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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This month in history: Bring back Boxing Day

Many Goff & Howard team members are avid history aficionados, and having recently graduated from college with a degree in history, I have decided to share Goff & Howard’s love for history with you each month. I hope you’ll indulge this momentary change of pace from our normal industry-related topics.

Boxing Day, which falls on December 26, is a holiday that has always perplexed me. The holiday seems to have been misnamed, because contrary to my belief as a little kid, it is not a day full of boxing matches. This holiday season, I pledge to unearth the meaning of this mysterious holiday.

Although the exact origin of Boxing Day is unknown, the holiday stems from an old tradition begun by the British elite. The day after Christmas, members of the upper class would give small gifts and money to their servants. The holiday got its name from the earthenware boxes in which the servants would receive their gifts.

Boxing Day, which was originally meant to preserve class lines, has transformed into a more modern philanthropic day in which people donate money to charities. The holiday is officially celebrated in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Greenland, and New Zealand. The United States also observed Boxing Day before declaring independence from Britain and renouncing all traditional British holidays.

I think it’s about time we start celebrating Boxing Day again. This holiday season, charitable giving in the United States has decreased while demand for services has more than doubled for some nonprofits. So, please join me in donating much needed money, food or gifts to your favorite charity on December 26.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stopping the presses – 142 times in 2009

It’s a great line in a movie and a cliché many of us use. Yet as we come to the end of the year, the presses did actually stop running for 142 daily and weekly newspapers this year.

In places where the presses still run, there are fewer reporters filling the pages that hold the ink and information. More than 90,000 people lost jobs in the various print publishing industries in the past 12 months.

It’s no secret that traditional, mainstream media is struggling to adapt to a world full of Google News, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. But as fast as information moves today, context is sometimes lost.

More points of view and more information helps us all better understand issues, ideas, and what it all means. Yet as of this year, there are fewer traditional voices sharing information and ideas.

Erica Smith a “veteran media executive,” has created a map that shows the different places where news organizations have closed.

We thought the map and the perspective is interesting as we look at what happened this year and what 2010 could be like.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This month in history: Neon invades the Big Apple

Can you imagine a time when New York City’s most famous landmark, Times Square, was just another intersection? When the square’s sidewalks were not bustling with thousands of people swarming the sidewalks? When the building’s towering exteriors were not covered in bright, flashing advertisements?

As hard as it is to imagine, New York City used to be farm land, and Times Square was just another place where horses grazed. When colonists settled the area, they established the city, and by the late nineteenth century, the area had grown into a bustling metropolis. When the New York Times moved to the intersection in 1904, the intersection became known as Times Square. Just three weeks later, the first electric advertisement graced the building’s side, and the first advertisement with scrolling script shone light up the intersection in 1928. Now, dazzling neon displays saturate the night skyline, leaving awestruck tourists wishing they had worn sunglasses at night.

Times Square has grown to be one of the many symbols that represent America and capitalism at its finest. The scrolling text introduced in 1928 that flashes news headlines and stock figures around the square was a technology that signaled a new era of electronic communications – an era that was just beginning to take America by storm.