Recent Reads Wants to Adopt a “Shultz Hour”

What’s a “Shultz Hour,” you ask? Well, former Secretary of State George Shultz used to block off an hour a week in which he could only be interrupted by a call from the president or from his wife. In this edition of Recent Reads, we’re sharing an article that argues that such a practice is something we all could use in this connected day and age.

Generally speaking, Recent Reads contains some pretty meaty subjects this week, including reasons why women thought leaders go unquoted in the news, how the media became increasingly clustered around big cities and some racial questions about Earth Day. Oh, and we really, really hate that dumb Facebook meme about bands that people have seen and haven’t seen – and we found an article that digs into why we hate it.

Also, Greentarget’s Lisa Seidenberg blogged earlier this week about the importance of press freedoms. She spoke with Courtney Radsch, advocacy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the piece is definitely worth checking out.

With that, here’s Recent Reads.

Why we should all adopt a ‘Shultz Hour’ – Safe to say in the age of smartphones, 24/7 email alerts, social media and constant activity, setting aside time to disconnect can seem both unrealistic and unproductive. We have all experienced the article’s comment calling out people who “humble-brag” about how busy they are, whether we are the culprit or the bystander. But why not set aside an hour a week for uninterrupted reflection – a practice made famous by Secretary Shultz back in the 1980s? Our society is often focused on accomplishing moment-to-moment tasks as they arise. Finding the time to think about meaningful and strategic questions seems to get lost in the shuffle. The article argues “the only way to do great work, in any field, is to find time to consider the larger questions.” – Jessica McNellis

The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think – The fact that economics has driven the formation of a national media bubble is not terribly surprising. According to the article, journalism in America has increasingly centered on outlets clustering around industries and following the money (New York media covering the financial industry, Los Angeles media covering entertainment, Washington media covering government). Again, while not surprising from an economic and practical standpoint, this clustering phenomenon means reporters living and working in urban areas tend to engage in groupthink. The most interesting takeaway is the article’s suggestion to interpret the impact of the media bubble as a social scientist would: “The people who report, edit, produce and publish news can’t help being affected – deeply affected – by the environment around them.” The most hopeful takeaway is that journalists hate to be wrong – a strong impetus for change, and they got this past election totally wrong. – Pam Munoz

When women aren’t quoted in the news, the public loses – This is an important topic, and I appreciate  Claire Bushey’s insider perspective on the struggles she has found in getting women spokespeople to participate in interviews. Research shows women often don’t apply for jobs if they don’t meet all the listed criteria, and per Claire’s article, it appears women might feel the same way about speaking with the media. If they aren’t 100 percent confident they’ll be able to address all of the reporter’s questions or they don’t feel like a “true” thought leader on the topic, they more often than not bow out. She perfectly sums up the impact in saying: “Why does it matter if women don’t call me back? Because civil society hashes out issues in print, online and on the air. If you aren’t there, it doesn’t matter how eloquently you air your views on Facebook: Your unamplified voice will peter into silence, unheard.” – Lisa Seidenberg

Earth Day Is Too White and Out of Touch With Reality – The recent March for Science event in Washington, D.C., which naturally took place on Earth Day, thrust the importance of science, the environment and the progress of intellectual advancement to the top of our Facebook newsfeeds. This article uses that as a backdrop to address the historical shortcomings of the environmental movement and the larger, more complex, national issues affecting our communities – racial injustice, urban blight and exploitation of the economic system. – Christian Erard

The ‘Which of These Bands Have I Not Seen?’ Facebook Meme Is Bad and Should Die – Clearly, this isn’t the most serious article ever to appear in Recent Reads. But beyond agreeing (strongly) with the central premise, I think the writer actually does a good job explaining what makes a meme work. “Good memes have a fun, peppy, iterative quality to them – the more time you spend with them, the funnier and more creative and more interesting things get, at least up to the point when you’re ready to move on.” It’s the kind of analysis that resonates at a time when the internet’s effect on life is no longer new but is still not fully understood. – Paul Wilson