Posts tagged with "The Wall Street Journal"

Fox News to air DeSantis vs. Newsom debate on November 30

November 28, 2023

They aren’t running against each other. Still, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will take their fiery feud to Fox News this week in a debate moderated by Sean Hannity—offering up a head-to-head that stretches the boundaries of traditional political programming, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After trading barbs in the media for more than a year over issues from COVID-era restrictions to immigration, DeSantis and Newsom are scheduled to face off for 90 minutes on Thursday, November 30, in Georgia.

In an interview with the Journal, Hannity—who came up with the idea—described Newsom and DeSantis as “two of the biggest, most interesting governors in the country and they have diametrically opposed political views, visions for how to run their states.”

Fox News and other cable networks air plenty of debates and town halls featuring candidates. Because Newsom and DeSantis aren’t running for the same job, the November 30 event is more akin to cable’s version of an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout for politicians—taking an interesting fight happening outside the core election race and putting a spotlight on it.

Just weeks ago, Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, debated Representative Ro Khanna (D- California) in New Hampshire. The debate covered topics including the economy, foreign affairs and climate change.

The two-person debate format comes in contrast with recent Republican primary debates, which featured a crowded field of candidates—but not the front-runner for the nomination, Donald Trump, who chose not to attend.

“Trump is very present by his absence in these debates,” said Jane Hall, a professor in the School of Communication at American University and the author of “Politics and the Media: Intersections and New Directions.”

DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, has struggled to portray himself as a viable alternative to former President Donald Trump and is seeing former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gain traction. Recent polls in Iowa—the first state to vote in the nomination battle—have shown DeSantis slightly ahead of Haley for second place, both well behind Trump.

For Newsom, the debate offers a chance to further establish himself as a leader of the Democratic Party on a national stage and position himself as a legitimate contender for the presidency down the line.

“It’s a chance to get a lot of viewership,” Hall said. “There’s an entertainment value in seeing people go after each other.”

In July, Hannity, a mainstay of Fox News’s prime-time lineup and the ratings leader in his time slot, held a town hall with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is now running for president as an Independent. He also said he would be eager to have more Democrats on his show.

Joe Biden, he’s at the top of the list. Kamala Harris, number two; Barack Obama’s number three,” said Hannity, who hasn’t asked any of them recently to appear on his show. “The odds of that happening are zero, zero, and zero.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Support for abortion access is near record, WSJ-NORC poll finds

November 27, 2023

New results from a Wall Street JournalNational Opinion Research Center (NORC) poll show that Americans’ support for abortion access is at one of the highest levels on record since nonpartisan researchers began tracking it in the 1970s. Some 55% of respondents say it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if she wants to for any reason, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The poll, conducted for the Journal by NORC at the University of Chicago, surveyed 1,163 registered voters between October 19 and October 24.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the Constitutional right to the procedure, abortion-rights groups have notched up seven consecutive victories in state ballot initiatives. They include an Ohio measure earlier this month to protect abortion under the state Constitution. Behind these successes is a decades-long shift among Americans in support of access to the procedure.

Democrats and Independent voters—whose support of abortion rights was roughly in line with that of Republicans up until the 1990s—now back access to the procedure by greater margins. About 77% of Democrats in the new poll say they support access to abortion for any reason, up from 52% in 2016. Among Republicans, that share is 33%.

Some Republican voters who generally oppose abortion rights don’t want to give state lawmakers the chance to rewrite the rules—a position they see as in keeping with conservative support for limiting government intervention.

Many voters have nuanced views—including backing restrictions later in pregnancy and exceptions for difficult circumstances—that they say aren’t well captured by current legislative proposals. Nearly nine in 10 poll respondents support abortion access in the event of rape or incest, or when a woman’s health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy.

Research contact: @WSJ

Hyundai to be first automaker to sell new cars on Amazon

November 20, 2023

Hyundai customers who want to skip going to a dealership will have a new option next year: shopping on for their new cars on, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The South Korean automaker announced the move on Thursday, November 16, along with Amazon at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Starting in 2024, U.S. auto dealers will be able to sell new vehicles on the tech company’s platform—making Hyundai the first automotive brand to offer such an option for customers.

“Despite the industry’s focus on improving this experience, customers continue to express frustration with the process,” José Muñoz, chief operating officer of Hyundai said at the LA Auto Show. “They see how easy it is to buy all the products on Amazon, and they want that convenience when buying a car.”

The companies said the arrangement will enable customers to purchase a new car on Amazon from a local dealership and then either pick it up or have it delivered.

Prospective buyers will be able to search on Amazon’s website for available vehicles in their area by model, color. and features, and then complete the process using their chosen payment and financing options.

As part of the companies’ partnership, Hyundai will include Amazon’s Alexa technology in the brand’s cars beginning in 2025, the companies said.

The plan underscores how the traditional car-buying experience is continuing to be upended for the automotive industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, automakers expanded at-home delivery programs, while dealers broadened their websites to help customers tour showrooms virtually.

Hyundai said that, initially, only 15 to 20 dealers will be able to sell their vehicles on Amazon, but that it will expand it to more by the end of next year. “Is this going to help us sell more cars? We believe so,” said Muñoz.

Amazon said it expects to increase car brand offerings on its platform by the end of next year as well.

Consumers in recent years have warmed to the idea of skirting the car dealer—particularly when it comes to newer electric-vehicle models.

Indeed, more EV buyers in 2022 were open to the idea of buying a car fully online compared with gas-powered vehicle buyers, according to a study from Cox Automotive, an industry research firm. Customers who completed more than half of the car-buying steps online were the most satisfied among all buyers in the study, Cox said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Facebook, Instagram will allow political ads that claim the 2020 election was stolen

November 17, 2023

Meta will allow political ads on its platforms to question the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election—part of a rollback in election-related content moderation among major social media platforms over the past year ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential contest, reports CNN.

The policy means that Metathe parent company of Facebook and Instagramwill be able to directly profit from political ads that boost false claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. While the company will allow political advertisements to claim that past elections, including the 2020 presidential race, were rigged, it will prohibit those that “call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election.”

The change is part of a year-old policy update but has not been widely reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta’s ads policy had changed on Wednesday, November 15.

Meta says the policy allowing 2020 election denialism in political ads was part of an August 2022 announcement about its approach to last year’s midterm elections, when the company said it would prohibit ads targeting users in the United States, Brazil, Israel, and Italy that discourage people from voting, call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election, or prematurely claim an election victory.

That same month, Meta told The Washington Post that it would not remove posts from political candidates or regular users that claim voter fraud or that the 2020 election was rigged.

Meta’s broader electoral misinformation policy continues to prohibit content that could interfere with people’s ability to participate in voting or the census, such as false claims about the timing of an election, according to the company.

“We wish we could say we were surprised Meta is choosing to profit off of election denialism, but it seems to be a feature of theirs, not a bug,” TJ Ducklo, a representative for the Biden campaign, told CNN in a statement about Meta’s ad policy. “They amplified the lies behind the ‘stop the steal’ movement. Now they’re coming for its cash. Joe Biden won the election in 2020 clearly, unequivocally, and fairly—no matter what Meta choose to promote.”

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Biden campaign’s statement.

Seprately, Meta said earlier this month that it would require political advertisers around the world to disclose any use of artificial intelligence in their ads, starting next year, as part of a broader move to limit “deepfakes” and other digitally altered misleading content.

The company also said it would prohibit political advertisers from using the its new artificial intelligence tools, which help brands generate text, backgrounds, and other marketing content.

Research contact: @CNN

Label-free returns are coming: UPS buys reverse logistics company Happy Returns from PayPal

October 27, 2023

United Parcel Service (UPS) has agreed to acquire software and reverse logistics company Happy Returns, based in Los Angeles, from PayPal, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed—but Atlanta-headquartered UPS said the acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

UPS Chief Executive Carol Tomé said that—by combining Happy Returns’ digital experience with the package-delivery company’s small package network and brick-and-mortar locations—label-free returns will soon be available at thousands of locations in the United States.

The disclosed acquisition comes nearly a month after UPS said it would acquire MNX Global Logistics, bolstering its healthcare products distribution operations.

Research contact: @WSJ

NASA’s spacesuits are getting a high-fashion makeover before its next moon mission

October 9, 2023

Prada is taking the runway to outer space. The luxury Italian fashion house will help to design the spacesuits astronauts will wear on the moon for NASA‘s Artemis III mission expected in 2025, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The trip to the Lunar South Pole will be the first U.S. moon mission in 50 years. Indeed, American astronauts haven not touched down on the moon since 1972. What’s more, this will be the first time that a female astronaut will be embark on a mission to the moon.

Prada will work with Axiom Space, which develops products for human space exploration, to modernize the design of the suits. Axiom recruited Prada based on the brand’s expertise in design—to make the suits more comfortable and less bulky for more mobility—per NASA.

NASA will help ensure the suits are safe and ready for takeoff.

Research contact: @WSJ

IBM agrees to sell The Weather Company

Auust 23, 2023

Investment firm Francisco Partners has agreed to acquire The Weather Company assets, including the popular platform, from IBM for an undisclosed sum, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The deal confirms an April report from the Journal that IBM was exploring a sale of its weather operation—and comes at a time when extreme weather-related events are forcing countries to deal with more frequent and severe storms, wildfires, and heat waves.

The two companies said Francisco Partners will acquire The Weather Company’s digital consumer-facing offerings, including The Weather Channel mobile; and cloud-based digital properties including, as well as Weather Underground and Storm Radar.

Francisco Partners will also gain control of its enterprise offerings for broadcast, media aviation, advertising technology, and data solutions for other emerging industries, they said.

The Weather Company serves an average of about 415 million people every month through its consumer-facing assets, such as The Weather Channel website and app for mobile devices.

As part of the transaction, IBM will retain its sustainability software business, including the Environmental Intelligence Suite, and IBM intends to continue to use The Weather Company’s data in the software.

Francisco Partners plans to expand its new acquisition beyond weather forecasting. It said it would look to bring new tools and experiences to its users, while offering more actionable insights to businesses and organizations.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

Research contact: @WSJ

Obsessed parents overanalyze photos of their kids at camp

August 18, 2023

Summer sleepaway camps regularly post photos of boys and girls during games, meals, and assemblies—reassuring parents their children are alive and having fun.

But many moms and dads aren’t convinced, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, parents scrutinize every pixel of their child’s expression and body language for clues about his or her emotional state. These parents may want their children to gain independence at camp, but they can’t help poring over photos to see if the kids are smiling, engaged in activities, or circled by friends. Anything less—a child walking alone or caught in a neutral expression—triggers questions and deep analysis.

“It’s an addiction,” said Stacy Johnson, of Manalapan, New Jersey. Every morning, she scrolls through hundreds of photos looking for her 11-year-old daughter Liv; and her son Jace, 8. They go for seven weeks to Camp Chen-A-Wanda in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

Johnson is more concerned about Jace, a first-time camper. In a video from a dance party at Camp Chen-A-Wanda, she saw he wasn’t joining the fun. She guessed he was sad because parent-visiting day had ended only a few hours earlier.
Obsessed parents gather evidence from photos to tell their campers via letters and calls to change their shirts or slather on more sunscreen. Others, desperate for information, offer children cash rewards if they try to appear in more camp photos.

Dayna Solomon, of Brooklyn, was disturbed by a photo of her 13-year-old-son Jake, a camper at Susquehannock in Pennsylvania. The boy was shown walking under a bridge made by the outstretched arms of campers. She immediately texted her husband, Seth.

“Hm. He doesn’t look thrilled,” she wrote.

“You’re nuts,” her husband replied. “He looks focused.”

Photo-copter parents hover a far distance from their own parents, who generally dropped them at summer camp with the expectation of maybe a letter or two. Some camps now livestream sports tournaments and other special events on Instagram. 

Heidi Green, a professional photographer in Manhattan who has two campers, created the Instagram account Spot My Kid, which has 1,177 followers. She described her audience as “crazy camp parents who stalk, overanalyze, and treasure every single sighting. (No matter how ridiculous.)” Parents share photos marked with circles and arrows that flag their child in a crowd.

“We’re so desperate for a sign of life that we hold on to any little sign we can find, whether it’s the back of our child’s shoe, the top of their hat, their ear or them all the way in the back of a photo where we have to zoom in 100 times to see them,” Green said.

Tracy Seiler’s son Brody, 10, has been attending Camp Westmont in Pennsylvania since age 9, and he was joined this summer by his 7-year-old twin siblings Ryder and Emmy. As an experienced camp parent Seiler knew not to freak out when she saw a photo of Ryder standing alone at the camp carnival. A couple of summers ago, Seiler, of Marlboro, New Jersey, saw a similar photo of Brody and recalled obsessing that he had no friends.

“Those thoughts build anxiety, and they run away with you,” said Stacy Fleischman, director of business development at Camp Specialists, a service that matches children with camps. She fields calls from clients who sometimes panic about what they infer from photos of their children. “They can make a parent who isn’t anxious become anxious.”

Tyler Hill Camp in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, employs photographers and videographers to document the daily lives of campers. Every age group has its own Instagram account. One videographer posts on TikTok, a new feature this year. The camp’s opening day got around half a million views.

“We live in a different world. Kids coming to camp today are connected to their parents 24/7. All of a sudden that stops and they have an insatiable appetite for knowing what’s going on,” said Wendy Siegel, the camp’s co-owner and director with her husband, Andy. To keep pace with demand, the camp tries to capture at least two photos of each camper every day.

Six years ago, the clamor from parents about what they saw in camp photos prompted an email from Siegel that revealed some of the questions from moms and dads.

 My son isn’t smiling. Please go back and take another of him smiling.

Can you please make sure she knows that the blue tank top with the stripes is to wear at night—not during the day?

Why is my son standing on the outskirts of the group? Do those boys not like him?

 Siegel and her staff now remind parents that if there is a serious concern they will be in touch. Otherwise, she said, she advises them to embrace the philosophy that no news is good news. 

Parents may cherish that their children forgo technology while at camp, but many feel no qualms about using apps like Campanion and its competitors, which use facial recognition to alert moms and dads when a photo of their child surfaces.

Paul Berliner, president of Campanion, said the app was created to help camps manage hiring, payment, medical forms, and profiles. The photo tagging feature was a natural evolution, he said, giving parents a way to more closely share the camp experience.

Johnson, the mother of Liv and Jace, goes through all of the daily camp photos even though she has the app.

“I still want to be a part of camp,” said Johnson, who worked at her own childhood camp into her early 20s. “A Campanion notification goes off and my heart flutters.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Gap poaches Mattel executive behind Barbie revival as next CEO

July 27, 2023

Gap is betting that an executive who helped make over Barbie can revive the faded apparel giant, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Richard Dickson, the president and chief operating officer at toymaker, Mattel, is taking over as Gap’s next chief executive, ending a yearlong search for a new leader.

Mattel told staff about Dickson’s departure early on Wednesday, July 26, as many were still celebrating the company’s box office success with the “Barbie” movie.

The 55-year-old Dickson has spent much of his career at Mattel, where he is best known for breathing new life into the Barbie franchise. Dickson also has apparel experience, having started his career at Bloomingdale’s and later spent several years at the owner of Nine West, before returning to Mattel.

Gap in recent years has churned through leaders and shifted strategies. The owner of Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta has been slashing jobs, closing some stores, and trying to speed up its design efforts. It has lost ground to global chains such as Zara and online entrants such as Shein, which rapidly churn out the latest fashions and reach customers on social media.

In the past, Gap has appointed CEOs with strong operating skills. What it determined it needs is a visionary who can unleash the power of its brands and make them relevant again. “Richard knows how to bring brands to life,” said Bob Martin, Gap’s chairman and interim CEO. 

That’s not to downplay the operational complexities of running a large retail business with more than 2,600 stores and manufacturing hubs around the world.

Martin has made headway streamlining the management structure and speeding decision making. Dickson will have to continue that work. “We were able to clear a path for him, but he still has to deliver on what it takes to run a portfolio of brands,” Martin said.

Dickson will step down from his Mattel post on August 3 and start his new role at Gap on August 22, according to the companies. He received $5.6 million in compensation at Mattel last year, according to securities filings.

Research contact: @WSJ

The hidden career cost of being overweight

July 26, 2023

Looking back, Michelle Matthews says she often internalized co-workers’ comments about her weight. At one work lunch, a teammate remarked on how much she was eating. A higher-up told her she needed to “show up physically as a leader” after she failed to win a promotion, reports The Wall Street Journal.

It wasn’t until the tech-product design director switched to remote work in 2020 that she grasped how much such slights had colored her office career.

“I didn’t realize how much I was thinking about my physicality,” said Matthews, 38, who describes herself as a big person. “It took up a lot of my mind.”

Weight stigma is rarely talked about at work, but it pervades workplaces everywhere, employees and hiring managers say. Indeed, study after study has found that heavier people are paid and promoted less than thinner colleagues and are often stereotyped as lazy or undisciplined.

In a spring survey of more than 1,000 human-resources executives, 11% said an applicant’s weight had factored into hiring decisions. Half of managers surveyed in a separate poll said they preferred interacting with “healthy-weight” employees, according to SHRM, the human resources professional network that conducted the surveys.

Now, as New York City and some states move to outlaw weight discrimination at work, companies are beginning to focus on the experience of overweight workers. Many managers are unprepared for the wave of complaints the legislation could bring, advocates for the laws say.

Weight “is still not looked at from a [diversity and inclusion] perspective,” says Jessica Richman, founder of the Visible Collective, a group that advises companies on supporting workers and consumers who are considered obese.

Signed into law in May, the New York City ban adds weight and height to the list of characteristics protected from discrimination, alongside race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation. Several states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, have introduced similar bills. (Michigan is currently the only state to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of weight.)

Nearly two-thirds of employers haven’t addressed weight-related stereotyping or bias with their employees, according to SHRM. Although a small number of employers, such as Amazon, have formed employee groups to support overweight workers and raise awareness of “fat-shaming,” they remain the exception.

Even business leaders who have been vocal advocates of inclusive workplaces say they have given little thought to weight biases until recently.

“It wasn’t on my radar,” said Jonathan Mildenhall, co-founder and chair of global brand consulting firm TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, who says his company and its corporate clients will have to give the issue more attention. Employers may also need to reconsider workplace weight-loss challenges; or other programs and benefits, including reimbursement for drugs such as Ozempic, he said.

The body-positivity movement that championed fat acceptance, plus-size fashion models, and extended clothing sizes over the past decade helped fuel the recent weight-discrimination legislation. Now, the rise of Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar treatments may lead some people to conclude obesity is a choice if losing weight is a matter of taking a drug.

But, the problem is not going away: Pressure to be fit is already intense for anyone aspiring to rise through the management ranks, some executives say. The Internet is awash in images and reports of how tech leaders such as Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have achieved their now-buff physiques.

And some leadership coaches say staying trim is virtually a requirement for getting on the CEO track.

Research contact: @WSJ