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The Houston Chronicle protects us from cartoons


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For those of you who don't subscribe to multiple newspapers, you may not know that The Houston Chronicle does something interesting.  If someone at the Chronicle (or maybe Hearst?) deems a comic strip too controversial, the strip gets replaced by a rerun.

I've noticed this twice since I've been here. 

This is the Dilbert that ran in the Chronicle on July 25, 2022:

Chronicle.png

 

This is the correct Dilbert that ran in other newspapers to which I subscribe:

Correct.png

If you look closely, you can see that the Dilbert that ran in the Chronicle on July 25, 2022 is dated July 26, 2016.

On July 25, I sent an e-mail to the Chronicle asking for an explanation, but received no response.  Disappointing, considering that I am a paying subscriber. 

I noticed it again today.  Here is the Dilbert that ran in the Chronicle this morning (September 12, 2022):

Screen Shot 2022-09-12 at 4.10.31 PM.png

 

Notice that it's dated September 15, 2016.  Here's the Dilbert that ran in other newspapers today:

Screen Shot 2022-09-12 at 4.09.35 PM.png

I get that it's a controversial topic, and some people might be uncomfortable with it.  But as I stated in my letter to the Chronicle:

"It would have been better for the Chronicle to either move the strip to the Editorial section, or to place a notice in its usual place explaining why today’s strip was not printed.  Perhaps both were in order.

I won’t use a mere comic strip to get on a soapbox about a newspaper’s journalistic integrity, and how a lack of transparency leads the public to believe the worst about an organization.  But I do want to note that I am an adult, and can handle being exposed to viewpoints from all parts of the political spectrum.  I suspect anyone who spends real money subscribing to a newspaper is of similar maturity."

The Chronicle needs competition.  Too bad the majority of people choose to not pay for their news.

It's worth noting that this kind of content replacement isn't unprecedented in Houston.  There's a bunch of television shows that KPRC-TV has refused to show over the years.

 

 

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13 hours ago, wilcal said:

I wish the Chronicle would stop wasting my subscriber dollars by giving any of them to Scott Adams. 

I disagree with a lot of what's in the Chronicle. But I pay to be exposed to a variety of information and opinions so I can be better informed. 
 

If I wanted to stay cooped up in an echo chamber of my own opinions, I'd get my news from Facebook. 

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4 hours ago, editor said:

September 14, 2022 in the Chronicle:

0CFA62FB-572F-4D74-B3FB-E9A9BEC887C3.jpeg

September 14, 2022 in other newspapers:

BA05D452-599B-45E2-83DB-4163FECD2C10.jpeg

 

The Chronicle strip is a run from 2014. 

There's a chance that the cartoon they ran in this case was a reflection of how chron employees feel about their workplace.  Perhaps it's a coded plea for help...

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Another day, another substitution. Someone at the Chronicle or Hearst must have a bee in their bonnet about ESG. I wonder what other topics the Chronicle is helpfully protecting us from. 

September 15 in the Chronicle:

8DD15929-126F-418F-B73B-E87D4AD8099F.jpeg

 September 15, 2022 elsewhere:

33A9422D-8C11-42FD-8E37-C542C1483763.jpeg

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September 16, 2022 elsewhere:

Screen Shot 2022-09-18 at 8.16.18 AM.png

 

September 16, 2022 Houston Chronicle:

Screen Shot 2022-09-18 at 8.15.35 AM.png

 

The correct Dilbert doesn't seem all that controversial to me.  Maybe there's some edict at the Chronicle prohibiting the publication of the term "ESG" in certain sections of the paper.  Unless the word is more aggravating than I understand, since I'm not much into the political tribalism that is in fashion these days.

Also interesting: the Chronicle's Dilbert strip is very obviously a replacement, because it's the only one that's in color, which is why I under-cropped it.  Fridays, the Chronicle moves comic strips into the Preview section, and publishes the B&W versions of them.  I guess there wasn't a black-and-white version of the Dilbert strip in the Chronicle archive.  I think this just makes people wonder, "What's so special about Dilbert that it's the only one in color today?" and draws attention to the substitution.

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September 17, 2022 Houston Chronicle:

Screen Shot 2022-09-18 at 8.22.48 AM.jpg

 

September 17, 2022 elsewhere:

Screen Shot 2022-09-18 at 8.24.04 AM.jpg

 

Again, not very controversial in my mind.  This is the same thing that happens with SEO companies, and what a number of businesses have accused Yelp! of.  I can only surmise that the presence of the abbreviation "ESG" got it banned from the Chronicle.

At this point, I'm going to have to look up what "ESG" is, to find out what makes it worth banning from the Houston Chronicle.  So if someone at the Chronicle thought that not running Dilbert would decrease knowledge of ESG, then I guess they didn't think it through.

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I looked it up, and this is what I found:

"ESG is an acronym for Environmental, Social, and Governance. ESG takes the holistic view that sustainability extends beyond just environmental issues." (source)

"Short for 'environmental, social and governance,' ESG represents a more stakeholder-centric approach to doing business." (source)

I thought ESG was going to be some kind of social racial thing, but it sounds like how a lot of energy companies are being pressured by shareholders to get out of carbon these days.  From what I remember reading in the news sections, the current administration in Austin is so bothered by ESG this that it's passed a rule prohibiting state agencies from doing business with some companies that adhere to ESG principles, to which some companies are responding along the lines of "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Texas; we'd rather do business with the rest of the planet."

That makes me think that this is a local decision, and not one from Hearst in New York.

It also reminds me how much Texas changed in the 20 years I was away.  When I used to live here, Texas was considered a business- and resident-friendly state because of the state government's laissez-faire attitude.  But since I've come back, it seems like there is a constant fountain of new rules coming out of the capitol.  Texas feels a lot less "free" to me than it used to be, especially compared with other western states and cities; even Seattle.  And not just as a resident, but as someone who's owned businesses out there.

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You would think that Adams' commentary on ESG is pretty tame compared to what most of the Chronicle readership (or at least the commentariat) would have to say about it, assuming they're even aware of it. 

I wonder if he's seen this, which is probably the most techno-dystopian thing I've run across in recent memory:

How to Calculate Your Individual ESG Score

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3 hours ago, mkultra25 said:

You would think that Adams' commentary on ESG is pretty tame compared to what most of the Chronicle readership (or at least the commentariat) would have to say about it, assuming they're even aware of it. 

I wonder if he's seen this, which is probably the most techno-dystopian thing I've run across in recent memory:

How to Calculate Your Individual ESG Score

I'm not sure I understand "individual ESG score" since ESG is about companies, not people.  At least that's how I understand it.

To me, it doesn't seem any different than old-school advocacy investors, like when nuns buy up huge blocks of big companies in order to change their social positions.  It's been going on for at least half a century.  Perhaps more.  It's the flip side of a theoretical big oil company buying huge blocks of shares in a theoretical car manufacturer to encourage that car make to make cars that use more oil.

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21 hours ago, editor said:

I'm not sure I understand "individual ESG score" since ESG is about companies, not people.  At least that's how I understand it.

To me, it doesn't seem any different than old-school advocacy investors, like when nuns buy up huge blocks of big companies in order to change their social positions.  It's been going on for at least half a century.  Perhaps more.  It's the flip side of a theoretical big oil company buying huge blocks of shares in a theoretical car manufacturer to encourage that car make to make cars that use more oil.

The article I linked to is not very well-written, and is somewhat confusing, but the key takeaway is that since companies are being graded according to ESG standards, they will need to demonstrate that their clients likewise meet the standards they are being graded on. Hence, the concept of an ESG score for individuals, which in the case of financial institutions is relevant to individuals to whom credit is extended. An individual's ESG score could affect whether or not that individual is extended credit, or the terms upon which credit is extended. 

The author(s) of the article claim that this is already in process at financial institutions, but it's hard to tell how much of what they describe is fevered speculation and how much is really happening (especially since their organization has a vested interest in promoting ESG-related investment products). But if you think this sounds a lot like China's Social Credit System, you're not alone.  

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