 2014 estimated that about eight-in-ten likely voters in areas with multiple major contests would vote a straight-party ticket that fall. Split-ticket voting also has declined at the state level.)  Read More

Topics: Congress, Elections and Campaigns, Political Polarization, Voter Preferences

Aug 5, 2016 9:35 am

Surge in Cuban immigration to U.S. continues into 2016

The number of Cubans who have entered the U.S. has spiked dramatically since President Obama announced  a renewal of ties with the island nation in late 2014, a Pew Research Center analysis of government data has found. The U.S. has since opened an embassy in Havana, a move supported by a large majority of Americans, and public support is growing for ending the trade embargo with Cuba.

Cubans seeking to enter the U.S. may receive different treatment than other immigrants under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Cubans hoping to live in the U.S. legally need only show up at a port of entry and pass an inspection, which includes a check of criminal and immigration history in the U.S. After a year in the country, they may apply for legal permanent residence.

During the first 10 months of fiscal year 2016, 46,635 Cubans have entered the U.S. via ports of entry – already surpassing full fiscal year 2015’s total of 43,159, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data obtained through a public records request. Fiscal 2015 was a surge year and was up 78% over 2014, when 24,278 Cubans entered the U.S. And those 2014 numbers had already increased dramatically after the Cuban government lifted travel restrictions that year. These totals are significantly higher than in all of fiscal 2011, when 7,759 Cubans came into the U.S.  Read More

Topics: Bilateral Relations, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Latin America, Migration

Aug 4, 2016 1:00 pm

Venezuelan asylum applications to U.S. soar in 2016

As political and economic unrest roils Venezuela, U.S. asylum applications filed by Venezuelans so far in fiscal 2016 have jumped 168% compared with the same time period a year earlier, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data.

Venezuela is now among the top nations of origin for asylum applicants to the U.S., accounting for 10,221 applications filed between October 2015 and June 2016 – up from 3,810 filed during the same time period the year before. (The data exclude applicants in the process of deportation.)

To be eligible for asylum in the U.S., people must have fled their home countries due to fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality or politics.

Once in the U.S., those who apply for asylum may legally stay in the country while their application is evaluated, a process that can take years. For example, in the asylum office in Arlington, Virginia, those who filed their applications in January 2014 had interviews scheduled in May and June 2016. The wait is longer in the Los Angeles office, where some with interviews scheduled in May and June had filed as far back as August 2011.  Read More

Topics: Immigration Trends, Latin America, Migration, World Economies

Aug 4, 2016 7:00 am

Why Americans are wary of using technology to ‘enhance’ humans

Emerging technologies that draw from biomedical technology, nanotechnology, information technology and other fields are developing at a rapid pace and may lead to any number of ways people might be able to “upgrade” themselves. Such technologies, in the pipeline now to address medical and therapeutic needs, could produce new ways for humans to push the boundaries of their abilities, making their minds sharper and their bodies stronger and healthier than ever before.

But a new Pew Research Center survey shows that majorities of Americans greet the possibility of these breakthroughs with more wariness and worry than enthusiasm and hope.  Read More

Topics: Bioethics, Emerging Technology Impacts, Health Care, Religion and Society, Science and Innovation

Aug 3, 2016 7:00 am

Nearly 1 in 100 worldwide are now displaced from their homes

More than 60 million people are displaced from their homes as of the end of 2015, the highest number of displaced people since World War II, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This group accounts for 0.8% of the world’s population, or nearly 1 in 100 people globally, and represents the highest share of the world’s population that has been forcibly displaced since UNHCR began collecting data on displaced persons in 1951.

Recent years have seen a surge in the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes. A record number of asylum seekers arrived in Europe in 2015, with most coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. And nearly a million South Sudanese are believed to be on the move because of conflict in their country. Global efforts to address displacement are underway. In September, the United Nations will host a summit to discuss this trend and President Barack Obama will host a related meeting of world leadersRead More

Topics: Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, Wars and International Conflicts

Aug 2, 2016 12:25 pm

U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries

By International Standards, U.S. Voter Turnout is Low

Country % of voting age population % of registered voters
Belgium (2014)* 87.2% 89.4%
Turkey (2015)* 84.3% 85.2%
Sweden (2014) 82.6% 85.8%
South Korea (2012) 80.4% 75.8%
Denmark (2015) 80.3% 85.9%
Iceland (2013) 80.0% 81.4%
Norway (2013) 77.9% 78.2%
Israel (2015) 76.1% 72.3%
New Zealand (2014) 73.2% 77.9%
Finland (2015) 73.1% 66.9%
France (2012) 71.2% 80.4%
Netherlands (2012) 71.0% 74.6%
Austria (2013) 69.3% 74.9%
Italy (2013) 68.5% 75.2%
Germany (2013) 66.0% 71.5%
Mexico (2012)* 64.6% 63.1%
Hungary (2014) 63.4% 61.8%
Canada (2015) 62.1% 68.3%
Greece (2015)* 62.1% 56.1%
Portugal (2015) 61.8% 55.8%
U.K. (2015) 61.1% 66.9%
Spain (2016) 60.9% 69.8%
Czech Republic (2013) 60.0% 59.5%
Slovakia (2016) 59.4% 59.8%
Ireland (2016) 58.0% 65.1%
Luxembourg (2013)* 55.1% 91.1%
United States (2012) 53.6% 84.3%
Estonia (2015) 54.7% 64.2%
Slovenia (2014) 54.1% 51.7%
Poland (2015) 53.8% 55.3%
Japan (2014) 52.0% 52.7%
Latvia (2014) 51.7% 58.8%
Chile (2013) 45.7% 42.0%
Switzerland (2015)* 38.6% 48.4%
Australia (2016)* 91.0%

Pew Research Center

With less than 100 days left till the U.S. presidential election, we thought it was time for a fresh look at how U.S. voter turnout – regularly decried as dismal – compares with other developed democracies. As is so often the case, the answer is a lot more complicated than the question. Read More

Topics: Elections and Campaigns, Voter Participation, World Elections

Jul 29, 2016 11:15 am

Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy?

Apostasy and blasphemy may seem to many like artifacts of history. But in dozens of countries around the world, laws against apostasy and blasphemy remain on the books and often are enforced.

Last December, for instance, authorities in Sudan charged 25 men for apostasy – the act of abandoning one’s faith — including by converting to another religion. The men face the death penalty for following a different interpretation of Islam than the one sanctioned by the government. And, in Pakistan, police are currently pursuing a Christian accused of sending an allegedly blasphemous poem to a friend. Blasphemy – defined as speech or actions considered to be contemptuous of God or the divine – is a capital crime in Pakistan.

A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that, as of 2014, about a quarter of the world’s countries and territories (26%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies, and that more than one-in-ten (13%) nations had laws or policies penalizing apostasy. The legal punishments for such transgressions vary from fines to death. Read More

Topics: Religion and Government, Restrictions on Religion

Jul 29, 2016 8:55 am

The religious divide on views of technologies that would ‘enhance’ human beings

Many Americans are wary of the prospect of implanting a computer chip in their brains to improve their mental abilities or adding synthetic blood to their veins to make them stronger and faster, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey gauging the public’s views on technologies that could enhance human abilities. And this is particularly true of those who are highly religious.

For instance, a majority of highly religious Americans (based on an index of common religious measures) say they would not want to use a potential gene-editing technology that would give their baby a much reduced risk of disease (64%), while almost the same share of U.S. adults with “low” religious commitment would want to use such a technology (63%).

Similar patterns exist on questions about whether people would want to enhance themselves by implanting a computer chip in their brains or by having synthetic blood transfusions. Not only are highly religious Americans less open to healthy people using these potential technologies, but they are more likely to cite a moral opposition to them – and even to connect them directly to religious themes. Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Science and Innovation

Jul 28, 2016 5:06 pm

A closer look at the gender gap in presidential voting

Hillary Clinton is now officially the first woman to top the ticket of a major U.S. political party. Her candidacy and controversial comments about women made by Donald Trump have raised the question of whether a long-standing gender gap in American politics could grow wider in 2016.

In the 1972 and 1976 elections, there was no difference in candidate support between men and women. Over the last nine presidential elections, however, women have consistently voted for Democratic presidential candidates at higher rates than men. Most recently, in 2012, there was a 10-percentage-point gender gap: 55% of women voted for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney, compared with 45% of men. The gap in 2012 was little different than it had been in Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980, when 45% of women and just 36% of men voted for Carter. The size of the gender gap has fluctuated within a relatively narrow range over the past 36 years; on average, women have been 8 percentage points more likely than men to back the Democratic candidate in elections since 1980. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Gender, Political Attitudes and Values, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties