November 12, 2013

FISCHER: Resurrecting the Advice Column

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I will be the first to argue that the decline of print journalism has had a number of adverse consequences. There are all the common ones such as the decline in the quality of news, the increase in punditry over more “hard-hitting” forms of news and a general transition from formerly heavily researched reports to a news model with “citizen reporters” on social media websites. Clearly, as a venerable newspaperman myself, I cannot say with good conscience that any of these changes are “good.”

However, a much-overlooked consequence of print journalism’s decline is the endangerment of a crucial piece of information dissemination: the advice column. These storied columns were often seen as circulation ploys — even considered jokes among some writers of the columns — but I think they hold a deeper purpose. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I announce the advent of the irregularly published Fischy Business advice column.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, all that follows is a product of my own imagination. If you would like a hand-crafted response to a piece of advice feel free to email me but I won’t commit to responding as I’m not sure if I will ever write a column like this again.)

Dear David,

I have been very confused as of late. Recently, I found out that Hobby Lobby was opening up a location in Ithaca. Now, of course, this made me really, really excited because I love Hobby Lobby. It’s one of the best crafting stores out there, and with my lineage adding the hottest new member out of the hottest pledge class ever next semester, I want to make sure that my littlest has the best crafts out there (not that I’m competitive). Anyway, I love Hobby Lobby, but I also recently found out that they filed a lawsuit against the birth-control mandate of Obamacare because the owners are intensely religious. That’s pretty offensive to me, so I was wondering how should I feel about this? Should I boycott Hobby Lobby?


Concerned in Letters

Hi Concerned. Often “voting with your feet” (as the common colloquialism goes) is the best way to show your disapproval for something that you find unjust. As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s a great Michaels in the area whose owners do not possess the same fanatical religious views as the owners of Hobby Lobby. If you feel strongly against Hobby Lobby, it might even make sense for you to picket the store, as the Tompkins County National Organization for Women did on Monday.

Quite frankly, I don’t really think that Hobby Lobby’s argument holds much water. It’s one thing for the owners of the store to not open on Sundays because, historically, when the chain was smaller, the store owners were likely at Church rather than in the store. However, it doesn’t seem to me that Hobby Lobby, as a store, should hold religious beliefs. It seems ludicrous that a for-profit corporation could possibly claim to withhold something from its employees on the grounds of spiritual belief.

However, it will be interesting to see how the lawsuit is handled in the wake of the sometimes-derided, sometimes-lauded Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. The ruling, of course, established that the corporations have First Amendment rights to free speech and (by extension) free practice of religion. I know that I personally hope that the suit will be dismissed as ridiculous, since it is grounded in outdated ideology that has no place in 21st century business practices, but that’s some Fischy Business for another day.